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Intro to natural raw feeding for cats and dogs and how to get started.

written by

Marie Reedell

posted on

October 27, 2023


Three weeks ago, Cameron (our meat manager) and I went to the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association) Conference in beautiful San Diego. We were there to share our pet food offerings, and we received a LOT of knowledge in return.

One thing that immediately surprised me was that the holistic human and holistic pet worlds are very similar. We share the same illnesses, the same solutions, and the same wellness options: Real food and nutrition, detoxing, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, CBD, crystals, etc.

I got to dive deep on these topics, chatting with experts and attending a few talks by practitioners. The talk that impacted me the most was "Intro to Raw Feeding" by Dr. Doug Kneuven, a holistic vet from Beaver, PA. 

He thoroughly explained that, just like with human food, pet food studies funded by pet food companies are often skewed. To find the truth, you need to check sources when looking at scientific studies. To be a smart food shopper, you need to question the claims made on the labels and you may even need to question your vet, too.

For example, studies from big pet food companies show that cats and dogs are somehow more adapted to digesting starch. Why? Well, carbs are cheap. Carbs are a binder. It's good for business. People love cheap kibble or cooked canned food, and with the right artificial flavors, pets do too. 

But these studies are often not the whole truth. When you look at the controls, the variables, and the process, it becomes apparent. 

Big pet food companies look at nutrition from a "reductionist" standpoint, when you break food down into their parts and then recombine them to make a "whole" diet. This is processed food - for pets it can be kibble and for humans sugary cerael. Both of these processed foods have been "scientifically proven" to provide complete nutrition.

On the flip side, holistic practitioners tend to look at nutrition through the lens of "food synergy", which honors the biological system. It recognizes that a body cannot utilize a synthetic vitamin as well as a naturally occurring vitamin. It recognizes that whole foods and a natural diet results in the best health outcomes.

Privately funded studies prove this. Pets have the best health outcomes on a raw food diet that they have evolutionarily adapted to eat, and that means little to no carbs. 

Ideal diets can vary based on weight, age, activity levels, and underlying conditions, but in general a raw food diet (or a whole prey diet) will comprise 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% offal (including secreting and non-secreting organs). If you want to formulate a diet specific to your pet, I suggest Feed Real's Calculator.

Most importantly, Dr. Kneuven explained that this isn't an all or nothing situation. Any amount of raw food that you can add to your pet's diet is a benefit. So go ahead and top that kibble with a raw meal topper or a raw egg yolk! Just get started.

The second most impactful talk was "Leaky Gut. The Root of Chronic Inflammation?" by Dr. Katie Kansas from San Diego. Just like with humans, leaky gut in pets is a widespread and often misdiagnosed problem that's often caused by poor nutrition and toxins. 

Side note: Did you know that dogs have 32x the amount of glyphosate in their urine than humans? And cats have 16x? All that time on lawns and eating sub-standard "pet grade" food has an impact!

So, what's the protocol for healing leaky gut in pets? You guessed it. It's very similar to humans. Bone broth, colostrum, healing mushrooms and herbs, clay, and probiotics.

Sure, you could buy a freeze dried probiotic that comes in pill form. But, if you take a close look at the ingredients, you'll see that you can get all of those specific strains of probiotic from food. Incorporating raw dairy into your pet's diet is a completely healthy and natural way to get probiotics.

What do you think? Are you new to or experienced with raw feeding? Have you seen any benefits from holistic care for your pets?

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