Changing a pet’s diet can be a challenging job, especially since most animals always want to eat the same type of food they’re taught to eat. Ideally, a dog should be given raw (or mostly raw) meals from puphood, yet unfortunately, most raw foodists only acknowledge the benefits of the raw diet when they are well into their adulthood, and they often find themselves wishing to switch their pets to this type of diet as well.
Luckily, dogs are naturally inclined to eat meat or meat-based meals, so putting your dog on a healthy meat-based raw diet, the way nature intended, should actually be easier than teaching your dog to consume canned or dry dog food. However, a few things should be considered before making the change. One of them is that adult dogs, which have been on a specific diet for a long time, will likely experience gastrointestinal disturbances from any diet change. This doesn’t occur because the new food is bad for them, but because their intestinal environment is adapted to only a narrow range of foods. Keeping your dog’s diet varied is also known to help prevent dog food induced allergies, which can be quite uncomfortable for both the pet and the owner.
There are two main approaches to changing your dog’s diet: you can either go cold turkey, or you can opt for gradual change, which is sometimes refereed to as the “pension method”. Going cold turkey is highly unrecommended, and, while a small number of dogs may actually respond positively to this method, most dogs will not. Your best bet is to go with a gradual transition to raw, which can take up to two weeks. This will allow the dog’s intestinal flora to adapt to the new food, without stressing it. You can start by mixing raw food in with the dog’s regular food, continuously increasing the amount of new food added, and decreasing the amount of old food. In 7 to 14 days, depending on how sensitive it is, your dog should be on a fully raw diet.
Another interesting method for transitioning to a raw dog food diet is known as “the milestone method”. While this 7 day method is not always necessary, it can make the world of difference for dogs that have really sensitive digestive systems. It consists of feeding your dog small portions of unwashed dirty paunch over a period of 5 days, then mixing the new raw food with the paunch on the 6th day, and finally feeding the dog only raw food on the 7th day. The dirty paunch provides all the necessary gut bacteria that will assist with the digestion of the new raw food, and will also fortify the dogs immune system to protect against disease.
If given a choice, most young dogs will go for real meat meals rather than canned or dried foods that look and smell nothing like the things they are naturally meant to eat. You can try giving your dog small raw treats in-between meals, to encourage it to consume more raw food. It is also important to get a general idea of what raw foodism is for dogs, and how you can approach such a diet in a way that is advantageous for your dog. Some nutritionists believe that dogs should be given meat based meals that are enriched with different fruits and vegetables, others advocate that dogs are exclusive meat eaters, and a smaller number of people believe that it is better to go 100% vegan, in addition to raw. Being fully aware of your dog’s dietary requirements and overall health condition are important factors that should influence your approach to the raw diet.