Frequently Asked Questions About Feeding A Raw Diet
We understand switching to a natural raw diet can be intimidating! There are so many questions and it can be overwhelming. We are here to guide you! We've compiled a list of the Top 25 Questions we receive about raw feeding to help prepare you for the journey to becoming your dog hero with optimal nutrition. There is no diet healthier for dogs than the ancestral diet they are biologically designed for!
Are dogs carnivores?
Yes! Dogs are in the Carnivora classification, based on the fact they have canine teeth and shorter digestive tracts. Dogs can also benefit from healthy fruits, vegetables, and other supplements. This is why we choose to feed a BARF diet made up of approximately 80% meat, bone, and organ and 20% vegetables. Our nutritionist carefully formulated our raw dog food to be complete & balanced nutrition, meaning you do not need to add any supplements to your dog's diet.
What should dogs eat?
A species-appropriate diet consisting of raw meat and fresh vegetables is what your dog was designed to eat. Dogs have almost the same DNA as a wolf, therefore they need to eat what nature intended for them in order to thrive!
Why aren’t raw diets more common?
Approximately 4% of dogs were raw fed in 2018. This number is growing by the day as more and more pet owners see vast improvements in their dog's health & quickly!
As our society as a whole has become more and more aware of the poison in our own food supply, we are also taking notice that the traditional kibble diet is toxic to our dogs & cats. Us nor our pets are built to withstand highly processed, high carb diets; hence the epidemics of cancer, allergies, obesity, heart disease & kidney failure in our pets.
Raw diets for pets are not a new idea, but having a pre-made, straight to your door delivery system is! In the past, pet owners would need to hire their own animal nutritionists to formulate recipes for them. They would also need to shop, source, and prepare it themselves. We take the guesswork out of optimizing your dog’s nutrition, and the stress out of having to prepare it.
Should dogs eat carbohydrates?
While dogs are technically able to process carbohydrates, they have no dietary requirement for them. A high carb diet such as kibble can cause inflammation and metabolic stress in a dogs' body. Not to mention, one metabolized by the digestive system carbs turn to sugar which is known to feed diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and more. The most biologically appropriate diet for carnivorous canines is raw meat high in fat content.
Are raw diets safe?
Yes, they are! Remember, this is what your dog was designed to eat! Yes! Dogs have a shorter digestive tract and higher levels of acidity in their digestive system. Therefore, they can tolerate a higher level of bacteria than us humans. When a dog is fed a species-appropriate diet, their immune system is optimally strong and their digestive system is functioning properly. The acidity level in their stomachs is also very high on a raw diet, which makes it an undesirable environment for bacteria to survive. Remember, raw meat is what nature intended dogs to eat. Quality raw meats are not just perfectly safe for dogs, they are ideal!
What are the benefits of a raw diet?
A natural raw diet will give your dog the essential nutrients needed to give them optimal health and longevity. With this being said, there are many specific benefits leading to a healthy life. Some dogs with health problems may experience an improvement in their conditions. The benefits are endless!
Healthier and softer coat
Smaller firmer stool
Increased enthusiasm about feeding
Improved oral health and breath
Fewer vet visits
What kinds of treats are healthy for my dog?
Treat quality is just as important as your dog’s daily food! You will want to look for something with pure ingredients, like our all-natural Venison Jerky Treats or one of our raw bones. Stay away from treats with preservatives and artificial flavors.
Can fruits and vegetables be fed as dog treats?
Yes! Occasionally and in moderation, certain fruits and vegetables can be fed as treats. keep in mind that when feeding Cali Raw Dog Food, your dog is receiving a complete and balanced diet with all the necessary nutrition.
Are vegetables healthy for dogs?
Yes! Dogs get fiber, energy, vitamins, some minerals, and diverse nutrients from vegetables. We believe it is beneficial to feed dogs a BARF diet comprised of approximately 80% meat, organ & bone coupled with 20% vegetables.
How will raw dog food change my dog’s stool?
Often times when transitioning a dog into a new diet, especially one of a higher quality it can upset their stool for a short time. This is considered to be somewhat of detoxification.
When transitioning to raw the bacteria in the intestinal tract is adjusting, causing your dog to have loose stool or maybe go more often for a short period of time. The good news is that once your dog is fully transitioned to a raw diet their stool will firm up, and be much smaller than when they were on kibble!
With no fillers & maximum nutrient absorption, your dog's digestion & elimination regularity will improve greatly. Yes, this means fewer dog farts too!
