To truly understand why a raw food diet for cats is so important, we must first understand a few basic facts about cats:
There are approximately 600 million housecats in the world and all of them evolved from five lineages, traced through analysis of mitochondrial DNA to the Near East region of the world. The climate in the Near East is dry and hot, with little to no vegetation and with very low annual rainfall. Water is scarce, and animals in the region have had to adapt to these climate extremes with very specialized systems. For cats, this means a protein-only diet, obtaining nearly all of their moisture requirements from the foods they eat. Many of the health issues we see in domestic cats are a direct result of dehydration. Most of these can be avoided, and sometimes repaired simply by switching the cat to high moisture, highly digestible raw meat diet.
Cats are Obligate Carnivores, or “true” carnivores, which means that they depend only on the nutrients found in prey animals for survival. They have a need for an Essential Fatty Acid, or EFA, called arachidonic acid which plays a vital role in fat utilization and energy production. This particular EFA is found primarily in raw meat. Cats do not actually require any plant material at all in their diet to thrive. In fact, a diet high in vegetable matter can lead to an overabundance of glutamic acid which will cause sporadic vomiting and a thiamine deficiency.
Obligate carnivores will, in very few cases, eat plant material (especially that found in the stomach contents of smaller prey that are eaten whole) even though they lack the digestive enzymes to break down and metabolize such foods. Additionally, cats cannot synthesize certain essential nutrients from plant matter, such as taurine and retinol (Vitamin A), and must obtain them from the proteins they consume. Another characteristic of true carnivores that cats exhibit is a very short, straight digestive tract. This is because cats do not need to break down tough plant cellulose. In fact, the higher the amount of fiber in the diet (plant or grain), the higher the level of taurine is required in the diet.
In the wild, and even in their own backyards, cats are very good hunters and can easily catch the prey they wish to. Cats differ from other carnivores, such as dogs, in that they do not have to scavenge for other food if they do not catch the prey they were hunting. Dogs are somewhat sloppy hunters and do not always get to eat their preferred meal and so have had to adapt to eating less-than-optimal foods that they can scavenge, like berries or roots. Cats would rather forgo eating altogether if they cannot have the food they wish to eat. One result of cats being such successful hunters is that they are “imprint eaters”, and as such tend to imprint of the foods fed to them as kittens. Though this can make switching their diet more of a challenge, the health benefits far outweigh the temporary frustration of making the diet switch.
The differences in hunting methods/success and anatomy between dogs and cats mean that they have very different nutritional needs. Cats must obtain most, if not all, of their nutrition from protein to thrive, whereas dogs can obtain nutrition from a few other sources in addition to proteins. It is for this reason that we promote the philosophy of feeding cats and dogs a species appropriate diet, specific to their unique needs. Northwest Naturals Cat Formulas do not contain any produce. The Dog Formulas contain approximately 18.5% produce. It would be difficult for a cat to thrive on a diet with such a high percentage of produce. When a cat consumes large amounts of materials that they are unable to digest, their digestive systems are overworked, their metabolism is exhausted, and extra fat and toxins are stored.
The most important thing to remember when feeding cats is that we must try to cater to their needs as much as possible and provide a diet that is as close to what they would eat in the wild as possible. Northwest Naturals Raw Frozen Cat Formulas were specifically formulated with this in mind and provide the highest nutritional value possible for your feline pet.
Proper dental maintenance is essential to prevent periodontal disease and promote healthy teeth and gums in pets. Though a daily brushing is an excellent way to keep up on dental health, the most effective way to get rid of plaque build-up is offering your pet a raw meaty bone. The reason why plaque is so hard to remove from teeth is that the dental bacteria create a protective barrier, or biofilm, which cannot be permeated by water, toothpaste, or chemicals. Traditional brushing moves the plaque around the teeth, and while some is removed, much of the plaque and bacteria remain behind. Raw bones have naturally occurring enzymes which break down the biofilm. Then, when pets chew on the bone, the plaque is gently scraped off the teeth.
In addition to great dental health benefits, raw meaty bones provide recreational activity for adult dogs and an appropriate chewing outlet for puppies. Young and teething dogs have a psychological and physical need to chew. Besides providing a fun and engaging (and tasty!) activity, young dogs can properly develop jaw, skull, neck, and shoulder muscling. (It also keeps them away from your favorite shoes!)
