Frequently Asked Questions

Have Questions about Northwest Naturals?

Northwest Naturals Raw Diet Line of pet food

Why are there color changes in your recipes - what do they mean?

NW Naturals Raw Diets contain no artificial ingredients, colors or fillers so it is normal for batches to vary in color, size and texture.

Frozen Nuggets from Northwest Naturals

Myoglobin, a protein, is responsible for the majority of the red color. Myoglobin doesn’t circulate in the blood but is fixed in the tissue cells and is purplish in color. When it is mixed with oxygen, it becomes oxymyoglobin and produces a bright red color. The remaining color comes from the hemoglobin which occurs mainly in the circulating blood, but a small amount can be found in the tissues after slaughter.

Color is also influenced by the age of the animal, the species, sex, diet, and even the exercise it gets. The meat from older animals will be darker in color because the myoglobin level increases with age. Exercised muscles are always darker in color, which means the same animal can have variations of color in its muscles.

In addition, the color of meat and poultry can change as it is being stored at a retail location and in the home. When safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer, color changes are normal for fresh meat and poultry.

Does a change in the color indicate spoilage?

Change in color alone does not mean the product is spoiled. Color changes are normal for fresh product. With spoilage there can be a change in color—often a fading or darkening. In addition to a color change, the meat or poultry will have an off odor, be sticky or tacky to the touch, or it may be slimy. If meat has developed these characteristics, it should not be used.

If the color of meat and poultry changes while frozen, is it safe?

Color changes while the meat and poultry are frozen occur just as they do in the refrigerator. Fading and darkening for example, do not affect their safety. These changes are minimized by using a freezer-type wrapping and by expelling as much air as possible from the package. The difference in color of our products does not indicate a problem with the product.

Is your poultry Free Range?

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Northwest Naturals chooses our suppliers to insure that the birds have adequate space both inside and outside the poultry enclosures.

Does NWN use Raw Ground Bone?

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All of the Northwest Natural recipes contain raw ground bone that is finely ground to 1/8 inch and is species appropriate for each recipe.

Where does your Salmon come from?

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The salmon used by Northwest Naturals is wild caught from Alaska preserved with NATUROX.

Are your recipes good for dogs and cats?

Dog & Cat IconAll of our NWN diets are formulated for All Life Stages and not only meet the AAFCO standards for complete and balanced diets but also exceed them.

Our NWN Dog Recipes are a complete and balanced diet for dogs and may be used for supplemental feeding only for cats.

Northwest Naturals has Six Recipes specifically for cats that meet and exceed the AAFCO standards for complete and balanced diets for cats and provide a True Carnivore Diet for our feline friends.

The most effective way to insure your pets are getting adequate moisture is through their diet. Lack of moisture is common when feeding kibble. Feeding a raw diet is the best way to make sure your pet is getting proper, nutritionally rich moisture from raw whole foods.

How does High Pressure Processing (HPP) affect the enzymes in raw food?

Meat ThermometerThis chilled water process has little to no effect on the naturally occurring enzymes found in raw foods (Non Detectable).

The enzymes are very resistant to pressure but are sensitive to heat. Northwest Naturals uses chilled water not exceeding 40 degrees during the process and the product temperature is unchanged at 38 degrees or below.

We have conducted numerous tests on the effect of HPP on all of the NWN recipes and have found little to no effects on naturally occurring enzymes. Read more about HPP Here.

How does High Pressure Processing (HPP) affect the pathogens in raw food?

High pressure processing systems employ pressure to fracture the cell walls of food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and Listeria, with no change in organoleptic properties or nutritional value. These fractured cells are then rendered inactive by the natural acids within the product.

HPP works because uniform high pressure affects microbial cellular integrity and metabolism without affecting the covalent structures of food components responsible for nutrition (structural proteins, fibers, fats, enzymes etc.).

Covalent bonds are not broken during HPP, and as a result, no free radicals or chemical by-products are formed. The duration of the pressurization phase (generally one to three minutes) determines the efficacy of pathogen inactivation. The good bacteria remain intact as it takes higher pressure and longer hold times to interrupt these cell structures. The HPP process does not disturb the structural integrity of the package used as the pressure is simultaneously applied uniformly on the food and the package. Read more about HPP Here.

Why does Northwest Naturals use the HPP process?

High Pressure ProcessingHPP is a viable solution for those wishing to minimize their pets and human family members exposure to the risks of harmful pathogens.

Northwest Naturals uses HPP on all of our products.

HPP’d raw diets are especially helpful if:
• You are feeding an immune-compromised animal.
• You are concerned about potential spreading of Salmonella or other pathogens.
• A toddler, elderly or health-compromised person shares your household or comes into contact with your pet(s).

