How to Set Up a Puppy Feeding Schedule

How to Set Up a Puppy Feeding Schedule

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Your puppy needs quality food to grow and develop into a healthy dog. The feeding schedule, how much, how many meals to provide and the type of food depends on the breed of puppy, size, and age.

Amount to Feed

Young puppies are growing rapidly and need more food per pound than older puppies. At the age of 3 months, your puppy will begin to need a little less food. You will need to be careful not to overfeed your dog. A puppy should be losing the round belly at this point. If you still have a roly-poly puppy, you should keep your dog on lower portions until the pot belly is gone.

At age 6 to 12 months you may spay or neuter your dog, which will result in slightly lower needs for calories per day. This is also the age where you may switch from high-calorie puppy food to adult maintenance food, although that will depend on the breed. Smaller breeds switch at age 7 to 9 months while larger breeds stay on puppy food until 12 to 14 months.

The amount you feed depends on your puppy's age and the type of food you offer. Directions on the food package are only a starting guideline, so be ready to adjust the amount up or down if your baby is still hungry, or leaves food behind.

Weaning to 3 Months

Weight (Pounds) Amount per Day (Cups)
1 to 5 1/3 to 1-1/2
6 to 10 1-1/2 to 2-1/2
11 to 22 2-1/3 to 4

3 to 6 Months

Weight (Pounds) Amount per Day (Cups)
1 to 5 1/3 to 1
6 to 10 1-1/4 to 1-1/2
11 to 15 1-3/4 to 2-1/3
16 to 25 2-1/3 to 3-1/2
26 to 33 3-2/3 to 4-1/3

6 to 12 Months

Weight (Pounds) Amount per Day (Cups)
5 to 10 1/2 to 1
11 to 15 1 to 1-1/3
16 to 25 1-1/2 to 2-1/4
26 to 35 2-1/3 to 2-2/3
36 to 45 2-2/3 to 3-1/3
46 to 55 3-1/3 to 3-3/4
56 to 65 3-3/4 to 4-1/2

These are estimates. Feeding amount can vary based on breed, size, and age.

How Often to Feed

You will often see daily amounts on the charts provided. You will need to divide these into the multiple meals suggested for puppies of various ages.

Most pups should be fed at least three times a day until six months of age. Tiny puppies like Yorkies and Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they don’t eat often enough, so four meals daily may work best.

Feed three or four separate meals to young puppies during the first few months at home. Then gradually wean them to one or two meals daily by the time they are 6 months old.

However, there are some puppies that either won’t or aren’t able to eat enough when fed once or twice a day, and their growth may suffer as a result. Ask your veterinarian about feeding smaller servings several times a day.

Making Your Puppy Feeding Time Schedule

It’s tempting to simply fill up the bowl with dry food and let puppies snack all day. While convenient for you, that won’t allow you to monitor the baby’s intake, which also helps predict output—when your dog needs a potty break. ​Use meal schedules as part of your house training efforts.

Scheduled meals also alert you to check with the vet if your puppy that normally eats enthusiastically one day refuses a meal. Free feeding from a bowl that is always kept full can be dangerous for that reason.

Routine is important, so be consistent. The best way to do that is base the feeding times on your schedule. Dogs consider meals a social affair, so timing your own meals with the puppies can work well.

A first meal might coincide with your own breakfast, the second when the family comes home from school or work in the afternoon, and coordinate the third with your evening meal. If you’re not able to be there to feed at prescribed times, you can provide one of the puppy’s meals in a treat-toy, and leave it with her in her crate or play area while you’re gone.

Feeding puppy meals in the crate or carrier also associate “good things” with the crate. Scheduled meals not only are healthy for the puppy, they aid in house training and crate training, and can be a bonding experience with your puppy.