If you try to transition your pet from a processed food to a raw diet without the appropriate preparation you will likely cause problems.

Processed pet foods are high in carbohydrate, and carbohydrates alter the gastric acidity levels of the stomach. This altered physiology makes it harder for animals to properly digest raw meats, fat and bone.  Even ‘grain-free’ dry foods are high in carbohydrate, as they usually include another source of starch such as sweet potato, tapioca, quinoa or corn.

So if you are seeking to transition your dog to a raw natural diet (which you should be if you want your pet to be as healthy and happy as they can be), then please follow these rules:

  • Stop feeding all processed food.  Do not continue to feed dry foods or cooked canned foods if you want to also feed raw meat and bones.  It needs to be one or the other.
  • Stop adding carbohydrates to your pet’s meat.  This includes rice, pasta, bread, starchy vegetables (carrot, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, corn), as well as pet rolls that include these foods.
  • Consider doing a bone broth fast for 12-48 hours (shorter periods for puppies/kittens, longer for mature animals in poor health) prior to changing the diet.  Bone broth facilitates rapid turnover of the intestinal lining and will assist in the healing of any inflammation in the gut.  We sell bone broth made by Nourishing Wholefoods at our clinic.
  • Do not feed any bones for at least the first two weeks.  In some older animals who are more compromised, bones may need to be avoided for a month, or potentially much longer periods.
  • Include tripe with meals, especially during the transition phase.  Tripe contains natural probiotics that will assist in establishing a healthy gut microbiome, and should always be included when feeding bones to assist with bone digestion.  Both Organic Paws and Ziwi Peak foods contain green tripe, and we also sell packs of frozen green tripe.  Cats may not find tripe appealing, however when it is included in the Organic Paws and Ziwi Peak foods most cats find it palatable.  The Whoa Nelly! food we stock is also an excellent transitional diet as it includes a probiotic ferment for gut health.
  • Choose just one protein source to start with, to avoid any gut upsets caused by introducing too much variety.  Over time, however, you want to feed a variety of proteins over the course of the week to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

It takes about a week of feeding natural foods for appropriate acidity levels in the stomach to be restored, and continuing to feed processed dried or cooked foods when transitioning to raw will only compromise your pet’s ability to digest the raw food.  You will either have a pet who vomits up their food, or can’t digest the fat or bone (and vomits it up or becomes constipated), or becomes ill as a result of bacteria on the food.

A pet with a healthy stomach acid level (pH around 1.5-2) will be able to kill off any bacteria on the food, and break down protein and bone without any issues – this is what their body is designed for after all.

Cats are unique, as all cat owners know, and can be difficult to transition to a raw diet.  Visit the Raw Fed Cats website for an excellent guide on transitioning your cat to a raw diet.  Book in for a natural diet consultation if you need any assistance.

Other things to remember when feeding raw:

  • Practice safe food handling practices when handling raw foods – keep foods frozen, defrost up to 3 days worth of food at a time, discard any food not eaten within 3 days, wash any preparation and feeding equipment in hot soapy water, wash your hands after handling, keep children away from pets while they are eating.
  • Remember we are here to help.  Call or email us at any stage with questions about any aspect of raw feeding.
  • Stick with it.  Raw fed pets are healthier, happier and nourished for a lifetime of pure natural health.