Frequently Asked Questions About the Raw Natural Diet
First follow the link to check out what is REALLY in commercial pet foods!!
How do I get started? The first thing you should do is some reading/research on the raw diet. Check out the links page for recommended reading. Most dogs do better on a "cold turkey" switch rather than half-kibble and half-raw. Remember to keep things simple for the dog when you are starting. We suggest that you start with just chicken backs and necks for the first couple weeks. Let their body get used to the new foods before you start feeding them a huge variety of foods. Some dogs might not know what to do with the bones at first, but they will get the hang of it. If you have a small dog or a dog that doesn't get the hang of it, you can try crunching the bone into smaller pieces, or holding one edge of the bone for them. Wait to add the richer foods, such as liver and eggs, for a few weeks. I would also wait to start adding any supplements until you are settled into a routine.
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I'm really scared to start, and I feel so overwhelmed... Most people feel the same way when first switching to a raw diet. We thought it was very complicated (and maybe even more expensive), but have actually found it's much easier than kibble. Maybe we all feel so good about what we're feeding them now--it just seems so simple. Many of us believe the fact a raw diet is less expensive than premium kibble. Yes, it can feel very overwhelming at first, especially when thinking of supplements, how much to feed, meat-to-bone ratios, the veggies, and don't mix this with that, but once we finally relaxed and came to understand that it's a balanced diet OVER TIME, life gets much easier. Remember we are always here to answer any questions or concerns you might have. Back to Top
Should I switch "cold-turkey" or is gradual better? Most dogs do very well being switched over to a raw natural diet "cold-turkey", but the change over should be done after 24 hours of fasting to allow a smoother transition. It takes kibble this long to completely leave the body. Back to Top
I'm not quite ready to make the change. Can you recommend an alternative? Sure, even though we feel that a raw natural diet is the best way to go, we understand some people would still prefer to feed a kibble based diet. However, we recommend super premium kibbles with all natural human grade ingredients, no chemical preservatives, and no fillers. When choosing a kibble it is still best to supplement your pet with whole food supplements and probiotics. This will maximize the nutrition you are trying to achieve for your pet. We carry super premium kibbles and the supplements that your pet needs. See supplements page. Back to Top
Can I feed kibble AND a raw natural diet? Kibble and raw food are digested differently, and should never be fed together, in the same meal. If you feed dry kibble at the same meal as the raw meat, you are increasing the amount of time the food is in the body, and increasing the possibility of illness from microbes. It can be confusing to your pet's body when trying to digest kibble which pulls moisture from the body to digest it. Moisture is supplied with a raw natural diet. When carbohydrates and proteins are eaten at the same time, the protein enzymes go to work first, and the digestion of carbohydrates must wait. While the carbohydrates are waiting around to be digested, they ferment and release toxins in the body. If you feel you must feed both, feed kibble one meal and the raw natural diet the next meal. Back to Top
How much do I feed daily? Feeding a raw natural diet is simulating what an animal eats in the wild. The diet will balance itself over time. Most pets eat 2% to 10% of their body weight. This is dependant upon the age, size, metabolism, breed, and if your pet is spayed or neutered. The average 50 pound dog eats a pound a day. If your dog is on the skinnier side, up the raw meaty bones and reduce the veggies. If your dog is on the heavier side, reduce the raw meaty bones and up the veggies. To know if your dog is 'just right,' rub the back of your hand.....his/her ribs should feel the same. If you can't feel his/her ribs, then reduce the daily food intake. Back to Top
What exactly is the difference between Raw Meaty Bones & recreational bones? RMBs are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat - things like chicken carcasses/backs/necks/wings, lamb necks, oxtails, turkey necks, etc..., which make up an RMB meal. Recreational bones, on the other hand, are larger bones that the dog will chew on but will not eat the whole bone - things like beef marrow bones, femurs, knuckle bones, etc... Weight-bearing bones can also be given (chicken legs/thighs), but they are a bit more difficult to chew (especially for a small animal). Back to Top
What about salmonella? According to an FDA news release, "salmonella is not harmful to dogs". Salmonella is everywhere - not just in raw meats. Employ basic hygiene practices, wash your hands and keep surfaces clean - just as you would when handling your own food. When first starting a raw natural diet, many people are overly compulsive about possible salmonella poisoning. They wear latex gloves when handling chicken and never allow one tiny piece of chicken to touch ANYTHING in the kitchen. You can get totally neurotic. Relax - it's safe to use bare hands when handling and practice proper food handling techniques. Just take normal precautions and wipe down everything with an antibacterial cleaner when done with your food preparation.
