Starting your puppy on raw dog food

Dog Food PuppyThis is a guest post by Dean Barrow who runs raw feeding website, Raw Dog Food. 

Raw feeding is getting increasingly popular amongst dog owners these days, and it’s no surprise that they’d like their pets to be as healthily as possible.

For those of you in the dark, raw feeding is the process of mimicking a dog’s natural diet as closely as possible. This is done by feeding what dogs have been eating for thousands of years – raw meat.

There are two distinct feeding methods undertaken by raw feeders, these are BARF, short for Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods, and the Prey method. That doesn’t mean you have to take sides though, some feed one, the other, or even a mix of both, whatever works best for you and your dog.

BARF – Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods

This is the quickest and easiest way to start feeding raw, BARF is essentially a pre-mixed blend of raw meat, bone, fruit and veg, calculated for the perfect nutritional balance for your dog.

The Prey Method

Prey feeders serve the whole prey whenever possible instead of a pre-mixed blend. This can be any mammal that runs, flies or swims, including whole chickens, turkeys, rabbits etc.

But enough about what is it, the question you’re probably asking is why you should start feeding raw to your new puppy.

Why should you feed your puppy a raw food diet?

So if you’ve just got a new puppy, or you’re planning to get one (remember at this time of the year, a puppy is not just for Christmas!), you’re likely doing a bit of research as to what to feed them.

Well if you want to start them off by feeding them the most natural and beneficial diet as possible, you should really consider raw dog food. Not only will your pup be healthier and have more energy, but you’ll soon start to see noticeable differences. Their coat will be shinier and healthier and they’ll quickly appear more muscular, with a leaner physique.

After feeding a raw diet, you’ll notice that those puppy pearly whites will stay white and shiny forever, the chewing and massaging action of eating raw meat and bones actually helps to clean the teeth. Compare a raw fed dog to a kibble fed dog and the oral difference is immediately obvious.
Remember, kibble has only existed for around 100 years, and was created purely for convenience, not with your dogs health in mind!

There are many more benefits to raw feeding, this post just scratches the surface of raw dog food.

How much raw food does a puppy eat?

This is often overlooked at first, and many people perform an amount of guesswork as to how much food to put down. This can lead to an over or underweight puppy, but it really is quite simple to calculate.

If you know the breed of your dog, especially if your dog is a pedigree, then you just need to feed 3% of their ideal adult weight.

If you don’t know their expected adult weight, such as if you have a crossbreed, then the first thing you need to do is weigh your pup and reference the below table.

Age in weeks % of bodyweight to feed
10-16 10 %
17-24 8-6 %
25-36 6-4 %
37-52 3-4 %

These are guidelines only, all dogs are different with individual metabolic rates and exercise levels. Keep a close eye on your dog and adjust up or down as required.

Start off by feeding 3 meals a day and decrease this to 2 meals after at least 12 weeks. Different breeds will vary so you may end up switching at around 3-6 months.

What’s next?

You should now know enough to consider switching your puppy onto a raw diet, although this is only just the beginning. Do your research and learn as much as you can about raw feeding and you’ll soon be wondering why you haven’t switched already!

For further reading on raw feeding, see the getting started guide on Raw Dog Food.