Updated: Jul 3, 2022
So the wait is almost done and you are about to finally bring your newly acquired four-legged family member home. You did your due diligence and puppy-proofed your house and got all of the essential puppy supplies. So now comes the big question of what and how to feed your puppy so he/she would thrive and grow healthy.
We all can agree that the best puppy is the one with the healthiest start in life. For me, this means the one borne of and nurtured by a mother that has been brought up on a species-specific aka raw food diet. The nutrients that the mother consumes will be the same as those passed through the placenta to the unborn puppy and after birth ingested by the puppy via the mother’s milk for the first 3+ weeks of its life and even thereafter when ready for its first solid meal (at the 3-4 week mark — with the appearance of the first milk teeth).
🤓INTRESTING FACT: In nature a raw-feed mother dog will voluntarily regurgitate food that has just been consumed, specifically to feed her puppies. This will be pre-masticated, body warm and partly digested, for the pups to devour in the security of the whelping cave or hole. Interestingly, nowadays even where a breeder is offering solids direct to the pups, a mother dog may still vomit at the lactation stage, as a measure of evolutionary rearing. At about 6–8 weeks, a mother, if in the wild, will be normally be offering whole or part prey or other scavenged raw foods for consumption by her puppies — no more pre-digesting of foods for her puppies.
By the time the newly acquired fur family member is brought home at 8–12 weeks (⚠️a puppy should not for a whole range of behavioural and dietary reasons, be removed from its litter before 8 weeks — and preferably not before 10 weeks⚠️) he/she, thanks to the hard work of a breeder, will already be on solid foods. And in fact at this point, their raw diet will vary little to that of an adult dog.
So now you as the puppy’s new permanent family come to play and it ‘ll be in your hands to care and supply for the young one. Hence let's talk about THE BASICS — A raw diet should always comprise four basic food groups:
Keep in mind that the explicit carbohydrate content (i.e. foods that are mostly carbs) will be comparatively small and will be found in items such as grains, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and seeds etc. Even then, all carbs should be of a low glycemic index (GI) to prevent “sugar highs” and “lows”. ( you can read more about glycemic index in my prior posts)‼️
‼️REMEMBER that dogs metabolize sugars and starch from meat and don’t need high carbohydrate foods. But as with us humans, dog DO NEED DIETARY FIBER, again in the form of vegetable matter, seeds and even in indigestible fibrous cereals like oats.
The next one on the list is RATIO. We covered what to feed (dietary components) so now let's chat about how much of each component to feed. So realistically the diet between puppy and adult dog isn’t that different, THE RATIO of dietary components WILL VARY with the different nutritional requirements of age stage of growth, metabolism, and exercise levels — just as it would for humans. Basically, what all these mean is tweaking the various percentages of core foods:
👉PROTEIN, in the form of muscle meat and offal (goody goody organ meat)
👉CARBOHYDRATES with low GI, in the form of grains, fruits and vegetables (last two blended to pure concistency)
👉FIBER (indigestible matter), found in vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, oats, even animal hair, fur and bone, cartilage and tendons
👉VEGETABLES AND FRUITS, such as peas, carrots, beetroot, apples, blueberries etc
The BIG question - in what proportions to feed? So let's get to PROPORTIONS and portions.
For puppies, the appropriate mix is 80% meat, bones and offal (70/10/20 parts, remember growing puppies need more microelements, minerals and vitamins than adult dogs and organs are the reaches part of an animal for that matter as well as bones for the needed calcium), 10% vegetables and grains and 10% bone. Not that different from an adult dog — but with an emphasis on higher levels of protein and fats, as well as more concentrated vitamin and mineral content to keep pace with the rapid growth of body tissues, organs and bones.
☝️TAKE A MENTAL NOTE As per my prior posts (read up on balancing your dog’s diet) balance doesn’t have to be achieved in every meal, just over the entire diet.
