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Transitioning Your Cat to Raw

Cats are obligate carnivores. This is a statement you may have heard once or twice at the Barkery. This means their diets should consist of almost entirely meat. In nature, cats don’t eat grains or carbs of any kind. Many grain-free foods are substituted with starches, which are just as bad but allow pet food companies to market as “grain-free.”

Our furry feline friends evolved from big desert cats which adjusted to staying hydrated from fresh meat of their prey rather than drinking water. Raw food is the best diet you can feed your cat, but many cat owners struggle to make the transition from dry food to raw.

Cats who have eaten nothing but dry foods are often a challenge to switch to fresh food. They are very opinionated and imprint on food at an early age. Cats who already eat other foods (real meat, fruits, vegetables, & cheese) will be much less of a project. It might take days, or even months, but it’s worth the effort! The most important thing to remember with cats is that you CANNOT use the tough love approach. Cats will starve themselves, and some severe conditions can occur if cats don’t eat for an extended period.

This article from Steve’s Real Food will explain best practices for transitioning your cat to raw.

The “Slow and Successful Method”

If you are feeding only dry kibble, introduce canned and reduce the dry. Have specific meal times rather than leaving the food out for them to eat whenever they want. If they are hungry, they are more willing to try something new.

Take some raw food and mix in the regular canned food you know your cat will eat. Test it on your kitty and increase the canned food until they are willing to eat it. Every time you feed, do this, and you will find you can gradually add more raw – though it may take several months. In the meantime offer bits of other kinds of fresh foods they like to eat – bacon, goat milk, salmon, etc. This slow method has proven to be the most successful for cats. However, if you have a cat that needs a little more work, consider the following tricks (in no particular order):

  • Expect it to take awhile. Fully transitioning a cat can take anywhere from a week to a year.
  • Stop leaving the kibble out to eat whenever they want. Have mealtimes, so they can start getting hungry enough to be willing to branch out.
  • Leave raw (or canned as a transition step) out for them all the time to try, but only offer kibble during their specified meal times. If they want a snack, they have to try the raw or canned.
  • Don’t just take away their kibble and play hardball, thinking that once they get hungry enough they will eat. Cats can starve themselves or go into shock that can turn fatal before they dare try something new, so this is not a good idea.
  • Have one meal available as kibble and one as raw, to see if they will be hungry enough without it getting dangerous.
  • Try different proteins to see if they like chicken over beef, etc.
  • Take freeze-dried raw food and hide it around the house, or put it in places the cat is not usually allowed. Cats like to feel that they have pulled one over on you, and they like to hunt.
  • Place the food in their usual feeding spot, or some other place they consider safe or theirs, like their bed or by their cat toys.
  • Take a stopper and (kindly) force a bit of raw meat into their mouth. Sometimes cats will try it once you have jolted their taste buds.
  • Tie a freeze-dried nugget to a cat toy and make them play with it. That gets them to put their mouth to it.
  • Mix in a tiny crumbly bit of freeze-dried product in with their regular kibble – not enough that they’ll notice, but enough that they can’t work around it. Once they have started eating it as a nuisance, slowly increase and make sure they are still eating their food.
  • Warm the food in a container with warm water. Cats like food to be at a warmer temperature, and it releases the smell.
  • Use a flat food dish, or a bowl that takes the span of whiskers into account. Cats don’t like their whiskers touching the side of their bowl.
  • Mix in raw freeze-dried with some goat milk and wet food, as little as the cat needs to still be interested in eating. Slowly decrease the amount of wet food. Often you can have a larger percentage of raw or freeze-dried if you place a small spoonful of unmixed wet food on the edge of the food, the cat will eat what they like and then just keep going in to the mixed food.
  • Offer other types of fresh food and meats to help them recognize they don’t have to eat just kibble. Let them eat other foods off of your plate such as salmon, bacon, chicken, or creamy milk products – you could even try putting a nugget of raw on your plate to trick them into thinking they have pulled one over on you by stealing it.
  • Re-hydrate the freeze-dried with something tasty like tuna juice, or beef or chicken broth.
  • Put some raw food onto their paws. They hate having dirty paws, and will try to lick them clean, and you have successfully gotten them to taste a little and realize it’s yummy!

