If you’ve just brought your new puppy home, we know you’ll have spent a lot of time eagerly planning to make your new dog feel safe and settled because you have lots of exciting times ahead.
As your puppy grows, you might start to adapt their lifestyle to suit their needs. This often includes their diet and so this month with the help of Melanie Sainsbury, Veterinary Education Manager at Natures Menu, we are exploring raw dog food for puppies, how to determine if raw is right for your puppy and how to create a balanced diet at a crucial time in a puppy’s development.
What Puppies Need to Grow
Puppies, like children, develop in stages so the way you interact, how you introduce new sounds from everyday objects, such as the vacuum, and when you choose to begin basic training, all play a role in how their character develops.
Equally important at this stage is nutrition to make sure puppies get all the nutrients they need at a crucial stage in their development. Melanie explains what nutrients are most important for a puppy’s mental and physical growth.
“At the start of a puppy’s life, they’ll be receiving all the relevant nutrients through feeding from their mother. However, after three to four weeks it’s safe to begin the weaning process onto a new diet.
“A puppy’s body can thrive on a raw or natural diet, free from artificial colours, flavours and sugars, which will help to provide all the essential nutrients they require at this important time, in as natural form as possible. Protein, dietary fats, calcium and phosphorus are just some of the essential nutrients which are required in a careful balance for growing puppies.
“Many pet food companies have invested millions of pounds into researching what ingredients contain optimum levels to achieve a healthy, balanced diet, which aids in growth, as well as mental and physical development.
“Natures Menu provides food which is high in real meat protein and essential vitamins and minerals which help the growth and development of puppies. Made from the finest ingredients and completely balanced with all nutrients, nothing needs to be added to Natures Menu food to provide the best for your puppy.”
Why Puppy Owners Might Want to Consider a Raw Diet
We all want what’s best for our dogs, so when investigating diets and what’s right for our dogs, we know from personal experience it’s important to look into all aspects.
We put some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding raw to puppies to Melanie. Here’s what she said.
How do puppies benefit from raw dog food?
“In the early days of a puppy’s life, it’s imperative that they receive a nutritious and balanced diet that sets them on the path to a healthy future. Raw feeding is based on the principle of feeding dogs the foods that they would naturally consume in the wild. Their bodies are designed to digest real, raw meat, not highly processed foods which can contain sugars, starchy grains, meat meals and meat derivatives.
“Because Natures Menu foods are made with naturally wholesome ingredients, they are gentle on the stomach, and easily digested by growing puppies. Other reported benefits of raw feeding are firmer stools, glossy coat and fresh breath, and most importantly happy, healthy dogs!”
One of the biggest concerns about raw is how to feed a balanced diet, especially to puppies. How do dog owners make sure their puppy is getting a balanced diet?
“In order to ensure that your precious puppy is receiving a balanced diet, pet owners should follow Natures Menu’s insightful online feeding guide and look for products which are complete and balanced and specifically designed for puppies. Formulating homemade diets can be difficult at this important developmental time, so we always recommend owners feed our complete puppy ranges for the first few months of a puppy’s life to ensure optimal nutrition.
“At Natures Menu we offer plenty of choice for customers who can decide between the Natures Menu Original and Country Hunter ranges.”
Rules for Puppy Owners to Follow When Feeding Raw
Often pet food labels will guide you on how much to feed based on a dog’s size, breed and lifestyle. The same rules apply to puppies, especially when it comes to their breed. A Chihuahua puppy and a Great Dane puppy will need very different quantities of food.
But there are some good rules of thumb you can follow as Melanie explains.
How much food should the average puppy be fed?
“Once being fed a raw diet, puppies will need to be fed up to six times a day, reducing to just three to four meals from eight weeks old - although the volume that they require will heavily depend on their size. Natures Menu’s puppy feeding calculator should be referred to by pet owners who require further information and can be viewed online or downloaded in a printable format for easy reference.”
How should raw food be fed to puppies?
There are ways to make switching a dog’s diet to raw easy. Melanie shared the best way to introduce raw food into a puppy’s diet.
“From three to four weeks onwards, it’s safe to start feeding puppies Natures Menu’s raw nuggets, tins and pouches. To ensure the best for your puppy, we would recommend adding a small amount of warm water to make the raw food into a paste that is easy for them to eat.
“The food should then be cooled to reach body temperature before feeding, you can check this by either using a thermometer or testing in the same way for a baby’s bottle milk. After five to six weeks, it’s common to find that puppies no longer require the food warmed or water to be added, so just keep an eye on your puppy at feeding time to see how they react to the food. Natures Menu also advises to weigh all puppies daily and keep an accurate record. If you are concerned about the growth rate or weight of any puppy, always call your vet for advice.
“If you’re transitioning your puppy from dry to raw food, this should be completed over seven days. Pet owners are advised to divide the daily food ration into 50% raw and 50% dry, fed separately and in alternating meals. If your puppy is showing signs that they’re happy with the new raw diet, you may prefer to switch to 100% raw feeding earlier than the seven days, however, a week is recommended to allow the gut time to adjust.
“Bones and chewing are another fantastic way for your puppy to develop healthily, as chewing provides a release of natural chemical endorphins into the brain which helps to encourage a relaxed and happy dog – every pet parent’s dream. Although chewing allows dogs to use their teeth just as nature intended, a puppy should only be offered a bone from eight weeks old and we advise to closely monitor your dog at all times and follow our insightful bone guide here, which covers what type of bones are suitable for feeding at certain ages.”
What’s the best way to encourage fussy puppies to eat?
Some puppies go through ‘fussy phases’. K9 Magazine top dog, Mia (now 13 ½) went through one of these phases and had to be handfed food for a period of time. We often laugh about that now considering what a foodie she’s become. So fussy phases don’t last forever, Mia is a testament to this.
We asked Melanie for some advice on how to feed fussy puppies.
“Always opt for your puppy’s favourite meat when starting the raw feeding process and keep watch at feeding times to monitor if your dog is still enjoying the chosen meat and its texture, adding water or changing the temperature (without cooking) depending on their response.
“Natures Menu’s customer care team can also be contacted by those who have any questions about helping fussy pups along.”