Starting your puppy on a raw food diet!
Young animals need strong immune systems! They are going through a very stressful stage including; rapid growth, weaning from mom, new sights and sounds, vaccinations and the stress of moving to a new home. Providing them a species appropriate diet is the natural support they need. The first eight weeks of a puppies’ life sets the tone for their lifetime health.
Some independent studies have found that puppies weaned on raw food grow up to out-perform dogs that weaned on to kibble, even when both sets of puppies are fed raw as adults. Before sending them to their forever homes the breeders notice they had very shiny coats, great growth and appetite, no runny eyes and perfect poops.
In the wild, infant wolves, foxes, and coyotes, are weaned onto whatever food their mother was able to find and regurgitate for them. They also had access to whatever game was caught by the pack after the pack was finished with it, so they can get used to chewing on the bones.
It is believed that this slow weaning process is necessary because the digestive tract of infant carnivores cannot properly breakdown solid foods until about 4 weeks old. Puppies continue to nurse after meals until they are fully weaned onto the raw diet. Many breeders start with introducing raw goat’s milk with honey or slippery elm. From there many add ground meat, on top of the milk they receive from mom. It is best to try feeding the raw to them first so they don’t completely fill up on milk from their mother. You don’t want to over do it with organ as it can cause lose stools.
- Make The Switch “Cold Turkey”
It is not suggested to mix raw food with kibble. Kibble requires a different pH in the gut to digest; this change will make your puppy more susceptible to the bacteria in raw meats. Your puppy is perfectly capable of handling the bacteria, but once you add in processed foods, the digestive tract has a more difficult time digesting.
- Start With One Protein
It is best to start with one protein source, for at least a week or two. When stools become normal and firm, with no signs of digestive upset, you can introduce a second source and so on. We usually recommend starting with our turkey formula if possible, as it’s the lowest in fat and easily digestible.
- Calcium and Phosphorus Balance
Calcium and Phosphorus ratios are very important for growth and development as well as long term maintenance. It can feel intimidating, but it can actually be easy. Green tripe makes it simple because it has the closest to perfect ratio you can find naturally. We provide tripe in our Mega Beef and Mega Blend recipe and all our Bold recipes. We also have it available on its own in 1lb, 2lb and 5lbs units. Meaty bones are also a great source of calcium and phosphorus. Some examples of good meaty bones include turkey tails & necks, beef & pork neck bones, knucklebones and chicken backs & necks. Some other good sources include eggs with the shell (chicken, quail, duck etc.) and feeding whole animals (rabbit, quail, etc.).
- 3 Meals a Day
It is recommended to feed 3 small meals a day until puppies are about 6 months old, then you could reduce to twice or once daily feedings. It is important to spread meals out because puppies, with their small stomachs and digest tracts, cannot eat the amount they need in one sitting, and too long between meals could cause an upset stomach. This is especially important in small breeds because they can become hypoglycemic if meals are too far spread out!
- Feed 2-3% of EXPECTED Adult Body Weight
This is to ensure puppies are getting all the nutrients they need to reach their full growth potential. This is generally easier for purebred dogs and if you have accurate information on the parents/relatives. If unsure about the expected adult weight, feed 6-10% of current weight and adjust based on body condition if necessary.
**Supplements to consider**
- Green tripe – Omega 3s and 6s, digestive enzymes and naturally occurring probiotics from the ruminants digestive system. This can help to aid skin issues, yeast issues and digestion.
- Phytoplankton – Whole food nutrition that contains nearly every nutrient needed.
- Coconut oil – Antibacterial/anti-fungal, rich in medium chain fatty acids and aids in digestion.
- Probiotics – Friendly bacteria that protect the body from an overabundance of bad bacteria or fungi.
- Digestive enzymes – Help to breakdown food so the nutrients can be absorbed and utilized by the body.
Written by Taylor Luther, B.Sc