Your Questions on Natural Pet Nutrition

I feed my dog a really good Premium brand holistic pet dry food, is that good enough?

Some premium brands dog or cat food are no better than regular brands. Premium is a marketing strategy for you to pay more only. While indeed "some" premium brands pet food use better quality ingredients, the problems remain with the way dry pet food and canned pet food are processed, as well as the chemicals required to keep the long shelf life.

Good quality premium pet food is suitable for camping and occasional use. Natural fresh food is always the best for our canine and feline digestive system. For more details, read our article on commercial pet food.

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Is fat a problem for dogs and cats?

For healthy and active puppies, kittens, dogs and cats, fat is usually not a problem. They can metabolize fat well. However, moderation is always the key. If your pet's diet contains mostly of fat, it will be nutritionally imbalanced. A good overall mix of muscle meat, organs, fat, bones, vegetables and fruits will give the best result.

The easiest way to get enough fat for your pet's diet is to include fatty meat such as regular ground beef (v.s. lean), ground lamb, chicken/turkey with skin, whole eggs and marrow bone.

There are pets with certain diseases that should stay on a relatively lean diet. Even then, some fat content will be needed for healthy skin, cell walls and cell lubrication. You can certainly use leaner cut meats and avoid skins to give an overall reduced fat diet.

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How much organ meat should I give my pet? And which organs?

Usually 10% of the overall diet is adequate or 1-2 meals per week.

Chicken and beef liver are often favourites amongst dogs and cats. Hearts, gizzards, blood and all internal organs and vessels can be given. However, try a little bit to start as not all domestic dogs and cats like them. Try cutting into small bits and cooking it if they won't eat it raw. Also, ensure the organs are either fresh or previously frozen to avoid bacteria and other germ contamination.

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I heard that organ meat, such as liver, is more concentrated with the animal's toxins than the muscle meat. Does it make sense to give organ meat then?

It is correct that liver and kidneys store, process and eliminate toxins in the body. However, organs often contain more iron as well. That is why 10% of the overall diet is the suggested intake.

Liver, kidneys, hearts and other organs from organically raised animals are definitely preferred. If you are really concerned, stay with muscle meat and bones. It is still far better than processed dry and canned pet food.

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I am a vegan, I would like to avoid killing animals. Can I feed my dog and cat a vegan pet diet? If so, how?

This is often a challenging dilemma for animal lovers who decided to go vegan.

While understandably some human may choose to not eat animals, it is quite a different scenario for our dogs and cats who are genetically built to kill and eat meat. They require animal based amino acids to thrive. A meat based diet with vegetables and other nutritious food variety suit our canine and feline friends the best.

I have heard of a company who specially formulates vegan pet food, dried and canned. You are welcome to explore this avenue and let us know how well it works for you. I suggest you observe your pet's health progress and switch to a meat based diet if it does not work well. Good luck!

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What kind of human food can I give my dog and cat, and what human food should I avoid?

Since this is a very broad question, I will answer it in general terms.

In general, food that is healthy for human is healthy for our dogs and cats. Organically grown food is always the best. Meat, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, fruits and digestible grains (e.g. rice, couscous) are all healthy choices.

Alternatively, excess sugar, salt, grease, refined carbohydrates (e.g. white flour) and human junk food are not healthy choices for our pooch and kitty. A little treat (e.g. ice cream), once in a while, is usually alright.

Chocolate, food with lots of preservatives and chemicals (read the labels) and very spicy food are definite no-no. Though I have seen some dogs enjoy a little chilli without any side effects.

Beans, if not cooked properly, can give gas. A small quantity, meshed up, is fine. Your dog and cat cannot digest the beans if the beans remain in the skin (husk).

The more you learn about healthy food and natural nutrition for yourself, the more you will understand holistic pet nutrition. Observation for individual animals will help you design the best diet for your beloved animal friends.

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What kind of bones can I give my dog and cat?

Raw bones. No cooked bones.

Meaty raw bones that your dog or cat need to grind and chew. Cow, deer or buffalo marrow bones, knuckle bones and joint leg bones are good. Poultry wings, wing tips and carcesses are also good. Avoid sharp bones and fish bones.

