How To Transition
Starting a raw diet may seem like a mess in the beginning, but it really isn't that complicated. Transitioning A dog from a Kibble diet to raw is easy and there are a couple different ways to make the switch. We'll list the most common ways people like to transition their pets and you'll choose the method that best suits you and your pets lifestyle, schedule and comfort. Generally, there are two choices. Keep reading to see the options available as we share the pros and cons of each....
The cold turkey approach is often used by many people and probably the most popular. This is an immediate switch from kibble to raw without looking back. Some choose to wait until their pet is completely done with the last bag of dry food and others will either donate or throw away the last of the kibble.
Pros and Cons
A quick switch like this is really simple and requires nothing. It's a no nonsense approach, however one thing to look out for when doing the cold turkey switch is that you must determine if your pet is fit for such. If, for whatever reason it is not, then you may experience some diarrhea, GI upset and digestive distress.
Things To Remember
Although the most popular approach, You have to be sure and confident of yourself. In some cases (not all) changing your pets diet too quickly can cause an upset stomach and therefore resulting in diarrhea. To new pet owners, this can cause panic or fear and they will run to the vet at first thought. You'll notice at this point that vets are unsupportive/uneducated on raw and will misdiagnose the GI issues or diarrhea and blame it on bacteria in the food. When in actuality it was the sudden change in diet that caused the problems.
Don't get discouraged as many, if not most pets do absolutely great on a cold turkey switch. We use this approach ourselves and haven't had any issues. Normally making the transition at around 8 weeks of age and sometimes younger, but not all pets are the same and we feel it's important to let you know about every possibility. Some pet owners that have a bad experience like this will turn away and get back into dry food, therefore returning to the same problems as before.
Let's start with treats
For those who aren't comfortable taking the cold turkey approach will use this method as they want to make the switch to raw fast but would like to test the waters first. They will start with treats first and slowly transition over the week. On day 1, you'll start to introduce the new diet as a treat first and monitor your pets stool. Days 2-4, you'll jump up the amount of treats your giving your pet and continue to monitor their stools. Day 5 is when you replace a whole meal with raw food, only if their stools have been consistent throughout the past few days. Continue to do this for days 6 & 7 and if the stools are still normal, you can stop feeding his old food on day 8 and start the new diet.
Pros and cons
This is yet again another simple approach, but you still must be aware of the same upset stomach issues that may occur as in the cold turkey switch.
Things To Remember
Even though you've been feeding the raw food as a treat, you still switched over to a full meal of a raw instantly. This can still cause some of the same issues as the cold turkey transition and is something to be made aware of.
This method is most familiar with kibble fed pet owners. They use this when transitioning over to new brand or protein of dry food, which in turn makes them more comfortable with this approach. In this gradual switch you'll be feeding both types of diets, slowly transitioning over to raw. Throughout the week you'll feed less kibble and more more raw.
Start with 1/8 of the new food and 7/8 of the old food on the first day. On day 2 you'll increase the amount of new food to 1/4 and reduce the old food to 3/4. Day 3 should be 1/2 new food and old, then for the next 2 days you'll be adding more raw food then kibble until eventually on day 6 you're feeding 100% raw.
pros and cons
The gradual transition is a good decision for reducing any chances of upset stomach. It works really great for those pets who don't take to raw on the cold turkey approach since you're mixing the foods together. It does mean you have to measure and mix the foods for a week and some people mighty find that an inconvenience.
Things to remember
This method would be best suited to those pets who have sensitive stomachs or seniors as well who have been kibble fed their entire lives. Some owners like to start with 1/4 raw and 3/4 kibble to make things easier, but if you feel you have a hyper sensitive pet then stick with the method above. You may also extend the period of transitioning to another couple days or even a week if you feel it would be easier on your pet and family.
What to expect when switching to a raw diet
Remember that every pet is unique in it's own way. While some may take a few days, others can take weeks to adjust. In general, allow a minimum of one week for your pets digestive system to get used to it's new diet.
Your pet may start a detoxification period when switching to the new diet. Your pet will act normal and be happy and alert during this time, however you might notice some symptoms . Runny eyes, Excessive ear wax, more shedding than usual, mucus coating your pets stool and dry skin are just some of the symptoms you can experience.
Don't Panic! This is normal and your pet is completely fine. These are all signs that your pets body is getting rid of the various toxins that have built up over the period of time in which you have been feeding it the dry food. Usually this period will last no longer than a week or two as your pet gets adjusted to the new diet. Please note that pets that have been on medication such as antibiotics or steroids may experience detoxification for a longer period of time. It's important to monitor your pet and consult a vet if these symptoms don't go away after a long period.
There are ways however to speed up the process of the detox period. You can increase exercise, provide a lot of fresh water and clean ears often as needed, Brush your pet to help shed the old fur and allow their new healthy, shiny coat grow. Some pets may even fast all on their own as their bodies go through detox. Let them.
Another thing new raw fed pet owners might notice is that their pets are drinking less water. This too is normal and again, you shouldn't panic. When feeding raw you got to remember that the food is now full of moisture and it will provide much of your pets water needs. With that said, even though your pet will drink less water while on a raw diet, you still should be providing it with fresh clean filtered water everyday.
If you notice that your pets stool is dark, almost black then that's a sign that you might be feeding to much organ meat. You might also experience darker stools if you feed wild game such as kangaroo. If you're noticing soft or loose stools then try adding a little more bone and slow down when introducing new items. On the other hand, if you see that your pet is constipated and having a hard time then that might be a sign your bone content is too high. if this is the case, try feeding less bone and more muscle or organ in the next meal. Slippery Elm bark can also aid in hardening the stools.
Remember that there isn't one right way to transition your pet. Choose a method that works for you and your pet. Always ask questions to other raw feeders and join communities on social media.