When a Simple Switch for Hades Meant Big Changes/ Jenna Harrison
When our loyal customer, Brandon shared his “raw story” with us, it was too heartwarming not to share! The below is Brandon’s first hand experience with switching his picky German Shepherd to a minimally processed diet…
“I was surprised with my best friend “Hades” 5 years ago by my girlfriend Chelsea and how can anyone forget that moment? A box was checked off the bucket list as we prepared ourselves for a great future with the little guy (a thirteen week old German Shepherd).
Although, things changed drastically. When we had picked up Hades, he was actually within the progressive stage of Kennel Cough into Pneumonia. Tough, I know but luckily after immediate veterinarian assistance and a few weeks to recoup, Hades tackled Pneumonia and made it out okay. We were warned though that he most likely not grow to the normal size of a GSD and certain attributes (lungs, heart…etc) would not develop fully. Then we met Nicci and her staff at NorthPoint.
Hades was a VERY picky eater when he came home from the hospital and we struggled big time when it came to getting him to eat. Numerous bags of dry food went to waste because he seemed to have become bored with it, as well as wet food. We found it tough to gain back the weight he had lost when he got sick, too.
Luckily enough I had discovered NorthPoint Pets & Company in the middle of this dilemma and a simple 10 minute conversation with the staff re-directed my mind state from kibble to raw. We gave raw a shot and I’ll tell you what, we’ll never switch back. Instantly, Hades was hooked. Not only was it a simple switch but the benefits showed immediately.
Not only was it a simple switch but the benefits showed immediately.
After starting raw, his plate was licked clean every time and he started to finally show some weight gain! His hair started to shine and we started seeing all of the typical signs of a 4-6 month old puppy we were warned about! Hades’ energy was up and boy did he start filling out (he even did so well on hiking trails I had to quit smoking to keep up!). My favorite thing when we started to feed raw and even to this day was that as he developed, the adjustments on how much to feed and when to feed, became natural. He was kept lean throughout his puppy stage (by vet recommendations due to certain hereditary possibilities like hip displaysia) and then bulked up with ease as he grew older and older. Well, 100 lbs later, I believe the initial diagnosis from the vet was proven wrong. I credit all of that to raw. No joke.
In my opinion, raw has set Hades up for the best physical and mental condition that he can possibly be in.
In my opinion, raw has set Hades up for the best physical and mental condition that he can possibly be in. He is currently 5 years old and has not eaten kibble since he was 13 weeks. Good luck getting him to eat anything else… he won’t even go for one of those whipped cream doggy drinks from that fancy coffee place! Thank you, NorthPoint for everything you have done for Hades and all of the raw education you have shared! Hades says thanks too!”
This is why we do what we do. This is what drives our team to continue our research, to provide the most up-to-date information, and further our education in everything we do. Thank you Brandon for sharing your raw story with us!
Is My Dog ‘Too Old’ for a Raw Diet?/ Nicole Cammack and Jenna Harrison
Senior dog owners often dismiss the idea of raw feeding because the animal is ‘too old.’ While nutrition is never one-size-fits-all, it’s also never “too late” to switch foods or supplement with fresh food. If your dog has reached their golden years, improving their diet can be one of the most powerful changes you can make to maximize their health span.
Common Misconceptions Surrounding Raw Food for Senior Pets:
Misconception #1: A raw diet is too high in protein and/or fat for a senior dog.
This idea comes from the notion that raw meat is exceptionally high in protein and fat content, and that a senior dog’s liver and kidneys cannot process too much of these.
- The first misnomer here is that protein and fat are harmful to a senior pet. It’s important to note that protein and fat are actually the most easily digested macronutrients available to the body so long as they are in a minimally processed form. So while it is safe to assume that raw diets offer higher fat and protein than a kibble or canned diet, quality animal-based sources can offer greater digestibility and bioavailability (nutrient absorption) than any cooked, ultra-processed food options.
- The second misnomer is that raw fat and protein put extra stress on the organs – the liver and kidney specifically. Instead, it’s important to understand that the body has to work harder to break down fat and protein that have been processed, or heated multiple times to make kibble or canned food. Furthermore, kibble diets in particular tend to be very high in carbohydrates. In other words, the body works much harder to digest a food that is highly processed than one that is minimally processed.
- The last (and likely the most important) misnomer is that high protein is bad for the kidneys. This is false, and instead it is high phosphorus that can be damaging for stressed kidneys. This is why it is so important for pet food companies to analyze their final product to ensure that nutrients – such as phosphorus – are not too high!
Learn more about nutrient value in your pet’s food here.
