Why Should I Make The Switch?
With all of the pet food choices on the market today that dog owners are faced with, how does one choose? This can be a stressful decision as it can determine the longevity and quality of life of your dog. Many commercial pet foods out there promise quality and nutrition but fall short in the ingredients list. Corn, grain, soy, starch, fat and preservative laden foods can take a toll on your dog’s system and lead to potential health problems in their future. Removing all of the fillers and extra ingredients that aren’t necessary from your dog’s diet will allow them to digest their food easier and therefor fully utilize the nutrition provided from healthy, whole ingredients.
Even if you choose a dry kibble that is grain free, starch free and even organic, most of the enzymes and vitamins that come naturally from the fresh ingredients used won’t even make it to the bag (hence why most dry kibbles have vitamins added to them). Once it is processed and cooked at high temperatures it becomes a hard crunchy essence of its original form. If you take the original whole ingredients that the dry kibble was to begin with and cut out all of the additives, processing and cooking – well that’s a start! Your dog’s stomach is built to digest raw meat, bone and organ which will become apparent almost immediately after starting.
Smaller, more consistent and less stinky poo, a healthy soft and shiny coat, great oral health, clear eyes, increased energy and vitality, fewer common ailments which result in less vet visits and most importantly – longevity! We want our furry companions to be a part of our lives for as long as possible – raw food will be a contributing factor to their long, happy, healthy life.
How old is your dog? What is their activity level like? Are they at their ideal weight? Any allergies? These are questions to consider in figuring out portions and meal plans.
For an adult dog with a moderate activity level we recommend feeding approximately 2-3% of their ideal body weight. Puppies under one year old and pregnant/nursing dogs will eat closer to 5-8% of their body weight. Try our online feeding calculator to figure out a starting point. Use these guidelines loosely as they will change with activity level, aging, breed, and general health. A good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to feel their ribs but you don’t want to be able to see them! Adjust accordingly.
Choose one or two fully balanced meal options (meat, bone, organ, veggie) to make the transition to, stock up on raw tripe (it’s smelly but the natural digestive enzymes will help!), and don’t look back! Get you and your dog settled and used to the routine and then start getting creative. Variety is the spice of life so don’t be afraid to try something new!
To ensure potential digestive upset caused from the transition to raw food is minimized we highly recommend a cold turkey method. Cooked food and raw food digest at different rates so mixing the two can be much harder for the system to accommodate rather than a cold turkey switch. The worst that can happen is a slightly loose stool and in rare circumstances vomiting. This is normal and somewhat expected – imagine if you drastically changed your diet overnight (this happens sometimes when people travel)! Your body might be confused at first but would quickly adapt. If you know your dog has an overly sensitive tummy we suggest prepping his/her system with a probiotic the week before to lessen the chance of temporary digestive upset.
If you suspect that your dog has allergies start on a single protein your dog hasn’t had before and once it has been determined that there are no new symptoms and the previous allergy symptoms have subsided substantially you can begin introducing new things! Talk to one of us at True Carnivores to get your dog set up on what we call ‘the elimination diet.’ It’s easy!
You might have more questions about the switch and that’s what we’re here for! Give us a call today or come into the store for a one on one consultation with one of our passionate raw food advocates at True Carnivores!
Since you are handling and feeding raw food we suggest you follow food safe guidelines such as washing your hands and the area your are working on after feeding and handling the food and washing your dog’s dish when they are finished eating. Do not leave thawed out raw food outside of the fridge for more than 20-30 minutes before discarding.
Many of us are intimidated by the process and preparation of raw food in the beginning since we feel like it will be a lot more work than simply pouring food into a dish and being done with it. In an age of fast paced everything with little time to spare, adding in a new task to your routine can seem daunting.
Truth be told it’s really easy! Once you have a system going for thawing out the food prior to feeding it is extremely simple and quick. For some, one meal out of the fridge and into the bowl means one meal out of the freezer and into the fridge to thaw for the next feeding. For others who feed vacuum sealed packages of food it’s as easy as pulling a meal out 15 minutes before feeding and submerging it in warm water until it thaws. Feeding raw food will become part of your daily routine, as easy as your morning coffee, walking your dog, or brushing your teeth!
