Many people have switched their pets to the raw diet “cold turkey”. For young, reasonably healthy animals, this may be the easiest way, but for older, immune compromised dogs and cats, a more gradual method may be desired. Begin these animals by choosing one variety of TC. Include a digestive enzyme and a probiotic, which can be purchased here or at a pet or health food store. Add these to the Three Cheers 5-10 minutes before serving for the first week.  If the animal is doing well on this regime, begin adding variety and RMBs. Check the animals stool. Often loose, mucousy stools are common in animals eating raw for the first time. This may be a kind of detox, and should be short lived. If the animal seems constipated, there may be too much bone and not enough organs or vegetable matter in the diet. Slippery elm bark powder is an excellent supplement to have on hand during the transition. It can be sprinkled on the food or made into syrup to sooth the stomach.

Cats are generally more of a problem to switch—especially those used to free feeding with dry food. These cats will have to be transitioned very gradually with “creative tricks” used to get them to try the new foods. The dry food must be taken up, before they will try anything new and different. The easiest method is to cover the raw with a few pieces of dry. Other ideas are to cover the raw food with fishy broth or canned food. Generally, most cats love the TC Feline Beef ‘n’ Bone and the Hare ‘n’ Bone. These two mixes are usually the most likely mixes to convince that suspicious feline to try something new. Keep in mind that cats must never be fasted, as they become susceptible to fatty liver disease. Dogs, on the other hand, often benefit from a days fast before beginning the raw diet. Many caregivers have continued this practice, and find that a one day a week fast is beneficial for their adult dogs. (Do not fast puppies or nursing bitches.)

One of the questions that is most always asked is “How much do I feed?” The answer is usually about 2-3% of the adult dogs’ weight each day. For example, a dog weighing 100 pounds would eat 2-3 pounds of raw food per day. Growing puppies may eat as much as 10% of their weight per day. I have found that cats eat about ¼ to ½ pounds a day, depending on their size and activity level. Adult dogs can be fed one or two times a day. Cats like to be fed at least two times a day, while pups and kittens need food three times a day. That said, the best way to gage the amount to feed is to observe your pet. Is she overweight or underweight? Dogs should have a waistline, and their ribs should be able to be felt under the skin.  Cats' bodies should be muscular and smooth, without hanging bellies. Puppies and kittens should be on the thin side for best growth and future health. After these observations are made, the food should be increased or decreased as necessary.

           Feeding Tips

1. Adults should consume 2-3% of their body weight each day, puppies may need up to 10% of their weight.

2. Do not routinely mix kibble and raw foods--digestion may be compromised.

3. Balance the diet over time, not each individual meal. Use a variety of proteins.

4. Some animals are harder to switch than others--especially cats. Be patient, and creative.

5. NEVER feed cooked bones.

6. Dogs and cats have short digestive tracts and strong stomach acids. Bacteria are not a problem.

7. Supplement occasionally with fish oils, Vit E, and Vit C. Using natural, raw food will furnish most of your pets nutritional needs.

8. Be informed--read recommended reading material.
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