I want to thank my dear friend Tammy Kinkade of Eyota Mastiffs (http://www.eyotamastiffs.com/) for providing me with this information, as I have yet to raise a Mastiff from puppyhood on a raw diet. However, with my next puppy we will definately go this route.
|New Beginnings Too Hot to Fox Trot "Pepper"|
Owned by Tammy Kinkade, Eyota Mastiffs
Raw Fed Since 8 Weeks of Age
That said, you can do it in a very similar fashion to how you switch an adult. Depending on the age of your pup (right after weaning, vs. an older pup that has been eating kibble for awhile), you may want to start with ground chicken or turkey first. A young pup (the 4-6 week range) won't have teeth hard enough to chew through bones yet, so ground is a necessity. Be sure you're using ground meat WITH bone - pups need the calcium, and the balance between the phosphorous levels in the meat vs. the calcium in the bone.
Pups at this very young age aren't terribly picky about what they eat - they're so hungry all the time that any food you give them will be gone quickly! So it's the perfect time to try raw foods. They'll devour it quickly and happily. At this young age, it's best to skip the veggies and organ meats and stick to just meat and bone. The pups will do far better with simple foods right now, and organs will be far too rich for their developing systems. Offer small amounts at a time and don't let them gorge. Feeding too much will and can cause diarrhea in a dog of any age.
By the age of 8 weeks, puppies should be able to handle the bones of chicken wings, necks and backs without too much trouble. Oh, they'll spend some time chewing and working at the backs, but it's good exercise for them and teaches then to chew well - a good lesson for them to learn early. At this age, it's also safe to add another protein source - again, staying away from organ meats and veggies if possible. Sue Johnson said it best in her book, “Switching To Raw"... use the KISS method... Keep It Simple, Stupid! (Not meant to be insulting... just meant as a caution that we tend to get overly excited when starting something new, and throw too much at our poor dogs at once!) One ingredient at a time...
My biggest piece of advice, and one of my biggest pet peevers, is to stay away from the pre-groun mixes that have "everything but the kitchen sink" in them when starting a dog on raw. Some of these commercial raw foods have meat from more than one protein source, supplements, exotic fruits ad vegetables, and really cool sounding stuff in them. The only problem with the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach is that *IF* your dog reacts badly with digestive problems, you have NO way of knowing what ingredient might be causing the digestive upset. And therefore, you have no idea what needs to be eliminated from the diet. If you can't figure out what it is your dog doesn't tolerate well, then you're setting the dog up for a roller coaster ride of uncomfortable digestive upset.
Once you have a dog who is an experienced raw dog, who you KNOW has no issues with the various ingredients in the "everything but the kitchen sink" mixes, then by all means, give them a try if you think your dog might like them. But until then, think about how *you* would feel if someone took the ingredients from all three of your daily meals, threw them in a blender, and then asked you to eat that mix. I don't know about you, but I think I'd be spending more than my fair share of time in the bathroom!
Puppies will also benefit from certain supplements, eggs, and even green tripe. I'm sure to slowly add them all, over time, and make them regular additions to their meals.
Keep in mind that with Mastiffs and Great Danes – our giant breeds – nutritional needs are different from other breeds. I have always fed a higher bone content to puppies, until about 5-6 months of age. It goes against what people tell you to do when feeding kibble… but what this does is it helps keep protein levels down. The calcium they are getting from bone is more naturally absorbable, and also more naturally dispersed if it isn’t needed. It is more “bioavailable” than any of the supplements added to kibble. By keeping more bone content in their foods, you are helping to limit protein – and protein tends to be a bigger problem for young puppies than calcium. By about 10 weeks, I am adding in veggies – ground veggie mix I make myself or buy. I use green leafy vegetables such as Romaine lettuce, celery, and spring greens, then for variety, I add zucchini, broccoli, peas, green beans, an occasional carrot, and even some blueberries. I put it all in a blender, add some water and the eggs (whole) and grind together. You can freeze it in ice cube trays for convenience, or put in containers or baggies. I feed a couple of “cubes” per meal.
How much do to feed?
In comparison to feeding an adult Mastiff a raw diet, puppies need to be fed more as they work through heavy growth periods. The general rule of thumb for puppies is to feed approximately 10% of their current body weight... OR... 2-3% of what their adult weight should be. In all actuality, these two formulas work out to pretty much the same weights. I use the 10% rule, feeding three meals per day until the 6 month age range, or until a puppy stops wanting to eat that middle meal. Many pups will tell you when it's time to drop the mid-day meal as they'll be far more interested in playing than eating... if they skip the middle meal for a couple of days at a time, at around the 5-7 month range, then you know it's probably okay to go back down to 2 meals per day and just divide the food evenly into those two meals.
|Harvest Haze Griffin's On The Brink "Brinkley"|
Owned by Amanda Griffin, Gryphon Mastiffs
Raw Fed Since 1 Year of Age