There are many different options when it comes to choosing the correct diet & feeding regime for your puppy. Every puppy is going to be slightly different in what they require.   The following gives answers to the most commonly asked diet questions.

How often should my puppy be fed? 
We recommend that you feed your puppy 4 meals per day until they are 3 months of age then you can reduce it to 3 meals per day.  When they reach 6 months of age it can be reduced further to 2 meals per day. Most dogs are then quite happy on 2 meals per day for their lifetime.  We do not recommend once a day feeding.

How much should I feed my puppy?
As you can imagine every food brand/type has different feeding amounts.  How much to feed will depend on your puppy's body weight and age. 
The food should have a feeding guide on it dependent on their body weight (please be aware that some puppy feeding guides go by your puppies adult weight when they are fully grown) and these are generally written as 24 hour feeding amounts, so divide this by the number of meals your pup is having.   It should be emphasised that these are guidelines, but it is important to get it right.   Our consulting nurses can give you all the help you need in this department, as sometimes the information is not clear.   We also recommend you record your puppy's weight regularly. 

If your puppy is signed up to our MVP Care Plan, this includes routine nurse consults - we can weigh your pet and body condition score them to give you a more accurate idea of their weight gain.  We use a body condition scoring system out of 9, optimum body condition score is 4 or 5 / 9 - less than this is underweight and more than this is overweight.  We can show you how to do this.

Should I keep them on the food the breeder recommended?
Yes, at least in the short term.   It is best for your puppy to stay on what they are used to while everything in their world is new and they are settling in.  Should you wish to change your puppy’s diet, this must always be done gradually over the course of at least 5-7 days. This is done by mixing the old & new food together & gradually increasing the new food & decreasing the old food.  
If your puppy is raw fed and you are changing to a biscuit formula, this advice is different.  Do not mix raw food with the biscuit or kibble at the same meal, but change one of puppy's meals from raw to biscuit only, gradually changing each meal over to biscuit after 2-3 day intervals.  

If you change your puppy’s diet too quickly it can put them off the new food or even cause an upset tummy.

Do they need anything other than their complete puppy food?
No, if they are on a ‘complete’ puppy food then they do not require anything else added to their diet. Your breeder may have recommended that you replace some of their meals with other food types (such as scrambled egg/porridge/Weetabix/ready brek/mince etc.) although your puppy will probably very much enjoy these treats, they are not a necessary part of their diet.  But adding in these extras you are feeding your puppy an unbalanced diet and this should be avoided.

Can my puppy have treats?
Yes, treats are a vital part of puppy training & bonding. Most puppies will do tricks for toys or attention, but often food has a higher reward. We advise trying to stick to low-fat puppy treats or even using their complete dry food, as these are less likely to upset their tummy or cause too much weight gain. If you are doing lots of training you can reduce your puppy's food intake for that day, but 10%.  Most training classes will recommend cheese, sausage or chicken as this is a ‘high reward’.   This is not a problem in small quantities unless they develop an upset tummy.

But remember of keep treats in proportion! Feeding 2 slices of salami to a medium sized dog is the equivalent of 4 cookies for a human, and 28g of cheese is the equivalent of a hamburger with all the bun and trimmings!  Scale that down to a smaller breed dog or your little puppy and you can see your pup will be piling on unwanted calories which will predispose it to obesity in adulthood.  So handy hints!  Its the smell of the treat that gives the greatest reward, its not in their mouth long enough before its swallowed.  So cut cocktail sausages into at least 24 pieces - that's 24 treats.  That's the size of treat we are aiming for. A piece of cheese the size of your thumb nail can be cut into 10 pieces and if you are using pre-bought treats then make sure they are soft enough to break up into small pieces.  All these will be easily swallowed and your pup will be ready to move onto the next part of the training session.

My puppy doesn't seem to like her food, should I change it?
Most puppies will be fussy at some point in their early life.   It is best not to swap and change their food straight away as this can encourage them to be more fussy.   We have a method here at MVP that we call the ’20 minute rule’.     
  • This means set meal times when you feed your puppy allowing them 20 minutes to eat their food.   
  • If they are not interested then you take it away. 
  • They must have no treats in between meals and you wait until the next mealtime to put their food down again, and again they get 20 minutes. 
  • Repeat this process at each mealtime and they will soon get to the point where they realise if they don’t eat it when it’s there, then they go hungry. 
We know it sounds harsh for your cute puppy, but they will soon become excited about mealtimes.   Try not to get into the habit of adding things to a puppy’s food especially if they are fussy. In this situation again you will need to use your ’20 minute rule’ 

Your breeder may recommend adding warm water to dry food to soften it; this is not a problem, to begin with, but its best to wean them off it in the early weeks so they get used to crunching biscuits, which is good for their teeth.

Note: Also look at where and how you are feeding your puppy.  Keep to quiet times and feed in a quiet area - the puppy's own crate can be really useful for this.  Explore the concept of 'no-bowl' feeding and make mealtimes more interactive, enriching and fun!  To give you some ideas click here, and if you need further help, contact us!

Is wet or dry food better?
The main difference between tinned & dry food is water content, tinned food has 60% more water in it. Dry food tends to be easier, cleaner and less smelly so most people find it a lot more convenient. It's also better for your puppy's teeth due to the crunching action. Even our smallest of breeds will happily crunch on dry food and there is such a vast range of dry foods now which are size appropriate. 
If you would prefer you can do a mixture of wet and dry food but it is important to work out your feeding guide so that you feed the correct amount. Your puppy's diet will have an effect on their teeth and it is important to brush their teeth regularly.  Getting into a daily routine is best, we can help you with this.

Which food brand is best?
There is such a vast range of diets available that it would be difficult to say which is ‘best’. It is important to look at what you need from food; it must be suitable for your puppy’s needs and its breed. 

We stock Hills Vet Essential range of puppy/dog (and kitten/cat) food.  These come in a mini/small; medium and large breed (over 25kg at expected adult weight) dog varieties and are life-stage diets which change at key times in your dog's life.  The Hills Vet Essential range is also a fixed formula food and unlike many other diets that can change from batch to batch, Hills do not so the food is more consistent and that is good news for your puppy's digestive system!

Our diets are competitively priced, we offer £5 off your first purchase and a loyalty card which gives every 6th purchase for free.  We also offer 100% money back guarantee on all the Hills diets.  For more information please contact us.

Whatever diet you choose, choose: a specific PUPPY complete diet; avoid 'working dog puppy food' and if you have a large breed dog opt for a 'large breed puppy' food.  If you are buying in large quantities then make sure you seal the food well so it remains fresh.

Should I feed a raw diet?
There are many different opinions on whether or not feeding a raw diet is more beneficial than a commercial diet. It is important to research a raw diet properly as it can be difficult to make it a healthy balanced diet from raw ingredients at home.  There are many components to a nutritionally balanced meal for your puppy and it is not as simple as simply feeding raw meat from the butchers with a few added extras. There are companies that make pre-prepared raw diets that have everything your puppy needs and this is a better but also safer option if you want to feed a raw diet. Deep freezing to rid the raw food of bacteria and parasites are an example of this.
We do not recommend raw food as the preferred method of feeding for health and safety reasons but if this is how you wish to feed your puppy please contact us for an information sheet and for further advice.

For further information on raw feeding, health and safety considerations and a list of pet food companies who follow the sector guidelines, visit the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website click here

Our consulting nurses are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your puppy.  Please ring us 01376 325511.