Should I cook the meat?
No, meat should always be fed raw. While cooking is a lovely idea, the fact is that a balanced cooked diet is a difficult endeavor to achieve and done improperly is far worse for your cats and dogs than the worst quality commercial kibble. The cooking process destroys an incredible amount of existing essential enzymes and antioxidants contained within the raw meat. Heat also destroys many of the vital amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and transforms essential fatty acids into trans fats and dangerous toxins that may weaken your carnivore.
But what about domestication: can they still handle a raw meat diet?
Although a tempting argument, it is incorrect. While humans have domesticated cats and dogs, we've only changed their appearance and temperament and not their anatomy or physiology. Dogs share 99.8% of their mitochondrial DNA (or genetic structure) with wolves, and share the same nutritional requirements as their wolf and wildcat cousins.
Dogs and cats are equipped with short digestive tracts and stomachs that are highly acidic (50% hydrochloric acid) which are meant to digest meat that can be passed quickly through their systems. Both dogs and cats lack the necessary enzymes (amylase) to adequately digest grains and starchy carbohydrates. One can easily tell a dog or cat is on a raw food diet by the quality of their feces; raw meat contains no carbohydrate fillers and all the nutrients contained within the meat are bioavailable, and therefore efficiently absorbed by the body. The result is small, firm stools and very little waste.
The average digestive transit time of a raw meal is 4 to 6 hours, whereas kibble takes roughly 14 to 16 hours. The canine and feline bodies have a hard time digesting cooked foods in any form, however dry processed foods in particular require significantly more energy to be broken down. The more energy spent on digesting foreign, non-bioavailable protein sources and carbohydrates, the less energy the body has to maintain an optimal immune system and proper organ function. Moreover, when food sits inside the intestines for longer than it’s meant to, it putrefies and ferments, causing the release of toxins and free radicals that attack healthy blood cells. This is the potential starting point for many of the degenerative diseases now affecting cats and dogs.
The commercial pet food industry has a very short history when compared to that of dog and cat domestication. Packaged, bagged convenience foods were invented and marketed following World War II. Previously, dogs and cats ate raw meat and meat scraps, living much healthier lives.
But doesn’t my dog/cat need grains/carbohydrates in their diet?
Cats do not require starchy carbohydrates, but instead small amounts of leafy greens, while dogs can benefit from a moderate amounts of raw pureed (or lightly steamed) fruits and vegetables.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not use carbohydrates as one of their primary sources of energy, but instead almost exclusively require fat and protein to sustain them. Cats are obligate carnivores and while dogs are carnivores with omnivorous tendencies, unlike herbivores and true omnivores, their saliva lacks the digestive enzyme amylase, which begins the chemical reaction that breaks down carbohydrates and starches into sugar before entering the stomach. High carbohydrate loads require your pet’s pancreas to strain, forcing the organ to secrete abnormally large amounts of amylase and insulin to digest the cellulose, carbohydrates and starches of plant matter.
A raw meat diet helps to maintain the optimal acidity level needed for proper digestion and absorption of calcium from bones, as well as stimulates the pancreas to produce the necessary amount of digestive enzymes. Since grains are alkaline forming food sources when ingested, it is important to be aware that most commercial kibbles do not promote or nurture a healthy acidic stomach environment.
I am concerned about salmonella. Isn’t this a problem for dogs and cats? Is there a risk of cross-contamination?
Unless your dog or cat is severely immunocompromised, salmonella and other common bacteria are readily digested. Tests of various brands of kibble have shown that many contain the salmonella bacteria, so if your dog/cat is eating kibble, it has already been exposed to salmonella.
Dogs and cats have three lines of defense against the bacteria contained in raw meat: the antibacterial properties of their saliva, the corrosive nature of their stomach acids and their short intestinal tracts.
