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Raw Food for Puppies

Can puppies eat a raw diet?

Puppies can start eating a raw dog food diet at the age of 3 weeks. That’s when they can be weaned off their mother’s milk.

It’s best to offer puppies three or four daily meals until they are 4 months old. Then, feed the puppy three daily meals until he’s around 5-6 months old. At that time, it’s generally OK to decrease feeding time to breakfast and dinner.

A balanced raw diet for puppies – why balance is important

It’s important to avoid poor feeding practices while puppies are growing to steer clear of skeletal problems, according to Dr. Karen Becker, a well-known raw-feeding veterinarian.

That’s why puppies need to be fed a balanced raw meat diet consisting of muscle meat, raw meaty bones (RMBs), liver and other secreting organs.

Raw food for puppies

It’s particularly important to feed the right ratio of calcium to phosphorus, which makes green tripe a perfect ingredient in the muscle meat category.

Green tripe is the stomach lining of ruminants such as cattle and sheep, and contains a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1:1. It’s also rich in digestive enzymes and a plethora of nutrients which make it a wonderful ally for gut health and a strong immune system.

I’ve written about green tripe for dogs on That Mutt before, including its many benefits and where to buy it: What is raw green tripe for dogs?

Puppies eating green tripe:


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😋 Feeding time 😋

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How to start your puppy on a raw diet

Really young puppies will need to eat their first raw meals in minced form because they don’t know how to chew yet.

A raw diet for puppies 3 to 5 weeks old: they can be offered minced raw meat consisting of muscle meat (including green tripe) and minced raw meaty bones, served warm. You can add some raw goat milk but shouldn’t add secreting organs yet.

A raw diet for puppies 5 to 8 weeks old: you can start introducing secreting organs and raw meaty bones. Add (very small!) amounts of liver first followed by other secreting organs as well as small, whole RMBs to the minced raw meat such as chicken necks, feet or wings.

The puppies will start pulling meat off the bone which teaches them to chew.

Remember to always supervise feeding time involving raw meaty bones. This applies to adult dogs as well. For more information on RMBs, check out our blog post: Can dogs eat raw poultry necks?

A raw diet for puppies 8 weeks old and up

Puppies 8 weeks and older can be fed regular raw meals consisting of cuts of meat that haven’t been minced. You’ll have to adjust the size of the raw meaty bones as your puppy grows to keep them from turning into choking hazards.

You can also begin feeding them a commercial raw diet such as Darwin’s.

Darwin's raw dog food

Raw bones for puppies

While it’s fine to stick to chicken necks and wings for small breeds, they’re not a good fit for larger breeds as they begin to grow in size.

Duck heads and necks would be a good option for a 6-month-old Boxer puppy, while the same age Great Dane puppy would easily be able to handle a skinless chicken leg quarter (the skin is too fatty and can cause an upset tummy).

*Get our three FREE raw dog food recipes now! Click Here

What kind of raw meat to feed a puppy

Start with one protein source for your puppy such as chicken and feed it for a week, then slowly introduce other protein sources like turkey, beef, venison, or rabbit to ensure your puppy gets a variety of nutrients and to keep feeding time interesting.

You can also start introducing fish once your puppy has tasted a variety of protein sources.

Keep in mind, if you’re adopting a puppy that wasn’t raised on a raw meat diet, you’ll have to plan for a transition period of about 7-10 days from their processed diet to the new raw one, just like you would with an adult dog who’s being transitioned from kibble to raw.

How much raw meat to feed a puppy?

One thing raw-fed puppies have in common with puppies fed a highly processed dry or wet food diet is that they need more food than adult dogs to fuel their growth.

But that’s where the similarities end – raw-fed puppies are off to a much healthier start of their lives than the ones consuming kibble.

Remy the weimaraner puppy

A puppy needs to eat varying amounts of food until he celebrates his first birthday.

After that, he can transition to the adult raw feeding formula (2-3% of his ideal body weight in raw meat per day for the average dog). The food will need to consist of 80% muscle meat, 10% RMB, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organs.

Two different approaches for feeding a puppy raw

Option #1: Feed 2-3% of the puppy’s adult target body weight per day.

If you don’t know what your puppy’s adult target body weight is, you may want to consult with your (holistic/homeopathic) veterinarian and/or breeder to figure that part out.