There are harmful bacteria in feces regardless of what the animals eat. There are also good bacteria in feces so don't be alarmed if your dog decides this is a delicacy.
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Is my dog experiencing detox? When switching a dog over from commercial dog food to a raw natural diet, the dog's body may begin the process of ridding itself of toxins and impurities as it adjusts to the intake of proper nutrients. This process is called detox or healing crisis. Depending on the overall health of your dog, the healing crisis may last one week, one month or even several weeks...or not even at all. The most common symptoms of detox include vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin. It is normal for any of these detox symptoms to get worse before they get better...just don't give up and hang in there. Keep your dog as comfortable as possible during this process. Just remember your pet is on its way to becoming "TRULY HEALTHY." Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) works magic to firm stools quickly. Provide plenty of fresh water, but limit excessive water intake immediately after meals, as your dog may regurgitate. Back to Top
Why is my dog drinking less water? Don't worry - there is no reason to be concerned. Raw food is naturally full of live water! All the moisture needed to digest raw food is contained in raw food! Although a lower sodium intake is part of the reason that our raw natural diet dogs drink less water, the real reason is that raw food has not had the water removed like cooked food or kibble has. The different between kibble and canned dog food is the water content...they leave the water in the canned and dry out the kibble. It takes a lot of water to re-hydrate those little nuggets! In addition, the excessive toxins in processed foods require more water for the body to eliminate...without those toxins, your dog will need less water. Back to Top
Is it okay to feed grains? Though grains are used as a cheap filler in commercial pet foods, it isn't because they are good for your pets...it's to make more profit, usually at the expense of your pet's health. Grains are not a natural food for dogs. It is not something they would eat in the wild. Those grains they would have access to would be in small quantities eaten from the stomachs of prey animals that had (in the right season) eaten some grasses that had seeded. These grains would also not look like our modern grains - more like wild rice (check it out at the supermarket and compare to domestic types). Grains are also full of carbohydrates which can be easily converted to sugars. 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 (which is a growing problem among modern dogs) and grains are one of the major causes of allergies in dogs, and can also cause flatulence. Back to Top
Do I really need to use supplements? I think if you are providing a good varied diet you will be providing pretty much what your dog needs - all in a highly bio-available form. When looking for a certain vitamin/mineral, try to provide it in its natural form first. If you need to provide more Vitamin B for example, consider what foods contain that vitamin first (e.g. liver) rather than reaching for an artificial supplement. That said, there can be a benefit in supplementing those things that our dogs may be missing in the translation from a 'wild' diet to its 'modern' equivalent (i.e. a raw natural diet). As we don't necessarily feed the whole animal for example (eyes, brains, stomach and intestines etc etc as well) the addition of things like EFA's (e.g. fish oil) on occasion can be useful. Probiotics are also in this category, providing bacteria which a dog may otherwise have gotten in the wild by eating stomach contents/intestines etc. You can also add a bit of kelp every now and then for trace elements. Modern soils have been depleted by over-cropping etc and Australian soils in particular are low in iodine. Add Vitamins C and E every now and then for their antioxidant properties and their value to optimize health - particularly in our modern polluted environment. Vitamin C is particularly good in times of stress. Normally, supplements aren't need on a daily basis, but of course every situation will be different (if you live in a city you might give more C and E for example to combat higher pollution). But remember, you are providing a much more nutritious product to begin with a raw natural diet. They are probably getting more nutritional value now out of a varied raw diet without the supplements that they ever did on kibble even with vitamins. Back to Top
What are digestive enzymes and probiotics , and why is their use recommended? Digestive enzymes break down food so that it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Raw food has enzymatic activity, and the body has a limited supply also. When our pets eat the raw food that their physiology is designed to thrive on, they receive plenty of food enzymes, which aid digestion and nutrient utilization. When they eat cooked food, which is devoid of enzymes, they can deplete the body's supply, and the enzyme-producing organs must work overtime to compensate. It doesn't matter what you put into the body if digestion is not equipped with enough enzymes to break it down and put it to good use within the body. Supplemental enzymes can be beneficial in cases of digestive disorders and degenerative diseases. They replenish the body with the tools needed to utilize nutrients.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They are normally present in a healthy intestinal system. Beneficial bacteria keep unwanted bacteria, fungi, and other bad guys from disrupting homeostasis. For example, labs have conducted studies showing non-dairy probiotics to be extremely successful at destroying e.coli bacteria. Beneficial bacteria are killed by antibiotics. Supplemental use of probiotics can help re-establish normal intestinal function as well as provide tons of great predigested enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and more.
