Creating a puppy feeding schedule that fits your routine (with chart!)

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Louise Hawkins
puppy looking up at person holding up bowl filled with Lyka food

Puppies are super cute… but they’re also a lot of work!

Nourishing your puppy’s active mind and body with a fresh, wholefood diet is a great first step, but it can be tricky to know how much to feed them, how often, when to increase their portions, and what milestones to prepare for — there’s a lot to remember.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve created a downloadable feeding schedule so you can plan mealtimes for each stage of their early years to help you become a proud parent of a happy and healthy pup.

Creating a personalised puppy feeding schedule

A puppy’s energy levels are high, but their stomach is small. Split their daily recommended food portions across four mealtimes to keep them fuelled throughout the day and promote good digestion.

Over time, reduce the frequency to three meals per day and then two meals per day once they’re fully grown.

Each week, monitor your pup’s weight to keep an eye on their growth rate. This is different for each breed — chat to your vet about your puppy’s specific growth milestones, or create a personalised feeding plan with Lyka. We provide support and advice through those tricky early years, and work with you to make the right adjustments to your pup’s diet.

Weeks 8-12: Offer them food mixed with fresh water four times a day to help them slurp up their food and keep them hydrated. Space the meals approximately 4-6 hours apart. Gradually reduce the added moisture content as they become more comfortable with eating solid food.

Months 3-6: During this stage, transition your puppy to three meals a day. Feed them breakfast, lunch, and dinner, spacing the meals approximately 6-8 hours apart.

Months 6-12: Move your puppy to two mealtimes a day. Give them breakfast and dinner, spacing the meals approximately 8-12 hours apart. Adjust portion sizes according to their age, size, and activity level to prevent underfeeding or overfeeding.

Moving to two feeds a day: Is your puppy ready to make the change? Transition age depends on their breed.

Generally, smaller breeds can transition earlier, around three to six months, while larger breeds may need to continue with multiple meals until they are six to nine months old.

Gradual transition: Start by gradually reducing the number of meals your puppy receives each day. For example, if your puppy is currently on three meals a day, reduce it to two by dividing their recommended daily portions into equal meals.

Try to maintain a consistent schedule by feeding your puppy at the same times every day and remember to feed your pup a few hours before bedtime to give them time to digest their meal.

“A puppy feeding schedule helps you stay on top of their mealtimes and provides a reassuring routine for your growing puppy. It also allows you to monitor their developmental milestones so you can make meal adjustments as you go.”

  • Louise Hawkins, Qualified Vet Nurse and Research and Development Associate at Lyka

Tried and tested tips for a foolproof feeding schedule (every time!)

It’s our mission to help all dogs live their best lives. We believe taking a holistic approach to their health and wellbeing from an early age establishes a strong foundation for the rest of their life.

Choosing the best food and making a feeding schedule are keys to success, but it’s also about creating a positive environment and encouraging a healthy appetite so they eat with gusto at mealtimes.

Becoming a new puppy parent can feel overwhelming: toilet training, vaccinations, socialisation, diet and nutrition — the works! We’re always on hand to guide you through each stage so you can enjoy bonding with your new addition.

Check out our feeding tips and tricks to help your pup have the best start in life:

  1. Set a schedule: establish a fixed feeding schedule for your puppy and stick to it as much as possible. This helps you to keep on top of their mealtimes and provides a reassuring routine for your pup.

  2. Plan exercise and training routines: a feeding schedule complements your pup’s exercise and training schedule. Dogs shouldn’t exercise straight after eating as it can cause bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) — something you can avoid by planning in advance.

  3. Designate a feeding area: puppies are curious creatures that like to explore and be the centre of attention, but they can also get FOMO! Find a feeding area that’s free from distractions like family members or other pets, so they can focus on their food.

  4. Choose a feeding method: traditional stainless steel or ceramic bowls are ideal because they’re relatively cheap and easy to clean. They’re also more successful at minimising the growth of bacteria than other materials. If your puppy is a speedy eater, choose slow-feeding bowls, interactive feeders or puzzle toys.

  5. Avoid free feeding: if food is available to your puppy all day, it can lead to overeating, an inconsistent appetite and fussiness. Always measure their meals according to the recommended daily amount, unless their food is already portion controlled.

  6. Time-controlled feeding: if your puppy doesn’t eat their meal within 15-20 minutes, place it in the fridge for their next meal. Monitor their appetite and make an appointment with the vet if their food refusal continues. Timed meals also prevent food from staying out too long which can encourage bad bacteria growth.

  7. Go easy on the treats: it’s tempting to lavish your puppy with treats, but too many can affect their appetite and lead to weight gain. The general rule of thumb is to only feed 10% of their daily calories in treats — which is a small amount for a puppy. Plus, treats tend to be doubly delicious and too many might make them fussy about their normal food.

Remember to keep their eating area clean and always offer fresh water every day.

How much food does my puppy need?

With their adorable little faces and big clumsy paws, it’s hard not to fall head over heels in love with a pint-sized pup. But they don’t stay small for long!

Some toy breeds can be fully grown within six months, while giant breeds can take up to 18 months to reach maturity.

No matter the breed, all puppies need to be given the opportunity to grow at a steady pace.

Large breed puppies

Large breeds like Great Danes, Labradors and Rottweilers have longer growth periods than smaller breeds.

Did you know that excess calories or high levels of calcium can accelerate a puppy’s growth?

