Puppies and Raw Diets
by Anne Moore
Switching a puppy to a raw diet is so easy a caveman could do it – and did, actually. A raw diet is a dog’s natural diet, pre-dating commercial kibble by centuries. My philosophy is: nature knows best, and the further we stray from nature’s model, the worse we humans screw it up! Feed a puppy as you would an adult dog – lots of meat, a little edible bone, small amounts of organs. It is simply not true that puppies need “more” of anything than adult dogs.
So, here’s how I switched my Alta-Tollhaus girl to raw-feeding (and how I’ve switched several dozen others, including Pembroke Welsh Corgis and a number of fosters of various (sometimes indeterminate) breeds.
I always start a newbie-to-raw -– puppy or adult — with bone-in (aka split) chicken breasts. There is a good meat-to-bone ratio, and the bones are easy-peasy. I simply cut into the chicken meat, giving pup something to grab onto, and hand the piece to the puppy. Most puppies “get it” immediately: “Hey! This is food!” and work on the chicken diligently. I have seen a couple of puppies who needed a little extra help – a little bit of parmesan cheese rubbed into the slits in the meat usually does the trick.
Once pup is consuming the entire breast piece, bone and all, I quickly move on to other proteins. Puppies adapt quite easily to new meats, unlike some adult dogs, where sloooooowly adding small amounts of “new” is a much better plan.
Within two weeks of starting raw-feeding, my puppies will have eaten: chicken, turkey, pork, venison, elk if we have it, beef heart, rabbit, lamb/mutton, and probably fish.
Folks always want to know how much to feed their puppy. Those who are detail-oriented will be appalled to read that I don’t weigh or measure anything, ever. Not even for puppies! I just feed my dogs. But, that casual philosophy doesn’t work for everyone, so here’s a little guidance. Feed approximately 2-3% of the puppy’s anticipated *adult* weight! So, if your female should weigh around 55-60 lbs. as an adult, she will need about a pound of food per day. And yes, puppies *do* eat as much as an adult dog, but they should have several meals daily to consume it.
I feed puppies four times daily until the age of four months, three times until the age of six months, and twice daily until around a year of age. At that point, I move pup to once daily meals, as I like to be able to offer large, oddly shaped, more complicated meals. Eating is more than just nutrition when you’re raw-feeding – it also provides a physical work-out for jaws, neck, shoulders, and is mentally and physically challenging at its best.
If you are feeding two meals daily, you can choose to feed a small meal or snack in the morning, for example, and a larger, more challenging meal at night.
For working or sport dogs, the percentage above may not provide enough nutrition to maintain healthy weight. The percentage is a guideline only; feed more if your dog is too thin, and feed less if he’s getting pudgy.
Put your hands on your dog often. Run your hands down his ribcage; you should be able to easily feel his ribs. Being able to see a last rib or two is actually a good thing! Lean is better than fat for lots of reasons!
Here are some raw-feeding basics. . . dogs’ nutritional needs are simple: they need meat, small amounts of edible bone, small amounts of various organs. Despite what kibble manufacturers would have us believe, there is no need for a “balanced” meal each time we feed our dogs, nor even over a period of a week or month. Balance is “over time,” and there’s much less to getting it right than they insinuate. Frankly, it insults my intelligence that kibble companies infer that we aren’t smart enough to feed our own dogs!
Here’s a link to a short article I wrote for a Yahoo GSD group owned by a friend: http://www.leespets.com/feedraw.htm
I would be glad to answer any questions anyone may have on the subject of raw-feeding or switching puppies to a raw diet. It’s not complicated or difficult, and it is, IMO, the cornerstone of true good health in dogs!