Feeding Your New Puppy

What to Feed Your New Puppy

There are many questions with a new puppy.  One of the most important is what to feed them.   At KingsKids Havanese we are unique in that our puppies are raised on a raw diet like a dog in nature would eat.  After years of research,   we determined that there was too much evidence to ignore about how much healthier a raw diet was for the dogs

We switched to raw in 2012 and never looked back.   Our dogs are healthier,  they keep their weight on much easier,  their teeth stay cleaner, they create much less stool, they don’t have that “dog smell” when they get wet and their skin is much healthier!    In addition, even though we used to feed one of the highest rated brands of holistic dog food,  it was so hard to keep weight on the puppies when they started eating.    When I started using a raw diet with the puppies,  they stayed as plump as when they were nursing, which is much healthier.  My vet always comments on how healthy and plump our puppies are.

I say all that so you understand why your puppy is fed a raw diet here at KingsKids.  Now, clearly,  we have spent quite a bit of time, money and energy to provide you with the healthiest possible Havanese puppy so we hope that you will continue the raw diet  in order to maintain that health.  However;  if your lifestyle or other situation should keep you from following the raw diet,  you do need to follow some specific instructions to change that diet. 

IMPORTANT:  For the first few days after taking your puppy home,  do not change the diet.  This is important since the stress of moving to a new home can in itself throw off the flora and a diet change can be disastrous at that time.  Just let them settle in,  bond and get used to their environment and then follow the instructions below to introduce the new food.

GUT HEALTH:  Just like we can get very ill when we travel to a foreign country and eat food we are not used to, or drink water that is different, so it is with dogs.   As they grow,  they develop flora in the intestines to help digest the food they eat. “Gut flora simply refers to the bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. Both “good” beneficial bacteria and so-called “bad,” or less beneficial bacteria, live in your pet’s gut. However, in a normal healthy gut, the good guys greatly outnumber the bad, and they help keep their potentially harmful activities under control.”  [1]

The good bacteria or gut flora develops within 24 hours of birth.    The puppy gets some from his mommy and his body develops the rest over the first few months of life.  Since that flora is not fully developed as a puppy,  a change in diet can affect them in a very  different way than it would an adult dog whose gut flora is fully developed.   For this reason,  you need to be very, very careful when changing a puppy’s food.   If a sudden change of diet is introduced,   the gut reacts because the flora is not there to digest it properly and it causes diarrhea, sometimes vomiting and the resulting reactions throw the flora in the gut so far off that it can take months to settle it down.   This  is not because the puppy is on a raw diet.  The same thing would happen if the pup was raised on kibble and suddenly switched to a raw diet or even if the pup was on kibble and switched to a kibble with very different ingredients.   Any dramatic change causes problems. Unfortunately,  while your vet is working on settling the puppy’s gut down and treating his symptoms – which often create a whole new set of problems with the drug side effects-   the unhealthy condition of the gut now opens that puppy up to all sorts of  new things.  Worms and even protozoa  can cause additional problems that can take months to heal.  

 PROTOZOA and WORMS:  Coccidia and Giardia  are two very common protozoan parasites that affect dogs.  Most adult dogs will have been exposed to both of these in some form since it can be picked up from simply sniffing dirt or an infected dogs feces or drinking contaminated water such as when you go for a walk and the dog finds a puddle that may be infected by runoff.   These bad bacteria will be kept in balance with the good bacteria in the gut and after about six months of age,  a healthy puppy will be immune to the effects of this protozoan.  Until that time,  it is important to protect that gut from getting  out of balance.  When it does get out of balance,  the bad bacteria begin to overtake the good bacteria and this create an opportunity for a parasite problem.  Protozoa parasite are particularly hard to treat so it is important to avoid this overgrowth.

