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A Guide to Puppy Nutrition

Published date: 28 February 2024

There is so much to think about with a new puppy. One subject that can be especially confusing is diet, with so many different options to choose from.

Understanding what to feed, how to feed and how much to feed can be difficult to navigate. To help you give your puppy the perfect start, here is a handy nutrition guide.

Are Puppies Carnivores?

To understand what to feed your pup, it is first important to understand the nature of our canine companions. Dogs evolved from wolves and have been alongside humans for roughly 40,000 years.

The best way to describe a dog is as an Omnivorous Carnivore, which means they derive important nutrition from animal and plant matter.

Although our dogs can survive on plant based diets, they thrive on natural meat based food. Dogs are designed to have a high level of meat in their natural diet and likely won’t have the best digestive system, skin, coat or joint health if fed on a vegan diet.

What do puppies need in their diet?

Puppies grow approximately 20 times faster than adult dogs. The first one to two years of your furry friend’s life is dedicated to growing. Great nutrition is essential in allowing puppies to grow to be healthy, happy adult dogs.

Puppies require the following components within their diet:

  • Protein – to allow for healthy cell and muscle growth.
  • Fat – to support healthy weight gain and provide important vitamins.
  • Calcium – to ensure proper bone growth

The key with a puppy diet is looking for named, digestible meat sources (e.g. Chicken Meat Meal, Fresh Salmon & Dried Insect). These provide the important protein and fat needed for their growth and development.

Keep in mind that large breed puppies (typically those that will reach 27kg and over as adults) will require more consideration for their diet. As they grow they can put their joints under tremendous pressure, so joint care whilst not required can be a huge benefit to large breed puppies.

The key with feeding pups is sticking to natural high meat content diets.

The best puppy foods will contain super digestible meat such as Fresh Chicken, Duck Meat Meal or Dried Insect, healthy oils such as Salmon or Insect (these will support brain function and digestive aids like prebiotics which will nourish, satisfy and build up pups’ strength.

How much to feed my puppy?

Working out how much you need to feed your growing pup, can be a daunting task. Feeding guidelines are included on every dog food packet however, these are just guidelines.

Individual puppies may need more or less than what is suggested on the feeding table. The key to working out if you are feeding too little or too much is simply to keep a track of your puppies’ weight and body condition.

If they appear over or underweight, reduce their daily feed by 10%.

How do I body score my puppy?

Look out for the below signs of a healthy weight:

  1. When lightly running your hands down their furry sides, ribs should be felt but not seen. The exception is sighthound puppies which will have visible ribs, normally only two or three by the time they mature.
  2. When looking from above, the puppy should have a waist that goes in at the sides, just before the hips.
  3. When looking at your pup from the side, the stomach should slope upwards.

Getting hands-on with your puppy is key in keeping them healthy. Keeping track of their weight is key in noticing the small changes. Pop along to your local Pets Corner store, for a free weigh-in, some helpful advice and maybe a cheeky treat.

How often should I feed my puppy?

Regular feeding times are key for a growing dog, so puppies should be given around three meals a day from around 8 weeks old. Simply split their daily feeding amount into different set meals.

As puppies get closer to adulthood these meals can be cut down to two a day or whatever best suits you and your puppy. Remember routine when feeding will help with toilet training. Feeding regularly enables you to anticipate when your pooch will need to do their business, making it easier to get them outside and praise their efforts.

How to enrich feeding time?

Feeding should be fun! Although more practical and easier day to day, bowl feeding can be less than exciting for your canine companion. Interactive feeding is so easy to achieve and incredibly beneficial for puppies and adult dogs alike.

Simply scatter feed (chucking a handful of their food on the floor) or use interactive feeding toys, this is a great way of injecting some fun into your pup’s daily life. Try feeding like this a few times a week or once a day. This will help keep puppies mentally and physically enriched.

For more help with all things puppy, check out our Toilet Training Guide.

Want to attend a Puppy Event? To book into your local Puppy Hour, head over to our site.