We understand switching your dog to a raw diet can be intimidating. There is so much information out there and it can feel a bit overwhelming. We know you may have a lot of questions about how to get your dog started on a natural raw diet, and we want to make it simple for you. Look no further, here are some tips, guidelines, and all your questions answered about how to begin your dog’s raw journey!
In today’s age, we understand the importance of high quality nutritious food. We know the harmful side effects of processed food for humans, and now are taking a second look at how this information translates to our pet’s nutrition as well. The ingredients in dog food play an important role in their overall health, weight management, energy levels, and longevity. Processed foods, such as kibble, lack essential nutrients necessary for the biology of a dog. Raw food, on the other hand, is what dogs were designed to eat. It is a species appropriate diet giving them the nutrition and health benefits dogs need to have enhanced optimal health.
What Should Dogs Eat?
As we know for ourselves, natural whole foods are vital for our health and wellness. This principle is the same for dogs. In order to thrive, dogs need the natural amino acids, vitamins, probiotics, prebiotics, and nutrients that raw meat can provide. Although commercial dog foods may claim they can provide your dog with these nutrients, that is a myth. Kibble is processed in extreme temperatures destroying close to half of the nutritional value it may have contained. Kibble is also packed with artificial flavors, colors, fillers, and preservatives, none of which are benefiting your dogs health. Here is a comparison: Imagine if we ate McDonalds every single meal, our health would suffer.
Another thing to take note of; Dogs do not need carbohydrates! Processed dog food contains at least 50% of something dogs have no dietary requirement for. Not to mention, carbohydrates are metabolized by the digestive system to sugar which is known to feed diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and more.
A raw diet will give your dog the diet nature intended them to consume. In the wild, a dog would eat meat, bone, organs, and some vegetation. A raw diet will imitate this diet.
Are Raw Diets Safe?
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 Health Benefits Of A Raw Diet?
As we’ve discussed, a 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
- Reduced Allergies
- Less inflammation
- Weight management
- Smaller firmer stool
- More energy
- Increased enthusiasm about feeding
- Improved oral health and breath
- Improved digestion
- Less vet visits
- ...and more!
Transitioning Your Dog To A Raw Diet:
Switching your dog to raw diet is the best decision you can make to provide them with a healthy diet they will thrive on. While transitioning your dog to a raw diet, it is important to take it slow and gradually, or else can be problematic. If your dog has been eating processed foods, switching to raw will come as a slight shock to their digestive system. To help with this, we recommend sticking to one type of protein in your dog’s meals for at least the first week, and possible longer if they have diarrhea after 7 days. Remember, this 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.
In addition to introducing them to different proteins in a raw diet, you can also provide them with recreational raw bones such as our beef marrow bones. These recreational bones provide your dog with mental and physical stimulation and dental benefits! Limit these to once a week as a treat, as the marrow is rich and fatty and also requires time for the digestive system to adjust.
- Serve at room temperature
- Keep it simple and do not add supplements
- It is recommended to fast your dog for one meal prior to introducing a new diet.
- Take the transition as slow as your dog needs. Monitor stool and slowly increase raw food portion every few days.
- For our finicky pups we recommend you start by serving their first few meals lightly cooked for 6-7 minutes in a pan on low heat.
- For dogs with highly sensitive stomachs, we recommend prepping their stomach with either goats milk or slippery elm.
- Keep it simple during the transition. Do not add any additional supplements or treats.
- Remember, just like humans, every dog is different. We recommend using these general transition guidelines but adjust as needed.
Got diarrhea? Don't panic! It's not uncommon during the transition. Your dog's body is going through a bit of a detox when switching from processed foods to fresh food. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and take the transition slow. Goats milk & slippery elm can be very helpful. Avoid giving dogs rice or other human foods.
Safe Handling Tips:
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.
- Wash all surfaces that the meat touches including counter tops, food bowls, utensils, scissors, and hands with hot soapy water immediately after handling.
- Keep raw food in the freezer, and thaw in refrigerator as needed.
- Store separate from food for human consumption.
- As our formulas are treated with HPP, use thawed food within 14 days.
Freeze & Thaw Tips:
- Thaw a Cali Raw bag in your refrigerator 12-24 hours prior to raw feeding.
- Measure your dogs meal portions based on our raw feeding calculator.
- For small & medium dogs, transfer excess food to a food storage container.
- Having undergone HPP, our products last up to 14 days in the refrigerator.
How Much To Feed:
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 calculator here.
With nearly 60% of adult dogs classified as being overweight or obese, weight management is crucial. A raw diet can aid in weight loss and weight management. Obesity can lead to many other health issues as well as affect their activity level, quality of life, and longevity. We recommend making adjustments to your dogs diet as needed to control weight loss or weight gain. Some other tools we suggest for weight management are our body score chart and our weight loss guide.
Additional Tips For Weight Loss:
- Weigh everything! Accuracy will aid in weight management.
- Decrease portion to 2% of body weight, then once your dog starts losing weight increase to 2.5%
- Stick to leaner proteins such as our turkey formula.
- Add coconut oil or fish oil to improve your dog’s metabolic rate, increase energy levels, and regulate thyroid function
- Cut out the extras! Include treats in your daily calculations along with the food they will receive in meals.
- When giving treats, stick to healthy options such as fruits and vegetables.
- Give raw bones to entertain your dog while satisfying their desire for treats without gaining many extra calories.
In addition to our educational blogs and resources on our website, we hope this information helps guide you in the transition to a healthier food for your dog. Our furry friends can’t do the research and use their voice, so we must do it for them. Providing your dog with a fresh raw diet is the best thing you can do for them. They will thrive and benefit with enhanced optimal health and longevity. Nutrition is key!