Raw Dog Food Diet Transition Guide

Switching your dog to a raw dog food diet is the best decision you can make to provide them with a healthy diet they were designed to thrive on. Switching them to a BARF diet is even better!

While transitioning your dog to a raw diet, remember to take it slow and gradually, or else the transition can be problematic. Follow these guidelines when switching your dog to a raw diet, but remember every dog is different. 

How to Transition From Kibble To A Raw Dog Food Diet:

When transitioning your dog from a processed kibble diet to a natural BARF raw diet, there are many things to keep in mind. If your dog has been on a highly processed diet, switching to raw will come as a slight shock to their digestive system. Your dog will need time for their stomach to detoxify the built up toxins from a processed diet and adjust to their new diet. This is easily accomplished by decreasing the amounts of current kibble and adding in raw dog food until the former food is completely replaced. 

Due to the slight shock to their digestive system, your dog may experience a temporary upset stomach or soft stool, as the body adjusts to the new food. To help with this, we recommend sticking to one type of protein in your dog’s meals for at least the first week, and possibly longer if they have diarrhea after 7 days. Remember, this food is new to them so they make take some time to acclimate to their new diet. Once your dog has adjusted to the first source of protein, you can introduce the next — again giving them at least a week to adjust. When you’ve established a raw diet after a couple months, you can mix things up with different meats each day. Giving your dog a variety of proteins is a great idea!

Follow These Guidelines When Transitioning Your Dog From Kibble To A Raw Dog Food Diet: 

First, select a protein familiar to your dog & thaw in your fridge for 24-48 hours before feeding.

Phase 1: Begin the transition by first feeding 20% of raw dog food & 80% of the old food for 3-5 days.

Phase 2: Next, move onto 50% raw dog food & 50% old dog food for another 3-5 days.

Phase 3: Then you can advance to 80% raw dog food & 20% old dog food for another 3-5 days. 

Phase 4: Finally, feeding 100% raw dog food!  

Raw food for dogs Transition Guide



How to Transition From Feeding Your Dog Cooked Food To Raw Diet?

When switching your dog from a fresh cooked diet to a raw dog diet should be done slowly and gradually as well, although it will be a much quicker transition process than if your dog has been on a processed diet. Your dog is not eating processed kibble, but their stomach and digestive tract will still need time to adjust to their new diet. Also, many cooked diets have fillers such as pasta and rice included which your dog will need to detox. We recommend following our slow and gradual transition guidelines and adjust as needed. Remember, every dog is different! Some will transition with no issues and some will take more time. 


How to Transition From Another Raw Brand To Cali Raw?

Remember, any time you are changing your dog’s food it needs to be done with patience and care. When transitioning from one brand of raw dog food to another, we suggest doing so slowly and gradually as well. Your dog’s digestive tract is already adjusted to a raw diet but since different brands have different recipes, the ingredients and ratios may vary. This transition will be much quicker than transitioning from a processed food diet, but it is still important to approach with care.


Things To Consider When Transitioning To Raw For Specific Life Stages:


Since puppies don’t have the long term negative effects of a processed diet, they are likely to adjust to their new diet much quicker than adult dogs. Puppies have a healthier digestive system, making the transition process much quicker. With puppies we still recommend transitioning slow and gradually but it may take a couple days instead of a couple weeks. 

Healthy Dogs:

If your dog has a healthy digestive system, they may be able to transition much quicker as well. We still do suggest starting slow, monitoring their stool, and adjust as needed. 

Senior Dogs:

Due to their age and possible health issues, we suggest moving slower when transitioning a senior dog to a natural raw diet. They are less robust, and their digestive system is much more fragile and sensitive to change.You may need to extend the transition process for several weeks or months. Remember, if your senior dog has been eating processed foods their entire life they need a more gradual switch to detox the harmful built up toxins in their stomach. 

Check Out Our Life Stage Nutrition Guide For More Information. 

Things to Expect During The Transition Period: 

Detox Process:

Since your dog was on a processed diet, they may experience a detoxification period when first transitioning to a natural raw diet. This will take place through the bowels and their skin. Your dog may experience the following symptoms:

    • Runny eyes
    • Dry skin
    • Excess shedding
    • 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 build up from a processed diet. These symptoms should resolve themselves once new cells replace the old unhealthy one! 

    Decreased Water Intake:

    Another “side effect” you may notice when transitioning your dog to a raw diet is their daily water intake may decrease. Dogs on a natural raw diet will drink much less water than dogs who eat a processed diet because their new food is moisture dense. Your dog will be receiving their water intake through the food they are eating. 

    Changes In Stool:

    One of the first things you may recognize when switching your dog to a raw diet is their stool will change. This is a benefit for all! During the transition period, your dog may experience changes in how frequently they go to the bathroom. They also may experience a temporary upset stomach or soft stool as the body adjusts to the new food. Once the transition period is over, their stool will be smaller and firmer! This is due to the absence of fillers, carbohydrates, and other foreign ingredients.


    What If My Dog Is Refusing Meals?

    There can be various reasons your dog is refusing their new meal. If only we could read dog's minds we could know the exact reason, but with these tips we hope to help you introduce raw and get your dog comfortable with their new diet!

    First, consider some reasons your dog may be refusing their meal:

    • This is a new diet! They need some time to get comfortable and realize this is their new food. If your dog has been eating kibble their whole life they might be confused and need some time to adjust. Rest assure, most dogs LOVE raw food.
    • Your dog might not be hungry. We recommend fasting your dog for 12-24 hours before introducing raw food. 
    • Is your dog stressed? If your dog has new surroundings, changes in the household, or other reason to have them stressed this can cause a loss in appetite. 
    • Are you being enthusiastic about their new diet? Dog's trust their owners, and if the owner is nervous and unsure, the dog can feel it! Be positive and patient and show your dog this is a good change! 


    Tips For Picky Eaters:

    • For finicky pups, we recommend you start by serving their first few meals lightly cooked for 6-7 minutes in a pan on low heat with a tablespoon of water to enhance the flavors and aromas.
    • Change the location where you are feeding your dog! 
    • Serve their meal on a plate rather than a bowl so they can see what they are eating
    • Sprinkle a little bit of oregano on top. Many dogs love this!
    • Add a raw egg, sardines, or a healthy topper. Remember to try to keep it simple during the transition period.
    • Be positive and enthusiastic! Show them how excited this new diet is!



      Additional Tips For Transition To A Raw Dog Food Diet:

      • Fast your dog for one full meal prior to introducing a new diet. This resets and detoxifies their digestive system before switching foods.
      • Serve at room temperature.
      • Always provide your dog with access to clean, filtered drinking water.
      • Keep it simple during the transition. Do not add any additional supplements or treats.
      • For dogs with highly sensitive stomachs, we recommend prepping their stomach with either goats milk or slippery elm.


      Now that you are ready to transition your dog to a raw diet, keep in mind that nobody knows your dog better than you! There is no “correct”’ way to transition to a raw dog food diet. Just like humans, every dog is different. We recommend using these general transition guidelines but adjust as needed. Your dog trusts you and will be encouraged by your positivity as well. Remember, it is a slow and gradual process, but will result in a healthier, happier dog! More useful tips you can learn at: Raw Dog Food For Beginners

      Transition to a raw dog food diet