Your puppy’s nutritional needs change as it grows from a baby into a full-sized adult. Around eight weeks, many puppies are experiencing rapid transitions that may require you to adjust feeding schedules, meal volume, and even the type of food you use.
If you’re worried about over or underfeeding your developing puppy, you’re not alone. Plenty of responsible owners wonder how they should be adjusting feeding habits as they watch their puppies grow. Here, I’ll talk about how much to feed an eight-week-old puppy to support healthy development.
In the first few weeks of its life, a puppy needs protein-rich milk to survive. It’s best if puppies get this milk from their mothers, as it will contain antibodies to protect against a variety of diseases. A synthetic milk substitute is an appropriate alternative if the mother is unavailable.
Weaning a puppy off milk can take several weeks, regardless of whether it’s bottle-fed or drinks a milk substitute. Weaning takes place around four to eight weeks of age, depending on the size and breed of the puppy.
Eight-week-old puppies are often towards the tail end of this weaning period. They require solid food high in protein and essential nutrients to support rapid growth and development. You should talk to your vet to find a brand that’s right for your puppy.
If an eight-week-old puppy is already fully weaned, it should be able to handle dry food with no problem. In fact, some puppies may be ready to transition from puppy food to adult food at this point.
You should gradually swap foods once your puppy reaches its full adult size to an option with fewer calories and lower protein content. Otherwise, you run the risk of driving your dog towards obesity.
Depending on the size and breed of your pup, it may be ready to transition anywhere between six and twelve months of age. In most cases, the smaller the dog, the faster it will mature.
Wet Food vs. Dry Food
In most cases, you’ll have to mix milk with dry food to help puppies grow accustomed to solid food. Gradually adjust the ratio of kibble to milk until they can handle solid food on their own. Doing this should help prevent digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
Even if a puppy is fully weaned, it may still have trouble processing dry kibble. If you notice your puppy having gastrointestinal issues, you may want to try swapping dry food for wet food. You can also try softening up kibble with warm water or a tiny bit of milk substitute to make it soft enough for their developing teeth to handle.
Providing plenty of water is just as important as keeping your puppy fed on a day-to-day basis. You should ensure that your puppy is drinking around at least a half cup of water every two hours. Weaned puppies eating dry kibble may need more water to stay hydrated.
As a rule of thumb, dogs should drink around one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.
How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?
The amount of food that a puppy needs each day depends primarily on size. Smaller puppies typically require fewer calories than large breeds. Puppies that are less than 12 months old require the following amounts based on their expected size at maturity:
- 3 to 12 lbs: ½ cup to 1 cup per day
- 13 to 20 lbs: ½ to 1 ¼ cups per day
- 21 to 50 lbs: ½ to 1 ½ cups per day
- 51 to 75 lbs: ⅝ to 2 ⅓ cups per day
This guide on how much to feed an eight-week-old puppy is just an approximation and by no means a hard and fast set of rules. Your puppy may require more or less food based on factors such as metabolism, activity levels, and more.
How Often Should I Feed My Puppy?
Large meals tend to be difficult for puppies to handle, so it’s best to break up feedings throughout the course of the day. Most puppies require three to four meals per day at eight weeks old. This schedule prevents gastrointestinal distress from overeating and helps to keep energy levels stable until bedtime.
It’s a good idea to space out each feeding by a few hours and stick to a set schedule. At the very least, you should feed your puppy around the same times that you eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you notice your puppy having digestive issues or vomiting after eating, split their midday meal into two sessions.
By 12 to 16 weeks, you can usually reduce feedings to two to three times per day. You shouldn’t begin your puppy’s adult feeding schedule until it’s around six months old. At this point, you should be able to feed your dog two generous portions a day without worrying about gastrointestinal distress.
Is My Puppy Eating Enough?
If your puppy shows signs of hunger, such as whining or begging, you may worry that you’re underfeeding it. However, this isn’t always the case. Some dogs are more prone to food fixations than others and may start displaying this behavior as a puppy.
In some cases, however, a puppy that seems constantly hungry may need more calories, protein, or other nutrients in its diet. Sudden biting or nipping can be a sign of hunger, as can digestive issues such as diarrhea.
You should feed your puppy enough that you can feel its ribs, though in most cases, they shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. Your dog should also have a streamlined waist, but hip bones shouldn’t protrude noticeably. If your dog is looking thin, you should increase the amount you feed them.
Always consult your vet when making changes to your puppy’s diet.
It can be challenging to figure out how much to feed an eight-week-old puppy. All dogs have different nutritional needs, especially as they develop. With three to four healthy portions per day, you can keep your puppy’s energy levels up and support their lifelong development.