This RAWgust, Canine Nutritionist and Behaviour Expert, Anna Webb (A), joined our Chief Woof, Dylan Watkins (D) for a Facebook Live, answering all things raw feeding. We’ve collated the questions sent in on social media and have responded below to your most common queries about feeding raw dog food. In need of assistance with raw feeding? Our VIP (Very Important Paws) Team are on hand to help. Email email@example.com or call 01380 716 599.
What is RAWgust?
D: RAWgust is a ‘change-for-life’ themed month for pets. We are calling on all pet owners to pledge to try raw food throughout the month. The campaign provides an opportunity for us to make noise and educate those that are unfamiliar with the benefits of feeding raw, while also encouraging those who have always wanted to try Poppy’s Picnic, to see the quality of our food and how easy it is to feed.
Recent research from Poppy’s Picnic showed 81% of Brits can identify that fresh food is the best diet for humans to stay fit and healthy, but only 51% recognised fresh food as the best for dogs, why do you think there’s such a gap?
A: I think it’s a convenience thing, much as there is a rise in eating processed food amongst humans as it’s so easy to pick up fast food. Gone are the days of visiting the greengrocer, fishmonger or asking the butcher for offcuts for your dog. People didn’t used to shop in the supermarket so much 50 years ago, but now it’s easy to pick up a box of dog biscuits at the end of your shop and be done with it. Natural food with no hidden nasties is always best, and it’s great to see the tide turning in humans. As more people are thinking about what they put in their body to stay fit and healthy, we’re starting to see owners twig what’s best for their four-legged friends which is fantastic. Over 51% of dogs in the UK are obese and we desperately need to turn the tide of this epidemic.
D: Flashy advertising has seen the pet food giants dominate for near enough 60 years. And arguably there’s not enough pushback from vets as they only receive a few hours training on nutrition and are becoming commercialised practices. With our very busy lifestyles at the moment people assume feeding raw is complicated, messy, and that it’s just easier to open a can. But really all you need is a freezer. It’s easy to get out a pack of wholesome Mince or Meatballs, defrost it in the fridge, and serve. It’s only a slight change yet the difference you see in your dog’s health is so much greater. There’s no dodgy smell of pet food coming from a cupboard, there’s no mess when you serve from a tray, and it’s just as convenient when you can get it delivered to your door or buy it from a local stockist.
Why is a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet best for dogs?
A: Just as a fresh food diet is best for humans, the same is true for dogs. But whereas humans are omnivores designed to eat plants efficiently, dogs are carnivores and cannot digest protein from plants. Animal protein contains the essential amino acids that a dog needs to thrive like taurine, tryptophan and lysine. Unlike humans, dogs cannot suffer from high cholesterol. They metabolise animal fat efficiently for energy, rather than from complex carbohydrates. A biologically appropriate raw food diet for dogs, comprising raw meat, bone, offal and some vegetables keeps them nourished and in tip top condition, resulting in less illness and allergies and a better temperament.
D: We call the benefits of raw feeding the Seven Signs of Happiness:
1 – Enhanced oral health
2 – Improved digestion
3 – Easier weight management
4 – Healthier skin and coat
5 – Reduced allergy symptoms
6 – Smaller, less odorous poos
7 – A calmer, happier dog
Can you mix kibble with raw food?
A: Yes, you can mix kibble with raw food, you won’t upset a dog’s system, but as a nutritionist I would prefer a dog to be on a 100% raw diet, right through to treats. The raw can make such a difference, but mixing dampens its effect. My guess is you’ll see them wolf down the raw food first and pick at the wet or dry after!
D: We think feeding any nutritious raw food is better than none and I’d encourage anyone to give it a try. We developed our exclusive Poppy’s Picnic Meatballs which are not only great for feeding small dogs and portion control, but because they’re an easy way of adding a nutritious boost to the bowl. You can easily remove two tablespoons of wet/dry food and replace it with one nutritious Meatball. The nutritional value of one Meatball is greater than that of processed wet or dry foods so you can afford to swap it out and replace it with less.
If dogs are used to a diet of mainly processed food is it important to gradually switch to a raw diet or can it be an overnight process?
D: You can switch a dog’s diet to raw food overnight without doing them any harm. The sooner you get them that goodness, the better! That said dogs are very sensitive to their owners and environment. If you’re nervous, stressed or have a lot going on, perhaps it’s not the best time to switch. Imagine it was you starting a new diet, you have to be in a good place and supported. I would suggest downloading our free RAWPLICITY Guide for more tips on switching.
Is raw feeding expensive?
A: This is a common misconception. A kilo of dry food costs around £3-5, the same is true for raw, and arguably, because it’s more nutritious you end up feeding less. I always say it’s a false economy to scrimp on your dog’s food. At the end of the day, prevention is better than cure and you’re likely to pay in the end with veterinary bills and insurance premiums.
How easy is it to feed if you aren’t near a freezer?
