Many breeders and pet shop owners will recommend continuing to feed the same food a puppy has been raised on, to avoid gastrointestinal upsets during the transition to a new home.

What this usually means, however, is that a new puppy will remain on a diet that is not biologically appropriate (such as wheatbix and milk, or a commercial dry food) for longer than necessary.

In our experience, the sooner you transition a pup to a raw, natural, appropriately balanced diet, the better for their health and vitality.

First of all, follow our Transitioning to a Natural Diet rules.  These rules will assist your pup to handle the diet change without any gastrointestinal stress.

Ensure you have a supply of food ready to go.  Most small, young puppies will need feeding three times daily in the beginning.

To make the transition as easy as possible, we suggest an interim diet of Ziwi Peak canned and air-dried food. This will help to normalise their gastric acid secretions before introducing raw foods.  Alternatively you can fast your puppy on bone broth for 12 hours before transitioning to a raw diet, then expect soft stools for a few days while the gut adjusts.

Quality complete raw meals such as the Organic Paws or Complete Pet Company Complete Meal patties are excellent balanced, raw options for your pup and can be offered as the main dinner meal. Whoa Nelly!, Proudi or Raw 4 Paws are also excellent choices. Many people continue feeding Ziwi air-dried or canned food as the morning or midday meal.

By 12-16 weeks of age, you can usually drop one meal, reducing the feeds to twice daily.  You will know when to drop a meal as your pup will become less interested in one of them.  At this stage you can start to include raw diced meats in the diet rotation, such as beef, lamb, chicken, turkey or white fish.  If the pup is handling this change well, you can then start following the meat meals with a soft meaty bone.  Raw turkey necks, or part of a raw chicken carcass are the best bones as they are soft and entirely edible.  Avoid chicken necks as they are a choking hazard, and beef bones should never be fed as they are too hard.

Start to include more variety in the diet, by replacing one breakfast and one evening meal a week with a plant-based meal. Some dogs love a meal of ripe fruit, such as blended or grated apple, or mashed ripe (spotted) bananas, or papaya, or watermelon, or berries.  Green smoothies, where fruits are blended with leafy greens, are a favourite of many dogs as well.  Most dogs also relish a meal of baked sweet potato or pumpkin.  Start to include some oily fish such as mackerel or sardines, fresh or canned in spring water, with a meal every week as well.

Once the adult teeth erupt, which is usually around 4-6 months of age and should be complete by 7 months, you can offer bones more frequently, but generally no more than every second day. Always choose soft edible bones, such as turkey necks, chicken carcasses, lamb flaps, lamb necks, or kangaroo tails.  Hard beef bones cause dental wear and can potentially cause fractures of the teeth.  Bones should be dusted with either shredded coconut or oatbran, and fed after a meal, as this improves the digestion and transit of the bone.

From 7 months of age you can continue feeding twice daily until skeletal growth is complete, or start to increase the size of some meals so that some days the pup is fed once daily and other days they are fed twice daily.  Once the adult weight is reached, you may choose to continue feeding twice daily, or opt to change to a once daily feeding plan (which is preferred in most cases).  Toy breeds like Chihuahuas are best to remain on a twice daily feed plan for life.