Totally Raw Blog


Top 5 Ways To Keep Your Pets Totally Safe This Halloween

October 28, 2019 in Tips

Halloween is a fun time of year where humans and animals alike can get dressed up and go door-to-door asking for treats. What could be better?!

This exciting time of year is not without its hazards, however, particularly for our four-legged friends.

Here are a few things to watch out for so you and your precious pet can stay safe while enjoying everything the season has to offer.


1. Say No To Candy
(for your pets anyway)


If there is one thing dogs love, it’s getting into the food they should not be getting into!

Sometimes this just means you have to cook another meatloaf or make another sandwich. But when it comes to the delicious chocolates and other candies that abound during Halloween, it’s especially important to keep your pets away from the candy bowl. Candy is one of those things that your pet’s digestive system is not meant to handle.

Without the opposable thumbs required to unwrap the little goodies, your pet will just gobble the whole thing, sticks, wrappers and all. Not only can these be choking hazards, but they can also cause blockages in places where there are not meant to be blockages and can even lead to very expensive surgery and a lot of discomfort and ongoing medical issues.

Some candies, such as chocolate or raisins can be fatal for both dogs and cats. So keep candy bowls, bags and boxes well out of reach of your pet.

If you’re worried your furry pal has taken a treat from your Halloween haul, be sure to keep an eye out for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate and tremors, and call your veterinarian immediately if you see any of these signs.

We recommend having a stockpile of pet-friendly treats ready for any four-legged trick-or-treaters that come to your door. And be sure to save some for your own furry friend as well.


2. Dress With Care


Of course, you can’t have Halloween without costumes. It’s fun to find the perfect outfit for your furry friend and then get as many pictures a possible before they wriggle out of it. While getting a costume that fits your pet’s personality is important, and even bigger priority is safety.

It’s important to make sure that your costume has enough room around the neck, tail and leg holes that nothing is too tight. We don’t want any circulation being cut off or for your pet to get pinched.

A good rule of thumb (or dewclaw as the case may be) is to allow a two-finger width of breathing room around the neck and make sure there is nothing obstructing your pet’s vision.

Other things to watch for would be to make sure there is nothing your pet can chew off of the costume and choke on such as sequins, bobbles or even strings they can possibly trip on.

Not all animals are comfortable in a costume though. Never force an outfit on and if they try to wriggle free, just remove it and then maybe give them a treat instead.


3. Beware the Jack’O Lantern
(and other decorations)


The traditional jack-o-lantern complete with a lit candle inside to light up the night is a staple of Halloween decor, but it’s easy for pets to knock them over. Not only can this be a fire hazard, but curious dogs and cats can also burn themselves on the open flame.

Try a battery-operated light instead of a candle. This is also another opportunity to distract your pet from ingesting pumpkin with a delicious treat instead.

With all the spooky decorations around, it’s important to also watch out for electrical wires. These can be tripping hazards and do not make good chewables for any pet.


4. Walk Safely And Carry a Big Flashlight


If you are planning on taking your pooch trick-or-treating, it’s best to keep them close with a short leash. All the costumes and decorations can be stressful and confusing for a dog. Some dogs are more nervous than others but it’s good to keep them close, especially if you are trick-or-treating in an unfamiliar or a crowded area.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet is highly visible with colourful costume accessories such as reflective tape and LED lights. These can also be used during the rest of the year as well if you are in the habit of walking your dog at night.


5. Keep Pets Inside


While Halloween is generally a night of fun and dress-up and treats of all kinds, it can also be a night of pranks and other unpleasant activities. Unfortunately, not everyone loves and cares for our animals the way we do and Halloween is often a night when animals can be teased, stolen or worse if left outside.

With all the noise and excitement of trick-or-treaters traipsing about, animals can easily get scared and run away.

It can also be helpful to have a safe room where you can keep your pets away from the door. With all the noise and excitement of costumed children coming up to your house and the door constantly opening and closing, it is much easier for a pet to escape or become overstimulated with all the excitement.

Being aware of your dog’s temperament and personality is helpful in determining the best place in the house for them to be. If they are extremely nervous or overprotective, it’s best to keep them away from the door.

Regardless, it’s helpful to have a plan in place for how you are going to handle your dog so you aren’t trying to hand out candy and keep your pet inside the door at the same time.

