How can I transition my dog from processed food to a more natural diet?

How can I transition my dog from processed food to a more natural diet?

There are several ways to move away from highly processed dog food and make your dog’s diet more natural.  These include adding small portions of fresh wholefoods to the existing processed diet, feeding a completely homemade diet or changing to a fresher, minimally processed commercial diet.

Adding a small amount of cooked fresh meat, vegetables or fruit to an existing dry or tinned food diet is an easy way to add fresh food to your dog’s bowl.  Around 10-15% of a commercial diet can usually be replaced with fresh wholefoods without compromising the correct vitamin and mineral levels present in the processed diet.  Of course, adding fresh food has huge health benefits.

If you are keen to provide homecooked wholefoods in larger amounts, this is achievable but the process of ensuring the meals are not vitamins and minerals deficient can be tricky.  In this case, it is important to find recipes that have been crafted to ensure the daily meals contain the correct levels of nutrients.  A vitamin supplement is often required when feeding homecooked meals regularly.  The same applies when feeding homemade raw diets.

If you are looking for a more straightforward solution to providing complete and balanced meals that are more natural and less processed, there are products on the market which are available as fresh, lightly processed, complete and balanced meals.  4Legs, for example, provides refrigerated meatballs and rolls that are free from additives like artificial colours and preservatives.  These products can be fed exclusively or added to a dry or tinned food meal in any ratio without threatening the vitamin and mineral balance of the meal.  

Regardless of how you choose to move away from processed pet food, the rules of diet transitioning remain the same.  Sudden diet change can lead to upset tummies so always replace the old diet with the new food gradually.  Usually around 25% of the total amount per day is fine until the new diet is established.

Dr Felicity Banks is a resident veterinarian at 4Legs.

Doctor with Dog

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