When to Switch a Puppy to Two Meals a Day?

Have you heard the expression “growing like a weed?” That certainly applies to puppies, who have an incredible growth rate! 

A puppy’s size, shape, and behavior are likely to change significantly over its first year. The rate of growth and strength and the development of their musculoskeletal structures are greatly dependent on the diet that dogs eat as puppies and adults. After all, like us hoo-mans, you are what you eat! 

when to switch a puppy to two meals a day
When to switch a puppy to two meals a day?

Overfeeding puppies is a common practice among dog owners who believe it will boost their pup’s health. A puppy’s weight can quickly escalate if he is fed too much food within a short period of time, making his tummy upset and placing unnecessary pressure on his frame. 

In addition, overconsuming food can lead to obesity and diabetes, as well as orthopedic problems. More is NOT better! 

In this blog post, we’ll look at a puppy’s nutritional requirements and answer some commonly asked questions about the diet of puppies. 

When Should You Switch Your Puppy To Two Meals A Day?

As with human babies, puppies require a large number of small meals each day in the beginning. To maintain their high energy levels, puppies should typically be given three to four meals per day. 

In some cases, puppies may require as many as four to six meals a day, depending on the breed. 

A pup has the ability to develop at a rapid pace for about six to nine months. That’s when they do the most growing! 

After six months or so, they might already have attained their maximum height, and hence, require less feeding. However, this differs greatly from breed to breed.

Pomeranian bowl
The Pomeranian puppy stands in front of a bowl.

Some large breeds don’t stop growing until they are about 9 to 12 months, and some giant breeds continue growing well into their second year. 

Your puppy should switch from three meals per day to two meals per day between six and twelve months of age. 

When your dog reaches seven to nine months of age, you can transition to two meals a day for most toy and small breeds.

It is recommended that large breed dogs eat three meals a day until around 12-14 months of age, unlike their smaller counterparts. 

Dogs benefit from twice-daily feedings because they have well-regulated digestion and hunger patterns and are also easy to incorporate into our daily routines. 

A single diet, however, cannot be applied to all dogs. It is necessary to customize feeding schedules for pets according to their breed, size, and any medical conditions that they may have.

It is important to maintain portion control when feeding on a schedule. Although puppy growth is still just beginning, it should take place at a steady and controlled pace.

In order to avoid your puppy growing too quickly or becoming overweight, your veterinarian will regularly check your puppy’s weight.

Veterinary experts discourage free-feeding instead of scheduled meals since it increases your puppy’s risk of obesity.

In large breed puppies who are prone to dysplastic hips and elbow joints, this can have severe consequences.

Dalmatian in the car
Dalmatian in the car, going to a dog salon.

What Is the Best Time For Your Puppy To Start Eating Adult Food?

During their growth period, puppies need a lot of energy, protein, calcium, and phosphorus to maintain a healthy body. 

It is crucial that you give your puppy a high-quality, balanced diet that is appropriate to his age and breed. 

Once your pet reaches adulthood, they can be switched to an adult diet that is more appropriate to their nutritional needs. This transition should be made based on your puppy’s breed and size.

A puppy of a larger breed will grow slower than a puppy of a smaller breed and may not achieve maturity until it is at least 18 months old. Smaller breeds can typically transition to an adult diet after 12 months.

A sudden change in your puppy’s diet can cause gastrointestinal upset, so it is essential to consult your veterinarian before making any changes. 

A gradual introduction to adult feed over a few weeks is recommended in order to prevent complications. Simply mix the adult food with the puppy food in increasing quantities, gradually switching over entirely to adult food. 

Introducing Two Meals a Day to Your Puppies

It is best to spread out your dog’s meals when he is transitioning from three to two meals. Due to their adjustment to their meal times, it is easier to keep two of the scheduled times and eliminate the midday feeding at this point. 

You need to consider your puppy’s total recommended consumption of food per day and divide the amount into two equal portions according to the amount they require. 

The first feeding may be in the early morning just after the first potty break and the second, in the evening during dinner time. 

puppies eating
Two puppies eating from their bowls.

How Can You Tell If Your Puppy Is Being Fed Incorrectly?

According to your puppy’s size, age, breed, activity level, health, and calorie intake requirement, he or she requires a certain number of calories daily. 

Healthy growth and development are promoted by ensuring your puppy consume an adequate amount of calories. 

You can use the rib cage as a gauge of the physique of your pooch. Run your fingers along the rib cage, which should feel palpable, but not heavily defined.

If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs, yikes. Your dog might be a little tubby! 

However, if you observe visible ribs and dull, dry fur, your puppy might be a little underfed and malnourished.

When in doubt, always check with your veterinarian on a proper diet for your pooch. 

In addition, to determine whether your dog is consuming enough calories, you can closely monitor their pooping habits. There are several signs that your puppy is underfed, including gas, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting bile.

The usual amount of food will be sufficient if you keep your puppy’s activity level constant. In contrast, puppies have more energy to play as they grow and require fewer naps.

You should therefore give your dog a little more food if he or she has had a more active day. To keep him satisfied, he should consume enough calories to cover his expenditures.

puppy dark box
Puppy can’t sleep in the dark box.

When Should I Feed My Puppy?

You can give your pup his first meal as soon as he wakes up in the morning. The late afternoon can then be the time for the second meal. 

The second meal shouldn’t be served too late or sleep might be disrupted. Give your dog ample time to digest the food before bedtime. 

As an additional measure of assistance to his digestive system, you can also take him on a walk in the evening following dinner to prepare for bed and reduce the risk of a “poopy” accident throughout the night. 

puppy eats
Puppy enjoys eating his wet food.

Puppy Food: What is The Best?

Make sure to feed puppy-only food that is size or breed-specific. Puppies are growing at a way faster rate and have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs. 

In addition, pups also grow at different rates according to their size, so buy large or small breed depending on your pup’s maximum size. 

There is a huge range of puppy food out there. There’s wet or dry food, grain-free, and food with different protein sources. 

Grain-free and wheat-free foods

While many dogs can eat wheat and grain-free food as well as other kinds of dog food, some might have sensitive tummies that might react to grain. Grain-free food is an excellent alternative for dogs who are intolerant to grain, just as some humans are intolerant to grains.

However, the dogs of today are more capable of digesting grains than their ancestors because of the evolution of their digestive systems. 

It is important to keep the food fresh after feeding your puppy unless it is consumed in one sitting. It is recommended that wet or moistened food not be left out for more than half an hour, despite the fact that dry food can be left out for up to a day. 

Also, remember to ensure that there is plenty of fresh water left out for your pooch every day.  

pugs eating together
Pug puppies are eating together.

Wet and dry foods

In most cases, by the time you bring your new puppy home, he or she should have already been weaned off their mother’s milk. 

Normally, weaning occurs between six and eight weeks after which solid food can be introduced. It is important to note, however, that this change should not be made too abruptly. Your puppy may find it easier to eat wet food or softened dry food with water if he has just finished weaning.

To make dry food softer, mix it with some warm water or natural broth if your puppy is still struggling to eat.

switching diets
Switching dog food diets

Final Thoughts 

While some owners switch their dogs over to once-a-day meals once their dogs are fully grown, it is still recommended by veterinarians and nutritionists that a twice-daily meal plan is continued throughout your dog’s life. 

When in doubt, always speak to your veterinarian to consult on a proper feeding plan. Enjoy puppy parenthood!