Weaning Puppies onto a Raw Diet

08th April 2022

Guest Blog: Kat Farrants - Solarwind Aussies

Kat Farrants, Australian Shepherd Breeder and founder of Movement For Modern Life, has fed raw over 3 generations of dogs over the last 12 years. Click here to find out how she weaned her litters onto raw food.

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How it Started

I’ve been feeding my Australian Shepherds and my Aussie litters raw for 3 generations over the last 12 years. When I look back to my first litter, back when I was brand new to feeding raw, although I’d started to feed my bitch on raw food, I was scared to feed her raw when she was pregnant. I was also scared to feed the litter (which was just a singleton) completely on raw.

I was listening to my then vet, and to other breeders as well as my then mentor in the breed. All of them vehemently told me, in no uncertain terms, that a pregnant and lactating bitch needed far more nutrition, and far better nutrition, than a raw diet could give. And on no account should I ‘risk my litter’ by feeding raw. I was told that very clever scientists and nutritionists had worked hard to come up with precisely the right formula for nutrition in kibble, and I would be risking the pups and mums’ life to not listen to those scientists.

Making the Switch

So, I switched my bitch back to processed ‘junk food’ kibble for her pregnancy, which she didn’t love. And when it was time to wean the pup, I soaked the kibble in goats’ milk so that it knew that the kibble was good. The pup stood in the food, sloshed in it, it took a few days and finally, the pup understood it was ‘kind of’ food.

On my second litter 3 years later, after I’d been feeding raw solidly for the past 3 years, I was braver. I fed my bitch raw when she was pregnant. Of course, you’ll know that feeding raw meaty bones, dogs get so much calcium and nutrients, she was really fit and healthy throughout her pregnancy, as have been all my subsequent litters.

It does take a certain courage to trust the raw feeding method with our precious litters and pups, i do understand. But personally, I knew that I was doing the right thing in weaning my pups on raw when I ran a test with my pups, which I encourage you to do, if you’re worried about weaning onto raw. First, I prepared the goats milk slush with kibble and let that soak. Then i presented that to the pups. And at the same time, I presented raw food weaning paste served at room temperature (weaning paste is a good idea as it’s all crushed up small, so makes it easy for the pups to eat). Just let the pups decide. See what your puppies’ natural instincts say, and for me, that is enough. What I’ve found, now every litter, every puppy, every single time, is that the pups are utterly delighted to start on raw. But they have no idea that the kibble is even food.

I give my pups chicken wings, lamb ribs and other bones to chomp on (or to suck on before their teeth really get started), and they literally squeal with delight. It provides tons of entertainment, which is crucial for my litters of very busy pups. The bones will sit there, the pups will play with them. The bones provide exercise, as the pups pull and tug at them to get the meat, and the pups find the chomping really satisfying for their little teeth coming through.

I don’t supplement the pups, maybe goats’ milk just for extra yummies, but i know that the raw food diet contains tons of calcium and protein which is just perfect for growing pups’ bones. I also know that feeding raw and giving pups plenty of exercise and stimulation from raw bones won’t pile on too much extra weight. I’m cautious about older puppies being overweight, as I don’t want too much weight on their hip and elbow joints, and lots of the commercial kibble puppy food is just too rich and the pups will get too big too quickly. I want my pups to have to do that extra work, that extra exercise and have the extra stimulation that feeding raw meaty bones provides.

And of course, it goes without saying that since feeding raw, for the last 3 generations, my Aussies have been incredibly fit, healthy, long-lived, have worked to a high standard and have largely been fortunate enough not to see the vet throughout their life.

If you’re wary of feeding your litter raw, what I’d advise you is to let the pups decide! Present your kibble. Then present raw and see what the puppies choose. Best of luck with your litters!

Kat Farrants (@Solarwindaussies)

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