Feeding puppies: finding the right food

From an early age, the right nutrition is crucial for good defences, a robust stomach and a strong immune system - and forms the basis for your clumsy junior to have enough power to romp around, play and get to know everything new. In its first weeks of life, a puppy absorbs all the important nutrients and vitamins through its mother's milk. After weaning from its mother, you should also offer your four-legged friend a puppy food tailored to its needs, so that its growth is ideally supported and your darling develops healthily.

Ingredients: Which puppy food is the best?

Your puppy will grow rapidly in the first few weeks of life, while his digestive and immune systems will develop relatively slowly. Support healthy growth by choosing quality puppy food from the start and making sure all the ingredients are present and dosed appropriately for your puppy's specific needs.

Important ingredients in puppy food are:

  • water-soluble vitamins (B1, B2, B6)
  • fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • dietary fibre
  • proteins and carbohydrates

Our tip: When choosing puppy food, make sure that the calcium-phosphorus ratio is balanced. Both an excess and a deficiency as well as an incorrect calcium-phosphorus ratio can lead to poor bone structure, kidney and thyroid problems and calcium deposits. Puppies are not yet able to excrete an overdose of calcium in their faeces. Too much calcium could lead to malformations in the skeleton of growing young dogs.

Types of food: How do you feed a puppy properly?

Do you prefer to feed dry or wet food? Is complete food enough to meet your puppy's daily requirements of minerals and vitamins or does your puppy need supplementary food? Before your pet moves in, think about the type of food and stick to your decision. An abrupt change in food during the growth phase can result in malformations or unhealthy development of the digestive system. Large breeds in particular often have a higher requirement for certain minerals, proteins and carbohydrates because they go through particularly rapid growth phases at short intervals. If, after a period of time, you find that your little one needs a higher dosage of certain nutrients, you can give them through supplementary food. With the right food, you can support the healthy development of your four-legged friend to prevent later problems with the skeleton or muscles. We will briefly introduce you to some of the:

Commercial feeding

The best known and most common way is to feed complete food, i.e. dry food or wet food. Complete food for puppies is enriched with all the important minerals, fibre, vitamins and other ingredients, so that normally feeding with supplements is not necessary.


You can start feeding your puppy what is known as "barfing" as soon as he moves in. This feeding method uses raw meat that corresponds to the composition of a prey animal. However, as not all the ingredients of an animal are utilised, each meal must be enriched with important nutrients through supplementary food or fruit and vegetables. If you want to barf, you should definitely seek professional advice on the correct implementation in order to avoid misfeeding - this way your pet will stay healthy.

Prey method

This method is a variation of barfing: you feed your puppy complete prey animals (herbivores) such as rabbits, ducks and quails, for example, lambs are also suitable for feeding large dogs. Your pet eats these with all their components, i.e. including meat, organs, fur, blood and stomach contents. This way, your four-legged friend is supplied with all the important nutrients and you don't have to add any supplements. As with barfing, it is important that you seek professional advice beforehand.

Important: For both BARF and prey feeding of a puppy, it is necessary for a specialist to calculate the requirements every month.

Attention should also be paid to an appropriate supply of energy (calories). If there is an oversupply of energy, the puppy will grow faster. This can lead to overloading of the skeletal system and bone deformities. It is therefore necessary to feed a puppy according to a growth curve appropriate to its size/breed. The puppy should be weighed regularly and the table is then used to check whether it is within the correct range. Deviations upwards are more critical than deviations downwards. Treats and chews must also be included in the calculation! Make sure that your puppy is only given chews that are suitable for puppies and that he does not eat them without supervision and for long periods of time. You should always remove a chew after about 10 minutes. It is also worth mentioning that no chews should be fed before 12 weeks of age, as these can have a energising effect.

Feeding is the cause of 95% of all growth disorders! It is therefore extremely important for a healthy dog's life to ensure a good supply here!

Growth: Why feed puppy food?

Is dog food the same as dog food? No. Although you will find almost the same ingredients in puppy food as in adult dog food, you will notice the difference in the dosage of the following nutrients:

  • Proteins/protein: An important component in the nutrition to support a functioning immune system and metabolism is the crude protein. This includes all the building blocks of proteins, peptides and amino acids and is essential in dog food. While adult dog food contains about 20-22% crude protein, puppy food for puppies and young dogs contains about 30%.
  • Fats/fatty acids: To help your puppy develop its digestive system, puppy food is often enriched with linseed oil or fish oil. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids they contain help the body absorb and process fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Raw ash: Your puppy needs a lot of calcium in its first weeks of life, which strengthens the bones and supports healthy skeletal growth. Iodine regulates the function of the thyroid gland, zinc strengthens your puppy's immune system and ensures elastic skin. Magnesium and iron promote blood circulation and strengthen muscle tissue and joints. Dry food contains approx. 2-3% crude ash, but the puppy food contains a higher amount.

Meals: How often should you feed your puppy?

Your puppy's stomach is still very small and can only absorb and process small amounts of food. Therefore, you should give your puppy the daily recommended amount of food in small portions throughout the day. This will help your puppy's incompletely developed digestive system to process the food and prevent unpleasant consequences such as diarrhoea or constipation. Feed your puppy four times a day until about 6 months of age, and between 7 and 12 months of age you can reduce the number to three meals a day. If your puppy is a small breed, you can reduce feeding to two meals a day before 12 months of age.

Our tip: Set up a feeding schedule for your puppy. The reminder function on your smartphone is a great way to plan and keep track of the schedule. This way you can check that your puppy's daily needs are met and document its growth and weight gain.

Feed change: How long do you feed puppy food?

When do you start feeding puppies adult food? As a general rule, you should feed your little furry friend puppy food until the end of the 9th month of life. An exception is made for particularly large breeds over 60 cm shoulder height: they need puppy food until the end of their first year of life. Before changing the food, think carefully about the type of food you want to feed your dog for the rest of its life and proceed in small steps: Over a period of about 10 days, gradually add more of the new food to the puppy's diet until it has been completely replaced.

Now you have a rough overview of what needs to be considered for a healthy and appropriate diet. If your puppy is gaining weight too quickly, or if he suffers from flatulence or persistent diarrhoea, a quick change of food is probably necessary. Your vet can determine which nutrients your little darling needs in higher doses and whether there are any intolerances or other possible illnesses by carrying out various tests, such as analysing a blood count or a faecal sample.

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