There are many things to consider when you decide to transition your dog to a raw diet. Today’s guest column by Sylvia from Raw Cut UAE is all about raw diet for dogs: benefits, feeding tips and more.
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First things first, why feed a raw diet?
The genotype (or genetic make-up) of both dogs and cats is mostly unchanged from that of their wild predecessors. Despite humans’ recent desire to alter some physical aspects of dogs and cats phenotypes (outer appearance). Carnivorous animals did not evolve to eat sterile meals, and they had digestive tracts resilient to handle naturally occurring germs that were present in the foods that they ate. They thrived to devour fresh living and whole animals before kibble existed. Their diet was moisture dense as well. Dogs and cats are among the toughest creatures on the earth; thus, they can endure severe dietary abuse without perishing. Degeneration happens, but sudden death doesn’t. They have survived by eating these improper foods, but they are not thriving as well as their wild ancestors. Instead, we have produced many generations of animals who are nutritionally weak and have degenerative diseases that are related to undernutrition. Both dogs and cats thrive on a raw food diet, although there are a few differences in their nutritional needs. Ultimately, both dogs and cats are carnivores and benefit from a species appropriate diet made from fresh, real ingredients compared to what is found in commercial pet foods.
What are the benefits of a raw diet?
Some of the few benefits of a raw food diet for dogs include:
- Improves digestive health
- Supports healthier skin and coat
- Builds muscle mass
- Facilitates losing excess weight
- Strengthens immune system
- Promotes dental health
- Improves overall energy and vitality
How to transition your dog to a raw diet at specific life stages?
Raw dog food is an all-life stage diet, making it suitable for dogs of all breeds and ages. In addition, it may be necessary to modify feeding guidelines to adapt to changes in routine and activity levels. To accommodate your dog’s typical activity throughout the year and prevent unintended weight gain or loss in your dog, this can be done as needed or periodically.
At Raw Cut we advise introducing raw dog food to your dog gradually by starting with half the suggested amount on day 1 and gradually increasing it each day. On day 2, try feeding 2/3 of the required amount, and on day 3, try the entire amount. It’s crucial to keep in mind that feeding schedules should accommodate both you and your dog, so it’s okay if you can only manage one meal per day. Like humans, every dog is unique, so if your dog isn’t ready to move on at the end of the first week of the transition process to raw, it’s alright to continue with the gradual transition process.
Transitioning puppies to a raw diet
Puppies will probably adapt to their new raw diet much more quickly compared to adult dogs because their bodies are less subject to long-term harmful impact of processed food. Puppies usually transition quicker because of their stronger digestive systems (less compromised digestive system). With puppies, we still advise a slow, steady transition, although it might take a few days as opposed to a few weeks. Puppies will eat more frequently (3+ feedings a day) until approximately 6 months old. This facilitates easier digestion and absorption of nutrients to assist the body’s process of growth and development.
Transitioning adult dogs to a raw diet
Your dog can shift more quickly to a raw diet if their digestive tract is in good shape. This is for adult dogs with some minor or no health issues. We still advise starting slowly as explained above, watching their stools, and adjusting the feeding amounts as necessary. You can speed up or slow down the transition process based on how your pooch reacts.
Transitioning senior dogs to a raw diet
When introducing a senior dog to a natural raw food, we advise going gradually given their advanced age and potential health problems. They have a lot more delicate and change-sensitive digestive system, and they could be less resilient overall. The transition process might be prolonged extending up to a few weeks or more. Keep in mind that a more gradual transition is necessary if your senior dog has consumed processed foods their entire life to rid their body of harmful toxins accumulated over time.
Feeding tips for picky eaters
If your dog is a fussy eater, there is a straightforward, affordable and practical answer. The answer is to be patient! Simply waiting it out and sticking to your decision about switching to raw will let biology take care of the process for you. Therefore, it is ineffective to simply throw fresh foods at a finicky dog and hope that they will eat them. Additionally, it explains why dogs frequently “suddenly quit eating” after enjoying food for a few weeks. Their gut flora instructs them to consume food that they have been eating until that point.
Sone other factors to consider before labelling your dog as fussy could be (although not limited to) boredom, dental issues, medications, stress or other behavioural issues, recent vaccinations. Also look for environmental toxins such as household products/plants that might be making them uncomfortable.
Go slow with the transition. This is done to reduce the possibility of digestive upsets (in case of raw food we call it the detoxification or healing process) which can occur if an abrupt shift in food occurs. A gradual introduction to a raw diet may be helpful especially if your dog isn’t fond of change. Imagine receiving a meal that contains fresh, uncooked, unprocessed ingredients after spending your entire life consuming processed fast food. It can require some initial getting used to.
Here are some easy tips:
- To help motivate your pet to consume their new diet, incorporate some of their favourite treats or meals. Common and well-liked recommendations include sardines and/or raw eggs.
- To lessen association with and expectations of their previous diet and to make the new diet more unique for your pet, feed them their new food in a new location.
- Don’t feed your dog snacks/treats between meals to avoid filling them up. Once your dog finishes the meal, reward with a treat instead!
- Add bone broth to make a soupy texture in case they prefer this. Broth also has an enticing smell that might attract your dog.
- Gently warm the raw food ensuring not to cook or bring the food to room temperature as much as possible unless your dog likes it a bit colder.