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Switching Your Dog to Raw | Advice For Changing Dogs’ Food

This article will help you to navigate the transition to raw dog food.  Alison Frost, canine nutritionist with ProDog, shares guidance on how to make the switch as seamless as possible for both you and your dog.

Alison Frost

Author: Alison Frost

Edited By: Anna Bain

Switching Your Dog to Raw | Advice For Changing Dogs’ Food

Raw food for dogs is finally becoming recognised by many as the most natural, healthy way to feed dogs. New to raw? Then you may like to read the beginner’s guide.

If you’re considering changing your dog’s food to a more species-appropriate, natural diet, you may be wondering what to expect when switching your dog to raw. Let’s start with the basics.

Changing a dog's food | Where to begin

Before you begin the process of switching to raw dog food, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions first. All dogs are different, and you know yours best, so consider these factors before you jump in:

Does your dog have a sensitive stomach?

Dogs on commercial kibble diets frequently have sensitive stomachs due to some ingredients being hard to digest, and hence causing inflammation.

If this is the case for your dog, you may want to take it slowly when transitioning to raw dog food, so as not to upset their tummy further.

You can do this by replacing a small portion of their regular meals with raw, increasing the new and decreasing the old gradually over 7-14 days.

Adding a dog-specific probiotic to their food such as Animotics Probiotic Paste for dogs, will help to support their gut and improve their transition experience.

How old is your dog?

Whilst dogs of any age can gain the benefits of a raw food diet, and successfully transition from kibble to raw, it’s still important to consider their age when making dietary changes. Younger dogs need more food than older dogs, find out how much to feed your dog.

Older dogs may be prescribed medications that affect their tummies and make them more sensitive to change. Senior dogs might require a lighter meats, like chicken, turkey or white fish to begin with, whilst others may be more prone to digestive issues or food intolerances.

Puppies generally transition to a raw diet with ease, but may require a finer mince, and more nutrient dense complete meals, to support their growth and development. See our comprehensive puppy raw feeding guide for more detailed information.

What’s their current diet?

Dogs that have been eating kibble all their lives still often transition to raw dog food without issue, though some will take a bit longer to adjust.

If you’re noticing tummy upsets or other new symptoms after switching, it may mean you need to slow things down temporarily, and potentially add extra digestive support.

ProDog offer excellent products to help with this:

Also, dogs on commercial diets may experience a form of detox, such as vomiting or loose stools before seeing the benefits of raw. This phase is a temporary part of the process for some dogs as the body rids itself of toxins and adjusts to a fresh natural diet.

Do you give them any raw treats now?

If your dog is already eating raw treats, whether human food scraps, raw bones, natural dog treats, or any other version of animal protein-based natural treats, they’ll likely have an easier time transitioning to raw food.

This is because their digestive system will naturally be more acidic, and already used to digesting some high quality natural meat and bone.

Their familiarity with natural food may allow them to transition to a raw food diet with minimum upset.

Are they sensitive/allergic to certain proteins?

Dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities and intolerances, and in rare cases, allergies, which are mainly caused by inappropriate ingredients such as wheat, corn and grains.

However, certain proteins can also be the source of their discomfort. If your dog is sensitive or allergic to any proteins, it’s best avoid these when transitioning to raw dog food, at least to begin with.

Once balance is restored to their gut, you may find that allergies are no longer an issue, but it’s best to play it safe. ProDog’s  team of expert feeding advisors can help you determine which proteins might work best for your sensitive dog

ProDog also offer a novel protein dog food range to help you find protein options which are less common.

Feeling stuck?

Contact ProDog Raw for FREE tailored canine nutrition advice from our expert team
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How to transition from kibble to raw

Some dogs can switch to raw right away with no problem, whilst others require a more gradual transition.

Healthy, younger dogs who generally have no issues with different foods will likely be in the “cold turkey” group. However, if your dog is older, has existing gut issues, or other health concerns, the gradual method is best. It looks something like this:

Days 1-4

Replace a small amount (approximately 10%) of your dog’s current food with raw.