All-in-all, knowing the dangers and being prepared for them is the best way to ensure you and your beloved pet have a safe and fun Halloween.

Wolf in Poodle Clothing

September 27, 2019 in Raw Food

What should I feed my dog? It should be a simple question, but the unfortunate reality is that the answer often gets lost in misinformation and misunderstanding, not only about dog food but dogs in general.

Scientific studies ‘proving’ that kibble can sustain a dog’s life abound. It seems like every brand of commercially processed dog food you can find has been ‘scientifically proven’ to meet all of the nutritional needs of our furry friends.

These scientific studies and feeding trials have very low standards making them an easy pass. For example, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) designation of Complete and Balanced or For All Life Stages only requires a feeding trial of eight animals for 26 weeks.

They only require six of the eight dogs to survive the 26 weeks. The surviving dogs can pass with up to 15% of body weight loss and tested blood values below a specified minimum.

Yet the public puts a great deal of confidence in these designations because, well, it’s science.

It’s no wonder that I often get asked to cite the scientific evidence that leads me to believe dogs should eat a balanced raw diet like wolves rather than processed, commercial kibble.

A Brief History Of Dog Food
As impressive as they may sound, these scientific studies are actually very new and have only been able to look at results over the short term.

This is because processed kibble for dogs has really only been around since the 1800s. In fact, the first commercially produced dog food was introduced by a businessman named James Spratt in 1860. That’s only 160 years ago (that’s 1,120 in dog years). His dry dog food business was extremely successful and extremely lucrative.

Following Spratt’s success, the dry dog food industry and the science that supported it seem to have been driven and shaped more by the market than by any real long-term studies on the impact the new diet had on the health of domestic dogs.

Now, 160 years later, I believe we are seeing the results of processed, commercial kibble. Our canine companions that are eating processed food just keep getting sicker and sicker. Deaths from cancer, diabetes and degenerative conditions are the norm. There are more veterinary clinics than ever before yet dogs continue to die prematurely and suffer from chronic illnesses.

The natural diet stance is based on long-term trials that go beyond a mere 160 years. Humans and dogs have been working and living together for at least 15,000 years (possibly more) and up until the Industrial Revolution and James Spratt’s dry dog food business venture, domestic dogs thrived eating a natural, raw diet.

I say natural because dogs as a species are carnivores, just like wolves. In fact, wolves and dogs are the same species.

Carnivore or Omnivore?
Interestingly enough, proponents of a processed, commercial kibble diet are now questioning the relationship between the wolf and dog. They even suggest a dog is not a carnivore but an omnivore. If dogs and wolves are not closely related then they don’t require the same diet.

If this is true and dogs have the digestive systems of omnivores it would support the idea that we can continue to feed our beloved pooches a processed diet full of corn and chemicals. The difficulty in this line of thinking is that the relationship between dogs and wolves is well understood and well documented.

Wolf-Dog or Dog-Wolf?
Originally dogs were classified as Canis familiaris and Canis familiarus domesticus in 1758.

Science has come a long way and in 1993, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists reclassified dogs as Canis Lupus Familiaris (subspecies of the gray wolf Canis Lupus).

In other words, the domestic dog is no longer classified as a separate species, it is a subspecies of the gray wolf and a wolf is a carnivore.

In fact, the connection is so close you can actually breed a wolf and a dog and produce viable offspring. This is an important distinction when it comes to determining species.

The processed food promoters counter this argument by citing the strong genetic relationship that exists between humans and chimpanzees, yet no one would suggest we should eat the same food as a chimp or vice versa. (ironically the chimp diet is probably healthier than the typical North American diet).

While there may be some similarities, humans and apes cannot interbreed in the same way that dogs and wolves can. They are not the same species. The distinction is enormous.

Since a dog’s internal physiology is the same as a wolf, it stands to reason that a dog’s nutritional needs are identical to a wolf.

This means dogs need to consume a balance of meat, bones and organs of herbivorous prey.
Plant matter in the digestive system of the prey is removed and not consumed.

The Difference Raw Makes
Aside from the historical aspect of raw feeding, I have personally witnessed the wonderful healing and restoring powers of a species-appropriate diet.

I have also had the privilege of being in the natural dog food industry for well over a decade and I have received thousands of positive reports of dogs returning to good health after switching to a totally raw diet.

