My Pup, Lila, is just over 4 months old. We've been going by the IAMS Smart Puppy guide (on the back of the bag) for measuring out her meals but was wondering what the general consensus was on how many cups to feed (dry food) a day.
Also when do we move from 3 meals a day to 2?
There can't really be a consensus on the amount of food fed per day. Each type of food has different kcals/cup, which changes the volume of food needed in order to get the same amount of energy. I generally go by what the bag says, but the real deciding factor is how the dog is doing. Too chunky, cut back. Too thin, add a little. Most often you'll find your dog needs a little less than what the manufacturer recommends.
As far as switching from 3 meals to 2, I believe we did it with Otis at around 4 or 5 months. We let him guide us again. When he started not being so eager for the noon meal (pacing around the kitchen, barking, etc), then we moved to 2 meals.
Otis - the most trusting dog on Earth.
You can switch to 2X/day now.
The informaton on suggested feeding amounts is published by food mfrs with a motivation to sell more dog food. That's probably not the best guide to use since 90% of Labs are gluttons with no sense on how much is enough to eat.
Try putting down a measured amount of food for 15 minutes and take it up after that time. Compute the amount eaten.
A puppy's need for food is determined by its weight.
Early in its development, it needs about 2X the amount of food that an adult dog of the present weight of the puppy would need.
Gradually this declines to 1X the weight at somewhere between maybe 6 & 9 months (depending on the breed line and the genetics).
My Puff got up to 5 cups/day, then,around 7 months, stopped eating for a couple days -- then, when she resumed, ate less. After a few weeks, it happened again. BUT Puff is one of the 10% of all Labs that are self-regulating in food intake.
Puff finally dropped down to eating about 2 cups/day by 12 months age.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
It also depends on how much excersize your puppy is getting and how many training treats. I always find it hard to know for sure because my dog always acts like he's starving so I can never guage by his behavior. I just watch his weight and consider what we are doing that day and how many "extras" he gets. My dog is 2 1/2 and he runs with me so when we go for a 5 mile run, he gets extra food. If I take him swimming on a Sunday afternoon, he gets a slightly bigger dinner. If, on the other hand, we got to class and he gets a cup of training treats throughout, he gets a substantially smaller dinner.
There is no magic number, just like humans, their needs wax and wane. It is just that labs will almost always eat whether they need it or not