About Raw Food Diets
The concept of raw diets for pets are not new. Before the introduction of kibble and other convenient commercial offerings, feeding human food bits to pets was part of the common kitchen routine. The philosophy behind a natural diet is simplicity. By natural we mean bio-appropriate and bio-available. A diet that fits our pets' true nutritional requirements. Simple raw animal protein, a small amount of minced bone for calcium and phosphates, natural non-synthetic minerals and vitamins, and a small amount of carbs specifically for your fur kids. These concepts "re-developed" themselves over the last 30 years due to the public awareness created by Dr. Billinghurst and Dr. Lonsdale, both international thought leaders in canine and feline nutrition.
As a result, we combined all of the positive elements of the different approaches to create a well-balanced meal plan framework through the products and brands we stock, incorporating a little of the prey-model (whole meaty bones), and a little of the BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) concepts for canine pet cuisine. We believe there must be a balance in the overall dietary approach, and this balance typically materialise over the period of a month when feeding your fur kids. For this reason, we promote raw meaty bones as meal replacements, example, pork and venison bones for the adult and senior fur kids, and chicken necks and wings for the youngsters. We also promote mixing natural supplements such as raw frozen sardines into the meal plan, as these items supply natural essential fatty acids (EFA) and omega-3 and 6 to your fur kids. To round our approach off, we believe that natural supplements, such as prebiotics, probiotics, essential oils, and natural vitamin and minerals all contribute to the overall nutritional profile required by each individual fur kid.
To determine the amount of edible parts your fur kids should be eating as part of a balanced nutritional meal plan, whether BARF, PMR, Frankenprey (more details below), reference the anatomy of a typical prey animal. These portions include muscle meat, soft edible bone, and digestive organs: all of which are vitally important for your fur kids to consume on a raw food diet. Our selected raw frozen formula meals are all produced based on these principles, and pre-packaged for your convenience, so that you don't have get down into the grit of making it yourself.
The percentage of edible parts in most common prey animals are:
- 10% Digestive organs (Digestive System)
- 10% Edible bone (Skeletal System)
- 80% Muscle meat (Muscular System)
In the Raw Food Diet, pets typically consume:
- 5-10% Organs: liver and kidney (Digestive System)
- 5-10% Compact Muscle Proteins: heart and tongue (Muscular System)
- 50-60% Meaty Bones: chicken legs, bone-in breast meat, whole fish, etc. (Muscular System & Skeletal System)
- The Remaining 20-40% Body Muscle: beef, pork shoulder and cushion, gizzards, eggs, green-tripe, etc. (Muscular System)
Meaty bones are primarily body muscle (about 60-70%), so your fur kids are still getting a large portion of muscle meat from the bones. Consuming soft bone in this manner is more natural for carnivores. While they are chewing on the tough raw meat, the soft bone underneath is being ground up into easy-to-swallow pieces.
What are the differences between PREY and BARF?
The most basic “raw” feeding option is that based on what is commonly known as the BARF diet – for those unfamiliar with this peculiar acronym, it stands for either Bones and Raw Food Diet, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Diet, depending on who you ask. Although the idea of feeding dogs anything other than kibble was not a new idea at the time, a book published by an Australian vet called Dr Billinghurst in 1993 called “Give Your Dog a Bone” certainly gave impetus to the idea of feeding as Mother Nature intended. It went back to basics and looked at feeding dogs what they were effectively designed to eat. According to Dr Billinghurst’s research, dogs are carnivores, vegetarians, scavengers, hunters and opportunists – so a diet of raw, meat, bones and offal was the ideal food for our companion canines, as this is what they would naturally eat in the wild – despite the fact that dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years.
In nature, many hunting animals tend to eat virtually all of their kill, including fur, and some stomach contents. This “whole carcass” method of feeding is not for the squeamish, or those who live in an apartment, but biologically and physiologically dogs have not changed a great deal over time, and are not sufficiently dissimilar to their present wild cousins so as to require a different diet just because they live in our homes rather than in the natural world around us. Some people however struggle to source the food suggested by Dr Billinghurst (his book favours pig carcasses and kangaroos!).
Those who feed their dogs parts from a number of different animal sources will maintain that these supply all necessary proteins, minerals and vitamins, as well as promoting healthy teeth, gums, joints and digestion, and many thousands of dog owners still revere “Give Your Dog a Bone” as the bible for raw feeding.
Since the original publication of “Give Your Dog a Bone”, however, Dr Billinghurst has slightly revised his feeding model to include 20% crushed vegetable matter and fruit. It is the original absence of these additions which historically set the next method of feeding apart from the BARF diet.
Another major advocate of the raw diet, Dr Tom Lonsdale, in his book “Raw Meaty Bones” bases his diet on just those three words – raw, meaty, bones. Whilst not opposed to dogs eating fruit and vegetables, most of the people who follow this diet will agree that the benefits of digesting fruit and vegetables can be obtained from other sources, and recommend feeding a “whole prey diet” – which would include tripe and smaller animals containing pre-digested vegetable matter. Contrary to popular belief, Dr Lonsdale’s suggested diet contains up to a maximum of one third vegetation – much higher than that now recommended by Dr Billinghurst. The differences between these two feeding camps is therefore tiny, and often only exists in the minds of the supporters of each author.
The diet of wolves in the wild is regularly cited as an example to be followed by both those who feed BARF or raw meaty bones, and yet Dr David Mech (a recognized expert on wolves) has been quoted as saying wolves in fact are not strict carnivores, but carnivores that also eat omnivore foods, further blurring the definitions.
The Supplemented BARF Diet
The third example of a raw diet is similar to a BARF or raw meaty bones diet but with added extras, such as supplements like coconut oil or turmeric. You could qualify our approach as "The Supplemented BARF Diet". Dr Lonsdale does not recommend supplements, but Dr Billinghurst believes they are sometimes required. These days many raw feeders believe that the addition of these “extras” to the diet can only be beneficial to the dog – after all, we all want our pets to live long and healthy lives, thriving instead of just surviving, so why not feed them other foods with known health benefits?
This subject, perhaps more than any other, is one which is argued about the most passionately on every raw feeding internet site. People fall in to either of two camps – those that do add extras which can include vegetables and fruit that the animal may not normally eat in the wild, and those who do not – and each will argue the merits of their case until the internet explodes. Those against the addition of vegetables, for example, will argue that the dog does not nutritionally require anything other than meat, bones and offal (as fed by the BARF people) in order to thrive, and would not eat these if left to its own devices.
The arguments raised are usually based on the belief that dogs are strict carnivores, not vegetarians or even omnivores, and therefore have no need of the nutrients and vitamins found in fruit and veg; but as seen above, even the experts are unable to fully agree. The other side, those who do add carrots, kale, sweet potato and a wide range of other ingredients to their dog’s diet, will argue that these are all excellent sources of additional nutrients and vitamins, with known heath boosting properties, so why would one not feed them to one’s dog, even if the dog would not normally eat them in the wild?
What about my feline kids?
For our cat lovers, another model is currently gaining ground. This model is called the Frankenprey model, which is another variance of BARF and PMR. The Frankenprey model describes the process of creating a whole raw prey animal by using bones, meat, and organs from other animals - like Frankenstein. In the wild, cats eat small birds, rodents, snakes, rabbits, etc. This creates a perfect meal where organs, bones, and muscle meats are in complete proportion. For those of us unwilling to hunt birds and mice for our carnivores (yet still desire to be raw feeders), we turn to Frankenprey.
The Frankenprey model follows a strict 80/10/5/5 guideline and most raw feeders will follow that over a week's worth of meals instead of a day's worth of meals. You'll see this average weekly intake is more convenient and carries a smaller risk of contamination and vitamin/mineral overload; raw parts are thawed in bulk and fed as soon as possible. There must exist a balance; maybe not a perfect daily balance, but a balance nonetheless. 80% of weekly meals should contain muscle meat, 10% of weekly meals should be made of bones, 5% of weekly meals should be made of liver, and 5% of weekly meals should contain secreting organs like kidneys. This sums up to 100%.
As in any topic, there are proponents of the various methods who eschew all others as being inferior. Don’t let these well-meaning but sometimes overly-passionate folks intimidate or discourage you – all three feeding methods (and any combination there-of) are healthy, nutritious and far, far better for your cat than even the “best” commercially manufactured foods.
Which should you feed, BARF, PMR or Frankenprey?
There’s honestly no right or wrong answer, it’s just a matter of opinion. The main point most would agree is that you’re doing right by feeding your fur kids raw rather than kibble. So why does raw matter – and what is it about this subject that inspires such passion in its advocates – be they prey feeders, the raw meaty bones brigade or the BARFers?
Despite the philosophical differences, the different factions will generally stand together against the one issue upon which they all agree – our dogs and cats should not be fed dried processed foods. That is not to say there are no quality dried foods available – but most will agree, where ever possible these should not be fed when a raw diet is a viable alternative.
