If your dog has been eating dry food for years, this does not mean that his diet cannot be changed to Raw Food Diet (BARF). However, it is better not to do it overnight, because the dog’s stomach has to switch to digesting bones and raw meat gradually. If you do this incompetently your dog may suffer from diarrhoea, constipation and other unpleasant discomforts.
How do I switch my dog to Raw Food Diet?
It is best to start the transition to raw feeding with a one-day hunger strike. This will allow you to rid your dog’s digestive tract of any leftover dry food. You can then feed your dog beef stomachs (rumen) and their contents for 2-3 days. Unfortunately, they do not smell the nicest, but they help to lower the pH in the stomach to 1 and rebuild the natural bacterial flora. This is essential if you want to feed your dog raw meat and bones. The low pH in the stomach will also deal with many bacteria and parasites. The plus side of giving stomachs is also that your dog will usually stop looking for various 'treats’ on walks. If your dog is prone to food allergies you can give him, instead of beef, sheep stomachs. How much to give? Initially, the entire daily portion should consist of gizzards. You can read how to calculate the daily portion for your dog here. If your dog has difficulty eating a larger portion of gizzards you can divide it into 2-4 smaller meals. Some people choose not to give their dog stomachs at all.
How to convert your dog to Raw Food Diet
You can then start giving meat and gradually start introducing offal. At first, it is better to start with boneless meat and one species of animal. If your dog responds well to this meat, you can start mixing it with another type of meat, offal and gradually introduce ground cartilage and bones. Bones should not be „dry”. Meat bones, i.e. poultry necks, wings, thighs, bones with marrow and cartilage, are preferable. It is not recommended to switch to BARF by mixing it with dry food. Firstly, we do not know exactly how much of what substances we are supplying to the dog. Secondly, the pH in the stomach will not decrease and the bacterial flora will change.
How do I switch a puppy to Raw Food Diet?
This is where things get complicated depending on whether the puppy has already eaten BARF, whether it has eaten dry food or another ready-made diet, and how old it is. Generally, puppies up to 10-12 weeks of age should be fed 4-5 times a day, then you can switch to three meals. Until the fourth week, puppies should eat only their mother’s milk. In the fifth week, small amounts of boneless minced meat can be started. Ground turkey, rabbit or chicken works best here. In the sixth week, mixed fruit and vegetables can be added to the diet. Spinach, beetroot and rhubarb should be avoided as they reduce calcium absorption. You can also gradually increase the amount of minced meat in the diet. From the seventh week onwards, you can start giving meat bones such as chicken wings. The bones should be large enough for the puppy to bite them off, rather than swallow them whole. From the eighth week onwards, puppies can already eat normal 'adult’ BARF. There should be more bone and cartilage in their diet due to their rapid growth and high calcium and phosphorus requirements.
How to switch your dog to Raw Food Diet
If you have taken a puppy from a kennel then he is most likely 8-10 weeks old. If he been raw fed from the start, there is nothing easier than continuing to feed him according to this diet. If the puppy has been eating dry food you can switch him to Raw Food Diet as described at the beginning of the post. If you don’t know what the puppy was eating because you found it, someone dropped it off, you have no contact with the previous owner etc. it will be safer to carry out the full procedure of switching to BARF. It certainly won’t harm your dog and can only help.