A guide to transitioning your dog onto raw food

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Raw Dog Food

 

So you want to move your dog over onto a raw dog food but you’re not quite sure where to start. Well, firstly it’s all about getting the basic’s right, laying those all-important foundations.  This is where some don’t always get it just so and can run into problems. Their dog develops a runny bum or vomits the food back up. This can then put the owner off continuing with the raw transition. A trip to the vets to seek advice can result in further despondency when you’re met with negativity in that what you’ve tried to do for your beloved dog has created intolerance. Which in essence isn’t completely wrong but perhaps the part that’s lacking is where you went wrong and guiding you through it.

So, where should you begin and how exactly….So this blog is firstly written around feeding adult dogs only, 12 months and over. You should aim to feed your adult dog 2-3% of its body weight per day. This is only a guide remember.  Should you have a dog which is being worked as a gun dog or trials then you will need to raise that daily percentage and lower it back down on rest days. So you’ll need to know your dog’s weight, it pays to weigh them every few months or better still assess your dog’s body shape with the naked eye.  Firstly it’s always a really good idea to keep a daily diary of what you’re feeding your dog. That way should you run into any problems you can easily backtrack and not have to remember of the top of your head what you fed 2 days ago. It’s good to know the differing stomach PH.

A dry kibble fed dog has a stomach PH of 2.5 and a raw fed dog is around 1.5 PH. So this is why it’s paramount to lay the foundations when starting your raw feeding journey.  The first thing that’s important to note is it’s advised not to start giving raw meat with bone content. The reason behind this is that you’re dog’s stomach PH needs to become more acidic and lowered to the level of 1.5 to enable it to digest the bone. If you feed a chicken wing or a duck neck then their digestion is really going to struggle to digest it and it could result in an intestinal blockage.

I wanted to point out here it’s not advisable to feed dry kibble alongside raw food. The reason behind this is due to the differeing PH levels in the gut. If your dog’s digestion is still partly alkaline then this will put strain on the dogs digestion trying to break down raw bone. This can lead to a dog taking longer to  settle onto a raw food, the dogs stomach is recieving mixed messages. Remember the stomach is the second brain, so this will affect the dog overall. It may lead to more digestion upsets too. I truly believe in making the switch straight over. I’ve transitioned many dogs this way and they’ve all continued successfully.

 

Begin firstly with green tripe, Lamb or Ox, either or this stuff’s amazing!

Yes, it smells but it really kicks start your dog digestive enzymes and it’s gentle on the stomach. Used as a base it’s the best start to raw feeding, it helps by allowing the stomach acidity to increase. It may also help to add in a small amount of apple cider vinegar with mother. With mother it means it’s unrefined and don’t be alarmed to see cloudy sediment, that’s just perfect. Feed in with the tripe, add this at a ratio of 1-2 tsp to every 25kg of your dog’s body weight this can encourage the stomach acidity. 

I usually advise that you feed this for a week then you can go onto add another protein, I advise either chicken or Turkey unless you know your dog has a sensitivity to chicken, at this stage you ideally need to feed these without any offal, at this stage offal maybe too rich for your dogs digestion. Before I move on I just want to say some owners of kibble fed dogs think their dogs have sensitivities to chicken but in actual fact, it’s purely caused by the quality of chicken used in dry dog foods. Chicken is the commonest protein that is pumped with various antibiotics-steroids to not only keep them alive but to get them to grow to a good weight for the food chain. Now many commercial dry dog foods use very poor quality chicken, some which have very dubious processes and yes even those that are expensive and sold in vet clinics. That’s a whole other topic for another time though.

Week 1 Feed your dog minced raw green tripe.

 Week 2 If you’ve had no issues during week 1, you can now move onto adding raw Turkey or Chicken to the tripe. If after week 2 you haven’t had any issues (runny bum or vomiting) you can now move over to a complete mince for week 3 & 4 which is 80/10/10. This percentage equates to 80% meat 10% offal 10% bone.

Again try to feed a complete mince which is made up of Tripe & Turkey or Tripe & Chicken. Continue with adding the Apple cider vinegar.

If after week 4 your sailing along with no issues then you can begin to add another protein such as duck. So in any one week, you would ideally feed tripe & turkey or tripe & chicken and some days of the same week, tripe & duck, for instance, all in the same week remember. The key is to eventually work up to 3-4 different proteins per week.

The reason behind feeding the variation of proteins on rotation basis is so that your dog doesn’t build up any intolerances to any particular one protein. Plus each protien offers different ranges of nutrition. Should you run into a problem during one of the weeks when you’ve introduced a new protein then you should stop that last protein and stick with the one’s you’ve already been feeding that haven’t thrown up any issue’s. Once your dogs settled again then add a different protein and try again. You can always come back to the original protein that gave you the problem at a later date to try again. Some times dogs needs just a little longer before they try them out again.

Week 4 This is the time I like to start my new raw feeders with chicken necks, these are small and provide a softer bone to start of with. You can also feed chicken or duck feet. But if your feeding the complete don’t feed to many in any one given week because this could cause chalky, crumbly poo, too much bone. The average dog needs around 10% bone in their diet but this is only a guide, some dogs need more and some less, you will get to gauge this over time. Once you’ve successfully tried chicken necks you can then move onto chicken wings again feed 1 or 2 per week. But remember when you add a chicken wing to your dog’s daily intake you need to take a portion out from the complete mince that you’re feeding that day.  When you know your dog can cope with eating chicken wings you can move onto duck necks or duck wings, duck bones are much harder bone. Any bone which contains joints like the wings or feet contain chondroitin & Glucosamine  this naturally accurs in the cartlidge.

Never leave your dog unattended with bones.  Adding bones such as these will give your dog an immense eating experience as well as the nutritional benefits.

If you have a small breed and really don’t feel comfortable about feeding wings or necks then you can always give these bones a bash with a rolling pin, which will break them down slightly. I know many breeders who rear litters of puppies do this to encourage their pups to eat bones.

Once your dogs settled after the first month you can start to slowly introduce other proteins. Always bear in mind the richer proteins, like Venison, Pheasant, Pork. I would advise leaving trying these until a little further down the line. Again introduce slowly. When you feel more confident you can add chunks of meat into the bowl, something for your dog to chow on, I’m all for the eating experience!

Let’s talk Fish… I’m not a fan of adding fish oil from a bottle due to it becoming rancid too quickly, it can oxidise. In my opinion its far better to feed the real deal. Oily fish contains Omega 3 long-chain fatty acids. Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation within the body, it aids the immune system. Inflammation comes in many varying forms, not just a sore, stiff dog. I’ll go more into this in another blog. Feeding to much chicken which is high in Omega 6 raises inflammation within the body, so it’s important to balance it with Omega 3. You can start adding a whole fish to your dog’s bowl from week 4. Many feed whole sprats or herring raw. Add 1 or 2 to the bowl twice weekly. Some dogs like them to be left frozen, like a frozen lollipop.

Try not to feed to much fat,  whilst quality fat is full of nutrients for your dog, it can block the release of protein in the meat which is super important for your dog. Its all about balance.

The next thing I wanted to point out is you should never cook or warm up your complete raw meals. Complete meals contain bone, bone should never be fed cooked to your dog. Cooked bone is highly likely to cause blockages.

 

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