Until you have a Puppy or a Dog, you may not realize how easy it is to overfeed them. Dogs are always looking for food - you open the refrigerator, and they are there.
You sit down for dinner, and they are there. There's a reason for that: dogs have evolved to be scavengers, and will eat anything that might be edible. Dogs aren't that much different from their ancestors, the gray wolf, which will eat pretty much anything.
The best way to avoid overfeeding your puppy is to make him work for his food.
Fundamentals Of Feeding A Puppy
Walk down the dog food aisle of any large pet-supply store, or peruse the shelves at a boutique pet-food shop, and you can quickly become overwhelmed.
This is especially true for puppy owners, and probably even more so for first-time puppy owners. When did it get so complicated? Back in the day, dog food options were far more limited, and even responsible dog owners didn’t worry too much about what went into their dog’s dish.
The process may now be somewhat more involved, but that’s a good thing.
Higher quality ingredients with better sourcing and specialized diet formulas lead to overall better health for our puppies. And every bit as important as what to feed your puppy is having an understanding of his special nutritional needs.
All puppies are different, so if you have any concerns or questions about your puppy’s food, feeding schedule, or nutritional health, always consult your breeder or veterinarian—that’s what they’re there for.
Many puppy owners wonder, “How long should I feed puppy food?” Here is a general timeline for what your puppy needs at each stage of his first year of life.
Timeline - Feeding Your Puppy
- 6–12 weeks: Growing pups should be fed puppy food, a diet specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs for normal development. Feeding adult food will rob your puppy of important nutrients. Four feedings a day are usually adequate to meet nutritional demands. Large breeds should be fed unmoistened dry food by 9 or 10 weeks; small dogs by 12 or 13 weeks.
- 3–6 months: Sometime during this period, decrease feedings from four to three a day. A pup should be losing her potbelly and pudginess by 12 weeks. If she is still roly-poly at this age, continue to feed puppy-size portions until body type matures.
- 6–12 months: Begin feeding twice daily. Spaying or neutering lowers energy requirements slightly; after the procedure, switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to adult maintenance food. Small breeds can make the switch at 7 to 9 months; bigger breeds at 12, 13, even 14 months. Err on the side of caution: Better to be on puppy food a little too long than not long enough.
- After age 1: Most owners feed adult dogs two half-portions a day.
How Much Food Can My Puppy Eat?
There’s a saying in canine feeding: Watch the dog, not the dish. Body condition, not the amount eaten or left in the bowl, should determine portion sizes. Portion sizes depend on individual metabolism and body type, and nutritional requirements vary from dog to dog. If your puppy occasionally skips a meal or picks at food, don’t worry. It could mean she is ready to eliminate a feeding or that you have given her too much, in which case simply reduce the quantity served.
Also, if you are doing treat-based training with your pup, adjust the amount you feed at mealtime accordingly. Whenever training with treats, keep the treat as small as possible.
How often should I feed my puppy?
Like human babies, puppies start out needing many small meals a day, of a food formulated for their special nutritional requirements. Most, but not all, dogs finish meals quickly. To discourage picky habits, feed at regular times in regular amounts and don’t leave food down for more than 10 to 20 minutes.
Your breeder will be an excellent source of guidance for both of these questions, as will your vet.
Can My Puppy Eat This? A List of Human Foods Puppy Can and Can't Eat
Puppy and humans metabolize foods differently.
For this reason, some foods are safe for humans to eat but may be toxic and potentially deadly for puppies.
On the other hand, there are many human foods that are perfectly safe and even healthy for puppies to eat as an occasional treat.
1. Carrots: Can Eat
Both raw and cooked carrots are safe for your dog to eat.
Carrots are low in calories and a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. This makes them a very healthy food for your dog to snack on.
Before feeding carrots to your dog, make sure to cut them into bite-size pieces to prevent choking.
2. Grapes and Raisins: Can’t Eat
You should never feed grapes or raisins to your dog.
Grapes and raisins contain toxic compounds that are harmful to dogs. They have the potential to lead to rapid kidney failure and death.
Even small amounts of grapes and raisins can make your dog sick, so it’s important to avoid giving them to your dog altogether.
3. Salt: Limit
Salt should be limited in your dog’s diet.
Excessive salt intake may lead to salt poisoning or water deprivation in dogs, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, vomiting and seizures. In severe cases, high amounts of salt can be fatal.
