Category Archives: Pet Care

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Fruits & Veggies Part 1 - Green crop rows with NWN bags of Veggie & Fruit product

Should Vegetables and Fruits be a Natural Part of Your Cat’s and Dog’s Diets?

Part 1 of 2

The Differences in Diets

Humans – Omnivores

As Homo sapiens we know the importance of a varied diet for our health. Human beings are omnivores, meaning we can assimilate nutrients from a wide array of foodstuffs: fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, fungi, etc. Some members of the animal kingdom with their own unique digestive systems have a more limited repertoire. Cats are a classic example of this limitation.

Cats – Obligate Carnivores

Being obligate carnivores, cats can get all of their nutrients from prey animals which provides them a basic meat-organ-bone diet.  They do not need grains, fruits or vegetables in their diets, and, in fact, if given consistently those starchy foods will degrade a cat’s health, requiring its’ digestive system to process foods that are foreign to feline biology.  The more stress put on the cat’s system from an incorrect diet the shorter and less healthy its’ lifespan will be. While humans find fruits and vegetables naturally appealing, please avoid them for your cats as they are at best unnecessary and at worst a potential root cause of major health problems.

Dogs – Facultative Carnivores

Dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, are also carnivores, but they are facultative carnivores, meaning their primary food source should be a meat-organ-bone diet but they can digest and assimilate small amounts of other edibles as well. Ask ten certified canine nutritionists what the correct amount of plant material for an optimal canine diet should be, and you will most likely get ten different answers. Perhaps looking at our dog’s wolf ancestor, Canis lupus, will give us a hint at how to best feed our domestic dogs.

Wolves vs. Dogs

Wolves in the wild are apex predators (top of the food chain), and their meals of choice are large hooved herbivores. They consume almost all of their prey, including muscle meat, organs and some bone material. Often they eat the stomach contents of their game but vastly prefer the stomach lining itself (tripe). If there is a shortage of their favored prey, wolves will consume smaller animals, and if a food shortage lasts too long, they will eat whatever they can find, such as old, cached kills, to fend off starvation. These survival foods would only be consumed under the harshest conditions. Additionally, wolves’ diets reflect seasonal food opportunities such as the consumption of apples, berries, melons and some roots when available. Biologists have noted these high fiber carbohydrate foods are usually consumed in an advanced state of ripeness which they term a “predigested condition,” making them more easily metabolized.

How Much Do Dogs and Wolves Differ?

Right now you may be thinking, but my domesticated dog is not a wild wolf, and you would be correct. Although wolves and dogs share DNA that is 98.6% to 99.9% identical (experts do not agree on an exact percentage), their lifestyles are quite different. Wolves run in packs for many hours a day. Wolves need to strategize for safety and have larger brains. They have larger jaws and teeth, reach sexual maturity later and cannot be truly domesticated. And while all of these features have an effect on their nutritional requirements, a wolf’s digestive system is nearly identical to a dog’s. It may be hard to believe that little Tinker Belle, your 7-pound Chihuahua, needs to eat a diet similar to her wolf ancestor, nevertheless it is true.

The Whole Prey Diet

So, if Canus lupus’ proper diet consists of meat-organs-bones, why not simply feed our dogs the same mix? Should we even consider feeding our domesticated dogs any vegetables and fruits at all? To answer the first question, many people do feed their dogs what is called a Whole Prey Diet. Proponents of whole prey feeding suggest that the fur, feathers, intestinal contents, brains, secreting organs, etc., provide a wider variety of nutrients and fiber for our pets than can be found in a typical raw diet of 80% meat (including10% organs, 10% bone), 18.5% vegetables and fruits, and 1.5% natural supplements.  They feel that feeding a domesticated dog a wild wolf diet is adequate for their pet’s nutritional needs.  I applaud the dedication of Whole Prey Diet feeders but have three major concerns.

Why is the Whole Prey Diet Not the Answer?

1) Anxiety Over Deficiencies and Proportions

First, very few people will take the time to procure the correct panoply of ingredients needed in a whole prey diet nor will they be willing to spend the money for those foodstuffs. Having fed my dogs a raw diet for over 40 years I know how difficult it is to find eyeballs, true green tripe, glands, feathers or fur, ad infinitum, which are all needed to construct an accurate prey model diet. And without the whole prey animal to consume nutritional deficiencies will inevitably happen. The anxiety I witness on prey animal feeder websites tells me these people are not enjoying feeding their dogs. There is constant worry about the accurate proportions of their choices. Instead of their dog’s mealtime being a relaxing, bonding experience, the prey model feeders seem stressed, and we all know our emotions affect our dogs. Uncertainty and tension during meals creates a negative atmosphere which can upset the pet’s digestion and mental state. The effects of this may be subtle but can be cumulative and damaging.

2) Lifestyle and Environment

Second, very few domesticated dogs live a lifestyle that is remotely similar to their wild ancestors, and lifestyle absolutely affects dietary needs. Most dogs in industrialized societies are companion pets, living indoors with limited exercise and problem-solving opportunities. They are usually spayed or neutered at an early age, surrounded by synthetic furnishings, unnatural electro-magnetic fields and are highly vaccinated and medicated against pests.  Modern day dogs are also exposed to much higher levels of environmental pollutants than are wolves living in the wild. All of the above factors directly influence their nutritional needs and must be considered when choosing an optimal diet for your dog.

