Changing a Dog to a Raw Diet

Switching your beloved canine companion to a raw diet is a transformative journey that can enhance their overall well-being. While it's easier than ever to make the transition with pre-packaged beginner's kits, some pet owners may prefer a more hands-on approach. In this article, we'll explore the key principles of transitioning your dog to a raw diet to ensure a smooth and successful switch.


The 'Cold Turkey' Approach

One common recommendation when transitioning to a raw diet for dogs is to go "cold turkey" on their previous dry food. The rationale behind this is to allow the stomach's pH levels to naturally decrease in preparation for the raw diet. Raw meats and bones require high acidity in the stomach, with a low pH of approximately 1-2, to effectively digest proteins, especially bones. Dry dog food, on the other hand, promotes higher pH levels in the stomach, typically around pH 4, which reduces acidity. This alteration in pH can inhibit proper digestion of the raw diet and make the dog more susceptible to pathogenic bacteria. Dogs with high acidity levels in their stomachs are better equipped to control these harmful pathogens.


To help lower stomach pH levels and create an environment conducive to raw feeding, consider introducing a probiotic a week before transitioning. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to their dry diet daily can be a helpful option to foster a healthier digestive environment.


Gradual Introduction of Protein Sources

When you embark on the raw diet journey, it's wise to begin with a single protein source. Chicken meat is a popular choice due to its accessibility and ease of digestion. Stick to this one protein source for about a week or two. As your dog adjusts to the new diet, you'll notice changes in their stool. Raw-fed dogs typically have firmer, smaller, and less odorous stools compared to those on dry food.


Introducing Bones

Bones are a crucial component of a raw diet. However, they can be a bit challenging for your dog's digestive system, especially in the beginning. To ensure a smooth transition, introduce soft, non-load-bearing bones like chicken frames or backs around the third week of the diet. These bones are easier to break down and digest, reducing the risk of digestive issues.


Handling Offal

Offal, the nutrient-rich organ meats, is an essential part of a balanced raw diet. However, some dogs may experience loose stools when first introduced to offal. To prevent this, it's advisable to wait at least a couple of weeks before incorporating organ meats into their diet. This gives your dog's digestive system time to adapt to the raw food, minimizing the risk of any adverse reactions.


Special Considerations for Older Dogs

For older dogs that have exclusively consumed dry dog food for most of their lives, transitioning to a raw diet may require a more gradual approach. Going "cold turkey" might not work for them. Instead, consider adding approximately 25% raw food to their existing dry diet and monitor their stool consistency. Gradually increase the proportion of raw food while ensuring their digestive system adapts to the change.



 Changing your dog to a raw diet can be a rewarding experience that can lead to improved health and vitality for your furry friend. Whether you opt for a "cold turkey" transition or choose a more gradual approach, it's essential to monitor your dog's response and adjust as needed. Remember that each dog is unique, and their transition to a raw diet may require some customization. With patience and careful observation, you can help your dog make a smooth and successful switch to a raw food diet, providing them with a nutritious and wholesome diet that supports their overall well-being.