Firstly, dog and cat saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that has mild antiseptic and antibacterial properties that are used to kill some of the existing pathogenic bacteria in meat and prevent the colonization of bacteria in the mouth. Once food enters the stomach, large amounts of hydrochloric acid are secreted, providing the necessary environment to digest animal protein and kill any dangerous bacteria that may have been ingested along with the meat. These strong stomach acids also act to fully break down food before it enters the intestinal tract, where toxins released from putrefied meat could be absorbed. Both dogs and cats are equipped with very short intestinal tracts that are meant to push meat through fast, drastically cutting down their digestive transit time.
As for the dangers of cross contamination: as long as you employ common sense and good hygiene practices, the likelihood of being contaminated from bad meat is negligible. Practicing proper sanitation techniques will ensure every member of the family, canine, feline or human, stays happy and healthy.
I have heard many a story about bones being bad for dogs/cats. Are the stories true?
One must first make the distinction between a raw bone and a cooked bone: cooked bones should never be fed to your carnivore under any circumstances. The cooking process entirely dries out the bone and makes it brittle and very susceptible to splintering into dangerously sharp pieces. Raw bones, however, are a safe and excellent addition to any carnivorous diet, consumable and healthy.
Should I feed my dog recreational bones?
Yes - raw meaty bones are Nature's preferred tools of dentistry. Considering canine and feline dental structure, both mouths are equipped with carnassial teeth, and unlike the flat, grinding molars of omnivores, carnassial teeth work like scissors, crushing and slicing meat and bone into manageable sizes for swallowing. Soft bones (beef neck and knuckle bones) allow dogs of all sizes to scrape their teeth clean of food and tartar. Considering most dogs are fed kibble, it is no surprise that nearly 80% of all dogs will develop some form of periodontal disease before the age of three. Without regular bone chewing, plaque, comprised of a buildup of anaerobic bacteria on the teeth and gum tissue, will quickly begin to mineralize forming a hard layer of tartar. This becomes the perfect breeding ground for more harmful and insidious bacteria. Furthermore, raw meaty bones are chock full of beneficial nutrients (calcium for stronger bones and teeth), and provide your dog with live probiotic bacteria and natural enzymes that are essential in maintaining the delicate floral balance of the mouth and keeping harmful bacteria at bay.
Ideally raw meaty bones should be soft and consumable; we do not suggest giving weight bearing bones (femur bones) because it puts undue stress on the teeth and has been known to cause extensive premature dental wear and breakage. A good rule of thumb is not to feed bones that are tougher than their teeth. And remember to never feed cooked bones – the cooking process causes the matrix to over solidify such that the bones often splinter into sharp, dangerous pieces.
What about cats? Should I feed them recreational bones?
Absolutely! Feeding them small whole fish, like sprats, or small chicken backs are a great way of using those little teeth to their full potential and keeping their mouths healthy. It’s also very mentally stimulating.
How much should I feed my dog/cat?
For feeding guidelines, please refer to our meal calculator.
When is the best time to feed my dog/cat?
Dogs and cats who are fed following a reliable schedule, will eventually be conditioned to produce strong gastric acids in anticipation of their scheduled meals. The gastric acids produced are meant to break down organic matter, and should a meal be served too late, dogs and cats will often be forced to rid themselves of the irritating excess acid by vomiting. If you choose to feed your dog/cat on a variable time schedule, their digestive clocks will adjust accordingly to produce those same gastric acids based on the preparation of food, rather than the time of day.
If you choose to feed following a strict schedule, make sure you're consistent!
How often should I feed my adult dog?
There are two schools of thought – you can either feed one big meal in the morning, or (as is more common) two smaller meals, one in the morning and one at night.
The canine stomach can be likened to an accordion equipped with multiple folds that stretch with the ingestion of large amounts of food. Within these folds are glands necessary for proper digestion. When the folds of the stomach are fully stretched, the glands are exposed and activated. It is believed that by feeding a dog one large, substantial meal a day, it will ensure more efficient digestion and a feeling of satiation.
How often should I feed my adult cat?
Unlike dogs, cats are small prey eaters and are known to eat 8 to 10 small meals during the course of the day. Typical prey includes small rodents, mammals, birds and insects. Since we are often working outside of the home for long periods of time during the day, it is not always feasible to feed multiple meals. Once in the morning and once at night is perfectly acceptable if your schedule does not permit multiple daily feedings.
