Puppy feeding and nutrition
As puppies are growing rapidly, and their digestive and immune systems are developing slowly, they have very specific nutritional needs that are different from adult dogs. Feeding your puppy a nutritionally complete diet tailored to their specific needs is vital for supporting healthy development and laying the foundation for a healthy future.
Why your puppy’s diet is so important
Puppies go through intense growth and development. Their diet plays a key role in supporting this and is crucial in influencing how strong and healthy your puppy is as an adult dog.
How your puppy’s nutritional needs change
One month old
Two to four months
At this stage, the focus is on supporting the development of your puppy’s skeletal structure with carefully regulated amounts of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Four to seven months
When does your puppy become an adult dog?
|Average adult weight
||Up to 4 kg
||Up to 10 kg||11 kg-25 kg
||26 kg-44 kg||45 kg and more|
|Growth duration (birth to adulthood)||8-10 months
||8-10 months||12 months||15 months||18-24 months|
The nutrients needed in a puppy's diet
There are a range of vital nutrients that your puppy needs during the first months of their life to aid healthy growth and development. A puppy's diet must be able to provide enough energy and quality protein to support growth and be easily digestible. ROYAL CANIN® diets are nutritionally balanced to offer a tailored diet to meet the needs of puppies of all sizes, lifestyles and breeds.Puppy nutrition
ROYAL CANIN®'s scientific approach to puppy nutrition
We specialize in health nutrition because, for us, puppy food isn’t just about providing energy. It’s about building and maintaining the body’s cells, protecting against disease and preventing digestive, joint and age-related issues.
A fine nutritional balance
Puppies are sensitive to smells and texture but have a less well-developed sense of taste. To make our formulas as appealing as possible, we:
- Select ingredients rigorously for their odour, density and texture as well as nutritional quality
- Design kibble texture, shape and size to suit each size of dog
- Preserve formulas
Puppies have sensitive digestive systems. So we ensure our formulas are highly digestible to help avoid stomach upsets and make it easier for your puppy to absorb the nutrients.
High safety standards
We apply the same hygiene rules as for human food and prepare puppy food to the highest standards of quality and safety.
Our Puppy Ranges
How much should I feed my puppy?
Puppies have different nutritional needs according to their breed and eventual adult size. Ask your veterinarian for help checking the expected adult weight of your puppy according to their breed. You can then choose the right food for them and make sure you give it to them in the right quantities.
- Extra-small – weighing up to 4 kg when adult
- Small – weighing up to 10 kg when adult
- Medium – weighs 11 kg to 25 kg when adult
- Large – weighs 26 kg to 44 kg when adult
- Giant – weighing over 45kg when adult
- Extra-small and small breeds have weaker jaws and smaller teeth so they need food that’s the right size and texture.
- Medium breeds tend to be more active outdoors so they need plenty of energy and helping building their natural defences.
- Large and giant breeds grow more slowly and need less energy per pound of bodyweight than small breeds.
Setting the right puppy feeding schedule
Puppies have small stomachs and their immature digestive systems don’t react well to being overloaded. To avoid your puppy suffering from disorders such as diarrhea, it’s best to split their daily recommended food portion into small meals throughout the day.
Extra-Small or Small breeds
Adult 1-2 meals a day
6-12 months 2 meals a day
Adult 1-2 meals a day
Large or Giant breeds
Up to 6 months 3 meals a day
6-15 months 2 meals a day
Adult 1 or 2 meals a day
How a puppy’s feeding schedule changes
What is mixed feeding for puppies?
Mixed feeding is when you give your puppy a combination of wet and dry food – either at the same time or at separate meals. They both offer important benefits such as wet food helping with hydration and appealing to picky eaters, while dry food can slow down fast eaters.
The benefits of mixed feeding for puppies
In dry foods, the moisture content is around 8%, while in wet foods, this is usually at least 75%.
Our wet formulas are designed to be highly appealing to the fussiest of puppies.
Wet food’s high moisture content means you can serve a larger portion for the same number of calories.
When should I begin mixed feeding?
How much should my puppy drink?
Should I leave water out for my puppy?
The best way to ensure your puppy drinks the right amount is to give them constant access to fresh water. Change the water in their bowls daily to keep it clean and top it up throughout the day. Also wash their bowls daily to prevent parasites breeding in them.
Encouraging puppies to drink
As well as putting a water bowl near your puppy’s food, place a few around the house in calm areas. Then they always have the opportunity to drink in a quiet place.
Make sure the water bowls aren’t too big for your puppy to avoid them stepping into them. And avoid plastic water bowls as they can harbour off-putting smells and bacteria – ceramic or stainless steel bowls are best.
Good feeding habits for your puppy
Feeding your puppy can feel stressful, especially if you’re facing problems such as them refusing to eat or eating too quickly. Here are some good habits to establish straightaway to help your puppy build positive associations with feeding times and get the nutrients they need.
Maintain portion control
To avoid overfeeding your puppy, check the dietary guidelines on the food packaging and measure each portion carefully. Remember the stated amounts apply for the whole day, not per meal.
Avoid human food
Dogs have different nutritional needs from humans and what’s good for us can cause serious stomach upsets in dogs. Giving your puppy scraps or hand feeding can also cause bad behaviour.
Be careful with treats
A treat must always form part of your puppy’s overall daily food allowance to avoid overfeeding. Limit how many you give and always offer them at the right time for the right reason.
Limit activity before and after feeding
To prevent upset stomach, try to avoid vigorous physical activity for your puppy for an hour or two after eating. Don’t feed them right after they’ve been very active.
Keep feeding times calm
Distractions can put your puppy off their food, so keep their feeding area quiet. Watch them while they’re eating to check they’re safe, but don’t fuss over them – it can cause protective behaviour.
Set the pace
If your puppy eats their food quickly, try a slow-feed bowl or feeding puzzle. Even if they’re a slow eater, remove the bowl after 15 to 20 minutes so they don’t slip into snacking habits.
How to change your puppy’s food
- Day 1 and 2: 75% previous food + 25% new food
- Day 3 and 4: 50% previous food + 50% new food
- Day 5 and 6: 25% previous food + 75% new food
- Day 7: 100% new food
Puppy feeding FAQs
Keeping an eye on your puppy’s weight is useful to make sure they’re growing, but the body condition score gives a clearer picture of whether they’re overweight or underweight. This is important to know as both can cause health issues. The body condition score focuses on the look and feel of your puppy to assess whether they’re a healthy shape. Your veterinarian can show you how to score your puppy.