Owning a puppy comes with many challenges. I can genuinely compare to having a baby or toddler in your home. They need the same level of care and attention that human babies do and will quickly develop in front of your eyes. One of the most pressing aspects of this development is getting their meal and diet correct.
Of course, you will already be feeding your puppy 3 times a day to aid this development, but there comes a point where you need to transition the puppy from 3 meals to 2. Knowing when to switch puppy to 2 meals a day is important so not to under or overfeed them.
When do you stop feeding puppy 3 times a day? You can stop feeding your puppy 3 times a day and transition to 2 meals typically from 6 months older. At this age most puppies can switch to 2 meals a day but do keep them on puppy up until 12 months old.
That’s a very generic answer I’ve given you, but it’s important to know more as puppies can develop so quickly, and not all puppies are the same either. There’s more detail below which explains when to start feeding a puppy twice a day so you can get it right for your pooch with the correct feeding amounts.
When to stop feeding puppy 3 times a day
Switching your puppy to 2 meals a day typically occurs around 6 months of age. At this point in their development, they have been burning energy and calories like crazy, with a need to be fed 3 times so they can grow properly.
At size months, most (but not all puppies) will start to become less frantic, will use less energy, and therefore you should consider stopping feeding your puppy 3 times a day.
Some people don’t though – for example, our own dog was very active up until 7 months, so we took the decision to not switch our puppy from 3 meals to 2 until then.
But, when we spoke to our vet, he told us we should have done it at 6 months anyway as he was no longer growing as fast as he was before.
Once your puppy does make the transition from 3 meals to 2, make sure you get advice from your vet or follow the feeding amount guidelines found on the side of commercial dog food. This will mean your puppy gets the right amount of food and nutrients needed for their next phase of development.
When are the best times to feed your puppy?
The most common feeding times for puppies once they have stopped being fed three times a day is once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. Routine is so important at this stage, so I recommend feeding your puppy twice a day in sync with your own breakfast and dinnertime meal – providing it’s not too late.
Most experts will say that the first feeding time could occur at around 7am when you wake up, and then they can have their daily exercise throughout the day. By the time 5pm comes around, the puppy will need the second meal of the day.
Don’t leave space between the puppies 2 meals any more than this, as they will become very hungry. You should always leave them a constant water bowl out though.
Handy Hint: Don’t take your puppy out as soon as he has finished eating as it can cause them problems. Here’s a guide on how long you need to wait after a meal before exercise.
By sticking to these twice daily feeding times, it gives the puppy enough time for food to digest properly in the evening before bedtime. It also means you will have a few hours in which to play more and burn off more excess energy before it’s sleepy time.
Another benefit to a 5pm feed is it reduces the chances of the puppy peeing and pooping indoors – you will hopefully have a few hours within which the food can digest and be pooped out.
And another big tip I can give you once you have stopped feeding your puppy 3 times a day is to not feed meals too late at night. As well as the pooping and peeing situation, it can also reduce restlessness on a full belly of food as they try to sleep – or feel they need to burn it off with late night activity.
And with regards to that activity, there’s also the aspect I alluded to earlier in my handy hint about when to walk your puppy after a feed. Here’s what that entails below.
How soon after feeding can I take my puppy walking?
This is important; do not take your puppy out for a walk as soon as they have finished eating. Whilst that might suit you and your routine, it can cause them health issues, particularly for highly active puppies.
The reason being, is that puppies can develop abdominal bloat or a twisted gut if they run about too soon after a meal. Vets tend to recommend you walk them at least an hour after their meal has been finished.
The opposite is true too, albeit a reduced timeframe. Vets recommend you don’t feed a puppy as soon as your return from a walk, but instead wait 15 minutes before one of their twice daily meals after 6 months of age.
There’s a good reason for this too:
“If your puppy is hot and panting, she needs to calm down before taking in any food. Otherwise, she’ll gobble her food down and end up with bloat again.”
So now you have the basics out the way regarding when to stop feeding puppy 3 times a day, you need to consider how much food to give them in the two meals.
This will all boil down to how big the puppy is and how much he weighs. The dog breed will also play a huge part in this which is why you will see specific breed foods offered by commercial dog food companies – some breeds are more active than others and need more to eat.
Another consideration will be whether your puppy is on a dry or wet food diet. There are some obvious signs to look out for if you are worried about over-feeding your puppy, including.
- Obvious signs of weight gain around the middle section of your dog: To mitigate this, you could regularly weight your puppy. This is quite easy. Step on the scales yourself and note the weight. Then do the same but with your puppy in yours arm. You can then subtract the difference to see your puppy’s weight.
- You can see your puppy’s ribs: On the flipside, you could be underfeeding your puppy when you stop feeding them 3 times a day. Don’t get me wrong, you should be able to feel them, that’s healthy. It’s when they stick out you should worry.
- Read the feeding guidance: This is the best way to make sure you’re feeding your puppy enough twice a day. The packaging will probably show you the total daily quantity so divide this into two half-meal servings.
- Don’t fall for your puppy’s charms: A begging puppy is hard to ignore, but don’t fall for their charms. They will eat whatever is front of them even if they are full up.
Once you have transitioned your puppy from 3 meals to 2, you will need to think about when it’s the right time to switch them onto adult food.
Puppy food is full of extra nutrients and calories to meet your puppy’s growing needs. But as they mature, they need less of the rich stuff.
Don’t make the switch to adult food too soon and seek advice from your vet. All dog breeds can be different I believe. For example, according to the Doggysaurus website:
“Smaller dog breeds mature quicker than larger dog breeds. So, if your little Dachshund is 7 to 10 months old, you can start switching them to adult food. Large breed dogs should reach 80 pounds before you start switching them to adult food. This can be anywhere between 12 and 16 months.”
Regardless, any switch to adult dog food should really be a gradual change. I was advised by my vet to introduce adult food into our puppy’s diet in small amounts over the course of two weeks. This can reduce the chances of an upset stomach and will reduce any possible stress to change they might have.
Time goes so quickly, and before you know it, your puppy will be a young fully grown adult dog rather than that small and helpless puppy you picked from the litter.
Cherish the early days, because it won’t be long before you will have to switch your puppy to 2 meals a day instead of 3.
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-feed-animal-mascot-puppy-pet-2393826/