Try out both and see what works best for you and your dog, or a combination thereof, as we advocate. Personally, as we stated above, we like to feed a mixture of both, more closely aligned with the Supplemented BARF philosophy for dogs and Frankenprey for cats. BARF wins on the convenience factor, however Prey also has it’s benefits, which is why believe the middle road, a combination of both, is the golden road ...
Why freeze the food?
First of all, frozen food does not need any kind of preservative in order to keep it fresh. This means that there is no need to preserve the food in jelly or biscuit form: you can feed your fur kids high-quality, fresh meat tailored to their nutritional needs. Frozen food also can contain plenty of natural meat juices and blood. While this may make some people squeamish, for our canine family members, it is a delicious treat. It is also one of the ways dogs in the wild would stay hydrated, so your fur kids will not need to gulp down litres of water every day.
As we stated above, our frozen meals are not cooked like most standard dog foods. Cooking food removes a large amount of its nutrients, and alters the levels of others. This makes it blander and less healthy than frozen raw pet cuisine, which is raw and so contains all the nutritional goodness of fresh meat in the wild.
Finally, frozen dog food is easier for you as the pet parent and/or guardian. This is especially true if you are feeding your fur kids in accordance with biologically specie appropriate food diets. Rather than planning out meals full of fresh meat, you can just feed your fur kids a portion of frozen dog food. All you need to do is defrost or thaw it, and your dog's dinner is ready to eat, paw-licious!
Why buy from Raw Food for Pets?
We only source formulas' that are produced using only the freshest, 100% human-grade ingredients. Our poultry, meat and game are antibiotic and steroid free without added hormones. Our suppliers incorporate organic produce, organic minerals and unrefined vitamins to fortify our complete and balanced diets. All our suppliers' formulas contain fresh ground bone for calcium supplementation. This combination of ingredients offers optimum levels of the amino acids (protein), essential fatty acids, natural-occurring enzymes, and necessary vitamins and minerals that are the building blocks for your pet's healthy biological functions.
We have selected our suppliers to ensure that we can offer you the convenience and benefits of a well-balanced, safe and wholesome raw-food diet without having to grind,chop, measure or mix the ingredients yourself. We have taken the time to carefully research and test each suppliers' formula to ensure that they offer a nutritious, fresh-food diet that is easy for you to serve and delectable for pets to devour. The proof is watching them lick the bowl clean while thriving happily and healthfully!
Raw Diet FAQs
The typical diet is 60% base product, either chicken wings, beef, chicken breasts, turkey, game or ostrich, 10% organ meat (liver), 25% vegetables and 5% fruit. These ingredients are finely minced together and then small amounts of fresh garlic and kelp is added. The fruits and vegetables are a variety of suitable, fresh and in-season mix which provides important fiber, vitamins and trace elements.
All our suppliers source their ingredients from companies who supply food to humans.
The frozen raw product should be handled in the same manner as you would handle the purchase of other fresh products. If you are not going to use the product on the day that it is purchased or delivered, we advise that you store your raw meat products in the freezer. Defrost when you plan to feed your pet i.e. defrost the food and feed to your dog on the same day.
Once defrosted, the correct amounts of food should be given to your dog as a meal. If there is left over from the 1kg packet, this food should then be stored in the fridge until the next meal. We advise that this should never be left in the fridge for longer than 48 hours. Many users of Raw meal foods prefer to decant the leftovers into a Tupperware and then store in the fridge until the next meal.
It is quite safe to leave the food in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The food should never be left opened out of the fridge for longer than 15 minutes.
Dr Billinghurst formulated his world renown diet philosophy almost 30 years ago. Technically, people have been feeding their pets raw food for hundreds of years. In fact, processed / commercial dog food such as kibble is relatively new. This form of pet food was only sold commercially during the latter part of the 20th century.
One of the first things you will notice about dogs being fed the biologically specie appropriate diets is better quality of life! Living enzymes are proteins found in raw foods which help the body function. Enzymes are only beneficial to the body if they are living. Once food is cooked or processed, it no longer contains living enzymes. Foods without living enzymes can put stress on your pets’ pancreas to produce the necessary proteins to function. Living enzymes in a raw diet will assist in the restoring, repairing, and maintain health. Animals typically replenish their enzymes systems by eating raw unprocessed foods. Convenient packaging retains the living enzymes, along with phytochemicals, antioxidants, and unprocessed amino acids.
Your pet’s long term health depends upon these factors to ensure a long and healthy lifespan.
- Healthy Teeth & Breath - Your pet will have much-improved breath, minimal tartar build-up, and beautifully clean and healthy teeth; all without having to visit the pet dentist or brushing the teeth. In addition, we have observed that periodontal disease that is so prevalent with pets fed grain-based diets is almost non-existent in those fed on biologically appropriate raw diets.
- Healthy Skin & Coat - Typically, this will be one of the first changes you will notice when you start feeding on a biologically appropriate raw diet. If those persistent skin problems suddenly disappear or improve, and you no longer need vet visits, medicated washes, antibiotics, cortisone shots and cortisone tablets, it allows us to draw to conclusion that the natural, healthy, and raw diet is supplying nutrients that other diets are missing.
- Optimum Immune System - Biologically appropriate raw diets will assist your fur-kid to normalise and strengthens the immune system. The immune system is a wonder of creation. Because our biologically specie appropriate raw diets contain a good balance of essential fatty acids and other immune normalizing and strengthening nutrients, it will assist in reducing inflammatory conditions and waves good-bye to infections.
- Degenerative Disease - Pet parents that switch their older pets to biologically appropriate raw diets usually find that whatever degenerative disease their pet has contracted becomes less of a problem. Biologically appropriate raw diets are not a wonder drug, but it has assisted in containing aggravating degenerative conditions and has given relief to a variety of diseases. One should only read the various testimonials to see the dramatic changes that a biologically appropriate diet can make. Even arthritic conditions can be improved and you can expect to see greater mobility in your fur kids.
- Stool Volume & Odour - Reduced stool volume and odour is a typical sign of an improved and healthy digestion cycle. Biologically appropriate raw diets are more readily absorbed than grain fed diets in the digestive system, and the result is less stool volume and odour. Odorous stools typically are a result of improper or incomplete digestion of nutrients.
- Healthy, Lean Body Mass - By feeding biologically appropriate raw diets and regularly exercising your fur kids, your pet will lose unwanted fat and gain that much desired increase in muscle mass. The effect will be more rapid if you combine the biologically appropriate raw diet with some normal exercise. This not only makes your fur kids look better, it increases your pet’s metabolic rate, its activity levels, and its healthy life span.
And my cat(s)? Some Changes to Expect – and the rewards for all your patience!
- After a full transition to a raw diet, cats typically will drink less water. Cats in the wild get most of their water from their food. A raw meat diet naturally contains more moisture than dry or canned food, so your cat may be less thirsty, yet be getting plenty of water.
- There may be a change in the volume, odour, and colour of faeces. It will stink less! It may also be somewhat harder and dryer and be coloured shades of dark and light brown. Much of the crude protein and crude fibre in most commercial dry and canned cat foods is not digestible and contributes to a higher volume of stool. Along with the assurance of knowing that all the food that is ingested is being digested, the reduction of odour is a nice side-benefit.
- Overweight cats tend to lose weight. However, weight loss must be closely monitored. Rapid weight loss can lead to serious health problems. A holistic veterinarian who is skilled in transitioning to raw diets can provide the best advice, especially when transitioning a cat with chronic health issues.
- Lethargic cats start to play more and may even exhibit hunting behaviour. Cats are healthiest when fed a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. When cats aren’t experiencing the metabolic highs and lows associated with high carbohydrate intake from grains, they will use protein as their energy source, as they were designed by nature to do. This tends to provide more sustained energy throughout the day and reduces the need to "graze".
- Allergies tend to clear up, which may be a result of less exposure to potential food allergens. Many cats have allergies to grains that can range from very mild to severe. These allergies can manifest on the skin, can affect digestion, and also contribute to runny nose and eyes. The reduction in allergic symptoms may be a result of not only a reduced exposure to allergens from a higher quality food, but also from a stronger immune system. The more nutritious the food, the stronger the immune system will be.
- Fur becomes incredibly soft and shedding is reduced. This can be the result of better nutrition and is typically one of the initial benefits observed after changing cats to a raw diet. There may also be a reduction in human allergic reactions to cats due to the reduction of dander.
It is natural for both dogs and cats to eat bones. Both a dog's body and a cat's body are designed to use bones as its main source of minerals - including calcium and phosphorus. Our pets' bodies have been doing this for millions of years. Your pet will not suffer mineral deficiencies, imbalances or excesses, when raw meaty bones make up a portion of its diet. This applies to all ages, and all breeds, including puppies and kittens. This is because bones are the storehouse of all the minerals your pet requires in perfect balance, and in the perfect form for optimal absorption. The bones in the raw meat products are very finely minced making them very safe to feed to your pets.
