Stress. Infections. Medications. Parasites. Allergies. Eating part of your couch...
The list of possible reasons why dogs get diarrhea is long and varied!
One of the leading reasons, however, is changing your dog’s diet. Switching from a processed to a high-meat diet is one of the best decisions you can make for your dog’s health, but if you don't give their gut enough time to adjust, diarrhea can quickly become a messy issue!
Dog diarrhea isn't just stressful for pet guardians but can be harmful to your dog’s internal organs if left untreated. So, if you’re thinking about making the switch, here’s everything you need to know to ensure the transition to a new diet is a safe and comfortable one for you both.
Why raw is better
Processed dog foods are a cheaper alternative to raw foods, but unfortunately both pet guardians and their companions pay the price later. These highly processed foods clog your furry friend’s digestive function by changing the pH of their stomach and altering their gut balance bacteria.
You only have to look at the long list of ingredients on a bag of commercial kibble to see that it’s packed with low-cost grains and sugars, which dogs can’t metabolize as well as humans (these ‘filler foods’ also wreak havoc on your dog's teeth!).
How to transition safely to a raw diet
If you’re ready to make the switch from processed dog food to a raw diet, you’re making an excellent choice for your beloved pet, but remember - good things take time.
It’s important to prepare your dog’s digestive system appropriately - and that means transitioning slowly and carefully. Be prepared for a slow transition of approximately 7-10 days.
On day 1, try filling your dog’s food bowl with 75% old food and 25% new food. You can then slightly increase the ratio of new food every day, but the key here is to stick with a similar protein. If your dog has been eating beef dog roll and kibble, for instance, then choose a beef recipe (such as ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Beef).
Sticking with a single protein is what we call a ‘single protein approach,’ and it’s effective because it gives your dog’s gut flora a chance to adjust to the new diet. Once your dog is comfortable on the first protein, you can slowly start to introduce another, and so on.
Bone broth can also be helpful during the transition phase - it’s easy to make at home and is full of nutrients that ease inflammation, including glucosamine and chondroitin which are two of nature’s most powerful cartilage building blocks.
Parsley (which combats bad breath!) cooked, pureed pumpkin contain fiber and can assist with ‘cleaning out’ any leftover processed food in your dog’s digestive system. Although dogs don’t actually require fiber in their diet (which is why ZIWI products contain very little of it), it can help to maintain the health of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Adding some extra fiber to your pet’s food bowl every now and then can also prevent (and treat) constipation.
What to expect while transitioning
How quickly your dog digests their food depends on a number of factors, from age and breed to weight and water consumption. When transitioning to a raw diet, however, most dogs will experience softer stools initially (and more of them). This is completely normal!
After 7-10 days, your dog’s stools should become firmer. If you’re still noticing runny stools, try feeding them a little less or slowing down the transition process. Or ask us for help!
Once you’ve transitioned successfully (congratulations!), this is what you can expect to see in your yard:
The power of green tripe
Green tripe is the unbleached, cold-washed stomach lining of prey animals and contains natural probiotics which can support gut health, so including it in your dog’s new diet is a fantastic way to reduce inflammation and prevent diarrhea.
It assists with detoxification, and is full of blood-building chlorophyll, essential fatty acids and gastric enzymes that aid digestion.
All air-dried and wet ZIWI Peak recipes (except chicken) contain 7% green tripe. If your dog has a particularly sensitive tummy, you might like to try the Tripe & Lamb recipe which has our highest concentration of tripe (a whopping 30-40%!).
Avoiding dog diarrhea - top 3 takeaways
There’s no doubt that replacing processed dog food with a meat-rich diet is the way to go. For a smooth transition, remember:
- Slow and steady wins the race! It can take a while for your dog to get used to their new diet, so be patient.
- Monitor your dog’s poop. After the transition period, their stools should no longer be runny (if they are, you’re either feeding too much or transitioning too fast - so feed less or slow down).
- Include green tripe in their diet. It will nourish their gut and make the transition more comfortable for you and your pet.
Ready to make the switch to ZIWI Peak? Check out our transitioning guide for more information.