☝️A small blurb on BONES 🦴
Bones are essential to the development and should always be of the softer variety for young pups, chicken or duck is ideal — whole frames, necks, legs. Turkey necks are also a valuable option. It is advisable to wait until after about 7–8 months to add softer bones of larger animals (and therefore larger bones), such as lamb and goat — allowing for a full range of adult teeth to be in place (most puppies will have their adult teeth, usually all 42 of them, by this time).
Now, let's chat about SUPPLEMENTS. Does your young one needs additional supplements? — in fact yes and they can be given as a treat. Goat milk, goat yogurt and goat kefir are ideal (freeze in ice cubes or give a teaspoon of fresh for each meal). Only use goat — don’t substitute cow (too much lactose — which is basically sugar). Goat's milk is high in protein and packed with a good range of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. The only other “essential” supplement at this age that I can recommend would be an OMEGA oil blend (cod liver, herring, flaxseed, virgin olive or sunflower oils. ‼️KEEP IN MIND if supplementing with any fish oil as an omega supplement to add vitamin E to the diet. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to offset vitamin E depletion with the consumption of fish oils‼️Your growing puppy needs all the omega 3, 6 and 9. You can also look into purchasing an already proportionally mixed supplement from any reputable pet brand.
If feeding bones regularly, it’s probably unnecessary to add CALCIUM supplements. But if not (and you really should be), you will need to add a calcium supplement to support healthy bone and teeth development in your young one.
As well to balance the calcium absorption MAGNASIUM suppliment would be recomended. Usually both can be bought as one suppliment.
Adding ZINC, VITAMIN C and IRON would be recommended as well. Zinc and Vit C help with building healthy immune responses and iron help with balancing puppy anemia (this is very common because puppies rapidly grow and their bone marrow is unable to supply an efficient number of red blood cells).
Now the next BIG question on the list is HOW MUCH AND HOW OFTEN TO FEED?
The norm for adult dogs, is to feed 2–3% of bodyweight each day. For puppies this is going to be higher, about 4–5%, and up to 6–7% for large breeds. Puppies grow pretty quickly and increase their body weight just about daily, so you can’t use visual or touch cues (like a noticeable waist or ribs that can be clearly felt when you pass the back of your hand over them) as a measure of intake. ‼️You do need to weigh your puppy regularly and adjust their meals accordingly (recomended every 3-4 days). 👉The easiest means to weigh your dog using a standard set of (accurate) scales, is to weigh yourself once and then again, the second time holding your dog in your arms — and subtract one from the other measurement.
Up to three, even four, meals a day for the first 2-6 months. Two meals thereafter.
TO SUM IT ALL UP As with adult dogs, most meats will work, beef, pork (keep an eye on the fat content. Go for lean) and organic free-range chicken (look for antibiotics and hormone-free otherwise). Never buy from a supermarket unless you can depend on the source and the quality; and remember to favour meats high in protein. There’s no harm and plenty of benefits, in also using fish for some meals, particularly sardines. All raw of course. For offal, source liver, heart and kidney from a meat market or butcher And add the good organ (offal) stuff a little to the meat component for each meal.
For regular vegetable and fibre content, It would be a good idea to puree (in a blender) a mix of green and orange vegetable and keep in the fridge, to add to meals, a teaspoon each time.
That’s about it. You can of course, buy a commercial mix of raw meat, offal and bone (usually ground bone). Some of these commercial products are better — they use better source ingredients — than others. But for a new puppy, up to 9+ months of age, I’d rather rely on sourcing my own protein (meat), adding offal and bone separately.
Lastly, I keep repating myself over and over‼️⚠️ Remember, with raw species-specific diet feeding, whether adult dog or puppy you don’t need to balance each meal. You just need to balance the WHOLE DIET, which means that individual meals don’t have to contain the same amounts of each of the main elements, meat, offal, and vegetable. In fact, they don’t have to contain these elements at all just as long as your puppy has a balanced intake overall.