How to Transition Your Pet to a New Food

If you are transitioning your cat or dog for the first time, here are some tips and tricks to help eliminate tummy upset.

Transition time:

As with any food transition, it is important to ease your pet into it. Switching to a new food too fast may cause digestive issues for your pet, which is no fun for anyone involved. Every pet will transition a little differently, but it can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks until your pet can be fed an exclusively raw diet. Start by replacing a small portion of their usual diet with raw food and see how that goes. Then keep adding a little more raw to each meal as you slowly decrease the amount of their previous food. You can adjust the transition speed in response to how your pet is doing. Watch for any signs of vomiting and/or loose stools, as these may be indications that you are transitioning a bit too quickly.

The length of time will depend on a few things:

  • How sensitive the animal’s stomach is
  • The quality of food they have been fed previously
  • The age of the pet
  • The pet’s interest in food variety

If the animal has a sensitive stomach, IBD, or otherwise has trouble with changes in their diets, you will want to transition nice and slowly. For a sensitive dog, it can be good to have them start with the very basics – with our gentle goat milk yogurt. A little of that introduced to the stomach can go far in preparing the body to handle larger amounts of raw foods.

If you have been feeding a grain-based food, your pet's stomach may have a bit of a shock when they are first introduced to the nutritionally-dense raw food diet. You will want to take it slowly, so you can avoid any diarrhea or stomach upset.

Transitioning Schedule

The general recommendation is to start with ¼ of Steve’s Real Food and ¾ of their previous food. Monitor the stools of your companions, and as long as they stay nice and firm and no diarrhea is present, you can continue to slowly add more Steve’s and reduce the amount of the previous food until the process is complete. For dogs, this can take anywhere from a few days to 6 weeks, and for cats it can take up to a year (finicky little dears).


Tricks for Picky Dogs

  • Top the food with ChiaFreeze. It is highly palatable and is thick enough to coat the food so they cannot eat around it.
  • Add bone broth to make a soupy texture.
  • Try both thawed and frozen to see if they prefer one way or the other.

  • Continue offering it to them even if they turn their nose up at it. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for them to feel comfortable trying it.

  • Feel free to start feeding them raw chicken necks, vegetables, and other raw human foods (that you are sure are safe for pets).
  • Add a raw egg, crushed anchovies, or organic fish oil.

The human’s attitude helps, too. Try to avoid a tough love approach by staying positive and encouraging your pet so they know the new food is a good thing!

Transitioning Cats

Cats who have eaten nothing but dry foods previously may be a challenge to switch to fresh food. Many cats are very opinionated and imprint on food at an early age. Cats who already eat other foods (real meat, fruits, vegetables) will be much less of a project. It might take days, or it might take months, but it’s worth the effort!

The most important thing to remember about cats is that you CANNOT use the tough love approach. Cats will starve themselves, and some severe conditions can occur if cats do not eat for an extended period.

The “slow and successful method” If you are feeding only dry kibble, introduce canned and reduce the dry. Take some Steve’s Real Food and mix in the regular canned food you know your cat will eat. Test it on your kitty and increase the canned food until they are willing to eat it. Every time you feed, do this, and you will find you can gradually add more raw though again it might take several months.

In the meantime, offer bits of other kinds of fresh food they like to eat – bacon, goat milk, salmon, etc. This slow method has proven to be the most successful for cats. However, if you have a cat that needs a little more work, consider the following tricks:

Cats Drinking Milk From Bowl. View From Above.

Tricks for Picky Cats

  • Don’t leave their current food out. Have mealtimes, so they can start getting hungry enough to be willing to branch out.
  • If they are eating a dry diet, try starting them on cooked canned food first.
  • Leave a small bite of raw out for them all the time to try. If they want a snack, they have to try the raw food.
  • DON’T just take away their kibble and play hardball, thinking that once they get hungry enough they will eat. Cats can starve themselves or go into shock that can turn fatal before they dare try something new, so this is not a good approach.
  • Try different proteins to see if they like emu over beef, etc.
  • Top their food with freeze-dried to see if they will accidentally eat and develop a taste for it.
  • Hide freeze-dried food around the house. Cats like to hunt and find their food.
  • Try some goat milk yogurt to get them used to fresh foods.
  • Take a stopper and (kindly) place a bit of raw meat into their mouth. Sometimes cats will try it once you have jolted their taste buds.
  • Tie a freeze-dried nugget to a cat toy and make them play with it. That gets them to put their mouth on it.
  • Warm the food in a container with warm water. Some cats like food to be at a warmer temperature, and it releases the smell.
  • Use a flat dish when feeding. Cats don’t like their whiskers touching the side of their bowl.
  • Rehydrate the freeze dried with something tasty like tuna juice, beef broth, or chicken broth.