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Questions on Feeding
Questions About Changes to Your Pet
Questions on Safety and Food Handling
Questions on Feeding
A. Please see our guide on feeding calculations and transitioning to raw by clicking here.
A. Please see our guide on feeding calculations and transitioning to raw by clicking here.
A. If you are feeding our Pure Formulas, you will need to add kelp powder and cold-water fish oil (such as herring oil or salmon oil). If you are feeding our Pure Salmon or Turkey and Salmon, you do not need to include fish oils. Taurine is also an essential amino acid that should be supplemented into your pet's diet. Another option is Thrive's "Fortify" supplement which is specifically formulated to be fed to pets on pure protein raw diets and includes all minerals and vitamins for a balanced diet.
Here is a list of useful supplements and their benefits:
- Kelp: has over 60 minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and improves digestion, promotes healthy skin and coat, helps build a stronger immune system, promotes faster healing and decreases the chance of disease and aids with hypothyroidism.
- Fish Oil: provides essential fatty acids for both dogs and cats of all ages and life stages. It reduces inflammation (helps arthritis and joint issues), increases energy, reduces the risk of stroke and heart problems, relieves skin issues and helps with GI tract problems.
- Thrive's Fortify Supplement: Specifically formulated to augment Big Country Raw Pure Formula and Signature Blend recipes to meet the NRC (National Research Council) nutrient requirements for dogs and cats.
- Taurine Supplement: Thrive Taurine is a Veterinary Health Product to support cardiac health in pets to support cardiovascular health. Taurine may also boost immunity, brain health, and eye health. Taurine is an amino acid and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. This amino sulfonic acid helps some of the most crucial systems (cardiac, eye health, immune system) function properly.
- Probiotics: aids with upset tummies and diarrhea, soothes allergy symptoms, restores the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut, provides enzymes and microbes for proper digestion and supports the immune system. They are simply and naturally a beneficial boost to your pets' raw diet, especially when it comes to their immune & digestive health. These supplements support the microflora naturally found in your dog's gut, enhancing digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
**Important to note: if your dog is taking antibiotics, we recommend giving probiotics two hours after each antibiotic dose. This is more effective than trying to repair the gut after the antibiotics are finished.
- Other supplements: Goats milk, Bone broth, Pure pumpkin
Q. Can I feed my puppy raw food?
A. Starting your puppy on a species-appropriate diet is the best thing for proper skeletal and muscular development. However, puppies do have different nutritional requirements than adult dogs. For example, puppies need more calcium and phosphorus to ensure proper bone development. Puppies can start on a raw diet as early as four weeks. We suggest starting them off with a simple protein source, like Pure Turkey or Pure Rabbit, for 5 to 7 days as these are easily digestible proteins and allows them to adjust and build a tolerance to their new raw diet. If there are no signs of digestive upset or sensitivities, you can introduce your puppy to other protein sources.
Certain breeds do have specific nutritional requirements at certain stages of development. For example: great dane puppies grow so rapidly, their nutritional requirements are different than most breeds and they require additional nutrients.
Please see our guide: Feeding Your Puppy Raw for additional information.
Q. Can I feed my dog both kibble and raw?
A. Yes, you can feed both kibble and raw, but it is not ideal. The reason it is not ideal and why we suggest feeding raw and kibble in separate meals is because they digest in the colon at different rates. If this is something you choose to do, we recommend feeding raw in the morning and a high-quality kibble in the evening. This way, the raw meal has a chance to pass through before the digestive tract must deal with the slower digesting kibble. Adding a good quality probiotic will aid in better digestion or transition.
Your dog’s digestive tract is more capable of processing a raw diet than a kibble-based diet. Mixing may cause the stomach to get upset and due to the high starch content of kibble, it could lead to further digestive issues. Your pet will reap many benefits from feeding a 100% raw diet and you'll enjoy not having to worry about digestive upset from mixing.
Purdue completed a study focused on treating stage 4 terminal cancer in dogs with dietary changes. They wanted to see if there would be benefits from only making a small improvement to a dog's meal of kibble. They decided to add one handful of fresh leafy greens to a dog's dinner bowl along with his kibble 3x a week and then measured results. The findings were absolutely amazing. By adding the leafy green veggies to the dog's dinner 3x a week, they decreased the dog's risk of developing cancer by 90%. If you want to start small and work towards feeding full raw, just know that even the small efforts and you make will improve you dog's meal time will change your dog's life. Of course, adding leafy green veggies isn't a possibility for cats or ferrets, but exciting advances are being made in pet nutrition.