3) Better Genes to Break Down Starches

Third, nutritional science is constantly moving forward. Recent genetic research by geneticist Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, et al, and reported in “Nature” 3/21/13, has determined that there are ten genes in dogs that give them an increased ability to “break down starches and metabolize fat” better than wolves. Three of those ten genes “make dogs better than meat-eating wolves at splitting starches into sugars and then absorbing those sugars.” This confirms what we have all observed, domesticated dogs can absorb some nutrients and survive on a starchy diet.

How Your Pet Can Thrive

Of course, mere survival is not what we want for our precious pets. We want our dogs to thrive, avoiding degenerative diseases and living a long healthy life. This is where a limited number of targeted fruits and vegetables can offer your dog great nutritional benefits. Ideally, you are feeding your cats an exclusive meat-based diet without added carbohydrates. But what about your dog? Ideally, your dog should predominately be eating a meat-based diet with the addition of a small number of highly nutritious vegetables and fruits for optimal health in their far from natural way of life and polluted environment.

Do the best you can when feeding your pets.  Relax and relish guilt-free mealtimes with your dog or cat by using a complete and balanced raw food diet which includes a limited number of vegetables and fruits. The most nutritious raw diet when fed confidently is a key ingredient in the recipe for your pet’s lasting health.

 

In Part 2 we will learn the benefits of including fruits and veggies in your dog’s diet.

By Carol Kendig


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Chocolate lab puppy asking to be let out of crate

How to Crate Train A Puppy

Give your Pup a Feeling of Security

Since dogs are denning animals, meaning they feel safe and comfortable in small, dark spaces, crate training your puppy should be quite easy. However, if introduced to a crate in a negative or harsh manner, your puppy may become crate resistant and fight being in a crate for the rest of its life. Because crates are a useful tool in containing and training your dog, we want to avoid crate resistance from day one.

Choosing the Type of Crate

Before your puppy comes home you will need to get a crate and set it up for your pups’ arrival. Your first decision will be between a hard plastic shell or a wire style. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Plastic crates are easy to assemble and lightweight compared to many wire crates. A hard plastic shell crate makes a cozy den, nice for winter months but often too warm and stuffy in the summer months. The privacy offered in a plastic shell crate may be welcome for some pups while others will find it isolating. Also, you cannot see your puppy easily, and having raised puppies for over 20 years, I know it is always preferable to keep an eye on what your puppy is doing. It’s amazing how creative the little ones can be and not always in a good way!

I prefer wire crates with two doors, one on the front and one on the side, offering more versatility in crate placement. Wire crates are generally heavier than their plastic counterparts and less mobile. Often new puppy parents will buy a wire crate for stationary use in the family room and a plastic crate for the bedroom and trips in the car. With a wire crate you can see your puppy and it can see you because although they do love a small private space of their own, dogs are pack animals and proximity to their family is very important to them. A wire crate will be pleasant in the summer months and a blanket can be draped over the top and sides in the winter months for added warmth. A word about fabric/mesh crates. They are fine for traveling with dogs, but most puppies seem to consider them a great big toy, one that must be chewed on until dead.

What Size Crate is Best?

Once you have decided on the type of crate or crates you want, you will need to determine the size. Most wire crates come with a wire insert to confine the puppy into one section of a large crate. This is handy because you should buy a crate based on the adult size of your puppy, use the insert to restrict the dog to the front part of the crate and remove it as it grows. When your pup’s crate area is too large, it may use the back of the crate as its potty zone and not bark to alert you that it needs to go outside. This can form a habit of defecating in the crate which you will definitely want to discourage. Confining the dog to a smaller area in the crate and making sure you take it outside for regular potty breaks should stop that problem before it begins.

Choosing a Bed for the Crate

Now you have a large wire crate set up in your family room and perhaps a plastic crate set up next to your bed and you are eager to bring home your new pup. Wait. You are not quite ready yet. Your puppy’s new room needs to be appealing to the dog, not a sterile, blank space. Dog beds are great, but for puppies I always suggest you go to a thrift store to stock up on some inexpensive towels, wash them well, and use those for puppy bedding. Puppies will be teething soon, and they seem to favor the gourmet taste of $80 cushy beds. When it shreds the $2 towels from Goodwill you won’t be as tempted to lose your temper. Save the lovely, spendy beds for adulthood.

Ensuring Enough Water

In my opinion, water should always be available for your puppy. Some people advise no water after 9pm and pick up all water bowls at that time. I cannot imagine the distress of a thirsty puppy on a long night in its crate. A puppy with a small hanging metal water dish with an inch or two of water can certainly survive just fine. Some water-loving breeds might be better off with a hamster-type water lick container to avoid messy water games. I did mention that puppies are creative, didn’t I? Oh yes!

Treats, Toys, & Environment

For the first few months, anytime the puppy goes into the crate, such as bedtime, nap times, or when you need to leave, toss in a small treat or two. And you can also keep a larger chew treat for it to gnaw on and call its own that stays in his crate. An antler, smoked trachea, large puzzle-treat, Kong™ toy with treats inside or other rawhide-free chewy treats will all work well as its own personal snack. Please remember, teething pups find relief through chewing, and the crate will help you control what the pup is wrapping its mouth around; a dehydrated lamb lung treat or your best shoes. It’s a happy world when the lamb treat is in its crate and the shoes are safely in the closet.

A toy or two might also be welcome. Just make sure there are no toys the puppy can break chunks off and swallow, another creative and potentially expensive talent some pups have. No one wants to risk the safety of their pup or pay for a $3000 blockage surgery. But, safe treats and safe toys are fun distractions, making the crate a pleasurable place where it enjoys hanging out.