Misconception #2: Changing your pet’s diet in old age won’t make a difference.
Diet and nutrition play a vital role in your pet’s health span, regardless of age. New research even shows that the food fed to a puppy can greatly impact the dog’s life in later years. Likewise, what you feed your senior pet can impact their quality of life, often delaying or minimizing age-related changes in mobility, digestive and immune health, and cognitive wellbeing. At NPP, some of the best, most miraculous success stories we hear come from customers who have improved their senior pet’s diet!
Misconception #3: An entire diet overhaul is required to have any noticeable effect on health.
A recent study from the University of Helsinki found that when dogs fed a kibble diet had just 20% of their kibble replaced with fresh, minimally processed food, occurrences of atopic dermatitis (environmental skin allergies) and inflammatory bowel disease significantly decreased. This observation was linked by the body’s methylation process – how efficiently it removes toxins from the body.
The truth is that subtle changes – like increasing moisture with bone broth, supplementing with antioxidant-rich produce, or replacing 20% of a kibble diet with fresh food – can yield noticeable differences in joint mobility, skin and coat health, gut flora, and even cognitive function at any age.
Is it Safe to Feed Your Dog a Raw Meaty Bone?/ Michelle Yaglowski
The topic of feeding meaty bones tends to drum up some controversy. Is it safe to feed your pet a raw meaty bone? Is it even beneficial to your pet? How do you know which bones are safe to feed? Let’s address some of these questions.
Raw meaty bones (RMBs) are safe to feed as long as they meet certain safety parameters:
- Meaty bones should be purchased from a reliable source with safe handling practices in place and that regularly tests their products for harmful pathogens. Use only RMBs sold specifically for pet consumption. In the U.S., a zero-tolerance policy for raw pet food products ensures that the product has not tested positive for pathogens such as E. Coli or Salmonella. In other words, you should not give your pets RMBs from a grocery store.
- Choose the appropriate size/type of bone for your pet. Small RMB’s like chicken necks are perfect for small dogs and cats, whereas turkey and duck necks are better suited for medium to large dogs. As a general rule, it is appropriate to feed a bone the size of your dog’s head. Most dogs, when fed an appropriate size bone, will chew the bone well before swallowing. However, if your dog is a “gulper” or is likely to try and swallow large things without chewing, a RMB may not be an ideal choice for your dog. If you have questions, our staff can help you decide which bones may be appropriate for your dog.
- As with all toys and chews, always monitor your dog when feeding bones. Although dogs usually know what to do with a bone, it is important to ensure they are not going to swallow it whole.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)
I give my dog marrow bones. Is that the same thing?
No. Marrow bones are known as ‘recreational bones’ because your pet should not be able to chew and consume the bone itself, but rather the tiny bits of fat, tissue, and cartilage left on the bone, as well as the inner bone marrow. ‘Raw meaty bones’ generally refer to bones that have more ‘meat’ on them and less bone, such as turkey and duck necks.
Do they eat the whole thing, bone and all?
Yes. Since RMBs are mostly thin bone, tissue, and cartilage, they are easy for your pet to break up, chew and swallow.
Do I let it thaw?
No. It is not necessary to thaw your raw bones before feeding. However, some dogs and most cats prefer to have their bone thawed to soften the frozen tissue prior to feeding. If you must thaw the bone, leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, or submerge it in cool water inside a plastic baggie to thaw it faster.
Should I cook it?
No. Never feed a cooked bone. Cooked bones can splinter, which can cause intestinal obstructions and perforations (not good!).
Which types of bones are safe to feed?
Do not feed weight-bearing bones of heavy animals. What does this mean? When you think of a large animal such as a cow, weight-bearing bones are those that allow the animal to stand properly, which can be too hard on your dog’s teeth.
Why should I offer my dog raw meaty bones?
Bones are an excellent addition to our pet’s diet, and here’s why:
- They’re an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, and glucosamine.
- They can help with firmer stool.
- They can help maintain cleaner teeth and better oral health.
- They offer mental and physical enrichment for an overall happier (and less bored) pet.
How often should I feed my dog raw meaty bones?
Bones should be fed intermittently as a compliment to your pet’s regular diet. Feeding frequency will depend on your pet’s size, age, and activity level. While they can occasionally be fed in place of a meal, they should not be fed every day.
An Exclusive Look At Nicci’s Research On Raw Food Safety/ NorthPoint Pets
What’s Nicci up to these days? Nicci was recently featured in a Facebook live with Drs Nick Thompson, Brendan Clarke, and Conor Brady discussing her research on the safety of raw feeding, Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain-free food.
