Transitioning to Raw Dog Food
There is no single “one size fits all” approach to transitioning to a raw dog food, meat-based diet. Here are some tips:
- Go slow with older dogs – take your time with the transition.
- To make it easier on your pet’s digestive system, transition with one meat choice. Add variety later.
- Fast your dog the night before so they’ll be more interested in the new food, as well as giving their digestive system a rest before the change.
- Limit treats – especially flour/grain based ones. This will increase their appetite.
- Provide access to plenty of clean water.
Because puppies generally have healthier digestive systems, they will tolerate a faster switch (1 or 2 days). You can start by using PetChum as 1/4 of your pup’s normal feed, and gradually increasing the mix while you reduce the proportion of normal kibble.
Younger, healthier dogs can transition more quickly than older dogs or dogs with digestive issues. Transitioning healthy dogs should take only 5-7 days.
- Substitute 1⁄8 PetChum for your dog’s current food.
- After three meals, double that to ¼, while reducing the kibble to 3/4.
- After three more meals, double again to a 50/50 mix.
- After three more meals, give a full meal of PetChum. If your dog tolerates this well with no digestive upset or other discomfort, you’re on a PetChum raw dog food diet!
Picky Eaters and Older Dogs
Finicky and older dogs may turn their noses up at the smell and texture of raw dog food. This is a common occurrence and is easy to address:
- Fast your dog the night before the switch and eliminate treats during the transition
- Serve the meal in an appealing manner in a new place or “safe” area of your kitchen away from foot traffic
- Sweeten the deal with flavors such as a small handful of green beans, cheese or an egg yolk
- Heat up PetChum in a toaster over or by poaching it to release flavors and aromas
Changes in Your Dog’s Stool
When you’re up and running in your raw dog food diet, your dog’s stool will be smaller and firmer. Some dogs may strain with the hard stools, which is beneficial, as the harder stools help the dog express its anal glands, reducing the likelihood of infection. There may be some variation in the consistency of your dog’s stool. This is also ok, although you should consult with your veterinarian if your dog experiences prolonged diarrhea (soft stool is not diarrhea). You may also occasionally see a film around your dog’s stool, especially during transition, which is evidence of your dog’s body cleansings and detoxifying itself of harmful toxins.
Detoxification from Bagged Kibble
As you switch your dog to a raw food diet, the may experience a detoxification process, especially if they’ve been eating kibble for a long time.
This can be a bit unnerving, so don’t panic over it. You may see mucus coating your dog’s stool, excess shedding, dry skin, runny eyes, or other symptoms, and chronic or periodic skin conditions may briefly worsen. These symptoms do not mean that your pet is sick – they are signs that it is detoxifying as the dog’s body purges itself of the various toxins that have built up over time. The situation will resolve itself, usually in as short as 1 to 2 weeks, or up to 6 to 8 weeks. It’s best to increase exercise if you can during this time and always have plenty of fresh water available. Some dogs may also occasionally choose to fast as their body completes this process.
Note: If your dog has been on steroids, antibiotics, or other long-term drugs, they may experience prolonged detoxification periods. You should always consult with your veterinarian if you believe your dog is manifesting severe problems connected to the diet change.
Transitioning to Raw Cat Food
When they’re kittens, cats often imprint on the specific smell, taste and texture of the foods they are served. Some cats may transition to a raw cat food diet with no problem, however, most cats will be instinctively wary of any changes. So, for that reason, transitioning your cat will require patience.
Regular Feeding Times
Begin by setting a feeding patter with regular feeding times, before you begin the raw food transition, and don’t allow open, or free-feeding. Then set a time limit on feeding time – say, 15 minutes. If they don’t finish within that time, pick up the food and put it away. Through these steps your cat will quickly learn to eat when the food is available, which is critical to succeeding with the raw food transition.
All this being said, make sure your cat is eating, regardless of the test of wills. Cats may starve themselves and develop health issues if they stop eating for very long. Be sure that your cat is eating something each day. A small amount of food is sufficient and it need not be their usual daily portion of food.
A Slow Transition Will Work Best
Did we say be patient? That’s the key here, take your time. You can start by mixing about 2/3 of a teaspoon portion of PetChum with their current food. This will get them used to the sight, smell and taste of the new food.
Very gradually, increase the amount of PetChum, while proportionately decreasing the current canned or dry food. Continue this for at least 3-4 weeks. This should be long enough for the transition to take, however, if your cat continues to resist, you may need to slow down the transition. It could take up to several months for the full transition.
If your cat has been eating dry food and just doesn’t go for PetChum, you may need to transition (same slow process as indicated above) to a canned food to get them accustomed to the smell and texture. Then begin your transition to PetChum.
Your patience and perseverance will pay off with a healthy, happy cat!
Cats prefer warm meals served closer to body temperature. You may want to warm the PetChum to release the flavors and aromas. Cats choose their food by smell, and a warm aromatic meal is more appealing than a cooler food. We also recommend using a flatter food dish so it does not interfere with your cat’s sensitive whiskers which could put them off their food.
Treat your pet to the food they were born to eat!
PetChum and Meat & Bones are available at
Ponderosa Provisioners, 503.649.5693!