What to Expect From Your Raw Fed Pet
Congratulations on taking the first steps into feeding a Prey Model Raw (PMR) diet!
This article has been written to try and help you with two things; learning about the benefits of feeding raw, and what to expect in the first 12 weeks of transition to raw (detox symptoms).
First, let’s look at some of the main perks to raw feeding – what will you notice in your pet as a result of the switch?
Once fully transitioned to a PMR diet your companion will eliminate less often. This could be as little as only once every two days! When they do have a bowel movement it will also be much smaller in size, have a reduced odour and be firmer to the touch – making clearing up after much easier and helping naturally express the anal glands.
These changes are owing to the increased efficiency of your companion’s digestive system as a result of feeding food that is species-appropriate and enables the body to make full use of the nutrients present.
Skin and Coat Improvements
This is usually the first improvement noticed by pet owners – the ‘raw fed shine’ – and it can be visible within the first few weeks of beginning to feed a PMR diet! Your companion will be soft and smooth to the touch, there will be no odour around them or their possessions, and their fur will shine (black fur becomes glossy and white fur glistens).
Improvements to the dermal layer beneath soon follow with a reduction in irritated and flaky skin. As a result of feeding a PMR diet there is an increase in your companion’s immune system and formerly weakened barriers gain strength; working to protect your pet from the inside out against allergens and irritants.
Reduction in Allergy Symptoms
Good news for those whose companions experience intolerances or allergies – feeding a PMR diet rebalances the immune system. The physical symptoms of allergies reduce first (e.g. scratching behaviours), followed by digestive symptoms (e.g. passing gas) and finally immune-suppressed symptoms (e.g. chronic ear infections).
These changes are in large part down to the inclusion of species-appropriate omega 3 oils – as found in fish – which work to rebuild the lipid barrier that surrounds the cells in your companion’s body.
Mental and Physical Activity
This is one of the ‘hidden improvements’ of feeding a PMR diet; your companion receives a tremendous amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise when eating raw from the tearing of muscle meat and the crushing of bone. This form of enrichment releases endorphins in your companion – as is shown by their increased excitement for meal times!
Once fully transitioned to a PMR diet there will be a visible reduction in plaque build-up without the need for dental chews or tooth brushing. Your companion’s teeth will be pearly white and their gums a healthy bright pink colour. There is also an associated reduction in the risk of dental disease and abscessed roots.
This is the result of the repeated and daily teeth cleaning that your companion receives from the crushing of bone and the stripping of meats. The bones fed in a PMR diet naturally scrape to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth.
Energy and Vitality Improvements
This is the overall reported improvement from pet owners; that their companions recover a zest for life they had thought long-lost. This is especially the case for senior companions who grow in vitality following a switch to a PMR diet.
This is likely owing to a culmination of all of the above improvements. Particularly of the cleansing of the lymphatic system which, as it reduces in toxin build-up, is able to better serve those areas that have a greater fluid need (e.g. synovial joints).
As with all dietary changes there can be some short-term side effects during the transition (up to week 12) when your companion may present with symptoms of detox. Please try to remember that although not every animal will experience these side effects, that detox is perfectly natural, and your companion will eventually overcome these symptoms.
So, what are the signs of detox you can expect?
Problems with Poop
My companion has diarrhoea, please help!
This can happen for many animals in detox owing to the drastic change in food. Please be aware of the difference between diarrhoea and loose poop; diarrhoea is sudden and your pet will be unable to hold it until they are in a yard or on a walk, whereas loose poop can be held until they find their preferred space to eliminate but when it comes out it is loose and like liquid. Diarrhoea is more serious than loose poop and needs to be monitored – make sure your companion is still drinking water (you may need to encourage this more), acting and playing as normal and is still eating food. If the diarrhoea is as a result of detox then we would expect symptoms to abate within 24-36 hours. If it does not, or your companion refuses water/food and acts lethargic then please consult your vet as this may not be detox!
My companion has mucous in their poop, please help!