Days 4-10

Gradually increase the amount of raw over several days, decreasing the old food by equal amounts as you go.

Days 10-14

Continue increasing the raw and decreasing the old food until they’re eating all raw.

Switch over 4 days

Alternatively, there’s another way to make the switch that’s not as sudden as the cold turkey method, but faster than the gradual transition:

Day 1

Replace one quarter of your dog’s current food with raw.

Day 2

Replace half of your dog’s current food with raw.

Day 3

Replace three quarters of your dog’s current food with raw.

Day 4

Feed your dog 100% raw food

Keep an eye out for any potential digestive upsets, and consider changing to a new protein if you identify any aversive reactions. Also, with some sensitive dogs, additional supplemental digestive support is beneficial.

We also cover when and how often to feed raw in our article how to feed raw dog food, whilst our storage advice article provides information to help ensure you’re storing your raw dog food safely.

Here’s how the transition to raw dog food looks in practice.

Caroline Spencer, ProDog Raw Canine Behaviourists, talks through the steps in this video.



YouTube video

What to expect when switching to raw

Aside from any short term detox or stomach upsets, you can expect lots of wonderful changes in your dog when transitioning to raw food.

  • Improved gut health
  • Smaller and firmer stools
  • Fresher breath
  • Decreased allergies and sensitivities (to food, environment, and other potential irritants)
  • Healthier skin and coat
  • Increased mobility
  • Even positive behaviour changes are known to happen in raw fed dogs [1]. Their bodies begin to function as they should when fed the way nature intended, and it shows in numerous, wonderful ways.

Get the latest insights the scientific community in our guide to raw dog food research.

The benefits of raw dog food listed around a bowl of delicious raw dog food

What to do if you switch too fast

The potential symptoms of changing dog food too quickly

Dogs’ digestive systems can take time to adjust to new foods, especially with a significant change such as kibble to raw.

This is totally understandable; eating processed foods loaded with fillers and preservatives is a stark difference to real, natural whole foods [2]. Find out more in our guide to raw vs kibble dog food.

Transitioning to raw dog food too quickly may cause your dog to experience constipation or an upset stomach, presenting as either diarrhoea or vomiting (sometimes both).

This usually isn’t anything to be concerned with and is temporary; it should resolve rather quickly after slowing the transition as detailed above.

Steps to take

If you’re anxious to get your canine friend onto raw food and accidentally switch them over too quickly, not to worry.

Go back to the beginning and start the gradual method, increasing slowly over a period of a couple of weeks.

Adding some additional digestive support is also helpful. You might also consider changing their protein if the trouble doesn’t resolve on its own, as it’s possible your dog is sensitive to the one you’ve chosen.

ProDog raw dog food meals include lots of variety to please even the most sensitive of stomachs.

Potential kibble detox symptoms

Once your dog is no longer eating the foods that make them sick, it’s possible that some detox symptoms will appear.

This only happens to a small percentage of dogs, and is usually not serious. It might seem frightening, but stick with it!

Your dog will benefit greatly in the long run. Some potential, temporary detox symptoms include:


This is the most common form of detox in dogs switching to raw, and often resolves quickly. Slow down your transition if you’ve switched too quickly, or offer a different protein (in case they’re sensitive to the one they’re eating).

Offering dog-safe bone broth, like our bone broth for dogs, will help to avoid dehydration and electrolyte loss, and adding a digestion supplement to their diet like those amongst our Digestive supplements range can help, too.

How long will my dog have diarrhoea after switching to raw dog food?

Every dog is different, but usually any diarrhoea that occurs as a result of transitioning to raw will pass within a few days.

If not, you may have switched your dog over too quickly, or they may be sensitive to the protein you’re feeding.

Try slowing down the transition process or offer a gentler, more easily digestible protein like turkey for a while, and see if that makes a difference.

Dry/itchy skin

The skin is the organ through which many toxins are expelled, so your dog may suffer some skin irritation when transitioning to raw food. Keep them hydrated and bathe them with calming, gentle dog soaps like Dermadog’s Itchy Dog Shampoo.

