Raw diets have been growing in popularity over recent years as more owners are seeking a healthier, chemical-free diet for their pets. But starting a raw diet for dogs can be quite a minefield if you’ve not fed raw before. Here’s our quick guide for getting started with a raw diet.
A raw diet can be an excellent choice for many dogs – many people consider it one of the most natural options on the market! By switching to raw, you are helping to provide your dog with better access to beneficial proteins, enzymes, and essential fatty acids – without all of the additional filler ingredients found in many dry and wet diets.
Because you’re completely in control of what you feed them, switching to a raw diet can also be an excellent choice for dogs with nutritional allergies and intolerances.
Other benefits to a raw diet include:
- Fresher breath;
- Less hyperactivity;
- Better appetite;
- Helps anal glands;
- Less flatulence;
- Assists with joint issues;
- Better, smaller poos that are less smelly.
Is it dangerous?
Feeding a raw diet isn’t necessarily dangerous – but you need to ensure you do it properly. Dogs have entirely different digestive systems to humans which allows them to process bacteria which would make us sick. But you are still feeding them raw meat which is a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria, and if you are careless then the chances of your dog becoming ill (in some cases grievously) are dramatically increased.
Most of these dangers are generally preventable through the following…
- Never feed cooked bones (raw bones are soft – cooked bones can splinter and get trapped in the digestive system);
- Ensure that you are providing your dog with a diet that takes into account their unique needs (whilst humans don’t need bone and offal in their food, your dog does as part of a healthy and balanced diet);
- Supervise your dog whilst eating;
- Don’t re-freeze raw meat, or leave it defrosted for more than 24 hours (as this gives harmful bacteria the opportunity to breed);
- Always clean your dog’s bowl thoroughly after feeding.
One of the first things many people notice when they transition their dog onto a raw diet is just how little your dog actually needs to eat! This is because of the high-protein nature of the diet. When moving your pet onto raw for the first time, the difference can be quite dramatic!
The following are provided as a general guide for feeding a raw diet. Like with any diet, remember that your dog’s overall levels of activity may require more/less than the guidelines given.
Growing puppies require more nutrition and calcium in their diet to help with healthy growth and bone development. As the puppy gets older, they will not require as much – so the amount you need to feed reduces.
||% of raw proportionate to body weight
|7 to 10 weeks
||8% to 10%
|10 to 16 weeks
||7.5% to 8.5%
|16 to 20 weeks
||6.5 to 7.5%
|20 to 24 weeks
||4.5% to 3.5%
|36 to 56 weeks
|68 weeks and over
For adult dogs
Adult dogs only require around 2% to 3% of their body weight per day (depending on how active they are). This can be given in either one large or two smaller meals.
||Amount of raw (g)
80/10/10: The golden ratio
Lots of people considering a raw diet will come across the “80/10/10” feeding ratio – but might not understand what it means. As explained above, this accounts for…
- 80% meat (used for energy);
- 10% bone (used for calcium and stool-regulation); and
- 10% offal (used for nutrients).
This is a great starting point for if you haven’t got a lot of experience with raw before. The quantities of meat, bone and offal you provide will have a significant impact on your dog’s general health – and their poo will offer a good indication as to this (see below). Just remember that these are only rough guidelines – there is some room for manoeuvre if you are careful and ensure that your dog will still be provided with the right amount of food. If you are struggling with this, please feel free to visit us in store and speak to a member of staff.
Fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates
Dogs don’t derive as much nutritional benefit from fruits and veg as they do from meats – but that’s not to say that they cannot be a great addition to a varied diet and help with stool consistency. Some great options include…
Raw bones, treats and chews
Raw bones are a fantastic source of nutrition – being rich in glucosamine, calcium, phosphorus, and many even contain Omega 3 fats too! Chewing on bones is an excellent way of cleaning teeth and keeping your dog entertained – they’re also necessary for ensuring healthy poo that isn’t runny.
Just don’t forget that raw bones and treats do count towards your dog’s daily intake – they can gain weight from them just as easily as they can from their complete mince. Offer as a treat or reward, but remember not to overdo it.
Your dog’s poo… it’s important
When feeding a raw diet, your dog generally won’t poo as much as on conventional kibble diets.
But you can monitor your dog’s nutritional needs by keeping an eye on their poo. Here are a couple of common indicators…
- White and crumbly: Too much bone – offer a meat only option or boneless treat.
