Pros & Cons of Different Methods You Will Come Across For Transitioning Your Dog To a Raw Diet
This is an area where there are a number of different views, ranging from going 'cold turkey' onto a full range, to only giving chicken, to mixing current and new diet and gradually swapping over.
Here we will concentrate on the basic logic, and what is known to work, and why we don't agree with the relatively new idea of 'chicken only,' and believe it poses more risk than benefit for you and your dog.
Gradually Mixing Dried & New To Change-Over
If you speak to anyone who is involved in some way with canine nutrition, they will tell you that whenever a dogs diet is changed there is the chance there could be digestive upset, and they would be right.
If they do not know enough about raw-feeding, in the next breath, they would then advise you to make any diet changes gradually, mixing the different diets, gradually decreasing the old one until the dog is totally on the new diet.
If you speak to someone who knows about raw-feeding, and has experience in helping people change their dogs over, and has an inkling about the risk areas involved with a raw diet, they will tell you that is a path that is Not best for your dog, and is best NEVER EVER gone down...
1. Stomach acid needs to be at full strength in order to be able to digest raw bone. Cooked diets do not allow stomach acid to be at full strength, thus you can end up with bone not being fully digested, this means risk of perforation and nutrients not being assimilated.
Therefore, if you mix cooked and raw, You create increased risk of undigested bone fragments and any issues that could result from that.
2. Raw diets move through the digestive system within 4-6hrs of being eaten, this, coupled with the fact that at full strength, canine stomach acid is at No.2 on the scale (with Sulphuric acid at No.1), means that bacteria is rarely a problem to a healthy rawfed dog because it does not have time to multiply to an extent where is can cause a problem, and the stomach acid plays its own part in dealing with the bacteria. Because dried foods take so much longer to digest (typically 15hrs) and pass through the digestive system, they keep the raw food back, resulting in bacteria having more time to multiply and cause problems.
3. For some dogs their digestive system is delicate and mixing two totally different diets, will result in upset, usually diarrhrea.
Some, relatively recently, have adopted a 'Chicken-Only' approach to changing a dog over to Raw, this is where they say your dog must
have nothing but plain raw chicken mince for at least the 1st week,
often 2 or 3 too, then you add in 1 new protein per week until you
have them on a full range, giving No offal until at least week 3, maybe
4. The logic behind this is that it is easier if your dog is only on 1
protein at a time, to know if something doesn't agree with him.
The reasons we will advise people NOT to follow this way of
changing over are:
1. The longer a dog stays on 1 protein, the more chance they will
become allergic to it, and chicken is one of the top 2 (equal with beef)
in being the protein which causes allergic problems more than any
other, it 'usually' takes longer to become allergic, But all dogs are at different levels of health, and equally, if a dog is intolerant to chicken,
it is soon picked up if they are not only on chicken all the time.
2. Raw food passes through the digestive system within 4-6hrs of eating, unlike dried processed food which take 15hrs, so you can see that it is going to be very easy to tell from meal to meal if something has not agreed with your dog, their digestive systems do not take that long when the raw food moves along it as quickly as it does, to produce 'effects'.
3. With all raw food suppliers, Plain Chicken is always the mince with the highest bone content, and no matter how many times you tell a dog-owner to watch dogs stools closely upon changing over to raw, many still don't realise just how closely they need to watch them, and too many who use this 'chicken-only' method, end up with constipated dogs, which causes the dog unnecessary discomfort and reinforces to any vet who does not like raw, that it is bad, and causes you more unnecessary vet bills.
4. Your dog still needs proper nutrition, even in those first few weeks of a new diet, it is true that balance can be achieved over time, but no-one knows how long a period of time that can be, so to wait 4wks until your dog gets any offal, (see our blog on how much goodness is in Liver: http://www.naturallyhealthydogs.co.uk/blog/2013/02/21/Does-Liver-have-a-place-in-Your-Dogs-Diet-.aspx ) is really not in your dogs best interests, or necessary.
Cold Turkey Onto a Full Range
There is very little reason not to use this method, which works very well, as is evidenced by the fact that a great many still use this method for changing their dogs over to a raw diet.
The one area where it can be improved, is for dogs with a sensitive digestion, as a big change all at once can prove too much for a few dogs, BUT it can also be the best thing for others.
This is where the method we promote via NHD makes the introduction to raw slow enough for sensitive digestions to cope with, but not too slow for those who have no problem adjusting.*
Our recommended way for changing your dogs diet from kibble to raw can be found here: