Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. His love of dogs and passion for natural healing and nutrition led him to writing, teaching and helping people create health naturally, without drugs, chemicals and processed food.
How to avoid mistakes and keep your puppy healthy
Before we dive into PART 2 of the puppy series, I would like to make sure that you will also read (or at least bookmark) PART1 of the Most common mistakes that people make with their puppies, which focuses on socialization and vaccines for puppies and young dogs.
If you have a puppy, early socialization is the foundation of every puppy’s happy life, and so is establishing a robust immunity without giving too many vaccines. I get a lot of comments about how social and well adjusted Pax is, and it is mainly because we take him everywhere.
Without socialization, puppies either turn into “scaredy dogs” or annoying maladjusted punks who bully other dogs and embarrass their “parents.”
Most people adopt a puppy without even thinking about the basics of puppy care. They are also unaware that as soon as they bring their new puppy home, they will inevitably be pulled into the black hole of processed food, and toxic flea and tick products that have a real potential to harm their sweet dog.
As a veterinarian, I have seen it all, from the drug reps coming to schmooze in the clinics, paying for pizza lunches for staff, to the conferences sponsored and dominated by pet food and drug giants who organize lavish buffet dinners masterfully blended together with “educational pieces.”
Their goal is to give veterinarians the impression that if they want to belong to the fold, they have to practice “proper medicine” by using their products - toxic drugs, chemicals, and kibble.
Their primary purpose is to maximize profits and please their shareholders, and they have no interest in transforming healthcare for the better. They love and directly benefit from the status quo, and will do all they can to maintain control over health and medicine.
It is important to empower yourself with knowledge that makes sense to you and is aligned with the natural principles of healing and nutrition, regardless of whether or not the products are proprietary or natural, cheap or costly. The patient should always be the central focus.
That said, my plan is to talk about food for puppies, and the myths surrounding puppy nutrition. I hope you will find it helpful.
Mistakes people make feeding puppies
Perhaps, you will be shocked to learn that in the early to mid 90’s I was one of the top selling processed food veterinarians in British Columbia!
Isn't that wild?!
It now perplexes me that after moving to Canada and obtaining my veterinary license, I didn’t question if the heavily processed, heated and preserved dog food that sits on shelves for months, and sometimes years, was good for my patients. It was easy, and I truly believed it was the right thing to do.
But as time progressed, something just didn’t feel right.
I started to notice the discrepancy between healthy food for people and dogs.
I also started to see many puppies on processed food growing up very fast, lanky and weak, with an increased rate of cartilage and bone problems, such as:
That was one part of my observation.
The other part was that as soon as dogs on processed food hit 5 years of age, they started slowing down and their bodies were plagued with problems. 😢
On top of that, most dogs on processed food were smelly, overweight, and their teeth were terrible.
At one point I basically realized that the veterinary profession was being misled and lied to.
How could processed food full of starch, rendered fat, and cellulose (wood chips) be more nutritious than wholesome food?
Of course it wasn’t!
Gradually, I started to switch more patients over to a natural diet of raw or cooked food, and the transformations were incredible! Most of the problems I used to see in kibble fed dogs disappeared completely, and I would rarely see hip dysplasia and other growth problems.
Twenty-five years later, I have no doubt that feeding puppies and adult dogs natural raw or cooked food is much more nutritionally sound. After all, no human doctor advises you to eat processed food instead of a wholesome diet.
If you want to make the switch for your puppy, adult, or senior dog, all you need to do is click the links below for free access to:
Otherwise, let’s move onto
I love spending my “undercover time” in dog parks! People tell me all sorts of things, and food is the most common area where I learn about people making mistakes that have lifelong consequences.
Here are some of the biggest myths surrounding puppy nutrition:
I have raised two of my own dogs on natural non-processed food, and helped thousands of clients do the same. I am confident that feeding a natural diet, supplemented with the Fab4 essential supplements, is the best we can offer - and the closest to their diet as nature intended.
Kibble is about 10x more calorie dense per volume than natural dog food, which makes puppies eat more calories until they feel satiated. This leads to overeating and faster growth, making puppies tall but weak.
Let’s start with the term “complete diet.” What may be sufficient for one dog, might not be enough for another, and no one can be absolutely certain that a dog will receive all of the nutrients it needs from being fed the same type of food every day.
Nature never intended for dogs to eat a processed food mono-diet, which sits on the shelves for months and often goes rancid.
Nutritionally, fresh frozen or cooked food is much better, if it is supported by essentials such as vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, and probiotics that are added just before feeding.
If you feed your puppy wholesome food and natural supplements, you are providing your dog with a “smorgasbord” of nutrients, and the body knows how to store or eliminate the excess as needed.
Even if you fed the “best ingredient kibble” that included all of these supplements, it will still be inferior to fresh food, because the nutrients in the food degrade fast during storage.
Personally, I do my best to avoid canned food for dogs and people. The plastic liners and lacquers in the cans are usually toxic, and contain an array of chemicals you don’t want your puppy being exposed to.
Plus, canned food is heated to 130 C (266 F), which makes it practically dead and nutritionally much less valuable.