Domestic pets should be getting their carbohydrate in a similar manner and balance to their wild ancestors. That means feeding fresh, raw (non-starchy and low glycaemic) vegetables (and some fruit). The green vegetables contain only small amounts of starch and some simple sugars. More importantly they are chock full of enzymes, nutraceuticals (supplements and functional foods), phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
As many dog owners know, very large doses of garlic can be dangerous for dogs - a fact that has led to garlic being omitted from most dogs' diets for decades, but what most dog owners don't know is that small amounts of garlic can be extremely beneficial. Basically, garlic helps to keep your dog free from all sorts of nasties: it is an effective anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, it helps to eliminate intestinal worms and it acts as a deterrent to skin parasites like ticks. For these reasons, garlic can be a real help for dogs with all sorts of ailments and infections caused by bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection. And its benefits don't stop there. Garlic has been linked with lowering blood sugar in diabetics, to aiding joint mobility and even to lowering blood cholesterol! Some dog foods are now starting to include garlic in their recipes but if you would like to add your own, roughly one clove per 10kg of body weight per day is a good place to start. Toxic doses must be quite huge (as much as two whole bulbs per day for an extended period) so don't be too concerned about over feeding garlic.
"If a dog’s prayers were answered, bones would rain from the sky"
Giving raw meaty bones to your fur kids is one of the best things you could give him / her for many reasons. Not only are they nutritional (which of course is a large part of their value) but they are an excellent toothbrush, meal replacement, and mental stimulant.
Benefits of Giving Raw Bones
- Raw bones clean teeth like no other chews in the world;
- Raw bones can take a long time to chew and when your dog has eaten all the meat, the bone can last for weeks!
- Raw Bones are rich with minerals such as calcium and phosphorus;
- Raw Bones remove plaque naturally and helps to keep gums and teeth strong;
- Chicken cartilage such as wing tips, feet, and carcasses are great for added glucosamine in your dog’s diet;
- Meaty bones can be used as a meal replacement;
- Raw Bones are a great mental stimulation / chew therapy for your dog or puppy.
Types of Bones
- Toothbrush Bones: Bones such as knuckles (the knee bones), or ribs are best for cleaning teeth because of their shape and the meat on them acts like floss!
- Recreational Bones: These bones can also be knuckles, shanks, or femurs that due to their shape and composition, provide hours of chewing action.
- Meal Replacement Bones: Bones such as Ostrich tails, Lamb necks, Turkey necks, and Beef meaty femurs have tons of meat so your dog’s get a tasty and stimulating meal!
What to Watch Out For
- Aggressive chewers should be given softer bones in case they over chew and grind their teeth down. Soft bones include knuckles, chicken bones, turkey necks, rib bones, and other small animal bones.
- Remember to ALWAYS supervise your dog with a bone until you know what kind a chewer they are.
- Dogs will attempt to hide their bones by burying them so that they ferment. This completely normal and healthy for your dog!
Choosing The Right Bone
Choose the right size bone for your dog: If you are not sure which size of bone to get for your dog, choose a larger size to be safe. A bone that is the size of your dog’s head is a good start and once you know what kind of a chewer your dog is you can head to smaller sizes.
First time bone chewers such as puppies should be taught how to eat a bone. Choose a stick shaped bone such as a turkey neck, or beef ribs. Hold one end of the bone and let your dog chew on the other and pull away if it seems like your dog will try to swallow the whole thing! Through this process, much like a mother wolf might, you teach your dog how to patiently enjoy a bone.
Given enough time, your dog will eat the whole bone! If your dog eats too much bone however, their stools may come out chalky and hard or if the bone was too rich they may have loose stool. If you suspect they ate too much adding pumpkin to their meal will do the trick. To avoid eating too much bone, you can give it to them in several sittings so that they don’t eat the whole thing at once.
Should I Cook The Bones?
Cooked bones are dangerous as they become very hard and brittle which increases the likelihood of them breaking and splintering into sharp pieces. Cooked bones are also very difficult for dogs and cats to digest as the bones lose all of their nutritional value.
Smoked Bones are also dangerous as they often have additives such as artificial flavouring and preservatives.
Feeding Guideline FAQs
Yes, puppies can go directly from weaning onto a biologically appropriate raw diet such as the ones we represent. However, puppies need up to 10% of body weight daily at any given time during the first six months and thereafter the portion size is reduced per their weight gain and breed. Please contact email@example.com if you have any queries at all about how to feed the raw pet cuisine diet to your puppy.
Puppies can start eating (or trying to eat) raw food diets even before weaning. Wings, necks or backs can be an excellent way to introduce solid food to puppies and get their little jaws used to chewing. This will prepare them for later and give some relief to the lactating mom from the puppies' biting.
In our experience, many our customers have found that a raw diet such as Raw Love, Doggobone, Simply Pets or Dogmatters diet is extremely effective at helping your overweight dog to lose weight and reach an acceptable weight. It has rarely been reported that dogs have gained excessive weight on the raw food diet. In our experience, if weight gain has been reported we have found that in most instances customers were exceeding the recommended daily intake. If you are at all concerned about your dog being overweight or underweight, we can refer you to our in-house vet who is completely familiar with the biologically specie appropriate diets.
This is completely normal and is like a detoxification process in humans. Your pet has gone from eating highly processed, highly preserved foods, to completely natural, raw food. There will be a detoxification process. It is extremely important that you persist with the food. The correct approach when you see that your dog is not wanting to eat is to immediately take the food away, store in the fridge and only give at the next meal time. This process may last for up to five days, but it is extremely important that you persist with this process, as the benefits will be abundantly clear later.
Chicken carcasses, raw meaty bones, necks, wings, and other delicatessens such as ostrich tail, are completely safe to feed your dog if the bone is not cooked. These bone products are important supplements for your dog and besides being recreational; they also provide additional calcium, magnesium and other trace elements. These bone products are also effective teeth cleaners.
This is an urban myth. There is no causative relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals or bite people. This behaviour has nothing to do with what a dog is fed and has everything to do with natural prey drive, training and socialisation.
When our pets eat dry pet food, most of their energy comes from carbohydrates. That is, from starch, and also, from added sugar. Both sugar and starch are damaging forms of carbohydrate that could be biologically inappropriate for pet animals. Together, these two carbohydrates make an enormous contribution to the degenerative diseases in our pets. When your fur kids eat their biologically specie appropriate diet their energy comes principally from protein and fat and very little from carbohydrate. Deriving their energy principally from fats and proteins is health promoting for our fur kids. Grains can cause sugar levels to rise and then quickly fall causing highs and lows in insulin levels.
You can read more about this topic in our blog postings here.
Dogs tend to do that. The chewing process is very different with carnivores than it is with us (or herbivores). They do not have flat molars that grind the food. Some dogs and cats will chew food only to the point where it is small enough for them to swallow and not necessarily more. Their digestive system is designed to digest bigger chunks of food then ours. If you are feeding ground raw food such as the brands we represent, your dog may literally skip the chewing part and just swallow mouthfuls. The same is right for small pieces (or large dogs). Keep an eye on your pet when dealing with mid-size bones, they don't always estimate their swallowing capacity correctly and they may seem to choke and then regurgitate for a second try at chewing the same piece. The best way to "teach" chewing properly is to always give them bones that are a size too big.
Yes, it is the best thing for her. As far as quantities, you will probably want to increase them significantly, some say to no upper limit. When lactating, it is especially important to increase bone consumption and plenty of water.
Variety is the spice of life and the heart and soul of a good raw diet. Each protein has different vitamins and minerals. Limiting proteins can lead to nutritional deficiencies. We suggest a minimum of 4 different proteins per month for a good balance.
You can read more here in our post on basic food groups.
Current research is showing that genomes between avian species have less copy number variants than mammalians. So, the logical assumption that your pet is sensitive to one bird protein and will be to another, is not necessarily true. Each protein is different and you could be denying your pet a vital protein source. They may still have a reaction but, it is best to try each one before crossing it off your list. Many dogs allergic to chicken thrive on Turkey, Duck, Pheasant etc.
The recommended daily amount is 2.5 to 3% of body weight split between two meals daily. The variance depends on the weight, size and level of activity of your dog. Please refer to our feeding posters for an estimation. If you are still unsure of how much you should be feeding your dog daily, please feel contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should never cook the raw meal as this contradicts the basic philosophy of the diet, being a natural, raw food. Also, avoid the microwave as even when defrosting the food is being cooked.
Incorrectly cooking would render the food biologically inappropriate in a fundamental way. Incorrectly cooked food can lose much nutritional value, including enzymes and biologically active essential fatty acids. Cooking can cause complexes to form between proteins and starches, between vitamins and trace minerals, and between minerals. Cooking can produce carcinogens and anti-immunogens. Many minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins also become indigestible. So the answer is no – you shouldn’t.
