Do You Have any Tips and Tricks to help a Novice Pet Parent with the Transition to Raw Food for Cats and Dogs?
This is a collection of little bits of advice from many who have made the switch to raw, and shared their experience.
- Know your pet: Every fur kid is different and will adjust in his own way. Her character, health and eating habits will usually determine what the transition will be like. If your fur kids likes to “steal” food that was dropped by mistake, introduce new ingredients by “accidentally” dropping them and letting them get away with it.
- Hunger: is probably your best tool of persuasion for a stubborn fur kids. A day of fasting is recommended by many experienced raw feeders, once or even twice a week. Dogs can go days without food without any long term effects. We do not encourage starving your dog, but a day of fasting after years of commercial food will usually only benefit the digestive system. Hunger can make even the most finicky of cats much more open to new gastronomic experiences, Cats who are used to an “all day buffet” should be limited to meal times in order to create actual hunger. Please consult a pet health provider before fasting (or avoid fasting) puppies, old, underweight or sick pets. Cats should not be denied food for long periods as they are susceptible to a liver disease called hepatic lipidosis, which can be serious and even fatal, especially to overweight cats. If a fast switch seems to deprive your feline kids from the amount of food she needs, use the slower transition methods.
- Pro-enzymes: Pets who have been on commercial food diet, have little or none of certain enzymes (and bacteria) that the stomach and intestines will naturally develop. Many people would recommend using pro-enzymes (probiotics), or probiotic yogurt, in order to aid the digestive system during the transition and even on a regular bases. Checkout our page on supplements here.
- Tripe: Much like pro-enzymes the tripe (cow or sheep stomach), is recommended by many as an aid to digestion, both in the transition time and afterwards. The tripe itself is full of enzymes, nutrients and micro organisms. It is always recommended to use the green tripe which is unwashed. Don’t let the smell repel you (it is not rotten, that’s how it’s supposed to smell), your fur kids love it!
- Sprinkle: Even when doing a quick switch, some pet owners recommend sprinkling “kibble powder” on the raw food to give it a familiar scent. Cats are, in many cases, pickier about their food and may need to be tricked into their new diet. The sprinkling method or any other form of making raw smell like something they recognize as food is recommended.
- Suspicious pets: Cats in particular may be more receptive to bite-sized fillet pieces of meat in order to get used to the taste, and texture. Put the pieces on a surface where they can inspect it. The bowl might not be comfortable for that.
- Keep it simple: When transitioning and running into any side effects (let’s say, diarrhoea for example), you may ask yourself what caused it. Although it is a normal reaction, if your pet has been fed a multitude of meat type along with different combinations of fruit, veggies, scraps, treats and supplements, you may wonder if one of those may be the cause. The safest bet is to start with (or go back to) a simple diet. Choose one type of raw meaty meal – chicken is usually a safe bet – and go with that for a while. Higher bone content may by itself help with diarrhoea, and higher meat content (and veggies) might result in the opposite. After the stomach gets used to that, gradually start adding more ingredients and variations. If you have stumbled upon something that doesn’t agree with your fur kid, it will be easy to identify, and later avoid or try more cautiously.
- Try different things: your fur kids may love raw meat but doesn’t find one type appealing. Try more then one type of meat if the first one is unwanted.
- Temperature: How do you prefer it? Cold or room temp. Some fur kids will eat meat out of the freezer and some will prefer it body temperature. In any case DO NOT use a microwave to thaw or warm the meat or bones.
- Balance: Remember the balance in the raw diet is not something one needs to measure on daily basis, it should be looked at in weeks or longer so if there are any hiccups in the diet or ingredients in first few weeks, there is no cause for alarm.
- Even if only chicken: Chicken is probably the best all around raw meat to feed. The bones are soft enough for any dog to handle, it is rich with fatty acids and it’s highly accessible. Chicken is a good alternative to get started with, then adding more, ingredients and variety later. Feeding the backs, wings and necks (which have a large bone to meat ratio) will also help in case of diarrhoea. Although your fur kids may live a long and healthy life eating chicken alone, it is recommended to add nutritional variety for the full range and balance and nutrients her body needs.
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