One way or another you can make it work! Each of us have varying degrees of economical circumstances. At True Carnivores we are here to assist in tailoring a diet for your dog that will not only be extremely healthy but also within your means. We want every dog to have the opportunity to thrive on a diet that is biologically appropriate without breaking their owner’s bank, however, we do realize that raw food diets are known for being more expensive than conventional dry food. Let’s also consider the long term health benefits of feeding your dog raw food that can end up saving you thousands of dollars over your dog’s lifespan!
The results of feeding raw food long-term can prevent many common ailments that may leave you with hefty vet bills. All of those benefits considered some still have budgets that cannot be exceeded on a monthly basis. Don’t let this deter you from exploring the possibilities! Chat with one of us at True Carnivores and we’ll share with you all the tricks to lowering your overall feeding costs for your raw fed dog. We are able to accommodate most budgets.
Slight digestive upset during the transition period is normal. Dogs and cats are born with naturally acidic stomachs which aid in the digestion of raw meat and also kill the bad bacteria they may consume in their natural environments. Feeding a dry kibble food will reverse the acid based stomach and turn it into an an alkaline base like humans are meant to have. This isn’t the natural way for a cat or dog. Eventually this will weaken their digestive system making it difficult to process the raw meat. During the transition they may struggle to produce the extra stomach acid that is required creating digestive upset. This reaction will not last very long.
If your dog is showing signs of digestive upset during the transition (vomiting or diarrhea) there are ways to help them along. Including a digestive enzyme and/or a probiotic for the first 2 weeks or so can lessen the chance of any tummy issues along the way. Starting your dog on the enzymes and/or probiotic even before switching to raw (1-2 weeks in advance) can help prevent these problems as well. And lastly – start with tripe! On your first day switching to raw we always recommend taking home some raw tripe with you because it’s packed full of natural probiotics and digestive enzymes already!
Are bones safe? This question is very common to those who are new to raw food since typically we have been warned to never feed our animals bones from our own food. And there is truth in that. Never feed cooked bones to your dog as they are sharp, brittle, and can be extremely dangerous once consumed. Feeding a RAW bone of the appropriate size to your dog, on the other hand, is encouraged as it does not pose the same threats as a cooked bone and has many health benefits. How might you decide on which bone is suitable?
The bigger the better
To ensure there is no risk of your dog being so excited about their bone that they completely inhale it make sure it is way too big for that to be possible. In the beginning go with a knuckle bone roughly the size of the dog’s head until you are confident they can handle something smaller. Once your dog has established a mature attitude towards bones try one of these smaller options: femurs, ribs, chicken necks, turkey necks, lamb necks or elk neck slices.
Bones are the most natural way to maintain your dog’s oral health and lessen the chance of tooth and gum issues leading up to and in their senior years. Typically a raw fed dog does not require having their teeth cleaned if bones are given at least once a week! Gnawing on a knuckle or femur bone will chip away at the plaque build up on their teeth and chewing on meaty bones will naturally floss their teeth. This is nature’s method of keeping your dog’s teeth in good shape!
Recreational vs Meal bones
We consider most bone without a large content of meat still attached a recreational bone. These bones are awesome for oral upkeep, a snack between meals or keeping your dog preoccupied with a fun and delicious activity. Some will even use these as a psychological meal on days where they might fast their dog. Examples of a recreational bone: knuckles, femurs or rib bones. A meal bone is something that can replace a feeding all together. Use something like a chicken/turkey neck or carcass, lamb neck, elk neck or another raw meaty bone to supplement a whole meal! Your dogs teeth and jaw will be getting a great work out and their hunger will be satisfied.
Although we do recommend bones as the best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and to give them something delicious to munch on you may be looking for an alternative. Try an appropriate sized bully stick or antler instead!
IMPORTANT: True Carnivores recommends that you are present during the feeding of all bones (as well as bully sticks & antlers) to ensure your dogs safety. Always choose an appropriately sized bone (the bigger the better) to avoid the chance of your dog swallowing it whole. Otherwise, have fun with it! Bones are an important part of any dogs raw food diet.
To supplement or not to supplement? That is the question! There are many different ideas out there on the topic of adding supplements into your raw fed dog’s diet. Some might argue that a fully balanced raw food diet provides a dog with more than enough nutrients and vitamins that are built right in and that supplements are not necessary. Others may suggest that there is no harm filling in the gaps with supplements as a precautionary to ensure all the bases are covered and their dog is getting a little bit of everything. At True Carnivores we truly believe that your dog’s individual circumstance will dictate whether or not supplements may be necessary at one point or another during their lifespan.
Omega 3 fatty acid
Omega 3 fatty acid is an important part of any dog’s diet. It is great for promoting a healthy skin and coat, reducing inflammation in the joints and throughout the body, supporting proper brain function and many other positive benefits. Whether you choose to include this in your dog’s diet in the form of a supplement or incorporate in omega 3 rich food, ultimately it is up to you to determine which best suits your circumstance. Feeding foods such as high quality grass-fed beef and other pasture raised meat, grass-fed beef tripe , wild salmon, sardines and other wildly caught cold water fish are ways to get a healthy dose of omega 3’s into your dog’s diet. If that doesn’t provide enough or those aren’t readily available to you, you will want to consider supplementing the omega 3 into their diet by way of flax seed oil or ground flax seeds, a good quality wild caught cold water fish oil (salmon, sardine, anchovy etc) or chia seeds.
Giving a probiotic to your dog can help restore a proper balance of healthy bacteria in the gut promoting overall digestive health and immune system support. Probiotics are known for assisting in the transition to a raw food diet, treating diarrhea (chronic due to a sensitive tummy or surprise bouts), irritable bowel and intestinal inflammation, restoring a proper ‘gut flora’ after immunization or antibiotics, prevention of urinary tract infections, and more. If your dog is in need of a readily available and natural probiotic try feeding raw grass-fed beef tripe (I.E. green tripe)! This stinky meal will give your dog a dose of natural probiotics and digestive enzymes and support overall digestive function. If your dog might needs a stronger dose consider one of our many excellent probiotic supplements that will help re-establish a healthy ‘gut flora’ for your dog. Talk to one of as at True Carnivores about which Probiotic supplement may be suitable for the situation.
In the early years of a raw fed dog’s life you may not deem it necessary to incorporate a joint support supplement. Circumstances in which you will want to consider one early on, though, is if your dog has suffered an injury, if your dog has had a rapid growth spurt between the ages of 3 months – 8 months (most common in large breed puppies), or if your dog is prone to hereditary bone and joint complications. If these circumstances do not apply to your dog you likely will not need to include a joint support supplement until much later in life. As your dog ages use your best judgement as to when it might be time to start! You know your dog best – look for stiffness in the joints when walking, laboured efforts to stand up after lying down, reluctance to jump up or down or to take stairs, expressions of discomfort or pain. If you are already supplementing with flax seed oil (we love this for its diversity) for omega 3’s you are already supporting the joints! If your dog needs further assistance try one of these: Wildly caught cold water fish oil, -Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin- (these three are often found together in a formula but also solitary), or hyaluronic acid (advanced).
One of the benefits of feeding a raw diet to your dog is that they may not need to take a multivitamin for a large portion of their lifespan. Using a rotational diet of red and white meats with organ and bone, tripe, and raw meaty bones gives your dog a completely natural built-in array of vitamins and nutrients. If you find that your dog has a poor appetite due to pickiness or illness, that may be a good time to introduce a multivitamin to ensure they are getting everything the need. There are other circumstances when you may consider a multivitamin and those are: puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs, senior dogs. Chat with us today about finding an appropriate multivitamin for your dog!
These days there is a supplement to support most ailments or conditions your dog may have. Relief of itchy skin, improving incontinence, liver support, kidney support, lung support, cardiovascular support, immune support, help with anxiety, prebiotics, stool regulators, relief from parasite infestation (inside and out)…you name it! We at True Carnivores always recommend trying a holistic approach, which includes a healthy diet, to most conditions whenever possible rather than resorting to modern medicine. We have seen some amazing results!
Still not sure?
Please do not hesitate to call us for more information or come into our store to browse our supplement wall!
The most common reason for your raw fed dog’s stool to be hard is excess raw bone in the diet. When too much raw bone is given you may notice a hard and chalky-like consistency to your dog’s stool often accompanied by a whitish colour. Your dog will likely be struggling more than usual to pass the stool and the stool could be covered in a mucus membrane as the body’s way of trying to move it along.
If you want to help your dog along in the passing of a particularly hard stool consider feeding pumpkin. Use 100% pure canned pumpkin or frozen raw pumpkin as a fast acting remedy to your dog’s constipation.
Long Term Solution
If you notice your dog is having a chronically hard stool consider tapering back slightly on the bone in their diet, especially if you are giving them raw meaty bones, knuckle bones and chicken or turkey necks more than a couple of times a week. Also, feeding a high amount of carcass (chicken, turkey, pheasant etc) is often the culprit behind constipation so along with these meals ensure you are also feeding tripe, pumpkin or both to help move it through your dogs system!
Not every dog will eat anything that you put in front of them. It can be challenging having a finicky dog as the worry of them eating can be overwhelming at times.
Try new things
Keep trying new proteins, different brand names, with veggies, without veggies etc. Just because your dog doesn’t like lamb or turkey, for example, from one company that doesn’t mean they won’t like it from the next!
Keep it interesting
Having a wide variety of proteins can be one way of getting your dog to eat. Maybe they just need to have a fresh scent at each meal to keep things interesting. Some dogs prefer variety to keep their palette excited!
Make meal time fun!
Many dog owners have been successful with using an interactive toy such as a Kong to get their dog excited about eating. Stuff the raw food into one of these and watch your dog enthusiastically extract every morsel! Eventually try removing the toy from meal time and watch the excitement transfer to the bowl.
Consider topping your dog’s raw food with something to get them interested. Try tripe, freeze dried treats, salmon or flax oil and anything else your dog just goes crazy for (making sure it’s healthy of course).
Sometimes, without realizing it, we are training our dogs to be picky. If we put something down and our dog turns their nose up at it we might quickly take it away and try something new. This is teaching our dog to snub everything until they get just what they want. They are smarter than we sometimes realize! If your dog refuses a meal try taking it away and put it back into the fridge (don’t let it sit out for more than 10-15 minutes at a time). Try feeding the same thing a little bit later in the day and do this 2-3 times and see if they will eventually give in and accept the meal you’ve dished out for them. Remember that it is natural for a dog to fast about once a week so one day without food won’t harm them.
Always have a back-up
If you’re able to find one product your dog will devour no matter what always keep it on hand in case your dog refuses to eat everything else on a particularly finicky day/week. Avoid withholding meals for extended periods of time – tough love is okay but starvation is cruel.
A routine grass chomp on a dog’s walk or backyard adventure is quite common! A dog may be looking for a little bit of extra roughage in their diet or perhaps a light, nutrient packed snack. If you notice your dog is gulping it back like no tomorrow and then vomiting afterwards this may be a sign of digestive upset. When swallowed in large amounts the blades of grass will cause your dog to vomit and this might be just what they need if their tummy is feeling off.
Follow this up with a day of tripe and a couple of scoops of pumpkin to help ease their stomach turmoil if it persists. Avoid Pesticides: although it is perfectly safe for a dog to chomp down on grass it would be a good idea to avoid places where the grass may have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Allow grass eating only in controlled areas that you know are safe and free of pesticides.
You may have noticed after switching your dog to raw food that they don’t drink as much water. That is to be expected! The moisture content of raw food is so much higher than conventional dry food (even canned food) it is completely normal and safe for your dog’s water intake from their water dish to decrease noticeably. Raw food supplies your dog with much of the moisture that keeps them hydrated therefore it just isn’t necessary to drink a tonne of water anymore!
One of the most controversial topics in animal wellness – Vaccinations. A norm has been instilled in us as a society that as a responsible dog owner we should be sure to keep up with yearly vaccinations for the health and safety of our animal. As holistic medicine becomes more prevalent in Western culture there are more and more opinions surfacing that vaccinating yearly, or even once, can be detrimental to the health of our pets. And there doesn’t seem to be much of an in between as far as opinions go. With such strong and definitive positions on either side of the spectrum how can we feel confident about following either one without questioning our decision?