- Black: Too much offal/iron – reduce intake of offal, liver and spleen (but don’t forget that some meats, like beef or tripe, will naturally darken the colour also).
- Yellow: Normal for a diet that is high in chicken and poultry meats – expect yellow poo during the first week or so if transitioning to raw using chicken or turkey mince.
- Runny: Not enough bone and fibre. Give raw bones, increase intake of fibre rich vegetables, and ensure you are feeding a complete mince option.
Starting with raw
In the first ten days…
We recommend starting a raw diet with an individual, white meat protein source – we’d generally say start off with turkey for this purpose (simply due to the number of dogs who suffer reactions to chicken). But, of course, if you have a dog which is reactive to multiple different types of meat and you know that they can tolerate one type (for instance, duck), then start from this point.
Just remember to monitor your dog’s behaviour and overall health during this transition.
After the first ten days…
After ten days have passed, you can begin introducing other meats into your dog’s diet. Just be careful not to introduce too many different meats in one go – as this might overwhelm your dog can cause and upset stomach.
Because different meats contain different micro and macro nutrients, it should be your long-term goal to introduce a wide variety of protein sources to your dog to ensure they get a fulfilling and nutritious diet overall.
After successfully introducing three or four proteins…
You can then introduce oily fish. From this point onwards, ideally you should be feeding oily fish mince to your dog three to four times per week for optimum nutritional value.
Frequently asked questions
Can I mix it with dry?
No. Not only does your dog not gain anything from the addition of dry to the raw diet, but it can put your dog at risk due to the slower rate of digestion of dry food – in a worst case scenario, the raw food will sit on top of the dry, and harmful bacteria will be able to thrive in your dog’s warm stomach.
If you really must feed your dog dry biscuits at any point when feeding raw, we generally recommend waiting 12 hours.
Do I need to add supplements?
Supplements can be really beneficial for targeting specific areas of your dog’s diet. Some supplements can be ideal for joint health (such as cod liver oil), coat maintenance (such as salmon oil) and general health and flea prevention (such as garlic tablets). You can also find a number of Superfood blends which help provide useful additional nutrients for your dog.
Probiotics can also be particularly useful to have on hand when you start a raw diet for your dog, as they help restore normal gut function. During stressful times, it can also promote non-sloppy stools.
Other things you should consider
Before swapping your dog over to a raw diet, there are other practical factors you should really take into account. Take a look at our article on Things you should consider before swapping your pet to a raw diet.
Lockdown, for many, has brought mixed emotions. Whilst some have carried on work as normal, others have had more chance to enjoy staying at home a bit more. But as more of us return to work and offices, the next few weeks may prove a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for our pets.
Over the past year your pet might have become accustomed to having you around more. The sudden return to work will mean a wave of changes all at once for your pet; not being able to come and go as they please, not enjoying those extra treats throughout the day, a change in how often they can use the toilet, and one of the biggest, not being able to see you. This completely altered routine can cause significant stress.
But there are things you can do to make it easier for your pet – keep reading for our top tips!
Separation anxiety: what it is, and how to tell if your pet is struggling
Common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include…
- Howling or barking;
- Chewing, digging or destruction;
- Throwing up.
Common signs of separation anxiety in cats include…
- Meowing, crying or yowling;
- Urinating outside of the litterbox;
- Excessive self-grooming;
- Destructive behaviour (for instance, scratching or biting).
What can you do?
Because of the sheer number of changes involved in the return to work, the sooner you can start taking the following steps the better.
1 – Getting into a new routine
One of the first things that might come as a bit of a shock to both you and your pet is the change of routine. If you’ve been relishing those extra few minutes sleep in the morning, and working a little later into the night, then it might not be just your pet who struggles with the return of the early morning get-out-of-the-door routine.
To help address this, start getting back into a routine now whilst you’re still at home. Waking up a bit earlier and going for a morning walk will help both you and your pet get into the habit of getting up earlier and feeling more refreshed when the time comes to return to the workplace. Even if you have a cat or kitten, getting up and going for a short walk by yourself will help them get used to you leaving the house early in the morning.
Top Tip: If you have the time in a morning, try taking your dog for a long walk – even when you go back to the workplace. Not only will this fun activity tire them out, but the exercise will release endorphins that will make it easier for your dog to cope with your absence. If you have cats, try spending some time playing in the morning.
