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The Ultimate Guide To Switching Your Pet To A Raw Food Diet.


Firstly let's address why switch your pet to raw food. 

Apart from the huge benefit that your pet will have excellent health, animals are carnivores and a real healthy diet for your cat or dog is something that is as close to their wild cousins as possible. 

Raw feeding suits the physiology and digestive functions of dogs and cats much more closely than cooked, processed foods. It satisfies our pets' instinctive needs to consume healthier raw foods and provides flavours and aromas that are more attractive to them.

The point of a raw food diet is that it is not heated, not processed, it doesn't need to be fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals or loaded with starches and cereals to hold it together in convenient kibble form. A raw diet is all about the stuff that's NOT in it.

Whether it's for your pet or yourself, a healthy immune system starts with the gut and investing in food is the first prevention against disease. Good nutrition is the foundation of good health and nutritional deficiencies are the biggest cause of disease. 

In this raw feeding guide we'll cover:

  • How to switch your pet over to eating raw food
  • How to switch cats over to raw feeding
  • How to switch dogs over to raw food
  • Switching from kibble to raw pet food
  • Is raw suitable for pets with illnesses
  • Is it suitable for pets of all life stages
  • Feeding raw bones
  • Benefits of raw feeding
  • Illnesses that raw feeding can help
  • Is it safe for you and your pet
  • Changes you'll expect to see

How Do I Switch My Pet Over To Eating Raw?

As with any diet it is never a good idea to switch abruptly from one food to another. Raw food does have a different texture and smell to most other foods, and it is generally more digestible, so allow a little time for the transition. 

Begin by offering a small amount of raw food alongside the existing food. Once your dog or cat is accepting the new food, you can begin to increase the proportion and reduce the quantity of the existing food until the changeover is complete. 

It can take a while, especially with some cats, but it is definitely worth the patience.

What Do I Do If My Pet Won't Eat It?

If your dog or cat rejects the raw food initially, return to the previous food and try again at another time or reduce the amount you are mixing in with their existing food. 

Our raw food has a different texture and smell because we don't add any processed ingredients or smell enhancers into our products. Occasionally it can take a few tries for your pet to adjust to the new smell before they venture in. 

Cats are very suspicious of anything new. You can put a small amount of raw food in a small bowl next to their regular food at each meal for a few weeks so the raw food is no longer 'new' (obviously you'd use fresh food each time!). They may then start to investigate or you may be able to reduce their regular food a little to encourage them.

Switching Cats Over To Raw Food

Is It Suitable For Cats & Kittens?

Yes totally. Cats are natural meat eaters. It is biological essential for their survival that they eat meat. They are known as "obligatory carnivores" in that the digestive system of cats is specifically adapted to eating raw. 

Their digestive tracts are short and they have little ability to make amino acids and vitamins in their bodies the way other animals do. They have high requirements for taurine, which in its truest form is found in flesh. 

They need a high amount of protein in their diet to convert to glucose rather than digesting carbohydrates. Everything about a cat's digestive system is adapted for raw eating. Simply put, it's essential cats eat raw.

How Do I Start Feeding My Cat/Kitten?

Firstly, we recommend that you stop leaving food out all day.

For optimal health, your cat should have regular meal times. In adult cats, this is two to four times a day. For cats, less than one year, you'll need to feed them more often. Please refer to our feeding guide for more info.

If you have a young kitten it's likely they will start eating raw straight away as it's more in line with their natural instinct. It's important you introduce different meats as they need a variety of proteins in their diet for their over well-being and nutrition. Check out our range of raw cat food.

If you have an older cat, then start by adding a little of the raw food to their current food. Once they start eating the raw, gradually increase this until you can eliminate the other food altogether.

Some cats prefer their food "body temperature" warm so you can always place the bag of food into a bowl of warm water before serving.

If you cat has always been feed a kibble diet this can take some time for the cat to adapt and understand that the raw food is food as it contains no chemical enhancers. Not all cats will eat raw straight away so it's vital that you have patience as some cats don't do well with change and need more encouragement, but the benefits to your cat's health are worth the switch. 

My Cat Has Health Problems, Is Raw Feeding Good?

It's vital you talk to your vet before starting the diet change if your cat has medical issues so they can monitor and assess your cat. 

Raw feeding can have a positive impact on your cat's health but it's important you know your cat and assess your cat's health. Raw food is highly digestible so you'll also need to monitor if you cat is losing or gaining weight and adjust the food intake accordingly.

Switching Dogs Over To Raw Food

How Do I Start Feeding My Puppy/Dog?

Firstly, we recommend that you stop leaving food out all day. 

For optimal health, your dog should have regular meal times. Dogs can be fed once per day, or some can benefit from having 2 meals per day. For puppies, less than one year, you'll need to feed them more often. Please refer to our feeding guide for more info.

If you have a young puppy they will start eating raw straight away as it's more in line with their natural instinct. It's important you introduce different meats as they need a variety of proteins in their diet for their over well-being and nutrition. Check out our seasonal feeding guide for dogs here to learn how to do this.

If you have an older dog, then start by adding a little of the raw food to their current food. Once they start eating the raw, gradually increase this until you can eliminate the other food altogether. 

Dogs are normally able to change quickly to raw feeding. In some cases doing a direct swop from the old food to raw works well, but you know your dog best so try to do any change over with as minimal stress as possible around meal times.  Check out our amazing range of raw dog food

Is It Suitable For Small Dogs?

It is ideal for small dogs. It is very digestible and suits animals with a small digestive system with high nutritional demands (e.g. small breeds, cats, kittens and puppies). They can obtain more nutrients from small raw meals than other foods.

Is Raw Food Dangerous for Toy Breeds?

Raw food is no more dangerous to little breeds than it is to large breeds. The experience of many Vets around the world is that raw food is inherently very very very safe. Also for example, if you don't feed raw food you'll probably be feeding kibble and your dog will be developing a bad mouth and teeth. 

Toy dogs are renowned for developing very bad mouths very quickly, quicker than other breeds, for which it will need a general anesthetic every year or so to sort its teeth, as bad teeth are linked to heart disease in pets. 

There is an inherent known risk with a general anesthetic but if you're feeding your pet a raw food diet you'll get a lot fewer problems with your dog. It's good to feed even the smallest of dogs with a raw food diet.

Switching from Kibble to Raw Food

I feed my pet a top quality commercial brand, why should I be concerned or change my pet's diet?

A recent study involving 79 veterinarians from 11 different countries around the world (including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and countries in Europe) and reviewing over a ¼ of a million pets that had moved over to raw feeding, the resounding conclusion was that 85% of pets that were fine on a commercial diet showed signs of improvement. 

Those signs were cleaner breather, cleaner teeth, less smell in the skin, less itchiness, less greasiness, better digestion, less wind, better poos and less anal gland problems.

Their overall energy and vitality improved and they had better satisfaction with eating the diet. It was concluded that pretty much every parameter of health can be improved with a raw food diet and the majority of pets are happier on a raw food diet.

Can I Combine Kibble With Raw For My Cat/Dog?

Ideally you want to avoid this situation if you can. Kibbles are high in carbohydrate, even if they are grain free (they use carbs to bind the little biscuits together. If they didn't they'd disintegrate into crumbs and dust!). 

Grains are digested in the stomach at a moderate acidity. Proteins are digested in the stomach at an acidity 10-100 times more concentrated. If you combine proteins and carbs in the same bowl, then one or other is going to be digested less efficiently, probably both and the overall nutrition your pet gets from the food will be low.

For How Long Can I Combine Kibble and Raw Food For My Cat/Dog?

If you're transitioning a kibble-fed dog onto raw, you can combine the kibble and raw in the same bowl, but only for a week or so. 

To wean a dog, start with 1/7th raw, 6/7ths kibble on the first day. 2/7 raw and 5/7 on the second day, etc. until you've weaned the dog onto the raw after 7 days. Some dogs will transition more quickly. Some dogs will just go straight onto 100% raw from one day to the next. Puppies general adapt straight away as it's following their natural instinct. 

Cats don't like unfamiliarity so put a small amount of the raw in a bowl next to their regular food for 2-3 weeks to get them familiar, then slowly increase the amount of raw whilst reducing the amount of kibble. Kittens generally adapt straight away as it's following their natural desires.

Are There Any Dangers/Side Effects of Combining Kibble and Raw Food in the Short/Long Term?

Not really, maybe just some tummy rumbling, a bit of bloating and sometimes some loose stool. However, if you have to feed kibble, make it as a separate meal, e.g. kibble for breakfast and raw for dinner. 

Never feed raw and kibble in the same bowl at the same time over a long period. Refer to the question on "Can I combine raw with kibble" for more clarity.

Is Raw Food Suitable For Pets With Illness, Issues etc.?

Raw food will suit pets with some conditions, e.g. Diabetes, IBD or food intolerances, it may not be ideal for every sick dog or cat. It is essential to discuss the option of feeding raw with your veterinarian to determine whether or not the recipes are suitable for your pet's particular condition.

Is Raw Food Suitable For Different Life Stages?

In the wild dogs and cats of different ages would all eat the same food, it needn't be different for domestic pets. 

When fed a nutritionally balanced high quality raw food like Authentica's, dogs and cats of all ages will digest and use the nutrients they need for their particular life stage and eliminate what they do not. 

Our feed is suitable for both kittens and puppies directly after weaning. Check out our raw dog food and cat food.

Feeding Raw Bones

When Should I Start to Feed Bones?

