Life Stage Nutrition: Puppies

Tri-coloured Border Collie

Created: 3/8/2017 Updated: 8/3/2021 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

diet, Diet & Nutrition, digestion, dogs, puppy

The dietary needs of young animals of any type are very special and specific. The energy requirements of a puppy will be greater than those of an adult or senior dog and the balance of nutrients required by puppies differs from adults. The most obvious of these are the proportions of fat and protein in the puppy's diet, as well as the levels of the minerals, calcium and phosphorous. This is because puppies need more energy per unit of body weight than adult dogs.

Feed a complete and balanced diet

Growing means increasing in size and complexity, especially the body's content of lean tissue and bone, and the best way to avoid any nutritional mistakes at this crucial stage of life is to feed a complete and balanced diet for puppies. Larger breed puppies have a slightly different nutritional requirement to those of smaller breeds. Small and toy breed puppies should be fed foods that are higher in energy and nutrient density than foods designed for larger breed puppies.

The food should also contain ingredients that are highly digestible and the kibble pieces should be small enough for small mouths. Large and giant breeds of dogs have the potential to grow very rapidly during the first six months of life. However, allowing these dogs to achieve their genetic potential for growth rate is not compatible with healthy skeletal development.

An appropriate food for large and giant breed puppies has reduced fat and energy density, a balanced level of high-quality protein and a level of calcium and phosphorus that is slightly less than that found in puppy foods intended for small breed puppies. Large and giant breeds experience a longer growth and maturation period than the small and toy breeds. Although body weight stabilises several months earlier, toy and small breed dogs reach mature body size when they are around 9 - 12 months of age.

6 chocolate Labrador puppies eating from multi coloured bowls

Body size and conformation of the large and giant breeds of dogs continues to develop until they are 18 - 24 months old. Puppies of large breeds risk growing too fast, putting on too much weight for their developing skeletons to support, so their calorie intake needs to be limited compared with that of small breed puppies by using a higher quality protein, lower fat recipe and trimming the feed quantities provided.

Providing a puppy with a complete and balanced food also means there is no need for any supplementation of any kind, except under veterinary direction. The addition of any supplemental nutrient can alter the nutritional make-up of the complete food intake which might be harmful.

How OSCAR can Help...

Let your puppy have the best start you could wish for. The correct balance of nutrients, vitamins, protein and energy to ensure your puppy is fit for anything and grows at just the right level. Two great foods designed to help your puppy grow at just the correct rate for it's breed and size.

  • Healthy Growth - Healthy growth is ideal for puppies that will weigh less than 25kg when adult.

  • Large Breed- The perfect start for your puppy. Healthy growth is ideal for puppies that will weigh more than 25kg when adult.

Grey puppy looking at the camera with blue eyes

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email