First of all, the act of cooking alters the proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals in a food. This alteration can make some nutrients more readily available and others less available. Cooking can alter fats to the point of being toxic and carcinogenic [Meat Consumption Patterns and Preparation, Genetic Variants of Metabolic Enzymes, and Their Association with Rectal Cancer in Men and Women., 2004 [ref]], and cooked proteins can be altered to the point where they cause allergic reactions whereas raw proteins do not [Clark, Hypersensitivity and Allergy, in At War Within: The double edged sword of immunity, 1995].
If an animal has an "allergy" to chicken or beef, it may often be cooked chicken or beef and not the raw form. Incorrect cooking denatures protein. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, denaturation is a modification of the molecular structure of protein by heat or by an acid, an alkali, or ultraviolet radiation that destroys or diminishes its original properties and biological activity.
Denaturation alters protein and makes it unusable or less usable. According to Britannica, protein molecules are readily altered by heat: Unlike simple organic molecules, the physical and chemical properties of protein are markedly altered when the substance is just boiled in water. Further: All of the agents able to cause denaturantion are able to break the secondary bonds that hold the chains in place. Once these weak bonds are broken, the molecule falls into a disorganized tangle devoid of biological function.
This, according to Britannica, then leads to the most significant effect of protein denaturation is the loss of the its biological function. For example, enzymes lose their catalytic powers and haemoglobin loses its capacity to carry oxygen. The changes that accompany denaturation have been shown to result from destruction of the specific pattern in which the amino acid chains are folded in the native protein. In Britannica is the acknowledgement that "cooking destroys protein to make it practically useless".
There are two ways to denature the proteins: chemically using digestive enzymes, or through the use of heat. Via heat, the body does not have the recombinant ability to utilize damaged denatured protein components (amino acids) and rebuild them once again into viable protein molecules.
Some Physiologists [ref] claim that cooking and digestion are virtually the same: that cooking is a form of pre-digestion where heat is used to hydrolyse nutrients that would otherwise be hydrolysed at body temperature through digestion. This due to the enormous heat exposure during cooking, that denatures the protein molecule past a point of being bioactive, however, body heat is too low to effect the protein molecule so adversely. When proteins are subjected to high heat during cooking, enzyme resistant linkages are formed between the amino acid chains. The body cannot separate these amino acids. What the body cannot use, it must eliminate. Cooked proteins become a source of toxicity: dead organic waste material acted upon and elaborated by bacterial flora.
When wholesome protein foods are eaten raw, the body makes maximum use of all amino acids without the accompanying toxins of cooked food. It should be well understood and recognized in scientific literature that heat breaks down vitamins, amino acids and produces undesirable cross-linkages in proteins, particularly in meat.
At approximately 43 degrees centigrade, two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed. When food is cooked above 43 degrees centigrade for three minutes or longer, the following deleterious changes begin, and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as higher temperatures are applied over prolonged periods of time:
- proteins coagulate;
- high temperatures denature protein molecular structure, leading to deficiency of some essential amino acids;
- carbohydrates caramelize;
- overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known);
- natural fibres break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean;
- 30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed;
- 100% of enzymes are damaged, the body’s enzyme potential is depleted which drains energy needed to maintain and repair tissue and organ systems, thereby shortening the life span.
Dr. Kouchakoff of Switzerland conducted over 300 detailed experiments [ref], which pinpointed the pathogenic nature of cooked and processed foods. Food heated to temperatures of just 48 degrees centigrade to 87 degrees centigrade, a range usually relegated to warming rather than cooking which, nevertheless destroys all enzymes, causes leucocytosis in the body. Leucocytosis is a term applied to an abnormally high white corpuscle count.
Dr. Kouchakoff first began researching digestive leukocytosis in 1912 while serving as doctor and expedition chief of the Artic expeditions sponsored by the Russian Academy of Science in Petrograd. Unfortunately all materials related to the expedition were lost during the Russian Revolution. Fortunately the knowledge of the findings survived with Dr. Kouchakoff, and the work was revisited in 1928 and 1930 in France and Switzerland respectively in collaborations with Dr. Kouchakoff. The work is summarized by Dr. Kouchakoff in a 1937 French publication titled “Nouvelles lois de l’alimentation humaine base’es sur la leucocytose digestive” which translates to “New laws of human digestion based on digestive leukocytosis”. The work performed by Dr. Kouchakoff ’s colleagues in 1928 and 1930 was both rigorous and well controlled for the time, involving careful controls of what was ingested, and involving thousands of blood draws. More information at National Enzyme Company (www.nationalenzyme.com).
Second, incorrectly cooked food lacks all the benefits of raw food. Cooked food is deficient in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, because the act of cooking destroys or alters much of them. Exceptions to this are things like lightly steamed broccoli or tomatoes, but these are not appropriate foods for carnivores . This decreases the bioavailability of these valuable chemicals and makes them less available to the animal. This is why these things have to be added back into cooked diets or processed pet foods This is why a variety of supplements need to be added and why a variety of species inappropriate items are utilized as ingredients in these meals.
However, Dr Judy Morgan [ref], base many of her recommendations and recipes on cooked cuisine, using a slow-cooker (or crock-pot) [ref] as the Americans' call it, to ensure that the nutritional profile of the meals stays intact. In the following YouTube video, Dr. Judy Morgan and Chef Hue show you three simple, natural, and healthy recipes you can prepare for you dogs.
If you are serving the food directly from the fridge, at best it is recommended to add a small amount of boiling water to the food. This is acceptable as it will not cook the food and will simply warm it.
The raw meals we source have been formulated to provide a complete meal, and therefore our answer will be no. However, there is a large amount of debate raging on this topic, and some good arguments for and against the use of grains in your fur kids diet.
Refined grains (rice, wheat, oats, corn, barley, millet, oatmeal, and quinoa) are not a natural food for your fur kids, in others, they are not good choices. Grains (there are many articles and research available on this topic, you can start here [ref] to educate yourself) have high levels of carbohydrates which are converted to sugars. It is common knowledge that cancer cells feed on sugars and it is believed that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, we may greatly reduce the risk of cancer in your pets.
Rice products have long been considered a premium (and more expensive) ingredient in pet food. The reality is all rice is not bad: what matters is what quality you use and where you get your ingredients.
Human grade rice is no comparison to feed grade rice, which is loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Feed rice is also not the whole rice, but the scraps of rice that are left over when rice products are made for human consumption. These are much more likely to absorb toxins during multiple processing stages. Most commercial kibbles and canned food will use feed grade rice; so with this part of the toxin controversy we agree – you should be weary of processed rice in commercial kibble diets, especially the lower quality brands.
We do advocate grain and gluten free diets. We must remember that both dogs and cats do ingest grains whenever they catch and eat live prey. The natural source of prey for dogs and cats is generally herbivores …. plant eaters. When a carnivore catches its prey, it will first eat the gut content of the prey animal, which is full of semi-digested plant and grain material. This can make up almost 30-40% of the weight of the prey animal. Next, the dog will eat the organs, and finally the meat and bones.
The basic controversy has arisen because of the ever soaring cereal content used in processed pet foods. Many canned and dry dog foods can contain up to four times as much cereal content as meat. This cereal is cleverly flavoured with meat render (boiled offal and carcass remains), and is often disguised as “meaty chunks” using food dyes. The simple fact is that dogs and cats are not designed to eat such a high content of highly refined starch (cereals ground into flour). These cereal flours are used as cheap fillers, to bulk out the pet food. Cheap starch has little nutritional value, except for calories, and can result in a diet with too much refined sugar. It is this fact that has led some vets and nutritionists to broaden the issue on cheap carbohydrates, to encompass grains in general. We agree that cheap carbohydrates used in commercial pet foods are not good for health, but this does not mean that dogs and cats do not actually eat grains.
Certain grains can be used, as long as they are unprocessed, cracked or crushed, pre-fermented, and make up a smaller portion of the diet than the meat content – like the fermented raw material in the gut of the prey.
We do NOT advocate combining a raw food diet in the same meal as processed foods. The digestive rate for dry processed food is much shorter than for raw foods which could cause digestive disturbances. While acknowledging wholesome foods as basic to their own health, many people still believe their pets will be healthiest when fed processed junk food. Not surprisingly, this simply isn't so. While not optimal, you can feed kibble and raw to pets as long as they are fed in separate meals i.e. kibble in the morning and raw at night.
The Raw Feeding Community blog posted an interesting article here titled "DIGEST THIS: Kibble may actually digest faster than raw" that is worth reviewing.
Meal Planning FAQs
Changing from kibble to natural, biologically specie appropriate pet cuisine can sometimes be daunting. If you know what you want, please continue with the online shopping cart. If you are not sure, please do not hesitate to call use, or submit the Quote Request form to us. We will call you to discuss the specific needs and requirements, and then work out a sample meal plan for your consideration.