If you are feeding raw food you are already in the mindset that a more natural approach to your dog’s health is the way for you. Raw food allows your dog’s system to operate in a way that it would have thousands of years ago, before conventional and highly processed dog food was available. And before vaccines. A dog’s immune system, nervous system, brain function etc are much heartier on raw food and therefore they are able to fend off common ailments and avoid disease much easier than a dog whose system is constantly under stress by trying to absorb and process food that isn’t species appropriate. The same parallel can be found in humans. A person who eats fast food everyday is far more likely to fall ill and resort to the assistance of western medicine to heal than a person who incorporates only fresh, unprocessed and whole food in their diet. As Hippocrates states in a well known quote, “All disease begins in the gut.” Nurturing your dog’s health by way of an appropriate diet, exercise and general care and attention could be all the preventation your dog needs in their lifetime.
Have you made your decision yet?
It’s impossible to know with 100% certainty whether or not our dog will benefit from one vaccine or another at some point throughout their lifetime and it can feel like a flip of a coin making the decision to vaccinate or not. Since in the end we only have our dog’s best interest in mind the goal is to minimize any factors that could cause future health issues as much as possible. In order to ensure your pet is as healthy as can be consider a yearly check-up with your local holistic vet to discuss the options when the time comes.
“Every vaccine is a form of Russian Roulette and vaccination must be along with the rest of the drug driven nonsense of the 20th century.” – Dr Daniel Duffy Sr. DC
There is an array of factors that can contribute to your dog’s loose stool and at times it can be difficult to diagnose the correct one. When confided in by a concerned dog owner we generally ask them to consider a series of possibilities.
Diarrhea or Loose Stool?
In general diarrhea is seen as being more severe in that it is defined as explosive, liquified and sometimes impossible to hold in and can is some cases lead to over 6 eliminations per day. This usually results in dehydration quite quickly and should be monitored and treated with more urgency. A loose stool is characterized as watery and much harder to pick up than an average stool and if it lingers can result in 2-3 eliminations per day. Determine which of the two you are dealing with to effectively treat.
Is there enough bone content in your dog’s raw food?
Not only is an appropriate amount of bone necessary as a source of calcium as well as an essential component to balance the calcium:phosphorus ratio of your dog’s diet, it also assists in maintaining a firm stool. Very commonly when a dog on a raw food diet is experiencing a looser than normal stool it is as a result of a meal with little or no bone content in it. This can easily be remedied by ensuring that the next meal has an appropriate amount of bone to firm the stool back up and going forward this balance is continued.
Is the organ content too high in your dog’s diet?
Organ is a very important component of a raw food diet but should only make up approximately 10% of your dog’s overall meal in a day. Feeding more than this, especially liver which is quite rich, can result in a very loose stool. Treats count too! Dehydrated and freeze dried liver treats are healthy and delicious for your dog but give them in moderation to ensure you are not causing your dog to have a loose stool.
Is your dog detoxifying due to a diet change?
If you have recently switched your dog over to a raw food diet his can temporarily cause symptoms of a detox. Until your dog has rid their system of any toxins related to a highly processed diet they could experience a loose stool for the first 2-7 days. If the symptoms are a result of this detoxification process just be patient as it will pass.
Are the proteins you are feeding your dog too rich?
Although fattier proteins such as lamb and duck are excellent in moderation, for some dogs they can be too rich to be fed on a regular basis. Feeding a diet too high in fat can cause a loose stool so to avoid this stick to a rotational diet and keep the high fat proteins to a minimum to avoid triggering this symptom.
None of the above?
If you have ruled out all of the above possibilities it is a good idea to consider a gentle detox on your dog’s system and try to re-establish their gut flora with a probiotic. It is possible your dog has picked up an internal parasite or their healthy bacteria can be thrown off by a number of factors and it just needs a little bit of help to fall back in place. Look at using an herbal anti-parasite remedy for 5-7 days and/or administer a probiotic as an attempt to reset their tummy. Also, temporarily cutting down on their regular meal portions and incorporating green tripe into the diet for a few days will likely help in giving their tummy a rest. If you have tried everything and the stool is still too loose and your dog is beginning to show signs of lethargy and dehydration it may be a good time to drop off a stool sample to your local holistic veterinarian.
Pumpkin – the miracle worker
Having a can of 100% pure pumpkin in the house at all times can help assist you in regulating your dog’s stool when it just doesn’t seem to be quite right. This could do the trick. Mix into your dog’s next meal or feed as a treat. Pumpkin works to regulate the stool when it is both too hard and too loose!