D: Very! Obviously access to a freezer is ideal, but you can always buy packs from local stockists as you need them. The food can stay defrosted in the fridge for up to four days. And if you’re going to work or on a day trip, just pack some up to take with you. It’s just like sending a child off with a packed lunch.
Is the food popular with vegetarians?
A: I’m a vegetarian and I wouldn’t dream of feeding my dogs anything but a biologically appropriate raw food diet – it’s what they need to stay healthy and nourished. I always say, you wouldn’t dream of feeding a rabbit a steak! What I love about Poppy’s Picnic is that the Mince and Meatballs hold their own. The meat is so fresh it’s odourless, and the trays make it easy to feed with no sloppy mess. If you are particularly squeamish about raw meat, then the Meatballs are definitely for you. You could even use tongs to pop the Meatballs in a bowl and there’s no need to touch it at all!
Why do dogs try to eat poo?
A: Dogs will be dogs and they’re naturally inquisitive, and interested in poop! Often coprophagia (the technical term for eating poo), is because they're not being nourished and represents a nutritional deficiency. There's also a number of behavioural reasons like covering up their tracks from any predators, or even keeping their 'den' and their environment clean. Most often though it’s because they’re not satiated by their current diet. We humans know it from our own behaviour, if we aren’t satisfied by our meal, we go and pick elsewhere.
Can puppies also eat raw dog food?
D: Yes of course they can! Nothing is better than their mother’s milk when they’re first born, but our Puppy Power Weaning Paste is perfect for weeks 3-5. The finely ground raw chicken and bone is easy on a puppy’s tummy. Then from 5-8 weeks they can have our exclusive Puppy Power Follow-On Paste which is a complete recipe but ground more finely so it’s easier for them to digest. After 8 weeks, they can go straight onto our adult food or try our Puppy Power Growing Up Mince to transition to adult food. Just make sure you keep checking the Meal Calculator on our Homepage for how much to feed as pups need different quantities as they grow.
What difference can you see in raw fed dog poo?
A: Dry food contains a lot of grains such as rice, barley and maize which are used as bulkers to enhance the protein percentage in dry food. Because dogs are carnivores, these kinds of grains cannot be digested and the indigestible protein from plants goes straight through them. Dogs are carnivores and have very short digestive tracts. They are physiologically designed to eat meat. That’s why when you feed your dog on a raw diet, the poos will be small, firm, easy to pick up and odourless.
D: In our household we’re even a bit lax about picking up poo in the garden because after a week it’s completely disintegrated. We’re used to these big sloppy messes in the park that stink and hang around. They’re not going anywhere because of the preservatives in the food which also preserve the poo the other end – grim! Raw fed poo is completely different. You can always tell how healthy a dog is from their poo.
How does diet affect a dog’s dental health?
D: In the same way that sugar is bad for our teeth, it’s the same for dogs, which is why I’m baffled as to why anyone would give a cereal-based stick, that gets processed into sugar to their dog. I always say that bone is nature’s toothbrush. Not only are they tasty for your dog, they’re full of calcium, provide entertainment and are great for scraping off plaque. You must only ever feed raw bones though, as cooked can splinter.
A: It’s also worth mentioning that dogs cannot manoeuvre their tongues to pull bits of biscuit out of their teeth, they’re designed for licking only. Of course you could brush their teeth to get it out, but it’s worth feeding a raw diet to avoid the problem in the first place.
Can you feed raw food and cooked meat at the same time?
A: Yes, absolutely! Obviously the more you cook the food, the more nutrients you’re cooking out of it, which is why we promote raw, but it’s better to feed meat than grains.
How quickly can you see a difference after feeding raw?
D: Biologically you’ll see a difference after their first poo, but from the moment the parcel’s delivered a change is made. We all know dogs have a brilliant sense of smell, and customers have sent in fantastic videos of their dog yelping and scratching at the box on delivery! You’ll see an excitement in them the minute the food’s put down for them to eat. It’s tail-waggingly good.
A: Feeding a biologically appropriate diet nourishes dogs at a cellular level. Its bio-availability means you're feeding to optimise health and help prevent disease, whereas processed diets comprising 30%-60% grains are high-glycaemic, promoting allergic reactions via a pro-inflammatory response. Allergic reactions are a symptom showing that your dog's immune system is not functioning at 100%. Often an allergy is atopic (on the skin), making dogs very itchy, with hair loss and incessant scratching. Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, switching to a raw diet will pay huge dividends especially with hair re-growth and stopping the itchiness. Not least putting a lustre back into the coat which might have been lacking. Feeding raw will also help any 'yeasty' conditions, itchy paws and gunky wax build up in the ears.
Are you developing raw food for cats too?
D: We are indeed! Cats can also eat raw food but their needs are different so we are spending a lot of time perfecting the recipe.
What would you say to someone wanting to give it a go?
D: There’s no way to try raw than to order our trial hamper here.