How do I start my dog on a raw diet, gradually or a “cold turkey”?

Answer: It depends on your dog. There are several approaches to help transition your dog to a raw diet.

Puppies: In the wild, wolf puppies are fed regurgitated food from their mother, so starting by giving them ground meat mixed with ground bones you can imitate this feeding process. You can feed them like this while they are between 2-3 months of age.  Once they are 4 or 5 months old you can start introducing them to meaty bone meals.

Adult Dogs: Most adult dogs can be transitioned fairly easily.  I recommend fasting your dog between 12 and 24 hours prior to giving them their first raw meal.  After that first raw meal, don’t turn back.  You can start feeding your dog raw meaty bones right away or you can give ground meat and bone mixture. Every month you can try to introduce them to a new type of meat.

Dogs with sensitive stomachs: For dogs with sensitive stomachs you may want to make this transition more gradual.  These are mostly dogs who have been on a kibble diet for 2 or more years.  The acidity in the dog’s stomach is pretty high ( 2 pH), but dogs feed on kibble for a long time have less acidity in their stomach and this makes it more difficult for them to quickly switch to raw (or even between types of kibble).  I do not recommend mixing kibble with raw meat, but if you choose to do so please make sure you wait at least 8 hours between kibble and raw meals. If you feed once a day, try one raw meal and next day a kibble meal.  Do this for a week and then switch to raw food only.

It is normal for your dog to experience an adjustment period to the new food. Some dogs have a runny poop for few days so don’t be alarmed. In some cases they can experience some constipation (as our dogs did), but don’t worry.  Their digestive system normalizes after a few weeks.

It is perfectly normal for your dog to throw up some bile while adjusting. Transitioning from kibble to raw diet increases the acidity level in their stomach. This is why they throw up some bile in the beginning. The bile’s function is to break the fat’s down and when high fatty meal is given even for experienced raw-fed dog, they might have increase bile production. To ease this, you can give them a little treat before meals (just avoid kibble treats) .

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