SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

What to feed your dog or puppy

Dogs need a premium food for energy and health, and access to water at all times.

Download our full Dog and Puppy Care Brochure (PDF)

Feed your dog premium food

Dogs need a premium food for energy and health. Premium food is available at the SPCA and most vet clinics. Dogs need some variety in their diet, it is good to discuss options with your veterinarian.


Your dog should have easy access to fresh, clean water at all times, inside and outside.

Foods to avoid

  • Cat food is not suitable for dogs.
  • Human food has salt, sugar, or additives that can be harmful, fattening or cause reactions.
  • Cooked bones can splinter and get stuck in a dog’s throat or gut. Only provide uncooked bones (e.g. lamb brisket, chicken carcass) and always supervise when eating. Be aware that there are still risks with providing uncooked bones, these include: dogs breaking their teeth on bones, bone pieces lodging in the dog’s throat, and infection with food borne pathogens from the uncooked meat.
  • There are many foods and other items which can be toxic to dogs. You can find more information here.
  • Do not give your dog milk as this will cause many dogs to get diarrhoea.

Choose food for the age of your dog

Puppies need high-energy puppy food for growth and a healthy immune system. After 12 months, most dogs need an adult dog food for healthy nutrition and weight maintenance. Larger dog breeds may need puppy food until 18 months of age; you should discuss your individual dog’s needs with your veterinarian.

Dogs over seven years old need a senior diet. These usually have reduced calories, lower proteins and contain specific elements that help to support the dog as he/she ages.

Dogs with health problems often need specific kinds of foods; discuss the best diet for your individual dog with your veterinarian.

Introducing a new food

Introduce any new food gradually over one or two weeks to avoid causing your dog stomach upsets. Mix the new food in with the old, slowly changing the proportions.

How much and how often?

Puppies need to be fed more regularly to provide regular nutrition for growth. See the daily feeding guide on the packet for amounts.

  • Feed puppies under six months at least three times a day.
  • Feed puppies between six and 12 months at least twice a day.
  • Feed adult dogs once or twice a day.
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