Switching to the raw diet for many raises quite a few questions. To make it go smoothly we are addressing some of these below for you. Switching to raw doesn’t need to be difficult at all but how you go about it can make a big difference. We suggest you make a straight switch to raw starting on a morning. If you are for some reason combining processed foods with raw keep them in separate meals, do note that Nutriment is a complete formula and does not require any supplementation.
We recommend trying a 7 Day starter pack first, get the dog accustomed to the food for a few weeks. Then, if you want to start introducing meaty bones then do this gradually too… don’t try too much soon - keep it simple for yourself and your dog.
This is normal! Raw contains a lot of moisture - it’s totally normal to see a reduction in water intake in your pet. It should only be a worry if your dog is for example not urinating - this would require professional veterinary investigation.
A change in poo (i.e. sloppy, mucous-y etc) initially is quite normal and to be expected. Not all dogs would have this but some do. As a one-off it shouldn’t be a concern. It can help however, especially those with sensitive digestive systems or on medications, to provide probiotics alongside your switch initially for a smoother transition. If you dog is struggling with poo it might be that your dog has a lower than average bone tolerance; mix in some of our beef formula (which doesn’t contain bone) with the meals to reduce the overall bone intake. The poo should be pellet like, firm and formed, not rock hard or soft. Because you will be feeding a variety of meats it is totally normal for poo to have different colours.
Most processed foods contain salt and a variety of other additives (read more about this) to make it extremely tasty, almost addictive… It’s a little like being used to eating pizza and then deciding a rocket salad with pine nuts and feta is better… you might also need some persuasion. Don’t be disheartened, basically you are trying to break an addiction. If needs be mix some of the flavours up, few dogs will turn up their nose to something mixed with the salmon formula.
Most of Nutriment pre-mades do contain bone and is abrasive enough to clean teeth. Raw also doesn’t stick to teeth like starchy processed food does (the cause of much tartar and teeth issues). Once you have gained your confidence with the raw diet you can of course start introducing meaty bones. In the meantime, if you are missing the crunching sounds, then a healthy treat like the fish bars, fish bites or even pizzles will give that crunchy chewing action.
Commonly dogs who do really take straight away to this scrumptious raw diet become gobblers, they eat faster than before and then can regurgitate the food as it went down too quickly.
Try and slow down your dog, get a slow feeder or feed partially frozen for example. Dogs can also throw up if they are too hungry due to the acid build up in their tummies. This is also part of the adjustment process; instead of having an expanding mass of food sitting in their stomachs struggling to be digested, raw is digested faster due to it being more natural to the digestive system. Play around with your dinner times, perhaps give a mid-day or just before bed (but substantial) snack - like a lump of mince. .
Getting your puppy on a raw diet is perhaps the best health investment you can make; both long and short term. It is of extreme importance to feed the correct nutrients in order to support healthy growth. For many, changing a puppy to a raw diet comes with questions; When can I feed a meaty bone? Why does my puppy not eat? Etc... Below we list some of the common queries the nutritional advisers at Nutriment deal with on a regular basis
Puppies need a lot of food! Nutriment recommend feeding 6% of their current bodyweight. This means weigh your puppy regularly. Always bear in mind that ALL puppies are different, some need more, some less so keep a close eye how your puppy is looking. Puppies shouldn’t carry excess weight but do need to have enough fat to allow for their growth spurts. Equally don’t keep your puppy too lean - you should not be seeing ribs. Stay flexible and don’t fall in the trap of comparing your puppy to their littermates. All puppies are individuals and will grow at their own pace and size - like with humans it’s unlikely you grew exactly the same as your sibling or parents.
It’s a good idea to first let your puppy get accustomed to a raw minced diet first for a few weeks. After 2 - 3 weeks of having been fed, for example our Nutriment puppy-formula, start thinking of trying a chicken wing. Always supervise when you give meaty bones of any kind. Sometimes it can help to hold the wing whilst your puppy can chew it gently. It is best to follow this up with a boneless meal, for example some Beef Formula.
This generally can happen when puppies are teething, self regulating or going through hormonal changes. When puppies are teething it can be a good idea to offer food a little sloppier by adding luke warm water to the food. This also releases the smells and flavours more without cooking away any nutrients. If your puppy is in the phase of needing to really chomp then offering food frozen in a stuffable toy is a brilliant way to feed. Another idea is to make to make a broth bone from our marrow bones and soak an old tea towel in it, wring it out, tie a knot, freeze and serve frozen - so they can mouth it, cooling their gums.