Q. Are there any pets that should not be fed a raw diet?
A. A raw diet can negatively affect a pet which is already severely ill, severely stressed or with a compromised immune system due to an immune disorder or or has a compromised immune system from taking immuno-suppressive drugs such as steroids. Pets with certain medical conditions such as liver, kidney, bladder, heart disease, or obesity often require specific nutritional therapy to minimize symptoms of their disease. It is not recommended that pets with these issues be fed a raw diet without first consulting your veterinarian.
Q. How often can I feed my dog raw meaty bones?
A. We suggest 1 to 2 times per week. Raw bones are great for recreational chewing and as part of a meal replacement. Bones provide excellent dental and gum hygiene and are great for both physical and mental exercise.
Note: If your dog chews and ingests the bone, you may notice they get constipated, or their stool can be white and crumbly. That said, marrow bones tend to be a little rich and can cause loose stools, so we recommend those only 1x a week. Finding a happy balance is key, as every dog is different.
For puppies, we recommend softer bones like chicken necks or smaller rib bones.
**It is important to always supervise your dog when they are enjoying a raw bone, and get a bone that is larger than their mouth to avoid any swallowing hazards. Especially until you know how your dog chews and which bones are suitable for them.
Questions about Changes in Your Pet
Q. What are the potential benefits of a raw diet?
A. There are many potential benefits you can expect from feeding your pet a raw diet.
Q. Will raw help with my pet’s allergies?
A. Yes, it can help reduce or halt their allergies. Allergies are an over-response of your pet’s immune system to a possible change in protein absorption, or overexposure to a series of allergens. 80% of a dog’s immune system lives in the gut (intestine, stomach and mouth). The most common complaint we hear is food from a commercial based diet, which contain fillers such as grains, sugars and starches. These are not “biologically” meant for our pets and over time can put stress on their organs, and suppress their immune system, creating or triggering reactions and allergies like:
Chronic yeast infections (ears & feet), hot spots, rashes or hives, GI upset (diarrhea and gas), and Joint issues.
Switching your dog or cat to a raw diet and adding a good quality probiotic will significantly restore the digestive tract and support your pets’ immune system from the inside out.
NOTE: If your pet is suffering from allergies, we suggest doing an elimination diet. (Example: feeding a simple protein like our Pure Turkey or Rabbit.)
Q. My pet's poop looks different, is this normal?
A. Yes. Did you know raw fed poops are very different from kibble fed poops and can tell you a lot about their overall health and wellness?
Kibble fed pets produce frequent, voluminous, and stinky poops. The larger the size, the less food and nutrients are being absorbed/digested. Kibble is 20% to 40% digested, which means 60% to 80% is discharged through their poop. This is from indigestible fillers (Carbohydrates, Corn, & Grains), which have very little nutritional value & can wreak havoc on your pet's digestive system.
Raw fed pets produce minimal waste and have regular bowel movements that consist of smaller, firmer & less stinky poops. The reason is simple: your pet isn't eating anything they cannot process. Fed a biologically appropriate diet, they are processing their food correctly and using it as fuel!
Note: Paying attention to your pet's poop color & consistency can help you determine if something is amiss or if there are any abnormalities. Slight changes in your pet's poop are not a reason for concern. (Side note: when feeding Chicken or Duck, the bone content can be slightly higher, making your pets poop somewhat chalky. This is normal.)
Q. Why is my pet drinking less water?
A. Raw food has a much higher moisture content. Your pet’s digestive system is very efficient at extracting and utilizing the water in the raw food. This means that they are less thirsty. Your pet is simply getting more of the water they need from eating rather than drinking.
Questions on Safety and Food Handling
Q. What about bacteria and salmonella?
A. A dog’s digestive system is not the same as a human; the first defense is a dog or cats’ saliva, which kills bacteria entering with food and protects against harmful pathogens. The second defense is they have high acid stomachs (pH 1-2) that contain strong hydrochloric acid (HCL), making it almost impossible for them to get sick. Thirdly, there are digestive enzymes in the small intestine that attack and break down harmful bacterial cells. If bacteria survive past this point and enter the large intestine, the good bacteria and flora of the large intestine will neutralize the bad bacteria.
