If ever there was a blank canvas for raising a healthy dog, it’s when you’ve got a puppy on your hands.
First of all, congratulations! And, second, welcome to puppy parent hell. You’ve got training, teething, housetraining and furniture preserving to get on top of. Good luck!
Diet is also a consideration when getting a puppy, probably the greatest one of all. What you feed your dog throughout its life will determine how healthy she is, how often she gets sick and how much you’re going to fork out in vet bills.
If you’re thinking of or are a bit nervous about starting out on raw feeding panic ye not! We have all the information you need right here. From teeny tiny puppy right up to fully-grown and magnificent.
What you’re looking for in a food
In food you’re looking for the right balance of protein, fat, minerals and water.
Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for muscle and repair. We make some amino acids but need to get the ones we don’t, known as essential amino acids, from the food we eat. It’s the same for the dog or cat.
So, the better quality the protein the better quality essential amino acids you’re going to get.
Fats are required as part of a balanced diet. Essential fatty acids can’t be produced by the body they have to be derived from the diet. Fat provides energy, helps in absorption of vitamins and minerals and is vital for healthy skin and coat.
A dog requires about ten percent fat. Raw fed dogs get this from raw meat it doesn’t have to be added as a standalone ingredient.
Vitamins and Minerals
Again, essential for health and far better derived from whole ingredients rather than added to food.
- In lean meat and fish - B vitamins for building and repairing tissue, for healthy bones and cartilage
- Green, leafy veg – vitamins A, C and K – good for heart health, bones, kidney function and immunity
I’m not talking water from the tap here, rather the water content of food, especially if your dog isn’t the best of drinkers. Water eliminates waste from the body, moves nutrition to where it needs to be and regulates body temperature. Never rely on it for your dog’s main water source but it’s essential you have good water content in food. A raw diet is naturally high in moisture.
Now you know all that let’s start you on your raw feeding journey…
It’s important to note Natural Instinct recommend feeding puppies 5-6% of their current weight until fully grown. This will mean tracking the weight of your puppy regularly (every week), to ensure you are feeding the correct portion sizes. Once fully grown Natural Instinct recommend adult dogs are fed 2-3% of their ideal weight.
For the first three to five weeks she’s going to be relying solely on her mother’s milk. You won’t be taking her home until she’s a least eight weeks old so it’s a good idea to have a say in what she’s fed until she comes to you. Even if that means supplying the food yourself, if you want her to start on raw then Natural Instinct Weaning Paste is your best bet.
I got my kitten, Marcus (The Idiot) at eight weeks just over a year ago. Luckily, he was weaned on to raw with Natural Instinct’s Weaning Paste, which meant I could carry on with it seamlessly. As my dog is an older rescue, I have no idea what she was eating before she came to me, but she likes it all the same. Once she saw the kitten eating it, she had to get in on the act.
The Weaning Paste is simply finely ground 100% chicken and bone. It can be fed from three to four weeks for larger puppies and four to eight weeks for smaller dogs.
Depending on their breed and weight, Natural Instinct recommends puppies will transition on to their Natural Puppy recipe between 6-8weeks of age. Made using only the finest human grade ingredients the Natural Puppy food consists of British chicken with bone, British beef liver, butternut squash, apple, carrot, spinach, sea kelp and Scottish salmon oil. For working dog puppies, they also offer a Working Puppy recipe with offal and duck carcass!
Because a puppy is growing, they need correct levels of nutrients and vitamins, including the all-important calcium to phosphorous ratio, offal, fat and protein. The quality and bioavailability (the amount of food your dog can utilise) of the ingredients they consume is important. This is another good reason for feeding a raw diet because the ingredients are bioavailable for a growing puppy.
Chewing and treats
We all know a growing puppy loves to chew, more than just about anything else in the whole wide world. Chewing is an essential and healthy activity for dogs. It stimulates the mind, cleans their teeth, relieves stress and boredom with the added benefit of preserving your fingers and furniture.
I like a puppy Kong filled with Weaning Paste. Well, not me personally, but certainly the puppy. This can be a whole meal for a growing dog, fulfilling two jobs in one. The puppy has to sing for its supper, licking and digging out the paste is a happy, fulfilling task that relaxes them while getting fed at the same time. It also helps with any teething pains.
Treats are essential for training, the higher the reward the better for getting the desired result. You’re looking for something irresistible she’ll do anything for; sit, stay and recall are your minimums.
Treats aren’t the issue they’re sometimes perceived to be when feeding raw. Far from it, an organic chicken heart, chopped lamb lite, beef jerky or liver treat will do a splendid job. I’ve never met a dog that wouldn’t sit for a liver treat. Ever. Natural Instinct offer a selection of raw bones and dehydrated treats too.
Natural Instinct recommend feeding puppies their puppy food recipes until they are approximately 75% grown. Once your puppy is 75% grown, they can transition over to their adult recipes. Natural Instinct would recommend starting off on chicken or turkey based proteins and then gradually introducing different recipes after 3-4 weeks.
By the time you’ve got your puppy into adulthood you’re cooking on gas. The range of proteins and flavours means you can feed a variety of flavours and mixes to your dog, so you can experiment.
Lean meat and fish plus fats, vitamins and minerals are all best sourced from raw food for the bioavailability mentioned above. Natural Instinct always recommend feeding a variety of proteins where possible.
When your dog can utilise pretty much everything from a natural diet, you’d be amazed how small a poo you get. There’s barely anything they don’t use.
Any Natural Instinct food you choose to give your dog will give them a balanced diet. Choose from chicken, turkey, beef, tripe and lamb. Or try their Working Dog range, it contains a slightly higher meat content and an added shot of Vitamin C to support their active lifestyle. They get duck and salmon to choose from as well as all the other flavours.
So, if you’re at all nervous about how to start a puppy on raw food from scratch don’t be. You’ve got far more to worry about with the teeth, and the training and the weeing in the middle of the floor at your friend’s house. Raw feeding is the easiest of the lot!
Written by Kate Bendix