The Best Raw Food Diet for Puppies

by Pup + Bones

If you're a proud pet parent of a lovable puppy, you surely want to provide them with the best nutrition possible. The question that often arises is, "What is the best raw food diet for puppies?" Well, look no further, because in this article, we will explore the ideal diet for your little bundle of fur. From explaining the importance of raw food for puppies to providing guidance on how much raw food to feed them, we've got you covered. So, get ready to discover the key to keeping your puppy healthy, happy, and thriving!

The Best Raw Food Diet for Puppies

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Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Puppies

Improved digestion

A raw food diet can significantly improve your puppy's digestion. Unlike processed foods that often contain fillers and artificial ingredients, raw food provides natural enzymes and fibers that promote healthy digestion. This can help reduce the risk of digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, ensuring that your puppy's digestive system functions optimally.

Healthy skin and coat

One of the most visible benefits of a raw food diet is the improvement in your puppy's skin and coat. The high-quality proteins and fats found in raw food help nourish the skin, making it less prone to dryness, itching, and allergies. Additionally, essential fatty acids found in raw food contribute to a shiny, lustrous coat, leaving your puppy looking and feeling their best.

Enhanced immune system

A puppy's immune system is not yet fully developed, and a raw food diet can play a crucial role in boosting its function. Raw foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which support a healthy immune system. By providing your puppy with the necessary high-quality nutrients, you can help strengthen their immune response, making them more resistant to illness and infection.

Reduced risk of obesity

Obesity is a common problem among puppies, leading to various health issues such as joint problems and heart disease. A raw food diet can help prevent obesity by providing a balanced and natural source of nutrition. Raw food is typically lower in carbohydrates and higher in lean protein, which helps maintain a healthy weight for your puppy. Additionally, the lack of artificial additives and fillers in raw food reduces the risk of overeating.

Boosted dental health

Maintaining proper dental health is important for puppies, as it sets the foundation for good oral hygiene throughout their lives. Raw food diets usually include raw meaty bones, which promote dental health by naturally cleaning your puppy's teeth and gums. Chewing on bones helps remove plaque and tartar buildup, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. A raw food diet can contribute to strong teeth and fresh breath for your furry friend.

Nutritional Requirements for Puppies


Protein is an essential component of a puppy's diet as it supports growth, development, and overall health. When choosing a raw food diet for your puppy, make sure it includes high-quality sources of protein such as lean meats, poultry, and fish. These animal-based proteins provide the necessary amino acids that puppies require for optimal muscle and tissue development.


Healthy fats are vital for a puppy's growth and energy levels. Raw food diets often contain natural sources of fats such as fatty cuts of meat, eggs, and fish oils. These fats provide energy, aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and support brain development. It is important to include appropriate amounts of fats in your puppy's diet to meet their nutritional needs.


Vitamins are essential for proper growth, development, and overall health in puppies. A raw food diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables to provide vitamins A, C, E, and others. These vitamins play a crucial role in supporting the immune system, promoting healthy skin and coat, and maintaining various bodily functions.


Minerals are essential for strong bones, teeth, and proper nerve function in puppies. Raw food diets often include bone-in meats and organ meats, which are excellent sources of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Including these minerals in your puppy's diet helps support their skeletal system, red blood cell production, and overall vitality.


While carbohydrates are not a primary requirement for puppies, they can still play a role in their diet. Vegetables and small amounts of grains or legumes can provide beneficial fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It's important to choose carbohydrates that are easily digestible and do not contribute to excessive calorie intake.

Choosing the Right Raw Food for Puppies

Protein sources

When selecting raw food for your puppy, prioritize high-quality protein sources such as beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb. These proteins contain essential amino acids necessary for your puppy's growth and development. Including a variety of protein sources in their diet can help prevent protein deficiencies and ensure a well-rounded nutritional profile.

Quality ingredients

Ensure that the raw food you choose for your puppy is made from high-quality ingredients. Look for reputable brands that source their ingredients from trusted suppliers. Avoid products that contain fillers, artificial preservatives, or additives that may harm your puppy's health.

Balanced formulation

It is important to provide your puppy with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. Look for raw food formulas that have been specifically formulated for puppies, taking into consideration their unique needs for growth and development. These formulas should contain an appropriate balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Avoiding allergens

Some puppies may have food allergies or sensitivities, so it is crucial to identify and avoid potential allergens in their diet. Common allergenic ingredients include grains, dairy, and certain proteins such as chicken or beef. If you suspect your puppy has a food allergy, consult with your veterinarian to determine a suitable raw food diet that avoids triggering their allergies.

Age-appropriate options

Puppies have different nutritional needs at various stages of their growth. Look for raw food options that are specifically formulated for your puppy's age group, whether they are in the early developmental stage or nearing adulthood. These age-appropriate options ensure that your puppy receives the proper nutrients to support their growth and development.

Transitioning Your Puppy to a Raw Food Diet

Gradual introduction

To ensure a smooth transition to a raw food diet, introduce it gradually to your puppy. Start by replacing a small portion of their current diet with raw food and gradually increase the amount over a few weeks. This gradual introduction allows their digestive system to adjust and prevents any sudden gastrointestinal upset.

