Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started?
We recommend doing some research/reading on raw diets. Most dogs do better switching cold turkey. Do not mix commercial kibble in with raw food. Fast your pet for 12-24 hours before starting. This allows their digestive system to empty and it also creates hunger which may be helpful for picky eaters Feed only in stainless steel or ceramic dishes and wash bowls and utensils with hot soapy water. We also recommend washing hands after serving. Do not feed cold raw food in the first week. We suggest bringing the food to room temperature by allowing to sit out of your refrigerator for 1 hr before feeding. If fed too cold and eaten to quickly your dog my have trouble digesting and even possibly throw it up. Most dogs can tolerate cold raw food 2 weeks after transition.
Keep things simple to start you may want to start with chicken or turkey as these proteins are easier to digest accompained by wings necks or backs for the first week. Let their body get used to the new food before feeding them a large variety. Wait to add the richer foods such as liver and tripe for a few weeks. Every dog is different so please ask us for assistance.
Why should I feed my pet a raw diet?
A raw diet provides a range of benefits that commercial dog food diets can never hope to even closely match. Dogs are carnivores and are considered "non-obligatory" carnivores meaning in short they can get by on whatever they consume for the most part. But is getting by enough? Humans could "get by" from consuming fast food but does that mean we should be? Raw diets can reduce odor, improve oral health, increase stimulation, improve digestion, produce less stools, improve skin/coat, decrease vet bills, strengthen immune system, provide a leaner body mass, improve risk of degenerative disease as well as arthritis.
How much/often do I feed?
We recommend starting with 2% of your dogs ideal body weight and split the daily amount as follows.
Over 6 months of age - 2 meals per day
4-6 months of age - 3 meals per day
Under 4 months of age - 4 meals per day
Once your dog has been on raw for two weeks or more and stools are fine dogs over 1 year should be switched gradually to one feeding per day. If your dog doesnt eat all of his meal in one sitting you may be feeding to much and should adjust accordingly. Once established you can then increase the amount to 2.5-3% of their ideal adult body weight depending on your dog this amount can vary. An extremely active dog will require more then a less active dog. The best way to tell is to run your hands over your dogs ribs. If you can feel the ribs but not see them your dog is a good weight. If you notice your dog becoming to thin or to fat you can adjust their food accordingly.
Unless your dog has a special medical requirement we recommend that adult dogs be fed once per day. The empty canine stomach is like an accordion containing many folds. Within these folds are glands that assist with proper digestion. It is only when a dog has taken on a substantial meal that the stomach is stretched and the glands are exposed and activated. Feeding a dog more than once per day can lead to inadequate digestion and a constant feeling of hunger. Providing one substantial meal per day leaves your pet satisfied.
How much will a raw diet cost?
This is a very difficult question to answer as the answer depends on the size of your dog how many dogs you have and their personal needs. The one thing you can be assured of is raw will either cost the same as feeding kibble or much less. Check out our feeding calculator to get a rough estimate of how much it may cost per month.
How and in what form do I feed raw meaty bones?
There are many options and it depends on the size, age and personal preference of your dog. You can feed raw meaty bones (RMB) partially frozen totally frozen or totally thawed. Some dogs prefer their organ meat frozen as well. Frozen RMB are good for teething puppies, dogs that are learning to chew their food and dogs that gulp their food. RMB should be fed in large pieces as small pieces encourage choking and do not promote thorough chewing. One common used standard is to feed bones bigger than the dogs head. If the dog does not eat all of it simply pick up the leftovers and refrigerate or freeze and give another day. You can also let you dog burry the leftovers so they can eat them when they "ripen". Cats on the other hand must have fresh food always see our "For Cats" tab at the top for more information on feeding your cat raw. RMB provide excellent jaw and upper body muscle exercise. Chewing naturally cleans teeth making brushing or expensive dental cleanings completely unnecessary. We do not recommend feeding large weight baring bones as these can cause tooth fractures. Taking sensible precautions like always supervising your pet when he has a raw bone, removing bone when pieces are broken off or get to small are all important to remember.
Where do your products come from?
All of our products come from local federally inspected abattoirs and/or processing plants. These are the same places that process food sold in retail stores. We do not add anything to our products they are purchased in ground or whole form and re portioned into convenient feeding sizes.
Can my puppy eat raw?
