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Many owners may try a variety of diets for their dog over the course of their life. If your dog has been eating raw, fresh food, or homemade dog food, and you would now like to switch them back to kibble, you may be wondering the best way to transition your dog. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best ways to transition your dog to kibble to minimize an upset stomach and other concerns.

Perhaps your dog was eating raw in their prior home, and you would prefer they eat kibble now. Maybe you switched your dog to raw hoping for health benefits, but raw food was not a good fit for your dog.

You might even be needing to switch from raw to kibble for health reasons, such as if your dog’s condition now requires a specially formulated kibble.

No matter the reason, not much exists on transitioning your dog from raw to kibble. Especially when you compare the amount of information, or misinformation, out there on how to transition your dog the other way round, from kibble to raw.

Transitioning from raw to kibble

The transition from raw to kibble can be done gradually or “cold turkey.” If possible, a gradual transition is the best option for dogs in general.

While some dogs have no problems with a sudden transition, it’s well known that a large portion of dogs will have an upset stomach when food is transitioned suddenly. Gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of gastrointestinal upset are common if the dog is not used to the new type of food.

So, if possible, you should transition your dog over to kibble slowly – the same way you might transition your dog from one kibble to another.

Typically, this is done over the course of 5-7 days. If transitioning from raw to kibble, you should first start with a meal that is 75-80% raw, and the remaining 20-25% should be kibble.

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Over the course of the next several days, decrease the amount of raw by 10-20% each day (increasing the kibble by the same amount). Continue this trend until your dog is eating entirely kibble. This usually doesn’t take more than a week!

If you think your dog will tolerate the transition well, then you can use this chart:

chart-for-changing-over-dog-food

If your dog has an upset stomach along the way, consider staying at the current ratio of raw to kibble until their stomach is settled, or even skipping a meal to give their stomach time to recover.

If you’re saying “but wait, my raw feeding groups told me it was dangerous to mix kibble and raw?” you’re not alone. However, the idea that it’s dangerous to mix the two because kibble and raw digest at different rates, or that kibble causes problems with a dog’s stomach pH, are myths.

You can see the article I recently wrote that gives evidence for why it’s OK to mix kibble and raw here.

There are reasons you should consider if mixing raw and kibble is appropriate for your dog long term (namely the presence of bacteria in raw as well as ensuring a diet is nutritionally balanced). However, the physical mixing of the two foods is not going to cause digestion problems for your dog simply because they are consumed at the same time.

If you’re wondering how much kibble your dog will need, we have an excellent dog feeding calculator you can use.

Can you switch between raw and kibble?

Yes, you can transition your dog from raw to kibble. However, switching your dog’s diet frequently is not recommended as it can lead to an upset stomach. Some raw feeding dog owners do prefer kibble while on vacation, or in other scenarios, but this will depend upon the individual dog’s tolerance to dietary changes.

In order to avoid an upset stomach if you are looking to temporarily switch your dog to kibble from raw food, you should try and plan for a transition to kibble before going on vacation (or whatever situation is the case for you and your dog).

A few days before leaving on your trip, start to mix kibble in with your dog’s raw food. Add more and more kibble until it’s time for vacation, and your dog is eating 100% kibble.

Going on a vacation with you, or being boarded while you are on vacation without your dog, are both already situations where a dog may be more likely to develop an upset stomach due to stress.

Thus, if you know in advance, it’s best to switch slowly to set your dog’s GI tract up for success.

The same is true for transitioning back to raw from kibble – take it slow.

It’s generally not recommended you switch your dog between raw and kibble on a regular basis, especially if there isn’t a reason (such as camping without a freezer and needing the convenience of kibble).

This is true for any dog food, not just raw, homemade, and kibble, as not all dogs can handle the sudden transition without an upset stomach.

Are you interested in reading this: Do Dogs Get Bored of Their Food? Answered!

Or perhaps this one is also of interest: Do Dogs Get Bored of Their Food? Answered!

Can I take my dog off raw food?

If you’re feeding raw and want to move entirely back to kibble (or another type of food), it’s absolutely possible. Dogs can switch between types of diets, especially if it’s done slowly.

We covered above how you can slowly mix kibble and raw food for a gradual transition to kibble from raw or homemade. However, not all situations will make this a viable option. Sometimes, dogs will need to switch without a transition period.

It might be the case that your dog now requires a specific kibble diet to help with a health problem, or that you simply aren’t able to feed any raw or homemade for the week it would take to do a slow transition.

Hope is not lost, though! While it’s more likely your dog will get an upset stomach if you take them off raw and put them directly on 100% kibble (or vice versa), not all dogs will have this problem.

There’s likely genetic components to a dog being able to easily handle a varied diet, as well as their diet history and how frequently they have tolerated food changes before.

If you find yourself needing to take your dog off raw or homemade food immediately, there are still a few things you can do to help minimize the risk of stomach upset besides relying on your individual dog’s GI tract to cooperate with your plans.

Fasting for meal change

First, you can fast your dog. Rather than switching foods at their next mealtime, withhold food for a meal or two and transition them on an empty stomach. Fasting can often be helpful for dogs with an upset stomach.

Smaller meals for transition

You can also simply give the dog smaller meals, rather than their full meal, to start. For example, if your dog would normally be eating 2 cups of kibble, you can start with a quarter or half a cup, in several small meals, as your dog’s stomach tolerates it.

Supplements and probiotics for switching food

Finally, you can also consider adding in probiotics or supplements (ask your veterinarian for recommendations) to support good gut health during the transition.

The in-between change over of food

Another option would be to ensure the food you are switching your dog to is highly digestible. You might even consider switching temporarily to a food made for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and then transitioning to the kibble you want them on long-term if necessary.

Final Word

Transitioning your dog over from raw or homemade dog food to kibble is absolutely ok to do. However, it should be done gradually if possible to avoid a stomach upset. Your individual dog will determine how quickly or slowly this transition process should take.

Have you read our post: Can Kibble be Used as Treats? (Dog trainer answers)

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