Everything you wanted to know about raw diet for your puppy

Puppy Feeding/Nutrition, last updated 22nd, Sep 2020, B.A.R.F.

First of all, congratulations on getting home a new furry family member. Exciting and fun days await you. Choosing to feed your puppy raw diet is a great decision. Dogs are naturally carnivores and a raw diet is well suited to their needs. But since raw diet is not a very popular choice, you might have questions, concerns and, could be looking for a starter program on how to go about it.

This feeding guide has been put together to answer most common questions about feeding your puppy a raw diet. We will learn how to switch your puppy to a raw food diet? Determining timing and quantity for food for your puppy. And the benefits of shifting to a raw diet, making sure your puppy lives a longer, happier and healthier life.

Can puppies eat raw dog food?

Let’s start at the beginning. When it comes to a puppy, many people are not sure whether feeding a young dog an exclusive raw diet is a good idea or not.

Diet is perhaps the one thing that will have the biggest influence or impact on your puppy’s long term health and happiness. Instead of feeding your little furball, a commercially produced meal, feeding his/her a raw diet can definitely be beneficial. And if you are comfortable with the idea of a raw diet for your puppy, introducing it earlier helps guide their evolving digestive system. A raw diet will also help him thrive and boost his health from get-go.

Benefits of switching to raw:

#1 Immunity booster

Feeding raw will result in a healthier and happier pup. You will notice your pup does not fall sick frequently, something that all pups typically go through. This happens because of the natural antioxidants that they get from raw food. Also, the whole spectrum of required vitamins, minerals, and healthy soluble fibers are amazingly good for a growing puppy’s nutritional needs. Raw food also introduces healthy gut bacteria that aids digestion.

#2 Improved energy levels

When we say improved energy, we don’t mean hyperactive dogs. Quite the opposite, in fact. You will notice a calmer and a more trainable dog. They will exhibit consistent behavior and will be focused. The stable energy levels are definitely a diet-related improvement, for two reasons:

  • First, blood sugar levels are normal as against that of a dog fed on carbohydrate-rich processed foods.
  • Secondly, amino acids are present in their natural form, unlike the powdered, which can trigger ‘excitatory neurotransmitters’.

#3 Glossier coat

Forget what the food commercials say. The shine and gloss of a raw-fed dog is incomparable to other forms of diets. In less than 2-3 weeks of raw feeding, you will see a noticable differenec in your pup's coat. Apparently, even groomers can identify when a dog is a raw fed or not simply from the softness of the coat.

#4 Smaller, firmer poo

This is such a saving grace, believe us. Your pup’s number twos will be smaller, more compact, and definitely less smelly! This is because raw food is present in its natural, easily-digestible form and your pooch will absorb most of its goodness.

#5 Less wind

Raw food is easily digestible and one good side-effect of that is the reduction in formation of stomach gas in puppies. 

#6 Improved digestion

Raw food means your pup’s GI tract is healthier and this means your puppy is happier and calmer.

Feeding raw puppy food - How to begin?

If your puppy is currently being fed a commercial diet, whether kibble or wet food, you can still easily transition it onto the raw puppy diet in a single step.

Keep the process simple and stress-free by doing a straight swap overnight. Feed your little one her last meal of the current food for dinner. Meanwhile, let the new food defrost overnight. The next day, simply feed the puppy new raw food. It’s as simple as that. This method works in 99% of cases.

Phased feeding

Some dogs with a sensitive stomach or health issues might require a phased approach. On day one, when you want to start the raw diet, add ¼ raw to its current food. The next day increase the raw amount to half, the third day to ¾. By the fourth day, your puppy will be more accustomed to the taste of the new food and you can feed a complete meal of raw puppy food.

How do I know how much raw food to feed my puppy?

It’s understandable to not be sure whether you are feeding your puppy enough, or whether you are overfeeding her.