The heat of cooking alters the protein and calcium in the bones making it harder and easy to splint into sharp fragments. Some dogs never have any trouble with soft cooked bones. However, many dog and cat owners go to veterinary emergencies because of ingestion of sharp cooked bones. To be safe, stay with raw bones.

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My dog has irritable bowel disorder, should I still give him bones?

Dogs and cats with weak digestion, chronic digestive upset, colitis, enteritis, enterocolitis, irritable bowel disorder or surgery involving the digestive organs and intestines may want to avoid whole raw bones. Older pets who have always been on processed dry and canned food may also want to avoid raw bones.

A few substitutes can be used to provide natural calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron from bones.

  • Ask your butcher to ground the whole chicken or turkey legs (bones included) "twice". This gives a natural bonemeal for your dog or cat without the digestive risks.

  • Use our liquid WildPets Mega-Min Herbal supplement.

  • Use bonemeal powder supplement in the diet.

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How do I transition my dog and cat from dry and canned pet food diet to a natural fresh food diet?

Some dogs and cats are quite easy to switch diet while others take more work. If yours require more patience, read the next FAQ too.

This is the general meat-veggies-carbohydrates mix for relatively healthy dogs and cats:

  • For young and active adult dogs, use a mix of 60% meat, 30% vegetables and 10% rice or digestible grains.

  • For inactive or overweight dogs, use a mix of 60% meat, 40% vegetables and a spoonful of rice to help with digestion.

  • For young and active adult cats, use a mix of 90% meat, 10% vegetables and a tiny bit of rice to help with digestion.

  • For inactive or overweight cats, use a mix of 80% meat, 20% vegetables and a tiny bit of rice to help with digestion. Decrease quantity and provide exercise in the form of play.

To add flexibility, you can give dogs 50-80% meat, 20-50% vegetables. For cats, 75-95% meat, 5-25% vegetables.

To transition the diet, try these easy steps:

  1. First, educate yourself on natural nutrition for your dog or cat. Research local supermarkets and butchers for different cuts of meat.

  2. Then, test with a small quantity of different meats - canned, cooked, semi-cooked and raw - until you know which ones your dog or cat will eat. Add 10% of the new food to the existing diet to test.

  3. Then, add a little vegetables, different varieties, a spoonful at a time to test for acceptance.

  4. If diarrhea sets in, it is normal. Gunk, worms and mucus may start to evacuate from your pet's digestive tract. This is good. It may last 3-5 weeks. As long as your pet is feeling well, it is ok. Add a little canned pumpkin and or rice to help settle the stomach.

  5. Now that you know what your cat or dog likes, time to switch the new meat and veggies diet to 25%, 50%, 75% and then 100%. Transition 3-4 days or 1-2 week at a time depending on your animal.

  6. If your pet has trouble transitioning, use human canned meat first, then fragrant cooked meat before changing directly to raw meat. This gradual process will help your pet ease into the new diet with less trouble. Sometimes, 1-3 days of fasting will help. Fasting should be used for healthy pets with lots of meat/vegetable broth supplied to maintain vitamins, minerals and energy level.

  7. If at first you don't succeed, change strategy and try again. If you need help with the transition, ask us for assistance!

  8. Once your pet is used to the 100% mix of freshly cooked meat, vegetables and rice/pumpkin mixture, you can introduce a little raw meat or medium rare meat at a time - 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and even 100% if you are lucky!

Don't hesitate to try different meats, different brands or butchers, eggs and other alternatives. Be creative, observant and patient until you come up with the gourmet mix for your feline and canine friend. If your pet has been on a commercial pet food diet for a few years or is older now, it is a good idea to supplement the initial diet change with our detox and vitality supplements.

If all else fails, use a good brand of canned pet food and supplement with healthy table scraps every meal. Use our detox and vitality supplements to help maintain good health. Avoid dry food as much as possible. Every bit of improvement in the diet is a step in the right direction.

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My cat is addicted to one brand of dry cat food and she is a fussy eater anyway. She won't eat raw meat or bones. What can I do?

