Feeding Your Puppy: A First-Year Timeline

Feeding your puppy a nutritious diet is vital to their growth and overall health. With countless options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this guide, we will outline a general timeline for puppy feeding and provide insight into your puppy’s unique nutritional needs.

6-12 Weeks

During the first 6-12 weeks of your puppy’s life, it’s important to feed them puppy food, which is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs for normal development. Feeding your puppy adult food can deprive them of important nutrients. To meet their nutritional demands, feed your puppy four times a day. Large breeds should be fed unmoistened dry food by 9 or 10 weeks, while small dogs can start eating this by 12 or 13 weeks.

3-6 Months

At around 3-6 months, decrease your puppy’s feedings from four to three times a day. Your pup should be losing their potbelly and pudginess by 12 weeks. If they are still roly-poly at this age, continue to feed them puppy-size portions until their body type matures.

6-12 Months

Between 6-12 months, begin feeding your puppy twice a day. After spaying or neutering, their energy requirements will slightly decrease. At this point, you can switch from nutrient-rich puppy food to adult maintenance food. Small breeds can make the switch at 7 to 9 months, while bigger breeds should wait until 12, 13, or even 14 months. It’s better to be on puppy food a little too long than not long enough.

After Age 1

After age 1, most owners feed their adult dogs two half-portions a day. Keep in mind that portion sizes should be determined by your dog’s body condition, not the amount eaten or left in the bowl.

Important Tid Bits

  • Portion sizes depend on individual metabolism and body type, and nutritional requirements vary from dog to dog.
  • Adjust the amount you feed at mealtime accordingly if you are doing treat-based training with your pup. Keep the treat as small as possible.
  • Feed your puppy at regular times in regular amounts, and don’t leave food down for more than 10 to 20 minutes to discourage picky habits.
  • Premium dog food has higher nutritional density, so you can feed your dog less to achieve the same results. Plus, premium foods have stable ingredient profiles; the composition of bargain brands can vary from batch to batch.

Dry Food, Wet Food, or Both?

Canned Food

Canned food is the most expensive to feed, but dogs often find it the most palatable. Be careful of “all-meat” claims, though. Your dog should have a complete, balanced diet to fulfill nutritional requirements. Meat alone may not do it.

Semi-Moist Food

Semi-moist food is available in one-serving packets and usually looks like hamburger.


Kibble is the most economical option, and the major manufacturers offer a complete and balanced diet for dogs of all sizes and ages. Dry food can be fed exactly as it comes from the bag. Some dog owners believe that there is an oral-hygiene advantage in hard kibble because the friction produced helps to keep the gums and teeth healthy. You can also moisten kibble, either with water or canned food, although it’s not necessary.


Unless there is a medical reason to feed raw,  Chris and I highly discourage feed any dog, but particularly a puppy raw food. Raw food, especially meat, contains bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens that would normally be killed during the cooking process. So feeding raw food brings extra risks, not just to your pet’s health but also to other people in your household.

Tid Bits

  • Many pet-food companies have worked with canine-nutrition scientists to develop special formulas for both large- and small-breed puppies.
  • Dry food is the most economical option, while canned food is the most expensive but often more palatable.
  • Some dog owners prefer kibble for its oral-hygiene benefits, but it can also be moistened for added flavor.
  • Meat alone may not provide a complete, balanced diet for your dog, so be careful of “all-meat” claims.