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!
Table Of Contents:
Why Raw?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.
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.
The Importance Of Life Stage Nutrition
Here at Cali Raw, we practice Life Stage Nutrition. Life Stage Nutrition is the practice of adapting the nutrient profile of the food to the specific requirements of the animal, which optimizes the nutritional plan, foods and feeding methods for the individual physiologic stages of an animal’s life (growth, reproduction, adulthood, old age).
Most pet foods are formulated to meet all life stages, based on puppies, as they have higher nutritional demands. While it may be more convenient to offer the same formula regardless of age or activity level, if we really want our pets to thrive throughout their whole life, we believe we need to tailor the nutrition to the specific needs of each life stage of the animal.
Here at Cali Raw, we offer 2 Puppy Formulasfor dogs up to 12 months (14 months for large breeds) which gives the right amounts of nutrients necessary for growth and reproduction, and 4 Adult Formulas which meets their nutritional needs as they change with age.
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. Think about if we ate all natural whole foods...we would enhance our health. The same goes for dogs. A natural fresh raw diet can give your dog many healthy benefits, improve their current conditions, prevent future disease, and help them thrive. The benefits are endless.
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.
Follow These Guidelines When Transitioning Your Dog From Kibble To A Raw 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!
- Serve at room temperature.
- Fast your dog for one meal prior to introducing a new diet.
- Be enthusiastic and excited about your dog's new diet!
- Take the transition as slow as your dog needs. Monitor stool and slowly increase raw food portion every few days.
- 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.
- 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.
Detox SymptomsGot 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.
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!
How Much To FeedThere are many ways to calculate how much to feed your dog daily! Some people choose to base it on kCals (Calories for Dogs), some choose to calculate based on Body Weight! To make it simple on you, we suggest feeding 2-3% of your dog's body weight daily.
Weight ManagementWith 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.
- 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 meat sources such as our Turkey Formula. Stay away from fattier meats.
- 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.
- Read the labels! Make sure you are feeding your dog the appropriate amount.
- When giving treats, stick to healthy options such as fruits and vegetables suitable for dogs.
- Give raw bones to entertain your dog while satisfying their desire for treats without gaining many extra calories.
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 7 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.
- Transfer excess food to a food storage container for easy access.
- Having undergone HPP, our products last up to 7 days in the refrigerator and up to 1 year in the freezer.