I have raised seven generations of Rottweiler puppies and two litters of the toy breed, Brussels Griffon, on a raw diet. It has been a very satisfying and wonderful change for all of my dogs. I have gotten so much satisfaction seeing how the puppies dig in and enjoy their food and I have experienced the healthy benefits and rewards of the raw diet. The benefits are seen in their musculature, energy, mood, shiny coat and healthy skin, longevity, AND healthy teeth that stay white and disease free throughout their lives.
Some people are hesitant to feed their puppies a raw diet because they are not sure how to transition a puppy to raw food. So, let’s look at a few guidelines that can help with this transition.
What are the differences in nutritional needs for puppies?
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Puppies have one important thing in common with senior dogs. They both need more protein than adult dogs. And by protein, I mean good quality animal-based protein! These include meat, yogurt, eggs and fish. You can’t really give too much protein to dogs, but there are a couple things needed to complement and balance protein. These include Calcium and Vitamin D3.
Calcium is needed to balance the phosphorus found in meat. Ideally, feeding bone is used to create this balance. To achieve this balance, you feed half the puppies diet in raw meaty bones that are either cut up or ground. Appropriate raw meaty bones include chicken necks and wings, ground turkey necks and small pork neck bones and ribs. For convenience, some companies sell pre-packaged ground beef with bone and ground pork with bone.
The other half of the diet is made up of muscle meat, tripe, a bit of organ meat (liver or kidney), eggs and yogurt. Beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and pork are good choices, as well as venison, rabbit, elk and other wild game. Avoid wild boar as it can contain trichinosis, a parasite that can harm dogs. If cooked or frozen hard for 3 weeks, then it is safe.
Vitamin D3 helps with the uptake of calcium. Without this important vitamin, a puppy can get all the calcium it needs in the diet, however, it won’t be able to process it. Generally, I suggest giving the Berte’s Daily Blend or the Berte’s Immune Blend to provide this valuable nutrient! These are powder blends that are convenient, palatable and mix easily with raw food.
I give young puppies four meals a day with a bedtime snack. The first meal is made up of goat’s milk, yogurt and egg. The second is a mid-morning meal of muscle meat. Then, I offer a mid-afternoon snack of the goat’s milk, yogurt and egg again and in the evening, I give a raw meaty bone meal. At bedtime, I offer the puppies either a small pork neck bone or chicken back cut in half for chewing fun that amuses the puppies until they fall asleep. The bone offered in the raw meaty bone meals provides the needed calcium and help firm stools.
What age should I start a puppy on a raw diet?
If I am rearing a litter of puppies on a raw diet, I don’t start adding whole foods until the puppies are four weeks of age. Before that time, puppies are unable to digest whole foods. If whole foods (including kibble) are given before that time, it can result in stomach upset and allergies later on in life.
If you have just brought a puppy home that was raised on a kibble diet, you can switch them over to a raw diet right away. Puppies are very adaptable to diet change and they will enjoy an immediate change to raw food. I would suggest adding the Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder to help with the transition. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria which help keep the digestive tract healthy and help to produce well-formed stools. It also helps support the immune system. The Berte’s Immune Blend also contains some probiotics to assist with healthy digestion.
At about three months of age, I usually omit one goat’s milk, yogurt and egg meal. By the time they are five to six months of age, I omit the second goat’s milk meal leaving the puppies on two meals a day.
For toy breeds, I suggest keeping them on three meals per day. Toy breeds have a higher metabolism and oftentimes require smaller, more frequent meals to keep blood sugar level.
- You can start a puppy on a raw diet once they are 4 weeks of age or older. Puppies are adaptable and eager to try new foods!
- To balance meals, make sure half of the diet is made up of raw meaty bones (ground, cut up or whole) and half of the diet is made up of muscle meat, organ meat, yogurt and egg. Puppies under six months enjoy snacks of yogurt, goat’s milk and egg.
- Make sure there is vitamin D3 in the meals. You can get this from some foods such as eggs, fortified goat milk products and canned fish, but it is also found in the Berte’s Daily Blend and the Berte’s Immune Blend.
- Add Berte’s Ultra Probiotics if the puppy was on kibble prior to changing to a raw diet. This adds beneficial bacteria which help in digestion and well-formed stools.
Be sure to use a wide variety of different foods. At a minimum, use at least four different animal protein sources. I also recommend adding in fish oil capsules at one capsule (1,000 mg) per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily. Fish oil helps support the immune system, heart, liver and kidney function and it supports healthy skin and a shiny coat.
If you feed a raw diet, you will see a better appetite in your dog, more energy, better muscle tone and cleaner teeth! You will see how much more your puppy enjoys fresh foods over kibble. Additionally, your dog will have fresher breath, less body odor and much smaller stools!
For more detailed recipes and instructions, my new book “Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs”. There is an informative chapter on weaning and feeding puppies and another on feeding Toy Breeds! I also want to invite you to join K9Nutrition on Facebook! This is another great way to get more information and ask more detailed questions!
Halloween is coming!
Keep the candy and chocolate away from your dogs!
Bone Appetite until next month!