Feeding Raw - Hints and Guidelines
Step 1: Getting Started
Most animals do best with a quick change to a raw food diet - quite simply you take away the old food and begin the new. There are usually no problems with this - the food smells and tastes delicious, and most animals instinctively recognise and enjoy it. The quick switch is especially important for dogs and cats suffering from allergies or skin problems.
Experienced raw food feeders suggest that you allow your animals a 24-hour fast, or at least a mini-fast prior to feeding raw. A mini-fast means that you skip their normal food for one dinner, perhaps replacing it with a nice meaty beef bone for dogs or a chicken neck for cats. Then, you give them their first complete meal for breakfast the next day. This helps with the de-toxification process.
Most owners struggle with the fasting idea though, and so we only suggest it for the very brave! For the rest of you - make sure that you are relaxed about the switch as your pets will pick up any tension. Then simply feed them their new delicious food without any fuss.
Please note that although dogs can tolerate long fasts, cats should never be fasted for more than 24 hours.
It is best to feed your dogs one flavour (one type of protein) for 2-3 days before introducing the next type. This helps their digestive systems to adapt. For cats, we stick to the one flavour only, as changes can cause fussiness.
Either way, if you are switching your animals from kibble (pellets) or cooked food, don’t be alarmed if their stools are a bit mucousy or runny for the first two days. Their systems are just ridding themselves of toxins. If they still have runny stools after this, please check that their de-worming is up to date. For those who prefer natural methods, we do stock a herbal de-wormer.
For old dogs, young puppies, or sickly dogs, and for some canine fussy eaters, a slow switch is better. With this method you change your dogs diet over four days as follows:
Day 1: 75% of their old food mixed well with 25% “Give a Dog a Bone”.One disadvantage of the slow switch is that some dogs have sensitive digestive systems, and they can’t tolerate the two vastly different types of food in their digestive system at the same time. It may lead to vomiting and upset tummies.
It is important to mix this well, so that it all becomes one “glop” of food.
Day 2: A 50/50 mix of both foods
Day 3: 25% of the old food, 75% “Give a Dog a Bone”
Day 4: 100% raw food
You know your own dog best, so we trust you to choose the method that is best for him/her. Just be sure that you are not reacting to any of your own fears about the new diet, and feel free to call us if you are feeling unsure in any way.
Cats are notoriously fussy eaters! They instinctively resist changes to their diets. Some cats will make a quick switch to raw food with no problems. For most older cats, however, more time and patience is needed. If you have been feeding your cat pellets/kibble, your first step is to get it out of the house, or at the very least to put the kibble in the fridge. With their incredible sense of smell, a cat will know that the dried food is still around, and dried food is coated with flavourants that give off strong scents to a cat. If your cat will not take to the raw food immediately, rather switch it to a canned food first, so that it can get used to the texture of moist food.
If you have been free-feeding dry food it is necessary for your cat to become used to a meal schedule. Feed the moist food twice a day at regular times. Do not leave it out for more than twenty minutes. Don’t give in to fear if your cat does not respond well initially. You are trying to change a life-time habit, and it will take your animal at least a week to ten days to trust the adjustment. If you need to entice your cat, you can use some flavour bribes. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese often works well. Or a little bit of fish oil. If you are really desperate, you can crush some of the dry food and sprinkle this over the raw food. A wonderful website that is filled with ideas on this subject is www.catnutrition.org
Don’t let all this talk of difficulties scare you off. Keep in mind that many cats take to raw food quickly and with delight. It is their natural way of eating, but we have trained them out of it. Give your stubborn cat some time, and its instincts will break through.
For both dogs and cats it is important to limit treats during the period of introduction to the new food. If you can’t resist treating, then let your treats be bits of natural food: whole food like a bone to chew on, a chicken neck or the occasional egg yolk, or a small piece of apple or banana for dogs.
Don’t forget to provide plenty of access to clean water. Your pets will drink less on their new moist food.
Remember that plastic feeding bowls are dangerous, and must be replaced with stainless steel or a good quality glazed ceramic bowl.
One more note about stools. Once your pet has made the switch, their stools will become firm and white. Don’t be alarmed by this, or by seeing them strain slightly to defecate. Both of these are good signs.
Lastly, remember that every cat and dog is unique. You know your own cats and dogs best. Read as much as you need to, to allay any fears or anxieties you may have. Talk to us more if you have any questions. Then, trust your instincts. You will know how fast or slow to switch your own animal.
Step 2: Maintaining a balanced diet
we suggest you start with one flavour of “Cat
of the Day” complete
dinner, as changes can create problems.
The meals are completely balanced.
This does not mean that you can’t enhance the
benefits of raw feeding by giving occasional extras - especially whole
foods. As we have mentioned, chicken
great to get them chewing, and to keep those teeth clean. An
raw fish will
give them an Omega 3 boost. We stock pilchards
for this purpose. If you do want to give your cats extra egg it is
vital to remember yolk only - they cannot tolerate egg white.
Dogs naturally eat a greater variety of foods. Your basic meal plan for a normal healthy dog should include all three flavours of our “Give a Dog a Bone” complete dinners - Chicken, Turkey, and Beef. This will ensure balanced nutrition. It is suggested that you feed one flavour for 2-3 days at a time. This enables optimal digestion.
It is also important to add whole foods to their diets, to exercise their fine motor co-ordination, and to keep their teeth strong and healthy. Your dogs will love our chicken necks and chicken carcasses. We also have beef bones and turkey drumsticks. They should get whole foods at least twice a week. Fish is a very important source of Omega 3 for dogs, and they love it! Give your dog a whole pilchard - none of it will go to waste. Some owners are scared of the bones in the chicken and fish. Don’t be. Cooked bone is brittle and extremely dangerous. Raw bones are soft and flexible and are a vital part of your pet’s diet. That is why we emphasise that you should never cook our food.
Small pieces of fruit can be a treat for dogs, but absolutely no grapes or raisins, as these are toxic. Don’t overdo the whole fruit - they don’t digest it very easily, and it can come out whole in their stools. If you want to have some fun - give your dog an occasional whole raw egg - they will relish it, shell and all.
If your dogs and cats are not getting regular oily fish meals then it is necessary to supplement their food with salmon oil for Omega 3.
If your dog or cat suffers from any illness, please let us know. We can help to plan an optimum diet for them. We can also suggest the addition of specific herbs to their diet. We stock a great range of herbal supplements particularly for dogs and cats with skin problems, and for dogs with joint problems.
We welcome you to living As Nature Intended. We hope that you, your cats, and your dogs get as much delight out of natural feeding as we and ours have.
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