Using natural remedies like Dermadog’s Calm Nourishing Balm on particularly aggravated areas will also help them to remain comfortable until they’re feeling better.

Find out more in our guide to itchy dogs.

Runny eyes/nose

Toxins can also exit the body from your dog’s eyes and nose.

Similar to the excess mucus production that comes with a cold, this is simply their body’s way of expelling what doesn’t belong, now that their systems are beginning to function more normally.

Wiping their eyes/nose with a damp cloth, or something like Leucillin, will prevent any discharge from hardening and potentially making them more uncomfortable.

Being more lethargic than usual

If your dog’s body is hard at work detoxing nasties, it’s possible that they may feel more tired than normal.

Allow them to rest, as they likely need the energy for the detoxification process. Continue to offer them walks and outside time, but don’t worry too much if they’re not interested.

As long as they’re still eating, drinking, and toileting regularly, temporary lethargy isn’t too much of a concern. Always seek medical advice if this goes on longer than a few days.

Is it ok to mix raw with kibble?

picture of a dog ditching the dry food, 2 bowls in front one with raw one with kibble, dog is eating the raw, one of the biggest raw dog food myths is that it's not as safe as kibble and is often recalled. This is false, raw is as safe as any other food and dogs prefer it.

Dogs that are fed on a high-carbohydrate processed diet (namely dried food or kibble) often have more alkaline stomachs than those fed on a predominantly raw meat, high-protein diet.

Because dogs require a strongly acidic stomach to help them break down the bone, muscle, offal and other components of any raw food, it is preferable to not mix raw dog food with dried food.

Moreover, the benefits we look for when feeding our dogs a solely raw diet won’t always be as apparent when mixing the two.

I understand, however, for a number of reasons, that not everyone can feed their dogs only raw. Some common concerns centre on perceived and actual cost (not least for multi- or large- dog households), perceived and actual convenience, as well as travel.

Ultimately, I would rather you feed fresh food than none at all. We bust the myth that raw dog food is expensive here.

However, if you are aware of the potential risks of mixing food types and do have to mix your food types from time to time, I’ve given you some general guidelines to follow to minimise the impact this could have on your dog’s wellbeing:

  • Add raw apple cider vinegar to their food to help maintain a low gut PH for meat and bone digestion, and to ensure all of the food’s minerals are digested and utilised for joint and overall health requirements.Rough guide: one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for toy and small dogs, two teaspoons for small to medium size dogs and one tablespoon per 22kg of bodyweight for larger dog breeds.
  • Add a good probiotic to their food, like Kiki Biotics, to help keep their gut microbiome teaming with good bacteria.As discussed above, probiotics assist in the production of digestive enzymes, which will improve digestion of meat, bone and offal and help with digestion and keeping harmful bacteria at bay.
  • Minimise feeding lots of extra raw meaty bones when combining the two food groups, due to increased risk of bone blockages.

Get more tips in our DIY raw dog food guide.

Helping you switch food with confidence

It’s more than obvious why dogs fare better on the diet nature designed them for. However, humans have become accustomed to feeding their dogs in the most convenient way possible, which isn’t always what’s best for the dog.

Thankfully, feeding raw is more convenient and safer than ever, making it easier for dogs everywhere to get what’s good for them!

On behalf of all of us at ProDog Raw, we thank you for wanting the best for your dog. The transition process can seem like a scary task, but it really doesn’t have to be. We’re here to help in any way we can, simply reach out with your questions.

Switch to raw today

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1. Szakacs, A., Stefanut, L., Matei, S., Borz, B., Macri, A. 2021. Assessment of digestibility and fecal score of raw meat based diet (BARF) in dog feeding. Veterinary Medicine Series.; 64(1):30-34. URI: 20.500.12811/29939

2. Kim, J., An, J., Kim, W., Lee, S., Cho, S. Nov 2017. Differences in the gut microbiota of dogs fed a natural diet or a commercial feed. Gut Pathogens.; 9:68. Doi: 10.1186/s13099-017-0218-5



How long can the dog food last once opened from frozen?

Alison Frost

Hi Alicia – 3-4 days in the fridge. Hope that helps

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