The most important thing you can do for a young animal is to feed them correctly, the best puppy food is homemade on fresh meat…
Anyone recommending that feeding puppies on a cheap, cereal-based product is better nutritionally than fresh ingredients is absolutely wrong, for the same reasons it is wrong in human nutrition. Nothing compares to fresh food in children. Nothing. It makes sense that the best puppy food also is fresh and biologically appropriate.
Moreover, studies of some of the best puppy foods, (i.e. best advertised / marketed, sold by the vets), at least of the dry variety, versus cheaper supermarket brands reveal no nutritional difference between them! The authors compared 12 cereal-based puppy foods in Norway, dividing them into two types – 6 were higher-priced (HP, largely sold in vets) and 6 were lower-priced (LP, largely sold in supermarkets).
Among the higher-priced brands tested were Eukanuba (large breed puppy), Proplan (puppy), Royal Canin (large breed puppy) and Hill’s (large breed puppy).
They found the two groups were about as different as hair and fur, even their chemistry sets couldn’t tell them apart. Chemical analysis found no difference between the price categories concerning the dietary level of nutrients. Nor did they find any difference in the digestibility of those nutrients between the types. Furthermore, the protein and amino acid content and digestibility were similar between the two types. And that digestibility was pretty crap, 68 –77%.
I’ve had this study in front of me for a long time. It makes up a paragraph in my forthcoming book Raw Science where I show evidence that dry pet food manufacturers are not only allowing for the MINIMUM amount of protein your pup needs for six months (22%), but that chemical analysis of these foods reveals that dogs are unable to fully digest the crap protein they are fed (meal is harder to digest, and then they use indigestible plant protein ingredients such as corn or beet pulp, which is the leftovers from processing, essentially the husks from those industries which, while nutritionally useless to both humans and pet alike, they do add to the protein content on the label, which is great as real protein like meat is expensive). This means that pups are surely consuming less-than-the-required amount of protein each day. This the BEST puppy food they can make?! And for these crackers, essentially Weetabix with cows toenail in it, you are paying €6/kg? Twice the price of fresh chicken off the shelf of a supermarket? For a carnivore?!!
The correct feeding of puppies actually begins when mum is first developing the pups in her womb. Mum has never needed fresh ingredients more. There is absolutely no replacing real, biologically appropriate food during this time. The best puppy food is raw dog food based on raw meat and bone. If you are new to the whole raw dog food idea please check out our article for those new to fresh dog food. Pups born of fresh fed mothers are absolutely expected to be healthier, more robust, to be healthier and to live longer. Here’s how to do it…
When Can You Start Raw Feeding Puppies?
Puppies should be moved to real food from weaning, which is 3 to 4 weeks of age. The best meats to start with are plain, raw, boneless, white minces such as chicken, fish or turkey. Feel free to leave out a large meaty beef bone for them to gnaw at but make sure it is not small enough to chew. This will help grind down those jagged little puppy teeth that are hurting their jaw and ultimately destroying the furniture.
By 4 to 5 weeks of age they can be moved on to red minces (duck, beef, pork, organ meats) and these can contain ground bone. Most breeds will be eating meat on the bone by 6 weeks and on.
Common FAQ When Feeding Puppies Raw Meat:
What is the best puppy food?
Raw feeding older puppies is easy, simply feed them in the same way as adult dogs (5:1:1) but with a little more fat. That is 5 parts mince types with some bone (10-12%) in it, 1 part fresh organ additions (liver, heart, kidney, spleen) and 1 part veg (for more on how to make raw dog food follow the link). You can use literally any meat (chicken, turkey, fish, pork, duck, beef, lamb) though for younger pups make sure you use slightly fattier cuts. They need the oomf. Ideally buy minces with a little bone in there already (or feed meat on the bone). If using boneless meats make sure they have good access to meaty bones, they need the calcium. When feeding puppies I tend to add a good pinch of cheap fatty beef mince to the “normal” dog mix. You can pick up cheap beef mince from your local butchers or try the half-priced aisle of Supervalu or Tescos, there’s always bargains to be had. Perhaps a raw egg now and again (puppy building rocket fuel) and some cod liver oil. Easy as that. Vary it up each time you make your mix, use different meats, different organs etc.
How much raw dog food do they need?
An 8wk old puppy will eat 10% of his body weight per day in fresh food! This drops to 5% by 6mths of age and 3% by 12mths of age. However, all dogs will differ depending on their expected adult size and growth rate. For a more accurate figure see our free online dog food calculator!