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Why can't I just chop up a veggie, or even give it whole? The veggies need to be pulped up using something like a blender, juicer or food processor. You are aiming for something a bit like the vegetable matter found in the stomach of a prey animal. The reason for this is that dogs can not digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls. Chopping them up only crushes the cell walls on the outside, leaving the bit in the middle pretty much unavailable to them nutritionally. Cooking them will also destroy the cell walls, but as this also destroys a lot of the nutrients and enzymes in the veggies (even canned veggies), it kind of defeats the purpose. Freezing the veggies and then thawing can also break down the cell walls. Back to Top
My dog literally inhales its food, and it scares me to near death. What can I do to get it to slow down? Many dogs have a tendency to gulp their food, without chewing, and this can be a very scary experience for an owner new to feeding raw bones. Often, when dogs are first acclimating to the raw natural diet, they will gulp down their bones only to vomit them back up again. This is normal and teaches them to eat them slowly and properly. If you would like to teach the dog to chew before swallowing, try larger RMBs than you are feeding. You can avoid the smaller RMBs until your dog learns to chew its food. Another option is to try hand feeding your dog. Back to Top
I've heard about trichinosis and pork . Is it safe to feed pork? With many other food items, feeding pork is purely a personal choice. But yes, it CAN be fed safely. If you'd like to feed pork but are afraid of possible trichinosis, it is recommended that the pork be frozen, at Zero degrees F for 3 weeks, to kill the flukes. The incidence of trichinosis is actually rare - particularly in USDA inspected meats. All of our meat is from USDA inspected sources so trichinosis is not a concern for us. Back to Top
What nutrients do RMBs provide? Raw meaty bones provide natural calcium, nutritious marrow, amino acids/protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, enzymes, antioxidants and a vast array of species-appropriate minerals and vitamins all in a usable form. Back to Top
I've noticed my dog pooping less and sometimes it's white. Is this normal? Yes, this is completely normal for a dog on a raw natural diet. Your dog is pooping less because most of the food is now being digested and properly utilized by the body...thus, less waste. The RMBs account for it turning white. If you notice your dog straining while pooping, you can up the veggies a bit; however, straining a little bit can help express the anal glands, which would normally be done by your vet, at a price! Back to Top
My dog is constipated. What can I do? Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) helps both loose stools and constipation. You can also reduce the RMBs and up the veggies a bit, or even add liver to the meal. Back to Top
My dog has diarrhea. Now what? If your dog is just starting a raw natural diet, the diarrhea may be brought on because of the normal detox process (cleansing out the toxins and impurities). The diarrhea could be a reaction to a new food item. Many times diarrhea is not even food related (eg: stress, illness). Pure pumpkin, in the can (not pumpkin pie filling), often firms up the stool. You can also add applesauce, honey and even Slippery Elm Powder (an herb) to help settle its tummy. We often just replace the next meals with steamed white rice and yogurt or cottage cheese until the stool is better. If you feel detox or a new food item may not be the cause of the diarrhea, do not hesitate to drop off a stool sample to your veterinarian to check for parasites, worms and even unfriendly bacteria. If your dog is put on antibiotics for his/her gastrointestinal upset, make sure you give him plenty of probiotics, Vitamin C & E, during the recovery process. Back to Top
Why is my dog's stool wrapped in mucous at times? Believe it or not, mucousy stools can appear any time, no matter how long one has been feeding a raw natural diet, and is generally no reason for concern. When first starting a raw natural diet, this may be a sign that the digestion track is ridding the junk out of its system (normal part of detox). Mucousy stools can also be related to feeding dairy products. If you are feeding dairy, try cutting them out for a few days and see if this was the culprit. It can also mean an inflammation of the intestinal track. If you notice traces of blood, along with the mucousy stool, a trip to the vet is encouraged. Mucousy stools are also a sign of coccidia (a parasite commonly found in puppies), so you might want to drop off a fecal sample to your vet, and begin treatment. Again, use your judgment...if dog appears ill (gums may be white and not the normal pink/rose color) and is also having frequent bouts of diarrhea that last 24 to 48 hours, call your vet. Back to Top
My dog is vomiting. What can I do? There are several reasons a dog may vomit, and it is up to you to determine why. If the vomit is yellow bile, this means the dog's stomach is completely empty (and hungry!). Feed that poor baby. If the vomit is clear with white foam or mucousy globs, it is from drinking too much too fast (possibly on an empty stomach). I'd remove the water and, again, feed that baby!
