What a Balanced Meal Looks Like for a Growing Dog

What a Balanced Meal Looks Like for a Growing Dog

Given that they’re part of your family, your pet dog deserves all the care and attention to ensure their health and well-being. One vital aspect of this is their nutrition, especially during their growing years. Nutrition is always something you’ll want to stay on top of as a dog parent, whether you’re buying your dog food from the grocery or a trusted supplier, cooking homemade meals for them, or even taking them out to a pet-friendly restaurant for a bite to eat.

In this guide, let’s take a look at what growing dogs need and how to create a balanced meal plan tailored to their needs. Here are some pointers from PrideBites on the essential nutrients that your dog needs, plus how to obtain them.

Required Nutrients for Growing Dogs

First, it's essential to know which nutrients young pups need to grow well. Dogs that are quickly maturing from their puppyhood to their young adulthood will need the following for a healthy diet:


Just like humans, dogs need water to ensure the proper absorption of other nutrients. Water also aids in their digestion and temperature regulation. Both at home and outside of home, you’ll need to make sure that your dog always has access to fresh and clean water in their bowls. For better sanitation, and also added convenience on your part, use stainless steel bowls that are easy to wash.


Lean meats, fish, and eggs contain high levels of protein that your dog will need for muscle development as well as fast healing. The amino acids in protein also promote healthy skin and fur. Incorporate sufficient protein into your dog’s diet so that you can keep their coat plush and healthy.

Digestible Carbohydrates

One prevailing myth about dog nutrition is that dogs are strictly carnivorous, like wolves. However, domesticated dogs are actually omnivorous and need nutrients from grains and vegetables. To provide for your dog’s energy needs, make sure that digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, rice, and beans are part of their diet.


As everyone knows, calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones. This is also true for dogs, especially puppies who are just starting to get to know the world one bite at a time. Dogs that aren’t lactose-intolerant can get their calcium from foods like yogurt or cheese. Otherwise, you can count on foods like broccoli, spinach, and salmon as sources of calcium.


It might be surprising to some fur parents, but yes, your dog also needs fats in their diet—provided that these are the healthy kinds of fats, such as omega-3-rich oils. These fats get absorbed in their bodies, resulting in healthy skin and fur. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from omega-3 also supports your dog’s eye health and the healthy development of their nervous system.  

Dry Kibble, Wet Canned Food, Fresh Food, and Pet-Friendly Resto Fare: A Comparison

When it comes to feeding your dog on the regular, you have several options to choose from, including dry kibble, wet canned food, fresh home-cooked food, and even special menu items from pet-friendly restos and cafés. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, which include the following:

Dry Kibble

Of all these options, dry kibble is the most convenient for dog owners because it’s easy to store and it doesn’t make a mess when your dog gobbles it up. It’s also highly portable, which makes it easy to transport if your dog isn’t eating at home. Always look for high-quality kibble brands that are made from high-quality ingredients that are healthy for dogs.

Wet Canned Food

For some dogs, the wet variety of dog food is more palatable, which makes it the recommended choice for dogs that are picky eaters. Take note, however, that wet canned food has a shorter shelf life compared to kibble.

Source brands that are nutritious and of good quality. If your dog follows a unique diet, for example to mitigate their allergies, don’t hesitate to ask your vet or a dog nutritionist for their recommendations.

Fresh Food

Nothing beats a fresh meal made with love. If you have the time and resources, why not make your dog’s meals as often as you can? With help from a nutritionist, you can make your own dog recipes that are designed for optimal health.

Food from Pet-Friendly Restos and Cafés

You may be lucky enough to live in an area where there are many pet-friendly restaurants or cafés, some of which even serve meals for canine as well as human visitors. These meals are best as an occasional treat, as dining out can sometimes get expensive and affords you less control over what goes into your dog’s plate than if you prepared their meal yourself.

Make sure to talk to restaurant staff about what’s in the food they can serve your dog so that it doesn’t trigger an upset stomach, allergies, or accidental choking.

The Healthiest and Most Delicious Foods for Growing Dogs

If you’d like to be proactive about cooking homemade meals for your dog or getting them a pet-friendly restaurant special, make the following nutritious ingredients part of their diet:

Sweet Potato

Delicious and hearty, sweet potatoes are an ideal source of vitamins and minerals for growing dogs, including vitamin A and potassium. They’re highly recommended for dogs who need to put on weight due to disease or malnutrition. What’s more, they’re also well-liked by most puppies and growing adolescent doggos, which means it shouldn’t be hard to feed them to your pooch.


Pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories, and it can support digestive health and regulate bowel movements for growing dogs. It’s another veggie that’s ideal for a dog that needs to gain some healthy weight.


If you’re having Italian or if it’s part of a restaurant’s specials, make sure to include a portion for your puppies and dogs. It provides carbohydrates for energy and can be a tasty addition to your dog's diet. Just remember to moderate your dog’s consumption of carbohydrates like these to prevent the risk of obesity.


A bland and easily digestible carbohydrate source, rice can help your dog soothe their upset stomach. While rice is great as an addition to protein and veggies, it has a high glycemic index, so again, moderation is key when adding it to your dog’s diet.

Vegetables and Vegetable Oil

Include a variety of dog-safe vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and celery into your dog’s diet for added nutrients and fiber. Round their meal off with a dash of sunflower, canola, or flaxseed oil, as these are healthy oils that provide healthy fat.

Chicken, Turkey, and Lean Beef

Again, lean meats are excellent sources of protein and essential amino acids for growing dogs. Choose lean varieties such as chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean cuts of beef. Avoid chicken skin, as it contains bad fat that can lead to pancreatitis and digestive issues.

Ensure that you’re giving your growing dog the healthiest meals by knowing what nutrients they need and which foods serve as safe choices. And whether you’re feeding them ordinary dry food or a meticulously prepared meal, always prioritize high-quality ingredients and balanced nutrition. A healthy diet and plenty of love and care will help your dog grow up happy and strong, which gives them a better chance of living a long life by your side.