Through your lifetime you will find that some puppies are easier to crate train than others; even so, creating a welcoming crate environment, being patient and being consistent will greatly aid the process. Just make sure you do not commit the following common mistakes:

  • forcing your pup into the crate,
  • leaving the dog in it for too long a time,
  • locating the crate in a cold/hot/noisy/dangerous location; or,
  • using the crate for punishment.

All of these activities will have negative consequences and may very well make your pup crate resistant.

Training & Behavior Basics

Basically, we want our puppy to be happy and feel safe in its crate, and probably the best way to ensure this is to feed the dog in it. My current 6-month-old puppy rushes to her crate at mealtimes, leaps in, sits quietly at the back waiting for her release signal and then devours her food. That level of compliance didn’t happen immediately. I broke down each phase of behavior I desired and trained in stages. The first phase was learning that good things happen in her crate. Next came “watch me” so she could recognize I am her leader and focusing on me results in interesting things happening. And finally came “sit,” and “stay.” Hurrah, she loves her crate and I have some puppy-free-sanity time when she is in it.

Crates Can Be Life Saving

If the above facts don’t convince you of the benefits of having a crate trained puppy, maybe this will: being crate trained may save its life. In emergency situations such as hurricanes, devastating fires, etc., rescue shelters often will not accept dogs that are not crate trained. Dogs involved in auto accidents that are in a crate have much higher survival rates than dogs riding loose in cars. Puppies are curious creatures and can get into deadly mischief in seconds. When your puppy is in its crate, it is not rummaging through your cupboards getting into poisonous substances or digging under your backyard fence to escape into traffic or getting bitten by a stray dog. If emergency responders need to rescue your dog when you are absent, they can more easily find and transport your dog out of dangerous situations if the pet is crated.

A Place of Their Own

There are still people who feel putting a dog in a crate is cruel. They call them cages or prisons, but these are simply semantic games that show their ignorance of the crate’s function. Call it whatever you want, a comfy crate gives your dog a quiet, private place of its own to relax in, apart from the hustle and bustle of its’ human’s lives. I wonder if Virginia Woolf was thinking of dog crates when she wrote A Room of One’s Own? Well, probably not, but it is a great way to think of your puppy’s new crate.

By Carol Kendig


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Cat eating grass with a crazy look on it's face

A Most Mysterious Habit!

All of our pets have habits, some more baffling than others.  Why, for example, does one of your cats like to lurk on the top of your bookshelves after dinner every evening while the other cuddles on your lap? Why does your dog nudge you for bedtime around 7 PM every night?  I have a friend whose dog only barks when Ben Affleck appears on their television set. Why? Do we have a cat sentry, a sleepy dog with an incredibly accurate internal time clock, and a canine film critic?  All possibilities, but most likely these are simply quirky habits of those individual pets.

A Nearly Universal Quirk

However, there is one habit that is nearly ubiquitous with our canine and feline friends and has puzzled dog and cat owners for years. Why do our pets eat grass? Dogs and cats are both carnivores and should have no need to consume grass nor does either species have the specialized system to digest grass. It simply passes through their systems. Yet most of us have witnessed our pets munching on our lawns at some time or another. So the burning question of the moment is: Why do our dogs and cats eat grass?

Truthful disclaimer: the dogs and cats are not talking so no one really knows, but below are some of the most plausible theories.

Theories to Chew On: Why Do They Eat Grass?

Our Pets are Nutritionists

World-renowned veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter says our dog’s and cat’s kibble/canned food diets are so low in nutritional value that our pets are desperately trying to ingest needed nutrients from an available source, grass, which is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is nutrient rich and can act as a detoxifier for the liver and digestive system and helps fight infections.

Instinct

Which brings us to our second reason for grass eating: your pet may be feeling sick and instinctively realizes the healing and immune boosting properties of grass. Or if your pet is having digestive problems, the fiber in grass can act as a laxative, helping normalize the bowel. Often pets vomit soon after consuming grass, ridding themselves of hairballs or something inedible. Some observers think our pets eat grass as a method of purging internal parasites. All are interesting theories but unproven.

For the Thrill

Maybe your dog simply enjoys eating grass and your kitty likes it, too.  If your pets are eating an all-cooked, dead food diet, the sensation of live food in their mouths may be an instinctive longing. The live enzymes may trigger ancestral sensations that are pleasurable. Some people have suggested that eating grass is an attention-getting ploy that our pets use so that we will notice them and react to them.

Grass Alternatives

If you worry about your pet consuming pesticides along with their grass snack, you might want to add some chlorophyll-rich alternatives to their diet.  A few suggestions would be parsley (high in vitamin A), cabbage (high in vitamin C and immune enhancing), green beans (high in vitamin A) and sugar peas (high in vitamin K). All should be very finely ground and fed intermittently.

Wild dogs and cats have been observed eating grass so the behavior may be perfectly normal though not fully understood at this time. For normal, healthy dogs and cats occasional grass eating is not worrisome. But please, if your cat or dog confides the secret for this curious behavior to you, share it with the rest of us and end the rampant speculation. Then again, maybe they just like to keep us guessing, the little darlings.

By Carol Kendig


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Vet doing a checkup on a german shepherd

Xylitol by Any Other Name Would be as Deadly

In “Romeo and Juliet” Shakespeare famously wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” indicating that the name of a thing does not alter its essence. While this is a true statement, it is obvious that Shakespeare had not encountered any ingredient or flavoring specialists and witnessed the devious tactics some of them employ. Sadly, attempts to hide ingredients and confuse customers are common practices in the food industry. Today I want to discuss two serious labeling cautions for you to be aware of and avoid.