Bones should be given frequently - at least twice weekly. 

Pups and kittens can be introduced to soft bones as soon as they start on solid food. Their teeth and mouths are so small that initially all they do is lick and suck on them, but this familiarises them with the texture, smell and size of bones making them better prepared for when they are actually are able to ingest some bony material a few weeks/months later. 

Bones can be fed for the entire life of a dog or cat, or until they have insufficient teeth left to cope. In this scenario, it is important that bony material is provided in their food e.g. as part of the minces offered.

What Type of Bones Should I Give My Cat or Dog?

It's very important to feed your pets RAW bones NOT COOKED. The best raw bones for dogs are none leg bones. Bones such as neck, jaw, skull, back bones, ribs and brisket work well. 

For cats, the best raw bones are chicken wings, chicken carcasses, turkey necks, turkey backs.

Check out Raw Bones Guide for Cats and Dogs to understand the graduating scale of bones for your pet.

How Often Should I Feed My Cat or Dog a Raw Bone?

If you're feeding your pet a good quality diet like Authentica, which contains bone within the meals, then you should still give raw bones to your cat or dog to clean their teeth. 

It's natures natural toothbrush and aids in the breakdown of plaque in your pet's' mouth. It's also a very good exercise to strengthen their jaw, the muscles in their chest and it is a great mental stimulation. 

Raw bones can be given two or three times a week. If you're feeding your pet with a processed and cooked food then you shouldn't really feed a raw bone unsuprvised, simply because when pet's eat processed food they vacuum it up and when feed a raw bone, they need to learn to break it down and chew it. 

It's essential that you supervise when giving a bone the first few times and watch your pet closely to make sure it's breaking and chewing the bone to eat it and not just wolfing it down.

Can My Pet Choke or Damage It's Throat on a Raw Bone?

If you're feeding raw chicken or turkey necks, wings etc. to a cat the chances of them having a problem are very very slim as cats are still wild enough to know what to do with them. (yes even the cats that sleep on your bed!) 

There is a very small chance of risk feeding your dog a raw bone, the first few times. The best way to introduce raw bones into your dog's diet is to start once it's been on a raw food diet for a minimum of two months. Start slowly and with a large bone so there is no chance of them swallowing the bone in one gulp, then gradually reduce the size of the bone. 

Don't feed any leg bones. Feed bones such as chicken/turkey neck, jaw, skull, back bones, ribs and brisket. Don't feed two dogs together as they can get into competition with each other. 

If you have a medium sized dog, feed large or small bones, not medium sized bones. Small dogs are usually too small to get problems with bones. Large dogs can just swallow most boney bits and pieces without problems.

Is a Raw Bone Dangerous for Toy Breeds?

Raw bones are no more dangerous to a small dog than they are to a large dog. In fact, small dogs are easier to feed raw bones to than larger breeds, as the chances of them swallowing a bone in one go are very very small. 

Avoid feeding leg bones to your dog unless it's a veteran raw feeder and has been eating raw bones for about a year or so.

Benefits of Switching to Raw

Fed poor quality ingredients we are seeing a dramatic rise in human diseases affecting dogs and cats. Sadly, it's become the norm to see pets with heart problems, obesity, teeth problems, flaky coats, diabetes, urinary tract diseases, high mortality at young ages etc. 

For pets on a raw food diet, these things are not normal. 

For more information on how raw feeding can help certain pet illnesses read Let Raw Be Thy Healing Medicine. 

The whole purpose of food is to nourish the body and to provide both macro and micro nutrients needed for optimum health. Some of the benefits you can expect quickly, from about the third day of switching are;

  • Shiny softer coats
  • Cleaner teeth 
  • Fresher breath 
  • Odourless and smaller poos 
  • A healthy happier pet.

More Long term benefits are:

  • Your pet becomes free of allergies and other health issues.
  • Stronger immune system that helps protect them against disease and allergies. 
  • It can improve the life expectancy of your pet
  • Goes a long way to improving their reproduction ability. 
  • Aside from healthier teeth and gums, they develop much strong jaws, shoulder and neck muscles from all that chewing of raw meat and bones.
  • Eating raw food is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps balance the pet's body pH (acidity/alkalinity)

Nature is the source of all things healthy so think of a natural diet as a fast track to vibrant health and happiness and nothing is more important than providing your pet with a biologically appropriate diet in order to help your pet have a long healthy life. 

For more information on why raw is important for your pet's digestive system, check out our mini series on prebiotics and probiotics, digestive enzymes and mitochondria if you want to dig deeper into your pet's health.

Health Issues That Occur In Non Raw Feed Pets

Raw food is extremely good for dogs and cats. If you raise your pet on raw food, you will probably be unaware of this as they will likely be very healthy. This is certainly the experience of thousands of raw-feeding vets around the world. To read up on the affects of an inappropriate diet for your cat or dog, click here.

