Switching Your Pet to Raw Diet

Unlike cats, Dogs are generally easier to transition to raw pet food. However, there are some considerations to take into account that may affect their health and comfort while switching from one type of food to the other.

If you haven’t done so already, start by splitting your dog’s feeding schedule into morning and afternoon meals. Introduce the raw dog food during either the afternoon or morning meal, in small amounts. NEVER mix the raw pet food with commercial pet food, since the digestion periods are significantly different.

During walks with your dog, inspect your pet’s feces. The quality of your dog’s feces is a direct indication of how well their body is handling the transition from the old diet to the raw food diet. If the feces is formed and firm, then it is safe to increase the amount of raw pet food in their diet.

Be sure to feed your dog a variety of raw food. Switch up their diet and include a wide variety of animal parts, as well as red and white meats. You may also consider including dietary supplements and cold-pressed fish-oils, for additional nutrients. As your dog gets accustomed to his new diet, he will be healthier, fitter and ultimately happier!

It’s about time we made this simple! Switching to raw doesn’t have to be hard. The following article breaks it down into easy steps and helpful tips. There are some rules of thumb that every pet owner should be aware of before switching their pet to raw:

Have a plan. Before your start the switch, have a plan that fits your pets’ individual needs. Your raw pet food retailer or a pet nutritionist can help determine the best route for switching your pet easily and safely. Depending on your pets’ age, weight, health status and current diet, different methods may apply. Use your resources to make this easy for yourself. A professional pet nutritionist or holistic vet has usually seen it all and can help to determine the best route.

Wait one month before introducing whole raw bones. This does not include ground poultry bones that are included in our chicken, turkey, duck and pheasant meals. The digestive system needs time to adjust to the new foods so use ground meats and bones to start.

If your pet has digestive concerns or allergies, switch your pet to raw with a professional. Animals with compromised digestive abilities or food sensitivities may need a bit of extra help. They may need supportive supplementation in the beginning or may require it long term. A pet nutritionist or holistic vet can help. Raw diet will usually improve allergies and digestive concerns when done correctly.

Go slow. If your pet is used to eating the same food day in and day out (commercially prepared foods), they may have digestive upset when a variety of new, fresh foods are introduced. Most pets can switch to raw gradually over a 7-10 day period. Start with small raw meals and increase raw while decreasing the current commercial diet. If, at any stage, your pet experiences digestive issues, go back to the last ratio of foods that did not cause an issue and go slower with your increase of the raw over the next several days.

Choose one protein to start with. Choosing one protein such as chicken or turkey to start with is ideal. Once your pet has made the full switch, you can start to vary the diet.

Choose your format. There are different options for compiling a balanced raw diet. The major ways include pre-packaged meals, pre-packaged components (meat, organs, bones, veggies) or making your own. You can also use a combination of all three methods. Pick the method that works best for you. Most people start with pre-packaged meals to make the switch easier.

The Safe Ways to Switch

Kibble. If your pet eats kibble, a good trick is to start soaking the dry food with warm water or unsalted chicken broth. Usually pets enjoy this. Adding more moisture to the diet ensures that your pet is properly hydrated and ready to make dietary changes. Also remember to keep kibble and raw meals separate during the switch to avoid digestive upsets.

Canned food. If your pet eats canned, the switch is usually quite easy. You can safely mix canned and raw foods together starting with a small amount of raw and increasing raw while decreasing canned over a 7-10 day period. It is ideal to switch from a holistically prepared, grain free canned food to a raw diet. The switch is generally easier this way.

Cooking boneless meats. If you cook ground boneless meats for your pet, you can simply decrease the cooking time over a 7-10 day period until the food is completely raw. Shortly after starting the raw diet, you will want to ensure that you are balancing the muscle meat, bone, organ meats and vegetables in the diet.

Introducing whole bones. As mentioned before, whole bones should be introduced after the first month of your pet eating a completely ground raw diet. Good bones to start with are soft poultry bones such as chicken or turkey necks. Then you can graduate to larger necks such as lamb necks (if appropriate), beef femurs and knuckle bones.

Healing crises. Sometimes a pet will experience a brief flare up that may involve the skin, eyes or digestive tract. Don’t panic. Minor healing crises are often reported followed by the emergence of a newer, healthier pet. If the symptoms last for more than 48 hours or seem particularly severe, contact your vet.

Choose high quality raw foods. Be sure that you are choosing high quality foods that contain lean muscle meats. Cheaper is not better. Most cheap raw diets are made from animal trim which is high in saturated fat and has been known to induce pancreatitis in some pets.

Helpful Tips

Picky Pet? Many pet owners run into challenges with fussy eaters. Don’t give up. You must listen to what your pet is telling you in order to find the solution.

Be patient! Commit to your plan. There is a learning curve with feeding a raw diet and one day, it will all be a routine.

Balancing the foods. This is usually the trickiest part to wrap our heads around. You will need to do some research to help it all make sense but there are many resources out there to ease the confusion.

There is always a solution. When you run into problems, there is always a logical solution. Use your resources and your common sense to solve issues or answer questions you may have. Chances are, you’re not alone with your experiences.

Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Often, a novel protein format to the raw diet is needed for animals with severe food sensitivities or allergies. This is also the best way to ensure that you are completely aware of which foods cause problems for your pet. Let a professional help you with this. Animals with these issues often benefit the most from a raw diet.

Supportive Supplementation

Two effective supplements for supporting and restoring a healthy digestive tract are probiotics and digestive enzymes. Different products may be available depending on where you live.


I’m hoping this will clear up some of the confusion about switching to raw diet and happy feeding!