Where is Xylitol?

Did you know that the fairly common ingredient, xylitol, is a deadly poison to canines? You should never find this ingredient on your dog food label; however, xylitol may be found in other products you use (it is not harmful to humans), and these products should be strictly forbidden for your dogs. Sugar-free foods are often sweetened with xylitol so never give those to Fido, even if he needs to lose a pound or two. Sweetened yogurts may also contain xylitol, so if you include yogurt in your dog’s diet make sure it is plain, whole-milk and organic. Peanut butter and ice cream often include xylitol in their recipes. Check the labels on vitamins you are adding to Fido’s diet. Yes, some contain xylitol. Other sources of this deadly ingredient can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, nasal sprays, deodorants and some makeup products to name a few. Check personal care items for xylitol and do not leave them accessible for your pets to grab and chew.

Other Names & Hidden Xylitol

Looking for xylitol on food labels sounds simple, right? Sorry to say, it’s not that easy because xylitol has other names that you need to be aware of, and under those names it is just as deadly. Xylitol can also be called: birch sugar, sucre de bouleau, the European code E967, Meso-Xylitol, Xlitol, Xylite, and Xylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5. If any of these ingredients are listed on items you feed to your dogs, stop using them immediately. Xylitol can cause liver failure and dangerous drops in your dog’s blood sugar leading to death.

Another labelling red flag is the term “natural flavor.” Listening to a Harvard professor lecturing on flavoring agents, I was shocked when he unequivocally stated, “One thing you can be sure of when you see ‘natural flavor’ on a package is that it is not ‘natural.’” He then went on to explain how there are over 2000 GRAS* (Generally Regarded as Safe) ingredients, that can all be added to products under the “natural flavor” phrase. Many of these ingredients are ones health-minded pet owners want to avoid both for themselves and for their pets. And while “natural flavor” sounds better than “artificial flavor” there is actually very little difference between the two as both are highly synthesized, laboratory produced substances with little or no relationship to the natural products from which they were derived.

The problem for the consumer is we don’t know whether the “natural flavor” listed on a bag of dog or cat food is an unhealthy flavoring ingredient or an innocuous flavoring ingredient such as recaptured steam from boiling meats. As careful consumers, we do not want mystery ingredients in our pet foods or in our own. And if your pet has allergies, you should always shun the “natural flavor” phrase since you have no way of knowing which one of the 2000 “natural flavor” ingredients are in that particular product. Beware, it could be one that is deadly to your pet.
Transparency in labeling is a goal all food manufacturers should strive to achieve. Vague terms such as “natural flavor” and potentially harmful ingredients such as xylitol have no place on a product’s bag and certainly no place in your pet’s food bowl!

Northwest Naturals Raw Pet Food

Here at Northwest Naturals we invite you to read our ingredients list with a critical eye. We do not include either of the ingredients mentioned in this article nor to we include any fillers, binders or unnatural ingredients. Eighty percent of our product ingredients for the dog food recipes are muscle meat, organ meat and finely ground bone. Eighteen-and one-half percent of the recipe is locally sourced vegetables and fruit, and the remaining one-and one-half percent is natural, non-synthetic vitamins and minerals to ensure each bag of food you purchase for your dog provides a complete and balanced diet.

Our feline diet is even simpler: ninety-eight percent is muscle meat, organ meat and finely ground bone and two percent is natural, non-synthetic vitamins added to make sure your cat has a complete and balanced diet at every meal.

I urge you to carefully check your pet’s food label. Please understand what you are feeding your pet for a long and healthy lifetime with your best friend.

By Carol Kendig


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Cat and dog on the edge of a couch lounging

Life Expectancy and Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence. Check out the CDC’s article on Epigenetics to learn more.

I remember as a youngster wishing my dog would live forever. Alas that was not meant to be and the pain from losing my first dog has been mirrored through the years with each subsequent pet loss. I don’t need to tell you; losing a pet simply never gets easier.

Life Expectancy for Cats and Dogs:

Cats vary slightly by breed, but in general: 12 – 20 years

Dogs vary by size:

  • Small dogs (2-22 lbs.): 12 – 16 years
  • Medium dogs (23-55 lbs.): 10 – 15 years
  • Large dogs (56-99 lbs.): 9 – 12 years
  • Giant dogs (over 100 lbs.): 6 – 8 years

What Does Research Say?

These are not exactly jolly statistics for someone longing for a forever dog or cat. And it is obvious from these statistics that the larger your dog, the shorter its’ life. Why is that? Research in this field is ongoing with no definitive answers yet, but Stanley Coren, PhD, DSc, FRSC has written some fascinating articles about this phenomenon and compiling research from reputable sources he notes that in larger dogs “cell division and cell growth… (proceeds at) …a much faster pace of living, with the body working harder simply to reach its normal adult size.” This puts higher stress on a large dog’s body at the cellular level, not visible to us, but occurring nonetheless. One theory about the result of this accelerated cell division and cell growth is that the telomeres which cap the DNA chromosomes shorten with every cell division and thus wear out more quickly in larger breeds. As the telomeres shorten, they eventually die, leading to aging and death of the dog. Coren’s article “The Life Expectancy of 165 Breeds of Dogs” is eye opening. If you search your breed and are getting worried, please don’t panic. Keep reading.

