I have a Havanese-Maltese mixed puppy that is 14 weeks old and weighs 3.5 pounds. I have been feeding her 1/4 of Blue a day. Every time I fill her bowl up, she devours the food. Should I increase the amount of food I give her to a 1/2 cup? Any help is appreciated.
There are a lot of generalized guidelines for what to feed your dog, and how often. It is best to look at the directions of the food you are feeding for their recommendations, and overall to make sure you are feeding them a healthy brand of food, without any unhealthy fillers like corn or wheat.
From Dog Breed Info (for adult dogs):
Although it differs by weight and age of the puppy, feeding patterns are important as well (feeding at different times of the day, instead of all at once):
Puppies should be fed three to four times a day therefore if you are currently feeding ¾ a cup of puppy food twice a day you should consider spacing it out by feeding ½ cup three times a day. Smaller meals are easier to digest for the puppy and energy levels don’t peak and fall so much with frequent meals.
It also depends on your dog's body condition:
It is important to be able to judge your dog’s body condition score in order to determine how much food you should give. The recommendations on the labels are guidelines only and will not apply to every dog. You may need to feed a little more or less depending on your dog’s condition score. Ideally you should be able to feel but not see the ribs and by looking straight down at your dog while she is standing there should be a recognizable waist. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is at a healthy weight during your next visit and ask for example of body condition scores.
Although these resources are helpful, they are also generalized, and the best way to see exactly what you should be feeding your dog is to discuss this with your veterinarian during your next check-up, as they will be able to correctly assess your puppy's condition and subsequent nutritional needs.
The best way to really tell is by feeling your dog. Until you have some experience with it you can ask a dog trainer, groomer, breeder or your vet for some help... just let them know you want an honest answer and don't take it personally if they say your dog is a little on the heavy or light side. I have had a lot of people ask but then be a little hurt when I have to tell them. I have also had groomers and vets tell me they wont tell someone when their dog is overweight because the risk that they will loose that person's business is to high.
The good thing is that with a little practice it is fairly easy to tell if your dog is within a good weight range. When you feel your dog you should be able to easily find their ribs but not their hip bones as easily. This will greatly depend on the dogs breed, with some breeds like Italian greyhounds and Vizsla you should be able to see their ribs but with a pug you shouldn't. What I typically ask people to try is feeling their own ribs and paying attention to if they can easily find them to count them. Think about your physical health and then compare how that feels to how their dogs ribs feel. Another good rule of thumb is to feel the back of your hand, that is about what your dog's rib cage should feel like.
It can also be helpful to look at images of dogs. You should see a well defined waist but you should not see hip bones. Like I said earlier for some breeds you should also see ribs. It sounds like you have a breed that will be easier to judge by feel than looks though.
For puppies it can be a little harder because when they are very young they have less muscle tone so at times they will feel a little more ribby than an adult or a little more "plush" if they are just about to go through a growth spirt. Their needs change as they go through periods of growth. The directions on the bag are just a VERY rough guideline. For example, I have three dogs that are between 38 and 44 LBS and one eats half of what the other two eat... she has a different energy level and just processes the food differently just like people do.
Many puppies also go through periods where they don't really want to eat as much as they used to. This can mean that they are teething and it isn't comfortable to eat dry kibble or it can mean they just need less food because their growing at a different rate. If this happens, add a little water to the food and let it get just a little soft to see if they eat better. If they do then it's probably just sore gums from teething.
In my experience, most pet dogs are overweight but that may or may not hold true outside of the US. So, even though your question didn't specifically ask about the risks...Overweight puppies can grow faster than they are really supposed to and this can cause structure issues and injuries in adulthood. Overweight adult dogs will have shorter life spans because they are prone to issues like hip dysplasia and diabetes. If you have an overweight dog you also have to be careful not to suddenly take them on long hikes or other activities that they are not physically fit enough to do or you will risk injury.
For new dog owners, it is often very confusing to decide how much should they feed their pet. Here are some guidelines that will help you decide:
1- As you are currently feeding Blue 1/4 a day. I suppose it's one time in a day. You may increase it to 2 times in a day. See the reaction of the puppy and slowly and gradually make it 3-4 times a day. It would be best if you can consult a vet in this regard.
2- Take a note on the amount of calories you feed your pup. If you are feeding it 100 calories per portion, 3 times a day then it makes it 300 calories.
3- A proper mix of dry and wet food should be given. I prefer feeding dry food throughout the day in small portions. But, as said before, make a note of calories.
4- How much to feed your dog depends on the weight and size of your dog. Also, the activity level of your dog plays a key role in deciding the amount of calorie intake. Hyper active dog will need more calories as compared to non active dog. (Source: http://www.petsworld.in/blog/puppy-feeding-tips-for-new-dog-owners.html)
5- Dog food advisor offers an useful dog food calculator - http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-feeding-tips/dog-food-calculator/, you might try that too!
Hope this helps.
As an anecdotal answer: don't react too quickly to your puppy willingness to eat quickly or lack of interest in eating his food quickly.
My little boy has been eating extremely quickly from 2 to 3.5 months then was much slower and he's now back to the fast food drive-through mode.
If you try to adapt too quickly you're likely to create more weight problem. It is normal for the puppy to change his eating style over time.
Follow your vet and food brand guidelines and the good rules from this answer.
At 14 weeks your puppy should be fed at least twice a day and preferably three times a day.