Cote d'Azur, France
Changing your dog’s diet to a raw food diet shouldn’t be difficult. This guide should make it as easy as possible for you. Most dogs transition to raw food very easily. Whether you are switching from kibble, wet food or cooked food, you should see a clean plate within seconds.
How to prepare
It is important to make a plan.
Connect with people who feed raw but also who has done the switch to raw.
Decide if you buy a commercial raw food or you prepare meals at home and get enough supplies.
It is very important to provide a balanced diet which includes lean meat, organ meat, bone and fat.
You can either follow a proven recipe when doing raw as DYI or choose a supplier who offers so called complete meals.
If you transition from dry food it is advised to bring down the PH of your dog's stomach by adding Applea Cider Vinegar to your dog's food for few days prior to the switch. Any sort of probiotics (Goat milk kefir, fermented vegetables or commercial supplement) are also a great option.
2 Ways to Transition
1. The Straight Swap
Keep it simple. I suggest a straight swap. Feed your dog the last meal of their old food the night before, leave it 20 hours and make the switch to raw food the following day.
I recommend to provide half portion and increase the next day.
I highly recommend to introduce lean meat only for first few days and follow up with organ meat and bone.
It is also recommended to start with a single protein and build up from there.
2. Phase It In
For some dogs, a move directly and instantly onto raw can be challenging. It all depends on your dog’s current state of health. Instead of an immediate switch, you can start slowly.
Offer raw as a treat for the first few days and slowly build up. See how they respond and monitor their behaviour over a longer period of time.
I do not recommend to mix kibble and raw meat. Instead you can split daily feed to 2-3 meals a day and introduce small amount of raw.
How Much Raw Food to Feed Your Dog
For an adult dog, we advise feeding them, on average, 2% to 3% of their ideal weight per day. Some need a little less and some need more. You must also take into consideration your dog’s size, their energy levels, how active they are and how stressed they may be.
What to Expect When Transitioning to Raw
Drinking Less Water
You will find that your dog drinks less water on a raw diet. Their water requirements will decrease due to the abundance of natural fluid within raw food. There is also less salt and dry carbohydrates. Though it may initially seem that your dog has gone off drinking, rest assured this is all perfectly natural.
On a kibble diet, dogs drink large amounts of water. The dry carbs especially need hydrating before digestion can begin. Water is drawn from your dog’s system to make this happen.
By the way, the best water for your dogs is filtered tap water or rainwater, not mineral water.
Benefits of a Raw Diet
Happy healthy hounds from the inside out.
You will start to notice major changes in your dog with a raw dog food diet:
Their Poo will be more compact, well-formed and firmer – Everything you Need to Know About Dog Poo
More enthusiastic at mealtimes
Energy levels will be normalised and better balanced
Calmer and less reactive – More on How to Calm Your Dog Down
Detox Side Effects of Raw Dog Food
You will no doubt have read about the immeasurable benefits of feeding your dog a raw or raw dry diet. In this section, we cover some minor side effects that can happen when you change your dog’s food from highly processed food to raw, natural food. Please remember these symptoms are relatively rare and almost always short-lived.
The Top Symptoms:
Itchy Skin – What Causes Itchy Skin & How to Deal With It
These symptoms are probably some of the many reasons you are switching to raw dog food. They present themselves very rarely (in extreme cases they can get a little worse before they get better).
Some people refer to this as detoxification, others a healing crisis and others still “a Herxscheimer reaction.”
This can suddenly happen as your dog’s digestive tract gets used to the new, nutrient-dense, natural food. We believe it is down to 2 reasons –
The previously fed processed food is much higher in sugar & starch which can feed certain bad bacteria. When these bacteria are ‘starved’ on the new raw diet, they die and release some of their own toxins, creating some discomfort while the dog expels them
We suspect that it takes a little time for your dog to recalibrate its optimal stomach acid
How best to avoid this? Try adding a half teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to each meal or some pet-specific digestive enzymes.
It’s the same story here as it is with diarrhoea. Methane-producing bad bacteria can slow the digestive time of your dog, especially as the bacteria die off. Constipation can also be made worse as your dog moves from the ‘high filler content’ found in processed food, to a lower volume, nutrient-dense meal. How best to avoid this? Try adding some additional grated carrots and a quarter teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
This is far less dramatic than it sounds and happens rarely. Some vets suspect this is because dogs are producing lots of stomach acid to digest their new raw meals. This will soon adjust.
How best to avoid this? Ensure plenty of water is on hand and stay calm. Serve food at room temperature, or drizzle with bone broth or warm water.
I know! But don't worry it will go soon. When your dog’s digestion is adapting, they can release some of the bad bacteria smells that are dying off via their breath. This can also be because they are not yet producing enough stomach acid and food is fermenting rather than being digested. It should soon pass.
How best to avoid this? Try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or probiotics to each meal and or some pet-specific digestive enzymes .
This is one of the main reasons that many transfer to a raw diet. Rest assured you are making the right choice! Some itchy skin symptoms may get worse before they get better. The bad bacteria in your dog’s guts dies off and is excreted via their skin as well as their stool. The skin is a clever detoxification organ and helps your dog get rid of unwanted toxins as soon as possible.
How best to avoid this? Improving your dog’s digestion with the above suggestion of apple cider vinegar and some digestive enzymes will accelerate this process!
Great Additions To Help Your Dog Switch
Probiotics, the good bacteria protects the lining of stomach and intestine. It helps with digestion.
Psyllium Husk Powder, a soluble fibre which is great to help reduce any inflammation.
Gently Steamed, Pureed Vegetables, along with the minced raw ones found in our meals are fantastic for getting extra fibre into your dog’s diet. In the wild, carnivores are constantly ingesting masses of fur, skin and hair that increase their fibre intake
Tips on Defrosting
Defrost the Bella and Duke meal in the fridge for 24 hours
Serve the raw food at room temperate.
The food will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days once defrosted
What to Do If Your Dog Won’t Eat the Food
If your dog walks away from their new food, make no fuss and take the food away. By walking away, your dog has told you they are not hungry. You can be rest assured they won’t starve themselves
The next mealtime, try briefly flash-frying the food then use the opportunist method (flick pieces of food onto the floor and let your dog scavenge.
(Please note, with flash-frying, you are not cooking the food. The aim is to release some lovely smelling juices in order to entice your dog to eat.
Try adding bone broth to their meal too, the aromas will be too much to resist.