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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.

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

All Vitamins Are Not Created Equal

December 6, 2018 in Supplements

One of the most frequent questions we get from people who are starting their pets on a raw diet is, “How do I know my pet is getting all the vitamins they need? Do you add anything to your patties to ensure they’re getting everything?”

We always answer the question the same way.

Vitamin content and quality in raw food vs. commercial pet food isn’t simply a matter of looking at numbers and letters on a bag.

Before we get to our answer and the ‘why’ of the matter, though, let’s learn a little about the vitamins essential to your pet’s diet. 

Let’s start with the two main types of vitamins – water soluble and fat soluble.

Water soluble vitamins – like the B vitamin family and vitamin C – aren’t stored in the body long-term and should be consumed daily, if possible. When water soluble vitamins are fed, the body takes whatever it can use from them and the leftovers are excreted through the body via urine.

The fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K – are vitamins that are absorbed and stored in body fat and tissues. People generally associate a high quantity of vitamins with good health, but with fat soluble vitamins that isn’t always the case.  When excess fat soluble vitamins are added to food and consumed over a period of time, it can lead to a buildup in the body and possible vitamin toxicity if levels are high enough.

So, let’s talk about the water soluble vitamins for a moment and how it relates to our Totally Raw products.

The Vitamin B family (B1 – Thiamine, B2- Riboflavin, B3 – Niacin, B5 – Pantothenic Acid, B6 – Pyridoxine, B9- Folate and/or Folic Acid, B12 ) is responsible for many of the body’s functions ranging from growth, nervous system development, red blood cell formation, immune system strengthening, and scores of other jobs that are far too numerous to list in this piece. Let’s just say that the B vitamin family is a critically important one and it needs to be present in your diet.

The B Vitamin family is naturally present in chicken, turkey, duck, pork, lamb, beef, liver, heart & kidney – all staples in the Totally Raw menu.  Following our recommendation of including a minimum of three proteins in rotation in your pet’s diet, your pet will be getting all the B Vitamins they need without the need for any sort of synthetic vitamins added.

Vitamin C is crucial to the formation of calcium and iron, prevents the growth of cancer cells, and it’s an antioxidant required for tissue growth and repair and proper functioning of the adrenal gland.  It’s naturally occurring in liver, kidney and heart – all organs included in every Totally Raw patty.

It is worth noting that unlike humans, dogs typically do not need large amounts of additional vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in their diets. Dogs, as well as many other animals, manufacture vitamin C through their glandular systems. A healthy dog typically produces about 18mg of vitamin C for every pound of body weight (for example, a 50-lb. dog produces about 900mg per day), providing a continued concentration of ascorbic acid in the dog’s system.

Some veterinarians suggest additional vitamin supplements, based on a dog’s health, but giving too many synthetic vitamins to a dog can have serious repercussions.  Once again, your pet will be getting naturally occurring Vitamin C and producing enough of their own without the need for synthetic vitamins added to their diet.

So, Totally Raw has your B’s and C covered – but what about the rest?

Let’s talk about the fat soluble vitamins for a moment.

Vitamin A is a crucial vitamin to your pet’s health in the way that it boosts their immune system, prevents vision disorders and skin problems, forms health bones and teeth, and actually slows the aging process.  It’s found in chicken, pork, liver, and kidneys; all part of the Totally Raw menu – and naturally occurring.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents cancer and heart disease. It also promotes hair and skin health, reduces blood pressure, and prevents cell damage in the body. An interesting fact about Vitamin E is that it’s not easily absorbed into the body, and only half the amount found in most foods is available to the body for use.

Fortunately, grass-fed meats are roughly four times higher in Vitamin E than grain fed counterparts, and grass-fed meat is a staple of the Totally Raw menu – along with kidney and liver, also rich in Vitamin E.

Vitamin K promotes healthy liver function, aids in bone development and strengthening, and increases overall longevity of life. It’s largely present and naturally occurring in liver, which is used in our Totally Raw organ blends (10% of every patty).

Finally, we have Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is essential for the body to process phosphorus and calcium appropriately – the building blocks for teeth and bone health. It also helps to regulate the heart, aids in thyroid function, facilitates proper blood clotting, boosts immunity, and helps fight the development of cancer cells. Research has shown that dogs with a Vitamin D deficiency are at a far higher risk of cancer than those who are getting a proper amount of the vitamin.

Food-wise, vitamin D is naturally occurring in the liver and kidneys from an organ standpoint. Unless your meat is from grass-fed animals, however, you’re not going to get the required amount of Vitamin D from meat sources alone. The good news is that if you feed Totally Raw beef, you’re getting it from grass-fed cattle so you’re getting naturally occurring vitamin D from real meat sources.

We left vitamin D until the end for a reason.

Vitamin D is one of the most added synthetic vitamins in the commercial pet food industry and, because it is a fat soluble vitamin, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that excess amounts are not added to the food.

Recently (December 2018) a recall of 8 commercial pet food brands occurred due to excess levels of synthetic Vitamin D in their foods; to the point that vitamin toxicity was a real concern among pets that were consuming it.

Because most commercial pet foods do not contain enough high quality animal protein to fulfill the amount of naturally occurring vitamins your pet needs, synthetic vitamins – which aren’t absorbed in the same way that natural vitamins are – are often added to the formulas. This is frequently to the detriment of the pets eating them. Synthetic vitamins aren’t recognized in the body the way naturally occurring nutrients are and they can wreak havoc with natural vitamin sources as they try to do their work.