You will begin to see improvements right away as your cat begins to receive digestive enzymes and a species appropriate diet. Be patient, your efforts will pay off as you extend the life and vitality of your feline companions!

Raw Diets for Dogs: Are They Better?

The idea of feeding raw food to your pet tends to divide us into two groups – either it makes sense to you to feed a biologically appropriate diet, or it may strike you as completely unsanitary and borderline barbaric.

Regardless of your point of view, raw is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market. If you were to feed a raw diet to your pet, the first change observed would be improved stools. This is due to its superior digestibility. Raw food is also extremely palatable and pets tend to like it. In addition, feeding raw has the following benefits:

  • No preservatives
  • No wheat, gluten, or fillers
  • Clean teeth
  • Fresh breath
  • Shiny and healthy coats
  • Less shedding
  • Fewer allergy symptoms
  • Firm, hard stools
  • 70% less poop

These are only a few of the benefits feeding raw can give you. Pet owners have been taught for many years that kibble is an acceptable diet for dogs, but processing kibble takes away many nutrients your dog actually needs.

The vast majority of pet food is cooked, primarily by the method of extrusion. This process produces a kibble and depends on a food containing 25 to 45 percent starch. Though digestible, this starch is of low nutritional utility for a carnivore. This Dogs Naturally article answers a few questions pet owners may have about the nutritional differences between kibble and raw.

Processing Away the Nutrients

Aside from excess carbohydrate (starch), there is the matter of what happens to an ingredient once it’s been cooked. Heat addition of any kind initiates the process of protein denaturation. It alters the nutrients and not necessarily for the better. Extreme heat destroys harmful bacteria, but today it is possible to assemble ingredients with a very low risk of pathogenic bacterial contamination.

The advantage of raw food is more than avoiding the diminished digestibility due to cooking. There are subtle but critical additional benefits. Natural enzymes and numerous beneficial bacteria are found in raw pet foods, undamaged by any heat application.

The Freeze-Dried Raw Option

A valid subheading of raw food is freeze-dried raw food. The freeze drying process removes moisture from the food without the damage of heat application. This process is widely appreciated as the most effective method of food preservation, because it allows a longer shelf life and least nutrient damage.

If you’re thinking about feeding raw, consider these advantages:

  1. Nutrient digestibility is superior to products that have been heated by extrusion (kibble) or boiling (canned).
  2. Natural enzyme activity is preserved, and vitamins remain undamaged.
  3. Friendly bacteria are allowed to thrive.

Understandably, raw food may not be an affordable option for a pet owner with more than one large dog. And compared to frozen, kibble is convenient and economical on a day to day basis. However, dry kibble simply isn’t the best nutrition for your pet. To the extent your budget permits, consider including raw or freeze-dried food in your pet’s diet. Your pet’s vitality will be louder and longer, and he’ll be happier and healthier.

Remember, feeding your dog a nutritious diet is the best health insurance money can buy. Ask a Barkery nutrition specialist about the RAW difference today.

Reasons You Should Supplement Raw Goat’s Milk

For those that don’t know, goat’s milk has been hailed as one of the most complete, natural food sources known to man. Raw, unpasteurized goat milk is full of vital nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, electrolytes, protein and fatty acids, and it’s more digestible than cow’s milk.

Not only is it safe to give your dog or cat goat’s milk, it’s also incredibly good for them. Even dogs who have a hard time digesting diary products derived from cow’s milk can do extremely well on unpasteurized goat’s milk.

Here are just a few reasons why you should supplement your dog or cat’s diet with goat’s milk:

1. It’s Great for Digestion

Raw goat’s milk is perfect for dogs who suffer any number of digestive issues. Some dogs just have sensitive stomachs, or aren’t able to properly digest food. This can mean gas and loose stools on a regular basis. Goat’s milk is full of natural probiotics, which strengthens your dog’s gut by repopulating the bad bacteria with good bacteria. This makes it invaluable for dogs with sensitive digestive tracts, and also for dogs that have been subjected to various antibiotics.