Can I mix the raw meat with dry kibble?
While feeding an exclusively raw diet would be ideal, if you must supplement the diet with kibble, make sure that it is a high quality, high animal protein, grain free kibble. We also strongly advise against mixing the two in the same meal because of the significant difference in rate of digestion. If you intend on feeding one meal raw and one meal kibble, we suggest feeding raw in the morning and kibble at night.
Ok, you’ve convinced me! How do I transition to raw?
For dogs, very little transition time is required. We suggest going straight to raw. If your dog is weary of the change in diet, adding some raw or canned tripe does wonders.
For cats, it is possible that they will not immediately accept raw meat as ‘food’ if they are used to a commercial diet. Please see ‘My dog/cat won’t eat the raw meat. What do I do?’ for an explanation and tips on how to transition your cats to raw.
My dog/cat just threw up. What do I do?
Firstly, it’s important to make the distinction between regurgitation and vomiting:
Regurgitation occurs soon after the consummation of a meal, and is the relatively effortless expulsion of undigested food. It is most often caused by a physical blockage of the esophagus, usually a result of an overload of food. If the food comes back quickly and undigested, it is most probably because they ate too much, too fast. If your dog or cat is a gulper, simply split the portion into two feedings, 10-15 minutes apart.
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the stomach contents, often preceded by drooling and retching, followed by sour smelling material, stained with yellow bile.
Dogs and cats eating a raw diet will sometimes experience what is referred to as ‘hunger pukes’, especially within the first few days of switching from commercial dry food. These episodes are characterized by the vomiting of yellow bile, with little to no food materials present. It is a result of an empty and irritated stomach caused by the accumulation of digestive acids. Because kibble takes much longer to digest than raw meat, their stomachs are accustomed to continuously digesting food. Kibble fed dogs and cats rarely experience actual hunger between meals. Thus, ‘hunger pukes’ generally occur either late at night or early in the morning, when the stomach is empty and all food has been digested.
If your dog/cat experiences ‘hunger pukes’, you can feed smaller meals that are spaced closer together, gradually increasing the time between meals. This transition period will allow your carnivore to become accustomed to having an empty stomach.
I have noticed my dog/cat is drinking less water throughout the day. Should I be concerned?
No need to worry, it’s entirely expected. Cats and dogs eating a water depleted kibble diet will search out water to a much greater extent because their bodies are in a chronic state of low level dehydration due to the density and dryness of the food. They are attempting to maintain an adequate level of hydration. Cats in particular are at an increased risk of illness associated with prolonged, chronic dehydration, as they do not possess a strong thirst drive. They are meant to eat raw meat exclusively and to consume a diet rich in moisture.
Our raw meat blends contain all the necessary moisture for digestion and proper hydration in its most basic and natural form. Both cats and dogs are prey eaters and are meant to eat and drink in the same meal (prey is made up of ~70% water). Thus, the very act of eating promotes proper hydration.
I’ve noticed that my dog/cat is pooping less and it turns white. Is this normal?
White, powdery colored stool is a result of the inclusion of ground or crushed bone in the diet. Because our meat blends are a mix of muscle meat, organ meat and ground bone, all of which are bioavailable and thus efficiently utilized by the canine and feline body, very little waste or poop is produced.
My dog/cat is constipated, what do I do?
Short bouts of constipation are common for dogs and cats when fed a raw diet that includes too much bone. In severe cases, it can also lead to the malabsorption of minerals due to an excess of calcium. Our meat blends are made using the appropriate ratio of meat, organ and bone. If you're supplementing their diet by feeding raw meaty bones, or other pieces of meat inclusive of bone, you'll want to alternate between meals that contain bone and those that don't (chicken or beef heart, gizzards, liver, kidney). When giving recreational bones, observe the amount of bone consumed during an average chewing session and then limit the time spent with the bone in future if needed. If you find yourself with a constipated dog or cat, try giving them some pureed fruits and veggies, or some pumpkin and sweet potato, which are particularly high in fiber. It will help move things along in the digestive tract.
