Puppy feeding and nutrition

As puppies are growing rapidly, and their digestive and immune systems are developing slowly, they have very specific nutritional needs that are different from adult dogs. Feeding your puppy a nutritionally complete diet tailored to their specific needs is vital for supporting healthy development and laying the foundation for a healthy future.


Why your puppy’s diet is so important

Puppies go through intense growth and development. Their diet plays a key role in supporting this and is crucial in influencing how strong and healthy your puppy is as an adult dog.

When does your puppy become an adult dog?


Average adult weight
Up to 4kg
Up to 10kg  11-25kg
26-44kg 45kg and more
Growth duration (birth to adulthood) 8/10 months
8/10 months  12 months 15 months 18/24 months


ROYAL CANIN®'s scientific approach to puppy nutrition

We specialise in health nutrition because, for us, puppy food isn’t just about providing energy. It’s about building and maintaining the body’s cells, protecting against disease and preventing digestive, joint and age-related issues.

Our Puppy Ranges

ROYAL CANIN® puppy nutrition supports growth and development by providing all the nutrients essential to a puppy's needs in the first year of life.

How much should I feed my puppy?

Puppies have different nutritional needs according to their breed and eventual adult size. Ask your vet for help checking the expected adult weight of your puppy according to their breeding. You can then choose the right food for them and make sure you give it to them in the right quantities.

Dogs are categorised in five different sizes:
  • X-small – up to 4kg when adult
  • Small – up to 10kg when adult
  • Medium – 11kg to 25kg when adult
  • Large – 26kg to 44kg when adult
  • Giant – over 45kg when adult

Breeds of different sizes have different needs as puppies. For example:
  • X-small and small breeds have weaker jaws and smaller teeth so need food that’s the right size and texture.
  • Medium breeds tend to be more active outdoors so need plenty of energy and helping building their natural defences.
  • Large and giant breeds grow slower and need less energy per kilo of bodyweight than small breeds.

Without taking your puppy’s expected adult size into account, it’s easy to feed them too much or too little. Underfeeding can lead to issues including malnutrition and stunted growth. While overfeeding can make your puppy overweight, which can cause painful bone and joint problems, difficulty breathing and more.

Puppies don’t know how to regulate their food intake, so it’s important you control their portions to avoid them becoming overweight. This is particularly crucial for large breed dogs, as overfeeding can cause them to grow too quickly and develop skeletal problems.
Always refer to the portion recommendations on the pack and weigh each meal carefully. Remember that the quantity stated is usually a daily recommended amount, so you’ll need to split this across your puppy’s meals. Any treats you give your puppy should be included in this daily amount too – it’s easy to overfeed with rewards.

Setting the right puppy feeding schedule

Puppies have small stomachs and their immature digestive systems don’t react well to being overloaded. To avoid your puppy suffering from disorders such as diarrhoea, it’s best to split their daily recommended food portion into small meals throughout the day.

Puppies thrive on routine and don’t need variety in their diet like humans do. To help them feel secure, and avoid upsetting their digestion, give them the same food, preferably at the same times, in the same place, using the same bowl.

What is mixed feeding for puppies?

Mixed feeding is when you give your puppy a combination of wet and dry food – either at the same time or at separate meals, but never in the same bowl. They both offer important benefits such as wet food helping with hydration and appealing to picky eaters. While dry food can slow down fast eaters.

The benefits of mixed feeding for puppies


In dry foods, the moisture content is around 8%, while in wet foods, this is usually at least 75%.


Our wet formulas are designed to be highly appealing to the fussiest of puppies.

Weight Management

Wet food’s high moisture content means you can serve a larger portion for the same number of calories.

Good feeding habits for your puppy

Feeding your puppy can feel stressful, especially if you’re facing problems such as them refusing to eat or eating too quickly. Here are some good habits to establish straightaway to help your puppy build positive associations with feeding times and get the nutrients they need.

Maintain portion control

To avoid overfeeding your puppy, check the dietary guidelines on the food packaging and measure each portion carefully. Remember the stated amounts apply for the whole day, not per meal.

Avoid human food

Dogs have different nutritional needs from humans and what’s good for us can cause serious stomach upsets in dogs. Giving your puppy scraps or hand feeding can also cause bad behaviour.

Be careful with treats

A treat must always form part of your puppy’s overall daily food allowance to avoid overfeeding. Limit how many you give and always offer them at the right time for the right reason.

Limit activity before and after feeding

To prevent stomach upsets, try to avoid your puppy jumping about for an hour or two after eating. And don’t feed them straight after they’ve been very active.

Feed your puppy after you

As dogs are pack animals, they need to know the hierarchy. To show your puppy that you and your family are in the dominant position, feed them once you’ve eaten.

Keep feeding times calm

Distractions can put your puppy off their food, so keep their feeding area quiet. Watch them while they’re eating to check they’re safe, but don’t fuss over them – it can cause protective behaviour.

Set the pace

If your puppy bolts their food, try a slow-feed bowl or feeding puzzle. Even if they’re a slow eater, remove the bowl after 15 to 20 minutes so they don’t slip into snacking habits.

Puppy feeding FAQs

The amount of food your puppy needs depends on the size they’ll grow into as an adult – x-small, small, medium, large or giant. Make sure you choose the right puppy food according to their expected adult size and always follow the portion recommendations on the pack.

A puppy needs to continue eating specialist puppy food until they’ve fully transitioned into adulthood. For smaller breeds this can be as early as eight months, but for larger breeds it can be up to two years. Check with your vet to make sure your puppy’s ready to move onto adult food.

Puppies can start to eat dry kibbles when weaning, which begins at around four or five weeks. But to make them easier for very small puppies to eat and digest, it’s best to soften them with water initially.

Many of the foods that are healthy or enjoyable for us can be poisonous for dogs and puppies. These include, but aren’t limited to: cooked bones, fatty foods, chocolate, coffee, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, onions, some mushrooms, avocados, raw potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, apricots, peaches, cherries, grapes, raisins and rhubarb.

Homemade food may not be the best for your puppy as it’s difficult to ensure the nutritional balance they need. It also perishes faster and tends to be more expensive and time-consuming to make. Good quality, manufactured puppy food is tailored to your puppy’s specific needs and includes the convenience of both dry kibbles and wet food in cans or pouches.

Keeping an eye on your puppy’s weight is useful to make sure they’re growing, but the body condition score gives a clearer picture of whether they’re overweight or underweight. This is important to know as both can cause health issues. The body condition score focuses on the look and feel of your puppy to assess whether they’re a healthy shape. Your vet can show you how to score your puppy.

If you choose the right high-quality food, manufactured specifically for your puppy’s needs, it should provide all the nutrients they need without having to give them supplements. It’s always worth checking with your vet though about your puppy’s individual dietary needs.

Although dogs are often considered to be carnivores, they would eat their prey whole in the wild. By eating the guts of their herbivorous and omnivorous prey, they would eat some vegetable matter too. So our formulas are designed to reflect the fact that dogs don’t naturally eat 100% meat.

Our Puppy Ranges

Find a nutritionally complete diet tailored to the precise needs of your puppy.