Raw Food Diet
Your Tollwest puppy has been raised on a diet of meat, bones and organs, a natural diet for a dog. I will give you a guideline of how to continue the puppy on the proper diet for the rest of its life.
Diet is not an exact science. You don’t count all your vitamins and minerals and such each day, you don’t count it for your kids. Yet you manage to stay healthy, right? It’s balance over time. Don’t worry if you pup gets more chicken one week than the next or if he eats more one day and less the next day. As long as it balances out in the end, it will be okay.
A general guide is that the diet should consist of about 70% meat, 20% bone, and 10% organ. A chicken quarter, the kind with leg, thigh and back piece is a pretty good example of that. You don’t need to feed this ratio every day, some days might be bonier, some meatier, some with organs, some without. If your pup has loose stools, you might need to increase the bone. If your pup has hard stools or a hard time passing them, you might need more meat. You do need some fat in the diet for energy and omega oils, but large gobs of fat can cause gas and really excessive amounts can cause pancreatitis.
You can feed practically any cut of meat out there. Easy to get and inexpensive cuts include things like chicken quarters and whole fryers, pork necks and ribs, beef ribs, and turkey necks. Whole fish are great if you can get them. Tilapia is cheap and easy to find, but most dogs won’t eat them. Mackerel and salmon are favorites, note that raw salmon and trout must be frozen for 30 days before feeding due to a potential parasite. The leg bones of grazing animals are so hard dogs can crack their teeth on them, so avoid those. Organs like livers and kidneys are great nutrition, but might be rich so feed in small quantities. Heart is more of a muscle meat, and I feed quite a bit of it. Green tripe is stinky, but very good for dogs, it is full of valuable enzymes and beneficial bacteria. If you can find a supplier, it is great stuff. I feed raw green tripe 2-3 times a week on average, and my young puppies eat it one meal a day while they are weaning. The bleached white kind in the grocery in not the same and has had any nutrition bleached out. If you hunt, or know someone who does, your dogs will be happy to take the leftovers after they process their deer, birds, or whatever. It is a good idea to freeze meat and bones from wild game prior to serving, in order to kill any parasites.
These days many pet food stores sell commercial frozen raw diets. These can be very convenient (many brands are sold in easy to thaw small pucks or bricks), and make it easy to find a great variety of meats (at my local pet food store, I can buy raw elk, pheasant, rabbit, ostrich etc). The price can run a bit higher feeding commercial raw diets, but for many people the convenience weighs out over the price.
Finding inexpensive food sources can greatly reduce your feeding cost. Raw can be done for less than kibble, if you are resourceful. Check for restaurant suppliers in your area, as well as raw feeding co-ops. There are many yahoogroup listings for co-ops in various areas. In addition, some grocery stores that cut their own meats will save you the leftovers and give them away free or very cheap. You may need to buy in bulk to get things from these places. If space limits you from buying much variety, remember its balance over time. If that means your dog eats the same thing for a couple weeks because you can only fit one box at a time, that’s okay. If you join a co-op, you may be able to split cases with other members. If you want help finding sources please let me know and I will do my best to find some leads for you!
Puppies should be allowed to eat as much as they want (two to three meals a day until 12 weeks old, then down to two meals a day, if they were on three) for about 30 minutes. Growing pups will usually regulate their intake quite well, only eating what they need. As they grow, they will have some days that they are hungry and some that they are not. Don’t fret if your pup opts out of a meal once in a while. Unless it goes on for more than a couple days or the pup seems sick, it’s probably normal. If the pup is still eating at the end of 30 minutes, I would let him finish rather than end the session. Pups may take longer to get things done due to teething and such. If he’s still eating he’s still hungry, so let him finish. On the other hand, if the pup stops early, I wouldn’t take the food up either. The pup may be taking a break, or may get distracted. Give him his full time to eat.