Regardless of which type of raw diet you choose, practicing good hygiene is essential. Always thoroughly scrub and wash your food preparation surface as well as your pet’s bowl and any utensils used with hot soapy water. Never let any unfinished portion sit in your pet’s bowl for longer than 10 – 15 minutes, as it will become a natural breeding ground for harmful organisms. Read more about HPP Here.

Can I heat my Northwest Naturals raw frozen diets for my pet?

Temperature IconNorthwest Naturals Raw Frozen Recipes should not be cooked or heated in a microwave. To maintain the nutritional value, it’s important to keep the food raw and in its natural state. All of our recipes include raw ground bone. Raw bone is incredibly safe and an essential part of a pet’s diet, it becomes brittle and can splinter when cooked; this poses an unnecessary risk to your animals. Northwest Naturals can be fed frozen, defrosted or room temperature. Some pets like their food slightly warmed, you can place a portion in a zip lock bag and drop in a pan of warm water for 5 minutes.

Can I mix my current kibble with Raw?

You should not be concerned about mixing raw food and kibble at the same meal or feeding a raw diet one meal and kibble one meal. There is no scientific evidence that combining kibble and raw food causes the raw food to be digested at a slower rate. In terms of moisture content and rates of digestion, people routinely combine raw food and kibble diets with no digestive upset.

Should I rotate proteins for my pet?

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We always suggest you rotate our recipes. By rotating proteins, your pet is less likely to develop food sensitivities to any one of them and accrues nutritional benefits from the variety.

Are your vitamins and minerals natural or synthetic?

Mineral IconNorthwest Naturals vitamins and minerals main source come from the raw muscle meat, organs, raw ground bone, fruits and vegetables. We add a proteinated mineral pack to help balance the nutritional profile. All of the quality ingredients sourced by Northwest Naturals will vary from season to season. The minerals insure the consistency of nutrition from batch to batch. Minerals are inorganic compounds that come from the earth and are naturally absorbed by plants. Some minerals can be more difficult than others for a dog to absorb. Animals and humans get minerals from the plants or the plant-eating animals they consume. Minerals are essential nutrients that a dog’s body needs to grow and function normally.

Here are a few familiar examples of common minerals…

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Zinc

Some minerals can be more difficult than others for a dog to absorb. Some of these minerals can pass through a dog’s digestive tract wasted in the stools. However, some minerals can be combined with organic molecules like amino acids or complex sugars (polysaccharides). The benefits of proteinated trace minerals are increased bioavailability of 5-15% and the resolution of some discoloration issues resulting from oxidation. This process of attaching an inorganic mineral with an organic compound is known as Chelation/Proteinate. Chelated/Proteinated Minerals can be easier to absorb. Not all minerals are difficult to absorb — Yet Chelated/Proteinated can improve the absorption of certain minerals by a notable amount. Unfortunately, they can also cost more than five times the price of non-chelated minerals. Chelated minerals should be considered a welcome addition to any dog food product. And their presence on an ingredients list can also be a tip-off you’re considering a better quality dog food.

Can I feed your freeze dried in place of my raw when I travel?

Nuggets - Color Changes in ProductNorthwest Naturals freeze dried diets are the exact same recipe as our raw frozen diets just in freeze dried form. Always make sure when feeding Freeze dried diets and/or treats your pet has access to plenty of fresh water at all times.

How do I transition my pet to a raw diet?

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Transitioning your pet to a raw diet should go slowly, typically over a 7 – 10 day period. A standard guideline is as follows:

  • Day 1-3: 25% Northwest Naturals Raw Diet along with 75% current diet
  • Day 4-6: 50% Northwest Naturals Raw Diet along with 50% current diet
  • Day 7-9: 75% Northwest Naturals Raw Diet along with 25% current diet
  • Day 10 and Forward: 100% Northwest Naturals Raw Diet

Some pets may take longer or shorter times to transition.

It’s important to remember that some digestive upset is normal during a transition —this typically shows up as diarrhea, constipation or (very rarely) vomiting. This will eventually subside as your pet adjusts to the new food.

Where is your product made?

Oregon IconNorthwest Naturals is manufactured from start to finish in our own facility. From producing Diets and Treats, High Pressure Processing for food safety and Freeze Drying in our own Freeze Drying facility.

Our facility is located in Portland, Oregon and is family owned.

Where do you source your ingredients?

Farm IconAll of our high quality ingredients are sourced in the USA with the exception of our Lamb and Mussels from New Zealand and our Rabbit from France. For more information on the source of our ingredients, please go to our Sourcing page.

What is Freezer Burn?

Temperature IconFreezer burn is the dehydration of the outer layer of a food product after it has been exposed to extended periods of cold conditions in improper packaging. It’s often accompanied by frost over the affected region of the food. It has no effect on the nutritional quality of products but often diminishes the appearance of a food to the point where it is not appealing to the consumer. Northwest Naturals in an on-demand facility and products are produced weekly. This means the product you receive are as fresh as they can be.

