Black Labrador Retriever puppy eating from a red bowl

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.
English Cocker Spaniel puppy eating from a stainless steel bowl

How your puppy’s nutritional needs change

A puppy’s dietary needs change at each stage as they move towards adulthood, which different breeds reach at different ages. To make sure that your puppy is appropriately supported throughout growth, they should remain on a puppy-specific diet until they reach adulthood.

Puppy lying on a blanket next to mother

One month old

At one month, a puppy can start to be gradually weaned from its mother’s milk onto solid food. They need nutrients to build their natural defences and promote  good bacteria in their delicate digestive system.

Jack Russell Terrier puppy eating from a stainless steel bowl outdoors

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.

Welsh Cardigan Corgi puppy eating from a red bowl

Four to seven months

Your puppy’s starting to build its body mass at this age and needs plenty of high-quality protein that’s easy to digest.

Husky puppy standing in a kitchen eating from a bowl

10 months old to adulthood

As puppies approach adulthood, they still need extra nutritional support for their joints, especially larger breeds as their muscles are filling out and putting pressure on their skeleton.

When does your puppy become an adult dog?

Average adult weight Up to 4kg Up to 10kg 11-25kg 26-44kg 45kg 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 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 specialise 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

To help your puppy grow to be strong and healthy, their food needs a very precise formula. We develop our foods in close collaboration with breeders, vets and nutritionists. And we enrich each diet with as many as 50 carefully selected nutrients to ensure they meet the particular needs of your puppy’s age, breed, lifestyle and sensitivities.
As well as focusing on the exceptional nutritional quality of our formulas, we also ensure the following key factors.

Puppy eating from a food bowl indoors

Highly palatable

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.
Jack Russell Terrier puppy sitting outdoors in grass next to a feeding bowl

Easily digested

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.

Golden retriever puppy indoors lying down on a cream towel next to a stainless steel feeding bowl

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.

Dachshund puppy lying down on a wooden floor next to a stainless steel feeding bowl

Our Puppy Ranges

ROYAL CANIN® puppy nutrition supports growth and development by providing all the nutrients essential to a puppy's needs in the first year of life.

How much should I feed my puppy?

Puppies have different nutritional needs according to their breed and eventual adult size. Ask your vet for help checking the expected adult weight of your puppy according to their breeding. You can then choose the right food for them and make sure you give it to them in the right quantities.

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 diarrhoea, it’s best to split their daily recommended food portion into small meals throughout the day.
Dachshund puppy in black and white

X-Small or Small breeds

Up to 4 months 3 meals a day

4-10 months 2 meals a day

Adult 1-2 meals a day
English Setter puppy sitting black and white

Medium breeds

Up to 6 months 3 meals a day

6-12 months 2 meals a day

Adult 1-2 meals a day 
German Shepherd puppy black and white

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

Akita puppy sitting indoors on a wooden floor next to a stainless steel bowl

How a puppy’s feeding schedule changes

Initially, during weaning, your puppy will need four meals a day spread evenly from morning to evening. By the time they reach adulthood, they’ll be able to cope with one or two meals daily.
Smaller breed dogs reach adulthood sooner than others, so they can move to fewer meals a day at an earlier stage. Below is a guide according to your puppy’s expected adult size. But it’s always worth checking with your vet about the best feeding schedule for your individual puppy.

Puppies thrive on routine and don’t need variety in their diet like humans do. To help them feel secure, and avoid upsetting their digestion, give them the same food, preferably at the same times, in the same place, using the same bowl.

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, but never in the same bowl. 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.

Weight Management

Wet food’s high moisture content means you can serve a larger portion for the same number of calories.

Golden Retriever puppy standing indoors next to a stainless steel feeding bowl

When should I begin mixed feeding?

Puppies can start mixed feeding at any time, but introducing them to variety at an early age may avoid fussy behaviour in adulthood. A dog's digestive tract becomes accustomed to the composition and type of food. So when starting a mixed feeding method, it’s important to gradually introduce the dietary changes.


How much should my puppy drink?

The amount your puppy needs to drink depends on factors including the environmental temperature and their size, exercise levels, physical condition and diet. A puppy fed dry kibbles (which contain around 10% water) will need to drink more than one fed with wet food (which contains at least 75% water).

Jack Russell Terrier puppy standing outdoors in grass next to a stainless steel feeding bowl

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.

English Cocker Spaniel puppy standing in a kitchen drinking from a water bowl

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.

Standard Schnauzer adult and puppy standing outdoors in a garden

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.

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.

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.

Limit activity before and after feeding

To prevent stomach upsets, try to avoid your puppy jumping about for an hour or two after eating. And don’t feed them straight after they’ve been very active.

Feed your puppy after you

As dogs are pack animals, they need to know the hierarchy. To show your puppy that you and your family are in the dominant position, feed them once you’ve eaten.

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 bolts their food, 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 transition onto new food illustration

How to change your puppy’s food

Sudden changes in your puppy’s diet can give them digestive upsets or even make them wary of their food. Whether you’re switching to adult food, changing products or beginning mixed feeding, it’s important to introduce new foods slowly. We recommend you do this during a week-long transition using the following proportions:

  • 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


Our Puppy Ranges

Find a nutritionally complete diet tailored to the precise needs of your puppy.