Tula’s pups have been nibbling at her dinner the last few days, so we decided it was high time to wean them. I tend to feel less of a rush for weaning when I’m dealing with a mom like Tula, who has remained fat and happy throughout this entire litter. Her kids are both chubby and healthy, and Tula is still flowing with milk. Still, all good things come to end, and it’s time for Luke and Leah* to start eating solid food.
In the ‘old days’, I weaned onto rice pablum mixed with goat’s milk, eventually adding in some raw meat. The last few litters, however, I’ve gone straight to raw and the pups seem to just love it.
For their very first meal, Luke and Leah got my puppy mix, which consists of:
Ground raw turkey necks, thighs, hearts and livers
Fresh ground flax seed
Eggs with the shells
Pulped greens (kale and spinach)
Partially baked sweet potatoes, mashed and added to the greens
Blueberries and apples
Goat’s milk yogurt
Apple Cider Vinegar
The main difference between this recipe and the adult version of our raw food is that we grind everything much finer. I put the veggies through the food processor, and then a second time through the blender. The batch shown in the photos was from food I’d made for the adults – hence the larger than usual pieces of carrot.
The raw puppy food is then mixed with warmed whole goat’s milk, and put in a low pan. As the pictures show, they had no hesitations about digging in to their food.
At the moment, I am making food in absolutely huge batches – we’re going through approximately seven pounds of raw food per day, and that is a lot of grinding, chopping, dicing and blending. Luckily for me, I have reliable sources for almost dirt cheap meat, eggs and produce in our immediate area. I also have about fifteen pounds of unground raw green tripe in the freezer, which I might try to incorporate into the next batch. Like I always tell people who ask for our ‘recipe’, making raw dog food is all about using what’s available and at hand. We try to use produce that’s in season and reasonably priced, and I’m not adverse to grabbing it from the ‘almost expired’ rack at the grocery store. Your dog won’t care, either.
Puppy buyers, and even breeders, experiencing their first raw fed litters are sometimes quite surprised. The poop of raw fed puppies is dramatically different from ‘normal’ puppy poo. It’s dry, almost odorless, and miniscule in volume – a result of the fact that the puppies are able to utilize almost all the nutrients in the food, rather than excreting it as waste. They also poop very infrequently – once a day isn’t uncommon. Another surprise is how little raw fed puppies drink compared to puppies eating kibble. Raw fed puppies drink about a third less water per day.
In the past, I’ve always fed my puppies at least one meal per day of kibble, to get them accustomed to the taste and texture. This was meant to make it easier for buyers who prefer to feed dry to transition their puppies to kibble. Going forward, I’ll be weaning my puppies exclusively onto raw. Perhaps the dramatic difference between the raw fed puppy they bring home, and the pooing, kibble fed puppy they have a few days later will help convert more of my new puppy families onto a life of raw feeding.