Animals not previously fed a raw diet should be introduced to raw food slowly, preferably by lightly cooking the food to begin with, baking or braising meat and lightly steaming vegetables. Any new diet should be fed alongside the existing diet for 1-2 weeks in gradually increasing amounts until it has replaced the previous diet completely. Supplementing the diet with probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (substrates for the probiotics) and digestive enzymes will help facilitate the transition and may be appropriate for long-term use in some individuals.
When handling or preparing diets containing raw meat, the following guidelines are recommended:
- Frozen diets should be kept frozen and thawed just prior to feeding. Once thawed, raw meat can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but should not be refrozen.
- Food should always be fed at, or close to, room temperature. The best way of warming food from the refrigerator or freezer is to place it in a plastic bag in warm water. Alternatively the food may be placed briefly in a warm oven. (The use of a microwave is not recommended as microwaves alter the physical structure of proteins.)
- Any food not consumed within 15-20 minutes should be discarded.
- Always wash your hands after handling raw meat. All food bowls, utensils and food preparation areas should be washed thoroughly with warm soapy water.