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Weaning Puppies To A Raw Food Diet

written by Marina Zacharias

"Remember that every ounce, every particle of food contributes to the strength of puppy limbs, therefore let every meal given be of maximum health in natural concentration and preparation.

A properly weaned puppy is a joy to see and possess. It has come into the world with a set of brand-new organs: heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc. All are new, clean and unspoiled. It is each puppy's right that it be fed foods which will not damage or degenerate its new body, but improve and safeguard its health, so that it will never know the pain and distress of worm infestation, rickets, scouring, skin eruptions."

---Source: Juliette de Bairacli Levy

With this as an early inspiration, the fundamental procedure I use for weaning puppies was based directly on the details outlined in Juliette's book "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat".

I start the weaning in the fourth week (Juliette is very firm on not starting earlier). This begins with using goat's milk (raw, unpasturized, if you can find it) as a base. Thicken this by adding about 1 tablespoon of raw honey per quart of goat's milk. Then for extra nutrition, strengthen the milk by adding approximately 1 teaspoon of NR Tree Bark Gruel per puppy to be fed. This mixture is warmed to a tepid degree (lukewarm not hot) and introduced to the litter.

Several days later, when they are eating this mix well, begin thickening it with fine ground barley (or oat) flakes--HUMAN GRADE. (At this point the puppy's digestive system simply cannot digest animal feed grade grains. You might as well feed sawdust.) The barley flakes should be ground to a fine powder for best digestion. I use a food processor for this but a small hand grinder also works just as well. If you are unable to find barley flakes, then substitute barley baby cereal. Add a small amount of Flax Oil (cold pressed) and a little NR Special Blend to the meal.

When using this gruel, I give about a 1/2 cup per puppy (amount will of course vary with the breed of dog) and I increase this amount over time with the amount of interest the pups show in the gruel.

Towards the end of the fifth week, I start to introduce raw meat (I use very fine lean ground turkey) as a separate meal. A little bran (oat or wheat) should be added to the meat for roughage. What we are trying to accomplish here is to imitate nature as closely as possible.

The natural instinct of the bitch when in the wild state (and common to all carnivores) is to semi-digest flesh food in her own stomach and then to vomit up the food for the use of her whelps. If you are unable to find fine ground turkey, obtain some lean whole turkey thighs (skinless) and put them through a food processor until they are like mush. Within the next day or two I increase this to two meat meals per day.

With the meat meal, each individual puppy should be fed in separate dishes. Competitive feeding causes overeating and thus digestive ailments. It is natural in the wild for each fox or wolf cub to run off with its portion of torn flesh and devour this at a safe distance from the other cubs.

At this point I am feeding an early A. M. milk/gruel meal, followed by a noon milk/gruel meal. Then around 4 PM a meat meal, followed around 8 PM with their last meat meal.

During this introductory time frame I start to introduce grated vegetables to the evening meat meal. (Ex. grated carrots). Other veggies can be introduced (one at a time) with each passing day.

Supplements are added the same way. A couple of days after introducing the meat meals (i.e. when you are sure that they are handling this O.K.), add a pinch of NR Seaweed Mineral Food to the evening meal. The following day, crush a NR Herbal Compound tablet and give one per pup (or less depending on breed).

Next, add a little Vitamin C to the milk/gruel meals and the meat meals. (If loose stools are seen simply cut back on the dosage).

Greens are very important and should be added to the evening meat meal. I usually use about 1 teaspoon of 1/2 parsley and 1/2 dandelion leaves, chopped fine (again through the food processor). Other greens can be given such as watercress, cress, cilantro, mint leaves, clover, etc.

I also ensure that with each meat meal, a "Cyrofood" tablet is given to balance the calcium/phosphorus levels.

The remaining supplements I use, such as Vitamin E and NR Daily Health tablets, and NR Herbal Compound, are introduced as soon as I am sure that everything else is being handled nicely.

As the pups get a little older they are fundamentally receiving the same components as are fed to my adults. The milk/gruel meals become the basis for the grain meal (i.e. gradually reduce milk content and thicken grain components) and the meat meal is gradually changed from a "mushy" meat to small chunks, to normal size chunks as they can handle it.

To complete the weaning process I like to introduce raw bones (for balanced calcium). I find that chicken wings or necks work well for this purpose. Please remember these are soft when they are raw. It's only when they are cooked that they become brittle and can splinter.

By the time the puppies are 8 weeks old they will be on a complete raw food diet, just like the adults, except that the portions are appropriate for their age, weight and breed size.