Transitioning a cat or dog to a raw diet is something that mainstream pet circles and even veterinarians raise an eyebrow to. However, more and more people realize the benefits of shifting your pet to a raw diet.
It is a major issue in the raw feeding world that we have to contend with. Nutrition is a complicated subject, and no one has a complete grasp of it.
However, eating a natural diet that is less processed helps supply the nutrients vital for a healthy, long life. Cats and dogs are carnivorous animals, dogs and wolves share a very similar digestive system. Dogs require diets that are high in protein and has roughage.
However, plant fiber is not good for them as it is not easy to digest. Their diet should also be low in carbs and calories. Cats also need foods that are high in protein but with minimal amounts of carbs as well as average amounts of fats.
Benefits of a raw diet for a cat or dog
There are many advantages that accrue as a result of feeding your cat a raw diet including:Bio-availability: Meat, fruits, and vegetables, in their natural state, improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients into the body. Additionally, adequate amounts of dietary protein are important as they help with the formation of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
The required food enzymes can be supplied by a raw diet: This helps reduce the need for pet’s bodies to produce more enzymes while ensuring that they protect the metabolic enzymes from exhaustion. Cats and dogs are usually born with a certain amount of metabolic enzymes that are critical for repairing and healing every bone, organ and muscle in their body. Without enough food enzymes in their diet, pets will produce more digestive enzymes that draws on their metabolic enzyme supply, which speeds up the aging process..Intracellular liquid: The liquid found inside the cells is known as intracellular fluid and is vital for helping your pet digest and process food. Getting this liquid from prey animals eliminates the stress of having to work harder to digest food.
It is important to note that while a raw diet can be beneficial for most cats and dogs, pets with chronic digestive issues may have a hard time adjusting to this form of diet. Moreover, any pet that is undergoing cancer treatment often has a suppressed immune system. As such, it is susceptible to bacterial infections. and should avoid a raw diet.
Is there any safety issue you should be worried about?
It is always crucial that you take care when handling raw meat. Unlike humans, cats and dogs have a particular digestive tract that is shorter and has a higher level of acidity. The good news is that this helps them process foods that normal human beings cannot digest. It also creates an environment where bacteria cannot thrive.
Of course, you want to make sure that you feed your dog healthy foods that are USDA inspected as well as approved raw meaty bones.
Transitioning to a raw diet
Patience is of the utmost importance when transitioning your pet to a raw diet. You should make sure that your pet’s digestive system stays healthy during this time and to achieve that, consider introducing digestive enzymes to their food before the change over to a raw diet. Sudden diet changes can disrupt their digestive system if not use to variety. As with any diet change, a 10-day transition will work best for your cat or dog. It should adhere to the following:
- 75% current diet and 25% raw diet during the first three days of the transition
- On the fourth to sixth days, their food should consist of 50% raw and 50% current diet
- Increase the raw diet to 75% and reduce the current diet to 25% on days 7, 8 and 9.
- You can feed them a 100% raw diet on the tenth day.
When it comes to the raw diet, make sure to concentrate on one type of prepared food. You can also opt for just meat or bones. Many dogs do best with a turkey or chicken diet. Like most processes, transitioning needs to be done gradually.
This means that rather than introduce raw foods into your pet’s diet instantly, doing it gradually will have more efficient and healthy results.
After the ten-day transition process, consider introducing a variety of foods after 3-4 weeks.
You can also start to cycle through other protein sources. Like with other foods, variety is the key to a healthy diet. Prepared foods are meant to be rotated.
Providing your dog with a raw marrow recreational bone every few days is an excellent way of providing mental and physical stimulation. It also comes with immense dental benefits and we all know that clean teeth are the telltale signs of a raw fed dog. Ensure that you scoop out the marrow from the bones to start with if your dog is overly sensitive. For some dogs, the richness and high-fat content of the marrow can be upsetting. Consider offering a treat in place of a bone that is too small as this can become a choking hazard.
Under no circumstances should you feed your dog marrow bones if he is an aggressive chewer. The reason is that they tend to try and eat the bone along with the marrow and as such, they could end up breaking a tooth or two. You also want to make sure that you take the marrow out if your dog has pancreatitis to avoid a severe case of diarrhea.
Keep in mind that a fresh, raw bone can quickly become a sloppy mess when given to your pup. As such, don’t provide one on brand new white carpeting as this may end up a disaster.
What changes should you expect after introducing a raw diet?
While they may be drinking less, a cat or dog that feeds on a raw diet gets more intracellular moisture from the foods they eat. This provides a more efficient way to break down and digest food. Introducing a raw diet also leads to a considerably reduced volume of stool and odor.
The stool from a dog on a raw diet tends to be harder, smaller and often chalky white. They will break down in a few days. It is important to note that this is normal and is due to the improved digestibility of food as well as the calcium content being higher in their new diet. With a change in their diet, don’t be alarmed if their stool changes daily.
The introduction of a raw diet can also trigger a healing crisis or detox period for some dogs and cats. This is not unusual. It is beneficial as the process gets rid of any toxins in the body. Some of the symptoms you may observe during this period include skin irritation, draining ears, slightly goopy ears, and looser stool.
Longer periods of detoxification may be seen in dogs on long-term drugs such as steroids and antibiotics. Consider consulting a vet if you suspect a more serious issue.
Raw feeding mistakes every pet owner should avoid
I have read websites that suggest throwing a whole chicken to a kibble fed dog is the best way to introduce a raw diet because naturally, he will know what to do with it. Of course, he will know what to do with it. However, this comes with several risks. For starters, bony meat or a whole chicken can be a choking hazard. While some dogs do great with whole birds, others do not.
If your animal has gastrointestinal disease, it is overly important that you work with a qualified vet when transitioning them to a raw diet. The last thing you want is to accomplish the transition but harm your dog in the process. Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease or an overactive system also need professional assistance when transitioning to a better diet. If your pet has gastrointestinal disease, ensure that they eat thoroughly ground and gently cooked food during the first few months of the transition. This means that bones are completely out of the question. Being fragile pets, involving a seasoned holistic veterinarian in the dietary transition can go a long way in ensuring that everything goes smoothly.
A raw diet can provide your cat or dog with immense benefits ranging from dental and physical stimulation to improved digestion capabilities. However, getting started feeding them a raw diet can quickly go south if you don’t go about it right.
There are so many things you need to consider including their current state of health. In some cases, you may be required to involve a professional vet. This guide highlights all the information you should be aware of when transitioning to a raw diet.
The most important thing to remember is that patience is everything.
Have you started your dog or cat on a raw diet? Please tell us about your experience in the comments below!