Maybe your furry friend needs to drop a little weight, has a dull coat, or just doesn't have that zip and vigor he once did. After doing some research you decided that maybe a dietary change is needed, and the best option for your furry friend is raw food because even the best kibbles and canned food are still highly processed -- and cooked. Feeding a raw diet can be just as easy as kibble. All it takes is a little extra time to thaw the food. Or, even easier, plan ahead and thaw the food in the fridge.

Whether you’re considering Nature’s Logic, Northwest Naturals, Primal, Stella & Chewy’s, or another brand, here are some tips to help make the change easier and more comfortable for your whole household:

  • Prepare for the transition: a few days before you change the diet, add probiotics and digestive enzymes (Animal Essentials or Answers Additional goat milk) to your dog or cat’s regular food.
  • Plan on a 9-day transition (longer if there is an existing GI condition): 25% raw the first 3 days, 50% raw for the next 3 days, 75% raw for the last 3 days. A gradual transition will allow your pet’s digestive system to adjust more comfortably. 
  • Every dog and cat is different and the transition for each is unique. Raw food has a detoxifying effect on the body. Take it more slowly if the food doesn’t sit on your pet’s stomach very well or if runny poop develops. Don’t give up, to some extent these conditions are common during detoxing. It’s usually not the raw food that’s making your furball seem sick, it’s the bad stuff moving out of the body.
  • Detox what? Years of eating processed food, especially kibble (even high quality kibble), results in a build up of toxins. Environmental toxins from air pollution, lawn care products, etc., as well as chemicals from flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives also build up in the body.
  • Start with an easily digestible protein like chicken or turkey.
  • Once your pal is settled into his new diet you can vary the protein. A raw, or ever so slightly cooked egg, and some cottage cheese or yogurt added every few days will help keep variety, as does a novel meat (rabbit, elk, ostrich, etc.) a couple of times a month. As with people, it’s the wide variety of food that insures a balanced diet.
  • Once or twice a week, toss in a recreational bone like a beef knuckle or a turkey neck. Marrow bones are good, but are too hard for aggressive chewers. Not only will the chewing release endorphins, but raw, meaty bones are the best way to keep those teeth and gums healthy.

A Final Note: donate the old kibble to your local shelter, a rescue group, AniMeals, which has partnered with Meals on Wheels, to deliver pet food along with traditional meal to seniors.