To prevent adverse effects, you should not feed your dog salty foods, such as chips or pretzels. Furthermore, always make sure your dog has water to drink, which can prevent water deprivation.
4. Peanut Butter: Can Eat
Peanut butter is a healthy and safe treat for dogs to eat in moderate amounts.
However, it is best to limit your dog’s peanut butter intake. Since peanut butter is high in fat and calories, it may lead to weight gain if he eats too much.
Also, make sure to feed your dog plain, unsalted peanut butter. Peanut butter commonly has extra ingredients added to it, such as salt, which could be harmful to your dog 5. Eggs: Can Eat
Cooked eggs are perfectly safe and nutritious for dogs to eat.
One medium egg provides some of almost every vitamin and mineral, plus lots of protein. There are claims that eggs may also help relieve nausea in dogs, although there is no scientific evidence behind this claim (6).
It is important to note that you should avoid feeding raw eggs to your dog. While dogs typically do not get sick from eating raw eggs, bacteria, such as Salmonella, can spread from the dog to its human owners, increasing their risk of infection
6. Salmon: Can Eat
Cooked, boneless salmon is a safe and healthy food for your dog.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and may help keep your dog’s skin and fur healthy.
However, you should avoid feeding raw salmon to your dog. It may contain a parasite that is known to cause salmon poisoning disease, which can be fatal.
7. Can my puppy eat Chocolate?
It is widely known that dogs should never eat chocolate.
This is because chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulants that dogs cannot efficiently metabolize
If your dog eats chocolate, he may exhibit symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. These symptoms may lead to more serious complications, such as internal bleeding, muscle tremors, seizures and death
Darker and less sweet varieties of chocolate, such as cocoa powder and unsweetened baker’s chocolate, are more poisonous to dogs than sweetened varieties, such as milk chocolate.
Nevertheless, do not feed your dog any type of chocolate.
8. Cheese: Limit
Cheese is safe for most dogs to eat in small quantities.
Due to the fat and lactose content of cheese, some dogs may have digestive symptoms, such as stomach pain and diarrhea, after eating it.
To avoid unpleasant symptoms, it is best to introduce cheese into your dog’s diet gradually. It may also help to only feed your dog low-fat cheeses, such as mozzarella.
9. Blueberries: Can Eat
Blueberries are safe and nutritious for dogs to eat.
Blueberries are a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants and provide a significant amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which may benefit your dog’s health.
Moreover, blueberries are low in calories and small in size, making them an excellent health-conscious treat for your dog.
10. Popcorn: Can Eat
Dogs can eat popcorn as an occasional treat, as long as it doesn’t contain any extra ingredients.
Salt is often added to popcorn, which can lead to serious complications if your dog eats too much. Butter and oil are other common popcorn ingredients that are high in fat and may lead to pancreatitis in dogs if over-consumed .
For these reasons, it is best to only feed your dog plain, air-popped popcorn.
Popcorn kernels are also a choking hazard and may get stuck in your dog’s teeth, so you should only provide your dog with fully-popped kernels.
11. Cashews: Limit
You should limit your dog’s intake of cashews.
Plain, unsalted and roasted cashews are safe for most dogs to eat in moderation. However, cashews are high in fat and calories and may lead to weight gain and pancreatitis when consumed in excess.
For these reasons, you should limit your dog’s intake to one or two cashews a day or less.
12. Macadamia Nuts: Can’t Eat
Dogs should never eat macadamia nuts.
Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin that may lead to vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, hyperthermia and depression when dogs consume them, even in small amounts.
Additionally, macadamia nuts have a high fat content, which may elevate your dog’s triglyceride levels and potentially lead to pancreatitis.
13. Almonds: Limit
It is best to limit almonds in your dog’s diet.
Although plain, unsalted almonds are generally safe for dogs to eat in small amounts, they are difficult for dogs to digest and may lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Almonds are also high in fat and calories and have the potential to cause weight gain and pancreatitis in dogs. If you feed your dog almonds, it is best to give very small servings .
14. Pineapple: Can Eat
Fresh pineapple is safe for dogs to eat in small amounts.
Additionally, pineapple is full of many vitamins, minerals and fiber, making it an excellent nutrient-dense snack for your dog .
Similar to other foods, dogs may experience symptoms like nausea and diarrhea if they eat too much pineapple. Thus, it is best to feed your dog a small amount of pineapple at a time.
15. Onions: Can’t Eat
You should never feed your dog onions.