We have to understand that every dog is different and has different needs. However, a growing and developing puppy has twice the energy requirement of an adult dog. All that exploring, playing, running, chewing, nibbling, sleeping, and dreaming takes a toll on the little one. As a pet parent, you need to fulfill her dietary requirements, depending on its breed, age, and activity levels, as well as the puppy’s unique metabolism.

A good way to ensure you are feeding him/her right is to keep monitoring his/her weight.

At first glance, a well-fed and healthy puppy is one that is gently rounded without any ribs showing. There should be enough body fat to protect them from harm, but it should never come in the way of being active. Also, this additional fat works as a reserve, if the puppy ever has an upset stomach or vomiting.

Here’s how you can estimate how much to feed your puppy, depending on its age and its weight:

  • 4 weeks-4 months: 8% of body weight
  • 4-6 months: 6-8% of body weight
  • 6-9 months: 4% of body weight
  • 9-12 months: 3% of body weight
  • 12 months+: 2-3% of body weight

Puppies grow quickly. You must weigh your puppy weekly to ensure you are feeding the right amount. You will notice that you have to increase the amount you feed your pup according to its weight gain.

How often should I feed my puppy?

This is another important aspect of feeding a pup. As puppies are continuously growing and yet have smaller stomachs, they need to eat more frequently than adult dogs. Follow this process to make it easier:

  • Puppies – 8 to 16 weeks: Feed your puppy four times a day. Divide its daily raw food quota equally between each meal to ensure adequate nutrition.
  • Puppies – 16 weeks to 12 months: At this stage, you can reduce the number of meals and feed three raw meals a day. As above, divide the daily quote accordingly.
  • Moving into adulthood – 12 to 18 months: This is when you can shift your dog to two meals a day, depending on its size, activity levels, and your preference.

How do I know my puppy is an adult?

Puppies reach adulthood by the age of 12-14 months. It is recommended that you keep your puppy on raw diet until he is one year old.

However, don’t worry if your puppy takes time to shift to adult raw food. Some people believe in only raw food immediately, while some allow the puppy to also have a say in it. What is clear is that the timing with raw food is not as crucial as it is with processed foods.

Is there any difference between raw food puppies and raw food for adult dogs?

Raw food for puppies contains higher levels of calcium and phosphorus, sourced from natural healthy bones. This ensures strong, sustained, and measured skeletal development in the puppy. Additionally, raw puppy food is finely minced making it easier for those tiny mouths to eat.

The essential minerals in raw puppy food

Puppies require more calcium and phosphorous than a fully grown adult as these two elements are essential for bone formation. When choosing a readymade raw diet for your puppy, you must ensure that you purchase your puppy meal from someone who follows health guidelines diligently. Again, the concerns of the right ratio of minerals are more prevalent in processed foods than raw diets, especially in the case of larger breeds.

Processed foods tend to contain poor protein sources, such as peas, and rely greatly on grains or grain alternatives for carbohydrate content. There is a chance that these could be high in lectins. When combined, these elements can promote excess unhealthy growth and inflammation. This can also lead to unstable and unhealthy joints, and even hypertrophy in larger breeds.

Raw food is naturally low in carbohydrates (as dogs eat what they would eat naturally!) and very low in lectins, so you can be sure that you avoid these potential puppy feeding pitfalls.

To be safe, always monitor your puppy’s growth and adjust the portions accordingly.

My puppy is not eating!

One rare situation is where a puppy does not eat or is a picky eater. Most times, the little one is so hungry that it will happily wolf down its new raw food down without a hitch. Some puppies might need to be coaxed a little. You can try adding bone broth to tempt them.

Conclusion

Choosing the right raw food for your puppy is important. Look for foods that are easily digestible and cover the complete spectrum of proteins, macro-nutrients and fats, without missing out on vitamins and minerals. A complete raw diet should include muscle meat, offal, bone, vegetables, and select fruits.

Keep it natural, and keep it simple.

Here are three things to keep in mind as your puppy grows:

  • Make feeding times relaxed and fun.
  • Avoid processed food and carbohydrates.
  • Monitor your puppy’s growth regularly, as this will decide how much to feed and how often.

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