Yes. A common concern with raw feeding is that it is not complete and balanced. This is untrue for 2 reasons. Firstly no one truly knows what complete and balance is for a dog. Secondly balance can occur over time just as we do with our own meals. Every meal does not need to be completely balanced as long as the nutrition needs of the dog are met over the long term. If you feed a variety of muscle meat, bones, and organs it will be balanced overtime. Puppies should receive 2-3% of their anticipated ADULT weight split into 3 or more feedings per day. If you do not know this then 8-10% of their current weight is recommended. Watch to see if your puppy gets to thin or to fat and adjust accordingly. Despite what kibble manufactures say it is pretty easy to balance calcium and phosphorus. Calcium that comes in a synthetic powder is nearly impossible for a puppy to excrete so an excess of calcium is more of a concern with synthetic products than with the naturally occurring calcium found in bones. Along with feeding a balanced raw diet we also recommend our feed-sential, sh-emp and Sunday Sundae supplements to ensure your puppy is receiving everything they need. Contact us if you plan on feeding your puppy raw and we can help get you started.
I am concerned about salmonella. Is this a problem for dogs?
Salmonella is not a problem for dogs. Various tests done on kibble have shown many contain salmonella so in reality if your dog has been eating kibble they have likely already been exposed. Raw diets have also been blamed for causing things like pancreatitis and kidney disease when in reality the underlying disease was already there and was brought to light by the change in diet. Dogs are surprisingly well equipped to deal with bacteria. Their extremely acidic environment in the gut is a good bacteria colonization deterrent. Their saliva also has antibacterial properties and their short digestive tract is designed to push through food and bacteria quickly without giving bacteria time to colonize which is why we do not recommend mixing dry commercial food with raw. Raw can pass through their digestive system in less than 5 hours where kibble can take anywhere from 12-15 hours. Do not give in to the bacteria and parasite scare tactics. The suggestion of cooking your dogs food is actually quite harmful! It is the cooked food that causes problems with the dogs digestive system and that can result in the nutritional deficiencies vets claim they see from raw diets
When it comes to handling raw chicken or any other raw meat common sense is in order. Just like when you prepare raw meat for your own family proper sanitation techniques must be used. Washing your hands, working surfaces, utensils and dogs bowl in hot soapy water is the best means of sanitation.
Can my dog get worms or parasites for eating raw?
There can be parasites in raw meat however parasite issue is something non-raw folks use as a scare tactic. They neglect to tell you the extremely low incidence of these parasites in meat reared for human market. Worms thrive more on a carbohydrate laden diet than they do on prey-model raw. Generally if your dog has a healthy immune system it can deal with parasites before they even get a chance to establish themselves. Parasites HATE a healthy host. If you are feeding wild game we recommend freezing for at least 30 days before offering it to your dog and freezing bear for at least 90 days.
My dog is refusing to eat raw food what can I do?
Many processed pet foods contain addictive ingredients such as sugar, salt and sweet tasting propylene glycol or MSG to help disguise the taste of poor quality ingredients. For this reason occasionally it is difficult to transition to fresh natural raw food. Some barriers may also be the consistency or texture of a raw diet or even the temperature. If you are having trouble we recommend the following.
Wait 12-24 hours between the last meal they ate. This will create hunger and more acceptance to try the food. You may also need to determine whether your pets refusing is "stubbornness" rather than the particular diet you are offering. If your dog is healthy holding out offering other food options until they do eat may be stressful but in the long run may result in less problems with eating habits in the future. Sometimes a bit of "tough love" does the trick. I do not encourage or recommend mixing kibble and raw together. Please refer to our cat section for more information on transitioning cats. They need to eat a substantial amount of food each day for proper health and this may require you to mix their old food with their new food to ensure they are getting what they need.
Will a raw diet make my dog aggressive and vicious?
This is a myth. There is no relationship between eating raw meat and aggression. Since raw meat is worth fighting for dogs may fight with each other. The simplest solution is to feed the dogs separately in their crates, in different rooms or in the same room but tethered to opposite sides far from each other. Just use common sense and do not keep trying to force the dogs to "get along" at dinner time. Make sure to pick up any leftovers before releasing the dogs. A dog that unnecessarily growls at or bites people has a behavioral, temperament or chronic disease issue that must be addressed immediately. Feeding your dog the way nature intended will only add to its overall healthy and mental well being.
I have noticed my dog is drinking less water daily. Should I be concerned?
No. This is completely normal and to be expected. Raw food provides the moisture necessary for digestion. Because kibble has had water removed dogs constantly have to drink water in an attempt to maintain proper hydration.
