I have written several newsletters about weaning puppies on to a raw diet and wrote a separate article about feeding a raw diet to Toy breeds. In this article, we’ll take a look at cooked diets for weaning and growing puppies!
The primary food ingredients needed to feed the weaning and growing puppies is essentially the same as feeding the adult dogs. I encourage feeding a variety of proteins to include at least 4 different mean protein sources. The proteins can include chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb or wild game meat, as well as plain non-flavored whole milk yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs. Canned sardines, mackerel or salmon can also be given twice a week. I also include SMALL amounts of liver or kidney – no more than 5% to 10% of the total daily diet. These protein sources should make up about 75% of the diet. Puppies need high bioavailable protein for growth, and the animal fat found in protein sources provides energy and helps them stay hydrated.
25% of the diet needs to be vegetables. I prefer non starch vegetables, due to their higher fiber and sugar content. I use zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and dark leafy greens. You can use SOME sweet potato, but remember, starch causes larger, smellier stools. Just warning you…. Cook all vegetables thoroughly and then mash or puree’. IF you decide to use a crock pot, it will cook both the meat and veggies, but you will need to mix them once it is done. You can bake the meat, fry it, grill it or even boil it, but please don’t OVER COOK the meat! Lightly cooked meat is best. It is also important to know that the taurine leeches out in the juices, so be sure to pour the juices back into the meal.
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Since cooked diets do not include bones/raw meaty bones, you need to add calcium to the meals. All these foods (vegetables and meat without bone) are high in phosphorus, so we need to add calcium to create the right calcium/phosphorus balance. For adults, we give about 900 mg of calcium carbonate per pound of food served. But puppies need a little more until they reach adult height. For Toy breeds, this would be about 6 months and for some breeds a year. During this growing span, puppies would get about 1200 mg per pound of food. I would use calcium carbonate, or calcium citrate. Just mix in the food after cooking. Read more about the importance of calcium here:
I would also add vitamin D3. You can use the Berte’s Immune Blend or Daily Blend, for the easiest way to supplement D3. It is not easy to find D3 in small amounts. D3 helps with the uptake of calcium and helps the immune system. The Immune Blend also has vitamins A, B’s, C and E, plus Probiotics.
I start feeding puppies at four meals a day. They can digest smaller portions better and generally will have better stools. I also recommend adding additional probiotics and suggest the Berte’s Ultra Probiotic and you can add this additional probiotic to the Immune Blend. Generally around 12 weeks, I taper to 3 meals a day and after teething (5-6 months) I move to 2 meals a day.
Lastly, I suggest adding fish oil capsules, at one per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily. Fish oil helps with skin, coat, and the immune system and is heart, liver and kidney protective.
The amount of food needed can vary depending on breed, size and activity levels. However, a good rule of thumb is to feed 10% of the puppy’s body weight daily. Once the puppy reaches about 5-6 months, I begin feeding them approximately what I would feed them at their expected adult weight, which is 2 – 3% of their anticipated adult weight. Dogs’ appetites CAN vary on this, just like us. Some will want more; some will pick at their food, and some will do perfect on the suggestions above. It has to do with metabolism. Some puppies and some breeds are far more active. And some appetites go up and down with growth spurts. Most puppies may eat erratically when teething, due to gum soreness, so be aware of that.
So, to Recap:
75% of the total diet is animal-based foods. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, rabbit, wild game, whole milk yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese. About 5% of that is organ meat; liver or kidney.
25% of the diet are vegetables, cooked and mashed. You can use zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, dark leafy greens. You can use a bit of sweet potato, but not too much! It makes stools larger with more odor.
Add 1200 mg of calcium carbonate per pound of food prepared. While puppies need more calcium than adults, do NOT give them more than this. Too much calcium for a growing puppy can do more harm than good.
Add the Berte’s Immune Blend for the Vitamin D3 and also vitamin A, B’s, C and E, plus some probiotics. I would add extra Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder to start. This helps aid digestion and helps with firming stools.
Feed 10% of the puppy’s weight daily, and at about 6 months feed at 3% of the puppies EXPECTED adult weight! Divide the daily amount up into four meals a day, then down to 3 around 12 weeks, and two meals a day at 6 months.
Be sure to use at least 4 proteins and try to use as much variety as possible!