Article written by: Dr. Judy Jasek, DVM
If you have read my other posts, you know I am a proponent of feeding a fresh and ideally raw food diet to pets. What about puppies and kittens? When it comes to feeding fresh food to your dog or cat, the younger you started, the sooner the health benefits begin! You can even wean your pet directly onto raw food.
Why is this so important? A young animal is developing a healthy digestive tract including creating a healthy microbiome. This requires feeding the gut microflora correctly, and most importantly, not damaging it with an overly processed, synthetic, and potentially toxic food. The best scenario is if the mother dog is already eating raw and the puppies can munch alongside her in addition to nursing. If this is not an option, then the puppy will need to start on raw after it is weaned.
Pets will take to the food better if it is warmed by pouring some bone broth or warm water on top and feed smaller portions to start. Commercial raw blends are a good place to start, but they are not all equal in nutritional balance, so we recommend speaking with a professional who is familiar in balancing a diet appropriately for a growing pet. Pets can eat the raw bone ground into the blends, and even begin to chew on raw bones such as chicken or turkey wings, necks and drumsticks.
Sourcing is very important when it comes to feeding raw to your pet, and I do not recommend buying grocery store meat and feeding it raw to puppies. It can contain additional bacteria due to processing techniques. Commercial raw blends are typically frozen fresh, as soon as the blends are made so the risk of pathogenic bacterial contamination is almost non-existent.
I have yet to see one case, in 20 years of recommending raw feeding to my patients that the raw food has been proven to cause an infection. There can be some adjustment to feeding raw, but this is more about training the digestive tract to digest something new or different, and not about the food being bad.
The advantages of feeding raw are immense, so don’t wait; Start your puppy or kitten right away on raw.