The Role of Epigenetics

Life expectancies are generalized averages of age statistics. They are not written in stone. What can dramatically influence your own dog’s life span is a magic little word – epigenetics. Epigenetics is defined as the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes are expressed or repressed. You cannot change your genes, but you may be able to change their functioning. For example, if your family has a predisposing history of heart disease you may delay or even avoid heart problems by eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising, and minimizing stress. Your genes haven’t changed, but you have influenced their activity/non-activity.

A Carnivore’s Diet

Let’s talk about epigenetics on a very simple level, our pet’s diets. Many of us have trouble controlling our own diets, but there is no excuse for feeding your dog or cat anything less than a species appropriate diet. It is universally true that optimal nutrition is the key to a long, healthy life. Cats are obligate carnivores meaning they need to get all of their nutrients from a meat diet. Dogs are facultative carnivores meaning their healthiest diet is meat-based but they can survive on a slightly broader range of foods. This is not theoretical news; it is common fact based on their ancestry, their dentition, their enzyme profile, stomach acids, length of their digestive systems, ad infinitum. Although slightly different types of carnivores, both our cats and dogs should be fed as such. This is their genetic makeup, and no slick advertising campaign or trendy fad diet ingredients can alter that.

Help Defy the Odds

The bottom line is if you want your pet to live a healthy life and perhaps defy their predicted life expectancy you will need to feed them a diet founded on his genetic requirements which for cats and dogs is a raw, meat-based, carnivore diet. Northwest Naturals has been producing frozen raw and freeze-dried raw diets for many years in our USDA certified plant. We are committed to the day-by-day health as well as the longevity of your cats and dogs. We cannot promise you a forever pet, but in partnership with a responsible owner, we will come as close to that goal as is possible in 2022. Find all of our products in a store near you!

By Carol Kendig


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Dog licking its lips looking up at its owner

It’s Rawgust!

By Carol Kendig

A Biologically Correct Diet

Ever since some clever marketing person came up with the idea of combining raw feeding with the month of August we have been subjected to the awkward —  Rawgust. While it is not exactly a lyrical word, it does serve as a timely reminder for all of us to continue including more raw foods into our dog’s and cat’s diets.  If you are feeding 90 – 100% raw food to your pets give yourself a big pat on the back. Your lucky pets are eating a biologically correct diet and their health benefits are numerous. If you are in the 50 – 90% raw category in pet feeding, congratulations on your efforts and your pets are receiving some notable health benefits, too. However, if your pet’s meals are under 50% raw you may want to raise that percentage for greater well-being.

“Living Food”

Adding appropriate raw food to a kibble or canned food diet is an intelligent idea. For example, using NWN’s complete and balanced nuggets as a topper to a commercial kibble will make your pet’s diet more palatable and nourishing. At last, your pet will be getting some “living food” in the form of raw enzymes. Plus, the nutrients will be whole and not denatured by heat. Obviously, the higher amount of raw food in your pet’s diet the better his or her body will respond to these live foods. Here are a few of the many benefits you may notice once you begin feeding your dog or cat a wholesome raw food diet.

  1. Less shedding, shinier coat
  2. Less likelihood of allergies and lessening of current symptoms
  3. Maintain proper weight
  4. Smaller less odorous stools
  5. Healthier teeth and gums, better breath
  6. More efficient digestive system
  7. Maintain proper hydration
  8. Healthy skin, indicating a healthy immune system
  9. Healthier joints

A Year-Round Goal

Feeding our dogs and cats a complete and balanced raw food diet is a year-round goal, not just for Rawgust. Consider adding more Northwest Naturals frozen raw or raw free-dried to your pet’s current diet. Consider feeding the nutritional apex of 100% raw because all our beloved pets deserve to eat a biologically correct diet. For thirty years NWN has been committed to providing our pets the best in raw nutrition, giving each and every one of them better health for a longer life and giving all of their parent’s peace of mind.


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raw cat food with cartoon fish going into the cat bowl

How to Transition Your Picky Cat to a Raw Diet

Will everyone with a picky cat, please raise your hand?  Okay, I can feel the breeze of millions of hands waving all over the world.  Most cats are very finicky about their food and trying to switch an adult cat to a new diet can be a frustrating experience for even the most loving owner.

Cats Are Imprint Eaters

Foods that have not been introduced to them within the first 3 to 6 months of their lives are often not recognized as edible by our felines. So, if you are trying to switch an older cat from a kibble diet to a raw food diet your cat may not be acting picky, he simply may not recognize the new food as something he can eat! Think of your reaction if an extra-terrestrial offered you a box of tissue or a car headlight for dinner. What the heck? Same feeling for your cat.

Transitioning Cats to Raw

Both young kittens and cats that have survived by hunting will be the easiest candidates for switching to a raw diet. These two groups can usually be transitioned within a single feeding, or a quick week or two of mixing the raw food with the old diet should do the trick. These are the lucky ones.

For Cats Over 6 Months Old

If your companion cat is over 6 months old and has been fed kibble all their life transitioning them to a raw diet may be a challenge. The key word in this endeavor is patience. Below are a few methods that may take some time but will eventually be successful.

Method One

This is the slowest but most reliable way to transition requires three distinct steps.

Step 1: Switch from free-feeding to two scheduled meals a day.

Grazing on a food bowl all day gives the cat too much control over his eating preferences and schedule. Put his current food down for half an hour then remove. Cats are smart and will quickly figure out that they need to eat at mealtimes or will be hungry. The purpose behind this is to encourage your cat to eat complete meals twice a day in a timely manner. And when you have successfully moved your cat to a raw food diet, you will not want to leave raw food unrefrigerated all day.