A little bit of itching and scratching here and there is normal but it may get to the point where it has become a problem that needs attention. Constant itching, chewing, flakey skin, hot spots, restlessness, obvious frustration. These are symptoms that need to be addressed for the comfort of your dog.
It is common for dogs in this day and age to develop an intolerance to one or several foods in their diet. Being on raw food makes it extremely easy to target the culprit by going on what we call an “elimination diet.” Choose one protein that your dog hasn’t been fed as a main protein option in their lifetime and strip their diet down to just that one option, for example elk. Feed a balanced ratio of elk meat bone and organ and pair it with meaty elk bones and elk treats. Other common elimination diet proteins include bison, rabbit, or cornish hen. Exclude all vegetables and fruit, supplements or additional treats of any kind until the allergies have stabilized. If allergy symptoms improve on the chosen protein you can record this as “safe” and after approximately 3-4 weeks introduce one additional protein in the same fashion, building your safe list from there.
Seasonal/environmental allergies tend to surface especially during the onset of spring and fall and can cause allergy symptoms. These are far more difficult to control but incorporating a local bee pollen or anti-histamine such as MSM into your dog’s diet can help alleviate these symptoms during these times.
In some cases itchiness may not be related to food or environmental allergies at all but instead a result of an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the gut or a yeast infection. The symptoms of these often manifest themselves as hot spots, a reddish hue of the paws, or flakey and/or smelly ears. A probiotic is likely necessary to treat this in a timely fashion and it should be started as soon as symptoms begin to show. Talk to one of us today about the best course of action for your dog’s specific needs.
One of the best side effects for us humans when we switch our dogs to raw food is their smaller, firmer, and less smelly stools! Without ingredients like corn, soy, grain and other undigestible ingredients found in highly processed conventional foods, in eating a balanced raw food diet your dog is able to utilize the ingredients more efficiently in their system. Instead of eliminating a large percentage of unusable matter found in conventional foods, the vitamins and nutrients provided from raw food are being absorbed and used to build a strong immune system, digestive system, and promoting their overall health and well being resulting in smaller and firmer stools. Just another perk of being on a raw food diet!
Salmonella, e. coli, c. jejuni, l. monocytogenes, vibrio and c. bolulinum are among some of the known bad bacteria that can cause food borne illness in humans from eating undercooked meat and seafood so it is common for us to wonder “can my dog also be effected by these?” Although there are preventative measures taken to ensure fresh and clean meat there is a small chance that these bacteria could be living on the raw meat that you are buying. Did you know that highly processed conventional dry food also runs the risk of fostering these bacteria as well?
There are indeed recorded incidences of dogs falling ill from bacteria found in food but what we may not be taking into consideration is their diet at the time. Were they on a highly processed conventional dry food diet? A dog who isn’t on raw food does not have the stomach acids necessary to eradicate harsh bacteria like the ones mentioned above when a dog who has been eating a raw food diet does. On a kibble diet a dog’s stomach acids are suppressed significantly compared to that of a raw fed dog and their immune system is often not strong enough to go up against these powerful bacteria. Once a dog is on a raw food diet and their gut flora has been re-established, their immune system is in check, and they are in overall good health, these bacteria will not be a realistic threat to the dog anymore.
Interesting fact: a dog’s intestinal tract is a mere 2-3 times the length of their body as opposed to a human’s that can reach up to 8 metres long! This means that anything entering a dog’s stomach is therefor rid much faster than that of a human so they are far less likely to become ill as bacteria passes through their intestines. That mixed with the high acidity of a raw fed dog’s stomach it’s barely a threat for bad bacteria thriving at all!
Keep in mind that proper food safe procedures such as washing your dog’s dish between feedings as well as the area around their eating place and storing the raw meat properly before feeding is necessary to ensure bacteria growth is kept to a minimum.
Your own safety
Even though us raw food advocates do not worry very much about these bacteria having repercussions on our dog’s health, we must be aware of the effect of the bacteria on ourselves. Since we do not have the same highly acidic stomach as a raw fed dog we can become very ill from the aforementioned bacteria. Always follow food safe guidelines when handing raw food and wash your hands and the area used to prepare your dog’s meal afterwards.