Vomiting is also a symptom of the normal detox process. You can add applesauce, honey and even Slippery Elm Powder (an herb) to help settle his tummy, while he is getting accustomed to his new way of eating. The vomiting may also be the result of a new food item that does not agree with him. And yes, a dog new to a raw natural diet will occasionally regurgitate his food, and then begin to eat it again...probably more slowly this time, as he 'gulped' it the first time. This IS normal.
If you smell quite a noxious odor on both ends increasing probiotics/digestive enzymes may be a good suggestion. They may just have an unsettled stomach.
Dogs can also ingest various foreign objects (e.g. socks, toys, plants, etc...), so keep an eye on your pet if you suspect this type of ingestion, and your dog hasn't thrown up or passed out the foreign object within 24 to 48 hours.
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Do I have to fast my dog on occasion? No, you do not have to fast your dog. In nature, canines (wolves, feral dogs, etc.) don't eat everyday. The theory behind fasting our dogs is that it gives their digestive systems a chance to rest. Most people who fast their dogs do it once a week. Many people give recreational bones or liquid meals on fast days to help their dog get through the fast day. The choice to fast is a personal decision. Many, many raw fed pets fast usually on days that would be stressful like traveling, vet days, and so on. Many dogs will fast themselves and we must listen to them.
Now, if your dog pooped numerous times after fasting, this is good as he/she must have had some build up to get rid of and with the daily meals his/her system wasn't getting around to it. As long as they were not extremely loose from the start, then he/she sounds fine.
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When thawing, is there a point where the food is considered dangerous and should be thrown out? The meat should be thrown out when the smell of the meat is bad. That usually takes a quite a number of days of being thawed out in the fridge. If it smells a little 'gamey' (a few days old) some people will still feed it - wild dogs would eat it, too! With a dog new to a raw natural diet, try and keep the meat fairly fresh for a while though. Easiest way is to thaw slowly in the fridge, or to thaw for a few hours or overnight in a container on the kitchen counter. Just thaw as much as you need for one day at a time. Back to Top
Can I use my microwave for thawing a raw natural diet? When using a microwave to thaw raw meat, you must be extremely careful. The microwave can begin to cook the food from the inside (the bones) out. Thawing raw meat in the microwave is NOT the recommended method. NEVER, EVER give your dog a cooked bone, as it can splinter and cause severe internal complications. The safest method of thawing is room temperature. If, you're in a bit of a hurry, soak the raw meat in cold water in the kitchen sink. Back to Top
Can I still feed my dog a raw natural diet while traveling? Yes, you can. When you travel, freeze the meals in separate portions, keep them in a cooler and take one meal out at a time. Try to use a separate cooler for RMBs and the ground meals so it isn't opened as much. If you don't have a lot of extra room for a cooler, some options are:
1. Shopping when you get to location (although this can be pricey and isn't always an option)
2. Canned mackerel/tuna/salmon
3. Cottage Cheese
4. Natural Applesauce
5. Canned green beans and other canned veggies
In terms of feeding the "correct balanced diet", remember that you are looking at the diet "over time" versus a daily diet.