Cats are in general more finicky than dogs, though I have seen some fussy dogs too!

Try switching your cat's or dog's food gradually, especially if s/he has always been on dry pet food. Try this:

  1. Add a little human canned meat, salmon, tuna, sardines or mackeral into the existing pet food first - 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%. Dogs and cats like the salty taste of canned food. Like any addiction, it is hard to go 'cold turkey'.

  2. After your dog or cat accepts this, substitute the human canned meat/fish with chopped up fresh cooked chicken or beef - 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%. Continue giving the dry or canned pet food with this new mix. Remember, if the meat smells good, it will stimulate appetite!

  3. Once your pet accepts this freshly cooked meat, add a little chopped up vegetables. Add a little meshed up white rice and/or canned pumpkin to help with the digestion.

  4. The next step is to transition to 100% freshly cooked meat, vegetables and rice/pumpkin mixture.

  5. Once you are there, you can introduce a little raw meat or medium rare meat at a time - 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and even 100% if you are lucky!

Don't hesitate to try different meats, different brands or butchers, eggs and other alternatives. Be creative, observant and patient until you come up with the gourmet mix for your feline and canine friend. If your pet has been on a commercial pet food diet for a few years or is older now, it is a good idea to supplement the initial diet change with our detox and vitality supplements.

If all else fails, use a good brand of canned pet food and supplement with healthy table scraps every meal. Avoid dry food as much as possible. Use our detox and vitality supplements to help maintain good health.

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Is a 100% meat diet good for my dog or cat?

No.

In the wild, dogs and cats eat wild fruits, grass and the pre-digested stomach contents of their herbivore prey such as deer, cariboo and rabbit. These green foods provide vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, stomach bacteria and fibre.

Natural pet nutrition mimics this with a combination of chopped up cooked vegetables, raw grated vegetables, vegetable soup, fresh fruits, fruit juices and canine/feline supplements. It is a nutritious and essential part of the canine and feline diet.

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My dog seems to be allergic to many foods. What kind of suggestions can you give me for transitioning to a natural raw diet?

If your dog or cat has been subjected to vaccinations, commercial dry or canned pet food, surgery, antibiotics, chemical wormer, immuno suppressant drugs, chemical flea programs or other drugs, your pet's immune system is likely lowered, weakened and confused.

As much as possible, eliminate chemicals, drug use, immune suppressors, as well as household cleaning chemicals and garden chemicals. Then use homeopathic medicine, herbal medicine, immune booster, synbiotics (pre and probiotics) and detox/vitality supplements to nurse your dog or cat back to health. You have to reduce or remove existing toxins intake and toxicity level within and around your pet for long term result.

You also need to detox your pet from all these past chemicals, rebalance the friendly stomach bacterial content, boost vitality with supplemental vitamins, minerals and trace minerals, and strengthen the immune system. I know this sounds like a lot of work. However, with all the damages being done to various bodily systems of your dog or cat, you have to take multiple steps to reverse these ailing symptoms. The different healing steps you take work dynamically together to re-achieve good health for your pet where single action alone cannot accomplish. It works!

For diet change, which should happen as soon as possible, test one new food ingredient at a time. This way you can isolate food your pet is sensitive to. Some pet owners say Kosher meat, organic meat or meat from a specific butcher works for them. You may have to experiment a bit to find the right meats and vegetables for your immune compromised pet. Natural is the best way to go for these allergic pets (same as human).

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Is chocolate bad for dogs?

Yes, especially dark chocolates. Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to dogs in sufficient quantities. This is a xanthine compound in the same family as caffeine. Baker's dark chocolate contains the most concentration of theobromine. For instance, 2 oz of milk chocolate may cause diarrhea in a 10 lb dog but 2 oz of dark chocolate may cause excess heart palpatation in the same 10 lb dog.

Chocolate toxicity in dogs, similar to human eating too much chocolate, can cause an unnatural "high" - hyper excitement, hyper activity, irritability, panic, increased heart rate, heart attack, increased urination, increased thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, muscle tremors, seizures and/or collapse (the "low").

