I spend every single day working with people to help their dogs live longer, healthier and happier lives. If I say 'you are what you eat' once I'll say it a hundred times a week!
The most common question I am asked is 'I have been feeding Kibble all his life, how do I safely change him over to a Raw, Species Appropriate diet?' The answer is quite simple - slowly and mindfully.
My dog really seems to like dry Kibble so how to I encourage him to try new foods?
Processed pet foods contain addictive ingredients to cover up the taste of the poor quality ingredients. Addictive ingredients can include MSG (listed as hydrolyzed protein), table sugar, table salt, sweet tasting propylene glycol (a derivative of antifreeze), just to name a few. If your pet is addicted to kibble and you want to switch him it might help you to compare his kibble to junk food. Junk food is not healthy to feed every meal and it’s really not necessary to feed it at all. You can make the switch – its up to you to be strong and firm for your pet.
Making the change from Kibble to Raw can be tricky so how do I Stop Feeding my Dog Dry Kibble?
There are many other reasons why your pet might be resistant to change. Here are some solutions to common problems:
What the heck is in my bowl?
Sometimes pets don’t recognize new foods as food. Many pets are picky about a certain consistency or texture of a food and when a new food varies from what they’re used to they won’t even try it -even if it smells delicious. In many cases making a new food look similar to their old food makes it more appealing to them during transition. Forming new foods into balls or pellets so it looks like kibble, or adding water, or mashing a food to match a consistency can help get your pet started. Crunchy or Smooth?
Many pets care more about consistency than flavour. If you’ve noticed that your pet prefers a certain type of food try a different food in the same consistency but a different flavour.
Some options to adjust consistency include: Making a Pate: make any food into a pate’ consistency by adding a small amount of water and letting it soak.
Making a Chunky mix: Try temporarily adding chunky food blends into the food that you desire to switch your pet to. Try different soaking times or try lightly cooking the new food the first few times you feed it.
Making it Crunchy: Try balling up small amounts of food, or adding dry Ziwi Peak, or slightly cooking a blend to get your pet to transition and to Stop Feeding your Dog Dry Kibble
Don’t forget that sometimes you have to check their teeth to make sure they don’t have a dental problem that needs attention that is causing their pickiness.
Steak and Eggs, please?
You may have created a monster. It’s very common for pet owners to worry when their pets don’t eat. Sometimes your pets prefer the attention of your worry over their food. Many owners offer their pets enticements to get them to eat. Enticements given after your pet has snubbed their food just teaches him that snubbing his food means tastier treats. The more you baby your pet through eating, the pickier he’ll be in the future. I have even had a lady use Chopsticks to try to get her dog to eat! And guess what? I was the best, most attention she got every day so why should she stop? Clever dog!
Bringing out the good Dinnerware
Some pets have poor vision and a deep or round bowl makes them nervous because it’s dark and hard for them to see into. Many cats, and some dogs, don’t like their whiskers touching the sides of the bowl and an oval shaped bowl or plate is the only thing that will make them comfortable eating.
A bit of trickery
Your pet might feel anxiety and pressure about eating a new food. Often, if you put the food in an area that they don’t normally eat, he will feel it was his idea and try it.
My dish stinks
There could be something wrong with their food. Pets have the ability to smell far better than you do. They can smell when a food has an unacceptable odor so perhaps there is a problem with the food that you don’t know about.
No thanks, I already ate
Many pets don’t ever get a chance to develop an appetite when they are free fed. (Kibble in their bowl all day) While it’s hard for humans to understand, dogs shouldn’t nibble on small amounts of food throughout the day like humans do. Physiologically it’s healthiest for dogs to eat once or twice a day and continued feeding can cause pH imbalances, kidney problems, metabolic problems and poor digestion. Not to mention the teeth issues!
Extra tips for switching
I recommend you feed dry or canned food separately from dehydrated or raw meals because they digest at different rates. When transitioning, it’s ok to mix foods and incrementally increase the new food if needed. For long term use however, you should feed dry or canned at one meal and dehydrated or raw at the other meal.
To start, make his meal 90% old food and 10% new food. You’ll know it’s time to increase your dog’s ratio of new food when he has solid stool. Increase the new food by another 25% in a week or when you see that your pet is tolerating the change in diet. Some pets may take three days to transition and some may take three weeks. Observe your dog’s reaction to the new food and increase according to what you think is best, based on his tolerance. Look for firm stools before you make any new changes. If he is really sensitive to the change, add only 10% new food.
When switching from a highly processed food such as kibble or canned, to a dehydrated raw or raw food there may be some detoxifying and clean up of accumulated food debris. Your pet's stool volume may temporarily increase or they may develop diarrhea. This is actually a healthy response by the digestive system as long as you transition slowly enough and supplement properly to prevent severe diarrhea.
Processed food leaves “residue” in the system… material that is neither absorbed nor passed due to inefficient digestion. Dehydrated or raw food is optimally absorbed and what minor material that is not utilized by the body passes through, eliminating a major burden on the digestive system and consequently the immune system. This in turn creates a healthy environment in the gut and makes it less susceptible to parasites and bacteria.
I want to BARF!
Nope, BARF does NOT mean to throw up! It stands for BIOLOGICALLY APPROPRIATE RAW FOOD. There are some good Store bought frozen BARF options on the market here now (finally!) If you are time-poor, worried about getting the ratios right or just plain worried you'll do more harm than good - then these are a great option for you. I hear 'raw feeding is sooo confusing!' ALL the time. These pre-made foods are 100% better hands down than Kibble or Canned 'foods'.
Variety and Balance
There is NO such thing as a 'complete and balanced meal' in a single bowl. Dogs, just like humans, need a large variety of proteins, offal, fruits, vegetables, eggs and seafood to meet their optimum health requirements. Every single meal you feed should be varied. Mix it up. One day they get a Sardine, the next day they get a chicken neck, the next day a whole egg omelette on top of their BARF premade meal. Add some cooked veggies and voila! You are most definitely on the path to what every pet parent wants - a healthy, happy dog!