Sleeping Weimaraner puppy

Of course, use common sense. If your puppy is losing weight or appears too thin, it’s OK to increase the daily amount of food.

Some individual puppies or breeds may require more than 3% of their adult target body weight. You should consult with your puppy’s vet or breeder if you have any concerns about her weight.

Darwin's raw dog food

Option #2: Feed according to the puppies’ current body weight.

Dana Scott, founder & publisher of Dog’s Naturally Magazine who has 15+ years of experience in breeding and raising Labrador Retriever puppies on raw meat, says that you can also feed 10% of the puppy’s current weight if you’re unsure about his adult target weight.

You can find out more about her breeding background at

This option may be easier if you are unsure of your puppy’s breed or how big she will be as an adult. Start at about 10% per day at 7-10 weeks, 8% at 11-16 weeks, 6% at 4 to 6 months, 4% at 6 to 12 months, and down to about 3% at 12 months.

Remy with his raw dog food from Darwin's

Keep in mind that every puppy is different and that her breed and activity level will influence the exact amount of food she’ll need.

You’ll want to monitor her body condition and adjust her food allowance accordingly. For example, Lindsay’s adult weimaraner is 2.5 years old and requires about 4.5% of his body weight in raw food per day.

For most breeds, aim for a visible waistline and ribs you can feel with your hands, but not see.

I recommend working with a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian who supports raw feeding to ensure that your puppy grows into a healthy adult pup. 

Does your puppy eat raw meat?

Let us know in the comments below!

*Get our three FREE raw dog food recipes now! Click Here

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt. She is a blogger, raw feeder and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee

Melissa Ardoin

Monday 31st of October 2022

I’ve been trying for the past month to implement a raw diet for my dogs. I started researching months before that… I’m just unsure.

First is my 5 month old lab. He’s a little on the thick side but loves all foods on the “dogs can eat list”… he’ll eat it all raw, cold or puréed. I’m worried he won’t get all the nutrients he needs in the PMR diet. Doesn’t he need veggies, fruit, and a little dairy? At the moment he is eating a little kibble, a veggie, a fruit, organ meat, muscle meat, and liver. He also enjoys turkey necks and turkey wings. Seems like the BARF would meet his likes but I don’t know what’s healthier.

However, I have a 2.5 year old female Shepard. She’s highly, highly energetic and hates kibble. The only way I can get her to eat it is by adding organ meat, muscle meat & very little coconut to hold it together or she’d just pick out the meat and leave the kibble. I can feed her a full PMR but once again, I’m afraid she isn’t getting enough of the nutrients she needs.

Is their any supplement that should be given on this diet? They are both prone to hip and joint problems and my 5 month old silver lab has alopecia.

I need help please. I have done tons of research and have found many discrepancies. Like no raw sweet potatoes… only puréed. I’m so confused about what to do! Please help!!!

Destiny Lopez

Monday 13th of September 2021

So, the article states "A raw diet for puppies 3 to 5 weeks old: they can be offered minced raw meat consisting of muscle meat (including green tripe) and minced raw meaty bones, served warm." What do you mean by served warm? Am I cooking it or just thawing out?

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 13th of September 2021

I think she meant they might prefer it warm, so not cooked.

Rita Kaye

Monday 14th of October 2019

What is secretin food does that mean my chicken hearts and chicken gizzards I'm trying to start my three-year-old Terrier mix on raw food he weighs about 18 pounds and I'm not sure how much I should give him right now I have spare ribs beef spare ribs I don't know if I should give him one and that's a meal. Or should I scramble an egg maybe with some kibble in the morning not scramble give him what a gun some kibble in the morning and give him the RMB in the evening. I don't know what the green tripe is where would I buy that. I know where to buy chicken wings but I've never seen chicken necks anywhere so you have to take the skin off of that do I have that correct. And you mentioned fish are you talkin raw fish and what kind of fish and what about fish bones I'm concerned thank you for any information you can offer

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 14th of October 2019

To answer a few of your questions:

By "secreting" organs we were referring to organs that "secrete" such as liver and kidneys. Here is an article that goes into more details on organ meat for raw dog food:

Here is a link to green tripe on

You don't necessarily have to take the skin off of raw chicken, although the skin is rich and fatty so some dogs don't do well with the skin.

Here is a post on frequently asked questions you might find helpful: