Transitioning your dog to a raw diet

Dog on a counter smiling.

Switching your dog to a raw food diet offers a multitude of health advantages. This nutritionally-rich approach aligns more closely with a dog's natural diet, leading to better nutrient absorption and overall well-being. Ensure a smooth and digestive-friendly transition with the following guidelines:

Gradual introduction

Begin by replacing a small portion—about 10%—of your dog's current kibble diet with raw food. Monitor your dog's stools closely. If they are firm and solid, it's a green light to increase the amount of raw food gradually until their entire meal is raw.

Temperature considerations

After thawing the raw food in the refrigerator, allow it to reach room temperature before serving. Eating food that's too cold or consuming it too quickly can cause some dogs to vomit. For tips on defrosting and storage, click here.

Introducing raw meaty bones

If raw meaty bones are a new experience for your dog, it's natural for them to be hesitant initially. Your dog might sniff or lick the bone without fully consuming it at first. Supervise early encounters to ensure your pet isn't attempting to swallow the bone whole. You may need to hold the bone initially to guide your dog on how to chew it effectively.

Location matters

Given that raw meaty bones can be messy, consider feeding them to your dog outdoors. Dogs have a tendency to carry these tasty treats to other areas of the house—like your couch—so it's best to keep this activity outside.

Changes in stool

Upon transitioning to a raw diet, it's common to notice changes in your dog's stool. Initially, you may observe softer, irregularly textured, or even discolored fecal matter, sometimes accompanied by mucus. This is often due to the digestive system adjusting to the new diet after being accustomed to processed commercial foods. It's also not uncommon for a dog to skip bowel movements for a day or two during this transition period. Once the digestive system has fully adapted, you can expect stool that is small, firm, virtually odorless, and quick to decompose.

By paying attention to these factors and carefully monitoring your dog's reactions, you're on the path to successfully switching your furry friend to a healthier, raw food lifestyle.

If your dog is currently eating kibble, gradually transitioning will decrease the likelihood of digestive issues. Start slowly by replacing 10% of your dog's current food for several meals, gradually increasing the amount of raw until it's all raw. Keep increasing the amount of raw if your dog has firm, solid stools.

Once the food has been thawed in the refrigerator, you can let it warm up to room temperature before feeding. Some dogs will throw up if they eat it too fast or if the food is too cold. Learn more about defrosting and storage.

Dogs may be hesitant at first with raw meaty bones if they haven’t ever eaten them before. Your dog may sniff at it or lick it for a while and not know quite what to do. If raw meaty bones are new for your dog, you'll want to watch the first few times to make sure your dog is chewing it and not trying to swallow it whole. You can try holding it for them until they figure out how to chew bones like their jaws were intended to do. Eating them slowly is fine. If possible, it's best to feed RMBs outside. They can be messy and dogs like to try to take them somewhere else in the house. Like your couch 😯

In the beginning you may see stools that are loose, odd or not happening. This is completely normal and natural when switching to a raw diet. You may see some soft, badly formed, oddly textured and/or oddly colored stool, sometimes with mucus. Dogs sometimes have trouble digesting raw food properly after being on highly processed commercial food and it takes a while for everything to start working properly. It is not unusual to have a day or two without a bowel movement. Once the digestive system has adapted, you will see stool that is firm, small, essentially odorless and quick to dry out and decompose.