Mixing raw food with current diet

To ease the transition further, you can initially mix raw food with your puppy's current diet. This combination allows them to become acquainted with the taste and texture of raw food while still providing familiar elements from their previous diet. Over time, you can gradually reduce the amount of the old diet and increase the proportion of raw food.

Monitoring digestive changes

During the transition period, closely monitor your puppy's digestion. Changes in stool consistency or frequency may occur as their system adapts. If you notice any persistent digestive issues or concerns, consult with your veterinarian to ensure a smooth transition and troubleshoot any potential problems.

Adjusting serving sizes

As your puppy transitions to a raw food diet, it is essential to adjust their serving sizes accordingly. Raw food is generally more nutrient-dense than processed foods, so your puppy may require smaller portions to meet their nutritional needs. Monitor their weight and growth to ensure they are receiving the appropriate amount of food for their age and activity level.

The Best Raw Food Diet for Puppies

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Feeding Guidelines for Puppies

Age-based feeding frequency

Puppies have different feeding requirements based on their age. Younger puppies require more frequent meals to support their rapid growth and metabolism. Generally, puppies up to 3 months old should be fed four times a day, while puppies aged 3 to 6 months can be fed three times a day. As they reach 6 months and beyond, you can transition to two meals a day.

Portion sizes

Determining the right portion sizes for your puppy is crucial to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding. Consult feeding guidelines provided by the raw food manufacturer, as these often specify recommended portions based on your puppy's weight and age. It is important to regularly assess your puppy's body condition and adjust portion sizes accordingly to maintain a healthy weight.

Ensuring hydration

Puppies have higher water requirements than adult dogs, and it is essential to ensure they remain adequately hydrated. While raw food contains some moisture, it may not be enough to meet their hydration needs entirely. Provide fresh water at all times and monitor their water intake, especially during warm weather or periods of increased physical activity.

Monitoring weight and growth

Regularly monitor your puppy's weight and growth to ensure they are healthy and thriving on a raw food diet. Excessive weight gain or loss may indicate the need for adjustments in portion sizes or nutritional content. By tracking their growth and consulting with your veterinarian, you can make any necessary changes to support their overall well-being.

Supplementing a Raw Food Diet for Puppies

Calcium and phosphorus

A raw food diet may require supplementation, particularly in regard to calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are essential for healthy bone development, and an imbalance can lead to skeletal issues in growing puppies. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if additional supplementation or the inclusion of bone-in meats is necessary to meet your puppy's specific needs.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish and fish oils, play a vital role in supporting your puppy's brain development, immune function, and overall health. If your raw food diet does not contain sufficient omega-3 fatty acids, consider adding a fish oil supplement to ensure your puppy receives this essential nutrient.


Probiotics can promote a healthy gut microbiome in puppies and support digestion and immune function. Including a probiotic supplement in your puppy's diet can help maintain a balanced digestive system, especially during the transition to a raw food diet. Consult with your veterinarian to find a suitable probiotic supplement for your puppy.

Digestive enzymes

Some puppies may require additional digestive enzymes to aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from their raw food diet. Digestive enzyme supplements can help support optimal digestion, particularly if your puppy shows signs of digestive issues or has a sensitive stomach. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if digestive enzymes are necessary for your puppy's diet.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

While a raw food diet can provide a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, there may be cases where additional supplementation is necessary. This is particularly true for puppies with specific health conditions or those on a homemade raw food diet. Consult with your veterinarian to assess your puppy's individual needs and determine if any supplements are required.

The Best Raw Food Diet for Puppies

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Common Mistakes to Avoid

Insufficient variety

One common mistake when feeding a raw food diet is not providing enough variety in your puppy's meals. It is essential to rotate protein sources, include different types of vegetables, and vary the types of bones or chews offered. This ensures that your puppy receives a broad range of nutrients and prevents them from developing intolerances or deficiencies.

Unbalanced diets

Feeding an unbalanced raw food diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. It is crucial to select a commercially prepared raw food diet that has been formulated to meet the nutritional needs of puppies. Alternatively, if you choose to prepare a homemade diet, consult with a veterinary nutritionist to ensure it contains the appropriate balance of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.


Overfeeding is a common mistake that can lead to weight gain and obesity in puppies. Raw food diets are generally more nutrient-dense than processed foods, so it's important to closely follow feeding guidelines and monitor your puppy's body condition. Avoid the temptation to give excessive treats or unnecessarily large portions, and maintain proper portion control for your puppy's overall health.

Ignoring portion control

Portion control is crucial when feeding a raw food diet to your puppy. While it's important to provide them with the nutrients they need, feeding too much can lead to weight gain and potential health issues. Regularly assess your puppy's body condition, adjust portion sizes as necessary, and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about their weight or growth.

Neglecting dental care

While a raw food diet can contribute to good dental health, it is not a substitute for proper dental care. Neglecting dental hygiene in puppies can lead to tartar buildup, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Incorporate regular teeth brushing, use appropriate dental chews, and schedule professional dental cleanings as recommended by your veterinarian.

