Category Archives: Raw Dog Food

  • -

National Lamb Month!

Dogs and cats are carnivores and as such thrive on protein-rich diets.  The cleanest lamb products in the world today come from New Zealand farms where Northwest Naturals sources most of our lamb products. We also use a small percentage of US lamb from long-standing, reputable farms in our area. If you haven’t incorporated lamb into your dog’s or cat’s diets this month, National Lamb Month might be a good time to try out the advantages of lamb with your pet.

What is lamb?

Lamb is the term given to sheep under one year of age when the meat is tender and mild flavored.  Mutton is from sheep over one year of age when the meat is chewier with a stronger taste and the meat is fattier.  Here at NWN, we use lamb not mutton in our recipes.  This is important because having higher palatability for our pets reduces pet food wastage, resulting in happier owners and causing fewer environmental problems. Most dogs find lamb meat appealing, but lamb’s unique flavor may not be your cat’s favorite taste. Reactions to lamb in cats are highly individual. One good way to have your cat occasionally consume lamb is to try the NWN Raw Rewards lamb liver treats in the 3 oz. bag. Since the liver of any species tends to be rich in vital nutrients your cat may occasionally enjoy these unique, single-ingredient treats.

Why choose lamb for your pet’s diet

Lamb is considered red meat and contains a larger percentage of fat than beef, chicken, turkey, and other common proteins used in the pet food industry.  It is also a “complete protein,” meaning our pet’s bodies can easily assimilate lamb’s nutrients. Plant proteins are not complete and are much harder for carnivores to digest.

The mineral iron is crucial for red blood cell production, and lamb is notably rich in iron.  Considered a strengthening mineral, iron is essential for activity and well-being. It also contains a wealth of B vitamins, especially B12 which is an energy builder and folic acid known for preventing certain birth defects and fighting free radicals. Additionally, lamb also contains significant amounts of zinc and selenium which help preserve bone density and joint health. Zinc, of course, is a great immune booster and blood sugar regulator. Selenium is a trace mineral essential for heart and thyroid wellness and fights free radicals.

Allergy concerns?

Did you know that lamb is considered a hypoallergenic protein?  Most dogs digest lamb very well with few allergy symptoms. If your dog has food sensitivities you might want to try novel proteins, including lamb, which most dogs find appetizing.

Always switch it up

Rotating proteins is always a smart idea. Dogs enjoy variety in their diet, but more importantly, every protein has a unique nutritional profile and your pets should enjoy the benefits of them all. With spring right around the corner, give your dog a dining delight by adding lamb to his or her diet.

By: Carol Kendig

  • -
A light brown dog raising his paw against a white garage door background

Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Pet Food – Know the Difference

Many people mistakenly use these two terms interchangeably, but they are very different processes. Since both procedures produce similar nearly moisture-free foods it is understandable that there can be confusion in people’s minds. Let’s explore some of the important differences.

Dehydrated Dog Food

Dehydration has been used for centuries although modern technologies have vastly improved the quality of foods produced. Dehydration involves slow, gentle cooking that uses warmed air to waft away the food’s natural moisture. This process requires heat, usually over 104 degrees, at which most protein enzymes are killed. It is a moderate process, easier on food than canning, extrusion, or baking, all of which require very high heat. Foods made through canning, baking and extrusion are considered “dead food” because they are processed in ways that absolutely kill all enzymes. Sadly, most dehydrated foods, certainly dehydrated proteins, will also not contain live enzymes.

So Why Use Dehydrated Food?

Dehydration’s main advantage in food preservation is that done right, it reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. Molds, fungi, yeast and other contaminants need moisture to thrive, and correctly dried foods eliminate most moisture. Another boon to using dehydrated foods is they do not require preservatives as they are naturally preserved if stored away from moisture, heat and light. These foods will absorb about 70% of original moisture when re-hydrated, making them a good choice for pets unwilling to drink sufficient water.

Freeze-Dried Dog Food

While the freeze-drying process is not new, it has only been in popular usage since the 1950’s. Through the process of sublimation, moisture is drawn out of the frozen raw ingredients without entering a liquid state.  This very gentle process using low heat (normally under 104 degrees) retains ingredient’s flavor, texture size and shape, and most importantly raw enzymes remain intact. This process does not denature the food in any way, retaining full nutritional value and resulting in less risk of allergies.

