Stacked plastic food storage containers with homemade raw dog food

Quick Start Guide To Raw Dog Food

Welcome to my quick start guide to raw dog food!

I’m Barbara Rivers, raw dog food blogger here at K9sOverCoffee and certified raw dog food nutrition specialist from Dogs Naturally Magazine.

Today, I’m excited to offer you some guidance and advice on how to easily transition your pup(s) from kibble to raw dog food.

I personally have been feeding raw dog food since 2015 and began making my own in 2016. 

That said, I’ve transitioned my 3 dogs Missy, Buzz and Wally from kibble to raw dog food using a gentle hybrid method.

Missy (50 lbs) & Buzz (75 lbs) were two Boxer mix siblings from the same litter, and Wally (38 lbs) is a Feist mix I adopted from a dog rescue organization in NC.

2 Black Boxer mixes and one brown Feist mix dog
Missy & Buzz above, Wally below

Just to underline the benefits of raw dog food -you can expect the following health changes in your dogs once they’re on raw dog food:

  • Healthier skin
  • Shiny coat
  • Cleaner teeth & ears
  • More energy
  • Smaller poop volume
  • Less dog smell
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Less itching & scratching for dogs with allergies
  • Bonus: A fuller wallet due to less vet visits

Quick Start Guide To Raw Dog Food Using The Gentle Hybrid Method

Raw dog food starter guide

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

In my opinion, the easiest & most gentle way to make the switch is to start with a method that I call the gentle hybrid method.

Some dogs will also do fine if you switch them from kibble to raw meat cold turkey – pun intended. Many others, however, will do better with the gentle approach I suggest below.

What’s The Gentle Hybrid Method?

I call it that because it’s somewhere between dry food and balanced raw dog food.

To be more specific, it’s a mix of rehydrated veggies/herbs/minerals and meat you replace your dog’s kibble with.

The dehydrated veggie/herb/mineral mixes are also known as base mixes.

This method is very gentle on your dog’s stomach and particularly helpful for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

What You’ll Need For The Gentle Hybrid Method

You’ll need the following:

  • A bag of the dehydrated base mix
  • 2-3 pounds of meat (ground meat like turkey/beef/duck/rabbit, chicken breast etc – whatever you can get your hands on)
  • Some olive oil or coconut oil
  • Your dog’s old kibble

Tip: If you’re aware of any food sensitivities in your dog, don’t feed them as raw meat either. For example, my pup Wally can’t have chicken or grains or he’ll become really itchy and scratchy.

I particularly recommend the base mixes from a brand called Dr. Harvey’s. I have and continue to use them:

A 3 lb bag of both makes 28 one pound meals, and a 5 lb bag makes 46 one pound meals.

Unlike the Veg-to-Bowl kind, Paradigm only features low-carb veggies. They’re the better choice for dogs battling cancer. | Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-Bowl and Health & Shine Fish Oil Capsules
Dr. Harvey’s base mix Veg-to-Bowl | I add Dr. Harvey's Paradigm to my raw dog food
Dr. Harvey’s base mix Paradigm

There are a couple more base mixes for raw dog food, such as the freeze-dried ones from Sojos and Grandma Lucy’s. I’ve used both, just not as frequently as Dr. Harvey’s:

Tip: When you go meat shopping at the grocery store, buy meats that expire soon. That will keep your cost down!

Buy meat on sale to help keep raw dog food affordable

If you buy a whole chicken, remove most of the skin because it’s too fatty.

Once you went ingredient-shopping, here’s what to do next.

Step 1: Mix Up 1 Week Worth Of Dehydrated Base Mix & Cooked Meat

The way the base mix works is you scoop out a certain amount of the mix and add water to it. Then you let it sit for a few minutes to give it time to rehydrate.

Once that’s done, you can add the cooked meat and oil.

Each bag of Veg-to-Bowl and Paradigm comes with an instruction sheet.

It tells you the amount of base mix you need to mix with the amount of water, meat and oil for your particular dog’s weight and life stage (puppy, adult, senior). | Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-Bowl feeding guidelines

It’s up to you whether you want to mix the ingredients up freshly at every meal, or if you want to make a batch that lasts up to a week in the fridge.

Just one word of advice, you shouldn’t add the oils when you pre-make a batch of food because they’ll become rancid when they’re sitting out. You’ll have to add them fresh with every meal.

|Cooking ground beef
Cooking ground beef from the grocery store

Step 2: Feed Your Dog A Mix Of His Old Kibble & The New Mix For 1 Week

Next up, you’ll be adding the new food mix to your dog’s old kibble.

The process of phasing out your dog’s kibble will take about one week.

It’s the same approach as when you switch your dog from one brand of kibble to another.

Only add a little of the hybrid mix to your dog’s kibble on day 1, and finish with only the hybrid mix on day 7.

Preparing Veg-to-bowl with ground turkey and olive oil

Step 3: Make The Transition From Cooking The Meat To Serving It Raw Over The Next 7 Days

Now that your pup has been transitioned from kibble to cooked meat, it’s time to get him used to raw meat.

Over the course of the next week, start cooking the meat less and less until you’re adding raw meat to the base mix.

That’s it!

Start Making Your Own Raw Dog Food (Optional)

Now that your dog is eating raw meat with the base mix, you can either continue feeding this way OR start making your own raw dog food.

Pros: The benefits of making your very own raw dog food are two-fold. First, you’ll be able to provide a lot more variety than you can with the base/pre-mixes.

Second, it’s a lot cheaper.

Cons: However, you’re loosing the convenience factor of buying the base/pre-mixes.

That means that you’ll have to provide and source the nutrients that are in the mixes from somewhere else.

You’ll find them in muscle meat, fish, secreting organs, and raw meaty bones.

That’s what balanced raw dog food consists of!

If you’re interested in learning more about making your own balanced raw dog food at home, check out the links I included in the Related Reading section below. | Raw dog food recipe featuring Dr. Harvey's Paradigm, rabbit, and rainbow trout

Quick Start Guide To Raw Dog Food: Bottom Line

Switching your dog from kibble to raw dog food is not rocket science, it just takes a little dedication and an investment of your time!

The easiest way of making the transition is to feed a dehydrated veggie/herb/mineral base mix and meat.

Quick Start Guide To Raw Dog Food Using The Gentle Hybrid Method

Cook the meat at first and mix that combination in with your dog’s old kibble, phasing out the kibble over the course of a week.

Once your pup no longer eats his kibble, cook the meat less and less until it’s raw. | I use Dr. Harvey's Paradigm base mix in my raw dog food recipes
Balanced raw dog food made at home

Related Reading

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






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