What I and many others have seen and experienced is that many common health conditions plaguing our beloved pets today have roots in the consumption of processed, commercial kibble.

So, see your pet for what he is, a pack oriented, carnivorous friend. Accept him for the little wolf he is and provide him with a diet to match his genes and it will go a long way towards helping your beloved pooch live a long healthy life.

Mixing Raw & Kibble – Is It Okay?

January 3, 2019 in Raw Food


A common question that arises from our customers is whether they should mix kibble with their dog’s raw diet. We generally discourage this because of the potential issues that can arise from the practice, so I’ll use this article to outline the ‘why’ behind our answer!

The digestive tract of a dog varies quite a bit from that of a human, but digestion – whether in human or dog – is basically the same process. Enzymes in the digestive tract are proteins that break down and digest the food that you or your dog eat and convert it to energy. Some of these enzymes are found in the stomach and the rest are produced in the pancreas, where they travel to the small intestine to take care of the end of the digestive journey.  We’ll talk about the importance of those enzymes a little more in-depth in just a bit.

The stomach produces hydrochloric acid, and in an amount that makes a dog’s stomach quite acidic – a pH level of 2 – around the same level as raw vinegar. The stomach plays a key role in making the digestive tract run, as well as performing a couple of other functions.  Having a consistent and strong pH level is paramount to so many systems operating properly in your dog’s body, it simply cannot be overstated.

Now, one of the main differences between feeding your dog a raw diet and one that’s kibble-based is the amount of carbohydrates contained in each. Where a raw diet is very low in carbohydrates or starches – ideally 5%-10% through any added fruits or vegetables – kibbles need starch to bind their ingredients together into those little nuggets we’re all familiar with.

So how much starch?  A lot – often ranging from 30% to 60% of the kibble’s formula!

Why is this bad for your dog – especially a raw fed one?

First, carbohydrates or starches increase the pH level of your dog’s stomach (makes it less acidic). This isn’t good because one of the enzymes (I told you we’d come back to them) that is key to digestion is pepsin, and it breaks proteins down into amino acids that your dog needs in the pre-digestive phase. If your dog’s stomach acid falls below a pH level of 2, pepsin isn’t released from the stomach – so proteins aren’t properly broken down in the digestive system.

Second, aside from being an engine for digestion, your dog’s stomach also plays an important role in protecting him from any sort of bacteria that might be consumed along with his food – or through anything else that finds its way in his mouth.

With a less acidic stomach, bacteria like E coli and salmonella have a higher probability of surviving and thriving in your dog’s belly. Dogs have evolved so that their digestive systems are able to neutralize bacteria, but when you start changing the pH level of their digestive tracts by feeding too many carbohydrates and starches, you could be opening a whole Pandora’s Box of problems.

What kind of problems? Well, when partially digested food leaves the stomach and Is ready to go through the final digestive steps, if it’s not at the proper pH level the correct enzymes won’t be released from the pancreas to finish off the process. That means more undigested food particles in the system and this can lead to leaky gut syndrome – where undigested food and pathogens pass through the lining of the small intestine and potentially lead to immune disorders and inflammation.

If any of that undigested food leaving the stomach (with an improper pH level) makes it to the colon, it can wreak all kinds of havoc that will manifest as things like diarrhea and could even progress into Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Third, and one of the most important for dogs, is that if the pH level of the stomach is too low, dogs simply can’t deal with bones efficiently. Since bones are a key ingredient of the raw diet, it’s of the utmost importance that dogs are able to process them and absorb all the minerals that are made available to them. The lower pH levels in an ‘over-starched’ digestive system also don’t allow for the bones to be physically broken down as they should, leading to possible bowel obstruction down the road – something your dog would certainly like to avoid.

If going to a completely raw diet absolutely isn’t an option, there are ways to make the combination of raw and kibble safer; but they involve adding even more to your dog’s diet in the way of probiotics to increase healthy gut flora, or things like apple cider vinegar to decrease the dry food’s pH level and make it more acidic.  For simplicity and safety’s sake, we always suggest that an all-raw approach is the best way to go for your pet, but any fresh, raw food that can be incorporated into a dog’s diet is always better than none at all.


Information in this article gathered from DNM University’s Raw Dog Food Nutrition & Pet Food Nutrition certification courses.