The first thing to note about mucous is that it naturally occurs in the digestive tract of your companion, it’s what helps lubricate to keep things moving, and on occasion some mucosal lining will shed in the poop – this is ok. However, a high volume of mucous in more than one poop shows us that there is an irritation in the intestinal tract. Sometimes, mucous is over-produced in the early stages of transition owing to the drastic change in food. If you have a poop with mucous look at it closely for any signs of parasitic worms or eggs, if there are none and you have recently switched to a PMR diet, then it is likely this is a symptom of detox and will gradually improve as time goes on. Please also take a moment to check the ingredients listed on the meat packaging – there is a high correlation between additives in meat and mucous in the stool. Our recommendation for sodium is no more than 100mg per 4oz/113g. Our recommendation for salt is 250mg per 4oz/113g.
My companion has dry poop / is constipated, please help!
Please remember that one of the benefits of feeding a PMR diet is that your companion will eliminate much less frequently, therefore it is not unusual that your pet may not produce a bowel movement at all in the first few days or when they do it is small and hard. Whilst this may seem alarming, it is a common side-effect associated with the detox phase. You can help during this time by cutting back on edible bone for a meal or two, encouraging the drinking of water and providing lots of exercise.
If your companion behaves like they are trying to produce a bowel movement but nothing happens then this is constipation. Sometimes constipation can come once you begin adding in bone, if this has happened recently then consider feeding boneless for a meal or two alongside plenty of water and exercise. If by day 3-4 there is no improvement then you can add slippery elm which adds lubrication to the digestive tract and soothes any irritated linings. If your companion has been constipated for more than 6-7 days, you have increased water/exercise, removed bone and added slippery elm then we would advise consulting with your vet.
Problems with Skin and Coat
My companion has itchy skin, please help!
Flaky skin, caused by excessive scratching, is also a symptom of detox. The itching feeling your companion experiences begins as the liver and kidneys are finally able to reduce the build-up of toxins caused by feeding a diet that is not species appropriate. As the transition process moves on the skin begins to shed toxins through sweat and subcutaneous oils, this will continue until the liver and kidneys reach optimum performance levels and the whole drainage system is cleared of toxins.
My companion has developed a hotspot, please help!
A hotspot is an immune-mediated response of the skin to an irritant/allergen. They appear suddenly (anywhere on the body) and look like lesions – they can also spread quickly so it is important to act fast if you spot one. These can appear during the detox phase as a result of a drastic change in diet; either because of the overall stress on the body of the switch or because your companion has an allergy to one of the protein sources being fed. The fur in the affected area will need trimming back and the area cleaning (be careful as this is sore for them) before a suitable homeopathic or vet-prescribed salve is applied.
My companion has greasy skin/fur, please help!
The greasy feeling sometimes experienced in the detox phase is caused by an increase in subcutaneous oils as the body rids itself of toxins. This is often also be triggered by a yeast overgrowth during transition while the body re-balances the pH of the skin. Especially the case for dogs with long/thick coats, but all pet owners should consider the bathing routines of their pets and the types of detergents and scrubs used.
Problems with Vitality
My companion has goopy eyes/ears, please help!
Whilst glue-eyes/-ears can be a sign of detox it is also important to differentiate it from a seasonal/environmental allergy. If the symptoms are experienced as part of detox then there will be a flare up whilst the lymphatic system (responsible for immune responses) rebalances. This can cause a surge in toxin-release through area of the body that have a high fluid content (e.g. eyes, ears and nose). You can use soft cotton cloths to gently wipe the areas and if it looks sore then you can also use colloidal silver to assist the healing process.
Despite these side-effects, what you should take from this document is that your companion has a simply amazing arsenal of ‘weapons’ already. Feeding a PMR diet will enable them to rediscover these so that they can fight through this phase and come out the other side stronger. Although it can be upsetting or discouraging to witness these side-effects in your companion – do not give up! This is a time of regeneration and healing for your pet, let them show you their best selves!