How To Introduce A Dog To Raw Food | ProDog Raw

Switch to Raw Dog Food

Transition To Raw

At ProDog Raw, we pride ourselves on delivering a comprehensive, natural, balanced raw diet for dogs that is expertly formulated to ensure your dog gets the absolute best in canine nutrition. Our mission is to provide your dog with an ethical, premium grade, varied menu covering the complete nutritional spectrum, and to help you introduce this exceptional raw diet successfully and without fuss and disruption.

Make the Switch to a Raw Food Diet

When it comes to making the transition to raw dog food, there are two ways that it can be undertaken. Firstly, there is the rapid switch where you fast the dog for a full 24 hours and then introduce the new raw food. This type of switch is recommended for young dogs or those with a normal gastrointestinal system.

The other option, which is a more gentle approach and can help avoid stomach upsets if your dog as a more delicate gut, or if your dog is more particular about change, is a slower switch. There are a number of reasons why this is often a preferred method:

  1. Your dog’s digestive system requires different enzymes to break down a high protein, raw meat and bone diet to those needed to break down a high carbohydrate processed diet (such as kibble). The pancreas needs time to adapt to both the amount and type of enzymes that it produces for this type of change in diet.
  2. The gut flora (the good bacteria produced in the digestive tract) is different for dogs fed on a predominantly meat and bone diet, compared with a high starch and carbohydrate based diet such as kibble. It can take several weeks for this gut flora to re-stabilise following a major diet change. These good gut bacteria are responsible for the production of certain key nutrients and are also for the production of gas in the bowel.
  3. The PH of the stomach is generally higher, containing more alkaline in dogs that are fed on a high carbohydrate processed diet compared with dogs fed on a predominantly raw meat, high protein diet which results in a strong acid stomach. A dog fed a diet that nature intended will have stomach acids so strong that they would actually burn the flesh off your fingers. This helps them to break down the bone, muscle, offal and other components of the raw food that they would naturally hunt and kill in the wild.
  4. In addition to the process of digestion being different, the speed at which different foods are digested is also different. Meat and bone are digested a lot faster than carbohydrate based, processed foods.

How to Introduce ProDog Raw to Your Dog

Day 1

Start by substituting 10% of the old food for 10% of ProDog Raw. If you feed two meals a day, make sure you repeat the process. As an option for the first raw that you introduce, our chicken with green tripe is an excellent meal to start with. It is very easy for a dog to digest and contains all of the nutrients that they require as well as probiotics for added protection.

Day 2 (onwards)

Increase the amount of raw food that you introduce each day by a further 10-15% until you have achieved a full transition. Ideally this process should take around 7-10 days.

If at any stage, your dog has a loose stool, reduce the amount of raw food for two-three days, stabilising the stool and then proceed to steadily increase the raw food amounts.

Include a Probiotic

For the first month of feeding raw, digestive enzymes and probiotics can be added to the food. This is especially good for those dogs that may have dietary issues or that are prone to diarrhoea or constipation. A good probiotic like Animotics will promote the gut flora in the digestive tract and help to strengthen the digestive system.

If your pet is elderly or dealing with any complex chronic disease e.g. end stage cancers, animals on antacids or high levels of immune-suppressive drug therapy, then we would not recommend you begin the transition on to a raw diet without expert help. Please call our team for assistance here should it be required.

Introducing Treats and Bones

For any dog that has never eaten raw meat before, we recommend allowing a month to adjust to their new diet before introducing any additional treats or bones. This will allow the gut to stabilise and adapt to handling the breakdown of bone in their new raw meat and bone diet. Most of our meals already contain approximately 10% ground bone so adding more bones could lead to constipation.

Dogs need to learn how to chew bones. When introducing a bone to an adult dog that has never learnt how to handle carcasses it is better to give a bone with sinew and fascia attached in larger pieces that cannot be swallowed whole e.g. Duck Carcass. The dogs learn to use their back teeth to crush and break down the bone before swallowing

Possible Outcomes of Switching to Raw

Many dogs make the switch to raw without any noticeable effects however the following can occur:

What if My Dog Refuses to Eat?

If the dog refuses the raw meal when you put it down, don’t worry. This can happen when introducing a new food with a new smell and texture. Don’t give up! A dog can survive without any ill effects with no food for a week. Put the food down and if they don’t eat, lift it after 15-20 minutes and refrigerate, then try again at the next meal time. Keep trying until they eat it. Don’t be tempted to feed anything else especially treats! If a refusal lasts for longer than 48 hours, please call one of the team who will be happy to help or read "Help My Dog’s Gone Off Raw" for further information.

Regurgitation

If your dog regurgitates their food then don’t be alarmed. This is a natural process that occurs because the dog was expecting their normal diet and has prepared the wrong stomach enzymes for digestion. They will usually eat it again once regurgitated which, while not the most pleasant of things to witness, is also perfectly normal. This can also be caused by dogs eating their raw too fast so consider a slow feeder bowl or licky mat to slow them down.

Another possible reaction is runny stools for a day or so as they start to detox the elements of their former processed diet/adapt to the change. You can reduce the amount of raw you introduce for a few days until this settles down.

Weight loss

There are a few reasons why a dog can lose weight when switching to a raw diet. It can be that they are not receiving enough food which will simply be rectified by increasing the amount you give them or that their system is not used to processing and digesting the new food. Try a different switching technique if this happens. Also, at times dogs initially lose the water content they hold from stopping a carbohydrate-rich diet (kibble). This appears to look like a sudden drop in weight and a trimmer waist line appearing. This is due to water loss so don’t be alarmed and trust the feeding guides.

Can I continue to feed dry dog food?

We do not advocate feeding raw on top of processed feed ongoing due to the differing ways and speed the diets are digested (as highlighted above), as this may compromise your dog's digestion. If you feed a high carbohydrate food (kibble) alongside a high protein diet, any excess calories will be readily converted to fat and thus can lead to obesity. Once you make the switch to raw, you should discontinue feeding kibble or any other processed diet.

Questions & Answers

As with any element of raw feeding, the team at ProDog Raw are experts in canine nutrition and are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Simply get in touch and we will be happy to help.