Why Use Freeze-Dried Food?

If stored properly away from moisture, heat and light, freeze-dried foods remain viable for many years without the necessity of preservatives or additives of any kind. Freeze-dried foods are lightweight, easily portable and extremely clean and bacteria-free. The slower, lower heat process of freeze-drying is worthwhile as more nutrients are intact resulting in a healthier food.

The Healthiest Choice is Freeze-Dried Food

Both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are considered “live foods” because they use far lower heats than other traditional food treatment methods. Unfortunately, to kill bacteria dehydrated meats must be processed at temperatures around 150 – 165 degrees, hot enough to kill all raw enzymes. However, using highly exacting temperature standards, freeze-dried foods preserve raw enzymes, making them a true raw food. If you are interested in the healthiest choice in food preservation, there is no doubt that freeze-dried foods would have to be your choice.

By Carol Kendig

  • -
Dog food in a bowl on a wood floor with dog paws showing from the side of the image

A Brief History of Dog Diets that will Shock You

A Brief History of the Types of Food Given to Dogs

Over 2,000 years ago early Romans were feeding their farm dogs barley bread soaked in milk as well as meat scraps. They fed their war dogs more raw meat and garlic doses to strengthen them.

During the Middle Ages, European royalty often treated their hunting hounds better than their wives. They established kennels with kennel cooks making large vats of dog stews containing grains, vegetables, and some meat, usually offal. Commoner’s dogs would be fed meager diets of bread crusts, bare-bones, potatoes, cabbage, or whatever the dog could scrounge on its own.

By the 18th century, farm and hunting dogs were being fed mixed grains and lard. These useful dogs had to be healthy to do their jobs. In the cities, people searched the streets for dead horses, butchering them and selling the meat to wealthy dog owners.

Obviously, the very wealthy throughout history fed their dogs much better than most humans ate. In the 1800’s Empress Tzu His of China was reputed to feed her Pekingese shark fins, quail breasts, and antelope milk. Not to be outdone, European nobility fed their dogs roast duck, cakes, candies, and even liquor.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, a growing middle class began to regard their pets as luxury items and began scrutinizing pet foods more closely. Veterinary medicine was officially founded in the United States in 1895. This was the time when some self-styled experts said that dogs needed to be “civilized.” Since wild dogs ate raw meat, they decided that domesticated dogs shouldn’t. A calamitous dietary mistake that some people still believe today. When meat scraps were fed to dogs, they were normally boiled. Vegetables fed would have been cabbage, turnip tops, nettle tops, carrots and potatoes.

From the 1800s to Today

In the late 1850s, a man named James Spratt sailed from the USA to London; his business was selling lightning rods. When his ship arrived at the London dock, the crew tossed the leftover ship’s biscuits, also called hard tack, to the dogs waiting at the quayside. Hard tack was made of flour, water and salt baked together and left to harden and dry. These biscuits were easily stored with a long shelf life (important in the days before refrigeration) and quite inexpensive to make. Spratt had the idea that he could make similar biscuits and sell them to the growing number of urban dog owners. His recipe consisted of wheat flour, beet root and vegetables bound together with beef blood. He named his biscuits Spratt’s Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes when he sent them to market in London in 1860. He took the business to New York in 1870 and so began the American pet food industry.

Others followed in Spratt’s footsteps, most notably in 1931 the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) bought out a rival and renamed the biscuits Milkbones. The first canned dog food was developed in 1922 when Ken-L-Ration was born. This company was such a success that by the mid-1930s they were breeding horses just for dog food and slaughtering 50,000 of them a year. By 1941 canned dog food had a 90% share of the dog food market. But during WWII the government started rationing tin and meat and the trend in pet foods swung back to dry food.

The Modern Day Pet Diet Begins

By the 1950s Purina began using a cooking extruder to produce a better looking, more evenly textured and more easily digestible dry dog food. Purina Dog Chow became the #1 dog food brand and still retains that title today.