2 – Start small
If you have gotten a new puppy or kitten over lockdown, then the chances are there has always been somebody home with them up until this point. A sudden absence of everyone from the house, even for a period as small as half an hour, can be a source of stress for your pet.
It’s important that you begin building up your pet’s confidence by taking small steps and gradually increasing this over time. Start off by finding (or creating) a time when everybody but yourself is out of the house. Now calmly go to the door and go through your normal routine (get your shoes on, if you have a house alarm set it up – just make sure you switch off the rooms your pet will be staying in – etc) and leave the house and garden. Wait outside for a few minutes – you can always walk around the outside of the house or to the corner shop – and then come back in. Give your pet lots of attention and treats – which will positively reinforce their good behaviour. Then, wait a few minutes, before going through the process again.
The idea behind this is getting your pet used to you being out of the house, safe in the knowledge that you will come back to them. Separation anxiety often arises when pets feel abandoned or they can’t get to you. Also, particularly if you have young animals, you need to take great care to ensure that your pet’s first experience of being left alone is a good one – the first time your puppy or kitten experiences something will have a significant impact on how they experience that thing in the future. For example, if the first time your pet is left home alone they are scared and panicked, then they will remember this experience as a bad one every time they are left home alone in the future – and it can be really difficult to change their mind. Because of this, it’s really important that you get this step right to help put your pet’s mind completely at ease.
It’s not just puppies and kittens!
You might think that, because you have an older pet who has experienced being home alone for long periods in the past, your return to work won’t make much of a difference so this step can be avoided. We’d suggest otherwise. Whilst your pet may have grown used to your absence in the past, it may be the case that they have gone through an extended period of having someone in the house with them at all times which can alter the way they feel about being left alone.
Over time you’ll be able to increase the amount of time you leave your pet to their own devices – from five minutes to ten, to half an hour and an hour, etc. Because you’re building this time up slowly, it will really help reassure your pet that no matter how long you are gone you will come back.
Q: Should I give my puppy a bone when I leave the house to give them something to do?
A: As a general rule, we’d say no – particularly with younger puppies. Leaving your puppy unattended with a bone or other hard treat like an antler can be a serious choking hazard that could put their life in danger – particularly if you’re not home for long periods. Instead, you could consider trying a softer treat just before you leave the door (like a dog biscuit), or giving them a toy to keep them occupied – like a stuffed Kong or Grrrelli.
3 – Try a calming diffuser or atomiser
This is a really useful tool at any stage of your pet’s life and training. A happy, relaxed pet is more likely to learn new information quickly than a stressed and upset one – so this can be a great investment regardless of how old or well-trained your pet is.
If you’ve noticed your pet has been getting stressed when you’ve attempted either stage one or stage two, then a diffuser can be a really great investment to help calm your pet down and put them at ease. If your pet’s anxiety is really bad, you could also consider adding a couple of drops of valerian compound into their water leading up to you leaving the house – which will help relax your pet and reduce tension. In extreme cases, CBD oil could also be considered.
4 – Leave the radio or TV on
When you are at home, your pet has a constant source of stimulation and noises going on in the background. Whether it’s the sound of the washing machine running, the tv, typing or handwriting, etc – there’s always something going on. When you’re not home, though, all of that goes away and leaves your pet alone in an echoy home, with only the sound of their own paws clicking against the laminate to keep them company.
By leaving the radio on, you’re creating a source of stimulus for your pet. Don’t leave it on too loud, just loud enough for a bit of background noise during the day that can help your pet focus on something.
5 – Be patient!
It can be easy to become upset and flustered if your pet becomes stressed and destructive – urinating in the house, scratching, chewing and howling/crying are all signs that your pet is distressed. It’s important not to shout at your pet if this is the case, you need to try and correct their behaviour by addressing the source of the problem: the fear that they have been abandoned.
If your pet is struggling, it may be worthwhile speaking to a behaviouralist to see if they are able to help. Other options you could consider are leaving your pet at daycare, paying a dogwalker or pet-sitter to come visit your pet during the day, or leaving your pet with a relative.
training is another idea which some owners find helpful. By creating a safe “den” for your pet, you can provide a safe place for them where they can go when they get stressed and upset – but it’s not wise to leave your pet in a crate for extended periods. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch – we’ll be posting an article soon about this topic.
