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A Useful Guide To Feeding Your Puppy and Dog

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Feeding your puppy or dog a good diet is key to a long and healthy life. Both nutritional content and portion control have a big impact on doggy health, and it’s much better to get this right for your dog from the beginning of their life with you.

It’s essential to make sure your dog is well nourished as this can prevent a lot of health issues, but the weight is also very important. As many of us know, losing excess weight is no fun! And it’s the same for dogs. Keeping an eye on condition and making tweaks here and there by balancing food intake with exercise is a much better way to maintain ideal weight.

Getting it right from the start

When you bring a new puppy home, you should continue feeding them the food they had been eating in their old home. If this food isn’t ideal and you want to change, you can start to switch it over but make sure this transition is gradual or you’ll risk upsetting their stomachs. Change over slowly by mixing the two foods together for 5-7 days.

There are a few diet choices around for puppies including wet, moist and dry foods. It’s up to you which you choose, but don’t offer variety as they might become picky eaters, and it can cause stomach upsets.

Puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs and so require a special diet to aid their physical development. A specially formulated growth food is recommended for the first year of age, which needs to be fed at evenly spaced intervals to avoid overstretching their small stomach. However, it’s important to note that larger breeds take longer to skeletally mature, and as a result, they may require puppy diets until around 18 months of age. Please check with your vet if you’re unsure about this.

Up to four months old

Three or four meals a day. You can feed to appetite as their growth and development is rapid, so give them as much in each meal as they want to eat then take it away if any is left uneaten. If food is left down all the time they might starting less at one time and grazing instead, which isn’t how they’re naturally programmed to eat, and can cause digestive problems.

Four to five months old

Three meals a day, still feeding to appetite 

Five months onwards

Two meals a day but portion controlled as growth has now slowed, and they will start putting on excess weight if allowed to eat as much as they like. It’s sometimes tricky to work out how much to feed them as they will still be growing and therefore their weight increases, so a good measure is to monitor their condition by feel. You should always be able to feel their ribs and their spine – if you can’t, they’re becoming overweight and you should feed them less. 

One year

Two meals a day

Which food is best? Dry, moist or wet?

Dry complete foods

Complete means that these biscuits theoretically contain all the nutrients a dog needs and can be the easiest choice to ensure you’re feeding your puppy or dog all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive, but quality varies. Supermarket brands are often the nutritional equivalent of a McDonalds diet and aren’t going to keep your dog in the best of health.

To ensure your dog gets what they need, choose a food designed for their life stage, size and condition and buy the best quality food you can afford. You often need less good-quality food than the cheaper varieties, so buying cheap is often a false economy anyway.

Some puppies aren’t used to eating dry foods, so if you choose biscuits but your puppy is resisting, make it more palatable to begin with by soaking it in a little water to soften it and bring out the flavours,  or mixing it with a little tinned food. You can gradually reduce this until they’re fully weaned and used to the biscuits.

Semi-moist and tinned foods

Again there are lots of choices when it comes to tinned food, and these also vary in quality.

Choose a specialist food that’s nutritionally complete, and the best you can afford. It will end up saving you money in the long term as your pet will be much stronger and healthier for it.

Home-made food

We don’t advise home cooked diets, as whilst the intentions are always good it’s really difficult to make sure they have the right nutritional content.

Puppies need the best diet possible as they grow, and even a slight imbalance can harm their development and mean they don’t put down the strongest cornerstones for their adult lives.


There are a wide variety of prepared and natural treats on the market which vary hugely in quality. Some commercial treats have lots of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat in them. Even ‘doggy chocs’ or ‘low fat yoghurt drops’ can contain sugars or lactose (milk sugar) so always check the ingredients label.

Good quality prepared treats have been developed with dogs dietary needs in mind. However, all treats should be given sparingly, never more than 15% of the total calorie intake.

If used regularly reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is receiving in order to avoid obesity. Some chew treats have proven ability to help prevent dental diseases, but again check the label to ensure you are getting a genuine product.

Real chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver damage and even be fatal, so never give your dog any chocolate, or leave any lying around for it to find and eat, especially at Christmas time.

Avoid giving your dog any sweet biscuits or sugary treats which are bad for its teeth as well as its waistline, and can cause sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. Stick to prepared treats and desiccated liver tablets.

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