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Puppy Raw Feeding & Weaning Guide

In this puppy raw feeding guide, Alison Frost, canine nutritionist at ProDog Raw, shares all you need to know about raw feeding for puppies; including what the health benefits are, when to start, and how much they need to grow up big and strong. Be sure to check-out our raw puppy food range once you’ve had a read.

Alison Frost

Author: Alison Frost

Edited By: Anna Bain

Puppy Raw Feeding & Weaning Guide

Puppies are irresistible, cuddly, playful little bundles of joy. Their mere presence makes us smile, and their funny little personalities light up our lives in innumerable ways. One simple (and hugely beneficial) way we can show our puppies how loved they are is by providing them with the best possible start to a healthy, happy life. Feeding puppies a raw diet is a fantastic way to contribute to their growth, development, strong immune system and overall health as they (quickly) become adult dogs.

The importance of nutrition for healthy puppy development

Just as with babies of every species, puppies require certain nutrients in order to grow and develop healthily. Whilst genetics, environment, and the health of their mother during pregnancy all play their own vital roles, puppy nutrition is a key point of consideration regarding their developmental (and ongoing) health.

Feeding puppies the correct amounts of key nutrients increases their chances of becoming healthy strong adult dogs, as well as helping them to avoid certain growth deformities and other diseases that can occur due to nutritional imbalances [1].

Their muscles, bones, digestive and endocrine systems, brains, eyes and other systems all rely on good quality, balanced nutrition to function and perform optimally, especially as they’re still forming.

The benefits of raw feeding puppies

As nature would have it, the best diet for growing puppies is the one their parents would find for them in the wild: raw, lean animal proteins, healthy fats, offal (organ meats), bones for minerals and calcium, and small amounts of plant fibre. These ingredients provide growing pups with all the essential nutrients their bodies require, setting them up for a healthy life down the road.

ProDog’s raw puppy food formulas adheres to FEDIAF nutritional guidelines for puppies. Each meal in the range is a blend of carefully selected ingredients, designed to provide just the right amounts of the nutrients puppies need to receive maximum health benefits. It also serves to encourage the right internal environment for healthy growth and development, allowing puppies their best chance at optimal health. Our expert article on the benefits of raw feeding explains this in further detail.

Here are a few noticeable benefits of raw feeding for puppies:

  • Balanced digestion/gut health
  • Healthy skin and shiny, glossy coat
  • Stronger immune system
  • Balanced energy
  • Cleaner, healthier teeth and gums
  • Appropriate weight gain/maintenance
  • Healthy bone and joint development
  • Healthy, appropriate muscle growth
Raw feeding puppies helps fuel healthy growth and development

Transitioning to raw puppy food

In recently weaned puppies, making the switch to raw puppy food should be relatively easy. Since they’ve only been eating their current diet for a short time, they should accept their new food without issue. Simply replacing their old food with high-quality, raw puppy food like ProDog’s Puppy Formula will often complete the transition.

It’s a good idea to start off with a single protein at first, so as not to overwhelm your puppy’s digestion. Also, in cases of puppies with sensitive tummies (or older puppies who have grown accustomed to their diets), switching to raw puppy food more gradually might be a better option. Replacing their current food with the new one, a quarter of a portion at a time over a four-day period, will ease them into their new diet more gently.

Here’s how that might look:

Day 1:
Replace one quarter of current food with raw puppy food

Day 2:
Replace one half of current food with raw

Day 3:
Replace 3 quarters of current food with raw

Day 4:
Replace entire portion with raw puppy food

For a more detailed explanation, have a look at our article on how to transition to raw feeding.

Weaning puppies with raw food

If you have the option, weaning puppies straight onto raw puppy food is a fantastic way to get them started on the right path to balanced nutrition. More and more breeders are doing this for their litters, giving developing pups a stronger chance at a healthy life from the start.

As puppies begin eating solids at ideally 4 weeks, this is the perfect time to introduce them to, lean, plain raw meals such as turkey, fish, and chicken. Or you can use our puppy range of meals with added fluid, such as whelping milk or broth, and further blend into a fine paste to create a paste type consistency suitable for weaning.

Typically, around 5-6 weeks of age, as their teeth and digestive systems become more robust, puppies can transition to consuming different protein sources. At this stage it is likely the fine mushy weaning paste can be exchanged for our specialised puppy meals, which are minced to an extra fine consistency specifically for smaller mouths and teeth to handle easily.

Creating a relaxed feeding environment

When feeding puppies a new food, or any food for that matter, a relaxed environment will benefit them in several ways. First, calm and quiet surroundings will help them feel more comfortable and reassure them that it’s safe to eat.

Second, they won’t feel the need to rush through their meal in order to escape the chaos around them, or worse: avoid eating altogether. Any new addition to puppies’ lives should be done in this way, to create a positive association for them to remember throughout their lives.

How much raw food should a puppy eat?

As all puppies will vary in size depending on breed, genetics, and other factors, portion calculations for their meals are unique to each pup. As a general rule, it’s recommended to feed 8-week old puppies around 8-10% of their body weight in raw puppy food each day, which is usually divided up into four meals (more information on feeding frequency below).

The required body weight percentage of their food will gradually decrease as their weight increases, though there can sometimes be exceptions based on overall health, weight, and the individual needs of each puppy’s nutrition [2]. Our raw food calculator is a simple way to figure out how much raw puppy food you should be feeding in just a few clicks. It’s essential that you weigh your puppies regularly as they grow surprisingly fast. Adjust the details in the feeding calculator, and increase their food accordingly.

How often should puppies be fed?

