Nutrition for a Puppy to Thrive

“Honey, why can’t you enjoy a calm home?” asked my husband, after I texted him a picture of a golden retriever puppy that I had to adopt.

Our Five Dogs’ crew is changing rapidly. I try to find comfort knowing our senior dogs we recently lost are playing together in the meadows at the rainbow bridge, but I still had a void in my heart from losing my senior pups.  I needed to fill the void with another rescued pup. And when this adorable golden retriever puppy at the shelter was put on my surgery table for neutering, I immediately knew he was going to join our pack. What better excuse could there be than to adopt a puppy as a loyal companion to grow up with my two toddlers! Hence, Woody was brought home.

By adopting an eight-week-old puppy, I was, in a sense, also conducting my own food trial. All of our dogs are already fed a balanced and complete raw, fresh homemade diet, but unfortunately I only started feeding my dogs these meals three years ago, after having fed them a “big name” highly processed, prescription dry food for over ten years of their lives. Until changing their diets, I blindly believed what I was taught in vet school about “healthy meals,” but now I get to feed fresh homemade meals from the start with this fella! And I am positive that he will THRIVE with this proper nutrition. Nutrition, no matter what the age of the dog, is vital, and nutrition impacts the quality and quantity of their lives. And, the best part: We, as pet owners, have complete control over this. Now knowing what the right path is, Woody will have the best start in life, simply by providing him with proper nutrition.

Yes, it is more expensive to feed your dogs a fresh, homemade diet with added supplements, but I strongly believe that you either pay for nutrition now, or you pay your veterinarian later. And, yes, I’m saying this as a veterinarian, because of my own experiences I witnessed from changing our dogs’ diets from a processed kibble to a complete and balanced raw diet. As for the complete and balanced part, I, even as a veterinarian, would find it extremely difficult to formulate a diet from scratch for my dogs. I personally rotate Dr. Harvey’s dehydrated base mixes (Paradigm, Raw Vibrance and Canine Health), and I add in my own high-quality, pasture-raised, grass-fed and humanely raised proteins, along with organic, unrefined oils. I rotate Dr. Harvey’s base mixes, proteins and oils because variety is key to well-balanced diets.

As far as supplements, if I were to pick my top two, for not only my puppy, but for all of our dogs, it would be Dr. Harvey’s Solaris and Imperial’s Deer Velvet.

Dr. Harvey’s Solaris is a twice-daily whole food supplement that is packed full of organic healing mushrooms (balances body’s response to immune system), organic astragalus (super herb), organic wheat grass (a living anti-bacterial food that helps detox the body) and organic turmeric (a food high in anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).

Imperial Deer Velvet is one of my biggest nutritional takeaways from attending the 2019 American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association conference. Several out of the 30+ traditional uses for deer velvet coincide with puppy health, including promoting growth, improving mental development, protecting joints/bones and strengthening immunity. A main priority of mine is to protect Woody’s joints and bones from the start as he is a large-breed dog with genetics that predispose him to orthopedic issues, including hip dysplasia. And, with Imperial Deer Velvet, there are no known interactions with other drugs. That is huge! (Promo Code: VetJulia for 10% off, of course, after discussing with your veterinarian).

Added extras for Woody’s meals are Organic Good Culture, Whole Milk Cottage Cheese and Organic Lifeway Plain, Whole Milk Kefir. My philosophy for my dogs’ meals are that the animals used in their meals are treated humanely while they are raised, and this doesn’t stop with just the main proteins I add to their meals. That is why I chose Good Culture for their cottage cheese and Lifeway for their Kefir, as their products are derived from humanely raised animals.

Organic Good Culture, Whole Milk Cottage Cheese is an excellent way to also add live and active cultures and protein in Woody’s diet, however, moderation is key. Since Good Culture is derived from (pasture-raised) whole milk, I used one teaspoon at first to make sure Woody didn’t have any allergies to dairy products . I slowly increased his amount, and now I use one tablespoon per 10 pounds body weight daily.

I also add Organic Lifeway Plain, Whole Milk Kefir for Woody (and all my dogs) at one teaspoon per five pounds body weight daily. Kefir is packed full of many nutrients, including protein, calcium and 12 live and active probiotic cultures. The benefits of these good bacteria help support our five dogs’ immunity and a healthy digestive system. Kefir is high in calcium, so I am careful to not include too much kefir to throw off our five dogs’ calcium: phosphorus ratio, especially since Dr. Harvey’s base mixes contain calcium. Another great aspect of kefir is that it is 99% lactose free, so if I did have a dog that was allergic to lactose, I would still be able to use kefir.

Another tidbit is that I feed Woody three times a day, so I can break up his meals in smaller portions since puppies’ stomachs are small. I simply divide his daily amount by three.

I’m excited to see what a handsome and healthy boy Woody will grow-up to be. I do know this: that I am giving him the best chance possible not only to live, but to thrive.


After contacting Dr. Harvey’s to share the physical and mental health benefits that I witnessed after switching my dogs’ diets to Paradigm, Dr. Harvey’s has since given me free products from their lines of food, supplements, treats, and grooming essentials for my honest feedback. Dr. Harvey’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

After hearing a lecture on Deer Velvet at the 2019 AHVMA conference, I contacted Imperial LTD. Since then, we have formed a collaboration where I get free products as a result of promoting their product line, which is easy for me since I do truly stand behind their products.

Our Five Dogs has also formed a collaboration with Lifeway and Good Culture, and I have received products as part of this collaboration. I had been using these product lines for my pups’ meals before we were in contact, and am thrilled with this opportunity.

All opinions expressed about the aforementioned companies, in this and any other article I post may not represent the thoughts or opinions of the affiliated companies.

In no way is this post or any other post intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Yes, I am a veterinarian, but I am not your pets’ veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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