Why We Feed Raw: An Insider's Perspective from Only Natural Pet Staff

For some of us, nothing beats a recommendation from someone’s first-hand experience. It's even better when that someone has some expertise in the area of knowledge in question. If you are someone who appreciates an insider’s point of view on matters of pet health care, you’ll likely appreciate what our staff have to say about our experiences feeding raw food to our pets!

If you’ve called us for help with your order or with pet care questions, you may have spoken with the some of our Customer Care team members who are offering their insights on feeding raw. Diann, Cynthia, Sarah, and Deanne have all made the choice to serve raw food to their pets, and their stories, as well as their picks for food and supplements are outlined below.

Diann and Crinkles, the Black Lab-Cattle Dog Mix & Only Natural Pet “Princess”Crinkles, the ONP Office Princess

Crinkles is an approximately 7-year-old rescued black lab cattle dog mix dog that is three-legged. Although we have a large selection of food options here at Only Natural Pet Store, feeding raw is important because we know it is the optimal diet. We personally eat a primarily vegetarian and organic diet, so we know the importance of species-appropriate diets, and how impactful it can be with or without specific health issues. And it really is easy. So easy that our 10-year-old boys do it without complaining!

We typically use Nature’s Variety raw, mostly rabbit, but we do alternate protein sources. The medallions are easy. We just take out the number of medallions for a couple days & put them in a container in the fridge to thaw. If we ever forget, we put the medallions we need for the immediate meal in a zip loc, run it under hot water, and a few minutes later it’s thawed. We put four medallions in her bowl, add her other supplements & if I have chopped any veggies from dinner, slide those in as well. Occasionally we add the Sojo's pre-mix items too. We soak the veggies or even the grains.

While we don't have a picky dog, she has never left a drop of anything in her bowl! It is actually fun preparing your animal’s meal; there a sense of pride that goes with doing it, knowing it's much better than pouring some dry kibble in a bowl. I know if I had to have cold cereal everyday I would be so disappointed!

This is a time share dog, and we know, unfortunately, on occasion she gets fed dry food at the other house, but she never has a problem coming back to raw and we do not see bowel movement issues. Because we give her variety, she transitions easy.

The benefits of the raw diet are the obvious - she's happy and she loves it. She sits at the edge of the kitchen "crinkling" her face into a smile & wagging her tail like crazy until the bowl is set down for her. She is so mobile for a three-legged doggie, and that's the raw & the supplements working together. The enzymes are invaluable. The obvious benefit for our 10-year-old boys is that they don't have a bunch of gross poo to clean up!

Crinkles gets several regular daily dog supplements with every meal - Only Natural Pet Super Daily Vitamins + Joint Support and Only Natural Pet Get Up & Go to help with her joint support due to her three-legged issue, and some essential fatty acids from Only Natural Pet Pure Icelandic Salmon Oil. She also takes some flower essences for stress & anxiety (because she is a rescue dog and sensitive to noises - this goes right in the food, too).

For treats she gets lots of Only Natural Pet bully chews for her teeth (and to bribe her when we need to clip her nails).

Cynthia and Kaylee the Yellow Lab

KayleeWhen I got my six-year-old yellow Lab from the shelter, I thought I would feed her a half raw-half kibble diet. We tried some dry food, but she did so much better with the raw food that I decided to make that her whole diet. I know that Labs in America have a short average life span, and this is my first dog, so I want her to live as long as possible! I truly believe that a raw food diet will prolong her life – when I first got her, the fur on her face was whiter than it is now – she’s actually regained color on her muzzle, and her teeth have far less plaque than they did when I first brought her home nine months ago.

I’ve noticed many benefits from feeding her a raw diet. She doesn’t have a greasy, smelly coat – she hasn’t needed a bath once in 9 months! She sheds very little, and her breath smells good – both signs of good health. She has great energy, and she digests the raw food much better than kibble. Her stools are firm, small, well-formed, and not very smelly. Kaylee loves her food so much that she will come find me to wag her tail profusely and say thank you after every meal!

Kaylee eats one pound of Nature’s Variety raw food each day, divided into two meals. We use the 2-pound chubs, and alternate between the beef and the chicken & turkey formulas. I just thaw the chub and squeeze out ¼ of it for each meal. We mix this with the Sojo’s Europa Grain-Free Pre-Mix. I figured out how much raw food to feed based on the 2-3% of body weight rule of thumb, as follows:

  • 2% - to reduce weight, or for inactive dogs
  • 2.5% - to maintain weight, and for normally active dogs
  • 3% - for very active dogs or to increase weight

Kaylee weighs 60 lbs., and with her activity level and taking into account the other things she eats, 1 pound per day is the right amount.