Step 2 Switch from kibble to canned food

This will probably be the hardest step and can take quite a bit of time. If you have been feeding an inexpensive grocery store kibble to your cat he literally may be addicted to the fillers and flavoring agents in his food. Even though those chemicals are, or will eventually cause problems for your cat, breaking that physical dependency can be stressful.

Cats fed a more holistic kibble may not have the addiction problem but may still be resistant to change because cats are imprinted on the smells, shapes, textures, and tastes of their current foods. The best advice is to simply add the canned food slowly in with the kibble at a ratio of around 10% canned to 90% kibble. You may need to do this for a month or more before you reduce the kibble to 80% and increase the canned to 20%. As your cat adjusts keep slowly reducing the kibble until your cat is accepting 100% canned. Make sure the canned cat food is natural meat with no chemical additives or fillers. Use your local holistic pet supply store as a resource, choosing the best canned food you can afford. This will make the next step easier.

Step 3 Switch from canned to raw food

Once your cat is comfortable eating canned food you may gradually begin adding raw food mixed in with the canned at about the same 90%/10% ratio. Often this step goes fairly quickly as the canned food texture is similar to raw texture. Again, go slowly, remembering your cat’s digestion is making a powerful adjustment during this time.

Method Two

Another method for switching cats to a raw diet is to simply begin adding freeze-dried raw to a cat’s kibble. The texture is dry, and often kibble fed cats respond well to freeze-dried raw instead of frozen raw. The downside to this is that cats have a critical need for moisture in their diets. Some owners add water or a salt-free meat broth to their kibble/freeze-dried mixture, but additional fluids must be available and consumed. Careful monitoring of water dishes is advised. Once your cat is eating a kibble/freeze-dried raw diet with ease, begin adding frozen raw at a slow ratio until all kibble can be eliminated.

Method Three

Some people try a quick transition and it can work for some cats. They put some raw food in a bowl and leave it in the cat’s food area for half an hour. It the cat doesn’t eat it they replace the raw meal with a small amount of the cat’s regular food. The cat will be hungry for their next meal and may eat the raw food which will be left down for a half hour and then removed if uneaten. Again, a small amount of regular food will be offered. By the third meal the cat will be hungrier and hopefully will try the raw food. This method of transition can work but owners must be careful trying it. Hepatic lipidosis can result if your cat decides to go on a hunger strike and you don’t want that to happen as it is a fatal liver condition. Quick transition or slow each cat is an individual and you will be the best judge of which style works best for you.

Obligate Carnivores – Tips & Tricks to Raw Feeding

Eventual switching to a frozen raw is the standard goal for most cat owners. However, there are limited health benefits by using raw or freeze-dried raw as a topper on a canned food diet. And some people simply like to give freeze-dried raw food as special treats which can provide some useful digestive enzymes for cats, too. As a general rule, the more raw food your cat consumes the more health benefits you will notice. Below are some tricks clever cat owners have used to help the process move more smoothly.

  • Smear some food on top of the cat’s front paws and he will eventually lick it off, discover it is food, and begin eating it out of their bowl.
  • Put some food in a bowl and hide it under your bed, behind a couch, under a bush. Cats are natural hunters and will hunt the food and may eat it.
  • Put water with the cat’s kibble and smash in gradually increasing amounts of raw food.
  • Find a flavor topper your cat likes on their kibble, i.e., canned tuna water, and add that to the raw diet.
  • Slightly warm the frozen raw food as temperature changes can be worrisome to cats. Be careful not to cook the food.
  • Some cats are very sensitive about having their whiskers touch their food bowl. You may need to switch to a broader, flatter more plate-style of bowl when feeding raw.

Don’t hover or act stressed when switching your cat’s diet. Feed him and walk away for the half hour. Most cats are cautious about their feeding habits and can react negatively to your heightened concern.

 

Always think in small increments when changing your cats’ diet. A few rare cats transition easily but most take time, so above all remember that patience is a virtue, and your cats’ health is worth it.


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Freeze Dried Chicken, Duck, and Turkey Necks

Your Dogs & Cats Will Love Raw Freeze-Dried Poultry Necks

By Carol Kendig

I am a lucky woman to have three lovely Australian Labradoodles sharing my life, causing chaos, and bringing me joy. Since I work for a pet food company, frequent local pet supply stores on a weekly basis, and attend pet trade shows, I see all the new and innovative pet products. Because I am given samples of the best of the best and newest of the new in dog treats, my dogs have become treat snobs. Seriously! My 4-footed kids have such highbrow tastes that finding them something they consistently enjoy and is healthy for them and doesn’t set my wallet on fire is a priority for me.

Benefits of Raw Freeze-Dried Poultry Necks

Easy, Clean, & Tasty

Northwest Natural’s freeze-dried chicken, duck, and turkey necks are one snack my dogs never turn down. The freeze-dried poultry neck bones are softer and cleaner to eat than raw frozen beef bones or frozen raw poultry necks. For that reason, the freeze-dried neck bones can easily be fed year-round as they can be totally consumed, creating less to no mess at all in your home car, etc. Since they are soft, they’re usually eaten more quickly so, no, they will not keep your dog busy for an hour. They will be chewed, gulped and swallowed and your dog will probably be begging for more within 5 to 10 minutes. But that’s okay, because these freeze-dried raw necks not only taste good, but they are remarkably good for our pets.

