Switching Your Dog to Raw Food – What are Your Options?
You may have heard about many of the benefits of raw feeding and have decided to make the switch with your dog and take advantage of them. If you have done plenty of research and have decided to feed your dog raw, you may be wondering how to do it safely and in a way that your pooch is going to enjoy. After all, you don’t want to make any drastic changes to their routine or do something that ends up doing more harm than good to their health and wellbeing. Thankfully, there are plenty of transition options available and it’s easier than you think to find a route that will work for your lifestyle, schedule, needs and, most importantly, your dog.
You know that a raw food diet will have many benefits for your dog, but how do you switch them off kibble with minimal hassle? The key here is to understand that raw food does not have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to it. There are several options you may find work better for your dog than others.
1. A Clean Switch:
In some cases, it’s easier and less stressful to simply make a clean switch over from kibble to raw feeding. If you decide to go down this route, you are best giving your dog their normal kibble or wet food for their evening meal and then starting on a raw food diet the next morning.
For most dogs, this approach works well, and it’s quick and easy for you too. You can find more information on making the switch to raw feeding dogs at Bella & Duke. Bella & Duke are a trusted provider of raw dog foods, and they sell pre-prepared, pre-packaged raw meals that you can buy in bulk and freeze, and are designed to make sure that your dog is getting everything that they need.
Simply switching over is the simplest and easiest way of doing things. However, it’s important to ensure that your dog is suited for a quick change of diet. If not, they could end up suffering from issues like digestive distress or diarrhoea. It is best suited to young dogs and puppies, and you should only use this approach if you are confident that your dog can handle it. If you are not sure, then it might be a wise idea to find a good vet who supports raw feeding and take your dog for a check-up before you make the switch to ensure that they are likely to be OK with it. The good news is that most dogs will be fine.
2. Gradual Switching:
Your other option is to make a gradual switch to feeding raw dog food. For the majority of dogs who need this slower transition, it will typically take around 1-2 weeks. However, this can vary depending on your dog, so don’t be alarmed if it takes you anything up to a few months to completely switch your dog over to raw feeding. Some dogs have very sensitive GI tracts, and changing from one food to another can cause stomach upset, so go as slowly as your dog needs you to.
It’s also important to bear in mind that your dog may have been eating grain-based, carb-filled foods for quite a long time. Not only can these types of typical dog foods be harder to digest, but they are very different to raw food. Dogs on processed diets tend to have a higher risk of a weakened immune system, poor gut bacteria, and suppressed digestive enzymes – so it’s no surprise that it might take them a little extra time to get used to eating raw. If you lived on a diet of McDonald’s and suddenly started eating fresh vegetables for every meal, your body would probably need a little time to adjust too.
3. Switching With Treats:
The ‘treat first’ transition gives you the option to switch your dog over to a raw diet quickly, but without suddenly replacing their regular diet with it. To use this transition for your dog, begin by introducing the new raw food as a treat while continuing to feed them their regular diet. Keep your eye on their behaviour and the condition of their poop. Over the next few days, increase the number of raw food treats that you give while continuing to monitor your dog. Do this for as long as you feel necessary, and if their poop remains normal, stop feeding the old food and switch to raw food permanently.
This ‘treat first’ approach is a very simple method of switching to raw food and is also ideal for anyone who is concerned about their dog suffering from stomach upset due to a change in diet. However, since you will be changing over from giving raw food treats to full meals eventually, the potential for stomach upset and digestive problems are still there. This approach is best suited for young, healthy dogs and puppies.
4. Combining Foods:
This combined transition phase means that you will offer your dog both types of food at the same time. Start off with just a small amount of raw food, and each day offer less kibble and more raw food until your dog is eating fully raw meals. The best part of transitioning your dog this way is that you can adjust the ratios based on your individual dog and what they need. For example, you might want to start by feeling just 1/8th of the new food on the first day along with 7/8ths of the old food and continue increasing it in small increments as the week goes on. The more sensitive your dog is, the less of the new food you should introduce at a time.
This way of transitioning to feeding your dog raw is ideal because it helps to reduce stomach upset by getting your dog used to their new food gradually. It is also a good choice for dogs that refuse to eat raw food if you try to switch them over in one go since the food is being mixed into the kibble that they are already familiar with. However, it’s worth considering that this method can take some extra time to achieve since it will require measuring out and mixing the food at each mealtime. It is suitable for all dogs but particularly useful for older dogs or dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
5. Separate Meals:
If you don’t want to combine kibble and raw foods in the same dish, another option would be to feed your dog the two foods at the same time, but in separate meals. Use the same breakdown as you would in the above method but give them to your dog at different times of the day rather than in the same bowl at the same mealtime.
This option is ideal for anybody who wants to reduce the chance of stomach upset in their dog but is worried about the prospect of feeding raw and kibble together. Again, it can take more time due to the need to measure and prepare the food.
Which of these methods do you think will be most suitable for switching your dog to raw food?