If the outside surface looks dry, that is due to the use of IQF (Individually Quick Freeze) at -30 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. We use IQF to quickly freeze our products to secure the integrity of the nutrients and bio-availability of nutrition. Once the food is thawed, the moisture will return to the surface. Frost is caused by poor air circulation, and often, by the periodic thawing and freezing of frost-free freezers when they are opened and closed during the day. Ensuring proper air flow and rotating your bags in the freezer will help decrease the amount of frost to accumulate in each bag.

What is the shelf life of both frozen and freeze dried products?

Clock IconThe fresher the food, the better tasting and more nutritious it is. The Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) process and keeping the food frozen at zero degrees is the best way to preserve nutrition and taste. Northwest Naturals Raw Diets, if it remains frozen, can remain in your freezer for a year. (Please check our best if used by date). Once the raw food has defrosted in the refrigerator it will last for about 4 days and when quick thawed should be consumed immediately. For food safety don’t let raw diets sit out all day in your pets bowl.

The unopened shelf life of our freeze-dried food and treats is 24 months or the best buy date on the back of the bag. Once the bag has been opened and exposed to oxygen, it should be fed within 4 months if stored correctly in the resealable bag or in an airtight container.

Safe Handling Tips

Our frozen foods should be kept in the freezer until you’re ready to feed your pet. For cats and smaller dogs, we suggest that at each meal, you simply pour the number of nuggets you will feed into a separate bowl and defrost in the refrigerator. For large and multiple-dog families, you can defrost the entire bag in the refrigerator. The food stays wholesome for about four days in the refrigerator.

Keep the freeze-dried products in a cool, dry location until opening.

What makes Northwest Naturals different?

Northwest Naturals Logo

NWN has been manufacturing the highest quality raw frozen pet foods since 1990

  • Convenient Packaging – Easy To Open – Easy to Feed – Easy to store
  • Quick Thaw and Easy To Serve
  • Highest Quality Ingredients and Manufacturing Safety Practices
  • Complete and Balanced Recipes for Dogs and Cats
  • Affordable price
  • Backed by Years of Research and Development
Are your products GMO free?

Beeker IconAll Northwest Naturals Pet food products and treats are manufactured with the highest quality safety standards and manufacturing guidelines. We work with all of our vendors to see how they are progressing with the current consumer concerns.

Currently the farms that we source our proteins from are all working towards GMO-free products. For animals to be truly GMO-free, the farms need to secure GMO-free grains for feed. It often takes several years to procure the amount of commodities needed. As our vendors change, we will make sure that our NWN customers are informed.

Label claims can be confusing for the consumer to decode. Recently we have seen several companies market their products as “GMO-free.” If you are looking for this, make sure the manufacturer can provide the proper labeling and documentation to back this claim. A “GMO-free” claim does not mean that an animal used in pet food was fed non-GMO feed throughout its life. Only a USDA Organic label ensures this. The reality is that almost all products labeled “GMO-free” were derived from meat animals almost certainly fed conventional feed given that over 90% of conventional corn and soy grown in the U.S. are currently genetically engineered. “GMO-free” or “non-GMO” claims are not enforced by the government or a third party. In addition, there is no way to test the meat to find out whether the animal was fed GMO grain so companies know they can get away with these misleading claims.

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service has recently approved a Non-GMO label for meat only if that producer can prove all the animal feed required to feed the number of animals owned is GMO-free. The presence of the USDA Organic label is the best way to ensure that meat was fed non-GMO grain and therefore should be labeled “GMO-free.”

Some manufacturers also include images of round black-and-white logos on conventional products that mimic the USDA Organic seal. Not only do consumers need to know what ingredients and certification to look for, they also need to continue to vigilantly read labels carefully to make sure the formulas they prefer haven’t been changed by the company. Major manufacturers reformulate pet food products and commonly change ingredients on a continuous basis.

The benefits of a fresh food diet:

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• Live amino acids and enzymes
• No preservatives
• Provides proper hydration (especially important for cats)
• Easier to digest
• Healthy teeth & shinier, healthier skin and coat
• Healthy digestive tract and aids in weight control
• Increased mobility in older animals
• A whole food diet is environmentally friendly

Processed foods offer great convenience, but our pets’ digestive tracts are still designed for fresh food. There are many reports of pets with chronic illnesses, food intolerances and allergies whose symptoms have disappeared since they were transitioned to a raw food diet. Adding some raw food to a pet’s current diet or switching one meal a day a few times a week can be very beneficial to your pet’s overall health.

Heat destroys most anti-oxidants, healthy oils, phytonutrients, enzymes and living beneficial micro-organisms. This can result in our pets not getting enough digestive enzymes in their diet which makes their pancreas work harder at producing them. Feeding a bio-available raw diet can help your pet get the nutrients they need without depleting their digestive enzymes and giving their bodies the ability to thrive rather than just survive.