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Hey all,

My puppy Maggie is 12 weeks old and much smaller than average. She’s very energetic and lots of fun, very full (not too skinny), just not very big. I have been feeding her a mix of raw ground beef with some fruit and veggies stuffed in it(maybe 1/4 -1/2 pound every other day, and Wilderness blue puppy food. It’s grain free and supposed to be healthy. But I don’t see “large breed” written anywhere on it. I am wondering if I messed up. If I go and buy her a bag of Orijon large breed puppy food today could she redeem her size and catch up? Am I over reacting and that food is fine? What’s the procedure here. What would you guys do?
At 9 weeks, she was 9.2 pounds. Now she’s 12 weeks and has an appointment in a few days but I’m assuming she’s about 15-17 pounds.
 

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My female Nike was 10# at 9.5 weeks so I don't see your pup as being smaller or needing to catch up. I can't help with the dog foods since I don't feed kibble, but feed a good quality food, don't over feed, and she will grow as her genetics dictate.
 

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It's not too late -- the huge growth spurts are yet to come! The food is not likely related to her small size. She may just end up being a small female...or grow like a weed later. You actually don't want her to grow too fast. The LB puppy foods are formulated for slow, steady growth to lower the risk of joint abnormalities and panosteitis.

Why is she on grain free? Any allergy? Or "just because"? There's actually an FDA warning about grain-free foods correlating to the development of a lethal heart issue in some dogs -- please read this thread, and the spreadsheet linked in it before you decide on a new food:
https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/diet-nutrition/748011-fda-dog-foods-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy.html

There's no evidence that grain-free kibble is healthier -- it's marketing hype. Most of them just replace rice and oats with peas, beans, tapioca, and potatoes because you need starch to get the kibble extrusion machine to work. Worse, they trick you into thinking there's more meat in grain-free by boosting the protein with peas and beans, which aren't good protein sources for dogs. Take a look at what's happened to Orijen's formula from 2010 to 2018 with the addition of ever more legumes:
Is Change in Pet Food a Good Thing? ? Truth about Pet Food

If she doesn't have any allergies, you're probably not accomplishing anything by paying more for grain-free other than lightening your wallet to feed her a lot of peas. Dogs actually digest rice and oats pretty well in foods that are primarily meat -- but they don't necessarily digest the grain-free starchy fillers quite as well. It's not a good trade-off.

I would take a look at Fromm Gold Large Breed Puppy (with grain):
https://frommfamily.com/products/dog/gold/dry/large-breed-puppy-gold/

This list might also help as a starting point to compare foods:
https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/best-large-breed-puppy-food/
 

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I would just feed her kibble. The ground beef and veges are not balanced so you are replacing balanced food with unbalanced. If you want to feed raw, there are good commercial options out there. I'm assuming from you uniform that you don't have the space or time to really do homemade raw full scale.

Personally, I don't think her weight is off. My male was 11 lbs at 8 weeks. Your female should be smaller than him.
 

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It may help to understand what's going on with puppy foods to understand what's behind Jax08's concern: puppy foods are aiming for a very specific, balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus to optimize healthy growth. That's why you'll often see that ratio discussed when we nitpick puppy foods.

Bone has calcium. Muscle meat, like hamburger, has phosphorus. So if a kibble is formulated with the optimum balanced ratio, and you add a bunch of meat on your own....you just created a phosphorus imbalance. The same is true if you start giving the pup a bunch of frozen chicken wings as supplemental treats (creating a calcium imbalance).

This article explains it pretty well:
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutritional-requirements-of-large-and-giant-breed-puppies
 

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The whole of it is unbalanced, all vitamins and minerals are affected, not just the calcium and phosphorus. My concern is valid for all ages but especially a growing pup.
 
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