Typically, you want to ensure that you transition with one of the chicken products, and once your fur kids are happy and comfortable with their new diet, introduce more protein variety into the diet. The daily feeding requirements are calculated based on the fur kids' desired weight instead of the Metabolic Energy (ME) consumption or kCAL rates used by most commercial kibble manufacturers.
Please note that these recommendations are for guidance only. It is safe to adjust these amounts for individuals based on health, lifestyle and appetite to achieve an ideal trim body condition.
The table below illustrate this for all canine life stages.
|Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)||Typical Adult (grams/day) ||Pregnant (grams/day) ||New Mother with Puppies (grams/day) ||Puppies up to 6 months (grams/day) ||Puppies between 6 - 12 months (grams/day) ||Adolescent Puppies (grams/day) (12-21 months) ||Senior Adult (low activity) |
|1 - 5||49 - 245||98 - 490||147 - 735||102 - 514||73 - 367||61 - 306||24 - 122|
|5 - 10||185 - 370||370 - 740||555 - 1,11||388 - 777||277 - 555||231 - 462||92 - 185|
|10 - 20||320 - 640||640 - 1,28||960 - 1,92||672 - 1,34||480 - 960||400 - 800||160 - 320|
|20 - 30||560 - 840||1,12 - 1,68||1,68 - 2,52||1,18 - 1,76||840 - 1,26||700 - 1,0||280 - 420|
|30 - 40||750 - 1,0||1,5 - 2,0||2,25 - 3,0||1,58 - 2,1||1,13 - 1,5||937 - 1,25||375 - 500|
|40 - 50||960 - 1,2||1,92 - 2,4||2,88 - 3,6||2,0 - 2,52||1,44 - 1,8||1,2 - 1,5||480 - 600|
The feeding guidelines are based on averages, each fur kid is uniquely individual. To illustrate the above, assume we have a 4 year old Boston, weighing 10kgs and not to active. This means that:
- We will be feeding @ 3% of desired body weight, which is roughly 300 grams per day;
- We are feeding twice a day, therefore, 150 grams per meal
- Assuming there is 30 days in the month, need to therefore order 9 kgs of food for the month
For our guidelines poster, view here.
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
|1 - 2||62 - 124|
|2 - 3||104 - 156|
|3 - 4||141 - 188|
|4 - 5||176 - 220|
|5 - 6||205 - 246|
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
|6 - 7||236 - 275|
|7 - 8||265 - 303|
|8 - 9||293 - 330|
|9 - 10||320 - 356|
|10 - 11||346 - 381|
|11 - 12||372 - 406|
|12 - 13||397 - 430|
|13 - 14||422 - 454|
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
|14 - 15||446 - 478|
|15 - 16||470 - 501|
|16 - 17||493 - 524|
|17 - 18||516 - 546|
|18 - 19||538 - 568|
|19 - 20||561 - 591|
|20 - 21||583 - 612|
|21 - 22||604 - 633|
|22 - 23||626 - 654|
|23 - 24||647 - 675|
|24 - 25||668 - 696|
|25 - 26||689 - 717|
|26 - 27||709 - 736|
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
|27 - 28||730 - 757|
|28 - 29||750 - 777|
|29 - 30||770 - 797|
|30 - 31||790 - 816|
|31 - 32||809 - 835|
|32 - 33||829 - 855|
|33 - 34||848 - 874|
|34 - 35||867 - 893|
|35 - 36||886 - 911|
|36 - 37||905 - 930|
|37 - 38||924 - 949|
|38 - 39||943 - 968|
|39 - 40||961 - 986|
|40 - 41||980 - 1,0|
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Dog (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
|41 - 42||998 - 1,02|
|42 - 43||1,02 - 1,04|
|43 - 44||1,03 - 1,06|
|44 - 45||1,05 - 1,08|
|45 - 46||1,07 - 1,09|
|46 - 47||1,09 - 1,11|
|47 - 48||1,11 - 1,13|
|48 - 49||1,12 - 1,15|
|49 - 50||1,14 - 1,16|
We stock pet cuisine from Simply Pets, Doggobone, Raw Love and Dogmatters to make up your meal efforts with ease. Simply Pets and Dogmatters are packaged using flat packs, whereas Doggobone use sausage style packaging and Raw Love margarine-style tubs. This allow us to address both the financial as well as the convenience elements of feeding your fur kids.
Please note that these recommendations
are for guidance only. It is safe to adjust these amounts for
individuals based on health, lifestyle and appetite to achieve an ideal
trim body condition.
The table below illustrate this for all feline life stages.
Desired or Ideal Weight of Adult Cat (kg)
Typical Adult (grams/day)
New Mother with Kittens (grams/day)
Kittens up to 4 months (grams/day)
|Kittens 4 - 9 months (grams/day)||Kittens 9 - 12 months (grams/day)|
Adolescent Kittens (grams/day) (12 months & older)
Senior Adult (low activity)
|1 - 1.5||40 - 60||130 - 195||40 - 60||35 - 53|
|1.5 - 2||60 - 80||165 - 220||60 - 80||53 - 70|
|2 - 2.5||80 - 100||200 - 250||200 - 250||80 - 100||70 - 88|
|2.5 - 3||100 - 120||250 - 300||250 - 300||209 - 251||100 - 120||88 - 105|
|3 - 3.5||120 - 140||270 - 315||450 - 525||270 - 315||238 - 278||120 - 140||105 - 123|
|3.5 - 4||140 - 160||315 - 360||525 - 600||315 - 360||266 - 304||140 - 160||123 - 140|
|4 - 4.5||160 - 180||360 - 405||600 - 675||360 - 405||304 - 342||160 - 180||140 - 158|
|4.5 - 5||180 - 200||405 - 450||675 - 750||405 - 450||329 - 366||180 - 200||158 - 175|
|5 - 5.5||200 - 220||450 - 495||750 - 825||353 - 388||200 - 220||175 - 193|
|5.5 - 6||220 - 240||440 - 480||715 - 780||376 - 410||220 - 240||165 - 180|
|6 - 6.5||210 - 228||480 - 520||780 - 845||399 - 432||210 - 228||180 - 195|
|6.5 - 7||228 - 245||520 - 560||845 - 910||455 - 490||228 - 245||195 - 210|
|7 - 8||245 - 280||490 - 560||770 - 880||245 - 280||210 - 240|
|8 - 9||280 - 315||560 - 630||880 - 990||280 - 315||240 - 270|
|9 - 10||315 - 350||630 - 700||990 - 1,0||315 - 350||270 - 300|
We stock feline pet cuisine from Simply Pets and Raw Love to make up your meal efforts with ease. Simply Pets is packaged using flat packs, whereas Raw Love margarine-style tubs. This allow us to address both the financial as well as the convenience elements of feeding your fur kids.
For our guidelines poster, view here.
Dr Karen Becker wrote a very good article about common feeding mistakes that you can read [ref]. Our advise - keep it simple, rotate often, and make sure that at least 30% of the weekly meal plan includes some raw meaty bones.
Transitioning your Canine Family
The hard part is making the decision, then sticking to it. It is important to know what may happen and be prepared. Healthy fur kids may go through the transition without a hitch, but some may be more picky or sensitive than others and there may be a few bumps along your journey. In the long run, the feeding regime becomes second nature. Your fur kids will enjoy the food and most importantly you will both enjoy their improved and healthy life.
- Be positive: dogs and cats are very sensitive to apprehensions or scepticism. Being confident will reassure your fur kids about your choice to change to a new diet.
- Go slow with older dogs: the older the dog (or the longer it has been eating kibble), the longer you should take to transition to the new diet.
- Choose one meat to start: while variety is the key to good health when feeding a raw diet, it’s best to start with one type of meat during your transition (preferably the same meat type you are currently feeding). This will make it easier on your fur kid's digestive system.
- Fast your dog the night before: your fur kid will have a greater interest in the new food the next morning and this also gives their digestive system a chance to rest.
- Limit treats during the transition: especially flour / grain based ones, to increase your fur kid’s appetite for its meals.
- Provide access to plenty of clean water
As a rule of thumb every cat or dog will benefit immensely from a raw diet. Of course the younger and healthier your fur kids, the easier the switch. Puppies and kittens will have the easiest time, especially if they have never eaten anything else and can see their mom doing the same. Remember THIS IS natural for them. Fur kids who have been fed commercial food all their lives may be reluctant to change their habit and may require some help and "persuasion". Cats (and some dogs) are known to be a little fussy when it comes to their food so again some patients and maybe cunningness may be necessary. For very old or sick fur kids more care should be taken. If in doubt it is always advisable to consult with a pet health professional that has experience in the subject. Some vets are not yet open to the raw food diet, and naturally will not be able to provide positive advice.
From our own experience, it is often harder for the human involved than the animal ...
Once you have decided to go forth, comes the question: how do we make the transition? There are probably as many answers to that question as the number of pets who have made the switch, but there are two main methods: "cold turkey"and "slow".