Nutrition & Bio-Availability

Nutritionally, freeze-dried poultry necks retain the nutrients and flavor of fresh or raw frozen necks.  If your pet relishes a raw chicken neck, it will enjoy its freeze-dried counterpart. These freeze-dried necks are completely digestible with a texture described as “soft crunchy” or “chewy.” Both raw and freeze-dried poultry necks are a great source of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and are high in glucosamine and chondroitin, enzymes and amino acids. Plus, all the nutrients in raw and freeze-dried bones are optimally bio-available to our pets. These naturally occurring nutrients are not synthetic substances that their bodies regard as foreign and have trouble digesting. Raw and freeze-dried bones are a fully utilized, healthy addition to your pet’s diet.

Dental Health

The active enzymes in raw bones also discourage dental problems, specifically tooth plaque. Feeding my dogs a raw food diet plus raw bones since 1974 none of them have ever had any dental problems, nor have they needed their teeth cleaned. In addition, I don’t need to brush their teeth. Raw bones do all the work for us! Interestingly, raw freeze-dried necks contain the same beneficial enzymes necessary for keeping our pet’s teeth plaque-free, and I have never heard of a pet cracking a tooth on a freeze-dried bone. If your pet is an aggressive chewer, freeze-dried poultry necks may be a safer option as they are easily pulverized by your pet’s strong jaws. As a dental aid, freeze-dried and raw poultry necks are truly a functional, yummy treat. Learn more about Pet Dental Health in our Blog Article.

Northwest Natural’s Freeze-Dried Poultry Necks Come in Three Sizes:

Chicken Necks:

As the smallest of the poultry necks, these are an appropriate size treat for cats and small dogs. These necks have proportionally more skin attached which gives them the advantage of natural Omega 3’s and 6’s.  Chicken is also slightly higher in protein than the other neck bones with a generous vitamin and mineral content.

Duck Necks:

This medium size poultry neck works well for most dogs in the 25 to 50 pound range. These necks are high in calories, fats, and vitamins (especially B6 and B12) with a rich taste most pets enjoy.

Turkey Necks:

The size of turkey necks will vary, but you can generally see the size or gently squeeze the package to feel how large the necks are. Tom necks are appropriate for giant breeds, but hen necks can be consumed by medium sized to large sized dogs. Turkey is a slightly leaner meat that is also high in vitamins and minerals, notably zinc, iron, and the hard to source natural selenium.

For All Sizes

You can adjust the size of the freeze-dried necks your pet can consume by holding onto a larger freeze-dried neck while you let your pet chew on it. This way you can control the amount your pet eats and avoid an over-eager pet from choking. Or, if your small dog loves turkey, simply cut the large necks into Pomeranian-sized pieces for your little buddy. If your Great Dane loves chicken, you can crush freeze-dried necks and sprinkle over his dinner. Supervision is always wise when feeding whole bones to your pets. My dogs range in size from 28 – 45 pounds and can eat all three sizes of freeze-dried bones under my watchful eyes.

Boredom Busters & Brain Work

Healthy pets need mental and physical stimulation; raw and freeze-dried bones provide both. Bones are like a puzzle to our pets as they try to figure out how to get all the good stuff, not miss a morsel, and do it quickly so they can try to grab their sister’s bone or beg for another. If you are feeding beef marrow bones, is their tongue long enough to reach every bit of that delicious marrow? Where can they hide it so they can eat more of it tomorrow? So many issues for those little canine and feline brains to consider! Bones of all types take the boredom out of our pets lives and gives them manageable challenges and great chewing fun.

Why not experiment with something new for your pet’s diet? If your dogs are anything like mine, I know they will love having a freeze-dried poultry neck as a treat or in their food bowl as an interesting diet addition. Let’s give our favorite carnivores something they naturally crave and will really enjoy – raw frozen or raw freeze-dried bones! Happy crunching to one and all!


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Pet Disaster Survival Kit

Build a Pet Disaster Survival Kit

By Carol Kendig

May 8th is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day

Floods!  Fires!  Earthquakes!  Snowbound!  Hurricanes! Ice Storms! Any one of these can leave you with no electricity, no water, no communication, and roads that are impassable.  You are trapped, alone with your pet depending 100% on you, their fearless leader, to take care of their needs. Can you both survive or will you be a sad casualty of the latest disaster? Building a Pet Disaster Survival Kit is the best first step.

None of us want to think about natural or human-caused disasters, but they seem to be happening more frequently in our increasingly fragile eco-system.  Don’t lay awake nights worrying about “what ifs?” Get proactive!  Create emergency disaster kits for yourself and your pets.  As Benjamin Franklin so wisely said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Pet Disaster Survival Kit Content Ideas

  1. Food and water for at least five days. One gallon of water per day for dogs.  Larger dogs may need more, and if your dog is small any extra water can be used for cleanliness.
  2. Bowls and some treats.
  3. First aid kit with extra pet meds stored in watertight container.
  4. Bags to collect and store pet waste.
  5. ID collar on pet and an extra collar and leash.
  6. Carrier to transport and/or contain pet.
  7. Blanket and toy for comfort.
  8. A whistle.

Pet Disaster Kit Documentation

Those are the basics, but some experts advise adding a current photo of you with your pet to help people identify your pet and your ownership, written instructions about your pet’s special needs plus veterinarian information, grooming essentials such as a dry shampoo and brush and paper towels and plastic trash bags always come in handy. If you have a cat you will want to add a litter box, litter and scoop.

Purchase or Make at Home?

