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Is Raw Food Suitable For Weaning Puppies?

Domestic Puppies Eating Milk On Tray

We believe that bitches fed on a correct raw fresh food diet have easier pregnancies and grow into healthier dogs who lead longer lives. It makes sense to us as they are biologically designed to eat a fresh raw diet, rather than a highly processed one, full of foods that in our opinion do more damage than good.  Dr Conor Brady’s book Feeding Dogs is a fantastic read, with scientifically based evidence on why processed food is so harmful. Your puppy has had a good birth and had the best start to life feeding on the mother’s colostrum shortly after birth. The body is very clever and colostrum will give your puppy all the immune system-boosting benefits it needs.

For the first three to four weeks of life, puppies will only drink milk from their Mother – they do not need any other type of food.

At around three to four weeks old, they become interested in food and will eat regurgitated food from their Mother and often play with it. Milk should be part of their diet until six to seven weeks old and also depending on how many puppies their Mother has – it’s hard work feeding 6 to 12 puppies! Whereas, if there is only one puppy, they are more likely to feed from Mum for longer.

When do I offer fresh raw food?

Switching to fresh raw food is vital to your puppy’s long-term health and in our opinion, feeding a processed diet which contains chemicals, additives and incorrect nutrition can be damaging. 

At around 3 weeks old, when your puppy has been fed by Mum, you can offer small pieces of chicken wing or small amounts of her food. This is soft and easy for a small puppy and if a tiny breed, offer the wing tip. If they don’t eat it, don’t worry, they may play with it to start with, which is completely natural. Offering small pieces of different flavours of meat will help them develop new smells, textures and tastes and they will be less likely to be fussy when fully grown.

Slowly introduce solid food after the fourth week and between six to seven weeks the puppies should be fully weaned. They may also still want Mum’s milk, depending how happy she is to feed them but at this stage, Mum’s milk will not be the main part of their nutrition. She also may get fed up with them as they begin to teethe!

Do I need to feed puppy food?

In our opinion, puppy food is just a marketing ploy. Puppies eat regurgitated food from their mother and do not need specific “puppy food”. Marketing such foods as puppy food, adult food and senior food, not to mention foods for certain breeds, teeth shape and even colour seems crazy to us! Giving a puppy fresh raw species appropriate food will give them all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.

Giving them a variation of different flavours helps with optimum nutrition. Beef, chicken, duck, venison, lamb, pork and fish all have different nutrient values and will help your puppy to enjoy different textures and flavours, plus grow properly with the added bonus of safely minced bone for healthy bone growth.

We see puppies who have been fed a processed diet look very different to their counterparts who are fed a fresh raw diet. Not only in their smell but their coats, teeth and growth and of course poop!

How much do I need to feed my puppy?

When your puppy is fully transitioned onto fresh raw food, we recommend feeding approximately 6-8% of their ideal body weight. Remember that puppies have growth spurts just like humans and they may need more or less food.

An adult dog matures between 12 – 24 months, depending on the breed. Large breeds mature later than small breeds.

When your puppy has reached adulthood, you can slowly reduce the amount of food to approximately 2-3% of their ideal body weight. Do remember this is a guideline and every dog is different. If you have a bitch, she may go off her food when in season and this is completely normal. This also depends on the amount of exercise they are having.

A few puppy feeding tips

  • Make changes slowly
  • It can take a few weeks for your puppy’s digestive system to cope with an adult diet
  • Try feeding solid food in the evening as this may be more digestible when they are sleeping
  • Add eggs and goat milk which are easily digestible
  • Keep the bone content low to start with – 10% would be ideal
  • Adding a little cooked meat may help tempt fussy eaters
  • Give chicken wing tips to encourage chewing and natural behaviour
  • Hold a lamb rib for chewing and playing
  • Keep an eye on poop!  White poop indicates the bone content may be a little high and black poop indicates the offal content is too high
  • Puppies do not need as much offal as adult dogs and too much may give them an upset stomach
  • Offer tripe as it is very nutritional.

Conclusion

The conclusion here guys is that feeding a natural diet to your growing pup is essential for longevity. If you fed your child a processed diet when young, you would expect to see health and growth issues. The same applies to our puppies.

Of course, if you see any adverse reactions, always contact your holistic vet.

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