- The fast method: The 'cold turkey' (fast) method is simple: up until yesterday your fur kids ate commercial food, from today he or she will find raw food in his bowl. Countless are the stories of a dog sniffing and licking, and after some hesitations gobbling it all as if there is nothing more natural .. and there isn't... The fast method works best for dogs who are habitually omnivores. If you have the kind of dog who will munch on anything you throw his way anyway, he will probably not even think twice about some raw meaty bones. Most hungry, healthy pets (hungry being the operative word) will give whatever is given to them a chance. Now, letting your fur kids be hungry, although against your "parental" instinct, is not cruel, it is something they are naturally built for. Wild animals cannot order their prey on regular hours and may go days if not weeks without food. We do not advise to starve your pet, but a day of fast is in many cases even advisable. In fact some will say that a day of fast every week is good practice for a healthier digestion system. Most pets are in the habit of eating more then they need and the problem of pet obesity is the best evidence. A day of fasting will let your fur kid, literally, get that commercial food out of his system, and, make him much more receptive to trying a new menu.
- The slow method: This involves some kind of gradual transitioning from one type of food to the other. One way is give both at the same time, either mixed to one consistency, or side by side. The idea behind this is that the taste of the old food will still be there and therefore will seem familiar. The portions of the mix will slowly shift towards the raw until it will all be raw. The downside of this method is that you are feeding two foods with very different digestion times and may cause an upset stomach, more than just switching "cold turkey". If doing this DO NOT try to wet the dry kibble, it will make it into a soup of bacteria and fungi in a very short time. A second way is to alternate meals: One meal of, whatever he is used to, and one raw. The objective is to slowly eliminate the old meals and stay with the new. If your fur kids does well with this method, chances are he would have been fine with going "cold turkey" anyway and it was mostly to YOUR benefit. A third, for people who feed home-made cooked food, is to slowly reduce the cooking time until it is eliminated altogether.
Puppies will generally have healthier digestive systems, and therefore will tolerate a more rapid switch (1 or 2 days) with no trouble. Start by substituting ¼ Raw Meal for your puppy’s current food in each meal, gradually increasing the Raw Meal while proportionately decreasing the kibble until the transition is complete.
Younger and healthier dogs can transition more quickly than older dogs or dogs with digestive issues. If your dog has no signs of illness or digestive difficulties such as loose stools, constipation or occasional vomiting, then you may be able to transition them in 5-7 days. This gradual transition aids in helping your dog’s gastrointestinal system adapt to the new meals:
- Begin by substituting 1⁄8th raw meal for your dog’s current food.
- After three meals, double the raw meal portion (to ¼), while reducing the kibble by the same amount.
- After three more meals, double the raw meal portion again (to ½) and reduce the kibble again.
- After feeding ½ raw meal for 3 meals, give them a full raw meal.
If your dog tolerates this well with no digestive upset or other symptoms of discomfort, you have successfully switched your dog!
Picky eaters or older dogs may turn their noses up at the smell and texture of their new food. Don’t worry, as this is a common occurrence (particularly with smaller dogs) and is usually easy to address by following these steps:
- Eliminate treats during the transition
- Fast your dog the night before starting the transition
- Serve the meal in an appealing manner in a new place or “safe” area of your kitchen away from foot traffic.
- Add flavour “bribes” such as cheese or an egg yolk
- Last resort, gently cook the raw meals to release the flavours and aromas of the food by lightly baking the meal in a toaster oven or poaching it quickly on the stove.
Transitioning your Feline Family
If your cat has been eating a steady diet of commercial junk food his entire life, it’s important to realize up front that transitioning him to a raw diet might take some time as well as some persistence, perseverance, and above all, a good bit of patience on your part.
Each cat is different. Some will take to raw as if they’ve simply been waiting their whole lives for their humans to figure out what they really should have been feeding them all along. For these cats, the transition to raw is relatively simple, quick and easy. Other cats may be a bit slower to make the switch, and still other cats may take even longer, particularly if they’re older or perhaps more set in their ways. Cats that have become very addicted to the carbohydrates in low quality kibble or canned cat food are the ones that may take the longest time to transition to an all raw diet. These are cats that will require a bit more determination and effort on your part to help them make the switch to raw. Rest assured, this transition can and will happen, as long you’re ready and willing to do your part. All it takes is a firm but gentle resolve and some patience on your part, along with as much time as your cat needs to get with the program.
If you’re reading this website, hopefully you’ve reached the point where you realise how important it is to feed your beloved pet a species appropriate raw diet, and you’re ready and willing to do what it takes to help your cat make the change to a more healthy and natural way of eating.
Those with kittens will most likely find that these little ones make the transition to raw almost immediately, with little or no hesitation whatsoever. Sometimes the younger the cat, the more quickly and easily the transition to raw will happen. Very young cats know instinctively what their bodies need, and most often will take to eating raw food like a fish to water.
Now, transitioning a senior or adult cat to raw is not a simple walk in the park. With kittens, whole different discussion. This step-by-step approach, and patience, will work for nearly every cat.
We'll look at the transition process for cats in three stages:
- From dry food to canned;
- From canned to raw;
- Adding raw meaty bones
The key to any transition your master, is patience. The transition can be fast or very slow. We typically find that depending on how active his master is, and whether his master still gets his or her paws dirty, transitioning can take from 5 seconds for some of them to three whole months for others. We know of cats that took a year to transition … lots of patience! However long it takes yours, stick with it, it's worth it.
How old is your cat? Three years? Five? Seven? Nine? Eleven?
- At three years old, your cat is the equivalent of 28 human years;
- At five, that human equivalent is 36 years old;
- At seven years old, the human equivalent is 44;
- At nine, it’s 52;
- At 11, your kitty is the equivalent of 60 human years.
So if all you’d ever eaten for 20 to 60 or more years is dry cereal or canned stew, how would you feel about a salad when offered one for the first time? It looks funny! It has almost no smell, and yet even that smell is funny! The texture is wrong. The temperature is wrong. Yuck. Have you ever gone through a pizza binge – and then craved “real” food? Fruit, salad, fresh, home-made food?
If being introduced to fresh real food for the first time, after years of processed food saturated with fake flavouring (think the cheese sprayed onto Cheetos, the taco flavour sprayed on to Doritos, “sour cream and onion” flavoured potato chips, or the “flavour blasted” gold fish), it’s only natural to expect it will take some time to accept a salad without a pile of dressing, cheese and bacon bits or whatever “toppings.” With time, you’ll likely come to LOVE salad. And you most likely know from your own experience that you’ll feel FAR better eating salad. You sleep better, your moods are more stable, you’re … happier! Many of our cats feel just like this about that weird stuff you’re offering them as “food.” Yet with time, they come to love it.
The goal is the long term health of our cat. So whether it takes two weeks, two months, 12 months or two years, take it at your cat’s pace.
Special Note: Any change in a cat’s diet can bring stomach upset. Even if a cat loves their new raw diet immediately, they should be transitioned slowly. If they transition too quickly, any stomach upset may result in the cat soon rejecting the raw diet because they link their stomach upset to the food.
The transitioning tips below use the slow, gradual method. It usually works. Usually. For some cats, nothing seems to work. Give these methods a try and don't give up too soon. We usually don’t advocate using hunger to help transition your cat, other than the normal mealtime hunger of 12 hours or so, but you can try it if your cat is particularly stubborn. If your cat is adult, healthy and not obese, you can wait her out longer if she refuses to eat either canned or the raw. However, we do not recommended this stand-off with your master to go longer than 36 hours though. This has worked for some people. Be aware that any cat, especially an overweight cat, is at risk for hepatic lipidosis if they don't eat every day.
Whatever your cat eats at present, it's always worth a try to just offer her some raw. Your master may surprise you! See if she will eat some cut up raw chicken, or some raw chicken liver. If she does … well, this may be easy.
To summarise, the basic steps to encourage them are simple:
- Turn off your clock. There is simply no way to predict when a cat will go from “not liking” or being cautious about a new food to gobbling it up. YOUR patience is the most important ingredient in transition success or failure.
- Feed meals. Transition to timed meals and phase out free-feeding. With free access to food, kitty has no motivation to try the new food. Use hunger as a motivator – more below;
- Be consistent. If you are serious about transitioning your cat to raw or home cooked, offer just a little bit with every single meal you give your cat. If she won’t eat the food she normally eats with the SMALL BIT of new food mixed into the old food or in the same dish, put it next to the old food, or on a separate dish. But have it within smell and sight at EVERY meal.
- Use enticement toppers if they do not “like” the new food at first.
- Introduce new proteins properly. Treat each new protein as a new introduction. Introduce each new protein slowly. Once introduced, you can rotate at will. With raw, they need the variety, so introduce at least three proteins, and switch it up!
