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Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food

Transitioning Your Dog To Raw Food Barkin Bistro

Congratulations! You have decided to transition your dog to a “species appropriate” raw diet. You need a pat on the back! Dogs evolved to eat raw meat, bone, offal, and some partially digested plant matter. Your dog will be much happier, healthier, more energetic and possibly experience a lot fewer visits to the vet.

One of the many reasons that raw feeding is growing so quickly is that owners are seeing a massive difference in their dog’s health and wellbeing. Not only do their dogs change the smell,  yes, they really do! A dog that eats a raw diet smells entirely different from a dog eating kibble, plus their coats are shiny, skin is healthy and fewer dogs who eat a raw diet have dental problems as raw meat does not stick to their teeth as kibble does and the myth of biscuits cleaning a dog’s teeth is wrong! Would you give a child a biscuit before bedtime and think they had clean teeth?!

Depending on the age of your dog and any health problems,  they may have, it is sensible to spend a week or so making the transition. Some dogs can change their diet overnight and will have no issues, whereas others may experience some detoxification depending on the diet they have eaten and for how long.

In this case, think about how you would feel if you had eaten highly processed foods for months or years, and then switched to salads, organic cooked meats, vegetables and a lot less sugar and carbohydrates! You would probably feel quite unwell to start with, but this would change over time, and your energy levels would drastically improve.

Raw food is digested differently from processed food, so it is essential to make the changes slowly. Dry food swells in the gut, whereas raw food does not. Most raw food has no fillers or unnecessary carbohydrates your dog does not require for good health.

Here are some tips to help transition your dog to a raw diet:

  • The transition should ideally be gradual. Try adding some raw food to your dog’s current bowl of food and see how your dog reacts to it – just a tablespoon at a time for a large dog and a teaspoon for a small dog.
  • Add an extra spoonful of raw food to each meal, reducing the dry food until it is completely raw.
  • Try adding a raw organic egg as an addition, they are great for your pup, full of protein, and most dogs love eggs. 2 -4 eggs per week.
  • Adding some lightly cooked leafy green veg can help if the raw diet does not have any in it. These vegetables (especially the leafy green variety) can help manipulate the diet’s fat and protein content and add some great vitamins and minerals. Steaming is better as boiling removes some valuable nutritional content. Avoid microwaves as they kill all nutrient values in food.
  • Try adding some “in-season fruits” such as blackberries which are abundant at the moment, is another excellent way of adding extra nutritional value to your dog’s diet, and most dogs enjoy blackberries (plus they are free).
  • Psyllium husk is a great addition and worth having at all times. It is a natural fibre that is totally harmless, and can be helpful when making the change. It helps with dogs who may experience diarrhoea or constipation. Just sprinkle a little (half a teaspoon for small dogs and a teaspoon for larger pups) into their food for a few weeks until they are entirely transitioned to raw.
  • Some dogs may need some digestive enzymes to help digest raw food if they are not used to it.
  • Raw bones should never be cooked (as we know) but if your dog is particularly fussy or suspicious of the new food, quickly flash frying is safe and brings out the delicious new smells, which may help tempt your pup to eat the fresh food.
  • Adding a few broken up fish skins, dried liver or kidney crumbs is also a great way to tempt fussy eaters to try new foods.
  • Don’t be concerned if your pup drinks less water. Raw food is approximately 70% water naturally (not added), so your dog is getting hydration from the raw food. Many people worry about this as a dry-fed dog drinks a lot of water for obvious reasons.
  • You may be surprised about the amount of poop you will pick up! It is about a quarter of what you will be used to (when the change to raw food is complete). This is because there are very few carbohydrates in raw food, which dogs do not need as they get their energy from the protein in meat.

Raw-feeding people constantly talk about poop – sorry! It is a great fact that what comes out of the other end of your dog is so much smaller and does not smell as bad as highly processed diets. Picking up poo bags becomes totally different and is not nearly as unpleasant!

Keep an eye out for white poop as this may indicate the bone content is a little high, and black poop may indicate the offal content is too high.

Every dog is different and reacts to changes in diet just as we would as humans, so just check there are no changes that give you any concerns.

Hygiene – How to handle raw food

This is a highly spoken-about subject and can be very controversial. As we know, a dog’s digestive system is designed to eat raw meat and bones. Think about a lion in the wild and how they eat and survive on a diet that is certainly not processed! The acids in a dog’s stomach are so strong they would burn your finger if touched!

Applying sensible hygiene is really important and the same applies when handling any meat products you use for your family.

Interestingly, there are more recalls from dry diets regarding hygiene than raw diets.

Folk who feed a dry diet are less likely to wash the dog bowl!

  • Keep raw meat in a sealed Tupperware tub in the fridge.
  • Stainless steel or ceramic bowls are the safest to use with raw food as plastic bowls can scratch, and this can increase bacteria growing in the crevices.
  • Defrost the raw food in the fridge or leave it in a cool place to defrost (this can take up to 24 hours).
  • Raw food kept in the fridge lasts for up to 2-3 days.
  • When you handle raw meat, wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. If concerned, you can use gloves.
  • When your dog has finished eating, wash the bowl with warm soapy water and rinse well.
  • Clean any surfaces with warm soapy water to remove any bacteria.