Making the Switch
Switching Your Dog Onto Raw Food
It is highly recommended that when you switch to raw you put your dog on something plain and easy to digest for one to four weeks. Chicken Meal is the easiest for dogs to switch onto, since it is fully ground it has a greater surface area which makes it easier to digest, and chicken is not as “rich” as some of the other protein sources. If your dog has a chicken allergy you can start with Beef Meal instead. Feed the same thing until your dog is doing well and has had no loose stools for one week. After one week you can slowly add in more protein sources, and once they are handling that well you can introduce bones into the diet.
It is not recommend combining a raw food diet in the same meal as processed foods. The digestive rate for dry processed food is much longer than for raw foods which can cause digestive disturbances. While not optimal, you can feed kibble and raw to pets as long as they are fed in separate meals i.e. kibble in the morning and raw at night.
Some dogs will adapt to the raw diet immediately while others will take several weeks to adjust. Typically, the longer the dog has been on kibble the longer the adjustment period will be. During this adjustment period, you can expect some diarrhea, constipation, and sometimes occasional vomiting.
How Much and How Often?
With raw feeding there are no set rules. As you get used to feeding your dog a raw food diet, you’ll see how your dog reacts and you can adjust your feeding plan accordingly. You will notice that the dog’s circumstances including her age, amount of exercise, whether she is pregnant, and the temperature where you live. Growing puppies under 12 months of age need extra food. Generally speaking, the ‘rib test’ is the best test to see if you’re feeding your dog too much or little. Their ribs should be felt with a light touch, but not visible.
On average you should feed about 2% (dog's weight x 0.02) of your dog's body weight every day – including edible bones.
So for example, a 50lb dog would require about 1 lb (0.45kg) of raw food per day. This amount can be separated and fed in a morning and evening meal, so you would feed about 8 ounces (½ pound) at each meal.
NEVER feed cooked bones. They can be very dangerous because cooked bones are brittle and sharp which can lead to your dog choking or gagging on them. The sharp or broken ends of such bones can also pierce your pet’s internal organs and end up being fatal.
Parasites And Bacteria (Salmonella, E. Coli, etc.)
Remember, dogs are not human beings and their digestive system is very different from ours. They have a much shorter digestive tract than we do which helps diminish the risk of parasite or bacteria-causing issues. Further, they have a very acidic stomach with a pH level of at least 1. That allows a dog to break down meat and prevent bacteria from colonizing. And finally, there are enzymes in a dog’s saliva that have antibacterial properties, further limiting the risk of any adverse effects caused by bacteria in raw meat. The risk of parasites and bacteria is far greater to the dog owner if proper handling of raw meat is not used and contaminates food which you or your family will eat.
Dogs and cats have been shown to shed salmonella in their feces, so ensure you wash your hands after cleaning up after them.