Transitioning a Dog or Puppy to a Raw Food Diet!
26 June, 2017
By Kimberly Gauthier, Dog Nutrition Blogger for Keep the Tail Wagging
3 Ways to Transition a Dog to a Raw Food Diet
Many people new to raw feeding believe that we have to transition our dogs slowly to raw. If you have a healthy dog, you can switch to raw immediately; some suggest fasting your dog for one day first. However, if you are raising a dog with a history of gut issues, if you’re still unsure about raw feeding, or are concerned about the cost – you can always transition slowly.
1 – Feed Partial Raw, Partial Kibble
I don’t subscribe to the theory that mixing raw dog food with kibble is okay; I found that the mix of the two made my dogs sick. Some believe that kibble digests slower than raw, which results in the raw decomoxing in the gut. Others believe that the pH of the gut is different on a raw diet than it is on a kibble diet. Whatever the case, my dog vomited all over an area rug after eating a meal mixed with raw and kibble.
We fed our dogs raw in the morning and kibble in the evening until we were out of kibble. This allowed our dogs to get used to eating raw and it allowed us to work out any kinks to feeding raw (ordering, thawing, budget, etc.).
2 – Feed Premade Raw Dog Food
I started our dogs on premade raw provided by Darwin’s Pet. This allowed me to feed a balanced, healthy raw diet from a reputable source, giving me the time research raw, sourcing, and planning my budget for DIY raw.
While this is the easiest way to start, it’s also the most expensive.
3 – Make an Abrupt Change
When we picked up Scout and Zoey, they went from eating kibble in the morning to raw in the evening and they loved their food. Many raw feeders transition abruptly, often allowing a day to fast prior to promote elimination of toxins in the system.
Transitioning a Puppy or Senior to Raw Dog Food
If you’re considering transitioning a puppy or a senior dog to raw, I recommend working with a holistic vet to discuss all of your concerns. I transitioned 6 week old puppies with no issues. I have not transitioned a senior dog to raw dog food.
A few thing I learned about transitioning a dog to raw…
- Raw bones – I worry that puppy teeth are too soft to gnaw on bones and a senior dog may have bad teeth; therefore I stick with smaller items like cartilage (which I can buy through our co-op), duck necks, or duck feet. When a puppy’s adult teeth come in, I will introduce him/her to recreational bones (bones used mainly to clean teeth and satisfy a dog’s chew drive).
- Organ meat – organ meat can be too rich for some dogs and should be gradually added to their diet over several weeks (or longer). Too much too soon can lead to explosive diarrhea. This wasn’t my experience when feeding premade raw; only DIY raw.
- How much to feed – puppies are fed 10% of their current body weight or 3% of their estimated body weight. Adult dogs are fed based on if they need to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain a current weight. A holistic veterinarian experienced in raw feeding can help you prepare a raw diet that will meet your dog’s needs at various life stages.
5 Things NOT to Do When Transitioning to Raw
1 – DON’T feed your dog only one cut of meat – a balanced raw food diet is 80/10/5/5 – 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% offal, and 5% liver. You can gradually add offal, liver, and alternative proteins to their dog’s diet. Feeding one cut of meat – chicken thighs or ground beef – for an extended period of time isn’t recommended and can lead to malnourishment.
2 – DON’T accept raw recipes from strangers – while there are lots of people ready to help you, do your homework before trying a recipe. What works for one dog may not work for your dog. If a recipe is overly complicated, then it’s not a good transition recipe.
3 – DON’T feed your dog cooked bones – If your dog isn’t interested in eating recreational bones or raw meaty bones, then you can grind them in their meal (I feed ground raw) and give your dogs bully sticks and a host of other chews that are safe or dogs. Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage that can be fatal.
4 – DON’T switch to raw feeding on a whim – if you’re still feeding a kibble diet, you can add fresh vegetables, sardines and mussels, and bone brothbone broth to your dog’s diet to make it healthier. You can transition to premade raw dog food. This allows you to improve your dog’s diet while giving you the time to research what your dog needs, where to source your ingredients, and anything else you need to know about feeding your dog a raw diet.
5 – DON’T allow others to scare you away – whether it’s a veterinarian, an experience raw feeder, or your parents, don’t allow others to scare you away from feeding your dog a better diet. Instead, patiently explain your choice and remember that your dog counts on you to be his/her advocate. Do your best for your best friend.
About the Author: Kimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding and dog nutrition. Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore.
Like this article, than we’re sure you will want to read this article: Feeding Raw to Puppies and Seniors