In 1964 the Pet Food Institute, a lobbying group for the now huge pet food industry, began a campaign to get people to stop feeding their dogs anything but packaged dog food. They funded “reports” that appeared in magazines detailing the benefits of processed dog food and even produced radio ads about “the dangers of table scraps.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, factors such as the increased number of dog breeds and rising crime rates made dog ownership soar. Other changes in the 60’s were the introduction of puppy food as opposed to adult dog diets and the advent of veterinary diets to treat specific conditions. By 1975 there were more than 1,500 dog foods on the market. Today no one will even estimate how many brands of dog food are available.

Pet Owners Shift back to Raw Diets

In the past three decades the most important dietary innovations have been the development of complete and balanced raw diets for pets, shortly followed by freeze-dried diets. These last two diet trends coincided with a rising demand by pet owners for healthier diets for their dogs and cats who are increasingly considered family members.

In 2021 pet food and treats were a 50-billion-dollar industry. The hope is that consumers will continue to educate themselves about their pet’s nutritional requirements and purchase diets that will be wholesome for their companion animals. We owe our pets a healthy, long life, and by providing them with correct diets we will be giving them exactly that.

By Carol Kendig

  • -
Holistic spelled by scrabble tiles and a couple dried flowers all on marble

Northwest Naturals and Traditional Chinese Medicine

What does the Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach Say?

Dating back nearly 23 centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on balancing the yin (hot) and yang (cold) energetic forces existing in all life.  When these forces are in harmony the resulting state of neutrality produces wellness. According to TCM, we can bring our diets, and our pet’s diets, into a healthy state of equilibrium by using the HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD food classification system they developed and have effectively used for many, many years. These HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD terms are not descriptive of the food’s temperatures themselves but rather the effect the foods have on the consumer’s own body: a cold response or a hot response.

Is your pet a HOT dog or do you have a COOL kitty?

Here are some clues:

HOT pets (too much yin) seek cool places to rest, may be warmer than normal to touch, may be anxious, may be excitable, often have allergies, excessive water consumption but dark urine, may be malodorous, skin rashes are common as are excessive panting, red eyes, dry eyes, and may have dry stools or constipation.

COLD pets (too much yang) love their snug beds and seek heat sources, strongly dislike cold weather, may be finicky eaters or lack appetite, may have cold extremities, dry/brittle hair, colorless urine, typically are quieter or seem depressed and may suffer from loose stools.

Strive Towards Balance

Of course, not all pets will exhibit all of the above symptoms, but TCM strives to bring all creatures toward balance, avoiding extremes that are detrimental to optimum health. If you believe your pet is exhibiting a few signs of imbalance you might try some diet changes to bring him or her back toward center. HOT pets should be given neutral to cold foods while COLD pets should be fed neutral to hot foods. Since dogs and cats are both carnivores, below is a short list of proteins commonly found in pet foods.

  • HOT FOODS: goat, venison, lamb, chicken, shrimp, eggs, goat’s milk
  • NEUTRAL FOODS: beef, pork, turkey, quail, salmon, sardines, tripe
  • COLD FOODS: duck, rabbit, most fish, cheese

How Does Northwest Naturals Fit Into This?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a very intuitive system and lists of the hot to cold food categories differ slightly according to different practitioners.  Northwest Naturals raw and freeze-dried diets for dogs and cats fit nicely into these basic categories.

Dog recipes:

  • Beef – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Bison – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Chicken and Salmon – HOT to NEUTRAL
  • Lamb – HOT
  • Turkey – NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

Cat recipes:

  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Duck – COLD
  • Rabbit – COLD
  • Turkey –NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

A Holistic Life

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses our everyday diets as therapy toward balanced health. In the Western world we might say, “You are what you eat” to express the same idea. But however you express it, a thoughtful, holistic approach to good nutrition using the best of both Eastern and Western theories will always be beneficial to us and our pets; and with centuries of experience behind it, the wisdom found in Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer us today.

By Carol Kendig

  • -
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 3

Part 1 of 3

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

  • -
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.

  • -
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

  • -
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.

  • -
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.

  • -
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!