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What To Expect When Switching Your Dog To A Raw Diet

The central principle of a raw dog food diet is feeding a variety of different foods, to provide a balanced diet over time. However, during the transition period, you should start by feeding each meat source, one at a time, for a period of a week or more. This allows you to determine which meats work best for your dog and it may help identify any allergies.

For the first week of the transition, we recommend a high-quality game meat meal that does not contain bones, such as buffalo, to help with digestibility. Once they’ve had a chance to try each protein source, you can rotate foods every day or few days, as desired. Remember that variety is achieved over a period of a few weeks – not every day.

There are two general approaches to switching dogs to raw foods – rapid and slow. With healthy young dogs, the rapid method is typically the simplest and most successful. However, for older pets that have been eating commercial foods all their life or dogs with gastrointestinal problems, a slower transition is recommended.

1. Rapid Switch

Most puppies, young and healthy dogs can switch to raw overnight using the “rapid” method. That is, yesterday you fed them kibble or canned food, and today you begin feeding them raw food.

2. Slow Switch

The most successful slow transition method to a raw food diet is to begin switching your dog gradually over 7 day period. You may find your dog may need anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks to make the full transition, depending on age, weight and activity level. Start the process by providing one feeding of their regular diet to one feeding of the raw diet of your choice. Be sure to keep each feeding separate as both products are consumed and processed at different rates and should never be mixed. Over the course of a few days gradually decrease the amount of dry food and increase the amount of raw until your pet’s diet consists of 100% raw food. If you are noticing loose stools early in the process, cut back on the amount of raw food being fed and increase it at a slower rate. The final result should be small and firm stool consistency, which is a direct result of better nutrient absorption.

Make sure the meat you are feeding is fresh and good quality!

Another transition method is to switch directly from kibble by offering one meal of raw food followed by one meal of kibble, and gradually reducing the number of kibble meals. Because of the difference in digestive times between raw and kibble, we do not recommend mixing the two foods.

Senior Dogs:

For older dogs that have been fed commercial foods most of their lives, adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to their new food can help ease the transition to their new diet.

Cooking Food:

Alternatively, you can start by cooking the food slightly to help with the transition and pique the interest of those finicky dogs that are reluctant to try the new diet. Start by cooking the food halfway through and cook it less and less over a week until it is completely raw. Please note that most pre-packaged ground chicken meals contain chicken bones, and should not be cooked!!!

Some dogs that are suffering from immune deficiencies or gastrointestinal problems
may need to continue having their food lightly cooked.


Transition for Cats

Cats are creatures of habit and will often resist changes made in their routine. It is natural for kittens to become fixated on the main food they receive during their first year of life. In nature, this behavior ensures that the young cat will know what to hunt and eat when the time comes to become independent from their mother. However, in a domestic setting, it means that reviving your cat’s natural taste preference can, therefore, be quite a challenge.

When transitioning your cat from kibble to raw, you should anticipate some reluctance on the part of your cat in accepting their new diet. For this reason, it is important that you, as the caregiver, are comfortable and confident with the new diet and enforce the changes despite any protests. Cats are very sensitive to picking up our anxieties and other emotions so it is essential that any new food is offered with a confident and positive attitude

Establish a schedule of set mealtimes. During each mealtime, you should leave the food out for 30 minutes only. Cover any leftover food and refrigerate for later use.

  • Present your cat with a small portion of the raw food at the next meal time. If your cat is fond of the new food, then you are on your way … otherwise, continue to the next step.
  • Continue offering your cat small amounts of raw food at scheduled mealtimes. This means your cat may fast for a couple of days – this is not unusual in nature and will not do any harm.
  • For cats that continue to be hesitant about the new food after a few days, you can try sprinkling a bit of the crumbled kibble on top of a small amount of raw food. Another option is to try switching them to a canned wet food. Once the switch to canned food is made, you can start adding small amounts of raw food to the canned food, and increase the portions of raw food as your cat becomes more accepting of the change.

Here are some tips for easing the transition for you and your feline

  1. The whole process may take as much or as little time as dictated by the cat – be patient and flexible.
  2. The favorite meat choice for transitioning cats is chicken or turkey. Begin with ground meat before trying bones or chunks.
  3. Serve the food at room temperature.
  4. Freeze the food in small amounts during the transition stages so that you can take out small amounts for thawing and offer fresh food without too much waste.
  5. Cats prefer food to be as fresh as possible, so discard any food that hasn’t been eaten after a couple of days.

What to Expect After Switching

  • After switching your dog or cat to raw, you should notice a decrease in water consumption because the raw food contains a large amount of moisture that they can easily be utilized. Continue making fresh water available at all times.
  • You will likely notice changes in their stool almost immediately. The increased water content in the meat and vegetables may make the stools softer than usual. You will also notice that your animals stools are smaller and less frequent. It should be noted that when feeding bones such as chicken backs and necks or whole Cornish hen the stool can be a very firm consistency.


Detoxification is a natural process in which the body releases toxins through the exterior of the body as a way of cleansing internal organs and tissue. Some dogs and cats may go through a period of detoxification, where their system clears the toxins accumulated from their former diet. During this period they may experience some loose or mucous stool, runny eyes, and excretions through their ears.

In some cases, they may lose some of their coat – to make room for a healthier new one; all of these are positive signs that the body is ridding itself of toxins. Each detox period should last for a few days, after which your dog or cat should look and feel much better. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, please contact your vet and have them checked over for other medical problems.


  • I love and spoil my dogs with organic meals all the time. Rarely do they have to live off dry food or canned food, but in a pinch they are still humble and happy and will eat what they have. One is a hunter, whether I like that or not. He lives on a farm so only gets free range when the animals are all put away. The other is an explorer. She doesn’t want to kill anything. But if it’s already dead sand smells good enough to eat, she’s right next to the other dog bringing me a deer leg or whatever else they find out in the woods. They are German shepherd husky mix’s and go every where with me. We walk lake Roosevelt almost every morning. They follow me on my bike rides and hang out while I work on the orchard. They are great company. They eat raw chicken hearts, and gizzards. They get calf liver and eggs raw. Sometimes I cook them for myself and they eat them cooked too. They like some dry food but not most. They love human food but they are not given anything deep fried or microwaved. They don’t like beer. One doesn’t like bacon, peanut butter, milk bones, or most common dog favorites. The other almost eats anything/the hunter. The vet says they are perfectly healthy and happy and beautiful dogs. She also said they will choose what they want . We just have to give them healthy choices.

    • WOW that’s awesome
      I live in phoenix & hate the city, I was born & raised in the country in Maryland
      Unfortunately I’m stuck here for now,just now learning to feed my dogs the raw & right way, I love Roosevelt lake, You are very blessed.
      I have 2 awesome dogs.
      Thanks for your post

  • Our dog has energy in the moment but we notice she is more tired and he have to almost pull her to walk home. she swims and runs after the ball but her energy after the exercise is decreased –she sleeps all the time to but not much difference from before. She loves fruit and vegetables. Her coat is certainly thick and healthier and she seems to be more quiet not as aggressive with barking or running to dogs and barking when we meet them walking –not as much pulling

    • I’m noticing the same thing. My puppy seems to puke at times too. It’s been about three weeks. Did your dog get better?

  • We switched her to raw food gradually over the last 2 months

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