Any kind of cooking process will damage the nutritional content of food. This is true for even human food, hence you are encouraged to eat more raw vegetables, or lightly steam them. Heat removes the nutritional values from food and this is made worse still if the ingredients that went into the food weren't much good in the first place. We like to think of kibble as "junk food or processed" and natural feeding as "health food". Vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates are all damaged during processing, and food studies have shown up to 70% of its nutritional value may be lost. Feeding raw food gives your dog/cat full nutritional value.
In our experience, an immediate and total switch is the best; however if you are more comfortable with a gradual transition, then we recommend the following;
- Week 1 - 25% fresh, 75% kibble/canned
- Week 2 - 50% fresh, 50% kibble/canned
- Week 3 - 75% fresh, 25% kibble/canned
- Week 4 - 100% fresh
If your pet is not having any issues with the transition, you can accelerate this process at any time. We recommend beginning with a light protein, such as chicken to start and then rotate with darker meats (e.g. beef) in the second week.
Cats can be more difficult to convert to a new diet. The best process we have found is to introduce a small portion of raw into their current food. You may have to try various proteins. Then slowly add more now until they are converted.
The key issue to remember with a raw food diet is that is comprised mainly of raw meat and therefore can contain bacteria, just as any raw meat that you purchase from the grocery store. There is no risk to your pet from this but you should practice safe handling of the product and anything that comes into contact with it, in exactly the same way as you work with the preparations of chicken or ground beef in your home.
Bacteria are everywhere. We only need to worry about salmonella for us humans in the off chance of contamination-meaning that if the salmonella is shed in the cat's feces and we handle it with our bare hands (so please don't play in your cat's litter box with your bare hands and then not wash) or the human feeding does not clean appropriately after feeding the animal, we have the potential to become sick. Therefore always wash all counters, utensils and dishes used in feeding with warm soapy water just as you would after you prepared food for yourself.
This may sound like common sense but you would be surprised at what some people do. Your cat can lick it's "private parts" which has more bacteria than just salmonella to be concerned with! Our cats are very close to the ground, mine sniff around my garbage bin, follow me into the bathroom, smell around the toilet - I can't tell you how much bacteria is in these locations. It is humans that are susceptible to sickness from these bacteria, not animals.
The digestive tract of our carnivores is different from humans as omnivores. They have evolved to eat and thrive on bacteria laden food (such as mice and birds) without harmful effect and even require them for immune system maturity.
Raw food feeding is very popular amongst many cat and dog breeders and therefore we know that raw food can be introduced to weaned puppies or kittens. In fact with cats, having the mother introduce the food to her kittens is the optimal way to transition into raw feeding as cats are more difficult to transition to new foods as they get older.
The critical issue with any food at this stage is to ensure that there is a sufficient source of calcium and that it is in the correct ratio with phosphorous levels in the food. This is particularly true with puppies as they are going through a dramatic growth stage in their first 6 months. We have a uniquely formulated Complete Puppy Dinner that offers a combination of proteins to ensure that these critical nutrients are offered in the correct amount and ratio with each feeding.
The reason you do not see additives listed on our packaging in the way that you may find them on a bag of kibble is in fact the true benefit of raw feeding. Kibble and processed cooked food is produced by taking a blend of animal and vegetable material (non human grade) and then cooking it to render it inert. This cooking process destroys much of the available nutrition in the food as many vitamins and amino acids do not tolerate these temperatures. Therefore to achieve a complete diet, it is necessary for these products to have many nutrients added back to the product prior to final packaging.
By comparison, raw food is a holistic diet. The nutrients necessary for the health of your pet are in their natural state, which we believe provides superior nutrition. Our complete diets are comprised mainly of animal meat, bone and organs (minimum 70 % for dogs, 90% for cats) and the only additives we put into the food are a selection of ground vegetables, fruit, essential natural oils and kelp to deliver key nutritional elements. We deliver nutrition in a formula that is as close as possible to the way nature designed it.
