There is nothing more confusing to pet owners than the nutrition labels on pet food, the conflicting information you see in TV advertisements, the information you get from sales people at the big box pet food stores, and the opinions and recommendations from their own Veterinarians. And yet, the most important decision a pet owner makes each and every day is what food to put in their beloved pets bowl. Our pets depend on us to make a good choice for them.
We at Natural Pet Pantry have solved this problem by getting back to basics. We believe that humans are not really capable of “creating” food that is anywhere close to the healthy, fresh, and nutrient-rich food that is found in nature. We believe we are what we eat, and that is true for our pets too. Our meals for dogs and cats are made from fresh, human edible, high quality whole foods in its natural form.
We know that raw food is the most biologically appropriate option for our dog and cat companions. It is a FACT that dogs and cats evolved over tens of thousands of years to consume whole prey. The last 50 years of human-created processed dry kibble and canned food is a blip in their ancestral history, and while it’s probably good enough for your pet to survive, it’s not what your pet needs to thrive. There is so much lost during the high heat, high pressure cooking used to create processed kibble and canned options.
The benefits from the whole food nutrients in raw food as well as the active enzymes that help with digestion and other metabolic functions is visible, tangible, and real. Once people make the switch to raw food most report numerous improvements in their animal’s health including; shinier coat, better breath, weight loss or improvement of muscle tone, more energy, and many chronic health issues disappear.
Many pets survive on kibble and canned food but that in no way makes it an ideal diet for them. It just means that kibble can sometimes meet the minimal requirements to keep a pet alive. While the calories keep them going, there are so often all kinds of maladies that come up along the way.
First off, let’s talk teeth. It is estimated that 85% of kibble fed dogs and cats have periodontal disease by the age of three. (Penman, S. and P. Emily. 1991. Scaling, Polishing and Dental Home Care. Waltham International Focus. 1(3): 2-8. In Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. pg 110) So what does that mean exactly? It means that by the young age of three, teeth are covered in hardened residue (plaque) that changes the ph balance of the mouth making the teeth susceptible to even more plaque. It also means there is an immense amount of the unfriendly kind of bacteria invading the mouth and getting under the gum line which provokes chronic and ongoing inflammation. This can affect the whole body and last a lifetime. This is clearly an indication that kibble does not support dental health as many believe.
Bad breath is a sign of a systemic problem usually starting with what’s in their bowl. Processed food creates an alkaline stomach environment more susceptible to bacteria that they then regurgitate into their mouth furthering opportunity for periodontal disease. Not to mention they lack the enzyme, amylase, in their saliva to break down carb residue on their teeth. Kibble is bound together to hold it’s form with carbs. That carbohydrate residue is there to stay.
Much of what we have come to consider normal is actually not. Dogs and cats shouldn’t be obese, or diabetic and should not have to suffer with the oh-so-common leaky gut syndrome. Itchy skin and yeasty ears should not be the norm for any animal. All of these things come back to a processed diet.
According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an Estimated 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are Overweight or Obese. Clearly something is wrong with the way we are feeding our carnivore companions. Dog Food Advisor claims, today’s average dry dog foods contain somewhere between 46 and 74 percent carbohydrates.
Dogs and cats can produce energy from fats and protein and have no need for carbs, and certainly not in excess. This is an immensely high glycemic load for anyone, but especially a carnivore.
It is very demanding on the pancreas to produce insulin to control constant spikes in blood sugar. Many animals, especially cats, end up diabetic and needing insulin shots. This is clearly a dietary issue. No wild cat has ever presented with diabetes.
Now for one of the most common culprits, yeast. Yeast feeds on sugars (or carbs) too. Excessive carbs in dry food provide a plethora of opportunity for yeast to overpopulate and cause yeast infected guts, skin and ears. We have seen these chronic yeast issues clear up in countless animals that have made the switch to less processed foods.
The transition from a dry kibble or canned food to a raw diet is a very easy process. You’ve made a wonderful decision to feed your pet the best food possible, so it will be worth the short transition process we recommend. In general, transitions to raw food take some patience by the pet owner and a good plan discussed with your pet nutrition specialist. Dogs may have one or two episodes of loose stool, or may even throw up at first, or appear to turn up their nose at first because it’s not their regular food, but with a little troubleshooting there is always an answer. In most cases, dogs will just snarf it down licking their chops for more.