Pets not feed on raw will often have recurrent problems such as:

These diseases, alarmingly, are considered 'just one of those things' when you have a pet and feed with processed foods. However, these illnesses should not be considered 'the norm'.

Raw fed dogs and cats are much less likely to suffer from this horrendous list of maladies. To look at some of the most common problems where raw feeding has reversed these conditions, click here.

Is Raw Feeding Safe?

Yes. Dogs and cats are naturally able to cope with higher levels of microbial activity in food. It's us humans that are less able! 

There is often a lot of debate around raw feeding. Mainly, is it safe, that processed pet food is the best, that raw feeding isn't suited to domesticated pets etc. To read the myths on raw feeding click here.

If we apply common sense for a moment, we know that as humans we can't live a healthy lifestyle by eating processed foods alone so you have to question why we've all been convinced that a fully processed diet is suitable for our pets especially given scientific evidence proving that both a cat's and dog's digestive system hasn't been altered by evolution.

Quality of food is important, both for us humans and for our pets. Medical evidence today suggests direct links between certain diseases and the consumption of certain foods in both humans and pets i.e. diabetes.

Added to this, is the link between healthy eating and the longevity of life, again in both humans and pets. Eating raw works at a such a cellular level it's the fundamental component to a long healthy life in your pet. It also works for you too! 

It literally gets rid of all the crap that has been stored up in the body causing an endless number of both minor and major issues. It's so powerful that both human doctors and vet doctors alike, know that changing to a more raw or species appropriate diet is a major component in turning certain diseases around. Raw is nature's miracle answer for super health.

When handling raw food use the same hygiene common-sense you would in preparing raw ingredients for yourself; wash hands after handling the food and clean thoroughly all contact surfaces. Never re-freeze defrosted products.

Normal Changes You'll See Within 3 Days of Switching Your Pet To Raw Food

Why is My Dog/Cat Drinking Less?

Raw food naturally contains a higher quantity of water than most processed pet foods, so their water intake will often reduce once on the diet. However, all dogs and cats should be offered plenty of clean, fresh water throughout the day as its essential to their health.

Why Has My Pet's Poo Changed?

Raw food is more digestible than most other pet foods and the quantity that is eliminated as stool is reduced. 

Improved digestion makes the stool less smelly. It can also change colour, particularly just after changing over from a dry food. This is completely normal. 

Stools of raw fed cats and dogs generally have a more solid consistency indicating an improved digestive system and healthier bacterial populations. Check out our Pet Poo Scale here to ensure everything is good.

Why Is My Pet's Fur Changing?

Our food fats and oils have not been subjected to high temperature or pressure processes, such as those used in the manufacture of artificial food for pets. 

The healthy natural oils in raw foods are more easily absorbed and used by pets, leading to healthier, shinier and virtually odourless coats. 

The overall condition of the skin and coat will improve considerably and become healthier on raw food. 

Healthy on the inside, beautiful shiney and soft fur on the outside.

Why is My Pet Itching/Breaking Out in Sores?

One of the first indications that a food is not suitable for a dog or cat is dry and itchy skin. Skin inflammation can be a sensitivity response to food, a bit like food allergies in humans. 

Food sensitivities are usually to one or more ingredients in the formula, but can also be caused by the industrial processing used to cook artificial foods. 

Our raw recipes do not contain any of the cooked foods that cause these sensitivity reactions. 

However in the rare case that you're cat or dog does have a food sensitivity on raw it's likely to be to either chicken or beef. Why?

Beef and chicken are the most common foods that cause intolerances. They are the most commonly used ingredients in foods and have been for decades as they are the cheapest ingredients, maximising profits for the processed food corporations but causing an ever increasing number of pets diagnosised with intolerances to these ingredients.

To check if raw beef or chicken is an issue for your pet, choose another protein from our raw pet food range and feed it to your pet for a short period of time.

By stripping the diet down to one protein source (meat) at a time you'll be able to see quite quickly what effect this has on your pet's stool quality. It's a straightforward, but effective way to investigate these things yourself.

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

Natural lifestyle, naturally health, naturally thriving!!
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Tuesday, November 29 2022

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website and articles are based on the opinions of the people at Authentica. The information contained within is not intended to replace that of your qualified vets or intended as medical advice. We are sharing knowledge and information but in no way should this pertain you from seeking proper professional medical/veterinary advice. We encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions on your pet's health in conjunction with your vet. Neither we nor any third parties provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy of information. You acknowledge that such information and materials may contain inaccuracies or errors. Your use of any information or materials on this website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and those of your pet. If you become aware of any material on the website that you believe infringes your or any other person's copyright, please report this by email to info@authenticapets.com so we can immediately rectify the issue.


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