For the first year of their life – sometimes longer for some breeds – puppies’ systems are growing and developing. Since so much energy is being diverted to grow and maintain their bones, muscles, brain, and other systems, they need to consume even more calories in proportion to their body size than an adult dog.
You don’t want to just give them empty calories. A diet too high in calories can cause a puppy to grow too fast and possibly develop weight problems. Puppies should be fed twice as many calories per pound as an adult of their breed. If you are unsure how to determine how much to feed, your vet can help you determine the correct amount of calories for your puppy.
In addition to the right number of calories, puppies need a good balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to support their growing bodies. Protein is a major part of muscle and brain development while fat is necessary for a healthy immune system and for sustainable energy. Carbohydrates are also vital for energy and brain development.
The best food for puppies is either a food developed specifically for growing dogs or a food developed for all life stages. The bag should clearly state which life stage the food was developed for, as well as the ratios of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Puppies do their fastest-growing in their first 5 months of life. Ideally, from the time they’re weaned until they reach around 6 months of age, puppies should be fed 3 times a day. They can adapt to being fed twice a day provided their caloric needs are being met.