You’ve probably heard that puppies are prone to worms.  That is true because that gut flora is still developing and is too weak to kill off the worm eggs. That is why they must be wormed regularly as puppies.   A healthy adult dog only needs the occasional worming as a precaution since their gut flora will kill off the eggs they are exposed to by simply walking on the dirt or eating a grass blade where the worm life cycle begins.  When the gut gets out of balance,  it can become infested with every possible worm very quickly because the good bacteria that was devouring those eggs is gone so the eggs grow into worms.  

You can see that it would be possible to spend thousand of dollars to reverse the  problems caused just by upsetting the puppy’s diet.  

HOW TO CHANGE THE DIET:   Well, now that  I’ve scared you,   let me assure you this is very easily avoided!  We have already taken precautions to carefully worm your puppy on a regular basis and fed him healthy food to keep that gut in a  healthy balance.     If you need to change your puppy’s diet,   there  is only one secret… GO SLOW!   Slowly introducing a new  source of nutrition to your puppy allows the gut to adjust the digestive flora to the new food.   Their digestive systems are so amazing that they will slowly adjust the bacterial balance over a couple of weeks.   I recommend  following the diet we have started with your pup but if you must change,  let me suggest you be sure it is a holistic dog food with limited ingredients and high protein for small dogs.  It should contain no wheat, corn or by-products.  Preferably it will be lower carb since Havanese- as other floppy eared dogs- are prone to ear yeast. Carbs feed the yeast.

  Pick up some of Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotic for pets  and put a little on the food each day to help kit-start the new flora.  Now you’ve purchased the food we recommended and the new brand of food you want to use.   Put a few  tiny bites of the new food or kibble into the existing diet for a few days.  Example:  If switching to Blue Buffalo kibble,  put 4 or 5 bits of kibble in the puppy’s food each day for 3 days.  Then increase to 6 or 8 bits and  start decreasing the amount of the old food daily while increasing a few more kibble until at the end of two weeks,  you have switched over completely to the new food.    This  slow way of changing the diet will allow your puppy to do so without stomach upset or negative health challenges.

TREATS:   Please remember that treats containing a whole lot of ingredients your puppy is not used to can create the same problem as changing foods,  particularly if you have small children that like to give the puppy lots of treats!    I recommend dried or freeze dried meat bits and baby carrots for puppy treats.  This gives him a healthy real food treat that does not have a bunch of corn, wheat,  sugars and such that could upset his stomach. 

WHAT TO DO if you see  a LOOSE STOOL:  In the event that your puppy gets a loose stool after going home,   here are a couple of guidelines.    Puppies  have loose stools for all sorts of reasons from eating grass to eating almost anything else around or being introduced to new treats or dog food.  One loose stool is not a concern if it gets firm again the next time and he has no other symptoms.  A loose stool and a watery stool are two different things.  If the stool is all water, has blood in it or looks black,  go to the vet.  If he continues with a loose, but not water stool for a day but has no other symptoms and you are not yet giving Dr Mercola’s Probiotic powder,   try giving this to him.   ONLY if the puppy has NO other symptoms and is still eating and drinking and playing but only has the loose stool.  The pro biotic can help balance any upset in the gut quickly and may help avoid a run to the vet and a prescription for something that may further throw that delicate balance in the gut.  If the probiotic does not correct it in a day or two and it persists,  definitely go to the vet to be on the safe side.  If your puppy tests negative for anything to be concerned with and still have unexplained loose stool, you can try a couple of things.  I usually mix a little 100% pumpkin puree along with some chicken  or cooked ground up turkey.   If they are on the raw diet,  you do not need to cook the food,  just add the pumpkin.   If you know the puppy got into something such as getting into your french-fries and gets diarrhea,  fast the puppy for 24 hours with just water  to allow the gut to clear out, then re-introduce the regular food. 


Following these simple suggestions will help you have a healthy, happy puppy that will bring you years and years of joy and companionship.

by Carol King – KingsKids Havanese


[1] Dr Mercola  “How the Status of Your Pet’s Gut Flora Can Help Him Live Longer”

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