Many people have concerns about providing their dog with a raw diet, especially if they are younger. But raw diets imitate the natural diet of dogs and can actually strengthen their bodily systems. However, the process of puppy weaning to raw diets is a gradual one.
Of course, there can be risks when you wean your puppy to a raw feeding diet. This is why we have labeled out the benefits, worries, and step by step process to changing their diet. Whatever the reason may be for choosing a raw diet for your puppy, you want to do it right and we can help.
Can I Wean My Puppy To A Raw Diet?
There are many factors that go into the timing and if your puppy can be weaned onto a raw diet. You have to consider their current health. Whether they are ready for solid food, their digestion capabilities and do they have a sensitive stomach. Furthermore, you need to be prepared that this is not something you can do overnight. The transfer to a raw food diet is gradual.
Usually, a puppy will begin the process of being weaned at four weeks and will be fully weaned by the age of six weeks. We want to mimic a natural diet and timetable. Therefore do not try to do so before the age of four weeks old. A puppy should also be in good health. If your puppy is ill and you begin changing their diet, this can make them feel worse and weaken their immune system. Changes should be made when your puppy is healthy to monitor any possible negative reactions.
Step-by-Step Plan For Weaning Puppies To A Raw Diet
We have broken down the gradual transfer so you know how to wean puppies to a raw feeding diet in a four-step plan. This will begin at four weeks old and end at eight weeks. Before then, the puppies rely heavily on their mom’s milk and colostrum.
For each step, gradually add the new food type to their current diet over the progress of a week.
4 weeks old
To start the transfer, we recommend beginning with a blended mix of puppy formula and extra nutritious ingredients for a balanced diet and vitamin B or C increase. We highly suggest using goats milk, preferably unpasteurized or raw milk. This is because goats milk has very small fat molecules, one fifth the size of cow milk molecules. Therefore, puppies can easily digest these, and this begins to get their stomachs acclimatized to the type of diet they will be provided.
Extra ingredients can and should be provided to give your puppy a balanced diet. You can give eggs, flaxseed oil, yogurt, and unprocessed honey alongside the goat’s milk. These should be mixed together thoroughly in a blender to turn into some puppy gruel or mush. The mixture should be room temperature or slightly warmed for your puppies. Make sure that a tablespoon is a maximum amount you use in a mixture or you measure them out in proportion to the goat’s milk to provide the right percentage of food substances for your pup.
5 to 6 weeks old
Once your puppy is happy eating their goat’s milk paste, you can begin their diet on lean meat types such as turkey. Over this two week period, you should initially begin feeding your puppies a morning and lunchtime meal of the goat’s milk blended mixture followed by an evening meal of some slices of turkey, not too many though. You can add some bran flakes to the turkey to ensure they are getting enough fiber. As this meat is lean, it contains a smaller percentage of fat, this again makes the transition and digestion much easier for your pup. Over the week/two weeks you can progress your pup to eating their evening meal with grated vegetables. This can ensure a balanced diet. Begin to increase the nutritional ingredients, and minimize the goat’s milk in the first two meals.
7 weeks old
At seven weeks old you can begin the introduction of white and red meat and alter the middle meal to lean meats. A daily meal plan should now consist of: a smaller proportion of goat’s milk to a larger proportion of the above suggested natural ingredients for breakfast; turkey, grated vegetables and bran for lunch; some chicken slices, grated vegetables, and bran for dinner. This should be provided for a few days at which point you can change the turkey meal to chicken and the chicken meal to red meat diced in very small chunks. This ensures that your puppy is adjusted to all the meat types they may be provided and variance can then be provided at the end of the week.
8 weeks old
At eight weeks old your puppy should be officially adjusted to a raw food diet! At this point, you can give your puppy three meat-based meals combined with a fiber-based ingredient and grated vegetables. There should be variance in each meal from different meat types, fiber, and vegetables. If at any point in this process your puppy begins to have an upset stomach, go back to the previous step and allow for more time to adjust. If your puppy’s health does not begin to improve or their symptoms become more extreme, take them to the vets. This process should be done very gradually and slower is always better than faster when weening a puppy to a raw food diet.
Benefits of a Raw Diet for Puppies
There are multiple benefits to feeding your dog a raw diet.
- Coat: Your dog’s coat can become shinier and more luxurious. Up to 40% of the protein in their diet goes towards nourishing their skin and coat. Therefore a raw diet will provide the extra protein required to maintain these two elements highly.
