You’re already aware of the benefits of raw foods for adult dogs, but what about puppies? Can they have a similar diet, or is it better to wait until they’re older?
In fact, puppies of all ages will benefit from a diet of raw foods. It is beneficial to start your dog on a raw diet when young. This ensures that his growing body receives all the nutrients it needs. Plus, he will never suffer from the negative effects of kibble.
Whether you have a puppy from birth or you adopted him when he is a couple of months old, the process of starting him on a raw food diet is the same.
If you are preparing raw food yourself at home, you need to take safety precautions. Improper storage, as well as keeping meat for too long, can cause pathogens to develop.
There is always a risk that raw ingredients may contaminate your own food. Bacteria can pass to other food from a cutting board, from your hands, or in the refrigerator when stored close together. DIY raw feeding can lack the proper nutritional balance and also can pose additional pathogen risks.
A high-quality brand may provide your puppy with even better raw nutrients, as a responsible manufacturer will ensure that every bowlful contains everything your canine needs. At Cali Raw, our formulas are perfectly balanced to meet AAFCO standards.
With this in mind, there are a few ways you can make the most out of raw nutrition for your puppy.
It is much better to give your puppy just raw dog food than a combination of raw pet food and kibble. This is even the case when your puppy is already used to dry dog food.
There is a simple reason for this: a dog’s gut needs to reach a different pH to digest kibble than raw foods. This means that when you combine the two, the meat sits in the digestive tract for twice as long. This can cause uncomfortable bloat and increases the risk of harmful bacteria developing. It's best to feed 100% raw when possible.
If you are accustomed to kibble, you may think that puppy food needs come in small pieces. In fact, big chunks of raw food are much better, as they encourage your puppy to chew. This is especially important when the raw food includes large lumps of bone, as it is best if your puppy breaks down the food properly before swallowing.
Another reason chewing is important is that it helps your puppy develop his teeth. The use of the jaw from a young age stimulates growth, ensuring that there is sufficient space for adult teeth. Plus, when a puppy learns how to use his teeth correctly, he gains strong and healthy teeth for life.
You can start giving your puppy raw bones when he is ten weeks old — just make sure you monitor him at all times. In the beginning, stick with soft meat bones, like chicken and duck wings. After a few weeks, transition your puppy to turkey and duck necks. Once your puppy has his adult teeth, you can give him knuckle and marrow bones.
Although you should be watching your puppy while he eats, you do need to give him space. If you stand too close to him, he may worry that you’re going to take away his food. This makes him more likely to swallow large pieces of raw dog food, which are more difficult to digest.
Puppies on a raw food diet are less likely to be obese than young puppies eating kibble. However, it is still important to monitor your puppy’s weight. Equally, you need to avoid your puppy eating too little and becoming malnourished.
When raising your puppy, feed approximately 2 to 3 percent of his expected adult weight, adjusting the exact amount according to how your puppy grows. At the right weight, you should be able to feel his ribs but not see them.
In addition to feeding him the right amount, you need to feed your puppy the appropriate number of times. This will vary according to his life stages, as puppies need to eat more frequently when they’re very young. From the time you give him solid foods to three months, you can feed your dog as many as four times a day. Reduce to three times a day until he is six months old, after which you can start giving him just two meals a day.
If your puppy is unwilling to eat this often, but he is a healthy weight, you can feed him less frequently. It is normal for a puppy on a raw diet to want to eat less frequently than a puppy fed kibble.
Now that you know everything necessary to start your puppy on a raw diet — make sure to adhere to all the above recommendations. This will ensure that your puppy enjoys his raw diet and gains the maximum nutritional benefits.
For more information, check out: our puppy feeding tips and guidelines.