This may sound like a good thing, but it’s quite the opposite. If growth is too quick, it can strain their bones and joints.

Large-breed puppies need to have a slow-growth feeding plan to ensure proper bone development and prevent skeletal abnormalities like hip dysplasia.

Small breed puppies

Small breeds like Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds and Miniature Pinschers have shorter growth periods than large breeds. These mini pocket rockets also have higher energy needs relative to their size.

Like larger breeds, small puppies need enough calories to support their optimal growth without encouraging excess weight gain.

What’s the best food for my puppy?

When it comes to nourishing your puppy during their early years, the quality of food matters just as much as the quantity.

Puppies have fast metabolisms, but relatively immature digestive systems. Every mouthful of food should be packed with highly digestible and bioavailable ingredients to nourish their body and support their microbiome — vital for strengthening their immune defence.

A fresh, wholefood diet made from human-grade ingredients, like Lyka, ensures your puppy is getting all the macro and micronutrients they need for every life stage.

What ingredients should I look for?

From the rows of brightly coloured bags at the pet store, to your breeder’s choice of puppy food, to your dog park pals who swear by raw food, it can be hard to know what to choose for your new best friend.

We’ve done the hard work for you by listing some important ingredients to look for in your puppy’s meals.

High-quality protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient to support the growth and repair of muscles and bones and plays an important role in hormone production too.

Not all protein is the same as it can be sourced from animals and plants like legumes. A few legumes in their diet can add dietary fibre, but too many can trigger gastrointestinal health issues as well as room-clearing gas! Many dry food brands rely on legumes as a major source of protein, so make sure you check the label.

Look for diets that contain predominantly high-quality, human-grade animal protein from specified single protein sources:

  • Turkey: A lean and highly digestible protein packed with essential amino acids like tryptophan, vital for supporting a puppy’s growth, immune function and overall wellbeing.

  • Eggs: A powerhouse of high-quality protein and essential amino acids for physical development.

Essential vitamins and minerals

Healthy, growing puppies need a daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals. It’s even better if they come from fresh, natural sources that are more easily digested and absorbed into their system.

Look for these puppy-friendly vitamins and minerals:

  • Copper: used in the formation of bones and in connective tissue.

  • Magnesium: a mineral that helps with cell function and energy. It also helps to regulate your pup’s feelings of wellbeing, so they don’t feel anxious when exploring the wide world around them.

  • Calcium and phosphorus: used to form strong bones and teeth. Too much calcium can be detrimental to large-breed puppies as it encourages a fast growth rate that can lead to abnormal bone development. The optimal ratio between these ingredients should be almost equal at 1:1 with slightly more calcium than phosphorus. Lyka’s meals contain an optimal calcium and phosphorus ratio ranging between 1.1-1.3:1 — an amount that’s perfectly balanced to meet your puppy’s growth requirements without being excessive.

  • Vitamin B: supports your puppy’s energy production, metabolism and brain development to keep their body and mind active.

  • Spinach and Kale: Leafy green vegetables like these are chock full of vitamins A and C, iron and fibre — superfood superpower for growing puppies!

Probiotic dietary fibre

Choose a diet that contains prebiotic fibre to support their developing microbiome, boost their digestive function and create healthy poos.

  • Butternut squash: brimming with gut-loving prebiotic fibre, vitamin A and vitamin C.

  • Broccoli: packed with vitamins and prebiotic fibre to feed the good bacteria in your puppy’s gut.

Low GI carbohydrates

Diets that are full of high GI carbohydrates like rice, wheat and corn can cause blood sugar spikes followed by the heavy slump of a sugar crash. They can also put the pancreas under strain and contribute to the development of diabetes.

Instead, feed your puppy a diet containing low GI carbohydrates that provide a steady energy release throughout the day.

  • Purple sweet potato: a vibrantly coloured low GI carb that’s also full of phytonutrients and antioxidants to prevent disease.

  • Quinoa: a gluten-free superfood source of fibre, protein and healthy fats for energy and overall health.

Omega essential fatty acids

Healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 are a great source of energy and help your puppy’s body absorb vitamins. They’re also powerful agents for joint and skin health — ideal for Labrador Retriever puppies prone to hip dysplasia.

Too much omega-6 can trigger inflammation, so AAFCO has recommended a maximum ratio of 30:1 omega-6 and omega-3 to balance the properties of both. Lyka has chosen an optimal lower ratio of between 3.1-3.6:1 to minimise the risk of inflammation.

  • Sardines: Bursting with omega fatty acids, protein, calcium, iron and vitamins, these little fish pack a punch in your puppy’s diet.

Transitioning to fresh food? Take it slowly!

If you’ve decided to switch their diet from kibble to fresh or raw food, plan a gradual transition. Sudden dietary changes can trigger gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea or vomiting that can lead to food aversion — not what you want for your new bundle of fur.

A gradual approach for good gut bacteria

Your puppy’s microbiome is made up of millions of friendly gut bacteria that are responsible for modulating their immune system as well as supporting digestion.

Food that’s rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is an excellent way to boost your dog’s nutrition and microbiome health.

Minimise the risk of a tummy upset by slowly transitioning between diets, so their microbiome adapts to the diversity of ingredients and stays in a healthy balance.

Need some help creating a personalised diet that supports your puppy’s early development and beyond?

Lyka’s meal plans are tailored to your puppy’s breed, weight, age, and activity level that updates as they grow, so you never have to worry about them getting the nutrients they need to thrive.

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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