After six months old, you can reduce it to one feeding a day if you wish, or you can continue with twice daily meals. Adult dogs should get roughly 2-4% of their body weight each day to eat. Some adults will continue to be good judges of how much to eat, some wont, so you may have to start paying a little more attention to their food intake at some point.
You may notice that your raw fed puppy isn’t as roly-poly as the pups you are used to seeing. That’s because raw fed pups aren’t fat, they are muscular. Since there is little muscling around the ribcage, your pup may look “skinny” to some people. Don’t worry, and don’t try to fill your pup out. It will all even out in due time. You may also notice that your puppy doesn’t go through the ugly stages nearly as bad as his kibble fed peers. Raw fed pups usually grow at a slow, even rate.
Since your pup has been eating raw since birth, they should have the idea of chewing down pat. However, if your pup seems to want to gulp his food, give bigger items. Many people want to cut things or feed ground, but that just makes the problem worse, By giving larger items, items bigger than the dog’s head if need be, you force him to chew. Do this for a while and that should get him in the habit.
I am not one to feed tons of supplements, but one that I consider essential is oils for omega fatty acids. I recommend using both virgin coconut oil, and a fish oil (salmon oil, pollock oil, herring oil, sardine oil etc but NOT cod liver oil), The fish oil and coconut oil compliment each other well, each providing different types of nutrients/omegas. I give coconut oil 3 days a week, alternated with fish oil another 3 days a week. The 7th day, instead I give a natural-source Vit E capsule, they need extra Vit E in their system to help use the fish oils.
A wide variety of dried meat type treats are on the market now (I especially love the Orijen freeze dried treats!). Diced cooked meat and diced cheese can be kept on hand for training treats, I often also use an air-dried raw dog food called Ziwipeak - it has a great "beef jerky" type texture, and is already cut up in bite sized bits! Skip the dry biscuits and play-dough bacon stuff. Of course, on a special occasion some junk won’t kill any of us, but it’s best not to have these very often.
Please always read the labels to see where any treat or food originates, and do NOT buy anything that originates in China - food items originating from there are notorious for contamination with toxic substances, and many pets have died from eating treats or foods that were made in China.
No, your pup does not need veggies, fruits, grains or dairy products. Grains top the list as problem causers, so avoid those at all costs. The other stuff probably won’t hurt unless your puppy develops sensitivity, but they don’t really contribute much, other than to help fill them up. I do routinely feed veggies to my dogs, but mainly because they like them, not because they "need" them. Mainly they get scraps/leftovers from preparing food for my meals and my birds meals, most often they get leafy greens or green beans, sometimes some carrots. A couple times a month I add a spoonful or 2 of canned pumpkin to their meal, usually more as a treat than anything...the pumpkin can also be used to help firm up stools. This can be helpful if you are feeding a meal heavy on organs!
If you opt to switch your puppy to a kibble rather than maintain the raw food diet, please choose a top-quality food. The brands I recommend are Orijen, Acana, Go Natural and Now Fresh. I generally prefer to stick to grain-free foods for most Tollers. For my own dogs, the kibble I use (when they dont get raw) is Orijen (the Six Fish, Regional Red or Tundra formulas).
Avoid any "vet brands" like Hills, MediCal or Royal Canin. Despite the high price tags, all are made with very poor quality ingredients and are mainly grains, soy, fillers and by-products! Also, no kibbles you can find in a grocery store or Costco. I am also not a fan of most of the bigger brand names like ProPlan, Eukanuba, Blue Buffalo, Diamond, Nutro, etc - again the quality of ingredients does not match the price tags!
If you are not sure if a food you are considering is a good choice for your Toller, please ask me!
Please be aware that you will probably experience some loose stools whle changing over to kibble, as it is digested very differently from a raw diet, and it will take time for pup's system to adapt. If you just got your puppy, please keep it on the raw diet for at least the first 2 weeks so it can settle in first before you throw it's digestive system into turmoil!