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Beginners guide to raw feeding puppies
One of the best ways to give your puppy the finest start in life is to provide a nutritionally rich diet. A raw food diet is the ideal choice for puppies; beginning life eating as nature intended helps pups grow into healthy, strong, happy adult dogs.
Here, we share all you need to know about raw feeding puppies in this article.
A 10-minute read.
Benefits: puppy raw feeding
How much raw food?
How old to start?
Switching to raw
Raw bones – safe?
Aside from being adorable bundles of furry fun, puppies grow rapidly; learning about the world while their bodies develop demands a lot of energy. As such, puppies require good quality food to aid their growth and development through the maturation process. Nutrition is of crucial importance during the early stages of a dog’s life. Feeding a diet that supports healthy steady growth and development will ensure your puppy matures with all the foundation nutrients required to thrive.
The benefits of raw feeding puppies
A diet of fresh, natural food made with real ingredients, akin to what they might reasonably be expected to eat in the wild, consisting of meat, offal, bone, and vegetables, is the best choice for dogs of all ages. The positive effects of feeding dogs a BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet speak for themselves: strong teeth, shiny coats, bright personalities and minimal tummy upsets are some of the signs that a puppy is getting the proper nutrition.
When puppies are adapting to solid food (weaning described in more detail below), digestive issues can arise if the wrong type of food is given. Constipation or smelly, loose stools can manifest while the pup adjusts to the new food; this creates discomfort for the puppy and a less than desirable experience for the person responsible for cleaning up the waste. Because a natural, raw meat diet is the food a dog’s digestive system has naturally evolved to consume, their bodies are far less likely to experience gastro problems than when eating other commercially processed foods.
Check out our guide on the benefits of raw feeding for more information.
What are the best ingredients for raw puppy food?
A raw food recipe for growing dogs should consist of meat, ground bone, some offal, vegetables and oils –precisely the same ingredients as adult dogs, but with a slightly lower vegetation content to provide more protein for growth and development. Less offal is also recommended as a puppy’s digestive system is still developing, and offal can be a little rich for some. ProDog’s Puppy Formula is specially created using the ideal ratios of all these ingredients and blended using a finer mince and ground bone to provide complete nutrition that is perfectly suited for small teeth and jaws.
How much raw food should a puppy eat?
To correctly fuel the growth and development of a puppy, the food quantity to bodyweight ratio is a lot higher. As your puppy gets older, the amount required to feed them reduces. For example, an 8 to 10-week old puppy will eat eight-10% of their bodyweight. At 20 to 24 weeks, this reduces to 5- 6%. Use our raw dog food calculator to find out exactly how much raw food to give your puppy.
At what age can a puppy start to eat raw food?
The most beneficial time for a puppy to begin absorbing the nutrients a raw food diet provides is when they develop in the womb. A raw food diet for pregnant bitches is highly advised as the abundance of vitamins and minerals assimilated by the body supports both mum and pups during this time.
Once born, a puppy can be introduced to a raw food diet as soon as they are ready for weaning, typically around three to four weeks of age. Weaning is the process by which the puppy moves from the mother’s milk to solid foods.
Breeders responsible for pups at weaning stage are recommended to choose a bland white meat mince as the first raw food offered. Chicken or turkey is ideal whilst ground bone, offal and veggies should be left out for the first few days. Once adapted to pure meat mince, a bit of ground bone and offal can then be added. To create an even softer consistency, chicken bone broth can also be blended into the meal.
From eight weeks upwards, ProDog Puppy Formula is the ideal meal solution. Quick and easy feeding with zero preparation required: simply pop the lid and serve!
How often should puppies be fed?
- Until your puppy is 16 weeks old, we recommend spreading your dog’s daily food allowance over four meals per day.
- From 17 to 24 weeks of age, reduce this to three meals a day.
- From 25 weeks of age, it’s preferable to reduce again to two meals a day.
Tips for switching from another type of solid food
There are two ways to transition your puppy to a raw food diet. First is the rapid switch, where you simply replace the old food with the new raw food. This type of switch is recommended for young dogs or those with a normally functioning gastrointestinal system.
Any sudden dietary changes (including a switch to raw) may, in some cases, cause digestive upset; any such issues should resolve within a few days as your dog adjusts to the new diet.
Second is the gentler approach, a slow switch, which can help fussy eaters or dogs with delicate digestive systems. If a puppy has been fed a diet of processed, dry food such as kibble, its digestive system will not have built the acidity level required to process raw meat and bones effectively, therefore a staged transition is sometimes advisable. This method can take anything between one to four weeks, and introducing the new food in stages allows the puppy’s gastrointestinal environment to gradually adapt to the fresh food.