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What are proper food safety techniques? Basic food safety techniques are really not much difference for handling dog food as they are for people food. Basically they involve washing your hands after handling meat etc, making sure cleaning cloths are clean and washed regularly (or use paper towels) and washing down your preparation area with soap and hot water to curb bacteria growth. Some people do additional things, but these are the basics. Back to Top
What are Satin Balls? Satin balls are not treats. They are a recipe that was developed to assist with putting weight on dogs. They were not developed as part of a raw natural diet, but independently from it and are used by people who feed kibble as equally as those who feed home cooked or raw natural diets. The fact that they can be served either raw or cooked is the main factor that makes them 'acceptable' for all these. When it comes to a raw natural diet though, there are some aspects about them that you may not like (the cereal for one). Back to Top
How can a raw natural diet reduce the chances of my dog bloating? The chances of bloat are much less than on kibble. It is quite rare for a dog to bloat when they are eating a raw diet, for a couple of reasons. First, raw food doesn't swell like kibble which can sometimes cause problems. Second, most dogs eat more slowly when they are eating raw food compared to the familiar "inhale" style eating that dogs use when they are eating kibble. Because they aren't inhaling their food, less air is sucked into the stomach. Another reason is that chewing allows the dog's body to prepare for digestion. The necessary juices and acids are released slightly prior to the "deposit" of food into the stomach. Back to Top
I think my dog is allergic to a raw diet ...how can I be sure? If you are truly concerned that something in the diet is causing a problem, the only true way to identify it and remove it is with an elimination diet. Basically, go right back to feeding one thing only for a time (no supplements or anything else, including treats) and then gradually add things back one at a time and watch for a reaction. As every dog is different, this is the only way you will know for sure what your particular dog is reacting to. If it is not a food-related allergy, changing the diet around - for a dog already on a raw natural diet that is - is going to have minimal impact. Basically, if the cause of the allergy is still around, your dog is still likely to react to it no matter what you feed.
That said, a raw natural diet can have a positive (if not always total) effect in relation to non-food related allergies. This effect, however, is generally LONG TERM. Basically a raw diet helps to build the immune system which allows your dog to fight off the allergies when they occur. Over time, as the immune system strengthens, this can help to lessen their impact. While some effects may be immediate when switched to a raw natural diet, some dogs continue subtle improvements over a number of years. In simpler terms, allergies are an over reaction of the immune system usually brought about by a weakness or imbalance in the body (such as vaccinations, a chronic illness, virus, food, environmental, or thing(s) she/he comes in contact with). You can help boost your dog's immune system by increasing Vitamin C (to bowel tolerance) and adding Vitamin E. The herbs Echinacea and Goldenseal Root also help to boost the immune system.
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Will feeding raw meat make my dog vicious/mean and create a "blood lust?" This IS a myth. There is no causal relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals. It has nothing to do with what a dog is fed and has everything to do with natural prey drive, training and socialization. Some breeds like the husky can have a very high prey drive. If raised around animals and trained not to chase them, a lot of them will have no problem co-existing happily NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE FED. With a lot of dogs, the instinct is a very ingrained primal one and the sight of an animal running can bring this out in them NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE FED. Dogs can easily distinguish between what they are protecting and what they are eating.
Remember that kibble has not been around that long. For generations man has been feeding raw meat and bones to their dogs. I do not think in the hard reality of life dogs would have lasted too long as man's helpers in the field, on the farm or elsewhere if eating raw meat gave them a blood lust for the other animals around. Imagine an outback station owner for example. The dogs eat the foods the producer produces - the leftover cuts of the animals they slaughter for themselves or the old culls. The nearest town is a couple of hours by light plane or perhaps a 10 hour drive down the track. Before transport such as this, it may have taken a couple of days to get to the neighbors place. Now imagine if all the dogs they use to help them with the stock killed their stock because of the raw meat they were eating. Do you think they would still keep dogs? Would the Australian Cattle Dog or Kelpie have been developed as a breed? I doubt it - they would have all been shot a long, long time ago. Yep, some dogs may turn out to be 'stock killers'. This happens. But as we have found, even kibble fed dogs can be stock killers.
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