We are what we eat.
It is as true for us as it is for our pets. Nutrition is one of the most important foundations for a healthy life.
But if choosing the right diet for your puppy can be daunting enough, this is far from being the only question to consider when it comes to nutrition.
Let’s go over how often you should feed your puppy.
It may seem like a simple question, but there’s much to consider.
Generally speaking, there are two ways that you can feed your pets:
- Ad libitum, in which they always have food available,
- Or with a set daily portion divided into meals given throughout the day.
As puppies tend to have a voracious appetite and will eat an entire bag of food if they can find one within their reach, an ad libitum regimen might not be a great idea at this age.
However, puppies will need a steady source of energy throughout the day. This is more easily achieved with multiple meals since their ability to regulate their blood sugar levels is still not thoroughly developed.
This means that if your puppy doesn’t eat for a long time they might suffer from hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). This can cause lethargy, trembling, incoordination, weakness and even seizures. This is a medical emergency, so if you recognise any of these signs in your puppy and they haven’t eaten in a while, don’t hesitate to contact your vet!
Dividing their daily amount of food into different meals also has the advantage of establishing a routine; which is highly appreciated by dogs, who are creatures of habit. It will also help you toilet train your puppy, as they often want to relieve themselves shortly after they’ve eaten.
But how many meals?
Again, this is variable and depends on several factors. You should always keep in mind that what works for some families may not work for others. As such, your puppy’s meals should be tailored to their individual needs and lifestyle.
As we’ve mentioned before, young puppies do not yet have the ability to fully regulate their blood sugar levels. This means that they are likely to benefit from a higher number of meals when they are younger. You can start by dividing their daily requirements into three to five meals. As they grow, gradually reduce the number of meals to something that works well for your family.
When you start reducing the number of meals (and maybe even before this), your puppy may be so eager to eat that they can slurp their entire meal down in seconds. If this is the case, a puzzle feeder can help make the meals last longer, as well as provide some fun and challenge to the feeding time.
What about treats?
Giving your puppy treats is a great way to bond with them. They can be used as a positive reinforcement when you’re teaching your puppy a new skill or trick.
However, make sure that you stick to a limited treat allowance from their daily amount to avoid overfeeding your puppy and causing nutritional imbalances.