Won’t my dog (or my family) get sick if I feed a raw diet?/ Michelle Yaglowski
We have always received advice to cook meat thoroughly in order to eliminate pathogens such as Salmonella, E. Coli, or Campylobacter. However, there is limited documentation linking raw feeding to enteric pathogens. A study conducted by DogRisk1 examined stool samples from dogs fed raw diets and those fed kibble-based diets. The study found that “Zoonotic meat-borne bacteria, such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, and enteropathogenic Yersinia, were only sporadically detected in RMBD (raw meat-based diets) by PCR.”1 In other words, there is no consistent association between raw diets and enteric pathogens.
By following basic, safe handling practices (which we already do when handling our own meat to prevent illness) – such as practicing good hand hygiene, disinfecting surfaces after preparation, and not feeding spoiled meat – the risk of enteric pathogens can be minimized.
It is worth noting that some of the largest and most significant pet food recalls in the U.S. have been linked to dry food. This indicates that heat-treated foods also carry a significant risk of pathogens. Additionally, research shows that most pet owners do not regularly wash their hands or clean their pet food bowls. Therefore, regardless of the type of food you feed your pet, it is important to practice proper hygiene.
- Anturaniemi (o.s. Roine), J., Barrouin-Melo, S., Zaldivar-López, S., Sinkko, H., & Hielm-Björkman, A. (2019). Owners perception of acquiring infections through raw pet food: a comprehensive internet-based survey. Veterinary Record, 185(21). https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.105122
From a Vet Tech: “Why I Add Fresh Food for my Dogs”/ Morgan Hunt
I have two dogs: Tyson (a Pit mix) and Pongo (a Dalmatian). I feed them salmon kibble but add a lot of fresh foods to their bowls like raw meat toppers, raw organic eggs, goat milk, bone broth, blueberries, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, and bananas. The biggest benefit of feeding fresh food is that I know they stay hydrated with all these toppers. On top of that, their coats shine, their teeth are pearly white, they’re fit and lean, and they’re happy!
I pay extra close attention to my Dalmatian’s diet because they’re really prone to urinary crystals and stones. I focus on keeping him hydrated because it helps to flush the bad stuff out. Since adding fresh food to my Dalmatian’s diet, his urinalysis results have been much better – a huge decrease in crystals!
I can go on and on about the benefits of adding fresh food to a pet’s diet but these are just a couple of reasons why I’ll never go back to plain kibble!
7 Reasons Why You’ll LOVE Freeze-Dried Food/ Jenna Harrison
1. Nutritional Value
Freeze-dried raw food is still raw and has not been cooked. Therefore, perhaps the best benefit of all is that it contains pristine nutrition for your pet: animal-based proteins, essential fats and amino acids in their most digestible, bioavailable form. At NPP we strongly believe that whole, fresh feeding is the best form of nutrition for your pet.
Perhaps the best perk about freeze-dried food is the versatility. Freeze-dried foods can be fed as:
- A complete meal – yes, they’re complete and balanced!
- A compliment to kibble or canned food
- A meal topper – guaranteed to entice even the pickiest eaters
- A high-value nutrition-packed treat
3. Amazingly Portable
Since freeze-dried foods are vacuum dried, they can be kept safely at room temperature. The compact, lightweight, nutrient-dense meal simplifies feeding while you’re on the road or away from home. In addition, the less weight in your day pack can make all the difference when you’re planning to hike that extra mile.
4. Easy Preparation
Unlike frozen raw food, freeze-dried foods do not require freezing, and therefore do not need to be thawed. When served as a topper or treat, you can feed it right out of the bag – no prep needed. If using it as a complete meal on a regular basis, freeze-dried formulas should be hydrated.
Why do we recommend hydrating?
While freeze-dried formulas contain excellent high-quality protein and healthy fats, they have zero moisture, which can put unnecessary strain on your pet’s organ function over time. If freeze-dried food makes up more than 25% of your pet’s diet, we recommend adding some bone broth, goat milk, or warm water. Allow the food to soak for 5-10 minutes to absorb the moisture before feeding.
Freeze-dried foods tend to be a favorite amongst picky pets, commonly small dogs and cats. Here’s why: The freeze-drying process yields a final product that smells great and is relatively soft in texture. Prior to hydration, the food is dry but softer than kibble. After hydration, the food resembles canned/wet food. If your pet prefers a shredded texture, simply break up the pieces with a fork or your hand. If they prefer a smooth pate texture, leave the food intact.
