When you transition from feeding your dog kibble to feedinga raw food diet to your pet, there are a few changes you may notice. Here are the most common “scary” side effects that can happen when you begin feeding a species appropriate diet.
Decreased Water Consumption
This is a common “side effect” seen when switching dogs from a kibble based diet to a raw food diet. Fresh food contains upwards of 70% moisture and kibble averages only about 10%. When fed a dry food diet dogs and cats will drink excessive amounts of water in an attempt to aid the digestion of their pelleted food. Once they switch to a food with a biologically appropriate water content, they will drink less water.
Stool Appearance & Consistency
Raw poops look very different from kibble poops. A kibble fed dog’s poop is going to be larger, softer, and smellier than a raw fed dog’s poop. When you switch your pet to a real food diet, you may notice their stool size decrease and even change colour. This is normal. You should not be seeing diarrhea for any length of time though one or two episodes can happen if your pet has been on the same food for an extended period of time. If you see soft and/or very dark bowel movements this could mean there is too much organ in your food. On the other hand, if you notice your pet is straining to poop and the result is white and chalky, the bone content of your diet is too high.
Most kibbles on the market contain a very high starch content, some as high as 60%. Not only is this not nutritionally beneficial for your pet, but it also means that kibble will absorb water and expand in the digestive tract. The expansion leaves your pet used to feeling nice and full (stuffed) after each meal. Early on in your transition, you may notice your pet acting hungry even after you have fed them the right amount of food. This is because raw food is already full of water and so it does not expand during digestion. It may take your dog or cat a while to adjust to the new feeling. In the short term you can add things things high in fiber but low in calorie to help them feel more full (kale, spinach, pumpkin, etc.).
Detox is another very common aftermath of switching to a whole food diet. The body detoxes through its largest organ, the skin, and so we often see a temporary increase in shedding, debris and wax coming from the ears, and occasionally, small amounts of mucous in the stool. These are all just ways for your dog’s body to rid itself of the buildup of toxins. Feed a milk thistle supplement to aid in the detox process and cleanse the liver.
Often regurgitation is confused with vomiting when they are in fact two very different things. Regurgitation, while rather disgusting, is nothing to be concerned about. It simply means your pet has eaten too much, too fast and their food bolus was too large to pass through the esophageal sphincter into their stomach and needed to be brought back up to be chewed further. To tell regurgitation apart from vomiting, it is easiest to watch it happen. Regurgitation is a passive process, meaning your animal will not strain and heave before it happens, they will just suddenly regurgitate a pile of undigested food onto the floor. Vomiting, on the other hand, is an active process involving straining and heaving, and will usually take place hours after your pet has eaten.
As you can see, these are all normal (temporary) side effects but can seem alarming at first. As long as your pet is still alert and behaving, as usual, these symptoms are nothing to be concerned about, however, if you feel something is wrong always speak with your local holistic vet.
Woofs & Wags,
The Holistic Pet Radio Pack