- Go at your cat’s pace. Watch the litter box. If the new food or the amount of it as a proportion of the meals does not agree with your cat, back up a bit and slow down. Again – if you ate only dry cereal or canned stew for years, and then all of a sudden started eating only fresh fruit and salad, or switched very quickly, your body will most likely freak out. So take it slow, and don’t be surprised if there are a few problems along the way. It doesn’t mean the food isn’t good for your cat or doesn’t agree with your cat. It means you need to slow down.
If you’re used to constantly leaving a bowl of dry food down for your cat to eat, one of the very first steps you must take if you’re serious about switching your kitty to a diet of raw food is to stop free feeding kibble.
Cats get addicted to dry food, so this may be the hardest step, especially if your cat doesn't also eat canned food. They become like heroin addicts on kibble, so you really need a lot of patience if this is the case. (You can do some reading here http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/chemistry-kibble on the topic) ..
For cats that will only eat dry food:
- First, stop free feeding dry food. Your cat does not need to have food available at all times. Eating two or three meals a day is fine, as is going 12 hours between meals. You want your cat to associate food with a person — you — not a place.
- Start bringing out their food at regular mealtimes. Cats will learn the new routine very quickly. Leave it out for 30 minutes, and then put it away. At first, you may have to have more than two mealtimes a day. Cut back to two or three per day after a week, once your cat gets used to the whole idea of mealtimes. Put out one bowl for each cat, in separate rooms if necessary, so each cat feels relaxed about her meal.
Your cats will get hungry, but that's good. Nothing enhances a meal more than having an appetite. Just make sure each cat does eat, every day.
Please note that this does not necessarily mean you should stop feeding kibble altogether immediately. Rather the idea is to begin weaning your cat off kibble by discontinuing unlimited access to the 24 hour buffet, and instead only letting him have access to it a few times a day for limited periods of time.
Cats that are used to grazing on doom nuggets (as they’re affectionately called by many experienced raw feeders) whenever they please are a bit like kibble junkies. And if they’re continually allowed to munch, munch, munch a little now and then to get their fix anytime they want throughout the day, they never really experience any hunger, and so may never develop much of an appetite for trying something new.
If kibble is all he eats, there’s no need to force your kitty to go cold turkey from his junk. Rather the answer is to remove that bottomless, permanent bowl of kibble from your cat’s world, and instead start getting into the habit of offering it to him only a few times a day. Only allow your cat to eat that kibble for a few limited periods of time each day, say for about 20 or 30 minutes at a go. Let him eat his fill and once he's done, pick the bowl back up and put the kibble away, out of reach.
Instead of leaving a bowl of kibble out for your cat all the time, only offer it to him for a few limited periods each day and then remove it.
Making several ‘meal times’ like this, instead of perpetually free feeding you cat dry food, will serve a couple of purposes. First, it will put a bit of an edge your cat’s appetite which will definitely work to your advantage as you help him make the switch to raw. Secondly, it will pave the way to breaking the cycle of your cat’s addiction to the starchy grain based carbohydrates that are found in most commercial kibble – which by the way have absolutely no place whatsoever in the diet of an obligate carnivore such as a cat.
Since kibble is so completely different in taste, texture and smell from fresh raw meat, if dry is the only kind of food your cat is used to eating and he’s not showing any interest in raw food, it may be necessary to transition him off the kibble and onto canned cat food first. The wet texture of the canned stuff is closer to the texture of raw meat than kibble, so using this interim step can be very helpful in the transition, as it’s generally easier to switch cats from wet food to raw than it is from dry food.
If your cat eats some kibble but is already used to eating canned food too, you can most likely quit feeding the kibble altogether straight away. Otherwise, it’s generally best to gradually wean your kitty off the dry food, perhaps by mixing it in with some canned, and of course shutting down the 24/7 buffet, as this will make it simpler in the long run for him to get used to eating raw food.
Bear in mind however, that these are all general guidelines and suggestions that have worked well for other people and their cats, and are not necessarily hard and fast rules. So for instance if your cat is used to eating nothing but kibble, but then you find he’s suddenly totally on board and enthusiastically eating plenty of raw food from the very first time you offer it, then by all means don’t worry about interim steps and just go with it!
Remember, each cat is unique. For this reason your best strategy is to remain flexible, pay attention to your cat’s responses and adjust your game plan according to your own kitty’s particular needs.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when transitioning your cat to an all raw diet, and one of the reasons it can take time to do so, is that you must never starve a cat into eating raw food. This point cannot be overemphasized. Tough love is simply not an option when switching cats to a raw diet. The reason for this is because some cats that are forced to go without eating anything for more than a day or so can become susceptible to a very serious and potentially fatal form of liver failure called hepatic lipidosis.
Cats have a unique predisposition to contracting this particular ailment when they stop eating food for any length of time for whatever reason.
What is Hepatic Lipidosis?
What happens when a cat doesn’t eat for a prolonged period of time is that its body begins to tap into to its stored fat reserves in order to survive. This fat is sent to the liver to be converted into a usable form energy. But unfortunately a cat’s liver is easily overwhelmed and often unable to cope with this sudden increase of fat being circulated through it. As more fat is deposited into the liver than it is capable of metabolizing and releasing, the cells of the liver become swollen with fatty deposits which cause serious damage to the organ itself. Once a cat contracts hepatic lipidosis they become terribly nauseous, which means they have no appetite and may vomit even if they do eat, making it extremely difficult to get enough nourishment into the cat to keep it alive.
As you can see, this is something you most definitely do NOT want to risk!
The bottom line is that when you start making the switch to raw, if your cat doesn’t eat enough of the raw food you’re offering him each day, then you must continue to feed him enough of whatever he will eat to sustain him every day, even if that means continuing to feed your pet some of his old commercial pet food.
During the transition period, the basic idea, as is described in more detail further on in this section, is to encourage your cat to eat as much of the new raw food as possible. If he goes for it immediately and enthusiastically, you’re on your way. But if your cat is at all hesitant and isn’t eating enough of the raw food on a daily basis to sustain him, you must continue feeding him the old commercial food as necessary to augment his diet, and only decrease the amount of commercial food as your kitty begins to eat more raw food.
Always bear in mind during the transition period that it’s more important that your cat gets enough to eat every day than it is for him to learn to eat raw food more quickly than he’s ready. Although you should always be persistent and never give up, at the same time you must take your cues from your cat, and in essence allow your pet to transition at his own pace.
If you do need to continue feeding commercial food during the transition, you may need to get a bit crafty to help your kitty learn to like his new raw food. Therefore as an additional incentive you should begin to disguise the raw food as necessary by making it taste or smell more enticing to your cat, which will encourage him to be more tempted to try it. In this way, as you ‘bribe’ your kitty into gradually getting a taste for his new raw food, he’ll begin to eat more and more of it day by day. And as this happens, you can then slowly but surely begin to reduce the amount of commercial food needed to feed your kitty each day accordingly.
Compared to crunchy kibbles or cooked canned cat food, both of which are relatively pretty darn stinky, fresh raw meat has a very faint odour and quite a different texture. As a result, some cats simply won’t recognize raw meat as actually being food when they’re first exposed to it. For this reason it’s sometimes necessary to disguise the raw food and 'stink it up' a bit with another, more pungent, smell or flavour.
It’s also important to keep on offering raw food to your cat even if he turns his nose up at it at first. Some cats need time to get used to this new raw stuff, so repeated exposure can be key.
You can use whatever favourite food you know your cat likes as a bribe food to encourage him to take the raw plunge. Some possible suggestions for bribe foods are:
- a drizzling of juice from a can of water packed tuna
- a smear of canned cat food
- a bit of grated Parmesan cheese
- crumbled dried liver
- some smashed canned sardines, anchovies or herring
- a sprinkling of crushed kibble
- some plain, home-made meat, bone and/or giblets broth, used as a marinade
- whatever other favourite treat you know your kitty loves
Use your imagination and experiment with different things until you find what works. Once you find some disguises that work, then you can begin to gradually offer more raw food using decreasing amounts of the bribe until your cat will accept it without the bribe.
Some of this work was adapted from the works published by Linda Zurich, Raw Fed Cats, http://rawfedcats.org.
Obviously critical to a successful transition to timed meals is getting those nibblers to eat enough food AT meals as discussed above. The components of establishing “meal time” are:
- The Time. Establish a routine for the TIMING of meals. Determine when and how often you can feed meals based on your schedule. Feed meals as close to the same time every day as possible (at least during the transition). If you are usually home during the day, and you can feed 8 or 10 small meals over the course of a day (at first), you’ll be able to pull that free-fed kibble sooner. If you work, you may need to leave the kibble out (or out part time) at first to ensure your cat is eating enough calories daily;
- The Place. Designate a specific AREA where meals are fed. This is part of the routine: an established place for eating meals. This should be some-place that is as different as possible from where their free-fed kibble is or was – but a place where you want them eating: a different part of the kitchen (or whatever) is fine. Do not let your master intimidate you – and do not chase after him or her to get them to eat. Meal time is at THIS time, in THIS place;
- A Signal. Designate a “call” that signals to your cat that it IS meal time. Pick a word, phrase or sound, and get your cats associating that word, phrase or sound with coming to eat.
