Where To Start With Raw Fed Puppies and Kitties.
If you are starting your dog or cat who is under 6 months of age on raw, you will feed the same amount as an adult but in multiple feedings.
Hopefully you have an estimate of about how much they will weigh as an adult. You can always adjust accordingly if your puppy or kitten seems to be gaining too much weight or if they look like they need more. Most puppies and kittens are active, so you will feed 2.5-3% of their estimated body weight daily.
There is less variability with feeding puppies and kittens. With eating such a large amount of food, you will need to divide this up into more frequent meals in a day.
Under 4 months = daily amount split into 4 meals per day
4-6 months = daily amount split into 3 meals per day
6 months-1 year = daily amount split into 2 meals per day.
If your puppy begins bile vomiting, this is also known as “hunger vomiting.” They vomit up a yellowish substance, which is bile from their gallbladder. This is nothing to worry about and there is an easy fix! Dogs do this when their stomach is empty and expecting food. If you transition your 4 month puppy from 4 meals to 3 meals a day and they begin to do this, you can go back to the 4 meal a day plan. Their body wasn’t quite ready to go down to 3 yet. The same goes for when you put their daily amount into 2 meals from 3. If they start bile vomiting, go back to 3 and keep them there for a a few weeks before trying again.
3-month-old golden retriever, estimated to weigh 70lbs as an adult:
Very active, so we’ll use 3%
70 x .03 = 2.1lbs or 33-34oz daily
<4 months = 4 meals per day
28oz divided by 4 = 8-9oz per meal
5-month-old chihuahua, estimated to weigh 5lbs as an adult:
Light to moderate activity, so we’ll use 2.5%
5 x .025 = .125lb or 2oz daily
5 months = 3 meals per day
1.6oz divided by 3 = just over .5oz per meal
With growth spurts and puppies and kittens, you may need to go over these amounts. Almost every other raw feeder I know has told me that their puppies ate more than expected during rapid growing phases.
If your puppy or kitty isn’t finishing their meals and losing weight, add in another feeding time per day to help create smaller portion sizes. If they are maintaining weight and not finishing all meals, eliminate a feeding time. If they have abnormal stool, maintaining weight, and finishing meals add in another feeding time. With adding or eliminating feeding times, they are still eating the same daily amount.
Variety in Protein
With puppies and kittens starting on raw, unless they spent some time on kibble, you can typically do much more variety from the very start. Onyx ate mostly chicken the first week he was home and then I began adding in other proteins. He did great with every one, even the fattier ones like duck and lamb. With starting so young, there’s no having to get used to raw… their system is already ready for it!
If your puppy or kitten weaned onto a processed food before coming home with you, try to feed their first raw meal 4-5hrs away from their last kibble or canned meal. Then, simply stick to the same protein for a couple weeks. Chicken, pork, beef, or turkey are great starter proteins. If gas and stool is normal, you can start introducing more variety. Puppies and kittens tend to be better capable of handling more variety earlier as the processed food hasn’t had a long time to cause imbalances in their gut. If your puppy or kitten was on a very poor diet previously, their body will purge it out very quickly once introduced to raw, so you may see some interesting stool initially.
Ground raw food is perfect for puppies because they can readily eat it and it is all balanced out. We have 8 proteins to choose from… puppies typically love them all! 😉
They can also eat raw meaty bones. It takes them a while to get through it when they still have puppy teeth and they may not be able to get through all the bone. However, this gives them great mental and physical stimulation, so many times they get their gnawing fix out on raw bones rather than your furniture. Chicken and rabbit are easier bones to get through, so you are welcome to try out our whole prey chicken or rabbit.
Anything that goes in your dog’s mouth can be a choking hazard – toys, balls, kibble (but let’s avoid that 😉 ), treats, chews… as well as raw meaty bones. Being in the raw feeding world for 8+ years now and having many patients on raw, I have yet to hear of any occurrences of this. However, you want to have some safety measures in place. Typically puppies readily recognize and know exactly what to do with raw meaty bones, but just like with raw bones for adults, be sure that you supervise your dog and the pieces you are giving are size appropriate. When feeding bones, you want to aim size of your puppy or kitten’s head or larger, so that they are forced to gnaw and crunch rather than gulp. They are hungry and growing, so will try and get food down as fast as they can. A few times with Onyx, he learned that some of the chunks he swallowed were too large. He would then regurgitate that piece back up, re-crunch as fast as he could, and re-swallow. This is a learning process for our pets as well as us. If your puppy is trying to gulp or eat bones quicker than the speed of light, like Onyx, you can feed partially frozen. This forces them to slow down.
Choosing to start your puppy or kitten out on raw is one of the best decisions you can make for them. They are eating exactly what their bodies are designed for and they are using these nutrients to lay down cells in their tissues and organs. They are building their bodies with the best nutrients possible.