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How to Transition Your Dog to a Raw Diet: Kono's Journey to Raw
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How to Transition Your Dog to a Raw Diet: Kono's Journey to Raw

The road to Kono's Kitchen actually started with the road to Kono's fully-raw diet. A little over a year ago, I started researching raw diets for dogs. To be honest, I don't remember how I heard of it or what prompted me to want to change his diet (other than being a super extra dog mom).

I watched hours and hours of YouTube videos, read countless articles on various blogs, such as Keep the Tail Wagging, and bought nutrition-dense books like Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.

The result of going through all that, naturally, was that I was overwhelmed with it all. I was overwhelmed by the potential cost, the potential time suck, the idea of meal-prepping every week and taking up all my freezer space with his meals. So I tabled the idea for a few months while I thought about it some more.

During this time, I also did research into pre-made raw meals, but everything I found was too expensive for what it took to feed my 100-lb, part-Mastiff pit mix.

The First Attempt

Around November of 2019, I attempted to transition Kono over to a raw diet. From what I'd heard talking to friends with dogs and reading online, some dogs do great on a cold turkey switch, but others, especially ones with sensitive stomachs, do better on a gradual transition. I attempted to switch Kono over in what I thought was a "gradual" transition.

I thought gradual meant instead of completely changing all his meals at once, I would just completely change one meal per day. Let me tell you....that is NOT what a gradual transition means.

The first full day I fed him a raw breakfast and then kibble for dinner, he was fine. No upset stomach, no throwing up. But the next day, and the day after that....he went through a phase I can only describe as "garden-hosing."

Warning: read on only if you are not squeamish and are not eating something.

Basically garden-hosing means that instead of solid poop, he was shooting liquid feces out of his butt. From my research, I knew that diarrhea was normal, but there was so. much. diarrhea. 

After two days of nonstop diarrhea (with one fully raw meal and one kibble meal per day), I couldn't handle seeing Kono go through it anymore. I made the executive decision to pull the plug on the switch (this is strangely poetic to me), and we went back to kibble for the time being.

A couple things I want to address here:

Is it okay to mix kibble and raw together? As long as your dog has a healthy digestive system, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest that mixing the two is a bad idea.

One of the biggest arguments against mixing kibble and raw is that kibble digests slower than raw, so as the kibble digests, the raw food will continue to sit in the stomach and cause stomach upset. In a case study done by the Raw Feeding Community (you could argue bias but then you'd have to ask who funds the studies that argue that kibble is healthy), it was actually shown that kibble was digested faster than raw.

This makes a lot of sense to me. If you eat a bag of chips, there aren't many nutrients to break down and absorb, so it passes through you faster. But if you eat a healthy meal, your body needs more time to break down and take in all the nutrients, and what you're left with is much smaller poops ( least in the case of my dog).

How long should you wait and let your dog garden-hose it out? It really depends on the dog. I'd say if it's been a few days and your dog is not letting up, most likely you're adding too much raw too quickly. Test it out by easing back a bit and continue to monitor all the poops. My problem the first time around is I didn't adjust the amount of raw food that Kono was eating—I simply waited a few days for something to change (even though I didn't change anything), and then I freaked out and stopped.

Second Attempt Success

About three months after my first failed attempt (which is okay! I learned a lot!), I tried again. This time I took it suuuuuper slowly. And by slowly, I mean I gave him one chicken foot and watched for a day to see how he did. And then I added another chicken foot. And a turkey neck. And gradually, over a period of a few weeks, he was finally on a fully-raw diet with SOLID POOPS! Who knew feces could be so exciting?!

chicken feet

Over those few weeks, I was gradually adding about 10-15% more raw meat (and 10-15% less kibble) to Kono's meals for a few days at a time, while monitoring his poop for digestive issues between each phase.

I also held off on organs like liver and kidney for the first few weeks while Kono's stomach got used to his new diet. Organs can be really rich and might be too much to add too soon.

I'll go into more detail in upcoming articles about where I source my meats and organs for his raw meals and how I meal-prep each week. It takes me about 45 minutes each week to prep about 10 days worth of food (so 20 meals). I use reusable containers that fit in my freezer, and I keep 4 of them in my fridge to defrost at all times. Time-wise, it really hasn't been as bad as I expected.

Is it worth 45 minutes of my week to potentially add years to my best friend's life? Abso-fucking-lutely.

I created this helpful guide on How to Transition Your Dog to a Raw Diet that you can bookmark to reference or share on Instagram! Check it out below :)

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