She has quite a few daily supplements with each meal. She has Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for those critical essential fatty acids (great for Labs with their skin sensitivities!). She also gets Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin & Mineral Herbal Supplement and/or Only Natural Pet Super Daily Greens, and Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend for overall health. For digestive support, she takes Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics and Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend. She also gets a dental & oral supplement, like ProDen PlaqueOff (GREAT for reducing plaque and tartar!) and In-Clover Connectin or Only Natural Pet Glucosamine + Asta for joint support.

For treats, she enjoys Bones Galore bully sticks, raw beef or bison bones, Only Natural Pet HealthTreats Jerky Bites and Poultry Crispies, and Newman's Own Organics Dog Treats. She gets a  Dr. Harvey’s Power Patty whenever I clean her ears. This is by far her favorite treat, and it's so nutritious I feel great giving it to her as a reward!

Lacey, the Gray GoddessDeanne, Lacey the Weimaraner & the Kitty Crew:

First, I put my puppy on raw, 3½ years ago. I rescued her from a severe neglect situation. She was on death’s door at 4 months of age with horrific digestive problems. I spent months of trying different commercial foods, every kibble in the world, and I also tried adding things to her diet such as pumpkin and fiber. NOTHING worked. She had permanent diarrhea. It seemed there was nothing I could do to get her to have a solid stool. It was very frustrating, and I felt bad for my baby to be so uncomfortable. The worst thing about it was the amount of food we were going through, and the amount of poop in the yard. It was extremely obvious that she was not absorbing a single nutrient from her food. Even when I was feeding her massive amounts, she wouldn’t gain any weight.

After several months of misery for both of us, I decided to try a raw diet. I had just heard about it, and although skeptical, I felt it would be worth a shot- nothing else was working, and she couldn’t possibly get worse. It was an IMMEDIATE improvement. Literally, the next day she had a solid stool. It was like a miracle! She started to gain weight, she had energy, her coat was shiny, and I could tell she was finally receiving nourishment from her meals. I could not believe what I was seeing, but I was sold for life.

She has been on raw ever since, and she is the picture of health. If you didn’t meet her as a puppy, you’d never know the horrible beginning she started with. She is a little small from her breed, which I basically attribute to her just not growing for the first year of her life, but other than her size, she is totally normal.

I decided to make the switch to raw for my cats after learning about important enzymes they are missing out on when they eat kibble, not to mention the dehydration issue. I was already sold on the raw concept; it was just a lot more work when it came to getting six cats switched over! Free feeding kibble was so convenient. Nevertheless, I committed to making the change because I decided their health was more important than convenience.

Over all, the transition went ok. Three of my cats were immediately sold on the idea. They absolutely love it, and actually start meowing when I bring in their bowls. Two of them were not super excited about it at first, but would nibble on it eventually. One of my cats was not at all interested, and actually refused to eat it altogether. Over time I have worked out a schedule that works for all of us, including my budget. They still get to nibble on a high quality kibble through out the day. They get canned food in the morning and evening, and the raw mixed in whenever I’ve got the time to prepare it.

I can definitely tell a difference as far as their energy level goes. My favorite feature of the raw diet is the effect it has on the litter box. The amount of stool is greatly decreased. This tells me they are absorbing their nutrients, and the smell is virtually non-existent! There is plenty of urine, which assures me they are staying properly hydrated. I also add Dr. Harvey’s Power Patties crumbled and sprinkled on top, which they all go nuts for. In fact, once I left the bag on the counter (totally sealed up), and they totally ransacked it. I’ve never seen them shred something like that before. They are addicted to that stuff. I also add some canned tripe to their canned food, which is very stinky, but they like it.

In addition to the raw food diet, I also add many supplements. Everyone gets a probiotic like Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics, and an essential fatty acid like Animal Essentials Essential Fatty Acids. The cats get daily vitamins like Only Natural Pet Super Daily Feline Vitamins, and the dog gets her daily vitamin in Only Natural Pet Super Daily Vitamin Skin & Coat. Also, my cat needs liver support and gets the Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend, L-Carnitine by Integrative Therapeutics, and Vetri-Science Vetri-Liver. Lacey the dog also gets Halo’s Hip & Joint Supplement, Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Herbal Supplement, ProDen PlaqueOff & Sojo’s Europa!


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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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