Proponents of a raw diet say that it brings many benefits. This includes better overall health, and a healthier skin and coat. However, it can be an adjustment for your pooch. One of the issues many owners face is their dog always seems hungry when starting a raw diet.
Why is my dog always hungry on a raw diet?
You started feeding your dog a raw diet. Now they are always hungry. What’s going on? Are they getting enough to eat?
One reason your dog may feel hungry on a raw diet is that commercial dog food contains a lot of fillers. These fillers mean your pooch needs a greater amount of food to get their needed nutrition.
When they hit your dog’s stomach, they absorb water and swell. This causes your dog’s stomach to feel fuller. In fact, a piece of dry kibble will swell to 4 times its original size when it comes into contact with water. They also take longer to break down or pass through your pooch’s system, causing them to feel fuller for longer.
Dogs are omnivores, but they do best when protein is a large portion of their diet. Commercial diets are high in carbs, like corn. These carbs turn to sugar in your dog’s system.
If you’ve ever tried to eliminate sugar from your diet, you probably found yourself craving sugary foods. This is because the body becomes addicted to sugar over time.
Your dog’s body functions in the same way. If they are accustomed to eating a high carb diet, they will crave sugar after switching to a raw diet. This can lead them to feel hungry.
How much should I feed my dog on a raw diet?
It can be difficult to determine how much to feed your dog on a raw diet. After all, commercial food has simple to understand guidelines. When it comes to raw food, it’s a bit more complicated.
Raw Diet Guidelines
Like commercial dog food, your dog’s weight is the starting point for determining how much to feed them.
You’ll want to feed your dog 2-5% of their body weight in raw food daily. So, if you have a 20 pound dog, you’ll feed them .4 pounds, or 6.5 ounces on the low end of the spectrum, and 1 pound, or 16 ounces, on the higher end.
Narrowing the Range
There’s quite a difference between 2% and 5%. This is because other factors should go into determining exactly how much food your dog needs. Each dog’s needs will vary based on their age, health, weight, and activity level.
If your dog is very active, they should be eating 5% of their weight in raw food daily. If your pooch is a couch potato, 2-3% is fine.
If your dog is slim, aim for around 5%. If they are overweight for their size and breed, you’ll want to stick closer to 2%.
Confirming or Adjusting the Amount
Your dog loves raw food, and would probably eat twice what they should each day if you allow them to. This means you can’t rely solely on your dog’s hunger cues or appetite to determine if they are eating enough.
Instead, keep track of their weight. If your pooch is gaining weight, they may need less food or more exercise. If they don’t get lots of exercise, it’s best to start by increasing their activity level.
If they are still gaining or not losing any weight, then reduce their food intake slightly.
If your dog is underweight, lethargic, or is growing slowly, they may need more food. This also applies if your dog is losing weight when they don’t need to lose a few pounds.
If your dog has any significant changes in weight, check in with their vet. There are many health conditions that can cause changes in weight. It’s a good idea to rule these out, rather than assuming it’s just their diet.
What happens if I feed my dog too much raw food?
There are some health concerns if you feed your dog too much raw food. The good news is an extra meal isn’t likely to harm them. However, if they are consistently overfed, it can lead to health problems.
Over half of all dogs in America are overweight or obese. This puts them at increased risk of disease, including heart disease, diabetes, reduced lifespan, and arthritis.
It may seem ironic that overfeeding your dog can lead to nutritional deficiencies, but it is possible. If you overfeed too much of one type of food, it can lead to nutritional imbalances. Too much of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to deficiencies in others.
Overfeeding puppies can cause some serious issues. Puppies need to grow, but growing too fast, or putting on too much weight, can harm them. Their bones are still developing, and their growth plates haven’t closed.
If they put on excess weight, it can cause hip dysplasia and other skeletal issues, particularly in large breed puppies.
How often do you feed a dog raw food?
How often to feed your dog raw food depends on a few factors. First, age and life stage dictate the guidelines for how many meals your pooch needs each day.
Puppies and pregnant or nursing females require more meals than adult dogs. When it comes to adult dogs, feeding frequency is largely up to your schedule and your dog’s preference.
How Often to Feed Puppies
Puppies need smaller meals more often. They have smaller stomachs, so they can’t consume as much food as an adult dog in one sitting. They are also growing at a fast rate, which means they have higher calorie needs than a grown dog of the same weight.
This is particularly important for small breed puppies. Small breed puppies are at a higher risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, if they aren’t fed often enough.
Puppies under 4 months, or 12 weeks of age, should eat 4 times a day. Puppies 4 to 6 months old need 3 meals each day. At 6 months and older, it’s fine to feed them 2 times a day.
When determining how often to feed your puppy, use common sense. If your pup isn’t finishing their meals, you may need to cut a meal. If they are overweight, reduce the amount of food at each meal, or reduce how often you feed them.
If your pup is at a healthy weight and active, then you are on the right track.
Adult Dog Raw Food Meal Frequency
Dogs 1 year old or over can be fed 1 to 2 times a day. From there, it’s up to you and your pooch. If they seem very hungry hours after their first meal, consider feeding them twice a day. If once a day works for you and your dog, it’s fine to feed them once a day.
Pregnant and Nursing Dogs
Pregnant and nursing dogs are typically fed 3 to 4 times a day. It may be necessary to increase feedings to 6 times per day before birth. As your dog begins to wean the puppies, you can begin to reduce feeding frequency and amount.