The last important aspect of feeding raw bones is a nutritional benefit. Raw bones, and the marrow within, are both natural nutritional sources of protein, fat, minerals, calcium, and phosphorous. However, since raw marrow bones are meant to be chewed only–not eaten—there are only small amounts of these nutrients and the bones should be fed more as a “treat” than as a replacement for your dog’s usual food.
How to introduce a raw marrow bone into your dog’s diet:
For a dog that has never had a raw bone before, introduce it slowly. Let the dog have the bone in a confined space (maybe the kitchen, a towel on the floor, or even the bathtub) or outside of the house, for about 10-15 minutes for the first couple of feedings. Since the marrow inside of a raw bone is very rich and is somewhat fatty, it can cause loose stools in dogs with sensitive stomachs if consumed in large amounts. The amount of marrow the dog consumes can be reduced by scooping the marrow out of the center of a femur bone and stored in the freezer to add to the bone again later. Once the dog is used to having raw bones in their allowed space, raw marrow bones can be fed around three times a week.
Tips for Feeding Raw Bones:
Choose an appropriate size bone for your dog. Be sure to remove bones that start to crack or chip due to aggressive chewing. Small bones are not appropriate for aggressive chewers.
Always supervise a dog when it is chewing on a raw bone. Dogs should be kept in a confined and monitored space and the bone should be removed if large chunks are bitten off or the dog appears in distress in any way.
Feed raw bones in an area that can be easily cleaned. Remember that these are raw meat products and they should be handled with the same procedures as meat for human consumption. Always wash hands and surfaces with hot soapy water.
Dogs should never be fed a cooked marrow bone. Cooking a bone completely changes the chemical structure of the bone and it becomes very hard and can splinter easily into very sharp, dangerous pieces.
Separate dogs when you feed raw bones. Many dogs can get very territorial about their delicious bones!
Ingredients and Their Benefits
Broccoli – A plant in the cabbage family. It is high in vitamin C, calcium, soluble fiber, and also contains multiple nutrients, making broccoli a “super food” to support health and wellness.
Sweet Potato –
Carrots – A source of important vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids to help support the immune system and digestive system. They may also help support proper skin and eye health.
Romaine Lettuce –
Apple – Rich in Vitamin C as well as a host of other unique antioxidant and botanical compounds such as flavenoids. Apples provide soluble and insoluble fiber, some Vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium and boron.
Blueberries – A source of powerful antioxidants that may help support health and vitality. High in Fiber.
Cranberries – High in vitamin C, and have antioxidant and antibacterial effects in the body. High in Fiber.
Chicken and Turkey Necks
Before we delve into the many benefits of raw poultry bones, it is important to first make the distinction between feeding raw poultry bones and cooked poultry bones. Many of us are familiar with the fact that we should never, ever feed cooked poultry bones to dogs, but do you know the reason behind this warning? First off, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of raw poultry bones:
When a poultry bone has been exposed to heat through the cooking process, many things change. First of all, the chemical structure of the bone is altered. Water, cartilage, and blood vessel structures are removed and the bone becomes dry and brittle. It is no longer flexible, and without the connective tissues and moisture intact, it will easy snap into small, sharp pieces. It is the dangerously sharp pieces that pose the highest threat to our pets. Not only can the sharp edges puncture the trachea, intestines, and bowels, but they are no longer digestible and will stay intact through the digestion process, increasing the risk of damage to the pet. It is very important to monitor our pets (especially those scavenging dogs!) to make sure they do not have access to cooked poultry bones.
Raw poultry bones are not only safe for our pets to eat, but they offer many additional nutritional benefits to a pet’s diet, such as:
The Glucosamine and chondroitin found in raw poultry bones are in a “bio-available” form, which means that they are already in the most digestible and ready-to-use, natural form. For example, this differs from a dry glucosamine supplement because a pet would have to first re-hydrate the dry supplement and then try to pull something useful from what is available, which is often not the complete amount of what is fed. A natural bio-available form is absorbed by the intestines in the regular digestion process and nearly every bit of the glucosamine is usable. In fact, it is encouraged to replace the use of glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements with three weekly feedings of raw poultry bones in a size appropriate for your pet.
