Correct and sensible, dog feeding guidelines can make all the difference when transitioning from other types of dog food to a raw diet. I want you to be successful and I want your dog's transitioning period to be easy.
As with all things in life, when beginning the journey to change something for the better, the first thing to do is clear your mind of old information. Open your mind and be receptive to doing things in a different way.
Changing the way you feed your dog is a perfect example
of a change in thinking. Some of my information about dog food and feeding dogs may be new to you, but there is sound reasoning behind it. So let's get you and your dog off to a good start.
So, you've fed your dog his last kibble meal. Great! Now you have to give his digestive tract enough time to clear out, in order to be ready to accept what's on the new menu. Kibble and canned dog food is cooked, and is composed of ingredients totally unlike your new raw dog food. We need to get rid of it, literally. Get rid of it from your house, and get rid of it from your dog's body.
Take a look at the image above. In general, it will take approximately 10 hours for your dog's last meal to be completely digested, from one end to the other. So we are going to double this time, and let his digestive system rest for 20 to 24 hours. That means no food at all, only water. OK? Bear with me.
Your dog will not die if you don't feed him for one day. You will feel guilty, and your dog will be looking for food, but that won't kill either of you. This short time frame of fasting, will accomplish three things.
The topic of intermittent fasting is an interesting one, and the health benefits for dogs is huge.
OK, we're over that hump. Did you and your dog survive? Yes, I knew you both would. So now it's time to offer your dog some of his new raw dog food. Since it is unfamiliar to him, he may need a bit if time to adjust to the new scent. Dogs don't have taste buds, so it's all about the nose!
Here's what to do.
Hunger is a survival instinct, so when your dog is hungry enough...he will eat. Most dogs will eagerly make this transition, but every now and again, a dog will hold out for his previous junk food diet. Don't buy in! He's a dog, and this is what he is meant to eat to nourish his body properly for his species. It's your job to help remind him that he's a dog, and not a junk food addict.
When feeding a raw food diet for dogs, amounts fed are calculated according to how much your dog weighs. Typically that would be about 2% to 3% of total body weight per day as set out in the handy dog feeding guidelines chart below.
You know your dog, so common sense will tell you if his activity level, age and general health require you to feed at the low end of the dog feeding guidelines scale, or the higher end of the scale.
In my experience, most dogs are over fed. So often dogs will lose weight when starting on a raw food diet because the food is more nutrient dense, and assimilated more efficiently by the dog's body. Losing some weight is not a bad thing in my opinion. A leaner dog will maintain good health easier.
For myself personally, I tend to feed at the higher end of the dog feeding guidelines scale in winter, because I feel that some extra calories when the weather is cold will help my dogs stay warm naturally. Conversely, in summer I feed at the low end of the scale because fewer calories will help to keep my dog's energy high when the weather is hot. It takes less energy to stay warm...when it's warm. Makes sense, right? Here's the chart again.
|Size of dog||Amount of food to feed in lbs/ozs daily|
|5lb dog||0.1-0.15 lbs or 1.6 - 2.4 oz or 1/4-1/3 cup|
|10lb dog||0.2-0.3 lbs or 3.2 - 4.8 oz or 1/3 -1/2 cup|
|20 lb dog||0.4-0.6 lbs or 6.4 - 9.6 oz or 2/3 - 1&1/4 cups|
|50 lb dog||1-1.5 lbs or 2 - 2.5 cups|
|100lb dog||2-3 lbs or 4 - 5 cups|
If you are aware that your dog needs to lose weight, start to feed him at the 2% low level of the dog feeding guidelines scale. Do this for about a month in order to give your dog time to adjust to his new raw dog food. Most likely he will lose some weight. If he needs to lose more weight you can:
If your dog is too thin, start to feed at the 3% high level of the dog feeding guidelines scale. Do this for about a month, and then reassess. If he has gained weight, good. You're are on the right track.
If he still needs to add more weight, continue at the same feeding % for another month. You will know at this point whether you need to add more food, or simply maintain. There is never any rush to lose weight, or gain weight.
The body will adjust and balance itself naturally to the correct weight, when the dog is fed appropriately. If you have any questions about feeding a raw food diet for dogs, please contact me.