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Raw Food Diet for Dogs Guide

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Let’s start with a little background on what raw dog food diets are: feeding raw meat, edible bones, and organs to a domesticated carnivore, A.K.A. your pet dog. Super simple. Why do dog owners prefer to feed their dogs a raw food diet? They’ve come to understand dogs need species appropriate foods, because that’s how their bodies are designed.

Benefits of Raw Feeding

Dogs who eat raw often end up with increased energy and vitality, along with better digestion. A raw fed dog can exhibit improved skin and their coats may shine just a bit brighter and feel a bit softer. If your dog is currently on kibble and switches to raw, their weight can improve and it's possible they’ll find relief from food sensitivities.

Feeding Bones to Improve Bone & Joint Health

Incorporating bones is a great source of calcium, collagen glucosamine, phosphorus, chondroitin and marrow, which are all integral for a dog’s joint health and their bone health. Never cook the bones, as that makes them brittle. You feed them RAW, just like everything else in the raw diet.

Feeding raw has been shown to strengthens a dog’s immune system, resulting in an easier time fighting off infections. Raw meat, veggies, fruits are all important ingredients to naturally boost the immune system.

Feeding Raw Meaty Bones

When feeding raw meaty bones, it can improve dental health, too. Chewing on these bones is like brushing a dog’s teeth. The meaty bones get into the cracks and gaps between their teeth, and help get rid of plaque. If you add celery to their raw feeding schedule, it can also help freshen their breath.

Raw meaty bones should be 10-20% of a raw fed dog’s diet. You can provide them with a variety of necks, backs, and skeletal parts not just for their overall health, but also to mentally stimulate it. A dog’s natural desire is to tear and rip apart their food, which kibble doesn’t allow for.

Let them feed as if they’re in the wild, it’s what they’re born to do! When they’re given the opportunity to do what they would naturally do in the wild, it often results in a happier dog, resulting in a happier home life.

We offer a selection of raw meaty bones in Anita's Pure Nutrition For Dogs online dog food market.

How To Transition Your Dog to a Raw Diet

Much of transitioning your dog to a raw diet will be dictated by your dog’s age, digestion, weight, activity level, and their overall picky-eater syndrome. Some dogs take to raw feeding with minimal effort or issues, and some dogs will need more time to make the switch from the processed dog food they’ve always known to feeding on raw food.

The two methods on how to transition your dog to a raw food diet we recommend:
  • slow transition
  • fast transition
No matter which method you choose, we encourage starting with simple meals, introducing a minimal amount of new ingredients every week, or so.

Slow Transition

Easing slowly into feeding your dog raw is sometimes best for not just you, the owner, but also for your dog. Adult dogs have consumed dry kibble, or wet dog food from a can, for most of their lives. New things don’t always go over well. The best way around the pickiest of eaters, or those with digestive issues: introduce a lean protein first, such as fresh, high quality raw lean turkey, and see how the body responds to it.

If you have an older dog, its been eating commercial foods for years. It may have have caused poor gut bacteria, along with suppressed digestive enzymes, and a weakened immune system. In order to have a smoother transition to the more biologically appropriate raw eating it can often mean weeks of gradual switches.

Start Off With Raw Treats

Starting off with a raw treat first is a great first step. It gives dogs and their owners a chance to test the waters of this “ancestral diet”. One treat on day one allows your dog to get a taste for raw, and you to see how the new feeding style affects your dog’s body and stool.

Each day, for the next week, increase the quantity of raw treats and keep an eye on poop to make sure it stays looking normal. If all goes well, get rid of the old kibble and start feeding raw exclusively. This method may still cause a little stomach upset going from treats to all raw all the time - but it should be minimal for a healthy dog, especially a puppy or young dog.

Raw One Meal, Kibble One Meal

Many dog owners don’t want to combine dry food and raw - no problem. Instead, feed kibble for one meal and then raw later in the day at another meal. Measure the amounts out just like the combo way of feeding, but instead of feeding it all at once in the same bowl at the same time, do one in the morning and one in the evening.

This separation approach works really well for senior dogs, and any dog that has a sensitive tummy.

Become a Personal Cook for Your Pooch

If your dog has stomach issues, or you’ve always been cooking their meals for them, the cooking before going to a completely raw diet method works well. If you’re going from kibble to this method, start the first day with a completely cooked meal made of quality lean meat to start off the transition process. Each day after, cook the food for less time until you serve it raw.

The cooking first method helps your dog’s stomach adjust to the new, fresh food diet with minimal issues.

Fast Transition

If you’ve got a puppy, or a young, healthy dog with a strong stomach, just start with a bowl of raw food on whatever day you and your furry friend are ready to take the plunge. It really is as simple as picking a day you want to switch from commercial food to raw food, and that’s it. They are now eating raw. Puppies respond well to a cold turkey approach, especially if you have some raw turkey as the first meal. Healthy, young dogs usually respond well to the fast transition to raw food.

A drastic change in diet may cause digestive problems, and diarrhea - it’s normal and shouldn’t last more than a few days.

How Much to Feed Your Dog

How much you feed your dog will be based on their breed, weight, activity level and age. We’ve created a helpful calculator for dog owners to figure out how much you should feed your dog.

Defrosting Food & Safe Handling of Raw Products

When feeding your dog a raw food diet, certain steps must be followed in order to avoid health risks stemming from bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms. It’s important to store raw food properly, as well as handle it the correct way to keep the humans, as well as the dogs in your home, safe.

Defrosting Raw Food

We strongly recommend taking food out of the freezer and putting it in a sealed container in the refrigerator until defrosted. Serve food cold or preferably room temperature. Raw food can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. All meat can be refrozen if needed.

Feeding and Handling Raw Foods

All raw food should be kept frozen until ready to defrost. Serve raw natural food using stainless steel or ceramic bowls. Make sure to clean your work area and all bowls thoroughly.

What to Expect When You Switch Your Dog to Raw Diet Eating

Beyond diarrhea, there are a few other things you may notice about your dog during the switch to a raw food diet. Most dogs have an unhealthy gut environment from eating processed foods for so many years. It takes a little time for their gut to expel many of the toxins, much like a human who cuts out fast food and processed foods from their diet.

Dogs may end up with runny eyes, dry skin, lots of shedding, excessive ear wax, skin conditions, and even a little mucus on their stool. All of these are normal signs of detoxing. Work with your veterinarian, one that is supportive of raw feeding and understands the process.

Long-Term Changes in Your Dog After Switching to Raw Feeding

  • Raw food is moisture dense, so the dog's desire to drink water out of a bowl might decrease.
  • Your dog’s poop may end up smaller and firmer. If you don’t pick their poop up immediately, you’ll notice them turn white and crumble after a couple of days. This may indicate there is too much calcium in its diet.

Whatever You Decide to Do

Whichever method you choose, remember to be patient with yourself, as well as your dog. It’s a big change for everyone involved. It helps to have support from a veterinarian experienced with raw feeding, and it’s helpful to have the highest quality pre-made raw foods.

Anita’s Pure Nutrition for Dogsoffers great options for dog owners to make raw feeding easy, and affordable.