Onions contain N-propyl disulfide, a compound that is toxic to dogs. It can damage your dog’s red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen through the body. This often results in a condition called anemia.
Anemia in dogs is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including lethargy, weakness, decreased appetite and fainting. In severe cases, dogs with anemia may need a blood transfusion
It is important to note that all components and forms of onions are toxic to dogs, even the leaves, juice and processed powders, such as onion powder.
16. Watermelon: Can Eat
Watermelon is safe for dogs to eat, as long as it doesn’t contain the rind or seeds.
Watermelon rinds and seeds could be a choking hazard, and some people claim that they can cause digestive problems in dogs.
However, watermelon fruit on its own is a very healthy treat for dogs, as it is low in calories and packed with nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin C.
17. Cottage Cheese: Limit
Dogs can eat cottage cheese in small amounts.
However, some dogs may experience digestive issues, such as nausea and diarrhea, after consuming cottage cheese.
For these reasons, you should limit your dog’s cottage cheese intake to one or two small spoonfuls per day or less.
18. Bread: Can Eat
Plain white or whole grain bread is safe for most dogs to eat as an occasional treat.
Before feeding your dog bread, make sure it doesn’t contain any extra ingredients, such as raisins, which could be potentially harmful.
Additionally, keep in mind that bread, along with other foods, adds extra calories to your dog’s diet and may cause weight gain if he eats too much.
19. Blackberries: Can Eat
You can safely feed your dog blackberries.
Fresh or frozen blackberries are a healthy treat for dogs. They are low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Additionally, blackberries are a great source of fiber.
If your dog enjoys blackberries, you can feed him a few each day as a treat.
20. Avocado: Can’t Eat
Avocados should never be consumed by dogs.
This is because they contain a toxin called persin, which is known to be very poisonous to dogs. It may lead to fluid accumulation in their lungs and chest, which can cause breathing difficulties, oxygen deprivation and even death .
Persin is found in all parts of the avocado, including the fruit, pit, leaves and bark. Thus, you should always keep avocados away from your dog.
21. Corn: Can Eat
Dogs can eat corn in moderate amounts.
Corn is a good source of some vitamins and minerals and common ingredient in many types of dog food. A tablespoon or two of corn per day is an appropriate serving size for dogs.
Although plain, cooked corn kernels are safe for dogs, you should never feed your dog corn on the cob. The cob is a choking hazard and could lead to intestinal obstruction if consumed.
22. Tomatoes: Limit
It’s okay to feed your dog tomatoes as an occasional treat, as long as they are ripe.
Green tomatoes, on the other hand, may contain small amounts of tomatine, a toxic glycoalkaloid. While green tomatoes are not toxic to people, anecdotal evidence suggests it may harm dogs.
Dogs that consume too much tomatine from tomatoes may experience nausea, an abnormal heart rate, muscle weakness and difficulty breathing.
23. Green Peas: Can Eat
It’s generally safe for dogs to consume green peas.
Green peas are a common ingredient in many types of dog food. Not only do dogs find them tasty, but green peas are also low in calories and high in many nutrients, making them a healthy treat for your dog
However, only feed your dog fresh or frozen peas, not canned ones. Canned peas are often loaded with salt, which is harmful to dogs in large amounts
24. Oatmeal: Can Eat
Plain oatmeal is safe for your dog to eat.
Oatmeal provides lots of fiber, as well as some vitamins and minerals
As with all foods, you should feed oatmeal to your dog in moderation to prevent him from gaining weight
Additionally, it is important to only feed plain oatmeal to your dog, instead of flavored oatmeal. Flavored oatmeal may have extra ingredients added to it that could be harmful to your dog. 25. Coffee and Tea: Can’t Eat
Coffee and tea are dangerous for dogs to consume due to their caffeine contents.
Caffeine stimulates your dog’s nervous system, which can lead to a number of symptoms, including hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, seizures and tremors.
Lung failure and abnormal heart rhythm may result from too much caffeine, which can ultimately lead to death
Even small amounts of caffeine can cause adverse effects in dogs, so you should always keep coffee and tea out of your dog’s reach
How To Safely Feed The Puppy?
As the owner of a new puppy, you've probably been bombarded with all sorts of conflicting advice on how to safely feed your new furry friend.
Veterinarians, friends, and family could all have different opinions on how to make sure you don't accidentally kill your puppy by feeding him the wrong thing. So what should you do?
Share your thoughts at the comment section.