Puppy Feeding Schedule – Lessons From Marley & Me Part 3

Puppy Feeding Schedule came up twice in the past week. The first time was at New Years when talking to a family friend who just recently got a labrador retriever. The second time I came across puppy feeding schedules was in Chapter 4 of Marley & Me.

If you haven’t already please take a look at my other articles on Marley & Me:

Buying Puppies

Naming Your Dog

Puppy Feeding Schedule – Marley And Me

From Marley & Me:

Marley and MeFollowing the instructions on the bag, we gave Marley three large bowls of puppy chow a day. He wolfed down every morsel in a matter of seconds. What went in came out, of course, and soon our backyard was as inviting as a minefield. We didn’t dare venture out into it without eyes sharply peeled. If Marley’s appetite was huge, his droppings were huger still, giant mounds that looked virtually unchanged from what had earlier gone in the other end. Was he even digesting this stuff.

Apparently he was. Marley was growing at a furious pace…

They may have been overfeeding Marley. Be careful how much you feed a lab. Most labs will continue eating until they are sick. A friend of mind told me his black lab got into and ate an entire bag of food in one sitting. Of course he was very ill and had to make a trip to the vet. Fortunately, the dog was okay, but as you can see Labs have a tendency to overeat.

New Years Day Puppy

My entire life I’ve gone to my Aunt’s house to celebrate New Years. She has a traditional Japanese New Years celebration with plenty of great food and people moving in and out of the house all day. While taking a break from my eating frenzy I had the chance to talk to a friend about his new 6 month old puppy. We chatted for a while about what great dogs labs are…I have Stetson my Guide Dog Puppy in Training and he recently got a purebred lab. During our conversation he brought up the fact that his dog would eat like a horse and would consume a 40 pound bag of dog food in less than 2 weeks. That sounded like a lot to me and I asked his age (6 months) and his weight (75 pounds). He was feeding his lab about twice as much as I fed my two dogs.

Stetson is 1 years old, weighs 65 pounds and eats 3 cups of food a day. Linus is 3 years old, weighs 55 pounds, and eats 2 cups of food a day. The two of them finish a 40 pound bag of food in about 1 month. New Years Day Puppy eats a 40 pound bag of food in half the time it takes my two dogs to eat the same amount of food. That means my friend must be feeding his dog about TEN CUPS OF FOOD A DAY!

Guide Dogs of America Recommend Feeding Schedule

Below was information given to me by Guide Dogs of America on how much food I should feed my puppy in training.

When you first receive your 8 week old puppy you will be feeding him/her 3/4 of a cup 3 X a day soaked (Canidae Dog Food) in hot water until it softens. Keep doing this for about one week, then taper off on time of soaking so eventually he/she will be eating dry food with a little water.

Increasing the food gradually so that at 4 months you will switch to feeding twice a day, an average of 1 1/2 cups 2 X a day

When your puppy is approximately fifteen months old, switch to feeding him/her once a day. An average of 3 cups a day (depending on the size of your puppy, if your not sure – ask us)

One of the great things about raising a guide dog puppy is I have a tremendous resource for any questions I have about my dogs. If I think Stetson is eating too much, have a training question, or a puppy raising question I can check with my group leader, our group trainer, any of the puppy raisers, or the puppy raising department at Guide Dogs of America.

Canidae Dog Food: All Life Stages

Canidae All Life Stages FormulaCanidae Maintenance Formula for All Life Stages (40-lb bag) is the food Guide Dogs of America feeds all of their puppies (the only exception is if a dog has an allergic reaction to this food). This makes it much easier for GDA when puppies come in for training and when they stay at the kennel. Changing a dogs diet can be upsetting to the dogs stomach and can cause diaharhea or vomiting. Believe me, I witness this first hand everytime I change Linus’s dog food or even sometimes when I give him new treats (obviously a very sensitive stomach). Here’s the feeding schedule Canidae recommends for a dog that is 75 pounds and 6 months old:

According to the chart a dog 6 months or older between 50-75 pounds should eat 2-3 cups of food a day. That’s pretty close to the amount of food Guide Dogs of America recommends, but much less than the 10 cups of food the new years day puppy is currently eating.