Don't panic, mucus in your dog's stool can happen at any time, no matter how long a dog has been on a raw diet and is normally not a reason for worry. When initially switching to a raw diet, this may be an indication that the digestive tract is riding the junk out of its system, which is a normal part of detoxification.
Alternatively, it can also be a sign of inflammation in the intestinal tract. If you notice traces of blood, along with the mucus-covered stool, a trip to the veterinarian is encouraged. If your dog appears sick and is also having frequent bouts of diarrhea that last more than 24 hours, we recommend you call aholistic veterinarian.
How do I transition my dog to a raw diet properly?
Anytime you change food it’s important to take it slow. While most dogs have strong digestive systems, switching from dry kibble to a raw moist food can be a shock on their systems initially.
Some dogs will even experience mild detoxification during the transition. Don't be alarmed, this is common when a dog has been eating processed foods their whole life. When switching to a fresh or raw food diet, the dog’s system will take time to adjust and form the enzymes and microbiota.
This is our recommended process for ensuring a smooth transition to raw dog food:
Start with feeding 20% raw food & 80% old food for the first 3-5 days.
Then adjust to 50% raw food & 50% old food for the next 3-7 days.
Finally, adjust to 80 raw food & 20% old food for the final 7-14 days.
After 1-2 weeks of slowly introducing the raw dog food, your dog will be ready for a 100% raw diet.
What should I expect during the transition period?
If your dog has been on a processed diet, they may experience a mild detoxification period when first transitioning to a natural raw diet. This will take place through their bowels and skin.
Your dog may experience the following symptoms:
Mucus coating your dog's poop
Skin conditions may briefly worsen
All of these symptoms are completely normal when transitioning to a raw diet. While this may worry some pet owners, this is actually a positive thing. Many people call this getting “unsick”. Your dog will be purging toxins that have built up from a processed diet. These symptoms should resolve themselves once new cells replace the old unhealthy ones!
Is raw ok to feed my dog with allergies?
Yes! Always read the label on each formula to be sure the recipe does not contain ingredients that your dog is allergic to. Typically dogs with allergies find substantial relief on a limited ingredient raw diet free of fillers, grain, gluten & artificial or processed ingredients.
Clickhere to learn more about raw feeding a dog with allergies.
Keep in mind that dogs can tolerate a higher level of bacteria than us humans. Dogs have shorter digestive tracts and higher levels of acidity in their digestive system.
We know that when a dog is fed a species-appropriate diet, their immune system is optimally strong and their digestive system is functioning properly. The acidity level in their stomachs is also very high on a raw diet, which makes it an undesirable environment for bacteria.
To ensure your own safety when feeding raw, use the same safe handling practices you would use when preparing your own raw meats: exercise basic hygiene, wash your hands and sanitize surfaces after use.
Quality raw meats are not just perfectly safe for dogs, they are ideal.
Can I switch from meat source to meat source within the raw diets?
Yes, as long as your dog is not allergic to something in the formula you can switch meat sources with ease. We actually recommend offering your dog a variety of meat sources weekly. When possible it is best to feed your dog 2-3 meat proteins per week. Your dog will appreciate this! We offer formulas in Beef, Chicken, Lamb, and Turkey!
Do I need to cook the food before feeding it?
No, and we recommend you don’t. Cooking the meat will deplete the nutrients and may destroy or modify the proteins. The only instances we recommend cooking the food is if you have someone in the family (pet or human) with a compromised or weakened immune system or if your puppy is under 16 weeks of age. In these cases, you can choose to lightly cook it 6-7 minutes in a skillet with a small amount of water.
We always recommend practicing safe handling & work area sanitation after serving or handling raw food products.
Will eating raw make my dog more aggressive?
No! This is a myth. A raw diet is what dogs are designed to eat for their biological, nutritional needs. The food you feed to your dog is not a factor in aggressive behavior.
However, we always recommend separating dogs with known food aggression. A raw diet is very pleasing to a dog and could be considered a high-value prize that a dog may be more possessive over than kibble.
How often should I feed my dog or puppy? And how much?
For adult dogs, we recommend feeding a raw diet either once or twice per day. If twice per day, split the daily suggested feeding in half.
For puppies, we recommend feeding raw food 3-4 times per day, splitting each meal equally based on suggested daily feeding quantity for their predicted adult weight. For more information on raw feeding for puppies, check out our Puppy Feeding Guide.
While we recommend feeding 2-3% of your dog's body weight, every dog is different. Remember, just like humans, every dog has a unique metabolism. This also differs depending on age, size, breed, health, and activity level. With this in mind, it is important to monitor your dog and adjust the amount you are feeding them as needed. Check out our Feeding Calculatorhere.
