To read about transitioning cats to a raw diet, please visit the What About Cats? page. For more information on feeding a raw diet and switching your pet (dog, cat, or ferret) to raw, please join the Yahoo! Rawfeeding group. Here are some other helpful links:
Raw Fed Dogs
Just some basic information for those very curious types: Most people switch their dogs cold turkey. They stop feeding kibble one day, and then start feeding raw the next. You could even fast the dog for a day before starting raw to give the dog's system time to clear out any remaining kibble. If you want to mix a little kibble with the raw food, you can, but it is not recommended. Why? Well, why continue to put that poison into your dog's body and continue to cause insult and injury to your pet's digestive and immune systems? Kibble and raw are two COMPLETELY different things, and it is best to just drop the kibble and pick up with raw. What should you do with the kibble? Do not keep it around! Donate it to your local animal shelter or simply put it in the trash.
So now you are ready to begin. Start off slow. The biggest mistake most "newbies" make is to add too much variety too soon! The result? A very rough transition that involves lots of midnight trips outside. So, start slowly. Pick one protein source and feed that for about a week (or more—it depends on your dog!). Many people start with chicken because it is an easily digestible protein source that is relatively inexpensive and is easy to get. But if you want to start with something different, like pork or beef, then by all means do so. Make sure to pick a raw meaty bone that is suitable for your dog. If you have a Chihuahua, try a chicken thigh. If you have a Golden Retriever, try a chicken quarter. And always feed it raw and whole—none of this 'feed ground' business! One of the main points of a raw diet is to give your dog a much-needed dental workout that cleans its teeth, prepares its digestive system for the incoming food, and satisfies the dog both mentally and physically.
Work up to variety slowly. Do not worry about achieving "balance" with a wide variety of raw meaty bones and organs right away. You are in a whole different realm now where balance is a useless, meaningless term. You must work up to variety slowly, and over a period of time. There is no need to rush things, as rushing can cause you and your dog undue misery in the form of early morning trips outside with diarrhea, etc. Your pet is not going to suffer from eating one food source for a period of time—the raw food source it will be eating is superior in quality to any kibbled food and contains just what your pet needs nutritionally. Let your dog's system adjust to eating real food. Remember, your dog (or cat) has been eating a grain-based, hard-to-digest, artificial food that is WAY different from fresh, real food. The dog may have a suppressed immune system and possibly suppressed digestive enzymes, and just needs time to get its system up and running.
Once your pet is used to eating the raw meaty bones you are giving him, try adding something new: a little organ meat, or a new protein. Again, take things slowly. Let your pet adjust to the new food for a while before adding another new food. Always add slowly, and always give the animal time to adjust to the new food. And remember: you do not have to do this alone! Join the Yahoo! Raw feeding group; this group can provide you with an awesome support network of people who have been feeding raw for years to over 26 dogs, as well as newcomers who are in the same position you are—eager to do what is best for their pets and willing to learn. The people on this list know their stuff, and they are very willing to help and to answer questions. Their passion is for the health and well-being of your pet, and for helping you ensure that your pet is getting the very best and most appropriate nutrition possible. Please note, however, that the Rawfeeding list promotes prey-model raw diets comprised of raw meaty bones and organs; the list does NOT recommend or endorse a BARF-style diet that includes vegetables and various supplements.
Switching puppies to a raw diet is just as simple, if not simpler! Most puppies take to raw food very readily. You can either switch them to raw food once they get home, or you can give them a few days to adjust to their surroundings before switching food. Better yet, before you even get a puppy, search for a naturally rearing breeder that feeds raw and minimally vaccinates their dogs. They will also be able to discuss the finer points of holistic rearing and the risks of vaccination with you. Please note that not all naturally rearing breeders will feed a prey-model raw diet. Many feed a variation of the BARF-type diet, which is still superior to commercial foods. Here is a list of links to get you started with searching for naturally rearing breeders:
Natural Rearing Breeder's Directory
K-9joy Education—Naturally Rearing Breeders
Raw and Natural Breeders
BARFworld Breeder Directory
Please visit the Feeding a Raw Diet page for more information on what to feed, how much to feed, when to feed, where to feed, etc.