The speed of this process will depend on your puppy’s response to the food. If they adapt well, then you may be able to speed up the process. If there are signs such as upset stomach, poor quality stools, and vomiting, you may choose to take things slower by adding smaller quantities of raw over a longer time.
Most owners complete the switch successfully in seven to 10 days.
For additional nutritional reinforcement during the transition process, you can also incorporate bone broth for dogs, a nourishing dog food supplement packed full of vitamins and minerals, highly supportive to the gut lining and hydrating. Also a good probiotic or probiotic paste to aid the microbiome and minimise gastric upset.
The transition option you choose will be based on your observations of the puppy’s digestive function. For more information, take a look at our raw feeding guide or contact our expert nutritional advisors today for tailored advice.
Is it safe to give puppies raw bones?
Raw bones are very beneficial to dogs and puppies. Aside from the nutritional value of raw bones, the chewing action involved with gnawing on a bone is highly calming, an expression of natural behaviour for dogs. As such, a whole raw bone (as opposed to ground bone used in raw food recipes) is often referred to as a “recreational bone”, a way to calm, relieve boredom and clean teeth. 
Under close supervision, puppies can be offered easy chews such as beef tracheas to begin with. Depending on the age and the size of the milk teeth, your puppy may simply mouth and lick to start with, but even if they don’t eat them, this is still an essential phase of introduction to chewing materials.
You can then move on to offer soft raw bones such as chicken wings, duck feet or duck necks. As their teeth grow, puppies will naturally want to chew to relieve teething discomfort, which starts around four to five months of age. This is where the baby teeth drop out to make way for their adult teeth to push through – a time of discomfort for many puppies, and they will instinctively want to relieve this by chewing. Offering raw bones is essential to save your furniture from being the target of this behaviour!
It is not advisable to feed dense bones until the teething stage is over, and your puppy’s adult teeth are fully formed. We share more about raw bones for dogs in our feeding bones guide
A final note. While all of the above recommendations are based on canine nutrition best practice, it is also important to remember that all puppies are unique, therefore changes in diet require careful observation and adaptation to establish the nutritional sweet spot for your puppy.
If you have questions specific to your puppy’s needs contact us today for tailored advice. ProDog’s expert feeding advisors are available to help you find the correct nutrition for your puppy.
- Guido Bosch.,Esther A Hagen-Plantinga.,Wouter H Hendriks.,(Jan 2015),Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition? Br J Nutr. 113 Suppl:S40-54. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514002311.
- 2. Conor Brady, (2020), ‘Raw FAQ’s’ in Feeding Dogs—Dry or Raw The science Behind The Debate. Farrow Road Publishing P. 498.
- FR Marx, GS Machado, JG Pezzali, CS Marcolla, AM Kessler, O Ahlstrom, L Trevizan.,(Jan 2016), Raw beef bones as chewing items to reduce dental calculus in Beagle dogs. Australian Veterinary Journal. Vol 94 P. 18-23. doi:10.1111/avj.12394
More about our raw puppy food range
How we make our food
Food quality & DEFRA
Puppy food contents
How we make our raw puppy food
Suitable for pups from 8 weeks to 24 weeks, the combination of ingredients is selected to deliver complete nutrition to support healthy growth. Containing a minimum of 75% meat, we use only the best, human-quality fresh meat, an abundant source of the quality protein necessary for growth, development and vitality.
Raw food quality & DEFRA approval
Simply fresh, ethically sourced, British ingredients from DEFRA approved local farms; meaning all our meat comes from human-quality production sources, operating with the best welfare practices and, wherever possible, the livestock is pasture reared.
What’s in our raw puppy food?
Other ingredients include 10% ground bone, highly beneficial to the digestive system and an additional source of protein, diverse minerals and healthy fats. Our ‘with offal’ options contain a minimum of 5% offal, rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, for added micronutrient support, all puppy meals incorporate 9.3% seasonal vegetables, 0.2% kelp – a superfood seaweed rich in protein and minerals and 0.5% Scottish salmon oil – rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
Our puppy formula varies to our adult range; it is produced with a finer mince, easier on smaller teeth and jaws. Also, this meal range contains less offal, more meat and fewer vegetables; the ratio of ingredients is chosen to promote healthy growth in young dogs. The puppy range comes in 500g and 1kg tubs and is offered in 15kg and 25kg bundles.
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