My dog no longer needs its anal glands expressed. Why?
In a healthy dog, a firm feces is all that is needed to naturally express anal glands – unfortunately, most dry foods are much too high in fiber and carbohydrates, and often leads to chronically soft stools and consequently anal gland disorders and impaction. Feeding a raw diet, with the inclusion of bone is usually all that is needed to ensure your dog has healthy, and happy anal glands.
Why puree vegetables, and why are they blended raw?
Because dogs and cats are not equipped with flat, grinding molars, they cannot break down the thick cellulose wall of the vegetable with their teeth in order to benefit from the nutrients within. Therefore, we must either puree, or lightly steam the vegetables and break down the cellulose wall for them. And similar to meat, cooking vegetables depletes them of much of their beneficial nutrients and enzymes.
Do I have to supplement my cat’s diet with taurine?
No, our meat blends already contain lots of taurine.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that all cats need in order to survive. It is essential for cardiovascular function, and development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina and the central nervous system. Cats, unlike dogs, cannot naturally produce taurine but find it uniquely in the flesh and organs of their prey.
You will notice that all canned and dry pet foods have taurine added to the formula; this supplementation is necessary because taurine is very heat sensitive and the cooking/extruding process completely destroys the amino acid.
Taurine is found in all muscle meat, but in significantly higher concentrations in organ meats. This is why most of our raw meat blends are balanced with the addition of heart and liver.
Do you add vitamin & mineral supplements to your blends?
No - raw, unprocessed organ meats, muscle meat and ground bone naturally contain all the vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids that a carnivore needs to thrive. That's why we carefully balance each blend to ensure that your cats and dogs are getting the right proportion of everything they need to stay healthy & fit.
My cat/dog has just recently faced a bout of urinary crystals, is it safe for me to feed raw?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to feed raw and in fact, the very act of feeding raw will ensure healthier kidneys and bladder. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), and Canine Urolithiasis are characterized by the presence of uroliths (bladder stones) and an overabundance of crystals in the urine. Stones are most commonly found in the bladder, but are also found in the kidney and urethra. The stones irritate the lining of the urinary tract often causing hematuria (bloody urine) as well as inflammation and pain. In extreme cases, stones can cause partial and complete blockages of the urinary tract making urination painful or impossible. The formation of struvite crystals (magnesium ammonium phosphate stones) are formed in neutral or alkaline pH urine, while oxalate crystals are formed in neutral or overly acidic urine and both are often a result of prolonged, chronic dehydration and an unbalanced diet.
My dog/cat won’t eat the raw meat. What do I do?
Dogs and cats both rely almost exclusively on their olfactory senses when determining if a food is edible or not. If you are transitioning your dog or cat from a commercial diet of dry food or canned, there is a good chance that your carnivore will not immediately recognize the raw meat as ‘food’. Commercial foods are inherently addictive, sprayed with animal digests and liquid fats to make it artificially strong in smell, and therefore appealing. When offered side by side, raw meat just can’t stand up to the smelling power of the processed foods and cats in particular will often snub the meal and walk away, waiting for their preferred kibble or can.
If you’re lucky, your dog or cat will switch to raw without a fuss. However, due to the addictive nature of the processed foods, it is often necessary to implement a period of transition. Just because your dog or cat initially shows little interest in the meat, it does not mean that they will not eventually eat it with gusto. It can take quite a bit of patience on everyone’s part. Cats in particular often require an extensive transition period. Felines are known to be neophobic with regards to new smells and textures and require a certain amount of trickery and coaxing to get them to eat something new. Moving to canned food, and then slowly adding raw meat into the mix is one trick that has proven very successful.
For those cats and dogs that are hesitant about eating raw, we suggest sticking to one protein until they are eating it without hesitation. After about a month of so, try and introduce a new protein to the diet.
For other suggestions and tips, please do not hesitate to contact us at 514.507.4526