🎇 We can generally anticipate the arrival of fireworks – between late October to early January they are an almost guaranteed fixture in our calendar. What many people forget to anticipate is the negative impact it can have on our pets. From the largest horse, to the smallest mouse, the bright lights that we humans use to create dazzling displays can be a terrifying experience for our furry and feathered friends. 🎇
Most of the animal-owning population struggle with problem behaviour during firework season. But there are things you can do to make it easier! Unfortunately there isn’t a single one-dose wonder remedy that will make the fear go away, but like with most things effective planning in advance can help minimise the problem.
Animals can be easily startled by the unpredictable patterns and sudden noise of events like firework night – and being unable to escape can lead to feelings of being trapped, triggering the natural fight-or-flight response.
🙀 Common signs include… 🙀
- Barking or growling at the noise;
- Excessive panting;
- Weaving and stall-walking (in horses);
- Loss of appetite;
- Unwillingness to go outside.
Preparations before firework season
🎇 The start to the middle of October is actually the best time to to begin your preparations for the firework season. By establishing a new routine, you can create an atmosphere in which your pet feels safe. It will also help reduce the stress caused by early firework-users.🎇
- Create a den or safe space. For dogs, if you don’t have one already, it may be worthwhile investing in a wire home that you can drape blankets over and fill with comfy bedding. Cats will often have existing hiding-places around the home, so try to observe where these places are and make a note of them. Use calming sprays in these areas to help your pet relax and feel safe.
For small animals, partially drape a blanket over their cage/hutch to help muffle loud noises, and ensure there is plenty of bedding that they can burrow into. This will help them keep warm and feel sheltered. It is advisable to bring them indoors, but if they are normally kept outside you should try and slowly integrate them into the indoor environment so that they are not startled by the sudden change in scenery. Ideally this will need to be done approximately a month in advance.
- Invest in a calming diffuser or atomiser. You can help turn larger areas into a calming space through use of a calming diffuser. These diffusers work in the same way as an air freshener, but emit into the air soothing hormones or herbal essences specifically designed to help the animal relax.
They’re not just for dogs and cats either – the Pet Remedy herbal atomiser can even be used to help soothe and comfort small animals, birds and horses!
- Begin using calming tablets… Calming tablets are designed specifically to help your pet physically and mentally relax. Particularly useful for animals that suffer greatly from stress and anxiety during firework season, there are a great variety of options on the market all made with different ingredients designed to target and soothe particular points of anguish for animals.
- …or try a homeopathic remedy. Homeopathic remedies aren’t new in the pet market. Whilst we don’t normally recommend use of just these remedies on their own, they can be useful in conjunction with other treatments to help aid the calming process.
During firework season
- Bring your animals indoors. Ensure that your animals are not outside during the evenings and nights. Bring horses and livestock off fields/pastures, and ensure that dogs, cats and small animals are brought indoors in the early evenings.
- Walk dogs earlier in the day. Help reduce your pet’s stress by walking them during daylight hours. Not only will your pet be more at ease, but the chances of people lighting fireworks during the day tends to be greatly reduced.
- Try to muffle the sound of fireworks. Using blankets over cages will help muffle any loud bangs, but you can also try to minimise the impact of the sound by creating other distractions. Switch on your television, or play music in the background, to help mask the noise (please note: death-metal listeners, you’d maybe be best opting for the former).
- Top-up with Valerian Compound. Add a couple of drops of Valerian Compound to your pet’s water bowl so that they will feel a renewed sense of calm every time they go for a drink.
- Provide your pet with a calming treat. What better way to cheer up a stressed pet than reminding them how good they are with a tasty treat! The good news is, there are a number of options which contain ingredients specifically designed to have a calming impact on your pet.
Small animals are just as likely to suffer from heat-related problems as dogs and cats. Because their natural environment is outdoors, it can be easy to forget that they react just the same as other furry animals to long periods in the sun.
Rabbits cannot sweat like humans, nor pant like dogs – the majority of their ability to cool down comes from their ears. Guinea pigs aren’t even able to do this, which makes them particularly susceptible to problems of overheating – just like hamsters, mice and gerbils! Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to help them stay cool during the summer months.
Move their hutch/cage to an area with more shade
Sitting in the sun for long periods will increase the chances of your smaller animal overheating. Wooden hutches and plastic cages can both trap heat, which means your animal may struggle to find a cool place to rest away from the heat. Even if your pet lives indoors, there can still be a risk of overheating if their cage is in direct sunlight.
