Supplying appropriate, optimal raw nutrition when feeding a puppy is important to their growth. Puppies should be fed balanced meals at each feeding.

Feeding the Dog in Front of You Matters When Building a Raw Diet

Vital nutrients can be consistently obtained through the right variety of foods in the correct amounts during a puppy’s growth. It is important to be educated about your breed(s) and if there are any deficiencies or growth abnormalities they may be predisposed to that can be addressed through their diet. As your puppy grows you will track visually as well as with routine health checks and Laboratory draws over time.

Establishing your Puppy’s Resting Energy Requirements (RER)

The best choice for raw feeding puppies is via the caloric feeding method using the Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats (NRC) recommendations for post weaning. I’ve shared the table with you below with authorized permission. You need to know how much energy your puppy needs before you can build any portion of their diet.  Use our kCal Calculator here to determine your puppy’s RER.

Establishing your Puppy’s Maintenance Energy Requirements (MER)

Now that you know the RER for your puppy, you must determine their Maintenance Energy Requirements (MER) for their growth stage because a puppy is growing every second of the day. The maintenance energy requirements are the number of kCals they need to take in to maintain a healthy weight through their current life stage & activity level. Calories are not a linear function of body weight. So variables do factor the MER.

You can learn about caloric feeding and what variables are factored for estimating kCals for your dog on our caloric feeding guide here or you can find it on the menu under raw feeding guides.

You do need to know your dog’s weight in kilograms to use the kCal calculator. Use our pounds to kilograms conversion tool by clicking or pressing here. 

Building a Raw Diet for a Puppy

Choosing the right kind of foods to feed a puppy can be accomplished using the USDA Database. 87%-93% lean meats are the appropriate choice, with 90% being the solid average to strive for when feeding a puppy. The Nutrient Requirements for puppies established by the National Research Council (NRC), state puppies aged 4 weeks-14 weeks are recommended to be fed 56.3 grams of protein per 1,000kCals. This number decreases as the puppy ages but the lowest Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for puppies and protein is 43.8 grams per 1,000 kCals.

Puppies have higher nutrients requirements than adult dogs so you want to provide your puppy with a range of beneficial nutrients that can only be gained through the appropriate amounts of proteins, fats, vitamins + minerals. Not every type and cut of meat or organ offers the same value and not everything your puppy needs to grow optimally can be found in just meat/bones/organs. Particularly, a pup’s calcium needs are much higher than an adult dog’s calcium needs so making sure the correct amount of calcium for the pup’s breed and age is important. Other nutrients such as vitamin D3 impact the absorption of calcium and phosphorus so attention to the correct amounts of everything is needed.

Feeding Methods & What Not to Do

Traditional Prey Model Raw (PMR) is not the best choice for raw feeding puppies.

Sure, pups eat whole prey in the wild, but we also know they eat plants, fish, & dirt too, and they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t instinctively know their body needs it. There is an element of integration that is important to help occur when feeding your puppy a raw diet. You want to first make sure that your puppy is getting optimal nutrition and second, emulate the ancestral diet to a certain extent.

Whole Foods Your Puppy Should Eat

muscle meats • bones • organs • fish •  eggs • mollusks • sea vegetables • land plants • fruits • seeds • nuts • herbs • other appropriate supplements

*Notes: Some foods must be made bioavailable for your dog to benefit from them. Do your homework about each food you are considering feeding to see the best way to give it to your puppy.

Too much or too little of something can negatively impact another nutrient level. Balance is key.

2006 NRC Nutrient Requirements for Puppies after Weaning

Press or click each image to view the table

Ratio Feeding Guidelines (Not Ideal for Puppies)

Because many raw feeders are used to the ratio methodology and find calories difficult to work with, we’ve given you the foundation percentages based on the growth stages 8 weeks to 52 weeks. This is not a per nutrition standards balanced formulation. These foundation percentages MUST be built upon. No matter what you do, the first step is still finding out their kCal needs. It’s up to you to use the NRC’s Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) and provide your puppy with the vital nutrients from each category they need for growth.

