New Puppy – How To Switch To Raw

So you’re getting a new puppy!  Exciting, fun, exhausting, challenging – all rolled into one!  If you are already a raw feeder or have been with past dogs, its likely that you wish to do it again having seen first hand all of the benefits that come along with feeding a natural diet.  Just as many people have simply come to the conclusion that THIS time they want to do right by their new dog and give them a leg up on life – by feeding a raw diet from the get go.  Either way, its easy and its the right thing to do!

Most puppies adopted through rescue are going to have been fed kibble only by the time you bring them home.  That’s 5 week old greyhound puppies enjoying a meal of tripeokay – its now your turn to take over and make sure they are raised up right!  Some who purchase their new pup, will specifically seek out a breeder who raw feeds.  As time goes by, this is an easier and easier thing to do.  Many breeders are realizing that the best start they can give their new babies is to get them weaned to and started on raw food in hopes that their future owners will follow suit.  Having a breeder who raw feeds has obvious benefits.  If you are already a raw feeder, you have found someone who believes as you do and who, more likely than not, has fed your new puppy’s parents in a like manner.  Finding a breeder who feeds raw, vaccinates minimally, takes a more natural approach to puppy rearing, isn’t as hard as it was years ago, and for anyone considering this option, the possibility is strong you will find what you want.  If you are new to raw, a breeder who feeds in this manner can be an important and invaluable resource to you as a ‘newbie’ to the natural feeding world.  You can get tips, have a detailed account of how and what your puppy is currently eating and always have an ear to talk to when you have questions.  If you can’t find a breeder who feeds in this way, its all fine – just like with adoption, you are going to be giving your puppy the best you can when you get him home.  What he ate before can be a hazy distant soon to be forgotten memory!

If your puppy has already been started on raw, sticking with what the breeder has been doing and moving on from there as your puppy ages is your best bet.  If, up to this point, your puppy has been being fed kibble, the switch can be made quickly, easily and immediately – nothing whatsoever to worry about.

Generally speaking, puppies eat what adults eat.  Its that easy.  One caveat to this would be the addition of vegetables.  Some feed them, some don’t, but for puppies, veggies are something better started a little later in life – somewhere around the 4-6 month range.  Initially, we want to start our newbie puppies out slowly but surely on a diet of meat, bones and organs – and not much else!  Going slowly is key. Feed your new puppy too much variety too soon and you will end up with the dreaded DIRE REAR.  Nobody wants that – yuck!

Start easy – tripe is a perfect tool for this.  Gentle, full of probiotics and digestive enzymes, and nearly complete, tripe is an easy way to get off on the right foot with a dog new to raw.  Especially one with a new puppy belly!  Keep your puppy on one food for about the first 5-7 days.  No reason to bombard him with too much too soon!  After you know your new pup is okay with the tripe, start on the next protein source – beef or chicken is generally a good choice.  If you wish to feed raw meaty bones, chicken necks or chicken backs can be a logical next step.  Smaller toy breeds will do better with necks, large pups can go right to backs.  Use common sense and feed size appropriate.  After another few days, move on to the next protein source.  Continue on in this manner until you have introduced your pup to a variety of different foods.  In general, feeding a diet based on tripe, beef, chicken and turkey is a good place to start.  Adding other items as you find them or as you have them is great – but make sure you feed a variety.

Amounts to feed a puppy can vary.  A good rule of thumb is feeding approximately 10% of their body weight during the rapid growth periods.  This, of course, will need to be adjusted as your puppy shows you just how much food they need to keep an optimal body weight.  Remember that each puppy is an individual and in that respect may need a different amount of food than the ‘rule of thumb’ amount.  Make sure your puppy is lean, not thin, and DEFINITELY NOT roly poly.  You may think its cute right this second but fat puppies make for fat adults and fat means compromised health and lifelong issues and problems.

If your puppy comes from a shelter, foster home or breeder who is feeding kibble, there is absolutely no reason that you must keep feeding that particular food once you take your puppy into your possession.  Mixing kibble and raw, especially for a puppy, is not recommended.  You are not making the change easier or more gentle by mixing your pups previous kibble with the raw food you intend to feed him for the rest of his life.  You are actually confusing the issue and will, more likely than not, cause the digestive upset that you believe you are avoiding.  If you REALLY prefer to keep your pup on the kibble he came with for the transition, make sure to, at the very least, separate his raw and kibble into separate meals until the kibble is gone and he can go on a far more appropriate all raw diet.

In deciding to feed your new arrival raw, you have made one of the best decisions you can ever make in that baby’s life – in the end you will be rewarded with a healthier, happier more structurally solid animal that will be with you for a LONG LONG time!