Saying goodbye to kibble may be easy enough for you. But, how do you transition your beloved beagle or chipper Chihuahua to a raw food diet? In this guide, you will learn 5 easy ways for transitioning dog to raw diet.
Options for Transitioning Dog to Raw Diet:
OPTION 1: Cold Turkey/Quick Switch
This method is comparable to our human New Year’s resolutions. We throw out all the chips, crackers and soda and make the cold turkey switch and eat kale, beets and brown rice. The results can be mixed. When you live on junk food, your digestive system adapts to deal with the processed starches and flours it has grown used to. The same is true for dogs. If they are older and used to kibble, they may suffer from digestive or even familiarity issues if forced to go cold turkey.
Dogs, too, may need a little time to adapt for the following reasons:
- Your dog’s system has become used to the processed grain and other garbage they have been eating.
- He or she may have insufficient digestive bacteria and enzymes.
- They may also have a compromised immune system.
That said, real food may be a bit tricky to digest until your darling’s internal environment improves. This isn’t anything to worry about – a few days of loose stools is perfectly normal and will pass quickly.
We at Doggone Real recommend the cold turkey method or quick switch over 1-2 days only for puppies or very young dogs. They have healthier digestive systems and are less prone to diarrhea, constipation or other digestive problems.
OPTION 2: Gentle Transition
This involves introducing raw foods to your dog’s diet over a week (or longer, if needed). It generally takes an adult dog 7-10 days for its gastric acidity to be restored to normal, healthy levels. This method can greatly reduce or avoid digestive issues.
You have choices about how to proceed, based on your dog’s age and overall health. People with older dogs or dogs with digestive issues should choose a longer transition period to help avoid digestive upset.
OPTION 3: The Treat Swap (Transition dog to raw diet time: 7 days)
Another method for how to transition your dog to a raw diet is the ‘Treat Swap’. This is a good choice for puppies, young dogs and adult dogs in good health. Little raw ground beef or ground turkey “meatballs” work great.
Day 1: Start with adding a few raw treats and see how your dog reacts and if stools are solid.
Days 2-4: Increase the number of raw treats that you give them pulling back on their old food just a bit and keep examining stool quality.
Days 5-6: If stools are solid, replace a kibble meal with a raw food meal.
Day 7: If stools remain solid, replace all food with raw foods.
OPTION 4: The Combo Swap (Time to transition your dog to a raw diet: 5-7 days)
This is a good option for all dogs, especially older dogs and those with digestive issues. If your dog eats two smaller meals instead of one big one, adjust each serving accordingly. In this method, you are essentially swapping old food for new food in a gradual progression. Think of it as pieces of a pie.
- Replace roughly 10-15% of old food with raw food
- Double the amount of raw – Replace 25% of old food with raw food
- Again double the raw amount – Serve a combo of half old food with half raw food (50%/50%)
- Serve 75% raw food and 25% old food
- Serve approximately 85%-90% raw and 10%-15% old food
- Treat your dog to 100% raw food!
- This is just a guide and the transition can be slowed down to extend over 7-10 days or longer if desired. The point is for it to be a gradual change and for you watch how your dog responds to the change (digestion, stools, etc.).
- You can separate these servings into separate meals if you prefer. Use the same proportions, but feed your dog its old food in the morning and the raw food portion in the evening to get its system adjusted over the course of the week.
- We transitioned our 12-year-old dog this way and she actually would have preferred it went faster. After the first day or so of transitioning her, the raw food was all she would eat. She devoured the raw and left the dry food untouched in the bowl. That spoke volumes.
OPTION 5: The Cooked for Raw Swap (Transition time: 5 days)
Our last method for transitioning dog to raw diet is a good option for older dogs, dogs used to cooked meats, and dogs with chronic health issues or weak immune systems. If your dog is very old, has GI disease or other issues, you can delay the time to transition based on your pet’s stools and overall reaction. Cooking should be restricted to raw meat. NEVER COOK BONES.
If your dog has digestive issues, stay with each step until its stools normalize.
- Cook raw food until it is fully cooked, or “well done.”
- Serve “medium”. Cook raw food ¾ of the way.
- Cook raw food halfway, or “medium rare.”
- Serve “rare”. Cook food ¼ of the way.
- Serve it raw.
General Parameters for Transitioning Dog to Raw Diet and What to Watch For
- Fast first – Fast your dog for 24-hours before you start any transition to raw as this will help detox their digestive system and ensure that they are hungry.
- Eliminate the typical treats during the transition process.
- Raw progression should be to start with raw ground meat, then move to muscle meat with bones such as a raw chicken leg or thigh and then move into organ meat.
- Watch their stools. These should change for the better and get smaller and firmer as the dog’s body absorbs more of the wholesome and nutritious raw food and has less bad waste to eliminate. You may also see a slimy film around the stool which is ok as this is evidence of the dog’s body cleansing and eliminating toxins.
Raw Food Calculator
Perfectly Rawsome has a great calculator to offer more specific breakouts for how much muscle meat, bones and organ meat your dog should be eating daily.
It’s not hard to transition and feed your wonderful, faithful dog the food it loves and deserves. Join the raw food revolution today for many healthier, happier tomorrows…for both you and your dog. Click To Tweet
Other Raw Feeding Resources: