Category Archives: Raw Cat Food

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Northwest Naturals freeze-dried meal packets and dog and cat snuggling

How to Feed Freeze-Dried Raw Diets to Your Pets

What is Freeze-Drying Food?

Do you actually know what freeze-drying is?  This food preservation process is relatively new, having been commercially developed in the middle of the 20th century, yet offers many nutritional advantages over older storage/preservation methods such as dehydration, canning, smoking, etc. Those methods all involve heating of the foods being preserved which destroys their vital enzymes.  Because freeze-drying uses extremely low heat and the moisture in the frozen food is sublimated directly into water vapor instead of going into liquid form, the enzymes remain viable and the nutrients are not denatured, making  freeze-dried foods ‘living foods’ as opposed to kibbles and canned foods which are labeled ‘dead foods’ in the pet food industry.

Convenience of Freeze-Dried Raw Pet Food

The advantages of using freeze-dried foods for your pets are many.  Freeze-dried foods are quite convenient to use, requiring no special treatment other than keeping the bags sealed and moisture-free to retain maximum freshness.  When rehydrated, the flavor, smell and texture are practically identical to fresh.  Fed dry the texture is chewy to slightly crispy.  But the most important advantage in freeze-drying is there is no significant loss in nutritional value between raw frozen foods and their freeze-dried counterparts (less than 1-2%).  Plus traveling with your raw fed dog becomes a breeze when you pack a lightweight bag or two of freeze-dried treats instead of an ice chest holding heavy bags of frozen food.  And for treats during sustained work or performance activities, using nuggets of complete and balanced freeze-dried diet makes good nutritional sense.

Rehydration and Freeze-Dried Nuggets

Some dogs prefer freeze-dried meals given dry in their bowls with water available on the side. This is perfectly acceptable if your dog drinks water and doesn’t get dehydrated.  However, most manufacturers recommend adding liquid to freeze-dried meals to prevent dehydration which can cause some serious health issues.  And, you may ask, what is the correct amount of liquid to add?  That answer varies with each pet.  Some prefer the nuggets to be soaked, others enjoy just a splash or spritz of liquid. One of my dogs dislikes any moisture added to her meals at all, but immediately after eating takes a long satisfying drink at her water bowl.  A tablespoon of liquid might be enough to add to a Pomeranian’s dinner while a Bullmastiff might require a cup.  If you crumble the freeze-dried nuggets there is more food-to-water surface so less water is necessary for maximum absorption.

Using Nutritional Liquids for Rehydration

Most people rehydrate freeze-dried pet food with water, however if you are looking for a nutritional boost you can use meat broth, veggie broth, cream-style yogurt or liquids from stews or fermentations of your own.  Picky eaters may also enjoy the addition of different flavors to their diets. Use your imagination, but it’s best not to add liquids that contain salt, unknown herbs or any type of chemicals.  Keeping your pets’ diets as natural as possible is always the wise choice.

The Benefits for You and Your Pet

Freeze-dried pet foods rate high in convenience, palatability and nutritional worth. They make a great pet food topper and often assist the transition from kibble to a raw diet, making the switch easier.  Northwest Naturals is a big proponent of frozen raw diets and freeze-dried diets, knowing the value and unique characteristics of each.  If you haven’t already checked out our full selection of freeze-dried diets, please do. Choose a protein your pets will enjoy and watch for brighter teeth, better breath, better digestion, a shinier coat, smaller stools, improved body weight and healthier joints for your beloved best friend.  You and your pets will become big fans of the living food diet. Check out more products for Raw Food Diet for Dogs & Cats and contact us with any questions or to learn more.


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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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Wet rocks with seaweed and moss on a sandy beach

Dulse is not Carrageenan and Carrageenan is not Dulse

By Carol Kendig

First, let me admit I am not an authority on algae or seaweed. If you combine these two species together there are over 350,000 varieties of collected species throughout the world and new species are frequently discovered. However, as a consistent user of kelp and dulse in my own diet and those of my dogs for over 50 years, I have some knowledge and experience with these incredible sea vegetables.

