adorable puppy eating from bowl

Common questions about… feeding your new puppy reading-time-icon 3 min read

You’ve brought home your new puppy, registered them with your local vet practice and stocked up on all the essentials you need. What next? 

A healthy, complete and balanced diet plays a huge role in keeping dogs healthy.  

With so many diets and dietary brands on the market, it can sometimes be difficult for owners to make the right choice for their puppy.

Let’s take a look at some of the internet’s most-searched queries about feeding a new puppy.  

When can puppies eat solid food?

On average, puppies can eat solid food from 3½ - 4½ weeks of age. 

In most cases, you’d bring your new puppy home at no younger than 6 weeks of age, so they’ll be able to enjoy a commercial diet. 

During a puppy’s first few weeks, they’ll rely completely on their mother for food. When they get to 3-4 weeks of age and begin eating solid food, the puppy should be transitioned gradually from their mother’s milk to canned or dry food. To do this, the breeder will mix a milk-replacer with watered-down puppy food, essentially turning it into gruel. 

Over a period of roughly 2 weeks, the breeder will gradually reduce the amount of liquid added to the puppy’s food so that they’re ready to be fed a commercial or veterinary diet by the time you bring them home. 

When you do bring your puppy home, aim to initially keep them on the same diet as their breeder. If/when you transition your puppy to a new diet, do so gradually over a 7-10 day period.

How much food should a puppy eat?

It depends on how heavy your puppy will be when they reach full maturity. Think of it like this: a 10-week-old St Bernard will need more food than a 10-week-old Chihuahua

Likewise, your puppy’s recommended portion sizes will increase as they get older - and grow bigger! 

Portion sizes will also vary depending on which diet you’ve chosen to feed your puppy. 

But don’t panic! Commercial puppy foods will come with feeding schedules and detailed instructions on how much to feed your puppy based on their age and size. You’ll also get plenty of advice from your vet.

labrador puppy being fed out of human's hand

How many times a day should you feed a puppy?

Here’s a general guide: 

  • From 8 weeks to 4 months old, feed 4 times a day
  • From 4 months old, feed 3 times a day
  • From 6 months old, feed twice a day

Puppies are growing, so they generally need more food than adult dogs. When they’re first weaned off their mother’s milk and onto solid food, the puppy will need to be fed often but in small doses. 

By the time your pup reaches 6-8 weeks and you come to bring them home, they’ll need around 4 meals a day, depending on their size and the diet you’re feeding them. 

If you’re worried about under- or overfeeding your pup, just make sure you follow the guidelines included with your puppy food. Visiting the vet regularly will help you to get a clear idea of whether your puppy is at a healthy weight

What times should I feed my puppy?

Aim to spread your puppy’s meal times evenly throughout the day - just like human meal times. Meals in the morning, lunchtime, late afternoon and evening will suffice. 

When it comes to the exact timing, the key is consistency. For example, it doesn’t matter whether your puppy gets their first meal at 7:00am or 8:00am, but whichever time you choose, try to stick with it every day. Maintaining a constant routine will help your puppy feel at ease - and will definitely help with toilet training!

When can puppies eat dry food without water?

Your puppy should have a full set of baby teeth once they’re 8 weeks old, so they should be able to eat dry food by then.

Of course, this isn’t the case for all puppies. Your breeder will be able to advise further on how your puppy is getting on with their diet.

puppy having a check-up with vet

Can puppies eat adult dog food?

As a general rule, no.

Growing puppies have different dietary requirements to fully grown adult dogs. If your puppy was fed adult dog food instead of a diet specially designed for puppies, you’d run the risk of inhibiting their growth, which could have negative consequences later on in life. 

In most cases, dogs can be fed adult dog food once they’re all grown up and have reached full maturity. 

Can adult dogs eat puppy food?

This should be avoided. To aid a young dog’s rapid growth, puppy food typically contains more calories than adult food. If an adult dog ate puppy food regularly, they’d be at risk of weight gain - which has lots of harmful knock-on effects, including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

That said, eating puppy food isn’t harmful for adult dogs in the short term. There’s nothing to worry about if your adult dog gets their paws on your new puppy’s dinner once or twice - just don’t make a habit of feeding it to them. 

Need more info?

For more help and advice on feeding your puppy, have a chat with your vet. They’ll provide expert information tailored to your puppy - their age, breed and unique lifestyle factors. 

Use our Find a Vet page to locate your nearest My Family Vets practice.

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