We invite you to speak with one of our pet nutrition specialists to create a personalized plan for your dog. The specialist will learn about your dogs’ food history and discuss any health issues the dog may have experienced in the past. You will leave with a clear transition plan and a way to reach us if you have any questions.
There are a couple of methods we recommend and we’ve seen both of these work very well.
Method 1: Raw goat’s milk fast. This requires the owner to feed nothing but raw goat’s milk for two days in a row. You can get raw goat’s milk at either one of our locations. This will prepare the stomach environment to digest raw by adjusting ph levels and repopulating gut bacteria. It might sound like you are depriving your dog but in reality, goat’s milk is complete and balanced on it’s own. Your dog will be fully satiated. After 48 hours your dog should be able to eat raw meals with very little issue. This method is preferred because it has been so successful.
Method 2: Slow introduction. As is recommended when changing your dogs food of any kind, you can do a slow transition to the raw diet by mixing with the previous food and adjust the proportions to where after about two weeks the dog is on 100% raw diet. Here is a suggested plan:
Day1 10% Raw, 90% old food
Day 2-3 20% Raw, 80% old food
Day 4-6 40% Raw, 60% old food
Day 7-10 60% Raw 40% old food
Day 11-14 80% Raw, 20% old food
Day 15+ 100% Raw
You should follow the same safety precautions handling raw pet food as is recommended for handling raw chicken you buy for yourself at the grocery store:
- Washing your “hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or and after handling food.”
- Running “cutting boards and utensils through the dishwasher or wash them in hot soapy water after each use.”
- Keeping “countertops clean by washing them with hot soapy water after preparing food.”
Consumer reports shows that over 60% of chicken breasts in your neighborhood grocery stores test positive for some sort of pathogen that has the capability to make a human sick. This is the reason we need to cook our food, wash our hands, and take other precautions.
But it is different for dogs and cats. It is quite safe for dogs and cats to consume raw food. Which, when you think about it, makes sense since the ancestral diet for these animals obviously wasn’t cooked, processed, or “fortified.” Dogs and cats have a very acidic stomach environment that prevents bacteria like salmonella and listeria from gestating. They also have very short digestive tracts that protect them from naturally occurring bacteria in raw food. They don’t have long intestines like humans.
Statistics based on several decades of end-user data shows that it is more likely to encounter contaminants in a commercial dry food than in raw food. Traditional commercial dry food has taken thousands of lives due to contamination with melamine, toxic molds, and excess of artificial, fat-soluble vitamins. This is not the case with raw food.
All dogs are different and how much you should feed your dog will depend on a number of variables: weight of the dog, activity level, metabolism, goal (i.e., maintain weight, gain weight, lose weight), other health issues, quantity of treats between meals, etc..
Here are our guidelines for meals made by Natural Pet Pantry:
- In general, a dog will consume 1-4% of their body weight per day.
- If your dog has a high level of activity, start with 3%.
- If your dog has a low level of activity, start with 2%.
- Weigh your dog every 2-4 weeks and adjust the feeding portion appropriately. After a few adjustments you will have it figured out.
For example, our dog Chester was a 13 year old Golden mix that slept a lot and went for a 10-15 minute walk once a day. He weighed 75 pounds and needed to lose about 10 pounds according to our DVM. When we switched to raw food we started at about 2% of his body weight per day, 2% of 75 = 1.5 pounds of food per day (i.e., 12 oz per meal x 2 meals per day). Our thinking was that would be about right to have him lose some weight even though he had a pretty low activity level, and being older, probably also a low metabolism rate.
After four weeks we noticed his weight hadn’t changed at all, and actually had gone up a bit. But we also noticed his energy level had increased and he seemed a bit more active. So we took his serving size down to about 1.5% body weight, and over the course of several adjustments up and down over about six months we finally settled out at weight of 65 pounds and 1 lb of raw food per day (8 oz per meal x 2 meals per day), which is 1.5% of his new bodyweight of 65 pounds. It may seem low, but it makes sense because the kids feed him about 1-2 ounces of treats every day. He has more energy, fully digests his meals as indicated by how small his poops are, he doesn’t shed as much as before, and is much more puppy-like. He is 14 now and doing great.