Self-regulating; many dogs will start to self-regulate around 5-6 months. This is when you will want to drop 3 meals times to 2. Many will indicate this by not eating a third meal. Finally all dogs go through hormonal changes; for bitches this is around the 6 months and for dogs around 8th months. It’s quite common for dogs to go off their food during this age. You can make food a bit more appealing with a little bone broth. Read Nutriments "Fussy Eaters" article with further hints and tips.
Once your puppy is no longer growing in height that’s when you slowly reduce the food and start feeding your puppy as an adult, which is around 2-3%.
Dogs at times seem to go off their food. Often the reasons for it are quite simple. Dogs go through phases which can mean that food is left and there seems to be no interest. It’s even worse when you feel you need to resort to tinned foods … It’s important to remember that for a healthy dog there is no issue with skipping a meal. The first thing to do though is check the teeth, rule out any issues with dental problems. Secondly check you are not overfeeding- some dogs self regulate what they need and leave what they don’t.
Puppies teeth, they lose their baby teeth to get a nice shiny set of teeth. The timing of this is can depend very much on breed and size of your dog but 2 months old upwards is generally when dogs start teething. Teething can be painful, and gums might feel sore with teeth themselves rather wobbly.Some puppies struggle with meaty bones so you might be better off with a puppy food.It can help to give some teething toys or something frozen to cool down the painful gums. A good idea can be to soak an old tea towel in some broth (homemade without salt), wring it out, tie a knot in it, freeze and give frozen. Always keep an eye on your puppy when giving treat toys like this- it’s good to chew on (note: not to eat). Other good alternatives are a frozen carrot or cucumber or try serving food a little colder
Female dogs can get their first season from around the age of 6 months. With coming into season there will be physical changes, sometimes a raised temperature, behavioural changes as well. Hormones flying around in the body can make girls really go off their food, it’s very normal. The same is the case for bitches in pregnancy and having phantom pregnancy.Sometimes adding a few yummy toppers can help- try mixing in some coconut oil or luke warm bone broth or luke warm goats milk (as a treat it’s fine). Even crumbling up some dried sprats and mixing it can help - be creative.If your bitch is really struggling and losing weight then look into the herb raspberry leaf
Dogs who are ill do at times self-fast to instinctively clean and detox their system. Make sure you keep them well hydrated and perhaps offer tripe with some luke warm water. This is also a great solution for dogs after an operation; it’s bland, mild and smells very appetising to your dog!
It’s extremely common to hear of dogs starting to get fussy with their food between the ages of 6 months to 13 months… If you have ruled out possible teeth or hormone issues then your dog could just be acting like a teenager! If you feed 3 times a day switch it to 2 times a day and importantly don’t allow for grazing or a lot of treats. Serve yummy food, if no interest just remove the bowl and serve it next feeding time.
5. BIG LIFE CHANGES
Dogs like routine, so big life changes will impact as they can cause stress, which in turn can mean a decreased appetite. Changes like the loss of a loved one (2 or 4 legged), a family move (rescue or puppy), new additions to the family, holidays etc can all bring real insecurity to a dog. Be patient and allow for time to settle things down.
Unless you are dealing with very young puppies, ill dogs or a dog losing a lot of weight, there is no issue with skipping a meal. Your dog will probably prefer kibble or tinned foods (for the salt and sugar it contains). This is why they love eating it - it’s a little like getting a McDonalds Happy Meal - products like these are made to appeal and millions of pounds [find out more] are spent on it to make it so it’s hard to resist from eating. Once you do start this route then re-introducing a fresh and raw diet is even harder, as it’s not addictive. Real fussiness is a learned behaviour, it is counter-intuitive. Try not to entertain it as the more you switch and swap and offer menu options the more fussiness you can expect.
Some dogs might go off their bowls or dining location- and not food! If you, for example, dropped the bowl and it made a terrible noise your dog might feel scared off it. Equally if a nice dinner time was rudely interrupted or something scary (to your dog) happened, he/she might associate the bowl or location with stress. Dogs are extremely sensitive to YOU, if you are starting to stress, feel frustrated every time you serve dinner (or even watch over the bowl) your dog will pick up on this which will re-enforce that dinner times are STRESSFUL, this of course not being conducive to eating. Take the stress and worry out of the equation; this is so important. If your dog doesn’t want to eat a new food, try small introductions first. If still no luck it could just be he/she simple doesn’t fancy that particular meat… which is fine!
Dinner times should be enjoyable, without stress, without competition if you have other dogs. Allow your dog to eat at their own pace and in peace - even if this means splitting up dogs if you have multiple creatures in your household.
If your dog stays off their food, is losing weight and you are concerned then do visit the vet.