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Puppies & Kittens

All About Bones

Puppies and kittensThe young ones will probably take to the new diet more naturally as they have no habits of other foods. If the mom is eating raw it will make the whole process even easier. As a rule of thumb, puppies and kittens should be fed plenty and frequently. Kittens can be fed as much as they wish. For puppies, the amounts should be controlled, but it's probably better to slightly indulge then deprive at this age. Keep an eye though, and if the ribs start to disappear under layers of fat, you've probably overdone it. No 'diet' is needed just a slight reduction of the portions. Remember, they are still growing, and if that fat will not be added to, it will find it's way to where it is needed. (No, an overweight puppy is NOT cute.) Different breeds and sizes of dogs grow differently. Smaller breeds reach physical maturity at a much younger age than the big ones, and when full adult size is reached so should the diet.

What To Feed

The main difference from the adult diet is the relatively larger quantity. The composition of the kitten and puppy diet is almost identical to the adult. Puppies may need a slightly higher ratio of protein (more like cats). It is hard to stress the importance of bones to the growing carnivore (RAW NOT COOKED). Both the abundance of calcium and the great jaw/ teeth exercise is crucial to their development. Do not hesitate to give chicken necks, wings or backs. These little puppies have a little wolf in them and the kitties will tackle them like tigers. Such soft bones will be a great start for small jaws. Do keep an eye on them, the may try to 'test' their ability to swallow big chunks. Regurgitating is also a natural part of the eating/ learning process. There is no real need to ground the meat or the bones, and as with the adult diet, if the food IS ground make sure to add RMBs at least 2-3 times a week for that natural dental care.

Although chicken is often recommended as a good all around source of RMBs, try giving a large variety of meats and internal organs. There is no substitute for a naturally balanced diet. Puppies and kittens are more sensitive to chemicals/ medicine, etc. It is recommended to provide them with non-medicated, organic or free range meats as much as possible. Make sure the little ones get the fresh parts. Mom's stomach can take almost anything, but the young ones may be more sensitive. If there are any leftovers put them back in the fridge. If they have been in and out of the fridge a few times just give it to mom and get fresh ones to the pups. Supplements may be used, but with extra care. Over-supplementing is easier with small bodies. Yogurt is recommended if antibiotics were given to the lactating mom or the pup.

When To Start

Raw Meat Bones can be introduced as early as 4 -6 weeks. At this time the teeth are growing. This doesn't mean they will eat it right away, but the attempts and chewing will strengthen their jaws and prepare them for later. RMBs are also great for teething and give the nursing mom some relief. Kittens may also appreciate little chunks of meat to begin with. This does not mean that nursing time is over; milk will still be an important part of their diet until they are 6 -8 weeks.

At younger ages (2-4 months) meals should be presented between 4-6 times per day in small portions. A puppy or kitten can and should eat between 5- 10 percent of his body weight. At this age the metabolism and activity levels are high. Smaller portions will digest better in their little tummy and will not tire them.

After 4 months the frequency can be lowered to 2-3 times a day, and about 5-7 percent of the body weight. Between 6-12 months the young carnivore may be consuming as much as an adult and should be fine with 2 feedings per day (some would still prefer 3 times).

If you are transitioning a puppy/ kitten from a commercial/cooked diet, they same principals of feeding apply. You should also expect the same side effects as any transition. DO NOT fast a puppy younger then 1 year and a cat at any age. Mixing raw meat with kibble is not recommended because of the difference in digestion time.

For a thorough look at everything that has to do with puppies and the BARF diet: 'Grow your pups with bones/ Dr. Ian Billinghurst' is recommended.