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 or Frontier Pets food. This will help to normalise their gastric acid secretions before introducing raw foods.

After feeding this for a week or more, you can then start to include raw meals, by feeding a quality complete raw meal such as the Organic Paws or Complete Pet Company Complete Meal patties as the evening meals. Whoa Nelly! or Raw 4 Paws are also excellent choices. Many people continue feeding Ziwi Peak or Frontier Pets food as the morning or midday meal.

By 16 weeks of age, you can usually drop one meal, reducing the feeds to twice daily.  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 adding blended leafy green vegetables to as many meals as possible, and replacing one breakfast and one evening meal a week with a plant-based meal. Suitable leafy greens include parsley, beetroot leaf, celery leaf, zucchini, sprouts, broccoli tops, baby spinach or kale.  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 offer a meal of some oily fish such as mackerel or sardines, fresh or canned in spring water, in place of a meal every week as well, either on its own, or with a raw egg added.

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.

Here is our Puppy Feeding Timeline:

First day home: Consider doing a bone broth fast for 12-24 hours to prepare the gut for a diet change. Slippery elm powder can be added to this and to subsequent meals, and can also be used at any stage if the pup develops diarrhoea or loose stools.

First week home: Feed Ziwi Peak or Frontier Pets food for all meals.

Second week home to 16 weeks of age: Feed three times daily, offering a complete raw meal for most breakfasts and dinners (such as Organic Paws or Complete Pet Meal patties), and continuing to feed Ziwi Peak or Frontier Pets food as the lunch meal.  Use canned Ziwi Peak as a back up when you are out of raw food. Do not feed any grains or grain-based foods at this stage.  Avoid dry foods, including grain-free dry foods, as they are too high in carbohydrate.

16 weeks to 7 months of age: Drop to a twice daily feeding plan. Start to include some diced lean meats with the evening meals to strengthen the stomach muscle, and follow two or three meals a week with a soft, meaty bone. Add blended leafy greens to as many meals as possible.  Replace one or two morning and evening meals a week with a plant-based food, such as a green smoothie for breakfast, and some baked sweet potato for dinner.  Include some oily fish and eggs on a weekly basis.

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.