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When I switched my dog Ace a raw diet in 2011 I had so many concerns about how it would go.
I knew a raw diet of fresh, real food made sense for a dog and I’d been researching it for a couple of years (years!). But still … all the negative talk from some vets and the myths out there had me worried.
Fast forward five years and I’ve introduced my younger dog to raw food.
I had zero concerns this time around. Zero.
I’ve learned a lot, so I thought I’d share the basics on some minor changes you might notice when switching your dog to a raw diet.
This post is sponsored by Balanced Blends. The company makes complete and balanced raw diets for dogs and cats.
Switching your dog to a raw diet – what to expect
Nothing! Sorry to break it to you, but chances are good you won’t notice any dramatic differences.
I remember pretty much hovering over Ace as he ate his first couple of raw meals and then watching him pretty close afterwards. I was worried he would get sick from the raw meat. He didn’t.
With Ace, I mixed his commercial raw dog food with his dry food for about a week for a slow transition. This is what most raw dog food brands, including Balanced Blends, will recommend.
Over the long term, you might start to notice:
- Your dog is a healthier weight
- He has more defined muscles
- His coat is healthier, less shedding, less dandruff
- Fewer allergies, less itchy skin and fewer ear infections
- Less poop! It’s true.
- Increased excitement around meals!
Of course, switching a dog to a raw diet is no magic “cure” for all health issues. But feeding your dog a healthy, fresh diet of real food will obviously make most dogs healthier in general from the inside out. That’s what’s most important, even if you can’t tell right away by looking at your dog.
During the initial transition, you might notice some slight changes:
1. Picky eaters. Your pet won’t eat the raw food. Most dogs practically inhale their raw food! Cats … they’re more likely to be difficult.
If you have a dog who is hesitant to try the raw food, definitely go with a slow transition, mixing her usual dry food or cooked food with the raw.
For picky cats, one tip from Balanced Blends is to start with canned food and then slowly add in small amounts of raw food. Also stop “free feeding” your cat and offer food at 2 or 3 specific mealtimes per day. (Pick up the food between meals.)
Note that my cats do not seem to have this problem. Little thieves!
2. Mild upset tummy. Your dog could get an upset tummy during the transition. This is common for dogs that have not had a lot of variety in their diets and then suddenly you mix it up. For them, a slow transition to the new food is probably best. (Same thing can happen when you switch from one dry dog food brand to another.)
If one of my dogs gets an upset stomach, I usually just fast them for a meal or two and then slowly introduce food again, starting with a smaller meal. I also feed them plain, canned pumpkin because it helps with diarrhea.
3. A detox period. If your dog has eaten a kibble diet his whole life, he might go through a bit of a detox, especially if he’s an older dog. Some signs of this could include looser stools, “runny” eyes or even more shedding than usual. I noticed all of these things during my older dog Ace’s initial transition.
4. Throwing up/regurgitation. This is normal, and it shouldn’t happen often if you’re feeding a ground, commercial raw diet. Your dog might throw up if he eats the food too fast, especially if he’s had a lot of water or if he’s running around shortly afterwards. It doesn’t mean he’s sick, just enthusiastic!
If you feed a homemade raw diet that includes raw bones or large chunks of meat, your dog might occasionally regurgitate those pieces, chomp them up a bit more and then re-eat them! This is normal. Gross, but normal. It will probably only happen occasionally, if at all.
5. You’ll get surprised reactions from friends. The idea of feeding a pet a raw diet is still new and surprising to the average person. You might get a few reactions from friends and family along the lines of, “You feed him RAW meat?” But it makes sense to most people when they stop and actually think about it. Dogs and cats are meant to eat meat!
Pre-made raw food is so helpful when you’re first starting
When you’re first switching your dog or cat to a raw diet, I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to start out with a pre-made, commercial food like Balanced Blends.
It takes away so much stress because you don’t have to run around buying and mixing all sorts of ingredients. You can just trust the meals are nutritionally balanced, the food is safe and since it’s ground you don’t have to worry about feeding raw bones.
Then, you can always switch to a homemade diet later on when you’re more comfortable.
Balanced Blends raw dog food coupon code
Balanced Blends is a new company that makes complete and balanced raw meals for dogs and cats. The meals are frozen and delivered to your door.