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What should I feed my puppy?

Article ID: 266
Last updated: 27 Nov, 2012
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Puppies are largely carnivores that eat some omnivorous foods. Puppies naturally wean off their mother's milk at around 8-12 weeks of age. Wild dogs feed their young with prey animal carcases. In the wild, when young dogs are old enough (around 7-8 weeks old) they start to eat on their own whilst simultaneously decreasing the amount of milk they suckle from their mother.

Puppy feeding guide:

  • Talk to your veterinarian for advice
  • Feed high quality balanced premium commercial puppy food that is appropriate for the life stage and health status of your puppy. Check that it complies with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Food AS5812:2011
  • You can offer some natural foods to provide some variety
  • Natural foods include fresh human-grade raw meat such as diced up pieces of raw lamb. Avoid feeding too much raw meat off the bone while the pup is growing. This is important to avoid certain nutritional deficiencies during growth.
  • Natural foods also include raw meaty bones
  • Bones must be raw
  • Choose human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones because some pet meat /pet mince/pet rolls /pet meat and bone products can contain preservatives that can be detrimental to the puppy's health (e.g. sulphite preservative induced thiamine deficiency which can be fatal). However avoid human-grade sausages, sausage meat and cooked manufactured meats as these may contain sulphites.  
  • Between four to six months of age puppies cut their permanent teeth and grow rapidly                                                                         
    • Introducing fresh raw meaty bones at around 12 weeks of age ensures they are chewing actively around the time their permanent teeth are erupting.
    • This chewing is important to alleviate "teething" issues and also provides several important health benefits including keeping teeth and gums healthy
    • Raw bones should be introduced gradually. The bone must be large enough so that the puppy cannot fit the whole bone in its mouth or swallow the bone whole
    • Some examples include raw lamb ribs (not lamb chops though), raw lamb flaps, raw chicken wings
    • Too many raw bones can cause constipation. One raw bone per week is generally well-tolerated
    • 'Meaty' bones are better
    • Always supervise your puppy when eating raw bones
    • Dogs ‘like’ bones very much and sometimes become protective. Do take care and discourage young children from approaching dogs that are eating
    • Avoid large marrow bones, T-bones, 'chop' bones e.g. lamb cutlets, large knuckle bones or bones sawn lengthwise as dogs may crack their teeth on these 
    • Never feed cooked bones as these can splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction
    • Please check with your vet that raw bones are suitable for your particular puppy (eg some puppies may have misshapen jaws and may have difficulty chewing on raw bones)
  • Cooked meat such as boiled chicken/lamb may also be offered occasionally. Please ensure there are no cooked bones, onions/onion sauces or other toxic substances present (see below)
  • Tinned sardines in springwater; tinned tuna and tinned salmon may also be offered as a treat occasionally (take care with any fish bones). Please avoid feeding fish constantly
  • A small amount of vegetable matter may be offered e.g. cooked pumpkin, carrots 
  • Provide access to grass (avoid chemically treated grass and toxic plants) - puppies will sometimes eat grass which may be a source of vegetable matter and micronutrients
  • Calcium powder supplements should not be given (unless directed by a veterinarian)
  • Puppies should be offered food at least 4 times per day to begin with, gradually reducing the number of meals as they grow (adult dogs should be fed at least twice per day to help avoid bloat which can be fatal)
  • It is important not to underfeed or overfeed puppies. For e.g. research indicates that overfeeding puppies (particularly large breeds and giant breeds) can predispose them toward musculoskeletal problems. Your vet will be able to weigh your pup, assess your pup's body condition score and provide advice
  • Please ensure fresh water is available at all times
  • Do not feed the following (note this is not an exhaustive list): onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, bread dough, avocado, grapes, raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts including macadamia nuts, fruit stones (pits) e.g. mango seeds, apricot stones, avocado stones; fruit seeds, corncobs; green unripe tomatoes, mushrooms; fish constantly, cooked bones; small pieces of raw bone, fatty trimmings, Xylitol (a sugar substitute found in some products such as some types of sugarfree chewing gum, lollies, baking goods, toothpaste)
This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
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document What should I do when I bring home a new puppy?
document Can you give me some basic advice on caring for my new dog?
document How do I keep my dog healthy?
document What should I feed my dog?
document How can I toilet train my puppy/dog?
document How should I exercise my puppy?
document Is socialising my puppy important?
document My puppy is chewing everything - what should I do?

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What should I do when I bring home a new puppy?     Basic care and dog health