Please note this info is directed towards Dogs, other pets will require more personal research, as I have experience in dogs I have chosen to do research on them. But I am sure there is also similiar info on other pets. Just make sure it is a reliable source.
This conversation has come up quite a bit lately, with the dog food recalls, with the increase in diseases in our pets, constant health issues with feeding packaged foods, constantly changing foods to meet our dogs natural needs...... and on and on.
It seems we are all looking for the BEST for our pets and go automatically to our trusted " Dr.Google" and WOW !!! there is so much info out there to confuse us even more and then the fear of the unknown on "is my pet getting enough nutrients??" where do you stop, who do you trust, can you do it.
This is a hard decision and I understand the hesitation, getting advice from friends and advice from our trusted VETS, so where do you go???
In researching Raw/Frozen/Freeze Dried options talk about overwhelming, the labels sound good enough feed a human!!
THEN you dig deep in the ingredients ,just saying half those words give me a headache!!!!
So what are our options, what can we be comfortable with, is it right, should I, these are all the thoughts I have constantly.
So I started digging and talking with those who have their pets on RAW, and my thoughts (please note these are my opinions and thoughts ONLY) I am by no means an expert but feel for the health and happiness of my pets I needed to at least try.
How to know it is right for your dog, current habits for feeding, training and things to consider:
Can you make it on your own? Can you create a balance nutritional diet for your dog??
If you buy a pre-made product? does it have everything my dogs needs and NO additives that create issues
There are so many options in pet stores and other avenues for dog food, some people even have neighbours that make raw and will sell it to you.
You must really be choosey when you are thinking of the health and digestion of your dog. Not all raw dog food is equal, some use veg, some use fruits, some use pro and pre biotics!! how and what is right to feed.
In my research and from my dogs I do know that what I am doing is definitely on the right track: 80% meat 10% bones 10% ofal (organs) in that percentage, always look for companies that use the percentage for creating their foods.
Is my dog ready for a raw diet, is the current condition of his digestive system ready??
Dogs with digestive issues need to be given a slower, process!!
Sensitive stomach, IBS, gut instablity, these can all cause a really poor transition to raw food.
Every dog like us humans process foods differently, also the current diet they are on can also affect the transition.
Start slow as a treat and work your way up to full meals, this will give your pets systems time to adjust and transition slowly not shocking it and creating other issues.
Some may need a detox first prior to transitioning to Raw food and may require thoroughly blended and slightly cooked food for a slow transition, start slow and simple in the beginning. Dogs with digestive issue need extra care and attention during this process.
What are the current eating habits of your dog:
do they tend to eat: fast, gobble it down, slow, 1 meal a day 2 meals a day or 3 meals a day.
Are they Gluppers or slow Chew!!!
Sometimes dogs have special dishes that slow the eating down you will need to adjust the eating habits: Slow and steady!!!
This is very important when switching them over, they will need to be monitored.
Yes this may sound odd but it can tell alot about how your dog is transitioning to raw.
How many times does he poop now?
What does the poop look like solid/soft ?
How to control the "BLOW OUT" and trust me it will happen!!!
Stomach Issues/signs to watch for:
Stomach upset it the first thing that triggers when you are changing from kibble to raw:
Vomitting, yellowish bile
Turn their nose up to the smell of raw, stubborness
Balancing their "gut flora" (bacteria and enzymes) what you need to help them get this back to normal!!
Dry food expands 2 - 5 times to be able to digest in their stomach!!! one of the reasons a dog will drink 4 times as much water as a dog on raw, they need water to just be able to break down the kibble just to be able to digest it!!!
Raw is a higher caloric dense diet, with less volume, they may think they are hunger all the time it will take 7-10 days to adjust, longer for larger breeds, just think of how much kibble you feed your dog, and how much space they need to expand to add water to the kibble to be able to digest the kibble, well now you need to retrain the stomach back to normal digestion to be able to eat properly.
Things to watch for an monitor when transitioning to raw food:
Bloating; some breeds and larger breeds are prone to bloating, excessive exercise after eating can cause bloating!! resereach your breed if they are prone to bloating, you will need to feed smaller amounts a few times a day instead one meal a day. You must monitor this one and consult a vet for options.
Yellow bile; if you notice a yellow bile in your dogs stool after switching to raw this could be a indicator that the food is too rich and an underlying issue with the pancreas. IT is not caused by raw food but will be come very evident when you switch to raw food. You should consult your vet!!
Itchy Hot Spots; sometimes will happen when the raw food you are feeding is too rich in one or more proteins, you should switch the proteins (different meats) and increase the fat content and /or add vegetables!
"BLOW OUT DIARRHEA" this is the one single largest, nastiest, gross, disgusting thing that makes every one quit!!! trust me it happened to me with several dogs!!! for several days, once I understood the stomach and what was happening, it was fine. But if I would have known this ahead of time don't think it would have happened at ALL!!!
These are a few things to watch for and monitor, please remember if you notice anything odd or NOT normal for your pet see a vet or ask another "raw dog food feeder" if they have experienced this!!
What a Healthy Size Pet should look like for you to use as a guide!!
It can be sometimes very daunting to figure out "is your pet too fat!!! "is your pet too skinny" this photo above can give you a good indicator, please remember the info is here for a guide if you feel or are unsure ALWAYS!!! ALWAYS consult a professional vet.
Weight can be a huge indicator of improper digestions or other underlying organ issues!! monitor their weight if you can weight before you start raw and then keep track of it for a while.
We actually switch 1/2 of our breeding stock to raw food and 1/2 stayed on kibble we noticed a drastic change in weight in our purebreed cavaliers and also noticed they were much calmer and stronger in activity, we did not realize they were in the number 4 category and we approaching the number 5 category without having this info we would not have considered them OBESE but now with healthy eating they are much more settled and content in their days and acutally play more than ever before.
Switching to RAW food can be overwhelming and daunting, the info can be confusing and frustrating, if you can learn anything from my "Blogs" don't do what I DID !!!
Dr. Google can and is WRONG some times, you really need to listen to your dog, you know them the best and understand what they need and don't need, what is normal or what is not normal.
Once you get thru the beginning transition you will definitely see the difference in your dogs: coat, temperament, eating habits, poop and you will have the confidence that you are doing the best thing for the health of your pet.
next "BLOG" what you need to start, when to start, what to look for in "raw food" companies.