While feeding bones to our dogs may seem like a simple task, in fact there are issues that any owner should become familiar with. Firstly, not all bones are created equal! Smoked or cooked bones, which are readily available at most pet stores, are source of risk for splintering and flaking. Splintering of bone can be lethal as it can perforate the digestive tract. The cooking or smoking process removes the moisture from the bone, leaving it harder and more brittle. This can also lead to intestinal impaction and tooth breakage.
By comparison, raw bones are a source of physiological and psychological benefits. The physiologic benefits result from the massaging action of the gums and scraping of the teeth. The psychological benefits are derived from the primitive euphoria generated by a dog "chewing" a bone. This benefit can be observed in your pet's apparent exhilaration and behavior of well-being which in turn may have a bearing upon their immuno-competence and their overall immune system.
Finally, at the very least raw bones may have a nutritional effect as we cannot overlook the trace minerals that can be derived from them. We advocate the use of raw bones as a healthy treat, served 1-2 times per week as part of a total raw diet. The benefits of serving of raw bones correctly, outweighs the risks. All dogs should be supervised when eating/chewing raw bones. You should choose a bone size that is appropriate for your dog, one that cannot be ingested whole.
Green tripe has tremendous benefits for dogs on a raw food diet.
Tripe is the fourth chamber of the stomach, called the abomasum, of ruminating (hooved, 4 footed, grazing mammal, for example: cattle, buffalo, sheep, deer, goat, etc.) animals. In this chamber the food is mixed with gastric juices, amino acids and other digestive enzymes. The gastric enzymes not only help the cow in digestion, but also aid the canine in digesting and efficiently utilizing his food. After the solid matter of Green Tripe is digested, the gastric juices and digestive enzymes continue to aid the animal in digesting and efficiently utilizing his food over the next several meals.
Raw Green Tripe refers to the lack of processing, not the color of the product. The color of the product will vary through the year depending on what the cow was eating eg. Winter the color will be light brown with reddish tinges (from being grain fed) and in the summer will go from a brown color to a dark green, blackish color (from grass feeding).
Food allergies present many of the same symptoms as food intolerances, only they can be severe and even life threatening. True food allergies are rare and test positive in less than 1% of all suspected cases. A true allergic reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock after feeding and should be treated immediately. The only cure is to cease offering the offending source.
The amount to feed on a daily basis can vary depending on the breed, age and activity level of your dog. On average we recommend the amounts listed below but you may adjust based on their appetite and weight. Remember that ideally you should be able to feel your dog's ribs but not see them!
4 oz patty (1/4 lb) for every 10lbs of body weight; i.e. an 80lb dog would eat 2lbs (8 x 1/4lb patties) per day, while a 10 lb dog would only need one 4 oz patty per day. As mentioned above, this is a guide only and your pet may not fall into this general guideline.
A puppy should be fed 4-5% of its target adult body weight per day, up until 4-6 months of age and then the food should be reduced to the ratios mentioned above. This would meant that a puppy that would be 60 lbs as an adult should be eating 21⁄2 - 3 lbs a day and then transition to 1 1⁄2 lbs as it reaches its adult weight at 6-9 months.
Cats should be fed 1oz (small patty) for every 3 lbs of body weight on a daily basis. So a 12 lb cat would eat 4 x 1oz patties per day.
All cats and dogs shed to varying degrees. Shedding is the natural loss of hair as the new coat comes in. Seasonal shedding is a standard part of pet ownership. However significant shedding may be caused by a deficiency of essential fatty acids.
We believe strongly in the philosophy that the quality of a daily diet is the most critical component to healthy and longevity. This is true with humans and with our pets. Raw diets are a daily investment in the ongoing health of your pet. On a daily basis, they cost about the same as the top priced kibbles or processed foods however, we believe that the excellent nutrition provided by this diet is paid back to you through the savings from avoiding chronic health conditions that many pets suffer from poor diets. And it is difficult to put a price on the value of a healthy happy cat or dog. Making the choice to feed raw is an investment in their future and your enjoyment with your pet.