Why is raw better than dry kibble, cooked food, or canned dog food?
We know that processed food is less healthy than fresh, raw food for humans, it’s the same for dogs! Cooking the food depletes the nutrients in the meat source and produce.
Kibble is a relatively new concept, it was developed during WWII because of the lack of materials needed to make cans for canned food. Kibble has never been a good option for our pets, most kibbles are filled with corn, wheat, non-human grade meat, and synthetic vitamins which will, over time, hurt your pet's health because of the nutritional deficiencies.
Kibble also lacks moisture, in a dogs’ natural diet where they would be hunting and eating prey, their food contained approximately 70% moisture, with kibble that percentage drops to 10% and below. This can cause dehydration in dogs and lead to chronic UTIs or Kidney failure.
Dogs have a short digestive tract, that makes it difficult to digest complex processed foods, they evolved to eat fresh, raw meat, and vegetables. There is also much less useless waste in a raw diet, leaving the dog more able to process and absorb more of the nutrition, leading to less smelly, more solid, and smaller poops.
Can I mix feed both raw & kibble?
We recommend avoiding kibble like you avoid McDonalds, hopefully. We do realize it isn't always feasible for everyone to afford the very best dog food, especially when you have large dogs or are lucky enough to have a bunch of dogs. If you cannot afford to switch to a 100% raw diet for your dog, supplementing your dog's dry food with raw food is beneficial. If you can afford to give your dog at least 50% raw, the nutrients will benefit your dog's overall health & wellness.
If allergies or serious health issues are present, a 100% raw diet is recommended for the best chance at improved health.
Why does my traditional veterinarian say no to a raw diet for my dog?
When you go to the doctor, does your doctor ask you about your nutrition & diet? Does your veterinarian address this crucial factor in your dog's health? Most likely not.
Traditional veterinarians may often have a negative opinion of a raw diet based on our society's adoption of the cheap & convenient kibble diet during WWII. Also, many that do know and understand the nutritional benefits of a raw diet, have also encountered dogs fed an unbalanced DIY raw diet.
We strongly endorse a complete and balanced raw diet that meets AAFCO guidelines. This ensures your dog is not missing any key components. Our Cali Raw formulas include important ingredients like organs, vegetables, plus naturally derived minerals & vitamins.
We recommend that you do your own research on the benefits of a raw ancestral diet for your dog, as well as the long term effects & dangers of a kibble diet.
If I choose to feed raw food to my pet, what precautions should I take to protect my family?
Raw feeding is no different than cooking for yourself and your family within your own home. Standard sanitary habits should be practiced when handling raw meat. Always sanitize your work area thoroughly after prepping, sanitize used food utensils, including your pet’s bowls once they are finished eating. Finally, wash hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.
Keep the raw dog food frozen until ready to use, and then refrigerate or discard any leftovers. Refrigerated leftovers can be stored for no more than 3 days.
Regularly wash pet dishes – make sure to pick them up after eating, sorry no grazing allowed. Leaving the food out will cause the meat to spoil.
Will my pet get sick from eating raw meat?
Your dog will thrive on a raw meat diet. This ancestral diet is exactly what your dog's body was intended to digest. A raw dog food diet offers your dog optimal nutrition with maximum bioavailability for nutrient absorption.
With a species-appropriate diet, their immune systems are strongest and their digestive systems are operating properly. The acidity level in their stomachs is also very, which makes it an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Dogs are much more susceptible to get sick when they are fed a processed diet not intended them biologically. A diet filled with grains, starches, and sugars is a serious cause for concern, while raw food is not.
During the transition to a raw diet, some dogs may experience mild detoxification symptoms, including diarrhea or lethargy. This is temporary and expected when their system is accustomed to a highly-processed diet of artificial or low-quality ingredients.
What about bones? Aren’t they dangerous?
Not all bones are created equally! Cooked bones can splinter, making them potentially dangerous. Raw bones on the other hand are perfectly safe and actually beneficial for your dog's dental health. They also offer mental stimulation and nutritional value. Remember to supervise your dog to avoid any problems, and if you have more than one dog in the house keep them separated while enjoying their bones. Also, raw bones are not suitable for puppies under 6months old as their teeth are too soft.
We recommend Lamb Femur Bones for small dogs, Beef Marrow Bones for medium to large dogs, and Beef Knuckle Bones for large to extra-large dogs! Read more:the safest bones for your dog
Read more of our FAQs, or give us a call at 949-482-DOGS and we would be happy to answer any questions!