By moving their hutch or cage to an area out of the sun, your small animal’s home will be significantly cooler.
Classic Colour Water Bottle, Large
Give them plenty of water
Hydration is essential for keeping small animals healthy and maintaining a cool body temperature. Whilst they can’t perspire like humans, drinking cool water helps them maintain a steady body temperature and also ensures that their internal processes all work properly.
If you do not have shade readily available, then you may have to find a way to create some. Whilst most hutches will have shaded compartments in which they can sleep, rabbit runs can pose a unique set of problems when it comes to finding shade. Whilst a hutch may be easily moved to a shaded area, an outdoor grassy run may prove a more difficult challenge.
Owners may consider draping a towel over the corner of a run to help create a shaded area for smaller animals – so that they can still stay cool even whilst playing in the grass.
Trixie Small Animal Cool Plate
Try a small-animal safe cooling mat or tile
Give them the option of somewhere cool to lay by placing a cooling tile into their hutch or run. Just make sure that you do not place the tile in direct sunlight, otherwise these will not be effective.
Soak fruit and vegetables in cool water before feeding
Another great way to ensure they are getting enough hydration is to soak fresh fruit and vegetables in cold or icy water for a minute or so before giving them to your pet. Once more these are a fun way to cool your pet down in the sun.
Don’t leave them in exercise balls for long periods of time
Plastic exercise balls can heat up quickly – think of them like tiny greenhouses. For this reason you should be especially weary of leaving them to roam for too long. Always monitor them, and where possible ensure they are roaming in cooler, shaded spaces.
Whether it’s a family holiday or a trip to the vet, there may be occasions when your pet will need to travel in the car.
What the law says
When taking your pet on a car journey, they have to be restrained. That’s not just a recommendation – it’s the law. Alongside risking a £5,000 fine, if an unrestrained animal is found to have caused (or even contributed to) an accident, both your car and pet insurances can be invalidated!
So, what are your options?
Invest in a car harness. Car harnesses have built-in or detachable belts which will either click directly into your seatbelt, or loops which your seatbelt can thread through. This is a great option if your dog or cat is travelling on the back seat.
Or, try a seatbelt attachment with your existing harness. If you already have a comfy harness for your pet, you can minimise the number of times you have to swap your harness over by buying an individual belt.
Never attach a seatbelt attachment directly to your dog’s collar or a no-pull harness! Doing so can be dangerous.
If you have to perform an emergency stop, or are involved in a crash, your dog is at risk of strangulation or broken bones. Use a comfortable, preferably padded harness, that will
Rosewood Dog Guard
Use a crate or cage. To reduce the chances of your pet being a distraction whilst you drive, a crate or cage will keep them in one place.
Use a dog guard. If your pets are roaming on the back seats or in the boot, you can reduce their chances of climbing over and causing a distraction to you by using a dog guard.
Other things to make journeys with pets easier
Keep your car cool in hot weather. Stick the air conditioning on, or have the window open a crack. Dogs like the feel of the wind in their fur. Just make sure that if you have the window open it is not so much that your dog could potentially jump out.
Protect your paintwork with a travel bumper guard. When dogs are climbing into and out of the car, their nails might risk scratching your bumper. By investing in a bumper guard, you will be able to ensure your bumper stays scratch free.
Trixie Three Fold Ramp
For dogs that struggle to jump up to the car, a car ramp will save lifting them up. A ramp can also be another great way of protecting your car bumper from being scratched.
Car hammocks and seat covers will save you hoovering. By using a car hammock or other form of seat covers, things should get far less hairy in the back seats. This means less time cleaning up after your journey!
For long trips, invest in a travel water bottle or bowl. This is another necessity in hot weather. Sometimes just keeping a spare travel bottle in the car can be really beneficial.
JVP Travel-Eze Tablets
For travel sickness, use medicine. Travel sickness is quite common in dogs. To help alleviate some of their illness, you can try a solution like travel tablets or herbal remedies. You could also consider leaving a couple of hours gap between feeding and travelling, just to ensure their stomach has settled.
Nervous dogs, or dogs that have not travelled by car before, may be scared of travelling in the car. Using a calming spray around the area will help them relax during the journey. For severe cases, you could consider medicines or herbal remedies to calm them down.