Enzymes and amino acids not only aid in digestion and the formation of proteins in the pet’s body, they are also an excellent way to clean the pet’s teeth. Through the chewing process, the enzymes are actually more effective in breaking down tough layers of plaque than daily brushings!
Maintaining proper calcium and phosphorous levels in your pet’s diet is essential. Again, the calcium and phosphorous found in raw poultry bones are in a bio-available form and can easy be used by your pet.
Poultry bones offer a low-fat source of meat and nutrients that can be used to replace up to three of your pet’s regular meals per week. Choose poultry bones that are appropriate for the size of your pet and simply feed only the poultry bone for that meal. Always supervise your pet when feeding raw meaty bones.
In addition to all of the nutritional benefits, raw poultry bones are fun for your pet! Adding variety into your pet’s diet allows you both a break from the monotony of feeding the same meal every day and allows for varied sources for nutrition. It is very natural for dogs in the wild to seek out and chew on the bones of their prey and they enjoy the process.
Chicken and turkey necks are similar in makeup in that they have a nearly identical amino acid chain, but they do have a couple of nutritional differences. Turkey is higher is selenium, iron, and zinc, and is a slightly leaner meat. The Chicken Necks include more flesh on the bone and have the skin attached, which is a great source of those natural omega 3’s and 6’s.
Some things to keep in mind when feeding raw poultry bones:
Some dogs can “gulp” the whole bone. This means that they will swallow the whole bone without chewing it. This is actually a very natural way for a dog to eat in the wild, since they do not have the ability to move their jaw from side to side to grind and chew their food. A raw bone is considerably easy for a dog to digest and so it shouldn’t cause any digestive issues, as long as your dog is in good health and the bone passes down their esophagus without problem. However, we always suggest that when you feed a raw poultry bone to a “gulper”, you hold half of the bone in your hand and let them chew off a small piece first.
Always feed raw poultry bones in a supervised environment. The backyard is a great place to offer one to your pet, but you can also try the bathtub (for smaller pets) or on a sheet in the kitchen. Just remember that this is a raw poultry product and any surfaces or materials that have come in contact with the poultry should be cleaned and disinfected.
Poultry bones can be given to dogs of all ages, but when feeding to a senior pet, or one who has compromised tooth health, be especially diligent in making sure they can handle the raw bone well.
Poultry bones can be used as meal replacements for your pet for up to three meals a week. There is no exact formula for how much raw bone your dog should have instead of their regular meal, but you can estimate based on the size of your dog and the amount of food they usually receive.
The salmon used in the Northwest Naturals Chicken & Salmon Raw Dog Recipe and Freeze Dried Salmon Treats is wild caught from Alaska. For human consumption, Wild Pacific caught salmon is preferred. However, salmon from the Northwest can carry the parasite Nanophyetus salmincola that in turn may be infected with Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Since consuming fish infected with Neorickettsiais is usually fatal to dogs, all salmon used in our facility is manufactured in accordance to the FDA guidelines for freezing fish to kill parasites.
Northwest Naturals diets are flash frozen -30º at the time of production and then are maintained at -20º until shipped. NW Naturals Chicken & Salmon diet – Salmon used is Alaska Wild Caught Salmon Below you will find the FDA Guidelines. 4.2. Freezing – Unlike bacteria, molds, and viruses, most parasites are relatively easy to destroy by holding the raw material or finished product at freezing temperatures for a specified period of time; of course, this is dependent upon the internal temperature of the material. The Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guide recommends a temperature below -4 oF (-20 oC) for 7 d or -31 oF (-35 oC) (internal) for 15 h to kill the parasites of concern (FDA 1998). Although, based on the data currently available, these recommendations may appear stringent, it is because they were developed for the parasites that are considered most resistant to freezing (G. Hoskin 2001; personal communication; unreferenced). Already in 1975 (Food Chemical News, October 1975) Dr. G. J. Jackson cautioned that the anisakid nematodes vary in their ability to survive at low temperatures. For instance, certain species of anisakids have been reported to survive up to 52 h at -4 oF. A number of other time and temperature regimes have been prescribed to accomplish the inactivation of parasites. Another such option prescribes holding the fish at -10 oF (-23 oC) for 60 h (Ching 1984). Alternatively, E.U. regulations require freezing at a temperature of no more than -4 oF (-20 oC) in all parts of the product for not less than 24 h in order to control parasites in fish. While the parasites can be killed by freezing the finished product, it is generally considered more appropriate to freeze the raw material prior to processing. Nematodes in particular will attempt to depart the gut during processing and will then establish themselves in the muscle during salting or smoking (Hauck 1977). The result may be the presence of nematodes on the surface of the finished product, often perpendicular to the surface. Their presence becomes a quality issue resulting in an aesthetically unwholesome (although safe) product. For this reason, it is a good practice to freeze susceptible raw material, even for hot-smoked fish.