Synthetics may provide an initial boost of benefit when administered, but in many cases they can end up doing more harm than good.  There is no substitute for naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, and there are no better sources for them than in whole foods like we use in our product.

So, to answer the question of whether we add any additional vitamins to our products, the answer is a resounding “no”.

The reason is because if you’re feeding your pet a variety of selections from our Totally Raw menu, there’s absolutely no reason for us to do so.  It’s complete nutrition, the way nature intended.

Supplement Spotlight – 4 in 1 Joint Rescue

November 5, 2018 in Supplements

One of the most important parts of our bodies is the connective tissue and joints that hold us together and afford us movement.

Unsurprisingly, your pets are no different.

As with anything else in the body, as years go by things tend to age and maybe not work as well as they once did when we were younger and spryer. A combination of Father Time and neglecting to look after our bodies on a preventative level when we’re younger can end up manifesting as joint and tissue disorders, constant pain, and inflexibility as we age.

This is something that is observed in our animal friends as they age all too easily. Poor flexibility, hip and joint problems, decreases in energy, and arthritis are afflictions that befall our furry friends all too often because we often don’t even think about these problems until they become something that needs to be treated.

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ as the old adage goes, and that’s why Totally Raw Pet Foods offers a product that will keep your pets healthier and more energetic throughout their lifetime; Joint Rescue 4 in 1 Joint & Connective Tissue Support.

Many joint supplements on the market contain one or two active ingredients to help with joint and connective tissue health, but we have taken the 4 most powerful and effective supplements available and combined them into one easy to use product that will benefit your pets in ways that no single supplement could.

Containing Glucosamine HCL, Perna Canaliculus (More commonly known as green-lipped mussel), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and Chondroitin Sulfate – as well as Rosemary – our Joint Rescue 4 in 1 is a super serum for your pets.

Glucosamine HCL

Glucosamine is a natural substance produced in both humans and animals. It’s found in the fluid around our joints and it’s used to repair connective tissue, like cartilage, in our bodies. As we age, our bodies produce less Glucosamine and our connective tissues begin to get thinner. Thinning cartilage combined with less of the substance used to maintain it is a bad combination, and it manifests itself as joint pain and stiffness, as well as arthritis.

Benefits of Glucosamine HCL

– It’s all natural and naturally produced by the body.
– It’s safe. Glucosamine HCL is a very safe supplement with no commonly known side-effects.
– It’s a NATURAL pain reliever that may reduce reliance on prescription medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are temporary pain relievers for your dog, but they may come at a high cost. The possible side-effects of NSAIDs may include internal bleeding, stomach or intestinal ulcers, or even kidney and liver failure. There is no such worry with Glucosamine HCL.
– It’s a natural joint lubricant that attracts and holds water in its molecules, providing natural joint cushioning!
– It creates an incredibly powerful combo when paired with Chondroitin, the next ingredient in our 4 in 1 Joint Rescue.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin is another substance found in cartilage. It promotes elasticity and water retention in cartilage and, like Glucosamine, inhibits the production of inflammatory elements that may damage joints and tissues. When combined with Glucosamine HCL, it is part of a potent pair that has many beneficial effects for your pet.

Benefits of Chondroitin Sulfate

– It’s a safe supplement with no commonly known side-effects.
– It’s an incredible treatment for pets suffering from Arthritis, as it provides significant pain reduction and allows the animal to stay more active – strengthening muscle and tissues in the process.
– When administered with Glucosamine, it works in tandem to reduce inflammation and inhibit enzymes that can destroy cartilage in your pets.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is a joint healer, antioxidant, and cell rejuvenator. It’s a naturally forming sulfur compound and is stored in almost every cell in the body. As the body ages, the levels of MSM in the body decrease and this deficiency may manifest itself in the form of fatigue and organ and tissue malfunction.  Specifically, in dogs, MSM deficiency may result in fur or skin problems, poor gastrointestinal systems and joint pain and arthritis.

Benefits of MSM

– A safe supplement with no known side-effects.
– Joint and connective tissue support
– Pain relief from joint problems like arthritis and hip dysplasia
– A supplement for healthy skin and fur
– Anti-parasitic effect against intestinal worms when consumed

Perna Canaliculus (Green-lipped mussel)

This miracle from the sea is an incredibly powerful substance rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Found only in New Zealand, these mussels are a superfood that has several measurable benefits for your furry friends.

Benefits of Green-lipped Mussel

– A safe supplement, however, pets with shellfish allergies should steer clear of GLM.
– Scientifically proven pain relief from conditions like osteoarthritis
– Offers boosts to circulatory and immune systems
– Powerful anti-inflammatory and natural pain reliever which may decrease reliance on prescription medications

Summary

Our 4 in 1 Joint Rescue improves your dog’s joint function and physical performance. Ideal candidates are puppies, adult and senior dogs, large breeds and sport and working breeds. Another valuable use for this product is for dogs who are pre and post orthopedic surgery.

A client recently sent us this review after her Labrador Retriever underwent major knee surgery only 2 weeks prior:

“The Joint Rescue seems to be working well – almost too well. We have to stop him now from running and jumping! We saw a huge difference after only a week’s use!”

Stop by any of our 3 locations in Halifax, Dartmouth or Moncton to pick some up!