Will a raw diet help my pets allergies?
A switch to raw food can alleviate allergic symptoms your pet may be having. Many pets are allergic to protein in grains. These allergies can be seen in symptoms of chronic yeast infections, itchy skin, ear infections, leaky eyes, skin rashes and stiff joints or arthritic conditions. Long term exposure to large amounts of grains for your dog can be a precursor to more serious and permanent illness over time. But it is never too late to switch to a raw natural diet. Pets of any age can be given a new diet and benefit from it very quickly. Our feed-sentials, sh-emp and Sunday Sundae supplements combined with a raw diet have been proven to reduce or eliminate allergies completely.
My dog gulps his food. Do I have to feed only ground meals?
Unlike humans dogs do not have the ability to move their jaws laterally. This means they are not designed to chew their food. Their teeth are used to crush and tear food into a manageable size for swallowing. Don’t expect your dog to chew a chicken neck until it is broken down into small pieces before swallowing. Depending on the size of your dog many will crunch a chicken neck for example once or twice before swallowing. This is normal. If on the other hand your dog trys to swallow a larger piece such as a leg quarter without chewing this is not normal. Please ensure your pet is not concerned that his food is in jeopardy from another dog or person. Allow your dog privacy while he is eating. Always supervise your dog when they are eating any type of food and never leave your dog in its kennel with a bone while you are away from the house.
Should I feed my dog vegetables?
There really is no need. As long as you are feeding a good balance of protein, bones, and organs it will cover everything your dog needs. Green tripe is also recommended as it contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and the bonus is it is rich in probiotics and omega fatty acids. Tripe is the stomach of cow and sheep so there is vegetation in their stomach in the form of grasses and hay. If you wanted to supplement your dog we recommend our feed-sential which is a complete nutritional supplement that you can read more about on our natrual product tab at the top. If you insist on feeding vegetables we recommend steaming them first. At least 50% of the vegetables you feed should be leafy greens. Dogs have very short digestive systems and do not get the same benefits from raw vegetables as we humans do.
Is it true that my vet bills will decrease? Why?
Yes. You will find that vet trips will decrease dramatically as your dogs body becomes accustomed to its new food. The main reason being is all the toxins from commercial food have been removed from your dogs body and his immune system is becoming greatly enhanced, thus eliminating many common elements that you may normally make a vet appointment for such as, oily dry itchy skin, allergies, skeletal problems, UTIs, teeth cleaning, flea remedies etc. Raw feeding should not replace annual check ups with your pets vet but can reduce the amount of visits that may occur.
I have noticed my dog is pooping less and it is white. Is this normal?
Yes. Your dog will have less waste because most of the food he is now ingesting is digested and utilized by the body. The meaty bones account for the poop turning white. After a boneless meal (eg. tripe or heart) you will notice the stools will be darker and looser. If you notice your dog straining or having a hard time passing their feces this could be a sign of constipation. This often occurs because of to much bone in their diet remember you are aiming for only 10%. If this happens pure puree pumpkin has be known to help as does green tripe. Adjust accordingly to your dog and pay attention to their feces they will tell you a lot about what and how much you may be feeding.
My dog has diarrhea. Why? What should I do?
If you have just switched your dog to a raw diet we recommend transitioning from dry food to raw with simpler proteins like chicken or turkey. Offering beef, tripe, offal, lamb or pork to soon may cause loose stools. If you just offered a new protein and notice your dog has extremely loose stools return to chicken or turkey for their next meal and try again in a few days but only offering half the portion. For example 1/2 chicken 1/2 beef for a few days and gradually increase the amount of beef and decrease the amount of chicken. Some dogs do better switching proteins slowly until their bodies are better adapted to their new diet.