Problems with Overfeeding Your Dog

Here are some issues I see with overfeeding your dog:

  1. Obesity – your dog will become obese. This is not good because of the health problems related to obesity.
  2. More Poop – who wants to pick up more poop then necessary?
  3. Costs More Money – Obviously the more food your dog eats the more food you have to buy. Obese dogs with health problems require more medical expenses.

If you own a Labrador Retriever be careful with their feeding you don’t want an obese dog. From what I’ve observed most Labs love to eat food and many Labs are obese which leads to medical problems.

I’d love to hear what you think. Are you and experienced lab owner?

Do you have a skinny puppy?  Check out this article on How Much Should I Feed My Puppy

Comments

  1. says

    My 2 shih tzus are spayed and they eat twice a day . A smal 1 1/2 cup per feed. Yet they put on lots of weight. Each of them weigh about 6kg. Must I put them on a diet dog food ?

    • says

      @cynrab, the best thing to do is to consult your veterinarian.

      My Lab is slightly overweight (80 pounds – 36.4kg) and I’ve reduced the amount of food I feed him from 1 1/2 cups of food twice a day to just 1 cup of food twice a day. I’ve also increased his exercise (he lives a fairly sedentary lifestyle). I just spoke to another friend of mine who’s Lab is similar in size to mine and her veterinarian recommended reducing his food intake to 1 cup of food a day.

      I’m really keeping a close eye on my dog because I know that obesity can lead to other medical problems.

  2. Mindi says

    My puppy is half Lab, half Neapolitan Mastiff. She is six months old and weights about 50 lbs – 22.7 kg. I’ve been leaving her food out all the time and letting her eat whenever she wants because, unlike the labs mentioned above, she only eats when she’s hungry. Even then she usually only eats about 1/3 of the 3 cup bowl at a time. Do I still need to put her on a feeding schedule? I don’t want to give her too little and stunt her growth or anything like that. Thanks!

  3. Tommy says

    My goldendoodle is about 10 months and weighs about 70Ibs. I feed him 2 cups a day and leaves the food out because he barley eats everything. Because he literally follows me everywhere I go in the house, he only eats when I eat. In other words, I don’t have a feeding schedule for him. What should I do to make him act like a normal dog and eat when he is supposed to instead of him following me all the time?

  4. says

    @Tommy, my dog Australian Shepherd mix Linus use to do the same thing. When I put his food down he wouldn’t eat right away. I was told to put his food down give him 10 minutes to eat and if he didn’t eat to pick up the food until his next feeding time. They told me he’d eat when he was hungry and he did.

    What actually worked better was when I got my second dog. I fed both dogs at the same time and when Stetson started eating so would Linus.

    Another tricks I tried with Linus were mixing a few treats in his regular dog food. He’d usually pick out the treats and eat a little bit of kibble. I have other friends who mix chicken with the dog food.

    Hopefully one of those works and you can get your dog to eat on schedule. Nowadays I really don’t mind leaving food out for Linus and letting him graze. I think it’s very important when they’re puppies because it helps determine their poop and pee schedule. Now that Linus is older he has good bladder/bowel control so I don’t worry too much.

  5. Kathy says

    I am concerned about my new puppy, Honey. One of the puppy food bags that I looked at said to leave the food out all the time. I always did that with my other dog, but he was alomost 3 yrs old when I got him.

    I am doing this with my new puppy, but I am concerned about how much she is eating or not eating. I am really not sure how much food my puppy is eating because I have seen the neighbor’s cats hanging around her dog house and I think that they are eating her food.

    My other dog died right after Christmas. He was sick when I got her, but he never let the cat’s stay in the yard, let alone eat his food.

    Honey is only 3 months old and to me she looks skinny. I spoke with her previous owner and she says that the 2 puppies are getting fat. Honey isn’t.

