Transitioning to Raw Diet Dog Food

Many pet owners are moving to raw diet dog food in hopes of improving their dog's health. Though there is much debate about the value of such diets, many experts and owners swear by its positive effects.

Choosing a Raw Diet

The raw diet movement really took off during all of the pet food recalls of the last decade. People started studying the ingredients in pet foods and noticed a lot of preservatives, dyes and artificial ingredients.

A raw diet eliminates all of those extra ingredients and consists of, depending on which kind you buy, just ground meat or meat with ground bone and vegetables. Many owners are even creating their own raw diets from meat they purchase at the butcher.


When switching to a raw diet, it's important to remember that dogs don't process their food like humans. They can't tolerate a lot of the hormones used in human-grade meat, so it's important to choose organic meat whenever possible.

Dogs are also not carnivores, so they require nutrients from vegetables as well. Add vegetables such as green beans, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower to your dog's diet. Be sure to grind it in a food processor or blender before serving.

You can also add fruits and grains for additional minerals and nutrients. Good fruits include apples, bananas, berries, prunes and figs. These can be added to the meal or given as healthy snacks. Grains are controversial, but many experts feel that barley, millet and oatmeal can make a good addition to a raw diet. These, however, must be cooked.

If you don't give your dog a commercial raw diet with bone crushed in it, supplement the diet with raw bones or bone meal powder. Meat doesn't have a lot of calcium, but bone does. Dogs need to be supplemented with some form of calcium.

Transitioning to a Raw Diet

Though we are taught to ease dogs into a new food, raw diets don't require much transitioning. Because they don't contain ingredients foreign to your dog's system, he will adjust relatively quickly.

In fact, it can be difficult to transition slowly, mixing raw food with kibble, because you might be overdoing it on certain supplements or causing your dog's body extra stress if he is allergic to the kibble. Most dogs can eat a meal of kibble in the morning and transition to raw at dinner, and not have a single health issue.

If you're concerned about your dog's sensitive stomach, start with the same protein that you were feeding in your dog's kibble. Since that's the majority of the food, stick with the protein to which your dog is accustomed. If you are feeding a chicken-based kibble, feed chicken for the first few days. After that, however, it is good to switch proteins regularly to avoid your dog developing an allergy to one.

An additional dietary aid is pumpkin. Add a spoonful of canned or fresh pumpkin, but not pumpkin pie mix, to your dog's food for the first few days. This serves to soothe the digestive system and help your dog's body through the transition.