- Teeth: Dog’s breath can be improved along with their dental hygiene. Due to minimized carbohydrates in this diet, unlike in regular dog kibble, the amount of sugar stained on teeth is less. This is because dogs do not possess amylase in their saliva.
- Stools: Your puppy’s stool will actually be smaller, firmer and less smelly! This is because the diet has more digestible nutrients so less is wasted through fecal matter.
- Skin: As previously mentioned, 40% of the protein in your dog’s diet goes towards their coat and skin. This can reduce dandruff or dry skin.
- Energy: This diet can increase the amount of energy your pup will have. As more of the nutrients provided are more digestible, more of the food is being used and can be used well i.e. being turned into large energy storage.
Risks of a Raw Puppy Diet
With everything, there are risks, and it is important to be aware of them so you know how to wean puppies to a raw feeding diet.
- Bacteria: Salmonella and other infectious diseases may infect your dog. Or if they do not directly affect your dog they can make your dog a carrier to affect other dogs or humans.
- Choking on bones: Whether a large bone is eaten or bone fragments are in the meat, your dog may choke on the pieces or gain an intestinal blockage if they do not chew it thoroughly enough.
- Balancing the diet yourself: This requires high maintenance as you will need to make sure your dog is receiving the right percentages of nutritional types for each meal each day.
Weaning Puppies to a Raw Diet – FAQs
Here are your top FAQs answered so you know how to wean puppies to a raw feeding diet.
How can I feed a raw diet to my puppy?
The process is very gradual, even more so to a puppy as their stomach is so sensitive. Furthermore, the canine digestive system is different so the adjustment must be tailored directly to their age group.
An important note when feeding a raw diet to your puppy is to make sure all the pieces are either small enough, well blended or they are able to chew them well. If your puppy has very few teeth, this also needs to be considered. Furthermore, check that the portion size is appropriate and that they are not either having their food taken by another animal or taking their food. This can interrupt their diet, health or that of your other pets.
Is it possible to wean puppies straight onto raw meat?
It is possible but strongly recommended against due to a puppy’s teeth, digestive system, and sensitivity of their stomach at this time. Even with an adult dog, if you directly transfer them onto raw meat, they can begin to vomit, diarrhea and feel ill.
Therefore, weaning puppies to a raw feeding diet needs to be slow. These effects can be very serious in puppies due to their size. Vomiting and diarrhea cause weight loss and dehydration. This is much more serious in smaller individuals because the negative effects are stronger. The process of weening a puppy onto a raw diet must not begin with meat. They can still feel unwell, even if it is not serious. That is unpleasant for both the puppy and the owner to witness.
How much raw meat can puppies eat?
The puppy’s weight, age and how long they have been on a raw diet all affect the ideal quantity of raw meat to feed a puppy. A puppy’s weight can dictate how many meals they should be eating and what percentage of that should be protein, fiber, and other nutritional groups.
Similarly, their age will help you tell which stage of the gradual transfer onto the raw food diet they can be placed on. Very young puppies should remain on the mother’s milk. Finally, the more settled and acclimatized a puppy is to a raw diet and raw meat, the more they can eat safely. There is no one right answer. It depends where an individual is on their raw food journey, their own sensitivities and how old they are.
When can I switch my puppy to raw food?
The beginning of a raw food diet for puppies can usually begin at four weeks old.
However, if your puppy, for whatever reason, has an upset stomach or is reacting badly to the first few days, take them off the diet. You can try again, possibly in much more gradual stages, depending on the reason behind this reaction. You may want to consult the vets if the reaction was severe or if you are concerned. Vets can try to understand the cause of the behavior such as the process was not gradual enough or they are not yet ready for solids.
A smaller progression is to provide goat’s milk and nutrients alongside their mother’s milk as an evening meal. See how this settles their stomach and if they are able to handle it.
Is raw dog food healthier for puppies?
This is debatable. A raw food diet has many health benefits to your dog’s teeth, skin, coat and energy amongst other things. But like every diet, it comes with risks such as bacterial infection to your dogs or those they interact with. Also many ask how to wean puppies to a raw feeding diet and struggle with the slow and precise changes.
Similarly, though, a regular kibble diet comes with pros and cons. This diet does not possess the risks of bacterial infection and minimized choking risks. However, the ingredients contain more carbohydrates and sugars and therefore provide less energy, more dental damage, and messier stools. It is about deciding what is best for your individual, what they need and what would be best for your budget and care of them.
There are clear pros and cons to weaning your pup onto a raw diet. Consider both sides and ultimately, do what is best for your dog at that time.