Top tips for switching dogs to raw dog food…

In a very small number of cases switching to raw dog food can be a bit tricky. Your dog has most likely been eating that dry diet for a long time. His stomach is conditioned to it. This is why any change in diet can cause an upset. You need to introduce raw dog food slowly.

*Please note, a dog constantly regurgitating is not normal, it needs veterinary advice.

They Might Need to Acclimatise Their Guts to Raw Dog Food…

There is a lot of confusion over how to introduce raw dog food to dogs. Some believe that feeding fresh food will result in a “nutrient explosion” that the previously dry fed dog has never experienced. That’s not quite so. It’s more likely though that a stomach acidity problem will occur as the digestive system has been conditioned to the dry fed diet.

Studies show dry fed dogs have a stomach pH of around 2.5 (similar to the average humans), while fresh fed dogs (and cats and wolves) have a much lower stomach acidity of around pH 1.5 (which is ten times lower than pH2.5 and akin to battery acid), the reason for this disparity is that the enzymes required to digest a low protein, cereal based meal (dry food) have a higher acidity of pH 2.5 while the enzymes required to reduce a high protein, meat and bone meal, quickly to liquid chyme have an acidity of Ph 1.5.

a ham sandwich, representing that you can mix wet and dry dog foodCan you Mix Raw Dog Food with Dry?

It’s rumoured dogs can’t be fed dry and raw at the same time due to “different digestive rates”. However, there’s a bit on confusion here. Think about it you can have a nice ham sandwich (wet and dry) or dry fed dogs can safely eat canned meat with dry without any issues. They have guts of battery acid for heavens sake! The occasional hiccup when transitioning has led to many misunderstandings with some people concluding that their dog “doesn’t like raw dog food”, but that’s far from the truth. It’s simply that they are not used to it.

A dog fed dry dog food daily will have stomach acidity adapted to digest a dry food meal. Before their next meal dry fed dogs release enzymes and stomach acids of pH 2.5 into the stomach to digest the cereal meal (this is the gurgling and squirting sounds that can be heard). However, instead of cereal feed arriving in the stomach there is a load of raw meat and the gut is not prepared to digest the meat completely. As a precaution, the tight pyloric sphincter will not allow the undigested lumps of meat and bone through. Instead, the dog vomits it out (and probably tries to eat it again!).

However, all that said, to be safe, please don’t feed kibble with meat on the bone. There may be a small amount of dilution of stomach acids and, if so, we don’t want it to happen when there’s meat to be digested. You can mix dry with premade (and thus ground) raws available in most pet shops but please feed meaty bones separately.

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Top Tips When Switching To Raw Dog Food

Wean Them Slowly

I did a poll of 400 raw dog food owners to see how much sickness / vomiting was seen when switching to raw suddenly or using the slower method above. There was close to 200 dogs in each camp. Incredibly, around 10% of both saw some sickness!! That was very telling. I really don’t think it makes much of a difference what way you do it. 

Some dogs are going to baulk for whatever reason, so whatever suits you here. If you think he’ll dive straight in then dive straight in next meal. But I still like the acclimatisation way! This involves 5% one day mixed into their normal food, 10% the next etc. We have always advised to move over slowly and we are not seeing any hiccups with way. And start with a product you know he’s going to like, usually something chicken or beed based (as most dry foods are based on these proteins). 

Do Not Feed Big Lumps

Dice the food up small or mince , to guarantee easy passage.

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A photo of Dr. Conor Brady of Dogs First