Raw Food Diets, or RFDs for short, have been growing in popularity for the past years. Some people claim that by feeding their dogs on raw meat, they provide them with everything they would eat while living in the wild. So it must be healthy, right? Other dog-owners remind that wild dogs have a much shorter life expectancy. Is it only due to the dangers waiting in the wild, or maybe it has something to do with their diet? And what about puppies? Just like human babies, they have their own needs and requirements, so what’s the best puppy food? Can they eat raw meat?
Yes, puppies can eat raw meat. But should they?
Dogs, including puppies, can eat raw meat, but it shouldn’t be all that their diet consists of. Well-balanced raw food diets, apart from muscle meat (which should also be diversified with various mammals, fish and poultry), bones and organs, include raw eggs, unpasteurized milk, raw fruits and vegetables.
Some veterinarians say that raw food diets may not provide dogs with all the nutrients that they need to stay healthy. It’s especially true in the case of puppies that require a lot to develop properly to grow into strong, lively dogs. Puppies, as well as elderly dogs, have different and more complex needs than dogs in their prime. For example, they may have more sensitive digestive systems (especially senior dogs), and cooked meat is much easier to digest. It allows them to use more nutrients for producing energy or supporting the immune system, instead of struggling to digest.
So if you choose a commercially prepared raw food, make sure a veterinary nutritionist has prepared it.
How to feed your puppy on raw food?
A lot of dog owners seem to think that feeding raw food to your dog means only throwing him a piece of a raw burger from time to time; they couldn’t be more wrong. That’s how you can harm your dog. So what should you remember about?
Don’t mix raw food with artificial foods
It will make your puppy digest longer than usual, which will make him more susceptible to bacteria in the raw meats that he usually has no problem with.
Start with one protein source
Whether you’re doing it all by yourself or you decide to buy commercially prepared food, it’s better to start small. Feed one protein at a time, observe if your puppy experiences any stomach problems, and, if not, introduce another source, and so on.
Remember about supplements
One of the essential supplements to remember while feeding your dog on a raw food diet is calcium. Luckily, it’s not that difficult to supplement. It will already be added to commercially prepared foods, but if you prepare it yourself, you may add some ground eggshells or oyster shells to provide your puppy with all the necessary calcium. Apart from that, you consider adding more omega-3 fatty acid sources, like fish oil or flaxseed oil. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before you start feeding your puppy on raw food, as each dog has his own needs.
Learn the basics of nutrition
If you want to prepare your dog’s meals and include raw meat, you need to know what you should add to it to provide him with all the necessary nutrients; it will depend on your dog’s breed, history, overall health, and age. You may add many different things to your puppy’s diet to make sure he stays healthy, e.g., organs, bones, vegetables, supplements, veggies, or even cooked grains (yes, cooked grains). However, you need to be careful not to provide excessive nutrients that may be dangerous. So if you consider a raw food diet for your dog, you should consult with a professional to know what to do and what to avoid.
Be careful with the organs
Meat organs are a vital part of a raw food diet, but you don’t want to overdo it. They are full of nutrients that can’t be found in other parts. It’s recommended that, ultimately, organs should constitute at least 10% of a raw food diet (ideal is 25%), but you need to introduce them slowly. Your puppy’s stomach needs to get used to eating the liver and other organs, so observe him and his stools to make sure you’re not harming his little tummy. Always mix the organs up with other things, and start small.
Don’t do it all by yourself
To be absolutely sure that you’re doing everything right, stay in contact with your veterinarian, plus, find a person who has already been through it all. If you go online, you can find dozens of people who feed their dogs on raw food diets since they were puppies. They can help you avoid some typical mistakes, and make the whole transition smoother and, most importantly, safer for your little friend.