What changes will I notice in my pet?
First you will notice much greater enthusiasm around meal times. Pets love a raw diet. Over time, you will also notice some or all of the other positive benefits of feeding raw like a shinier coat, greater vigor, cleaner teeth and breath, improved digestion, reduction or elimination of allergy symptoms and more. Since a raw diet is quite different than what your pet has been eating you will also notice the following:
Less water consumption:
Water consumption on a raw diet normally decreases because of the high moisture content in the raw foods; so do not become alarmed if your dog begins drinking less.
Smaller, harder, less smelly stools:
One side effect of a raw diet will be quickly apparent, a large reduction in stool as well as a significant reduction in stool odor. Stools from dogs on raw diets tend to be harder and smaller. The stools will often be light colored, even chalky white. This is normal and it is a result of increased calcium content and increased food digestibility. The animal is actually utilizing most of what it eats. Stools from kibble fed dogs are smellier and larger because large amounts of the kibble contents cannot be utilized by the dog's system, so this undigested matter is expelled as rancid stool.
Tip re. hard stools:
If your dog's stools appear to be extremely hard on a regular basis, try adding extra veggies, as they will tend to loosen the stool. Each dog has a different tolerance for veggies. For each 50 lbs. of dog, try starting with 1/4 cup per serving and if the stools do not become loose, increase that amount to 1/2 cup. If the 1/2 cup causes loose stools, then reduce the amount.
Tip re. soft stools:
Keep some canned pumpkin (no syrup, no additives – just plain canned pumpkin) on hand. If your dog gets loose stools or gets very hard stools, canned pumpkin will usually correct both of these problems, i.e. - it will firm up loose stools and/or it will soften very hard stools.
My pet appears to strain when eliminating, is this a problem?
Some dogs will strain slightly with hard stools. This is fine, even beneficial, as the hard stools tend to naturally express the dog's anal glands. However, if your dog has been trying constantly for hours to pass stool but can't, see your veterinarian.
Some days my pet has hard stools; other days they are soft, what causes this?
Sometimes there will be a variation in the consistency of stools when feeding a raw diet. The stools may go from very hard to very soft from day to day, or even in the course of one elimination. This is also normal. A raw diet contains a lot of variety. What goes in must come out, so it is natural to see this variety reflected in the stools. Different foods will produce different types of stool. Kibble produces consistent stools because you are feeding one thing -- so you get out what you have put in. The uniform stools, the same size and consistency every day, are really as unnatural as the kibble itself. See your veterinarian if your dog has diarrhea. (Remember a little bit of soft stool is NOT diarrhea.)
I started my dog on a raw diet and it vomited. Why?
Some dogs, when starting on a raw diet, will experience occasional vomiting of small pieces of bone. This is normal in the first few days, as their systems must learn to accommodate the digestion of bone.
Will there be a period of transition?
Some dogs will also go through a period of “detoxification”. The nutrients provided by the fresh foods allow the body to rebuild healthy systems. The stronger healthier system begins ridding itself of various toxins that have accumulated in the body. Signs of detoxification may include slightly loose, mucous-covered stools, slightly goopy eyes, draining ears, minor rashes or increased itchiness. Many dogs will not experience any of these signs, and those that do will normally complete “detox” within a week or two. Dogs that have been on steroids, antibiotics, or other long-term drugs may experience prolonged detoxification periods. You should always consult with a veterinarian if you believe your dog is manifesting severe problems connected to the diet change.
My veterinarian said my dog needs to lose weight - will a raw diet help?
Because most raw diets are grain-free and thus very low in calories from carbohydrates, most dogs (and cats) will lose weight immediately and easily. If your dog needs to lose a considerable amount of weight, and can tolerate extra vegetables, significantly increase the amount of vegetables while reducing the amount of meat/bone in the diet. Your dog will feel full, but be eating fewer calories and will thus lose weight. Once your dog reaches its ideal weight, decrease the vegetables and increase the meat/bone until your dog reaches a stable maintenance weight.
Why not just feed plain raw meat and skip preparing a recipe?
Do not get in the habit of feeding lots of raw meat without bone. Plain meat is very high in phosphorous. In order to keep their calcium/phosphorous levels balanced, dogs and cats must have a source of calcium. It is the bone in the diet that provides the calcium. Bravo! prepared products have the bone conveniently ground in for you.
Do I need to add supplements to Bravo!?
Bravo’s foundation formulas were designed to be as natural as possible without any attempt to reverse-engineer nature, and to allow pet owners the choice of deciding what, if anything, they wanted to add to their pet’s diet.
If you would like the “insurance” of added nutrients, we recommend adding a high quality, vitamin/mineral supplement at 1.5 times the label dose.
We also recommend using Bravo! Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil on a daily basis.
Read more about supplements.