Feed Puppies Fresh Bones For Their Teeth
The best puppy food contains raw meaty bones. Puppies will cut their baby teeth between the 4-8wk period. Lots of sharp little teeth poking out through their gums. It’s sore. They need to chew things to relieve the pain. The best things for dogs to chew are fresh meaty bones. If you’re concerned about this in any way please read our article on feeding dogs bones. Puppies will chew, get a bit of meat, get fresh calcium from the bone, they’ll relieve the pain in their jaw and not destroy your furniture! And they’re free. Need we go on?!
Perhaps the best bones for little puppies is big bones, so they can’t really try and swallow them, just sort of gnaw at them but by 8wks they will be moving on to bones they can chew and swallow parts of. The article above will show you some different sizes. At 5mths they will start teething their adult teeth. Very sore. Bones are even more important now as the baby teeth need to be massage out. There is no alternative to feeding dogs bones.
What Not to Feed Puppies?
Cows milk. This means no dental sticks etc.
Wheat: No bread, dental sticks again, most dry food, cheap pet store treats, etc.
Dry food: It’s full of stale wheat, strange meat, is high in salt and chemicals, the complete opposite to what a young carnivore needs.
Pet store treats in general. Make your own dog treats, much healthier!
How often should pups be fed?
Some people feed them four meals a day others feed them three. Aim to be feeding them two meals by 5 to 6 months. I would never go to one meal a day, I’d hate it for myself and dogs are scavenging carnivores meaning they like to eat all day, same way we do.
Will Raw Food Make them Aggressive / Give them a Taste Of Blood / Poison them?
Absolutely not, it is actually proven to do the opposite and there is a number of reasons for this. With a fresh meat mix, all the cheap cereal carbohydrates (which fuel high blood sugar) have been removed, chemicals (if they can’t be pronounced then don’t feed them) have not been put in, it is high in fresh vitamin B complex (for the mind) and their is increased fresh protein in the diet, this calms dogs by releasing dopamine.
More on the safety of raw dog food compared to dry here!
Raw food, so far, does not seem to give dogs a taste in meat. We have advised on the feeding of numerous hunting types, retrievers, setters, collies, and not one has become aggressive as a result of eating fresh food. Collies don’t eat their sheep. Retrievers don’t eat their ducks. Quite the opposite, they become more focused and easier to train.
What About the Calcium / Phosphorus Ratio?
Worry about that as much as you worry about it in yourself! How much calcium did you give your child growing up? Any idea? Know what their weekly RDA of calcium is? ‘course not, and they’re fine…..aren’t they?! Same goes for any nutrient. You are asking that question as dry food manufacturers have done an incredible job on both the vets and the public to convince them all that you are incapable of feeding puppies yourself! It’s simple. As long a little fresh cartilage and bone is going in to your dog they’ll be right as rain.
We don’t recommend supplementing with calcium as they get plenty of calcium in the bones they eat. Feed them a natural diet with some bone content and they will be more than fine.
Dr Brady’s Fortified Milk Mix For Young Pups
For the unfortunate situation where it is necessary to substitute the mother’s milk, try the recipe below, it’s rocket fuel and they will LOVE it.
– One cup (250 ml) of goats milk (never feed cows milk)
– One can of evaporated milk (for energy)
– Table-spoon of probiotic yoghurt (for the gut)
– Two raw eggs
– Tablespoon of kelp (natural multivitamin and antioxidant)
– Optional: One or two teaspoons of a coconut or almond oil
I have spent a lot of time building up my knowledge. From a doctorate in animal behaviour and nutrition to years in guide dogs and the last seven year inside and out of the pet food industry, I have always provided all my information free to the public, articles that I spend a lot of time putting together. While it’s clearly a passion of mine the fact remains, I can’t do this and a steady job at the same time. Without a salary or fancy sponsorship, I am left trying to monetise my site as much as I can without pushing on you horrible adverts for car loans and crap pet products. One way I do this is by tracking some of the links to products I recommend (as an Amazon Associate I then earn from qualifying those purchases). Another is by popping a few ads for my products in some of my bigger articles. Finally, I’m now putting a donation button at the bottom of my longer articles. So, if this helped you in any way and you feel you’d like to give me the price of a cup of coffee, please free to do exactly that. If you’re strapped and can’t afford it, I can totally sympathise, you’re free to read on, no questions asked. We’re glad to have you on board spreading the word regardless.
Many thanks and continued good health to you and your pets.