Most of the time, if a dog eats a very small quantity of chocolate, there is no ill effect. However, if your dog has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, especially baker's dark chocolate, then really observe carefully and take your dog to the veterinarian if necessary. In general, the darker the chocolate, the less quantity it takes to cause harm.

If your dog gets diarrhea or vomits up the chocolate, it is actually a good sign. A great sign. It means you can potentially avoid a vet trip. You can always use our WildPets Digestive Upset to help with the symptoms and CeraVet Rice-Based Electrolyte Powder Mix to help with the rehydration process.

To calm your dog with the hyper excitement, read and use the EFT method and surrogate tap for your dog using the set up phrase "Even though I am really hyper and excited right now, I am a good dog and I totally love and accept myself. I know I can relax and calm down soon." and the repeating phrase "Relax, relax, calm down, calm down."

Remember to always put chocolates, household chemicals and poisons in locked cabinets. Dogs have incredible smell sensors and will get into chocolates even if boxed and wrapped in a pretty bow!

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Is ice cream and potato chips bad for dogs?

Yes and no. Ice cream and potato chips are not toxic to dogs or cats. However, the amount of sugar, fat, salt, gum and preservatives in these food can cause problems if given too much. Ice cream can cause temporary diarrhea if your dog or cat has lactose intolerance. If this is the case, use a little white rice or canned mashed pumpkin to help with the diarrhea.

Moderation is the key. Give a little treat once in a while is fine. Just like ourselves!

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Are grapes and raisins toxic to dogs? I have seen email circulating around saying dogs die from eating raisins and grapes.

I have also seen these emails. It may very well be true that some dogs die of grape or raisins poisoning. I simply don't know for certain.

However, I have personally and talked to pet owners who have given their dogs organic grapes, organic raisins, organic fresh and dried fruits with no sulphur (or other preserving or drying compounds). Our dogs are very much alive!

I don't think grapes and raisins (dried grapes) are toxic to dogs. I do believe that some dogs, if given enough amount, can be deadly allergic to the preservatives and chemicals used to grow and process the fresh and dried grapes. It is a well known fact that farmers use more pesticides, insecticides and fungicides on soft fruits like grapes, peaches and strawberries. It is also possible that molds and accidental chemicals ended up in these products causing the unfortunate events.

Much like the notorius chemical poisons ended up in our pet food that killed many dogs and cats in North America in 2007, it is not the food ingredients but the extra 'stuff' that should not be there in the first place that caused the fatalities.

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How often can I give bones to my dogs and cats?

One to three times a wek are fine.

Raw bones are a nutritious part of your dog's and cat's diet. Raw bones also help to clean your pet's teeth and gums naturally. Once the raw bones are digested in the stomach, the fine grits act as a brush to remove mucus, bacterial debris, dead parasites and their waste in the intestines, cleaning them out. The feces that follow a bone treat is usually white, hard, crumbly with a bit of gunk in it.

While it is good to feed raw bones (not cooked bones), moderation is the key. Canines and felines in the wild don't eat bones every day. They'd be lucky if they hunt and get a piece of leg every few days. That is perfect for their bodies as daily raw bone treat can cause intestinal irritation for some pets.

I alternate diet for my dogs within each week. I give chicken thighs bone-in (semi-cooked in a pan, 1 min on each side), turkey legs bone-in, ground beef, stew beef, additional bones (marrow, knuckle or chicken wing once a week since there are already bones in the diet), a variety of vegetables (depending on the family meal) and a bit of cooked white rice (good for digestion). I also give treats like cheese, nuts, eggs (medium), fruits, salads and anything healthy for human for my dogs once in a while. Sometimes I give raw lamb, cooked pork, cooked and deboned fish, canned fish, soup, sandwiches, pasta and other varieties. Game meat is also a good alternative.

As for cats, I would give boneless semi-cooked chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, cooked and deboned fish, sushi, canned fish with edible bones (rinse the salt out), eggs, vegetables, broth and rice. I'd give a chicken wing or wing tip 1-2 times a week.

Remember, if your dog or cat has digestive problems, give raw bones only once a week or read My dog has irritable bowel disorder, should I still give him bones? and adjust accordingly.

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