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Navigating Dog Diets: Tips for a Smooth Transition

by Scott Marshall March 05, 2024 4 min read

Navigating Dog Diets: Tips for a Smooth Transition

Should You Change Your Dog's Diet?

Embarking on the journey to alter your dog's diet, particularly towards a raw feeding diet, is the same as navigating a complex landscape that holds the promise of improved health for your beloved pet. 

Why consider changing your dog's diet?

Transitioning your dog to a new diet can be driven by various health and wellness concerns. 

Allergies or food sensitivities

Identifying allergies or food sensitivities is a key reason for diet change. Common signs include itchy skin and digestive discomfort, indicating the need for a dietary adjustment.

Skin irritations or gastrointestinal issues

These issues often signal dietary intolerances, necessitating a switch to hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diets to alleviate symptoms.

Age-related nutritional needs

As dogs age, their dietary requirements shift. Puppies need nutrient-rich food for growth, while senior dogs benefit from diets that support joint health and energy levels.

Puppies vs. senior dogs

Puppies require diets high in proteins and fats to fuel their growth, whereas senior dogs often need lower-calorie diets to maintain a healthy weight.

Which is why a raw feeding diet for puppies is significantly different than a raw feeding diet for older dogs. 

Health issues requiring dietary adjustments

Certain conditions like pancreatitis or heart disease demand specific dietary changes to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Diabetes or kidney disease

Dogs with diabetes may need a diet lower in carbohydrates, while kidney disease often requires reduced levels of protein and phosphorus.

Weight management

For dogs facing weight issues, a carefully calibrated diet is crucial. Overweight dogs need reduced-calorie diets, whereas underweight dogs require nutrient-dense foods.

Obesity or underweight

Addressing obesity involves temporarily lower calorie diets combined with increased exercise. 

On the other hand, underweight dogs may benefit from diets temporarily higher in calories and proteins to gain healthy weight.

What factors to consider before changing?

Before starting a dietary shift for your dog, it's important to evaluate several key factors to ensure a smooth and beneficial transition:

  • Evaluating your dog's current health status is the first step. This assessment helps in tailoring the diet to address any existing health concerns effectively

  • Considering any ongoing medical treatments is crucial. Some conditions may require specific dietary adjustments to complement the treatment plan

  • Understanding your dog's nutritional needs is fundamental. This includes ensuring a balanced intake of essential nutrients for optimal health. For information see our balancing for beginners video course HERE

  • Achieving the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates is key. This balance supports your dog's energy levels, muscle maintenance, and overall metabolic health

  • Considering the activity level of your dog is essential. The dietary needs differ significantly between sedentary and highly active dogs

  • Sedentary dogs may require fewer calories to avoid weight gain, while highly active dogs need a diet rich in calories and nutrients to support their energy expenditure.

How to transition to a new diet?

Transitioning your dog to a new diet requires a gradual and attentive approach to avoid digestive upset. People are often confused by how much raw food their dog should be eating

Start by gradually mixing the new food with the old, increasing the proportion of the new diet over a period of 7-10 days. This can be different for puppies, for more information see our puppy guide.

This method helps your dog's digestive system adjust without causing distress. Throughout this process, it's important to monitor your dog's reaction closely. 

Look for signs of digestive upset or allergies, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or skin irritations, which could indicate that the new diet may not be suitable. 

Keeping a careful observation ensures a smooth transition to a diet that enhances your dog's health and well-being.

What are the signs of a successful diet change?

A successful diet change in dogs is marked by several positive indicators reflecting their overall health and well-being. 

Improved energy levels

Noticing improved energy levels in your dog can be a clear sign that the new diet is providing the necessary nutrients for vitality.

More playful and active

A diet change can lead to your dog being more playful and active, an indication of better health and well-being.

Better coat condition

An improvement in coat condition, with your dog's fur becoming healthier and more vibrant, signals a positive response to the new diet.

Shinier and less shedding

A shinier coat with less shedding is a tangible marker of improved nutrition and overall health, from dietary change. However. many breeds will shed regardless of diet change.

Healthy weight maintenance

Healthy weight maintenance, where your dog is neither gaining nor losing weight rapidly, shows that the diet is well-balanced for their needs.

When to consult a veterinarian?

Consulting a veterinarian is a critical step before making significant diet changes, especially for dogs with pre-existing conditions

A professional can provide tailored advice to ensure the new diet meets your dog's specific health needs. 

Additionally, if adverse reactions occur—such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy—after the diet change, it's imperative to seek veterinary guidance. 

These symptoms could indicate that the new diet isn't suitable for your dog, necessitating expert intervention to safeguard their health and well-being.

The Takeaway

Changing a dog’s diet isn’t something out of the ordinary, and can be done with every dog. 

However, things need to be kept in consideration when making these changes to ensure your dog remains healthy and also likes what they are being fed.

Remember, we aren’t the only ones allowed to be picky about what they eat!


The information on Raw Feeding 101’s website and other media outlets is designed ONLY for educational and informational purposes. It is essential that you understand the statements and information provided on this website and its other outlets do not aim to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any diseases or illnesses. Raw Feeding 101 strongly insists that you consult with your veterinarian to discuss your dog's medical care thoroughly.

Scott Marshall
Scott Marshall

Scott has been feeding a raw dog food diet for over 13 years. He lives in Utah with his wife Arianne, his 11.5 year old german shepherd Wolken, and his 2.5 year old labradoodle Montu. Scott has been teaching others about raw feeding since 2013, started Raw Feeding 101 in 2017, and has been solely focused on simplifying the process of pet parents meeting their dogs’ daily nutrient requirements since 2018.

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