When it comes to your pet’s health, do you want to follow facts or fears? Unfortunately, garlic has come under attack. This is primarily as a result of garlic’s close cousin onion’s reputation for triggering hemolytic or “Heinz factor” anemia (where circulating red blood cells burst) through its high concentration of thiosulphate. With onions, a single generous serving can cause this reaction.
Garlic simply DOES NOT CONTAIN THE SAME CONCENTRATION of this compound! In fact, it is barely traceable and readily excreted (not stored in the body).
Despite this fact, garlic is falling victim to mass hysteria spread through the internet. Yes, there are 51,174 sites devoted to warning about the “toxicity” of garlic, this hysteria has even prompted the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center to place a warning on garlic although there is little scientific data to back this claim other than the fact that thiosulphate is also found in garlic. Yet, there are also over 400,000 sites still proclaiming its benefits, many of them from reputable holistic veterinarians who have widely used garlic in their practice for many years! How can an herb suddenly turn so bad?!
There is no doubt that onion, due to its concentration of thiosulphate, will cause Heinz factor anemia. In addition, as stated by Wendy Wallner, DVM, “Onions are only one of the substances which can cause Heinz body anemia. Other substances such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and benzocaine containing topical preparations can also cause Heinz body anemia in the dog.” The latter probably accounts for many cases as it is prevalent in creams often recommended for allergy-suffering pets due to its ability to numb the itch. It is absorbed through the skin and builds up in the blood stream. This other substance is likely to have been involved in cases where garlic was suspect.
For centuries, as long as humans have been using herbs, garlic has been a primary remedy turned to in a majority of cases. For as long as people have been using garlic, they have also been feeding it to their animal companions. Its properties have proven far reaching, easy on the body and safe to use. In the past fifty years, during the rebirth of holistic medicine in the United States, garlic has been in the forefront. Every text that I have researched on herbal health which mentions pet care has recommended it, especially for its incredible anti-parasitic and anti-septic properties. In my own experience, garlic has also benefited pets with cancer, diabetes, liver, heart and kidney disease, uncontrollable staph infections and a host of other conditions, as well as been a staple in my recommended preventative protocols. It has been widely used by hundreds of thousands of pet owners with no reported negative side-effects – except its effect on their animal’s breath – until now.
This is the point; garlic has suddenly become a “suspect,” not proven the culprit. Do not let mass hysteria determine a holistic care program for your dog or cat. Follow hundreds of years of “proven use” rather than recent “suspicions” in regards to this miracle herb, as garlic is known to be. As with anything, do use garlic in reasonable doses, and do know that you can trust history over hysteria.
Since 1982, Dr. Newman has been a world renowned pioneer in the field of natural pet care. The author of nine books, including her latest, Three Simple Steps to Healthy Pets: The Holistic Animal Care LifeStyle™, Dr. Newman is also the formulator of Azmira Holistic Animal Care Products and Diets.
©2006, Dr. Lisa S. Newman, All Rights Reserved
Allergies and Itchies – GONE!
Hi, I’m Bogart, a one and a half year old French Bulldog. I started life off on dry dog food, but like many other French Bulldogs I had a problem with the itchies. It was really crimping my style to have to stop my play to scratch. My beautiful, big ears would turn bright red, and I would keep my mom up at night licking whatever spot I could reach. Since I’ve been eating NW Naturals Bison and Chicken raw nuggets I’ve been able to play uninterrupted, my ears are their normal color, and I no longer spend my free time licking my brilliant tiger brindle coat. Watch out for my blistering speeds on the agility course next year!