What is a natural diet for a growing puppy?
Natural nutrition starts in the uterus, and in the diet of the pregnant bitch. Although you can’t always know the parentage of puppies, if you have a choice, try and find a breeder who feeds raw food.
The health and vigor of new born pups is a direct reflection of both diet and genetics. The importance of the bitch’s nutritional plane continues through lactation, where for the first few weeks the pups are completely reliant on mum for all their nutrition (growth), immunity (collostrum), and waste disposal.
You can usually pick the strongest pup (often the pick of the litter) at about 2 weeks. At this age the pup is a direct reflection of his genetic make-up, and the bitches nutritional intake.
From the time the pup cuts its first milk teeth (approx. 2-4 weeks old) he or she is ready to tackle solid food. This coincides with increasing discomfort at feeding time for the bitch ( those nice sharp teeth we all know so well !), who is stimulated to start offering solid food.
In the wild state, she does this by regurgitating food (voluntary vomiting) for the pups to eat. Food (or prey) she may have eaten minutes or hours earlier, is then regurgitated; pre-masticated (chewed), warm (38.5 ‘C) and part digested, for the pups to devour back in the security of the den (or whelping box). Many bitches today will still start vomiting at this stage of lactation, even if you are offering solids already, which is the cause of many a panicky phone call from in-experienced breeders.
And what do the pups then eat? Exactly what mum has eaten. Pre-chewed, partly digested, raw meat, organs, gut contents, bones, fur, feathers, and any other plant or organic material the bitch has eaten. But remember, the bitch is often eating for herself and 6 or more pups, and as a result, her diet is often more varied and ravenous than usual.
Infact, the concept of cravings for certain foods, which are experienced during pregnancy and lactation, may play an important role in ensuring balanced early nutrition of pups and people in the same way.
By 6-8 weeks, the pups will tackle whole carcass and food brought back by the bitch intact. And by the age of 6-8 months old, the pup has grown and learnt to hunt and scavenge for itself..
So how does this translate to the modern domestic puppy of today? Very simply, we try to recreate the core elements of the natural diet, with easily accessible ingredients currently available, that will supply the equivalent constituents of a natural diet.