Even after identifying the 10 common mistakes beginners make when transitioning to raw, changes and hiccups happen along the way. Monitoring a dog’s stool production and consistency during the transition phase will allow pet parents to make any necessary adjustments to assist the dog transition. The following are some variables to be aware of and prepared for.
Less Water Consumption
It is normal to see a dog’s water consumption significantly decrease when transitioning to a raw diet. Dry dog food has little to no moisture whereas a raw diet provides about 60-70% water. Therefore, the dog is receiving the majority of its water requirements through the diet.
Be sure to always have fresh water available even though the dog may not consume much throughout the day. If the pet parent is concerned with a dog’s lack of water intake, adding in moisture into the diet is an option:
Less Stool Production
Since dogs and cats are designed to digest and metabolize raw foods, they produce less waste. Additionally, raw diets do not contain unnecessary ingredients to serve as filler. The body digests and absorbs the majority of the nutrients from the food consumed in a raw diet.
Depending on the number of meals fed in a day, it is normal to see a dog stool 1-2 times a day. Puppies may exceed these numbers since they are fed more frequently than adults. Additionally, if fed one meal a day, it is normal to see a dog stool every other day.
Liquid, white foamy, yellow bile vomits are referred to as “hunger pukes”. A kibble-fed stomach is typically bloated with food, whereas a raw-fed stomach empties out quickly and the sensation of hunger hits dogs faster. The anticipation of food makes the body prepare for digestion (the gallbladder releases bile). This causes the dog to feel nauseous…then the dog vomits. There are three simple solutions to this problem:
Vary Feeding Times
Vary the feeding times the dog eats. This way the dog does not know when the next meal is coming.
Feed a small snack in between meals.
GI irritation can happen for some dogs who have been eating a high carbohydrate diet (kibble) for a prolonged period of time. Raw feeding does not include high amounts of carbohydrates. Instead, it provides quality protein and natural fats.
If the dog experiences diarrhea in the transition, feed lower fat ingredients. If chicken is being fed, remove the skin and trim away any excess fat on meats. This will provide a meal lower in fat to help the body acclimate to digesting raw protein and fat.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics are ideal for helping dogs transition into raw feeding, especially when the dog is showing signs of GI upset. More often than not, dogs transition into raw feeding with ease. However, some lack the appropriate gut flora to help digest the new food source where additional supplementation is beneficial.
Give Slippery Elm Bark (SEB) powder 15 minutes before a meal when diarrhea is present to help with GI inflammation. When diarrhea stops, stop giving the SEB powder. The recommended dosage for SEB is 1/4tsp per 10lbs (4.5kg) body weight.
Achieve the Perfect Poo Article
One component of raw feeding, although not very glamorous, is to oversee stool production. Follow the recommendations in the perfect poo article when a pet is experiencing diarrhea.
Overfeeding calcium-based foods, particularly raw meaty bones, will result in hard and chalky stools. Many pets are capable of eliminating hard stools. However, if too much bone has been fed, constipation is possible.
Eliminate raw meaty bones and other unnecessary additional ingredients. Adjust meals to only include muscle meat and organs. The boneless muscle meat and organs have a laxative effect and will assist in bowel movements. Additionally, add in SEB powder which lubricates the colon wall and helps with the elimination of stool during constipation.
Slippery Elm Bark (SEB) has dual purposes for supplemental support. Give SEB powder 15 minutes before a meal when constipation is present to help lubricate the GI. When stools regulate, stop giving the SEB powder. The recommended dosage for SEB is 1/4tsp per 10lbs (4.5kg) body weight.
Bone & Calcium Content in RMB
Raw meaty bones (RMB) contain edible bone, muscle meat, fats, and connective tissue; and each RMB will vary in the edible bone content. Calculating the amount of edible bone present helps prevent constipation in raw diets.
Resource guarding is often a topic brought up in raw feeding based on the simple fact that raw food is highly valued by dogs. Touching a dog while it eats, playing with a dog’s food, taking food away without a trade item, and other similar actions is very dangerous when a dog exhibits resource guarding. However, resource guarding over raw food is normal behavior. A dog simply values the new food source and does not want to lose it.
Raw feeders should provide the dog space when eating. Do not hover. Instead, watch from a safe distance. If the dog needs to be approached, walk up, drop another piece of food, and walk away. This will show the dog someone is approaching to give – not take.
It is recommended to seek professional guidance from a qualified trainer to help with resource guarding behavior if a dog or cat exhibits aggression with their food. Jean Donaldson has published a book, Mine, that provides a step by step guide on how to manage and modify resource guarding behavior. This is an invaluable book for dealing with resource guarding.
"CHANGE IS NOT ALWAYS EASY."
Ronny LeJeune, CertCN, CPDT-KA, CCC
Transitioning to a raw diet can go smoothly and other times there are road bumps along the way. These are the common problems that may arise when transitioning to a raw diet and how to overcome those hurdles.