The problem is that kibble is highly processed, making it stick to teeth much more readily. Kibble is one of the primary causes of tartar build up and gingivitis in dogs.
I often hear people saying that the “breeder” or shelter was feeding kibble, and they have to keep their puppy on the same food for “some time.”
This is definitely not true. You can switch your puppy as soon as it arrives at your home. Start off with cooked food for a couple days; meat and squash (or pumpkin or sweet potatoes) are good for starters at a 50/50 ratio. Eventually, you can switch over to raw food, or stay with cooked if you are really uncomfortable with raw.
Use the recipemaker.peterdobias.com to create balanced (cooked or raw) meals from then on.
Over the course of my 25 years of feeding and recommending a raw diet for dogs, I can honestly say that it is without a doubt safer than processed food. Canines have a natural ability to resist bacteria, because they are scavengers with very strong stomach acids that protect their digestive tract from pathogens.
Plus, I like to know what is in my dog's food, and kibble is heavily processed, which makes it impossible to identify the ingredients.
Pet food companies use a fear of bacteria to market their food, but the digestive tracts of wild and domestic canines are pretty much indiscernible from one another.
Processed, poor quality ingredients and starches in kibble lead to disturbances in bacterial flora, which makes dogs more susceptible to pathogens.
If your dog has a tendency towards diarrhea read this article.
I can only assume that this myth originates from problems with cooked bones, which are very different from raw. In nature, raw bones offer great nutritional value, especially for growing puppies. They also provide entertainment, keeping busy puppies occupied and out of trouble.
Once again, raw bones are safe, and sharp pointy pieces will NOT pierce a puppy’s gut. Canine intestines are strong with a muscular layer that contracts and deflects sharper pieces without causing any harm. As a surgeon, I know just how tough dogs' guts are.
Also, dogs have strong stomach acids and bones generally predigest in the stomach before they pass into the gut.
It may surprise you but I do not have my dog’s teeth cleaned under anesthesia. Instead, I brush daily and give him medium sized bones to crunch on to scale his teeth, which works great! The only thing I do from time to time is scale his “canine teeth” (the large pointy ones), as they sometimes build up tartar.
Click here for more info on dental care.
In nature, there is no mammal that would eat different food in adolescence, during maturity, and in their senior years. There is one species appropriate diet for all dogs, and you do not need to buy special puppy food!
My guess is that the life stage diet idea was invented by pet food companies as a marketing tool to give people the impression that dog feeding is complex, and that you should leave it up to them.
I have fed a natural raw and cooked diet to dogs in all life stages for over 20 years, with great results, and am confident it is the best diet for your dog too.
I used to believe this myth, until I saw my senior patients wasting away from a lack of protein in their food. I was told that their wasting was due to kidney or liver disease, but I now know this isn’t true.
Senior dogs do well on a regular meat, bone, and veggie diet if it is not too fatty. This includes dogs who have liver disease or kidney problems.
This is a good one. For most people, food is an expression of love. Of course, you need to make sure that your puppy is free of parasites and is healthy, but other than that, if your puppy is at a normal body weight but doesn’t eat their food, let them walk away from the food bowl and offer the food again at their next feeding time.
I have seen people hand feed their dogs, pour butter on their food, and do all kinds of crazy stuff just to get their puppy to eat.
This is something I wrote about in PART 1 here.
I find this one especially frustrating, because there are many puppies out there who look like walking bone racks. I like to feed puppies 3x per day until they are about 5 months, 2x per day until they are one year old, and then once a day after that.
Puppies should eat as much food as they need, and they will rarely become overweight if they are fed regular cooked or raw food. The problem is not the quantity, but calorie density, that makes puppies over eat and grow too fast. If we feed the right food there should be no problem with feeding puppies as much as they want to eat.
Here is a handy chart to help you assess your puppy’s body weight.
PLUS! Stay tuned for PART 3 of puppy myths! We will be talking exercise, collars, training, and much more!
Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss this important piece. It will help you keep your pup healthy and problem free.
I know that you care a little more.
How else would you make it to the end of this blog? 😉
Continue reading the puppy series:
Puppy series PART 1: Socialization and vaccines
Puppy series PART 3: Behaviour, exercise, and training
Or, listen to the whole puppy series via my podcast here:
Podcast: Puppies Part 1 - Socialization and Vaccines
Podcast: Puppies Part 2 - 15 Dangerous Myths that Make Puppies Sick
Podcast: Puppies Part 3 - Behaviour, Exercise and Training
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Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. He graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 in the Czech Republic and obtained the Canadian Certificate of Qualification in 1995. He is currently licensed in the European Union, and his unique approach to healing and nutrition helps holistically minded dog lovers worldwide.
Dr. Dobias strongly believes that disease prevention, natural nutrition and supplements, the right exercise and a drug free approach to medicine can add years to your dog's life.
As a formulator of his all-natural vitamin and supplement line and co-inventor of natural, chemical free flea and tick control, FleaHex® and TickHex®, his unique healing system and products currently hold the highest independent five star customer rating. For more information click here.
Any general recommendations that Dr. Dobias makes are not a substitute for the appropriate veterinary care and are for informational and educational purposes only.