Feeding a raw diet: Getting started
Whether you have a puppy or kitten, or a fully grown pet, transitioning to a raw diet is one of the best things you can do to give them a great chance of a long and healthy life.
An Introduction to Nurturing by Nature
We believe the most natural diet for dogs and cats is a raw diet - after all, there are no ovens in the wild.
Although cats and dogs are now domesticated, their genetics are not far removed from their wild ancestors. We understand each pet and person is different and we see raw feeding as a lifestyle choice.
Nurturing by Nature was founded in the family kitchen back in 2004 and whilst we have grown, our roots and our core values have remained the same. We believe in offering only the very highest quality meats, sourced from suppliers we have personally visited and trust.
How to Feed Raw
There are a number of things to consider before starting to feed a raw diet:
Where to start
To ease your pet on to a raw diet, we recommend starting off with just a single protein - we tend to favour chicken to start with as it's an easy to digest meat and contains soft bone.
Week 1 - Introducing raw meats
There are two ways you can choose to introduce this to your pet's meals:
- Option 1 - Gradual feeding
To ease you and your pet in gradually, we recommend starting by feeding half the recommended amount of food on day 1 and slowly increasing this each day; on day 2 try feeding 2/3 of the required quantity and on day 3, try the full amount. It is important to remember that feeding times and frequencies are to suit both you and your pet, so if just 1 meal a day works for you then that is fine. Equally, every animal is different, therefore if your dog is not yet ready to move on at the end of week 1 it is perfectly fine to stick to a single protein until you are both ready to move on to the next step.
- Option 2 - Food combinations
If you’d prefer to ease your dog onto raw more slowly, you can start by feeding raw and commercial pet food for the first few days.
We recommend feeding a small raw minced meal in the morning, followed by a meal of your pet’s old food later in the day. Gradually increase the amount of raw food being fed compared to the old food each day. After around 3 days you will be ready to feed 100% raw. Do not mix the raw meat and the old food in the same meal or feed at the same time as the digestion rates can differ. It is important to keep the raw and old food separate.
Now that you have slowly introduced your pet to a raw diet and their digestive system is getting used to the change, it's time to move on to the next steps...
Week 2 - Adding new protein sources
As your pet has adjusted to raw chicken (or whichever base meat you decided to start with), it's time to begin introducing new protein sources. We recommend feeding a mix in the morning - generally a mix with chicken, so chicken and beef, for example. Then, in the evening just serve a single protein meal, for example, 100% chicken. By introducing new proteins separately you can eliminate any that your pet does not get on with, as well as helping them to slowly adjust to new foods without overwhelming the digestive system.
At this stage, don’t be alarmed if certain protein sources don’t agree with your dog’s digestive system – move on to a different meat for now and try this one again in a few weeks.
Week 3 - Mix it up
At this stage your pet is ready to begin enjoying boney meals. A chicken carcass is a great place to start. You can buy chicken carcasses online here.
View our guide - Introducing Bones
A good way to find out if your dog is coping well with bone feeding is to take a look after they have been to the toilet! If there is bone in their poo then the digestive system isn’t quite ready – go back to simple meat meals and try again with bone when both you and your pet are ready.
Week 4 - Complete the raw diet
By now your pet will probably be well adjusted to the raw diet and ready for a larger variety of foods to be added to the mix. As well as branching out to new, richer 100% meats, such as duck or tripe, you can now also start to include different mixes - we have a great range online.
Your pet has now enjoyed soft boney meals - next you can begin adding harder bones such as lamb ribs. We recommend that for each bone meal you feed, the next meal cotains more bone-free meats to balance it out.
As well as adding boney meals, your pet will now be ready for whole meat meals - such as rabbit or trout. Browse our range online here.
At the end of week 4, your pet's raw diet will officially be in full swing. You've introduced a range of protein types, included bone and bone-free meals, plus minced meat and whole meats. Don’t forget, there is no rush when it comes to transitioning to raw so if your dog is taking a little longer than expected you’ve nothing to worry about – simply take a step back to the previous week and try again when they seem to have adjusted.
To make raw feeding even easier and to help you understand just how varied your dog’s diet needs to be we’ve put together a sample menu for you to take a look at.