You can purchase Pet Disaster Survival Kits, but it’s fairly simple to create your own using items with which your pets are familiar.  I keep an abbreviated kit in my car, just in case my dog and I are on the road when something unexpected happens.  Loose items are stored in a flexible sport bag and stashed under the seat and water jugs are in the trunk.  My main survival kits are in the basement at home, cached under the stairs with jugs of water put aside in three or four other places.

One friend recommends putting as much survival gear as you can in a human backpack and another in a dog’s backpack and leaving them near a door, easy to grab and dash out if necessary.  A third friend keeps his pet’s kit in a sport bag beside his bed.  Accessibility and portability are key for an effective kit.

Healthy Food, Long Shelf-Life

Northwest Naturals raw freeze-dried foods and treats are a useful addition to your pet disaster survival kits.  Freeze dried for a long shelf life and high palatability these familiar foods can give comfort to frightened upset pets. They are also lightweight and clean and easy to feed. If you feed canned food be sure and include a can opener.  Kibble will be heavy and needs to be monitored for freshness. Remember to check your kit yearly to make sure everything is up to date.

Disaster survival kits are like insurance; we hope we never have to use it but feel safer knowing we have the protection. I don’t know about you, but if the zombie apocalypse comes staggering through my neighborhood, my pets and I are going to grab our survival kits and head for the hills. Hope you can do the same!

Resources:

Written by:  Carol Kendig, Northwest Naturals


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French Bulldog Pouting near a bowl of kibble food

Transitioning Your Dog or Cat to a Raw Diet

By Carol Kendig

What Do Cats and Dogs Naturally Eat?

Our dogs and cats are both carnivores, but while cats are true carnivores, dogs are often referred to as scavenging-carnivores. The main difference is simply that cats need no additional nutrition other than their prey animals provide, but dogs can tolerate eating limited amounts of produce and grain.
We all want healthy pets full of vitality, so as responsible pet owners one of our goals is to provide our pets with diets suited to their digestion. Commercial raw, complete, and balanced diets are formulated to meet your pet’s nutritional needs and be easily digestible.

Making the Transition: Dogs

Young, Healthy Dogs

First let’s talk about transitioning a young, healthy dog to a raw diet. Switching puppies and young dogs off a kibble/canned food diet to a raw diet will be relatively easy. Evaluate your dog’s health at each stage and slow down if vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite occurs, however that will be very rare. Here’s what a typical transition schedule for young, healthy dogs would look like:

Puppy or young dog eating a chicken kibble/canned food diet:

Days 1 – 4 replace ¼ of current food with raw
Days 5 – 8 replace ½ of current food with raw
Days 9 -12 replace ¾ of current food with raw
Approximately at 2 weeks your pet will be on a raw diet!

For the first few weeks transition you could use Chicken then move to chicken/salmon then continue rotating different proteins throughout the dog’s life.

Older or Unwell Dogs

Transitioning older or unwell dogs to a raw diet may be more complicated. Sometimes dogs who have eaten kibble for many years can be resistant to change, but normally they love it. After years of eating inappropriate foods their digestive systems would do well with a slower transition to raw diets. Perhaps a week or two at each increment, always checking for any negative symptoms.
Dogs with current health conditions are in a category by themselves. Different diseases need to be evaluated by a veterinarian before diet changes are adopted. The best person to advise you would be a holistic veterinarian as they have the diet and nutritional background that conventional vets do not have.

In general, dogs are reasonably easy to switch onto a raw diet. Since they have evolved as scavengers, most enjoy a variety of different meats in varied forms such as raw and freeze-dried. But now we come to cats and things dramatically change.

Making the Transition: Cats

Imprint Eaters

Cats are imprint eaters. This means that they imprint on foods, shapes, and textures they eat as kittens and, as adults, don’t recognize new foods, shapes or textures as edible; so, unless you have a very young cat a raw food transition can be difficult for this species. Older, kibble/canned fed cats are able to switch, but it will require patience.

How Long Does It Take?

Knowing that the best diet for her cat was raw food, one woman admitted it took her almost a year to “trick” her cat into eating raw food. She literally had to replace one tiny kibble at a time with a morsel of raw food in her cat’s bowl. It was an exasperating year for them both with the cat sometimes eating more raw food and sometimes eating less. But it was worth it to the owner, knowing her cat was gradually transitioning onto a species appropriate diet. In the end, she was successful, and her cat is a sleek, healthy feline eating a correct raw diet. Weigh that story against the gentleman who had a four-year-old kibble-fed Bengal. The owner decided to try a raw diet, his cat devoured it on the first feeding and now will only eat raw food. Moral of the stories: transitional feeding with cats can take from 1 feeding to 1 year.

Different Textures: Frozen Raw Versus Freeze-Dried

When attempting a transitional feeding with cats, please remember another factor may be frozen raw versus freeze-dried raw food. Some cats enjoy the wet raw and will not touch the freeze-dried version while others prefer the moisture less texture of freeze-dried (always have water available nearby if not adding to freeze-dried food). Only experimentation with your cat will give you an answer.

Is Transitioning My Pet to Raw Food Worth It?

At this point you may be wondering if transitioning to a raw diet is worth the effort. The answer to that is a resounding YES! Normally, transitions go smoothly, and pets thrive on their new healthy raw diet. Not only will the biologically correct diet benefit your pet’s health and add healthy years to their lives, but you will feel a surge of satisfaction knowing you are doing the right thing for the animals who love and rely on you to take care of them.