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What to Feed Your Puppy for a Long, Healthy Life

Recently, I lost my beloved Australian Shepherd, Teddie, at 14 and a half years of age. That seems like a long lifespan, and it is – just not long enough…it never is.

Aussies generally live to be about 12 years old, so Teddie outlived the statistics.

I’m really grateful that Teddie lived a long life and was able to avoid the use of any pain medication until a year ago when he fell off the icy deck after a storm.

Now that’s pretty remarkable for a big dog! The larger the dog, typically the worse the wear and tear on their old joints. 

Many people ask me the secrets to helping their dogs live long, healthy, active lives.

It's what I did for Teddie and what I recommend to ALL puppy parents.

Without a doubt, my answer is to feed your dog a fresh diet as early as possible and never look back.

Read on for straight talk about feeding your pup.

Is it safe to feed a puppy a fresh diet?

Not only is it safe, it’s what’s best for them! A growing number of studies are putting a scientific punch behind what those of us in the holistic pet health space have known for years.

Starting your puppy on a raw diet right from the beginning can offer numerous health benefits, including a decreased risk of disease later in life, including immune system issues and cancer.

Some of the benefits we see in our dogs and in our clients’ dogs include:

  • Naturally clean teeth

  • Good breath 

  • Healthy skin and coat

  • Smaller bowel movements

  • Good skeletal growth

  • Better temperament  

  • Reduction in allergies

  • Enhanced energy

Should I make homemade raw food or buy it?

The best diet for your puppy is a single protein source, gradually introducing variety, and an appropriate balance of meaty bones, muscle meat, and organ meats. 

It’s important for you to know that this blog is not intended to be a “how-to” guide on how to feed your puppy a raw diet. 

All puppies should have a complete and balanced diet, and that can be tricky if trying to make it at home.

If you’re considering a homemade diet, please consult with a holistic vet or a canine nutritionist.

To understand what feeding a homemade raw diet entails, I recommend reading the following articles from sources I trust:

Navigating the dos and don’ts of proper nutrition at home isn’t for everyone.

There are several fresh and raw foods made by quality, ethical companies. We only carry brands that we trust and feed to our dogs here at The Healthy Animal Healing Center. 

To help you choose which is best for your little one, we offer Total Wellness Consultations to guide you in choosing the right food, supplements, enrichment, and natural wellness products to help your puppy grow into a strong, healthy dog.

Why is my vet recommending dry food?

If you visit a traditional veterinarian to discuss putting your pup on a fresh, raw diet, you’ll likely be met with a less than enthusiastic response.

There are a few reasons for this.

Canine nutrition isn’t usually an area of in-depth study in traditional veterinary medicine. Those that are interested usually specialize in canine veterinary nutrition. 

A word of caution: The term “nutritionist” isn’t protected in many countries including the US. When searching for a canine veterinary nutritionist, be sure to search for a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist or check the qualifications of any animal nutritionist.

As a result, most traditional vets recommend brands that have provided training to them, and that training typically comes from – you guessed it – big commercial dog food manufacturers with deep pockets.

These manufacturers have pumped millions into studies to “prove” their viewpoints, many of which are deeply flawed.

So what’s a puppy parent to do?

Many of our clients who have purchased a puppy from a breeder, come in with the same sad tale.

The breeder was feeding them a fresh food diet and has recommended they continue for the best health possible.

But, when taken to a traditional veterinarian’s office, they’re told to feed dry food.

The new puppy parent, eager to do the “right” thing, switches to the dry food, causing stomach upset. Not only are they switching to a nutritionally deficient food, they’re causing unnecessary gastric upset…and that’s no fun for anyone!

Our recommendation, for canine nutrition and veterinary care, is to find a holistic veterinarian to care for your pup BEFORE you bring them home from the breeder, the shelter, or the rescue.

When you tell your holistic veterinarian you’d like to put your puppy on a fresh, raw diet, you’ll likely be met with a very enthusiastic response! And they'll be happy to assist you in getting started feeding raw.

What’s the difference between holistic veterinarians and traditional vets?

Both types of vets usually have the same training and education. 

The difference lies in their approach to health care.

Holistic vets include treatment modalities that fall outside mainstream veterinary medicine, including chiropractic care, homeopathy, and acupuncture.

Their focus is to treat the root cause of the concern without automatically defaulting to the typical western, traditional drugs, vaccines, and modalities.

For the purpose of finding support if you decide to feed your pup a raw diet, a holistic veterinarian is much more likely to be able to offer guidance and understanding.

What else should I do to get my new puppy off to the best start possible?

Deciding to feed your pup a fresh, high-quality diet is the single best thing you can do for your pup’s health and longevity. 

But there are other important considerations, like using probiotics for digestive health and fish oil for brain health.

And of course, having plenty of healthy, natural chews on hand will satisfy that need to chew on something besides your hands!

Then there are important things like training (fear free certified), and collars (never choke chains or prong collars), and food and water bowls (not plastic), and on and on.

It can be overwhelming, but we’ve got you covered.

The Healthy Animal Healing Center has been a go-to source for nutrition, enrichment, and natural and energetic healing for decades. We’ve developed relationships with the finest holistic practitioners and are only too happy to recommend our favorites to you.

Stop in anytime (and bring your pup!) to speak to our experts. 

And as always, we encourage you to do your own research. Here are a few studies we think are important:

We look forward to guiding you every step of the way from puppyhood to seniorhood. 

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