6. A [Frozen] Raw Transition Meal
Many pet-owners become frustrated if their pet doesn’t instantly fall in love with a frozen raw diet. For some pets, this transition can be off-putting: to go from eating a processed, extruded dry kibble to a cold, wet raw meal (think stale pizza crust to cold grass-fed prime rib). Freeze-dried formulas can help to bridge the gap with a room-temperature, palatable, fragrant, enticing meal that can gradually replace your pet’s kibble without the shocking change.
7. A Frozen Raw Back-Up Meal
Avid raw feeders can all tell stories of the times they forgot to take out their pet’s frozen meals to thaw. Come dinner time, it’s nice to have a shelf-stable Plan B, just in case!
Raw Feeding Veterinary Society/ Nicole R. Cammack
There is a dedicated team of veterinarians that advocate for the safe, responsible feeding of fresh, raw food for dogs and cats. These vets and other professionals are members of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS). Nicci is also a member of this organization as well and you can learn more about the RFVS here: https://rfvs.info/about-us/
How to Save Money on Your Pet’s Diet During Tough Times/ Nicole R. Cammack
As the pandemic continues, many pet owners are facing financial difficulties, causing them to rethink their pet’s diet. Raw and canned pet food feeding households are switching to kibble or supplementing with it to save money. In this article, we’ll explore some factors to consider when making the switch.
Calculating Carbohydrate Content
When looking for a lower cost alternative to raw or canned pet food, consider a lower carbohydrate kibble. To determine the percentage of carbohydrates, add together the percentages of protein, fat, moisture, fiber, and ash. Since ash is often not listed on the label, estimate it to be around 6-8%. Subtract the total from 100 to get the carbohydrate content.
A low carbohydrate kibble does not automatically guarantee adequate or high-quality protein. Your dog or cat needs to consume a certain amount of total grams of protein rather than an overall percentage. If you’re transitioning from raw to kibble or supplementing your pet’s raw diet with kibble, it’s crucial to reach out to pet food companies and request:
- Third-party digestibility data for the specific formula you are considering feeding. Do they conduct digestibility testing for all of their formulas? Just one? Or none? This is important because if the food is not highly digestible, then the amount of protein is irrelevant since the animal may not be able to utilize it.
- A typical AAFCO nutrient analysis to determine if they regularly analyze their formulas for adequate nutrition that meets or exceeds AAFCO standards. Over time companies average these analyses together (typical) in order to provide a profile of that food over time. Most companies don’t conduct these tests and will instead provide a “targeted analysis” which represents the nutrition of that food as formulated on paper. It may not actually represent what is in the final product – AND if the company does not provide digestibility data it may mean that those nutrients may not be absorbed or metabolized adequately.
- Pay attention to the calorie ratios of the food you are considering. Specifically, look at protein to calorie, carbohydrate to calorie, and fat to calorie ratios. This information will help you determine if the food is suitable for your pet’s specific needs. It may also indicate the accuracy of claims made on the packaging.
Adding Fresh Food
Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your pet’s bowl can provide numerous health benefits, whether you feed kibble or raw. Using foods that may otherwise go to waste can also help reduce costs. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that neutralize toxic free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and DNA damage.
A lot of us raw feeders choose to feed raw due to health conditions, disease prevention, and/or personal choice. While much of the evidence supporting these diets is anecdotal, there is a lot of research emerging to support these diets. Regardless, we do know there is sufficient published evidence to show the detriments of processed kibble and canned foods. For this reason, many of us worry about transitioning back. The good news is the researchers at the University of Helsinki DogRisk group have shown that feeding just 20% fresh food with processed food (i.e. kibble and canned food) reduces the incidence of inflammatory biomarkers quite significantly.
Consider Freeze-Dried Foods
If you’re feeding commercial raw, consider freeze-dried foods. Traditionally, these foods have been cost-prohibitive, but there are now highly digestible and affordable brands, such as Northwest Naturals and Vital Essentials. These foods are shelf-stable, lightweight, and easy to store or transport.
Switching to a lower cost alternative to raw or canned pet food can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. By considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make a more informed decision about what to feed your pet during these tough times. Remember, adding fresh foods and considering freeze-dried options can help you save money while still providing your pet with a healthy diet.
*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to provide medical advice or replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian.
About the Author: Nicole Cammack
Nicci is the owner of award-winning NorthPoint Pets & Company, in Connecticut. She is also the Founder & CEO of Undogmatic Inc. Her undergraduate and graduate education includes biology, chemistry, business, and nutrition. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on multiple R&D projects and has had the privilege to learn from leading international figures in the human and pet health industry. She regularly lectures at national conferences, including federal, state, and municipal K9 events. Her current research involves identifying pathogenic risk factors and transmission among raw fed pets through a comprehensive worldwide survey.
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