What about pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis, kidney disease, and other diseases claimed to be linked to raw feeding are in the same boat as bacterial septicemia. What generally happens is that a) there are underlying factors, b) there is an underlying disease, and c) the raw diet brings these to light. With pancreatitis, it is typically kibble-fed dogs that suffer from it when they receive a fatty meat they do not usually get. It is also incredibly important to note that fat does not cause pancreatitis excess fat is simply a trigger for pancreatitis and may start the cascade of effects in the pancreas. If ingesting a fatty meal triggers a bout of pancreatitis, then that is indicative of some other underlying problem with the pancreas (again, ask "Why this dog? Why now?" Not every dog that eats raw meat or high quantities of fat "gets" pancreatitis, so something about that particular dog indicates "susceptibility"); the pancreatitis itself is a symptom that the pancreas (and possibly other organs) are not well, because a healthy dog with a healthy pancreas will not suffer from pancreatitis. Surprisingly, many dogs that previously suffered from these diseases while eating kibble have dramatically improved since switching to a raw diet. Just wander around the Yahoo! Rawfeeding group and you will hear some amazing testimonials. Just the fact that kibble-fed dogs can also suffer horrific and deadly bouts of pancreatitis should be sufficient to show that this is not a 'raw feeding' problem, particularly when dogs with pancreas problems can be greatly helped from a raw diet (since it is easier to digest and actually places less demand on the pancreas). Can pancreatitis or kidney disease happen in a raw-fed dog? Yes, they could. All things are possible, particularly when one has no control over the kind of start the dog received in life (breeding, what the parents were fed, what the pup was fed, what vaccinations and wormers it received, etc.)
My dog has anal gland problems. Can I feed raw? Will it help?
Yes and yes. Cooked processed dry diets create soft stools which allow anal gland secretions to build up causing painful compaction or possible rupture of the glands. A raw diet contains bone which helps keep stools firm and with every bowl movement anal glands are naturally squeezed and eliminated. No need for expensive and time consuming vet appointments to get the glands expressed.
My dog vomited their food. Why might that have happened? What can I do?
There are normally a few reasons why your dog may have vomited their meal. The most common reason is feeding the raw food too cold or eating to quickly. If they regurgitate their meal and then return to eating it (perhaps more slowly this time) this is normal. To prevent this feed more slowly and offer half the meal wait 5 mins and offer the other half. Vomiting can be a result of a new protein item not agreeing with you dog. If they do vomit up a particular protein again and again trust their digestive system and offer a different type. Some dogs until they learn how to chew their new food can swallow small pieces of bone and bring it back up dont worry to much about this they will quickly learn how to chew properly in time.
Good to know
If the vomit is yellow bile this indicates that your dogs stomach is completely empty and they are hungry
If the vomit is clear and white with mucous this is from drinking too much water too quickly.
Is there a safe, natural pest and parasite control?
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is an amazing non-toxic safe form of pest control. It is made from crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life. DE is deadly to any insect and completely harmless to animals. In fact DE is an excellent nutritional supplement containing 15 beneficial trace minerals.
Diatomaceous Earth works in two ways- Insects have a waxy outer shell covering their bodies DE scratches their protective coating causing them to quickly dehydrate and die. In addition the insect absorbs some of the material which quickens the process. Rub it into your dog’s fur and bedding to kill fleas, ticks and dust mites. DE is fantastic for dogs that are allergic to mites.
DE added to your pet’s food will safely destroy internal parasites. To kill internal parasites provide DE every second day for one month:
1/2 Teaspoon-Puppies & small dogs (under 10lb);
1 Teaspoon- Puppies and small dogs (10-20lb);
1 Tablespoon- Medium Breeds (20-60 lb);
2 Tablespoons -Large Breeds (60+);
Feeding DE every second day will eliminate whipworms, roundworms, pinworms and hookworms within seven days. Feed DE for 30 days to ensure all developing worms are destroyed as DE will not kill eggs. DE is a safe natural alternative to chemical pesticides that have been linked to many serious health concerns for pets and their owners. Do not inhale DE.
Help my pet is having bad reactions to raw food?
On occasion when dogs make a switch to a more balanced nutritious diet they can sometimes display negative symptoms such as runny eyes, itchy skin, bad breath, and/or smelly ears. This is just a part of the healing cycle or as I like to call it the detox phase. In other words they are mobilizing toxins which have been stored in the cells of the body. These symptoms should pass over a period of time usually a few days.
My dog is experiencing more gas than normal with the raw food. Is this normal?
Ideally a raw food diet should help cut the amount of gas your pet creates. However when first beginning this is very possible. It is also possible when switching proteins. For dogs with gas we recommend adding a digestive enzyme like our Sunday Sundae to their daily meals. Many dogs will benefit from daily digestive enzymes for their entire life.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions that were not covered on this page. With time you will become more comfortable with your dogs new diet and you will start to see the results in the form of better coats, cleaner teeth, fresher breath and fewer health issues. Switch to a raw diet and feel confident that you will be joining thousands of people who have safely and effectively made the leap to raw and have never looked back.