Back to Top

Transition to Raw

  • Why do I need to transition my pet onto the raw diet?
    The transition for either a dog or cat to Natural Instinct raw diet should be a gradual, phased transition spanning between 7-10 days. Not only is this important for the wellbeing of your pet, it will help to avoid periods of excessive wind, diarrhea or constipation.
  • What's the science behind this?

    Below are some explanations as to why a gradual transition is recommended:

    • The enzymes required to break down a high protein, raw meat and bone diet differ to those required to break down a high carbohydrate processed diet (such as kibble). The pancreas has to adapt to both the amount and type of enzymes that it produces when the diet is changed from one to the other.
    • The gut flora is different for dogs and cats fed on a predominantly meat and bone diet, compared to a high starch and carbohydrate based diet. It takes several weeks for the gut flora to re-stabilise following a major diet change. These gut bacteria are responsible for the production of certain key nutrients and are also responsible for the production of gas in the bowel.
    • The PH of the stomach is generally higher (more alkaline) in dogs and cats that are fed on a high carbohydrate processed diet compared with dogs and cats fed on a predominantly raw meat, high protein diet, which results in a strong acid stomach.
    • It is not only the process, but also the speed in which the food types are digested which also differ considerably. Raw meat and bone is digested a lot faster compared with processed food, which is high in carbohydrates.
  • How do I transition to Natural Instinct?

    Introduction to raw

    Initially start your dog on one protein source for a three week period. This allows your dog’s digestive system to adapt and makes it easier to spot if your dog has a particular intolerance to a certain protein. Ensure over time you introduce a range of different proteins to your dog to maintain variety in their diet.


    Easing your pet in to a high protein raw meat and bone diet is easy and convenient. Simply follow the steps below:

    • Day 1 - We recommend a gradual transition on to our food diet over a 7-10 day period, whereby you replace a small spoonful of your dog or cat's current food with a small spoonful of raw per meal, gradually increasing the amount of raw and decreasing the current food until fully transitioned over. The spoon size will depend on the size of dog or cat, for example, a teaspoon for a toy breed dog and a tablespoon for a large dog. 
    • Day 2 OnwardsFollowing on from day 1, each subsequent day more of the raw diet should be added until full transition is achieved. 

    Things worth noting;

    • If your pet has a loose stool at any stage, we recommend reducing the amount of raw food for three days to stabilise the stool prior returning to increasing the raw food levels. If your pet is elderly or dealing with any complex chronic disease e.g. end stage cancers, animals on antacids or high levels of immune-suppressive drug therapy, then we would recommend you get expert help prior to beginning the transition to a raw diet.
    • For the first month of feeding raw, digestive enzymes and probiotics can be added to the diet for dogs or cats that have any dietary issues or that have been prone to diarrhoea or constipation. Natural Instinct's Zoolac Propaste can be used for this.
  • Should I feed kibble as well as raw food?

    We do not advocate feeding pets a diet of both raw food and processed kibble on an ongoing basis. This is due to the differing ways and speed the diets are digested (see above), which in turn will compromise your pet’s digestion. If you feed a high carbohydrate food (kibble) alongside a high protein diet, any excess calories will be readily converted to fat and thus can lead to obesity.

    Kibble is not necessary in either a cat’s or dog’s diet. In nature both dogs and cats get variety in the texture of their food components and have a means of maintaining healthier teeth. This variety in texture is not however achieved with starchy, grain based kibble, but with crunching and chewing on raw meaty bones, as nature intended.

  • Help! How can I transition my fussy cat to Natural Instinct?

    When dealing with a dog, generally speaking, the switch in diet is easier as our canine companions will, nine times out of ten, eat whatever you put in front of them. Our feline friends however, tend to be slightly fussier about changing food.

    • If you free feed your cat dry food, stop! This does not necessarily mean you need to stop feeding dry with immediate effect, but certainly pick up the bowl so your cat can’t eat it whenever they feel like it.
    • Dried kibble/nuggets differ massively in taste and texture to a raw diet. It is advisable to switch to canned food as a very short interim step. This will get your cat accustom to a meatier consistency to their meals. Try feeding half of their normal dry food with half tinned, then gradually reduce the amount of dried kibble over a few days.
    • When you have weaned your cat onto a wet diet, apply the same principles when converting to raw. Feed half and half and gradually reduce the amount of tinned food over the course of a few days.
    • Never starve a cat to encourage them to eat. Whilst dogs are fine to skip meals, cats must eat regularly in order to avoid hepatic lipidosis, a severe and sometimes fatal liver impairment.
    • Go at your cat’s pace. Do not be afraid to back track a step or two if it means your cat will eat.
    • Bribe your cat! We would recommend sprinkling some of our tasty treats (whitebait is great for this) on the cat's regular food so that the cat begins to associate the smell of treats with its regular food. Then gradually add the raw – it’s all about the smell association!
    • Cats tend to ‘imprint’ on their food and recognise their favourites by sight and smell. It is important to shop for variety from the offset so that you can find your cat’s favorite meal.
    • Most importantly, exercise a little patience. A change of diet is not something that happens overnight. Persevere, and your cat will thank you in the long run.
  • My dog seems hungrier on the food, how should I manage this?

    For some dogs who have been on a high carbohydrate diet for a long time, if the switch over to a higher protein low carbohydrate diet is made too quickly they can initially appear hungry as their bodies have been adapted to carbohydrate as the main source of instant calories. Adding a small amount of additional carbohydrate initially in the form of for example sweet potato. Soluble fibre foods can also help by making your dog feel fuller, the addition of slices of butternut squash, a few carrot sticks between meals can help to bridge this gap (Avoid adding grain based carbs such as rice or pasta). In addition many kibbles will have been fed in a relatively large volumes compared to a raw diet to provide the same number of calories and again in the early days of converting your dog to raw food feeding the smaller volume can leave some dogs not feeling full enough. This is where feeding raw bones (once the dog has settled on raw food) can keep them occupied and help bridge this gap while the stomach volume adapts.

    It is important to be careful at this point, that you are not misinterpreting a dog who now relishes his food as hunger. With many kibble diets dogs do not rush to the bowl and eat with relish unless there is a lot of feeding competition from other dogs. This can be very different when feeding dogs a high quality raw natural diet. A dog wanting the food without having to be tempted with a little bit of this and that is what we all want for our dogs. Make sure you monitor your dogs weight in the early months of feeding raw, to be sure that you have the amount right (note the feeding guides are simply guides and amounts fed are dependent on numerous factors). Most importantly enjoy seeing your dog loving his food!