    Honey does what Tommy’s puppy does. I feed her and she eats for a bit, but when I start to walk away, she follows me. It is different when I feed her in the house. She seems to eat more when I feed her inside.

    I work all day and I leave early in the morning, so it is hard for me to feed her more than once a day. It is very cold here right now and so, I am letting her in the house in the evenings. She follows me when I walk around the house, that is when she isn’t asleep.

    When I feed her in the house, I have a problem with her pottying in the house. To keep her from pottying in the house, I am constantly asking her if she needs to go potty every time she looks around and I spend all evening taking her outside and letting her back in. If I don’t, then she potties in the house.

    She is already getting better about all this, but she still seems skinny to me.

    Honey’s New Mommy, Kathy

  6. says

    @Kathy, If you think you’re puppy looks thin the best thing to do would be to have him checked out by a veterinarian.

    We feed our puppies on a schedule as you can see in the article above. Our dogs are indoor dogs and feeding on a schedule really helps us predict when our puppies will go to the bathroom. It also helps us know exactly how much our puppies are eating.

    However, even if you feed your dog the recommended amount of food she still may end up too fat or too skinny depending on the amount of exercise, metabolism, etc of your dog (each dog is different). For instance, my black lab, Stetson was eating the recommended amount of food, but was overweight and at the suggestion of our vet we reduced the amount of food he was eating from 3 to 2 cups a day. On the other hand, my yellow lab, Derby was real skinny as a young puppy and after consulting our vet we increased the amount of food he was eating.

    Have Honey checked out by a vet to make sure she is healthy and I’d also make sure to monitor the amount of food she is eating.

    Good luck with your new puppy. They’re a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time.

  7. lee griffiths says

    we have a toy fox terrier min pin mix and she is 11 weeks old. she is about 3 pounds tiny, how much should we feed her. she is being potty trained and it is going slowly. she still tries to go inside but goes outside if we see the signs she gives us.she poops alot for a tiny dog.

  8. frank says

    ok i have 2 black lab puppies, they are about ten weeks old and i was letting them eat whenever they wanted but it seemed like they were always eating and pooping and eating their poop. I thought maybe it was cause they could taste food in their poop cause they were over eating. now i have them on a diet of two times a day, 1/2 a cup each. am i underfeeding them now cause they always seem to follow me into the kitchen and gimmie the saddest look and i feel guilty cause i know they are hungry but i am concerned for they’re health. I just wanna do the right thing whatever it is. can someone pls gimmie a right answer on this cause im confused as what to do thx.

    • says

      @Frank, I’d check with your vet on the amount you should be feeding your pups. We start off feeding our 8 week old puppies 3/4 of a cup 3x a day. As I mentioned you should check with your vet, but it sounds to me like you might be underfeeding them. Some pups (and dogs) will eat their poop (we always pick up right after our pups poop so we don’t have this problem). All of the Labs I’ve ever owned always act like they are starving (they love to eat). Also, if you picked up your puppies from a breeder they probably have good advice on the amount and type of food to feed your pups too.

  9. Jai says

    Hi,
    I just came across your website at work and I am hooked! It’s so informative, this is my new puppy bible!
    So I have a 3 month old Lab/Retriever puppy who of course loves his food! He gets 1 1/2 cups at 6am and another 1 1/2 cups at 6pm. He has been waking us up at 4am because he’s “starving”
    Any way to avoid this? Will a slow feeding bowl help?

    thanks so much!
    Jai

    • says

      Hi Jai,

      Congratulations on the puppy! Your puppy sounds a lot like my Stetson. I feed Stetson twice a day as well. Here’s what I noticed with Stetson…he will sometimes get into the habit of waking up at 4am waiting for his next meal. If I give in and get up to feed him then he just continues to wake up at 4am everyday expecting to be fed. If I ignore him then after about 2 weeks he figures out he’s not getting anything at 4am and stops waking me up. I’m not sure if it will be the same for you, but it’s worth a try.

      By the way, I don’t think the slow feeder bowls will help with this particular issue, but they do help to slow down fast eaters.

      Good luck with your training!
      Colby

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