Pets that are on antibiotics or are immunosuppressed may lack some of these defenses and this can open the door for infection. Being mindful of your pet's current health can allow you to make adjustments to their diet as necessary. Ex. If your pet is on antibiotics, consider sticking to beef for that time period, Beef usually has less salmonella and other harmful bacteria in the raw meat and that means that it will be easier on your pet's digestive system.
Remember to take normal precautions when handling raw meat: wash your hands, bowls, utensils & surface area thoroughly after use. Take extra care when scooping your pet's poop as bacteria can be shed through their stool.
Q. What are the specific food-handling recommendations and additional suggestions I should follow?
A. There are specific instructions given by the FDA on the handling of any raw meat. They are as follows:
- Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw pet food, and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Countertops, the inside of refrigerators and microwaves, kitchen utensils, feeding bowls and cutting boards are all potential sources of bacteria.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. (The FDA stresses: Cleaning means only removing germs from surfaces and objects; disinfecting means actually killing the germs.) The First wash area with hot, soapy water, then following with a disinfectant, such as one tablespoon of bleach dissolved in one quart of water.
- Running utensils and cutting boards through the dishwasher after use can also disinfect them.
- Freeze raw meat until you’re ready to use it, and thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the countertop or sink.
- Carefully handle and segregate raw food, and don’t rinse it, or you can splash the raw juices onto other food and surfaces.
- Immediately cover and refrigerate leftover food.
When specifically considering transmission from your pet, we recommend:
- Avoid kissing your pet around his mouth, and don’t permit them to lick your face, especially after they have just consumed a raw-food meal.
- If your pet has recently consumed raw food, thoroughly wash your hands after touching your pet's face, or after your pet has licked or “kissed” you.
Being careful and using common sense will keep you and your loved ones safe. I am immunocompromised and in my 4 years of feeding raw, I have never gotten sick due to direct interaction with the raw food or my pets, or indirectly through contact with an item contaminated by one of my pets.
Q. Can I thaw my raw food & refreeze it?
A. Yes, you can safely thaw the food in your refrigerator and refreeze it. BUT, if you thaw it at room temperature (in your sink or on your counter), you must use the food within 3 days (DO NOT REFREEZE). Note that thawing, refreezing and re-thawing raw meat may leak out moisture, changing the integrity of the product.
We also do not suggest microwaving raw food. The heat will destroy the active phytonutrients, enzymes and nutrients, and the ground bone pieces in some proteins may become brittle, which can be a risk.
Q. Is your food Hormone, Antibiotic-free & Human-grade?
A. Yes, Raw Performance food is made with locally sourced Human-Grade, Hormone & Antibiotic free meats from government inspected facilities. You can have peace of mind when feeding our products to your pets.
Q. What is Tripe?
A. Tripe refers to a type of edible offal from the stomachs of various grazing farm animals such as Cattle, Sheep, Lamb & Goat. Green tripe is called "green" because it is untreated & unbleached - unlike the bleached tripe found in grocery stores.
Green tripe offers: amino acids, protein, natural probiotics and digestive enzymes, optima calcium to phosphorus rations, omega fatty acids, other vitamins and minerals.
Benefits of Tripe: Great for picky eaters, weight loss/gain, aids with illness or recovery, great for sensitive tummies, stops coprophagia, improves dental health.
Q. What is the difference between the Gourmet Blends, Pure Formulas and Specialty Blends?
A. Gourmet Blends contain one or two proteins, consisting of 75% muscle meat, 10% offal organ meat, 10% ground bone and 5% mix of kale, kelp, spinach & tripe. Contains a complete nutritional profile and does not require daily additional supplements.
Pure Formulas: contain 80% muscle meat, 10% offal organ meat and 10% ground bone with no added vegetables. Pure Formulas are great for dogs with allergies or for doing an elimination diet. It also gives you the option to add specific additional items that your pet may require. Just remember, pure formulas absolutely require some supplements to ensure a complete diet. Let us know if you need help deciding what is right for your pet that will ensure they get a complete nutritional profile.
Specialty Blends: The Chicken & Lamb (meat, lamb organs and tripe) and Performance Blends (meat, bone, beef organs, tripe) both contain tripe which is full of important nutrients and therefore these blends do not require any supplements. The Turkey and Salmon Blend has meat, bone and organs and therefore it does requires some supplements to ensure a full nutritional profile.