Changing Your Puppy’s Diet from Commercial to Homemade

by Lew Olson, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs

raw-and-natural-nutrition-for-dogs-revised.pngOftentimes, the first time we see our new puppy is after it has been whelped and reared. Chances are the puppy you bring home will not have been whelped and reared on a natural diet. We hope that once you get your puppy home, you will choose to feed it a natural, homemade diet. To ease the transition, remember these simple rules:

Keep It Simple
Start out with small, frequent meals. Most puppies do fine with an immediate switch to a homemade diet; however, some puppies may not know what to do with fresh food when they are first introduced to it. Try mixing the meat, yogurt, and eggs with some kibble to start and gradually phase out the kibble as you learned in Chapter Thirteen: “No Quibble with Kibble.”

Watch for Signs!
It is important that you do what you are comfortable with and what works best for your puppy. Note how your new puppy responds to the change in diet and pace the transition accordingly.

Don’t Stress
Make mealtimes as stress-free as possible and try to keep the feeding times consistent and on a schedule. Do not get upset if your dog does not seem interested in the new food. Just pick the bowl up, walk away, and then offer the food again later. Your puppy will come around.

RMBs (Raw Meaty Bones) for Pups
Feed RMBs separately from the kibble. Do not feed them in the same meal. Some puppies may be delighted to get RMBs, but others may need to start on ground or cut-up pieces. You can begin by cutting the meat with meat scissors or a meat cleaver, or you can pound the RMBs with a hammer to help break them up or grind them in a grinder.

Not Too Cold
Many puppies are sensitive to texture and temperature. Serve the food as close to room temperature as possible to avoid stomach upset.

After Meal Break
Always remember that puppies need to eliminate after eating and often like to take a nap after their meal and potty break.

Adding some Berte’s Zymes to your puppy’s meals is helpful in transitioning a puppy from a kibble diet to a homemade one. Give small and medium-sized puppies one-quarter of a tablet and large puppies half a tablet with their main meals.

Stomach Upset
When you change your puppy’s diet, there is always a chance of some gastric upset. Tummy upsets are common and usually should not be of concern. If your puppy experiences some gastric upset, fast the puppy for a few hours before giving any more food. When you go to feed the next meal, serve it in smaller portions. Lower the amount of fat during this time too. Overfeeding and feeding too much fat are primary causes of gastric upset. If problems persist, take your dog to your veterinarian to rule out any serious problems. Have a fecal check done to ensure parasites are not the cause of the gastric upset.

Oftentimes, the cause is either too much food or too much fat, each a problem that is easily solved. Often you can treat it at home by adding settling foods to the diet. Boiled cabbage is a great food to help settle an upset stomach. If your puppy has diarrhea or is vomiting, you can also try some excellent home remedies.

Diarrhea Remedy
Overeating is the most common cause of diarrhea. Try giving your puppy some plain canned pumpkin to help firm stools. Give this at one half teaspoon for dogs weighing up to thirty pounds, one teaspoon for dogs weight thirty to sixty pounds, and two teaspoons to one tablespoon for larger dogs.

Vomiting Remedy
Again, cabbage is great for settling a troubled stomach. Boil some cabbage for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Let it cool and then give half a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight as needed.


About the Author
Lew Olson, LMSW, PhD, has been active in the sport of dogs since 1974. She has shown dogs in both performance and conformation events and is currently an American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC) dog show judge. Olson holds a master’s degree in social work and a doctorate in natural health. As a graduate student, she worked as a research assistant and continues to research and author articles on dog health and nutrition, with articles in numerous dog publications, including the Total Rottweiler, the Rottweiler Quarterly, Mein Hund, AKC Gazette Breed Column, and numerous dog newsletters. She has given many seminars on “Feeding Your Dog a Fresh Food Diet” and releases a monthly newsletter, with over 8,000 subscribers, via the B-Naturals website. She also runs the K9Nutrition Yahoo! group and is active on Facebook, where she assists members with questions concerning dog nutrition and health.

Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, Revised Edition is published by North Atlantic Books, distributed by Penguin Random House, and available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s,,, or your local independent bookstore.