What is Dulse?

Dulse refers to a few varieties of red seaweed or red algae and I have seen it referred to as both. These varieties have been used in human diets and animal diets for at least 500 years, probably longer. The crisp, slightly salty taste of Dulse is pleasant and reminiscent of bacon. None of my dogs have ever objected to the addition of this powder to their food, and the health benefits of Dulse are many. It builds strong bones, safely regulates blood pressure and increases blood circulation, helps prevent thyroid diseases, boosts immunity, and strengthens the nervous system. With high levels of natural Vitamin A, specifically good for eye health and immunity, Dulse’s healthy fiber content also aids digestion.

What is Carrageenan?

When food scientists tinker with whole foods, fractionating them apart, they can create problems. This seems to be the case with Carrageenan, a polysaccharide extracted from Dulse by heat and an alkaline solution. Dulse in its’ whole natural form is not heat or alkaline treated so no carrageenan is formed. Carrageenan must be labelled as such on any edible products for humans or pets. If you see “Dulse” listed as an ingredient, you are getting the whole, natural product. If “Carrageenan” is listed on the ingredient panel you are getting the fractionated, heated and treated product, which is a controversial ingredient. At this time, Carrageenan is USDA approved and widely used in the human food chain for its’ gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. There seems to be valid arguments both pro and con for this ingredient and the studies done on it, but rest assured that Dulse is NOT Carrageenan and Carrageenan is NOT Dulse. Northwest Naturals is proud to use natural, whole Dulse in our pet foods for its’ valuable nutritional goodness.

Trace Minerals for Pets

Are you worried about you and your pets getting sufficient trace minerals from vegetables grown in today’s depleted soils? Add Kelp and Dulse to your diets. In addition to vitamins and fiber, these sea vegetables are rich in trace minerals such as magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and iodine. Dulse, in its’ natural whole state, is truly a magnificent addition to our diets and our pet’s diets, too.


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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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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.


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Crushing plants with a mortar and pestle

How to Ensure your Pets are Absorbing their Minerals

By Carol Kendig

Not all Pet Foods Contain the Minerals Needed for a Healthy Diet

Minerals are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, for people and pets alike. While people have the luxury of opting for fresh, organic meals, pets often do not. Or, they did not until recently. While pet nutrition has come a long way, not all pet foods are properly formulated so that the right nutrients are able to be absorbed from the food.

How Do You Know What to Look for in Your Pet’s Food?

Natural and organic minerals are the best form. These can easily be absorbed by our pets’ bodies during digestion. It might sound like common sense to look for natural sources of minerals but there are both natural and synthetic, inorganic and organic minerals.

Natural vs Synthetic

The difference between natural and synthetic is pretty obvious. The reason synthetic minerals aren’t ideal for your pet’s nutrition, is that they aren’t as easily absorbed. They also differ slightly from natural sources, and those that are absorbed, aren’t as beneficial in terms of nutrition.

Organic vs Inorganic

This is where the terminology starts to get a little tricky. Organic here means plant based rather than plants that were grown without pesticides. Organic in terms of minerals does not get into that distinction. It becomes a bit clearer when we look at the next definition. Inorganic minerals are those in their natural state whether in the soil, rocks, or water. Minerals in the inorganic state are harder for pets and humans to absorb and utilize.

Formulating Minerals to Make them Easier to Absorb

Now that we’ve talked about minerals and where we can find sources of these nutritional building blocks, let’s look at how they should be incorporated into pet food for optimal nutrition. Naturally sourced organic minerals can be formulated to have high absorption rates. One of these formulations is called chelation in which a broad range of organic molecules are bound to the mineral molecule.

Of the various forms of chelation, proteination is the most effective. Proteination is currently the most effective mineral formulation and the highest standard for mineral supplementation for people or pets. The efficacy ranges from 15-30% higher than non-formulated natural minerals.

Why Get This Technical?

This post got pretty technical, but we went there because both you and your pets should have a healthy and whole diet. When selecting mineral supplements for yourself and your pet, look for natural, organic, chelated, or proteinated minerals. If these terms are absent, you might be getting a synthetic variant which is essentially empty nutrition.

Northwest Naturals has made it easy to find the best source of nutritional minerals for your pet. We go the extra nutritional mile in all of our pet food products to ensure the very best quality and nutrition. We use whole food sources to get the best minerals into our pet foods. Our raw frozen and freeze-dried diets are packed with natural organic minerals, and then we add proteinated minerals to ensure your pet gets their Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Stop wasting your money on empty pet foods. Give your cat or dog the very best. Give them Northwest Naturals.


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Bowl of shiitake mushrooms

Medicinal Mushrooms and Our Pets

By Carol Kendig

Lately, there has been ample publicity about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for human usage but not nearly as much information is available for our canines and felines. First, we must acknowledge the difference between wild fungus species growing in the forest or in your backyard and medicinal mushrooms.  Never let your pet consume mushrooms growing wild. Even if you can positively identify a fungus species as non-poisonous to humans, it may still be harmful to your pet. Please do not take a chance because the results could be fatal to your best friend.

Three Beneficial Mushrooms for Your Cat or Dog

However, medicinal mushrooms are a different story. These valuable fungi have been studied for centuries and their advantages are well documented. Three mushroom species that have been thoroughly researched and deemed extremely safe for canines and felines are: Maitake (Grifola frondosa), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes).

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake, also called Hen of The Woods, is best known for its immune enhancing properties. That makes sense because these mushrooms are an outstanding source of vitamin D2, the sunshine vitamin. To increase the vitamin D2 content of any of the mushrooms you use, simply slice and place them gill-side-up under direct sunlight for a few hours. Maitake is a well-known anti-inflammatory that supports the immune system. This species has naturally occurring antioxidants, phenols, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid; all of which help protect against diseases. Maitake is a flavorful mushroom, semi-firm, chewy, aging to toughness.

Maitake is used for:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Support during chemotherapy and radiation treatments
  • Help with managing diabetes
  • Support for the liver
  • Regulating blood pressure

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi is called The Mushroom of Immortality for its life-extending properties. This species contains Zinc, Vitamin C, and Selenium, which fight free radicals and support healthy cells. Numerous clinical studies have verified that Reishi mushrooms have impressive anti-inflammatory effects and other broad health benefits, including energy enhancement. This mushroom has a bitter taste so is better suited for powder or supplement form.

Reishi can help:

  • Boost immune system
  • Improve sleep
  • Cancer treatment
  • Increase cardiovascular function
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Upper respiratory infections (viral)
  • Anti-aging properties

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

Shiitake mushrooms are well known for their anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-Candida effects. These powerhouse mushrooms stimulate white blood cell production and improve circulation. They are high in B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D2, pantothenic acid, and other helpful nutrients. Shiitake’s benefits include fighting infections and aiding bone health. This mushroom is tasty.

Shiitake is used for:

  • Reducing side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
  • Help in treating Cushing’s Disease
  • Regulating incontinence
  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Skin problems

Make Sure You Are Getting Quality Mushrooms

If possible, always use organically raised mushrooms that have been grown on a species-appropriate growing matrix (straw, wood, compost, etc.). Many mushroom products today are grown on grain which produces copious amounts of mycelium. Unfortunately, according to most mycologists, mycelium does not have the nutritional benefits of actual fruiting-body mushrooms, so investigate thoroughly before purchasing mushroom powders or capsules. Everyone wants an effective product when purchasing supplements: caveat emptor (buyer beware)! Capsules can be given by hand and powders can be sprinkled over food.

If you are going to feed your dog or cat whole mushrooms, you will find cooked rather than raw mushrooms are easier on their digestive systems. One easy way to feed your pet whole mushrooms is to make Mushroom Broth.

Mushroom Broth:

  1. 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, if using dehydrated milk soak until soft and then slice
  2. Sauté in a pan with butter
  3. Add 2 cups of water
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes
  5. Blend for a soupy consistency
  6. You may add herbs to this broth for even more healthful benefits.
  7. Give your pet 1 tablespoon per 25 pounds of body weight. Freeze leftover the amount in ice cube trays. One cube equals 2 tablespoons. 

Medicinal Benefits Take Time

Remember that medicinal mushrooms work slowly. Most benefits will not be noticed before 1 – 3 months have passed, and those effects are often subtle. For example, you may notice a general sense of increased well-being or lessening of negative symptoms but be assured good things are happening internally. These three varieties of mushrooms are also considered to be nutraceuticals or medicinal foods. They are true adaptogens, generally safe for everyone, good at lowering stress, reducing infections, and working to balance hormones. Adding any one of these fungi to your pet’s diet may make the difference between average health to vibrant health and standard life expectancy to increased longevity. Explore medicinal mushrooms for your own pet. They might prove to be the powerful, nutrient-packed ingredient that improves your best friend’s life. 


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Sleepy older golden retriever

November is National Senior Pet Month

By Carol Kendig

When are Pets Considered Seniors?

Is your dog 7 years old or older? That’s the magic number for determining senior status in most dogs. Smaller breeds aren’t considered golden oldies until they are 10 years old while the giant breeds hit senior status at age 6. Cats are seniors from age 10 – 14 years and are called super seniors above age 15.

The Perks and Pitfalls of Being a Senior Pet

Our senior pets are special. We’ve shared more heart-warming experiences with them through the years and loved them longer so when those muzzles start turning grey and we see them slowing down it can be distressing for us. Some of the problems we may see in our older pets are painful joints resulting in general reduced mobility, and because of less activity weight gain is not uncommon. Slowed digestion can also be an issue. Higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, dental problems and kidney problems often materialize with advancing years.

Improving Quality of Life Through Diet

To help our beloved cats and dogs in their senior years we need to focus on feeding them the highest quality and least processed proteins available. If you are feeding a raw diet continue to do so. If you are feeding kibble, try adding some raw food as a topper. If it agrees with your pet, try increasing the raw up to 50% of her diet. Definitely lower the amount of carbohydrates you are feeding as carbs slow digestion and add weight. Adding some healthy fiber to your dog’s diet will also aid her digestion and provide her with needed phytonutrients.

Cats simply need higher quality protein without added fruits and veggies. Since cats are obligate carnivores, raw protein is the most biologically appropriate diet for them. However, it can be very difficult switching a kibble fed cat to a raw diet in her senior years. Some cats adjust to freeze-dried raw easier than frozen raw diets because of the dry texture. But it may take a while to convince your cat that her new frozen raw or freeze-dried raw high-quality protein food is what she really wants to eat. If you own a cat, you know they have opinions!

The raw diets formulated at Northwest Naturals are appropriate for senior dogs and cats. The proteins are of the highest quality, minimally processed and are the primary ingredient in our dog food. At 80% protein the diets are palatable and healthy. In NWN dog food veggies and fruit comprise 18.5 % of the diet. They provide needed fiber and are rich in antioxidants, both important elements in a senior’s diet to protect against cancer and diabetes. Natural supplements are the final 1.5% of the recipe to make sure all nutritional bases are covered.

Cats will thrive well into their senior years eating a 98% raw protein diet with the addition of 2% natural supplements to ensure each meal is complete and balanced for their unique nutritional needs.

Other Tips for Taking Care of Your Senior Pet

Providing our senior pets with optimal nutrition is one of the most important elements in making their declining years their golden years. But we cannot overlook such simple things as perhaps providing more comfy orthopedic beds, switching to raised bowls and making sure toys are appropriate for aging mouths. Puzzle toys and feeding games can also be helpful for slowing cognitive decline. Shorter walks give you both time to stop and smell the roses as your pet enters this slower more contemplative time of life. Spend time looking deeply into your pet’s eyes and savor the love and contentment you see there. Hopefully, we will all age as gracefully as our beloved pets.