Cat basking in sunshine.Dog playing with ball.PuppyCat Eating Food.Dog in a Sunny Field.Dog playing with stick.Cat on a Fence.Dog at the Sea.

Making The Change

When starting a new diet, there are several approaches to making the change. What works best will depend on your animal, but for many a gradual change over about 3 weeks will give them time to adapt to digesting raw foods, especially raw bone. It is best to start the new diet in as bland and as palatable a form as possible, so start with raw meaty bones only for the first few days. Feeding ground meat and bone can be helpful when first starting out, and feed smaller meals than needed for the first few days. If your animal is prone to food intolerance then use common sense and introduce any new ingredients one at a time and in small amounts.

Blue Water

Once established on the diet, most adult cats do best if fed twice daily, and dogs usually once a day. Fasting dogs is important as it suits their digestion. Their stomach works best if it is reasonably full after a meal, but not with carbohydrate or dry food, as this can cause bloat. At the same time, it is important for liver metabolism to let the entire digestive tract empty after some meals. For many dogs once daily feeding, with fasting days once or twice a week, will work best. Ad lib feeding is not recommended for cats or dogs.

Any diet will obviously vary according to the stage of your animal’s life. Puppies and kittens can start on ground meaty bones from 3 weeks of age, while still drinking from mum, and can then be slowly introduced to whole raw meaty bones. They do need more frequent meals while they are growing, and your vet can advise on this. Many older animals will be able to tolerate a completely raw diet, but will often go through a ‘detoxifying’ process as they come off commercial food. Some animals with particular health problems may benefit from their food being lightly cooked, at least while they are changing diets. Meat on the bone can be lightly cooked each side so that the bone stays raw, or a combination of cooked and raw food can be fed. Remember that cooking does reduce the nutritional value of meat. Particular medical conditions will often require particular diets: see the section on Food Therapy for information.

To summarise, a good overall diet for a dog will contain approximately 60% raw meaty bones, 10% offal, 20% crushed raw non-starchy vegetables and fruit, and supplements including kelp powder, crushed flaxseed, fish oil and cod liver oil. Eggs and whole raw fish can be fed two or three times a week. It is not necessary to be precise for a balanced diet, and individuals do vary.

A good overall diet for a cat will contain 75% raw meaty bones, 15% offal, 5% vegetables and fruit, and supplements including kelp powder, fish oil and cod liver oil. Some of the meat and offal (about 10 to 30% of the total diet) can be replaced with whole small raw fish.

If you are resistant to formulating your own raw food diet, then Nature’s Menu has a range of freshly frozen raw diets for dogs and cats, and Nature Diet make good quality cooked diets that are low in carbohydrate.

Always make clean fresh water feely available at all times. Often cats and dogs will drink outside from puddles because they prefer the taste of rainwater. If you can give filtered or bottled water to your dogs and cats they will appreciate that too!

Ceramic feeding bowls are best to avoid allergies and easiest to keep clean. Rinse well after washing to get rid of traces of detergent.

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