Monitoring Your Puppy's Health

Regular vet check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for monitoring your puppy's overall health and well-being. Routine exams allow your veterinarian to assess their growth, catch any potential health issues early on, and provide guidance specific to your puppy's individual needs. Maintaining a strong relationship with your veterinarian ensures that your puppy receives optimal care throughout their life.

Observing energy levels

Monitoring your puppy's energy levels is an essential part of assessing their overall health. Puppies are generally active and playful, and any significant changes in their energy levels may indicate underlying health concerns. If your puppy becomes lethargic or shows a sudden decrease in activity, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any potential medical issues.

Checking stool consistency

Stool consistency is a good indicator of your puppy's digestive health. While there may be some variation based on the specific raw food diet and transition period, consistently loose or watery stools may be a sign of a problem. If your puppy's stool remains abnormal for an extended period or is accompanied by other symptoms, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation.

Assessing coat condition

Your puppy's coat condition can reflect their overall health and nutrition. A healthy coat should be soft, shiny, and free of excessive shedding or skin issues. If you notice changes in their coat, such as dryness, dullness, or excessive shedding, it may indicate a nutritional deficiency or underlying health problem. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate course of action.

Potential Risks and Precautions

Bacterial contamination

Raw food diets, including those for puppies, carry a risk of bacterial contamination. Handling raw food improperly or feeding contaminated raw food can lead to foodborne illnesses. To minimize this risk, follow proper food safety practices, such as storing raw food at appropriate temperatures, using separate utensils for raw food, and thoroughly washing hands and surfaces after handling raw meat.

Nutritional imbalances

Feeding an improperly balanced raw food diet can result in nutritional imbalances or deficiencies in puppies. It is important to choose commercially prepared raw food diets formulated specifically for puppies or consult with a veterinary nutritionist for homemade diets. Regularly assess your puppy's growth, monitor for any signs of nutritional deficiencies, and consult with your veterinarian to ensure their diet meets their nutritional needs.

Allergies and intolerances

Puppies, like humans, can develop allergies or intolerances to certain foods. While raw food diets generally have fewer allergenic ingredients compared to processed foods, some puppies may still experience adverse reactions. If you notice any signs of allergies, such as itching, diarrhea, or vomiting, consult with your veterinarian to identify the potential allergens and make appropriate dietary adjustments.

Bone-related risks

Feeding raw meaty bones is a common practice in raw food diets, but it is important to do so with caution. Bones can pose choking hazards, especially if they are too small or have been cooked. Additionally, excessive bone consumption can lead to constipation or digestive obstructions. Always supervise your puppy while they are consuming bones and choose appropriate sizes and types that are safe for their age and size.

Puppy-specific considerations

Puppies have unique nutritional needs compared to adult dogs, and their raw food diets should reflect this. It is important to ensure that the raw food you choose meets the specific requirements for growing puppies. Consult with your veterinarian to address any puppy-specific considerations related to their age, breed, size, or health conditions.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

Expert advice

Consulting with a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition is invaluable when considering a raw food diet for your puppy. They can assess your puppy's specific needs, educate you on the benefits and risks, and provide tailored recommendations to ensure their nutritional requirements are met. An expert's guidance will help you make informed decisions about your puppy's diet and overall health.

Tailoring to individual needs

Each puppy is unique, and their dietary needs may vary based on factors such as breed, size, age, and health conditions. A veterinarian can help tailor a raw food diet to best meet your puppy's individual needs. They can suggest specific protein sources, guide you on portion sizes, and address any specific health concerns or dietary restrictions.

Transition guidance

Transitioning your puppy to a raw food diet can be a process that requires careful consideration and planning. A veterinarian can provide guidance on the appropriate timing and method of transition, helping you minimize any potential digestive upset or complications. They can also assist with troubleshooting any issues that may arise during the transition period.

Medical conditions and restrictions

If your puppy has any pre-existing medical conditions or restrictions, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian before starting a raw food diet. Certain health conditions may require specific dietary modifications or additional supplementation. A veterinarian can assess your puppy's medical history and recommend any necessary adjustments or alternatives to ensure their health and well-being.

In conclusion, a raw food diet can offer numerous benefits for puppies, including improved digestion, healthy skin and coat, enhanced immune system, reduced risk of obesity, and boosted dental health. When choosing a raw food diet for your puppy, consider their nutritional requirements, choose the right protein sources and quality ingredients, ensure a balanced formulation, and be mindful of potential allergens. Transitioning your puppy gradually, monitoring their digestion, adjusting serving sizes, and following feeding guidelines are important steps. Supplementing their diet wisely with calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and appropriate vitamins and minerals can help address specific needs. It's important to avoid common mistakes such as insufficient variety, unbalanced diets, overfeeding, ignoring portion control, and neglecting dental care. Regularly monitoring your puppy's health, consulting with a veterinarian, and being aware of potential risks and precautions will contribute to their overall well-being. With proper guidance and veterinary support, a raw food diet can be a nutritious and beneficial choice for your puppy's health and vitality.

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