Getting your puppy off to the right start Congratulations on your new bundle! I bet all you’re doing right now is taking lots of pictures and videos! (That’s going to come in very handy.)
Now you’ve got your little bundle home, it’s time to think about what you’re going to feed them. You might have already planned what you’d like to feed them, or you might be undecided and want some more information. That’s where I come in — I’m here to explain all.
There’s lots of information available online nowadays, from Facebook groups to websites. Whilst this is good, it can also all be a little overwhelming. What I’ve found over the years is that you can search for something and you’ll always find something that supports the outcome you desire. This isn’t really helpful.
Over the 12 years I’ve been raw feeding, I’ve weaned a few litters of puppies onto raw and had puppies join us between the ages of 8–12 weeks which weren’t raw weaned but weaned onto raw once they arrived.
There have been an increasing number of first time puppy owners who are doing some serious research on diets and what’s most suitable for their new bundle of joy. Like you, they have reached a point where they needed someone they trust to help them along the way (I’m glad we can help as we love sharing in your raw feeding journey too).
So in no particular order, here are the top 5 most frequency asked questions I receive:
1) What are the upsides to raw feeding?
If I had 3 days I still couldn’t get though them all! But here’s a couple that over the years have really stuck out to me… Kibble is around 7–10% moisture. This keeps it shelf stable. But our puppies (and adults) need around 70% moisture in their diet. This means that feeding kibble will keep your pup/dog in a constant state of dehydration, no matter how much they drink. Don’t think soaking that kibble will help either; it’s better but nowhere near enough. But don’t worry… natural, raw food contains around 70% moisture so we’ve got them covered!
Feeding natural, raw food actually makes house training easier too. How? It’s because their bodies use nearly all of the raw food you feed them which therefore means they have less waste. Because they’re not dehydrated, they also don’t need to pee constantly either. Have I told you that when they do poo, it should be pickable with your hands? (I’m not advising that!) But when you feed kibble, it seems to be that 1 scoop equals 2 scoops out! I actually don’t know how they do it (trust me you will be amazed at the difference).
Another upside to raw feeding is health; right now you’re probably not thinking about your puppy in their senior life stage, but you should be. A dog is for life. It’s a bit like having a child and saying “well, I’m going to feed fast food and sweets for the first 18 years, and just accept the problems that come later on”.
Did you also know that it’s now ‘acceptable’ to call a 7-year-old dog a senior?! The average life span is decreasing and all we have done is accept this. It’s barmy to me. There’s lots of reasons for this but one big one for me is the fact that we feed our pets highly processed kibble which is the equivalent of feeding charcoal sprinkled with a vitamin and mineral premix. You have to ask yourself that if they really put those lovely cuts of meat in their food, why render it down 6 times? Why not leave it in its natural form? Most people report calmer dogs, shiner coats, cleaner teeth, less vets’ bills and little to no eye or ear infections when feeding a raw diet. Healthier senior dogs, longer living pets. Now why wouldn’t you want that?
Another upside is train-ability. A lot of our dog trainers are now learning about the effects that diet can have on behaviour. This includes focus, hyperactivity and that old saying ‘gut feeling’. It’s an actual thing. That’s right, there an axis between the gut and the brain. This means that if your gut or their gut isn’t feeling it, neither are you. Lots of studies are now coming out about the link between depression and your microbiome. It’s honestly fascinating. Diets effect our bacteria in the gut, which directly effect behaviour.
Raw diets help maintain focus; there’s very low carbohydrate in a raw diet. Kibble is very high in carbohydrates (yes, even in the grain free ones). These cause energy spikes and mad half hours. They also make it extremely hard for your puppy to concentrate. I told you I literally could go on forever!
2) What are the downsides to raw feeding?
In my opinion, there aren’t any for the dog. Definitely none that strike me, and I’ve thought about this for a long time. Now for us, yes, you need freezer space and you need to be a little more organised. Raw feeding can be more difficult if you’re going on holiday (camping etc.) but it’s not impossible. These barriers are as tall as you make them. Just make them small and step over them. We’re good at making excuses so let’s just think outside the box. We have chosen to own a carnivore; they need real raw food that’s species appropriate. It’s a bit like trying to raise a child on Smarties — it could be done, but it shouldn’t. Raw feeding is so easy nowadays, there’s literally something for every situation.
3) How much is it going to cost? Isn’t it expensive?
I’m going to be honest — it’s as expensive as you want it to be. There’s so much choice nowadays, the world is your oyster. I would say that with your puppy, work out how much you can comfortably afford to feed and work backwards. Be realistic, but this should be very comparable to any ‘decent’ kibble. We normally say you’re looking at around £1–£1.50 per day for a small-medium sized dog. Definitely feed within your budget but get them the best food you can for that.
4) Where do I start? Each and every person you speak to will have something different to say on this. We have a starter guide here but you don’t need to follow this with your puppy, you could start on any of our completes with veg. Why? Because puppies transition easier than their adult counterparts.
This means we can move straight onto a complete. Unless this is your second/third dog, I would highly recommend keeping your puppy on pre-made completes for the first 6 months. Why? Well, most of their growing is done then so getting it right is so important. You don’t need to feed just puppy food; if you feel more comfortable to do so to start with that’s fine, we have a link to all our puppy food here, but puppy food is quite restrictive and usually designed around chicken, which, in my opinion, isn’t enough variety. Therefore, I would suggest getting them started on the puppy food and then after a couple of weeks, open up your options to other products. Take a look at alternatives here. 5) How much do I feed? Here’s a little chart: Between the ages of 8–12 weeks, we recommended feeding between 10–8% of their body weight. Between the ages of 12–16 weeks, we recommend feeding 8–6% of their body weight. Between the ages of 4–6 months, feed 5–6% of their body weight. Between 6–9 months, feed between 4–5% of their body weight. And 9 months +, feed between 3–4% of their body weight. Gradually reduce this down to around 2/3% from around 18months+. Every puppy is an individual and they may need more or less, but this is a handy guide. Keep weighing your puppy. As they gain weight and grow, they may need more; if they seem overly hungry, give them a little more. A tell-tale sign that they’re getting too much food is if they’re going to the toilet (for a number 2) more that 2/3 times a day. When you’re transitioning your puppy, I would settle your pup in first; it’s a big move coming away from their mum and siblings. Each and every puppy will settle differently. What I have found over the years is that your puppy might even leave the food that the breeder has weaned them on to as the move can be traumatic. Don’t worry, your puppy won’t starve. I’ve known puppies not eat for 7/8 days when they moved homes. This was soon all forgotten about after though. With the exception of Frenchies, I would start on chicken and tripe. There are several out there but The Dogs Butcher do a great chicken and tripe puppy. This contains no offal and it’s usually a great starting place if you didn’t want to start on a complete. After a week, you could use our puppy box. This contains everything you need to keep them enjoying their food and it takes the worry out of what to order too!