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Diet - How much energy do kittens & puppies need?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

puppy kitten

It is important to match calorie intake for a young growing pup or kitten to their energy needs in order to provide an optimal growth rate. Excess calories can lead to an overweight puppy/kitten or one that simply grows too fast, both of which can lead to poor skeletal development and other health issues. Many factors will influence the amount of food a puppy or kitten needs such as dietary components, size, activity levels etc and with the first 6 months especially their needs will be constantly changing as they develop and grow quickly. A useful guide to start with is 10% of the youngsters’ weight as a daily amount, split into 3 or 4 feeds.

The diet of both puppies and kittens should include at least 10% organ meats, preferably liver as it’s the most nutritionally dense of all the organ meats. The other main dietary component is raw meaty bones, chicken necks and wings are ideal as they are soft enough for young teeth to bite and chew. For kittens as obligate carnivores, the meaty bones should form at least 80% of their diet, puppies on the other hand being meso-carnivores; at least 60% meaty bone component is sufficient to meet their needs. Regularly weighing the youngster as well as assessing them visually is the best guide as to whether they are receiving an appropriate diet, they should be lean and active, with ribs that can be felt but not seen and a defined waist when viewed from above.

Dr Ian Billinghurst, Author

If you’re looking for an easy, well-informed read on nutrition, one author worth checking out is Dr Ian Billinghurst with chapters devoted to breeding specific nutrition, the above article is based on this text “Grow your pups with bones.”


Billinghurst, I. 1998. Grow your pups with bones. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.


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