What to do if your dog doesn’t like raw

Jonathan Self

If you listen to the majority of raw food experts you could be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t a dog on earth who, when offered raw food for the first time, doesn’t immediately take to it.

This is not my experience.

True, the vast majority of dogs can’t believe their luck when they are introduced to raw food. It is as if all their gastronomic dreams have come true at once.

However, a small percentage – I would say one in a hundred dogs or maybe even one in two hundred – will express misgivings. Possible reactions include:

‘It smells good, but are you absolutely sure it is food’

‘What’s this? I don’t like new things. You know I don’t like new things.’

‘Vegetables? No way, José.’

How should a loving human companion respond?

The overriding consideration must be what is best for the dog. The two main benefits of a properly balanced species appropriate diet are better health and a longer life. To my mind these are so important that it is well worth putting a little effort into persuading a reluctant dog to try something that is definitely going to be good for them.

There are various reasons why dogs sometimes turn their nose up at raw food, the most common being:

  • It is too cold.
  • Children aren’t the only ones who sometimes object to spinach.
  • Some dogs struggle with change.
  • Raw has a very different texture to kibble and tinned food.
  • Different priorities. Some dogs don’t mind going hungry in exchange for the extra attention which follows from not eating (see below).

Happily, there are lots of proven ways to overcome their misgivings and doubts. I have found the following methods highly effective:

  • The Gradual Approach. Slowly start adding raw food to whatever it is you normally feed, increasing the amount every day until it is 100% raw after one or two weeks (or longer, if you prefer). This gives the dog’s stomach (and mindset) time to adjust to the change.
  • The Warm Approach. Take the raw food and cook/warm/brown it lightly in a pan (not a microwave and not anything containing bones). Every day, cook it slightly less until it is raw. This gives the dog’s stomach time to adjust to the change from sterile, processed food.
  • The Veg-Free System. Some dogs love vegetables; others don’t, and the ones who don’t may decline to eat raw food for this reason. The solution? Give in to them! Remove vegetables from their diet completely and wait for a week or two before gradually reintroducing it.
  • The Gravy System. Another approach is to add a little homemade gravy before serving the food. I have found scrambled egg or a raw egg or a sardine can work.
  • The Load of Tripe Method. Fast Fido or Fifi for a day before making the switch to raw, but only feed him or her green tripe to begin with. Dogs find this incredibly easy to digest and it contains all the nutrients they need. Do be careful how you handle the tripe, however, as the bacteria it contains can be harmful to humans.

As mentioned above, there are some dogs – almost always very intelligent and sensitive dogs from loving homes – who take a firm line on any change of diet. I don’t care how good for me it is,’ they say by means of bark or gesture, ‘but I hate change and I would rather eat nothing than eat this raw food.’ This is really a behaviour rather than a dietary issue. It is usually because the dog’s hunger for attention is greater than their hunger for food. Moreover, being smart, they realise that if they don’t eat, you’ll make a fuss over them, which, of course, they love.

The solution? I would suggest giving your dog a single chance to eat every 24 hours and if he or she doesn’t pounce on it with enthusiasm the moment you put the bowl down, lift it straight back up and wait another day. Don’t, of course, give him or her any treats or leave food down for your dog to eat whenever he or she feels like it. In short, adopt a tough love approach. Remember, no animal
will starve him or herself if there is food available. Also, dogs will experience no ill effects even if they don’t eat for a week. Be strong, remember you are doing it for their sake, and don’t look into their eyes for too long as this may have the effect of weakening your resolve.

If you would like to discuss switching your dog to raw or any other aspect of canine nutrition with an expert please do contact our Healthcare Team who will be happy to assist you. This is a free service and there is no need to be a Honey’s customer.