transition dog to raw

If you’ve decided to move your dog to a whole foods, raw meat based diet, give yourself a pat on the back! Your dog will be much healthier and happier because of it. If your dog could talk, I’m sure she’d say “thank you!”

Depending on your dog’s age, health condition and the time she’s spent on her current diet, a food transition may be challenging at first (but rewarding, so don’t give up). Some dogs experience diarrhea or constipation as a result of the detoxification process. Other dogs experience changes in energy levels, while some show no effect from the change in diet. This is a natural process. Think about what it would feel like if you ate fast food consistently and then switched to only smoothies, stir-fries and salads. You’d eventually feel great, but there would be a short adjustment period.

One way to assist your dog during this adjustment period is to add herbal remedies. Herbs can encourage a healthy detoxification process, reduce digestive discomfort, increase appetite, support the nervous system and decrease inflammation. The adjustment period shouldn’t take longer than three to four weeks. If your dog is experiencing extreme digestive discomfort or refusing to eat there may be something else going on and it may be best to consult your holistic veterinarian.

How To Give Herbs

There are a variety of ways to give herbs to your dog, including infused tea, dried herb, glycerite (tincture), capsules and more. How you give herbs to your dog will depend on her taste preference and her symptoms. But when you’re dealing with digestive discomfort the best method often contains the least amount of liquid and tastes the best. I personally think glycerites (herbs extracted in glycerin) are the best method during a food transition. Glycerites both taste good and contain a higher ratio of herb to liquid so that only a small amount is needed. You can buy glycerites or follow the recipe below to make your own.

5 Herbs To Help Switch Your Dog To Raw

Here are five herbs to give your dog for a smooth food transition.

transition dog to raw

1. Chamomile – Matricaria recutita

Parts used – Flowers, leaves, stems
Action and uses – Chamomile is a great herb to support any excess gas or bloating your dog may be experiencing. This plant also works to support the nervous system by gently calming your dog. Chamomile works quite quickly after consumption.

Chamomile Dosage

Glycerite/Tincture – 1-2 ml per 20 lbs of your dog’s body weight, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea – ½ cup per 20 lbs, 2-3 times a day (1cup = 10-30g herb)
Dried herb – 25-150 mg per lb, sprinkled onto food.

Cautions or Contraindications – not for use in pregnancy, not for dogs with known allergy to the asteraceae family of plants.

Research:  A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.

2. Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Part used – Seeds
Action and uses – Fennel quickly relieves any gas or bloating that your dog may be experiencing. If your dog loses her appetite during the beginning of a food transition fennel can help to increase it again.

Fennel Dosage

Glycerite/Tincture – 1-2 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea – ½ cup per 20 lbs, 2-3 times a day (use 10-30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb – 25-150 mg per lb, sprinkled onto food.

Cautions or Contraindicatitons – not for use in pregnancy.

Research:  Foeniculum vulgare Mill: A Review of Its Botany, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Contemporary Application, and Toxicology

3. Marshmallow Root – Althaea officinalis radix

Part used – Root
Action and uses – Marshmallow has a soothing demulcent action to gut mucosa and is used to relieve heartburn, digestive inflammation and both constipation and diarrhea. Marshmallow infused tea has a goopy consistency that some dogs may not like, so try giving small amounts throughout the day rather then dosing all at once.

Marshmallow Root Dosage

Glycerite/Tincture – 0.5-1.5 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea – ½ cup per 20 lbs, 2-3 times a day (use 10-30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb – 25-150 mg per lb, sprinkled onto food.

Cautions or Contraindications – The mucilage created by this herb may reduce absorption of some medications when taken in high doses.

Research: The Pharmaceutical Importance of Althaea officinalis and Althaea rosea : A Review.

4. Burdock Root – Arctium lappa

Part used – Root
Action and uses – Burdock root is an herb that blurs the line between herb and food. It is best known as a nutritive liver tonic because of its high nutrient content and ability to cleanse the liver. This is an excellent herb for supporting the detoxification process during a food transition.

Burdock Root Dosage

Glycerite/Tincture – 1-2 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea – ½ cup per 20 lbs 2-3 times a day (use 10-30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb – 25-250 mg per 20 lbs, powdered and sprinkled onto food.

Cautions or Contraindications – None

Research: A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock).

5. Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum

Part used – Seeds
Action and uses – Milk thistle gently supports the liver by restoring damaged cells and improving function. It contains antioxidants that assist in reducing oxidative damage caused by processed foods. This is a great herb to use for almost all dogs going through a food transition.

Tinctures are the best method of administration for this herb as the potent constituent silymarin extracts best in alcohol. You can remove the alcohol from a tincture by adding boiled water to the dosage; let cool, and then give to your dog. This process will evaporate most of the alcohol.

Milk Thistle Dosage

Glycerite/Tincture – 1-2 ml per 20 lbs, 2-3 times per day
Infused tea – ½ cup per 20 lbs, 2-3 times a day (use 10-30g herb per cup of tea)
Dried herb – not an ideal herb to give dried.

Cautions or Contraindications – may reduce insulin requirements for diabetics.

Research: Silymarin, the antioxidant component and Silybum marianum extracts prevent liver damage.

Observe Changes In Your Dog

transition dog to rawStaying observant is the key to using herbs during your dog’s food transition. I recommend keeping a close watch on bowel activity, skin and coat health, energy levels and appetite. By staying observant you’ll be able to choose the most appropriate herb for your companion’s unique health presentation. For example, if your dog shows signs of constipation and anxiety the herb chamomile would be more appropriate than fennel because it both calms the nervous system and supports digestive health.

Once you’ve made the full switch to a raw diet (and your dog is saying thank you!), it’s time to enjoy the extra energy and vibrancy she now has.

transition dog to raw

The Food Transition Herbal Glycerite Recipe

You can buy herbal tinctures but it’s easy to make your own too. The following recipe uses chamomile, marshmallow, and fennel to address gas, bloating, anxiety, poor appetite, heartburn and leaky gut that could ensue during a food transition. Prepare this remedy before starting the food transition.

  • The recipe yields about 5 fl oz
  • Preparation Time – 2 weeks
  • Dosage – 1ml per 20 lbs
  • Safety – Not for use in pregnant or lactating animals or canines with allergy to asteraceae.


  • 4 tsp dried organic chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita)
  • 2 tsp dried organic marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis radix)
  • 4 tsp dried organic fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • 3½ oz purified water
  • 5 oz vegetable glycerin
  • 16 oz wide mouth clean glass jar
  • Cheesecloth


  1. Powder the dried herbs together using a coffee grinder, food processor or blender and scoop into glass jar.
  2. Mix together purified water and glycerin in a separate jar.
  3. Add mixed water and glycerin solution to the jar with dried herbs. Stir well. The liquid and powdered herbs take some effort to mix together, you may find using a butter knife or popsicle stick helpful to remove air bubbles.
  4. Place lid on the jar, label with the date, herb names and place in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks.
  5. Check daily that the herbs are still fully covered. Add more glycerin as needed to ensure herbs remain covered.
  6. After 2 weeks strain mixture through cheesecloth into a clean jar. You will need to squeeze the mixture with some force.
  7. Compost the leftover herbal mixture.
  8. Place lid on the jar of liquid with new label and date.
  9. Store in the refrigerator. Liquid will keep for approximately 8 months.
  10. Dose daily according to your dog’s weight.


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