Feeding your pet

Orange tabby eating out of silver dish

Animal Humane Society's expert staff can help you determine the best food for you new pet. Read the general guidelines and feeding instructions below to help you determine how much food and how often you should be feeding your new friend.

Animals that become overweight are more susceptible to other major health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer and more. A regular feeding schedule and nutrient-rich food can keep your pet healthy and your veterinarian costs low.

If you have additional questions about your pet, contact our Pet Helpline, a team of AHS representatives who offer free, compassionate advice and resources to address whatever animal issues you may be experiencing.

    Kittens (up to 6 months old)
    • If your kitten doesn't eat within 12 hours, offer canned food first, then start mixing canned with dry over the next several days.
    • Dry kitten food is recommended, but younger kittens may find it difficult to chew. Mix canned food in with dry to help the kitten eat as much as needed. Remove any uneaten canned food within a few hours.
    • Provide a plentiful supply of dry food all day.
    • Wash and refill the water bowl daily, keeping fresh water available at all times.
    • Provide foods listed as “nutritionally complete." Never give milk, tables scraps, or bones to your kitten.
    • If your kitten won’t eat within the first 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.
    Cats (6 months or older)
    • Feed adult cats no more than twice a day.
    • “Free feeding" isn’t recommended — it’s difficult to monitor how much your pet is eating. Some hearty eaters will quickly become obese.
    • Provide foods listed as “nutritionally complete.” 
    • Use the pet food manufacturer’s feeding guidelines printed on the bag only as a guideline. 
    • If you can't feel the cat’s ribs when you run your fingers lightly over the rib cage, your cat is overweight. Your veterinarian can help you devise a weight-reducing plan for your cat.
    • Slowly cut back food if your cat is overweight and consider various “light” or diet pet foods designed for less active cats.
    • Never withhold food for more than one day.
    • Remove any uneaten moist food within a few hours.
    • Wash and refill water bowl daily, keeping fresh water available at all times.
    • If your cat won’t eat within the first 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.
    Puppies (up to 6 months old)
    • Dry puppy food is recommended.
    • Remove any uneaten food after 15-20 minutes. Don’t let your puppy snack all day — regular feeding times establish regular elimination patterns.
    • Feed your puppy four times a day until six months of age, then twice a day after that.
    • Feed your puppy as much as will be eaten in 10-15 minute intervals. If overeating occurs, offer smaller, more frequent meals.
    • If your puppy doesn't eat within 24 hours, offer canned food (plain chicken or beef), then start mixing with dry over the next several days.
    • Wash and refill the water bowl daily, keeping fresh water available at all times.
    • Provide foods listed as “nutritionally complete.”
    • Never give milk, table scraps, or bones to your puppy.
    • If your puppy or adult dog hasn’t eaten for more than 24 hours, even after being offered canned food, contact your veterinarian.
    Dogs (6 months or older)
    • Adult dogs should be fed no more than twice a day.
    • Put the food bowl on the floor for 15 minutes and then remove it, whether your dog has eaten or not. Don’t feed anything until the next mealtime. An adult dog won’t refuse to eat long enough to cause physical harm.
    • Dry food is recommended. You may provide canned food, but it will cost more and your dog may require more frequent dental care. Avoid extremely rich varieties of canned food as they may cause diarrhea.
    • Provide foods listed as “nutritionally complete.”
    • “Free feeding" isn’t recommended — it’s difficult to monitor how much your pet is eating, and some hearty eaters will become obese.
    • Regular eating times will help a dog establish regular elimination patterns.
    • Slowly cut back on food if your dog is overweight and consider various "light" or diet foods designed for less active dogs.
    • Don’t panic if your dog eats poorly for a few days after arrival. Stick with the same dry food. Add some canned food if nothing else is working, but stay away from table scraps.
    • Wash and refill the water bowl daily, keeping fresh water available at all times.

    For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

    Contact the Pet Helpline