Most Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make When Transitioning To A Raw Food Diet

Worried that you’re not doing the raw food diet the right way or want to learn the most common mistakes dog owners make when they switch to a raw food lifestyle for their furry friend? Here are our top seven diet mishaps that you’ll want to avoid yourself:

Mistake #1: Not Providing Balanced Meals

The raw food meals you make for your pet may not include all the daily nutrients they need for a healthy, happy life, and that can lead to unwanted, yet preventable, nutrient deficiencies which cause diseases and ailments. You can add the right amount of wholesome, nutrient-dense food to your pet’s meals to ensure they get enough nutrients and help reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies and medical conditions. Even if your dog seems healthy on the outside, they may be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, so it’s crucial that you are well-informed on the types of foods, vitamins, and minerals your animal companion needs.

Check out our Raw Meal Plans & Kits here! We’ll help you with customized recipes for your canine.

Mistake #2: Too Much Variety Too Soon And Vice Versa

For pet parents transitioning their adult dogs to a raw food diet, it’s always best to go at a slower pace and introduce simple homemade meals with fewer ingredients before bulking up the meals with other ingredients. Get your dog used to the same foods first before you include more to their meals. Otherwise, your pet will most likely experience digestive upset, and that can make you think that raw food isn’t the best lifestyle for your pet when the real solution is to not introduce an overwhelming variety of foods in the first few weeks. On the other hand, it’s crucial to avoid being too careful with your puppies because they can become nutrient deficient. Puppies are able to handle variety sooner due to shorter exposure to kibble and better health in general. It is important to expose your puppies to diverse species-appropriate food sources as soon as they have been weaned from their mother because every food has a distinct nutrient profile that these little ones will be needing to grow and thrive. That’s why it’s vital to have balanced and complete raw food meal and for human parents to familiarize themselves with essential nutrition their fur babies need.

Mistake #3: Too Much or Too Little Food

Homemade raw food meals for dogs are adjusted according to various factors, such as your dog’s age, weight, activity level, etc. Your pet needs the right amount of food to avoid losing nutrients, unnecessary weight gain or loss, not enough energy, and more. That’s why, here at Barker’s Kitchen, we offer special, personalized recipes to help you make balanced meals for your pet. See our Raw Meal Plans & Kits here for more information.

Mistake #4: Mixing In Kibble with Raw Food

Some dog owners believe that mixing in kibble with raw food meals can help make the transition easier. Some people use the kibble as a security blanket since they’re having a difficult time letting go of the belief that kibble is the only necessary food source in their pet’s food bowl. However, this method isn’t necessary, and it’s best to separate kibble and raw food meals when you’re changing your pet’s diet to a natural one.

Mixing kibble with homemade raw foods can upset your dog’s stomach. If you’re dedicated to the raw food diet for your canine, try adding probiotics before transitioning and fasting your dog for a day then introducing raw food the next day.

Mistake #5: Adding Too Many Supplements

You won’t need to add too many supplements to your dog’s meals, primarily if you're feeding whole raw foods. By adding variety and knowing the recommended muscle meat, RMBs, offal, and organs with the addition of small oily fishes, fruits, and veggies, you will have a better understanding of essential nutrients your furry friend requires each day or week. You can balance daily or over time! Adding too many supplements at one time can be detrimental, and a waste of your hard-earned money. Add supplements to your canine’s meals based on their needs and conditions and rotate every 1-2 weeks.

Mistake #6: Not Grinding Up Bones Or Including Too Much

Some bones, such as leg bones, can be hard for your canine to bite and chew, resulting in broken teeth. Make sure you are providing raw meaty bone, not recreational bone. For smaller dogs, your option is to grind up the bones to make them easier to eat and digest and prevent choking hazards. Make sure you do not include too much bone, though. Raw bone should only be 10 to 15 percent of the meal. If you exceed that amount, your adult pet can suffer constipation and other digestive problems. This is more concerning for your puppy, not only with constipation but with the possibility of skeletal issues or deformities. In case your pet does have constipation, you can go boneless for 1-2 days, add more muscle meat and organs or have some slippery elm bark handy until the condition subsides.

Mistake #7: Not Sticking To A Single Protein Per Meal

Beef, chicken, pork, oh my! It’s a digestion disaster waiting to happen; e.g., lots of gas, and you don’t want to be around a dog with too much gas, especially one that loves snuggling with you in your bed. To see how your pet reacts with different protein sources, try one protein per meal for a week or so and track their reaction in a spreadsheet so you know which protein is the best for your canine. For beginners, start with chicken or other white meat since it’s the easiest to digest, then move on to other protein such as beef. Be careful with fish, though, small fish like anchovies, smelts, sardines, and mackerel are recommended because big fish contain a high level of mercury and raw salmon or trout from the Pacific Northwest contains a parasite which can poison and lead to your canine's demise. It is recommended to cook or freeze for 2-3 weeks to inactivate the parasite. Dogs like humans are individuals. Some can’t handle some meat/protein sources, so you may have to reduce or altogether omit specific meats from your dog’s meals. Poop is the key! Regularly check your dog's waste to ensure that he can digest his food well.

We hope this helped provide more clarity on how to have a successful raw food diet lifestyle for your pet! If you would like more help, be sure to see our Raw Meal Plans & Kits page for options on raw food diet assistance. For more general information, read our other helpful web guides here: Why Go Raw?