Critical Information: It is important to note that large and giant breeds have different skeletal growth than other size breeds of puppies.

Click or press here to learn about the appropriate nutrient levels for large and giant breed puppies. 

It is best to work with a professional raw diet formulator when creating meal plans for your puppy. This arms you with an appropriately balanced plan for you to build your puppy’s meals. 

Raw Feeding Puppies PMR+

How the Average Feeder Can Strive for Balance

Use the NRC table above to guide you on nutrient classifications for your ratio feeding. Only proteins, fats, and carbohydrates provide energy; vitamins, minerals, and water do not. Notice the recommended protein intake changes based on a puppy’s age while the fats, vitamins, and minerals recommendations apply to puppies aged 4 weeks and older. You can use the nutrition tools provided for you in this guide to make this all come together by feeding the foods talked about and checking the food values you choose in the databases. Some puppies require more and some require less, breed plays a large part in the foundation of how you need to feed your puppy. Though water does not provide energy, water is vital to life and to the optimal functionality of your pup’s internal systems. Offer your pup fresh water with each meal and through the day to ensure they are taking in an appropriate amount of water.

Key Gut Support

Raw Goat Milk Or Milk Kefir: Offering your puppy raw goat milk or milk kefir just a few minutes before they eat helps with digestion and act as great probiotic. If your pup is yeasty, then don’t give them milk as it can feed the yeast. Stick to kefir. The fermentation changes the structure of the raw milk.

Slippery Elm: The Slippery Elm is a species of Elm tree used in herbal medicine. It is a high soluble fiber known as mucilage. Slippery Elm is known to provide nutritive support for gastrointestinal wellness.

Ferment Veggies: Fermenting for your puppy focusing on dark green & leafy veggies like kale, spinach, dandelion leaves, cilantro, and beet tops to offer as 50% of the mix and sweet veggies as the other 50% such as sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and celery. Feeding your puppy greens offers vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants plus fiber.

Suggested Foods to Feed your Puppy to Offer a More Balanced Meal

Give your puppy raw eggs. An egg is considered a complete food and an easily digested protein source for dogs.

Feed your puppy oily fish such as raw sardines or mackerel. Oily fish helps boost Omega3s.

Zinc is another important part of your puppy’s diet. Red meat is a great source of zinc. You can also offer your pup Eastern oysters for zinc. Some feeders like to ferment raw (no salt) pumpkin seeds as a zinc boost option. Zinc is important for the immune system and skin + coat.

Add Ocean Kelp to your pup’s meals to help get vital trace minerals into their body. Kelp is a sea vegetable and it has a plethora of minerals + trace minerals as well as amino acids. Kelp is also iodine rich providing support to the glandular system, particularly the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands. Kelp is a great food source for metabolism support. Ensure you follow the prescribed measurements on the kelp product that fits your dog’s needs. Kelp is heavy in metals so you don’t want to give it daily if you have the option to reach for a high-quality beef and or Eastern oysters,

You can also puree the veggies talked about in the key gut support section. Still focusing on dark green & leafy veggies like kale, spinach, dandelion leaves, cilantro, and beet tops to offer as 50% of the mix and sweet veggies as the other 50% such as sweet bell peppers, zucchini, and celery. Look into butternut squash for your pup too. Feeding your puppy greens offers vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants plus fiber. You can add fruit to your puree mix with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and even papaya. Check the nutritional facts about these foods to see if they are a fit for your puppy’s diet.

Vitamin E is an important vitamin that can be low in a raw diet, this can be fed via foods or it can be met via a high-grade, gluten, wheat, and dairy free complex.

Adequate fats, vitamin K, vitamin D, manganese, and calcium, these are a few additional important nutrients to learn about raw feeding.

SoCal Raw Fed Dogs offers NRC and FEDIAF balanced formulation services for puppy owners

The owner, Amy Granillo, CHN, DipCN, CertCN is trained and equipped to formulate & plan NRC and FEDIAF balanced diets for puppies & pregnant/lactating females. If you would like to learn about these options and the other raw feeding services we offer, you can find them on the menu under raw feeding services.