From Dr. Lisa Pierson, DVM (us acronym for vet), at CatInfo.org: "Dry food has a high bacterial content. Mold is also often found in dry food. There have been many deaths of dogs and cats secondary to eating mold mycotoxins, vomitoxins and aflatoxins which often contaminate the grains found in dry food. If you want to try the trick of wetting down the dry food to alter the texture, please leave it out for only 20-30 minutes then discard it. Bacteria and mold thrive in moisture."
Patience dear, patience ..
Remember, your fur kids become addicted to junk food just like we can. As a pet parent, you are in control of your fur kids' health. Our dogs don’t live in the wild making decisions based on instinct any more. They live in our modern world and don’t necessarily know what’s best for them. It’s your duty to be a firm pet parent and feed food that is healthful.
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Article by Dr Becker on Raw Feeding - Common Feeding Mistakes That Can Harm Your Pet [ref];
- Article published by The Raw Feeding Community on a study that was done testing the digestive times between Raw and Kibble [ref] - very interesting read. Title is a little misleading, but the net result was that the raw food remained in the GI tract for longer periods of time than kibble, meaning that the body is able to adsorb and utilize more nutrients from the food.
What to Expect During Transition?
When switching your fur kids to a healthier, raw food diet, some dogs – especially older ones who have been eating kibble for a long time – may experience a detoxification process.
This condition may be a bit unnerving – you may see mucus coating your dog’s stool, excess shedding, dry skin, runny eyes, or other symptoms. Chronic or periodic skin conditions may briefly worsen. These symptoms do not mean that your fur kid is sick – in fact, they are signs that it is getting “unsick”, as the dog’s body purges itself of the various toxins that have built up over time.
The situation will generally resolve itself, usually in a week or two, but it could take a couple months in some cases, as new cells must replace old ones in order for the detox process to be completed. Keep in mind that it takes around 90 days for the skin to regenerate - so you will not see the difference the next day. You may be able to speed up the process with increased exercise, and by having plenty of fresh filtered water available. Dogs may also occasionally choose to fast as their body completes this process.
Note: Dogs that have been on steroids, antibiotics, or other long-term drugs, may experience prolonged detoxification periods. You should always consult with your veterinarian if you believe your dog is manifesting severe problems connected to the diet change.
Stools from raw-fed dogs tend to be smaller and firmer, as the dog is absorbing more nutrients from its food. Some dogs will strain slightly at the hard stools. This is acceptable, and even beneficial, as the harder stools help the dog express its anal glands, reducing the likelihood of infection.
There may be some variation in the consistency of your dog’s stool. This is also acceptable, although you should consult with your veterinarian if your dog experiences prolonged diarrhoea (soft stool is not diarrhoea).
You may also occasionally see a film around your dog’s stool, especially during transition. This is also acceptable as it is evidence of your dog’s body cleansing and detoxifying itself of harmful toxins.
We have created a page on dog poop here that you should read. As with any change of diet there could be direct effect on the stools.
- Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea or mucusy stools are very common during the transition, and occasionally afterwards as well. Loose stools can also be attributed to dairy, or just too much veggies for a transitioning pet. A process of elimination could be the next course of action. The idea is to start with one type (chicken is usually a safe and a good overall option) of raw meaty bones. Higher concentration of bones (wings, necks, backs) will also yield more firm stools. After a few days of stabilizing other meats, veggies treats and supplements can slowly be added.
- Constipation: Keep in mind that a pet on a raw diet will normally have relatively dry, light coloured stools, due to the bone content of the diet. Those will also be smaller and less smelly then what commercial food produces. If it seems too much of an effort the easiest way to soften the stools is to increase the veggie content of the next few meals. For more extreme situations some recommend giving pumpkin (cooked or canned). Again, if symptoms are extreme or persisting, a chat with a pet health professional or even taking a stool sample may be comforting, to rule out other reasons.
There are a few NORMAL instances when your fur kids may vomit or regurgitate (sometimes hard to distinguish). He may be really hungry, in which case the stomach is empty and the vomit will be yellowish, or he may have had too much water on an empty stomach, producing a white foamy vomit. In both cases large feeding him will probably solve the problem. Some pets do better with more meals of small quantities rather than one feeding a day. If there is undigested food in the vomit there can be a couple of reasons. The more common is dogs' habit to swallow chunks as big as they can fit down their throat. They may then regurgitate and eat it again. The other reason may just be rejection of something that did not agree with their stomach (in which case they will probably not eat it again).
Because a raw food diet is what your pet's stomach was designed for, it will digest much better than a processed, grain & carbohydrate based diet. Therefore lower quantities of food may be necessary while still providing all the needed nutrition. If your pet seems to want more, unless he needs to gain weight it is better to stick to the recommended quantities and observe him after a longer period of regular feeding. Only then adjustments should be made to the quantity.
Tips & Tricks
This is a collection of little bits of advice from many who have made the switch to raw, and shared their experience.
- Know your pet: Every fur kid is different and will adjust in his own way. Her character, health and eating habits will usually determine what the transition will be like. If your fur kids likes to "steal" food that was dropped by mistake, introduce new ingredients by "accidentally" dropping them and letting them get away with it.
- Hunger: is probably your best tool of persuasion for a stubborn fur kids. A day of fasting is recommended by many experienced raw feeders, once or even twice a week. Dogs can go days without food without any long term effects. We do not encourage starving your dog, but a day of fasting after years of commercial food will usually only benefit the digestive system. Hunger can make even the most finicky of cats much more open to new gastronomic experiences, Cats who are used to an "all day buffet" should be limited to meal times in order to create actual hunger. Please consult a pet health provider before fasting (or avoid fasting) puppies, old, underweight or sick pets. Cats should not be denied food for long periods as they are susceptible to a liver disease called hepatic lipidosis, which can be serious and even fatal, especially to overweight cats. If a fast switch seems to deprive your feline kids from the amount of food she needs, use the slower transition methods.
- Pro-enzymes: Pets who have been on commercial food diet, have little or none of certain enzymes (and bacteria) that the stomach and intestines will naturally develop. Many people would recommend using pro-enzymes (probiotics), or probiotic yogurt, in order to aid the digestive system during the transition and even on a regular bases. Checkout our page on supplements here.
- Tripe: Much like pro-enzymes the tripe (cow or sheep stomach), is recommended by many as an aid to digestion, both in the transition time and afterwards. The tripe itself is full of enzymes, nutrients and micro organisms. It is always recommended to use the green tripe which is unwashed. Don't let the smell repel you (it is not rotten, that's how it's supposed to smell), your fur kids love it!
- Sprinkle: Even when doing a quick switch, some pet owners recommend sprinkling "kibble powder" on the raw food to give it a familiar scent. Cats are, in many cases, pickier about their food and may need to be tricked into their new diet. The sprinkling method or any other form of making raw smell like something they recognize as food is recommended.
- Suspicious pets: Cats in particular may be more receptive to bite-sized fillet pieces of meat in order to get used to the taste, and texture. Put the pieces on a surface where they can inspect it. The bowl might not be comfortable for that.
- Keep it simple: When transitioning and running into any side effects (let's say, diarrhoea for example), you may ask yourself what caused it. Although it is a normal reaction, if your pet has been fed a multitude of meat type along with different combinations of fruit, veggies, scraps, treats and supplements, you may wonder if one of those may be the cause. The safest bet is to start with (or go back to) a simple diet. Choose one type of raw meaty meal - chicken is usually a safe bet - and go with that for a while. Higher bone content may by itself help with diarrhoea, and higher meat content (and veggies) might result in the opposite. After the stomach gets used to that, gradually start adding more ingredients and variations. If you have stumbled upon something that doesn't agree with your fur kid, it will be easy to identify, and later avoid or try more cautiously.
- Try different things: your fur kids may love raw meat but doesn't find one type appealing. Try more then one type of meat if the first one is unwanted.
- Temperature: How do you prefer it? Cold or room temp. Some fur kids will eat meat out of the freezer and some will prefer it body temperature. In any case DO NOT use a microwave to thaw or warm the meat or bones.
- Balance: Remember the balance in the raw diet is not something one needs to measure on daily basis, it should be looked at in weeks or longer so if there are any hiccups in the diet or ingredients in first few weeks, there is no cause for alarm.
- Even if only chicken: Chicken is probably the best all around raw meat to feed. The bones are soft enough for any dog to handle, it is rich with fatty acids and it's highly accessible. Chicken is a good alternative to get started with, then adding more, ingredients and variety later. Feeding the backs, wings and necks (which have a large bone to meat ratio) will also help in case of diarrhoea. Although your fur kids may live a long and healthy life eating chicken alone, it is recommended to add nutritional variety for the full range and balance and nutrients her body needs.