Feeding Your Puppy to Healthy Adulthood
I began importing and breeding Labs 8 years ago. At first I fed the dogs commercial kibble that I was told was “premium quality”, guaranteed to be “100% compete and balanced". Several dogs had itchy skin, ear irritations/infections, and poor coats. One had sore joints. Veterinarians prescribed anti-histamines, steroids, and antibiotics. The poor dogs were constantly receiving some kind of medication to alleviate their “allergy” and joint problems.
Fortunately, against vet advice, I also fed the dogs some raw meats and raw meaty bones three or four times a week to keep their teeth clean and gums healthy. At least I knew that much about dogs.
After 7 months of feeding commercial pet foods, and observing “allergy “problems, I consulted Robin Woodley DVM, an alternative vet in Kapa’au. Dr. Woodley told me she will not even treat dogs that are fed commercial pet foods, because those foods cause so many health problems.
Thus began my voyage toward raw feeding. Dr. Woodley recommended a BARF (Bones and raw food) diet, which I prepared at home. Almost immediately, the dogs “allergies” disappeared, and they became notably healthier and happier. The “super-premium”, “100% complete and balanced” kibble that other vets recommend and sell was causing their health problems (and health problems for tens of millions of other pets).
Today I feed my 14 dogs (and cat) Raw Meaty Bones (RMB). Remember, you are feeding a friendly wolf, whose normal diet consists of whole prey – raw meat, organs, and meaty bones. Dogs are actually a sub-species of grey wolf. Dogs did not evolve to eat or digest grains and cooked foods. Commercial pet foods are not digested well and come out as huge, smelly poops. RMB-fed dogs have 1/3 as much poop, and it doesn’t smell! The health benefits of feeding a species-appropriate diet are enormous.
How To Feed Raw Meaty Bones
In Hawaii, we may not find the variety of meats that are available on the mainland or in Australia, especially various kinds of game, but we can feed a healthy variety of meaty bones and organ meats.
You don’t have to cook anything. You just shop for meats and meaty bones, and hand your dog hunks of meat and meaty bones, preferably outside where he’ll make less of a mess.
Because I have so many mouths to feed, I formed Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op to buy raw meats and meaty bones at wholesale prices and to make the same low prices available to other pet owners. You may join Kona raw for a one-time membership fee of $5. Depending on how many pets and how much freezer space you have, you may want to order once a week or monthly.
Puppies under a year should be fed approximately 2 to 3% of their adult weight (70 lb) every day, which is 1.4 to 2 lb of food per day. They are growing very fast and need a lot of animal proteins and fats.
From 2 to 4 months, puppies should be fed three times a day, so you can divide 1.4 to 2 lb of food into three servings. If he does not eat it all in 10 to 15 minutes, put away the remainder for another meal. Adjust how much you feed to his appetite. Young puppies do not usually overeat.
Older puppies, 4 to 12 months can be fed twice a day. Again, divide 1.4 to 2 lb of food into two servings. At this age, he will probably eat it all and act like he needs more. If he seems slim, increase his food allowance. If he is chubby, don’t give into his “I’m starving” tactics. Most well-exercised puppies don’t get fat on a RMB diet, because they are growing fast and need all the protein and fat calories to grow.
Adult dogs, over 12-months, should be fed 2 to 3 % of their adult weight once a day. WATCH YOUR DOG’S WAISTLINE. DO NOT OVERFEED. Adjust feeding to your dog’s activity level and metabolism. You should be able to feel his ribs when you pass your hand lightly along his side. If you have to press hard to feel ribs, he’s overweight. Reduce his portions. You should not be able to see his ribs, however. If he is too thin, increase the amount you feed. Some of my dogs need 1 ½ times as much food as others of approximately the same weight. Your dog is an individual with his own individual metabolism. Just keep an eye on his waistline.
Here are suggestions for a varied diet for a Labrador retriever in puppyhood and adulthood. Vary his food from day to day and week to week, just as you vary your family’s food. You can mix and match within the daily ration. You don’t have to “balance” every meal – just try to get some poultry with bones, red meats and meaty bones, and organ meats into his weekly diet. Raw eggs three or four times a week are great in the diet.
¼ to ½ a Chicken. Raw chicken is a great staple food for your puppy, because he can chew up and digest the meat and bones
Whole Chicken frames (carcasses after most meat is removed, have lots of edible bone)
Meaty Beef Bones (lots of meat to chew off ribs or round bones with marrow). Do not feed hard beef leg or knuckle bones with little or no meat on them, because dogs can break their teeth trying to chew them.
Beef hunks large enough that dogs have to tear them and chew, not swallow them whole.
Beef or Pork Liver, Kidney, and Green Tripe hunks that require chewing.
Organ meats should be 10 to 20% of the dog’s diet. More may give him loose stool, but your puppy may accept more.
Beef Heart chunks, great for chewing
Whole small Fish and big hunks of larger Fish. Trimmings and guts from large fish are fine.
2 to 4 Raw Eggs with crushed shells (good vitamin and calcium source)
Pork and beef ribs – meaty slabs of 3 or 4 ribs. He won’t eat all the rib bones, but he’ll enjoy chewing on them. Throw away leftover bones.
Lamb or mutton hunks and meaty bones (expensive here)
Pork loin hunks, pork shoulder, if not too fatty
You can add or substitute turkey parts, chicken gizzards, chicken livers, goat, venison, and any large meaty parts. Think whole prey and how to simulate that in your dog’s RMB diet.
Some poultry and beef parts are too small to be safe. Puppies will be tempted to swallow them whole and may choke. Do not feed chicken necks, chicken wings, or any small bones he can swallow.
Never feed cooked bones – they splinter and can damage your dog’s throat or intestines.
My dogs love avocados, which are a good source of vegetable fats and vitamins. Some also like bananas, apples, papayas, and various cooked vegetables. These can be used as treats or occasional supplements to meaty meals. I also add 2 or 3 Fish Oil capsules once a day for more Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (probably not necessary but an old habit).
Do feed kitchen and table scraps occasionally. My dogs love meat trimmings and leftovers, cooked vegetables, pasta, cheeses of all kinds, yogurt, and so forth. Table scraps should be a minor part of the diet, a little variety to round out his nutrition. Dogs do not need sweets, especially chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs.
Feeding large hunks of meat and meaty bones cleans his teeth, gets his digestive juices working, and provides all the vitamins and minerals he needs.
Remember you are feeding a carnivore, who will live a long, healthy life with a diet that is high in animal proteins and fats and low in carbohydrates. Even the most “super-premium” kibbles and canned foods are largely cooked carbohydrates, an inappropriate diet for carnivores, a diet that causes periodontal disease, that stresses their immune systems, and makes them susceptible to major chronic disorders, such as diabetes, cancers, heart, liver, and kidney diseases.
You will save a lot of money on vet bills throughout his life. His teeth and gums will stay healthy and will not need expensive veterinary cleanings under anesthesia. He is not likely to develop chronic debilitative diseases that cost a fortune to treat and cause unnecessary suffering for the poor animal.
For more detailed guidance on why and how to feed Raw Meaty Bones, look at www.rawmeatybones.com or read Tom Lonsdale’s books, Work Wonders, and Raw Meaty Bones. There are dozens of raw feeding Yahoo groups that provide helpful advice (NaturalRawDog, rawfeeding, RawPup, to name a few). Your puppy will thank you for his raw meaty bones with great health and happiness.