As puppies are little growing machines, it’s essential that they eat frequently throughout the day. This helps them to maintain their required energy levels, as well as promoting healthy growth and development. Their daily food allowance should be portioned equally into the number of meals appropriate for their development stage.

A general schedule of puppy feeding looks something like this:

Up to 16 weeks:
Four meals a day

17 to 24 weeks:
Three meals a day

24 + weeks:
Two meals a day

Adult dogs:
One to two meals a day

Monitoring your puppy’s growth

As your puppy grows, monitoring them regularly is essential. This helps to identify any potential weight issues (e.g, underweight or overweight), health issues, and ensures that they’re developing as they should be throughout the various developmental stages.

Since the expected weight gain will be different for each pup due to size, breed, and nutritional differences, regular vet visits during their first year of life are crucial. This will allow your vet to advise you of any changes that need to be made, whether that’s feeding more, less, or changing the frequency of their meals.

As far as weight maintenance is concerned, there are a couple of things you can do at home to ensure your pup is on the right track. They should be a little chubby, of course, but their tummies shouldn’t be hanging low or protruding out to the sides more than a little. You should be able to feel their ribs, but not see them, and they should be getting a good amount of age-appropriate activity each day. Consult your vet or our expert feeding advisors if you’re concerned.

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Your puppy’s ideal weight

Depending on breed, size, age, nutrition, and various other factors, ideal weight will be unique to each puppy. For example, you may have picked the runt of a litter, who likely won’t be expected to grow at the same rate as their siblings. Conversely, you may have a giant breed puppy, who will undoubtedly grow faster than you’d ever expect!

The point is, each puppy should have a specific ideal weight that meets their individual health needs, and this can’t always be predicted. However, canine professionals such as veterinarians, canine nutritionists, and others like them are experts at this sort of thing. Consulting a trusted professional regarding what your puppy’s ideal weight should be is a great way to help them stay on track.

You can help by ensuring they receive the right amounts of essential nutrients at the right frequency, as well as providing the age-appropriate exercise/play they need to grow up healthy. Feeding them high-quality raw puppy food like ProDog’s Puppy Formula is an excellent way to do this.

How long to feed raw puppy food

Feeding puppies a raw diet requires a specialised type of raw food, as their nutritional requirements differ from those of adults. For this reason, the nutrient ratios in puppy and adult raw food are also different: puppies require more protein and fat, as well as higher levels of Omega 3’s, calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients to support their rapid growth.

For this reason, raw puppy food is the best way to go in order to provide your pup with all they need during their developmental period. This time will come to an end at about 24 weeks when the rapid growth phase has finished. At this stage I recommend switching your (much bigger) puppy over to adult raw food, which will continue to help them grow and develop through their adolescent and adult lives.

Please norte you’ll still need to continue to use our puppy feeding calculator guideline amounts as they still require a higher percentage of food until they reach full maturity/ adulthood.

Why choose ProDog puppy meals vs. adult meals?

Whilst all of ProDog’s meals meet strict quality standards, our raw puppy food goes through an even higher level of testing to ensure that it does its job: to provide growing puppies with the essential nutrients they need to grow, develop, and thrive at an optimal level. To accomplish this, our raw puppy food adheres to the nutritional guidelines of FEDIAF (the European Pet Food Industry Federation).

FEDIAF strives to ensure that all pets in Europe receive the best possible nutrition through recommending the correct nutrient levels in pet food. This serves to prevent nutritional deficiencies in dogs and cats, allowing their owners to be more aware of the quality of their food. ProDog’s Puppy Formula is compliant with these recommendations, providing growing puppies with the correct amounts of essential nutrients that contribute to their healthy development.

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Raw feeding for puppies FAQs

Is raw feeding good for puppies?

Yes! Raw feeding for puppies is an excellent way to start them off on the right foot (or paw) nutritionally speaking. Raw puppy food promotes balanced digestion, strong immunity, and healthy bone/joint development, among many other benefits.

Can I give my 12-week old puppy raw meat?

Absolutely. In fact, puppies can begin eating raw as soon as they’re weaned, which is generally around 4 weeks of age.

How much raw food should I feed my puppy?

This depends on your puppy’s age, weight, and developmental stage, among other factors. See the above section on food calculations for more details.

What is the best raw meat for puppies?

Puppies that have just been weaned should be started on mild proteins, such as chicken, turkey, or white fish. As they mature, they can then transition to other proteins such as beef, lamb, pork, duck, and others.

What percentage of raw food should I feed my puppy?

This is also variable depending on your puppy’s age. For example, 7-10 week-old pups should be eating 8-10%of their body weight in raw puppy food per day, whereas 10-16 week-old pups need a little less; around 7-8%. Check our raw food calculator for the full guidelines.

Puppy nutrition, simplified

Feeding puppies a raw diet is the most natural way to give them a jumpstart on their health. Fresh, whole food ingredients in their diet allow them to grow and develop the natural way, by providing them with all the nutrients their little bodies need to thrive.

To provide your puppy with the best possible chance at a long, healthy life, try our Puppy Formula raw food. Our expert feeding advisors are happy to make recommendations or answer any queries you may have. Contact us any time!

References

1. Vuori, K., Hemida, M., Moore, R., Salin, S., Rosendahl, S., Anturaniemi, J., Hielm-Bjorkman, A. Feb 2023. The effect of puppyhood and adolescent diet on the incidence of chronic enteropathy in dogs later in life. Scientific Reports;, 13:1830. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-27866-z

2. Dobenecker, B., Endres, V., Kienzle, E. Nov 2011. Energy requirements of puppies of two different breeds for ideal growth from weaning to 28 weeks of age. Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition;, 97(1):190-196. Doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2011.01257.x

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