It can be somewhat daunting to work out what and how much to feed young puppies. It’s important to feed puppies a correctly balanced food in the right quantities. Puppies need protein to build their growing bodies and calcium for strong bones however the two most common nutritional causes of developmental disorders (especially in large breeds) are excess calories and excess calcium. They really can have too much of a good thing.
A high calorie count affects growth both directly through the excess of nutrients and indirectly through excess growth hormone activity. Overfeeding increases the risk so ‘free feeding’ is not recommended.
A high calcium content can generate rapid growth resulting in a weak skeletal structure. Unlike adult dogs, puppies have a limited ability to regulate their calcium intake.
The following guidelines on quantity are approximations and you should weigh the puppy regularly to check on its development.
The starting point for how much to feed a puppy starts with the commonly used guideline for adult dogs of 2-3% of their ideal bodyweight. Small breeds will require slightly more and large breeds slightly less (ie a 40kg dog doesn’t need twice as much food as a 20kg dog). Let’s call this the Adult Portion or ‘AP’
Until the puppies are weaned, at say around six weeks, mother’s milk will satisfy their nutritional requirements. Towards the end of this stage introduce cut up bits of chicken wings for them to lick and play with and start to eat. Then, after 6-8 weeks introduce a complete raw puppy food in the following, easy to remember quantities –
Month 2 70% of AP
Month 3 80% of AP
Month 4 90% of AP
Month 5 100% of AP
Month 6 110% of AP
Month 7 120% of AP
Month 8 130% of AP
Month 9 120% of AP
Month 10 110% of AP
Month 11 100% of AP
Month 12 Transition to adult food
A puppy will need feeding three or four times a day until 12 weeks and then twice a day until fully grown. Whether you continue to feed twice a day thereafter is up to you.
Here at Cotswold RAW we work with a number of Kennel Club assured breeders, and Albertasno Gun Dogs is a fine example.