Guide on Switching to a Raw Diet for Senior Dogs

Guide on Switching to a Raw Diet for Senior Dogs

If you have a senior dog who’s been fed kibble all their life, the idea of switching them to a raw diet may seem a bit daunting. You may think the change won’t be worth the hassle. However, you could extend the number and the quality of the years they have left by making the change, so let’s talk about the importance of—and tips for—switching a senior pup to raw dog food.

Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Senior Dogs

It’s never too late to switch your senior pup to a raw dog food diet so they can start experiencing the many benefits, including:

Raw Diet for Senior Dogs
  • •Better dental health

  • •Mealtime excitement

  • •Weight control

  • •Reduced allergies

  • •Improved digestion

  • •Smaller, firmer stools

  • •Healthier skin and coat

  • •Stronger immune system

Additionally, being on a high-quality raw diet can help prevent:

  • •Cancer

  • •Arthritis

  • •Gastrointestinal disease

  • •Obesity

  • •Skin problems

  • •Kidney disease

  • •Hormonal issues

  • •Liver problems

If your senior pup has dental problems, We Feed Raw’s nutritionally complete and balanced patties are the perfect solution since they include finely ground bones and organs with the muscle meat in a mixture soft enough for even toothless dogs to eat.

Find out how much it would cost to start your senior dog on We Feed Raw here.

How to Switch a Senior Dog to a Raw Diet

Switching a dog from kibble to raw is rarely as simple as going from all kibble one day to all raw the next, then hoping the dog likes the taste and doesn’t have digestive problems. Transitioning senior dogs can be a bit more complicated since their taste buds and digestive tract are both used to eating kibble. Here are the steps you should take to successfully transition a senior dog to a raw diet.

Probiotics For Dogs

Start With the Gut

For humans and canines alike, probiotics can help establish a healthy gut flora. A lifetime of kibble has done nothing good for the healthy bacteria in your senior dog’s digestive system, so you should find a high-quality probiotic and start adding it to your dog’s food a few days before you start transitioning them to a raw diet.

Establishing a healthy gut biome before changing your dog’s food can help prevent loose stools or other stomach issues during the transition. However, too much of a good thing can also cause problems, so start adding the probiotic to your dog’s food slowly to help prevent too much of a gut “cleansing” effect.

Your dog may still have mucus-covered or loose stools during the transition, but rest assured that your dog’s system will adjust in time. Most raw-fed dogs eventually have extremely firm poop and less frequent bowel movements than kibble-fed dogs, so stick with it through any tummy troubles and know you’re doing the best for your beloved pooch. 

Half Raw Half Kibble

Making the Transition

While we recommend that non-senior healthy dogs spend 10 days transitioning to a raw diet, if you have a senior dog who’s only been fed kibble their entire life, you may need to take even longer than 10 days to make the transition—perhaps even up to a month. That’s especially true if your older dog is prone to digestive upset at the slightest hint of a change to their diet.

After adding probiotics to your dog’s current food for a few days, add 10% of their new raw diet to 90% of their old food. Maintain this ratio for a few days, and if your dog doesn’t have any problems, start mixing 25% of the new raw food with 75% of their current food for at least 3 days. 

Gradually, you can increase the ratio to 50% raw food and 50% of the old diet and maintain that for at least 3 days. Then, as your dog’s system adjusts, you can start to feed 75% raw and 25% of their old diet. 

Overall, you should take the process as slowly as your pup’s digestive tract requires. If your pup experiences loose stools, you can go back a step and use more of the old food and less of the new food for a few days while their body adjusts.

If your salt- or carb-addicted senior dog turns up their nose at raw food, there are many toppers you can add to their diet to make it seem more appealing.

Veggies for Dogs

Optional: Vegetation

Although We Feed Raw is nutritionally complete and balanced as-is and doesn’t need anything added, some people like to add vegetables or fruit to their senior dog’s diet. Our PhD animal nutritionist recommends no more than a 5-8% veggie inclusion.

If you want to include vegetation in your pup’s diet, know that canines aren’t equipped to digest it, so cooked and pureed veggies will be more bioavailable to your dog than raw, whole vegetables.

Gussy's Gut

We love to recommend Gussy’s Gut Fermented Whole Superfood Topper to people with senior dogs who have stomach problems during the transition or who initially turn up their noses at raw food. Not only is this fermented vegetation easy to digest, but dogs can’t resist its strong smell.

Other Things to Know

Ceramic and stainless steel bowls are easier to keep clean on a raw diet than plastic bowls. Although many puzzle bowls or lick mats—which can help prevent dogs from gulping their meal too quickly—tend to be plastic or rubber, the ability to extend mealtime (especially if you freeze meals inside or on them) is a tradeoff many pet owners are happy to make.

Adding a bit of warm water to raw food can make it more palatable to some dogs, but too much water can make some pups vomit, so don’t go overboard moistening an already-moister-than-kibble raw diet.

While We Feed Raw uses high-pressure processing (HPP) to eliminate potential pathogens, you should still treat your dog’s raw food the same way you treat raw meat before you cook it for you or your family’s use: thoroughly wash your hands after handling the meat and sanitize any dishes or surfaces that the raw food comes in contact with.

What to Expect During the Transition to Raw

A senior pet who has spent a lifetime on kibble may experience a “detox” period when they transition to a raw diet. The detox may last a few days or as long as a few months but should clear up as your dog adjusts to their new, healthier raw diet. Symptoms of this detox may include:

  • •Gassiness

  • •Bad breath

  • •Loose stools

  • •Vomiting

Probiotics as well as plain canned pumpkin can help ease these symptoms during the transition and detox period. You can find other helpful tips for dogs with loose stools here.

Other changes you may notice as you transition your senior dog to a raw diet include drinking less water, mucus-covered stools, firmer poop, less frequent bowel movements, and poop that turns white if you don’t pick it up right away. These are all signs of your pup actually getting more nutrition and moisture out of their food than they used to.

What To Expect

What to Expect After Switching a Senior Dog to a Raw Diet

After switching your senior dog to a raw diet, they may have more energy, a shinier coat, healthier skin, a stronger immune system, healthier teeth and gums, and an improved quality of life.

Ready for your senior pup to experience these benefits and more? Get started with We Feed Raw now!

Raw food for dogs by We Feed Raw

Complete & balanced raw meals.

Portioned out, packaged up, and cold-shipped (for FREE!).