Labrador eating from food bowl

How much food?

Like all growing children, puppies need a lot of kilojoules to fuel their fast growth. Especially in the first five months when their bodies spurt quickest to fit into those big paws.

The amount of food your puppy needs depends on their lifestyle and breed. For example, is your puppy active or lazy, is it a Chihuahua or a Great Dane?

Check premium food product labels

Some of the premium dog food brands have developed special puppy formulations. On these products you’ll find labels and advice explaining how much, and how often, you should feed a puppy.

And because dogs can vary so much in size - picture a solid 80kg Mastiff next to a petite 2.5kg Chihuahua - there are also special foods for different growth and development requirements.

Ask your local vet

Your veterinary clinic staff can help you choose the most appropriate food for your puppy as well as tell how much to feed them and how many times a day.

Am I feeding my dog too much or too little?

Vets use a body conditioning score to evaluate whether dogs are overweight or underweight. It ranges from 1 for emaciated, to 5 for obese.

It's normal for very young puppies to have a bit of baby fat, but after the first 8 to 10 weeks, most should have a score of around 2.

How to do a puppy weight test at home

Do a quick home assessment to see if your puppy rates close to 2 on the body conditioning scorecard. If your puppy is close to their ideal weight, you:

  • may be able to see their ribs
  • shouldn’t be able to feel any fat on their ribs
  • should see a waist when you look down from above
  • should see an abdominal tuck when you look from the side.

Do pregnant dogs need more food?

If your dog is pregnant, the amount of food you give her shouldn’t change. But it’s more important than ever to ensure she has a balanced diet with the essential elements for good health. Overfeeding or underfeeding can be detrimental to her health and the health of the developing puppies. Learn more about pregnancy in dogs.

Reduced appetite may indicate illness

Loss of appetite is one of the most common signs of illness in dogs. Many puppies will refuse to eat even if they are slightly uncomfortable from an injury, upset stomach or illness. Others will only stop eating when they’re seriously ill.

If your puppy is eating less over a few days, you should see your vet.