2. It’s an Immune Booster

By strengthening your dog or cat’s gut, you’re also strengthening the immune system. By virtue of the amount of vitamins, trace minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids, the overall health of your dog is greatly enhanced. Raw goat’s milk has been shown to help fight common ailments such as kidney issues, cancers, liver disease, diabetes, colitis, IBS, heart disease, ulcers, and various brain and nervous system disorders.

Whether you’re feeding a raw, cooked, or kibble diet, supplementing raw goat’s milk can help your best friend to be healthier and happier.

3. It Alleviates Allergies and Itching

The probiotics in raw goat’s milk fight off yeast. It also contains high levels of caprylic acid, which is a natural yeast destroyer. Believe it or not, dogs can get yeast infections in their ears and other parts of the body, including their paws. Your dog’s paw or ear itching could very well be from yeast or allergies, and goat’s milk can help stop the itching once and for all.

4. It Relieves Arthritis Symptoms and Joint Pain

The same enzymes that help with digestion are a natural anti-inflammatory, and can  help with pain in the joints. It also helps improve circulation, which can reduce or eliminate arthritis symptoms.

Other research has shown that carotene found in the milk can also prevent cancer, while the fat known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is believed to shrink cancerous tumors in some cases.

How to Feed Goat’s Milk

Most animals can’t get enough of goat’s milk, so give it a try even if you have a picky eater on your hands. When you’re feeding goat’s milk, make sure you’re adding it to a good, healthy diet. Although goat’s milk is a great benefit to your dog’s health, alone it won’t carry enough nutrients to help your dog thrive on its own. Pouring milk over your dog’s meal is the easiest way to supplement, whether you’re feeding raw, dehydrated, kibble or wet food.

The Barkery carries a variety of goat’s milk options. Stop in and ask a nutritionist how goat’s milk can help your pet today!

For more on goat’s milk, visit Dogs Naturally.

 

5 Benefits of Feeding a Raw Diet

When you believe that fresh is best, that belief makes it into every meal – including your pet’s! As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your pet’s needs are being met, including a healthy diet. The quality of your pet’s diet will have a direct impact on his general health and wellbeing, and can seriously impact your dog’s lifespan in general.

What is a Raw Diet?

A raw food diet for your pet is exactly what it sounds like – a diet made up of fresh, raw foods. While there are different ways to create a raw food diet for dogs, the most popular and beneficial options consist of mostly raw meat and bones, fortified with some fruits and vegetables or supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

Dogs are carnivorous animals, which means their bodies are adapted to gaining nutrition from animal-based protein. This mean that meat should be the primary focus in a dog’s diet.

The Benefits of Raw Diets

  1. Improved Nutrition – Raw diets are not cooked, so the original nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved. Synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements added to commercial dog and cat food are not necessary since the diet is fresh and never cooked.
  2. Healthy/Regular Digestion – Both dogs and cats have short digestive tracts which limits their ability to digest fibrous plant foods. Sine raw food is largely meat based, it requires less energy for your pet to digest, which in turn makes the digestive system work more smoothly and regulary – and results in fewer, firmer stools.
  3. Cleaner Teeth – The process of chewing raw meats and raw bones provide dental benefits by helping to scrape the plaque off the surface of your pet’s teeth. The chewing process also massages your dog’s gums, increasing circulation.
  4. Shinier Coat – A diet that consists of fresh, natural foods will give your dog the nutrients it needs and help to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Raw food diets include essential fatty acids which are key to optimal skin and coat health.
  5. Relief from Food Allergies/Sensitivities – The more dogs are exposed to potential, unnatural allergens such as corn, wheat, and soy, the more likely they are to develop a reaction. Raw food diets are typically grain-free which reduces the risk for allergic reactions.

In the end, it is completely up to you what to feed your pet. Because your pet’s diet has a direct impact on his well-being, it is important to choose a diet that provides for his nutritional needs in a healthy, wholesome way.

There has never been a better time to start feeding raw, or simply substituting a raw meal here and there. Huge savings are available this month at The Barkery on OC RAW DOG frozen/raw dog food. Stop in and ask a Barkery Associate how feeding a raw diet can benefit your furry friend.

 

Read more on raw diets here.