Raw Food Recommendations?

Dog Food Advisor Forums Raw Dog Food Raw Food Recommendations?

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  • #185629 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Any thoughts on a good brand of frozen (or freeze dried) raw food (grain free) with fairly limited ingredients? My dog is allergic to carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes, so I need to avoid those, plus I’m nervous about similar vegetables because the allergy test didn’t cover many foods. And because he recently started having seizures I am avoiding rosemary for now. I would also prefer no calcium or sodium phosphate additives, but may have to give in on that one.
    I was feeding Stella and Chewy’s, but it contains ingredients that don’t work.
    I also tried Primal, but am not crazy about all of the seeds in the ingredients.
    I have been feeding Vital Essentials but a recent inquiry to the company left me feeling less positive about them. Also, my dog likes their freeze dried foods but will not eat the frozen. According to Vital Essentials the ingredients are identical for both. My dog loves raw meat, turkey necks, etc. but won’t eat the raw frozen Vital Essentials. He ate it at first but then wouldn’t. Weird.
    I recently tried We Feed Raw, but it doesn’t seem to agree with my dog at all, even though I introduced it very slowly.
    The one I’m considering trying now is Steve’s Real Food. Any thoughts on that one? Or others I haven’t mentioned?

    #185630 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Can you please share what led you to not trust feeding Vital Essentials freeze dried. I am on a rotation between them Primal and at times Small Batch. A little nervous feeding Small Batch consistently with the added garlic for my small dogs’.

    #185638 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Thanks for the reply Patricia A. I feel a little uncomfortable going into details about Vital Essentials, but I guess that is what this forum is for. It started with the online vitamin and mineral information, which is really important to me and I rely heavily on it. For one of the foods I found what I assumed was an error. The Vitamin E was REALLY high for one of the recipes. Like 20x higher than the other recipes. So I inquired about that and someone from Customer Service emailed me a more recent analysis, and there were huge differences in various vitamins and minerals – between what is online and what was emailed to me. Then I didn’t receive a reply when I asked about it. So at this point I don’t have any confidence in the online information.
    I had fed Primal in the past. I stopped feeding the freeze dried because it has rosemary as an ingredient. One of my dogs has seizures, so I’m being extra cautious about anything that could trigger one. I stopped feeding the frozen too recently because of the sunflower seeds, which makes for high Omega 6 content. I’m trying to keep the Omega 6 content fairly low for my dog because of inflammation issues. But I’m now thinking that I feel better about Primal than Vital Essentials. I haven’t noticed any flakiness in the Primal online vitamin/mineral information. It looks very professional.

    So, I’m very frustrated at this point. I ordered some Steve’s freeze dried. Hopefully it will agree with my dogs, but the goat’s milk makes me nervous.

    I’m having trouble navigating this forum. I had been checking for replies to my post the last few days, by going to the original post, but there were none. I only saw your reply today when I did a search on Vital Essentials. Strange.

    #185640 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Thank you for sharing your interactions with the company. I understand your lose of confidence when such a big discrepancy is not acknowledged by the company.
    My three little dogs’ do well with Primal in certain proteins. I stay away from the higher in fat to protein ones since causes diarrhea in one. I just really wanted one other freeze dried for rotation with one just comprised of meat and organs vs. Primal with the added veggies.
    I loves the ingredients in Small Batch and was on the Susan Thixton list of transparency if you’re familiar with her work.. However, just VERY nervous about the added garlic. If some of the reasoning for adding is builds up in coat for flea protection, then worried with my very small dogs will also build up to cause damage to red blood cells. Don’t want to take the chance.
    Funny you mention Steve’s. Thixton has that one this year on her list also. So was looking into that company also for rotation List is a starter for me at least, although don’t NOT feed a brand necessary because it’s not recommended by her. However, when looking at reviews on this site DFA someone just recently wrote about contaminated food (bugs?) and very poor customer service. UHHH always something that turns me off. lol
    Yes, this forum is not very active as it once was. If you look under my posts there is a lady AIMEE who has been VERY helpful and informative and is active on this forum . Maybe she will read and chime in here with her take on Vital Essentials. I’ve been waiting patiently for her to say “Patricia these are the two freeze dried foods to rotate with.” “Their customer service is excellent, they are transparent, their analysis lines up what’s on the bag and online for each recipe, they have the perfect nutritional levels with no risky or inferior ingredients AND it’s affordable.” lol Is that too much to ask??? All I get is which one is the lesser of two evils. lol
    Have a Happy New Year.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by Patricia A.
    #185794 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Hi Patricia A. Sorry for the delayed reply. I continue to have trouble knowing that there has been a reply to my posts.
    Since I first posted I have definitely decided to give up on Vital Essentials. The Customer Rep I was communicating with won’t even reply to my emails anymore. I kind of softened the extent of my concerns about their online data for my posts here. The more I think about what I found, plus the lack of replies now, I don’t feel good about the company at all.

    But, some positive news, I tried Steve’s and both of my dogs like it and seem to be doing well with it. I was concerned that the Goat’s Milk wouldn’t agree with them, but they seem to be ok with it. I’m feeling pretty good about Steve’s online information and their customer service too. Their online vitamin/mineral information looks professional and reasonable, and it appears that they keep it current with updates. I think there are some companies out there who do an analysis one time and just keep that info online forever.
    I also like that I can order both frozen and freeze dried Steve’s from rawpetfood.com. The shipping is free if you subscribe to auto renew. The customer service there has been really good too.

    You mentioned Small Batch. A local store sells the frozen Small Batch Base Blends, which is just meat, organs, and bone. I bought some of that a couple months ago and one of my dogs loved it and the other would have nothing to do with it. I too would be hesitant to feed a food with garlic. But there seem to be differing opinions out there on whether it is a good thing for dog food or not. I had one of my dogs tested for food allergies recently and he is not allergic to any meats, but is allergic (IgE reaction) to every vegetable they tested for (which unfortunately was only 5). So I assume he is allergic to many more vegetables and that makes it pretty limiting for choosing foods for him. Garlic would make me particularly nervous as I am allergic to it (IgE, from a blood test) and eating it really does cause trouble for me – much more so than my other IgE positive foods.

    A couple freeze dried brands that I am feeding mostly as treats are: K9 Natural and Bixbi Rawbbles. Both of my dogs really like them. For the Bixbi, they have both dog and cat, but I feed the cat turkey recipe because the ingredients are better for the dog with allergies, plus no phosphate additives. From the online vitamin/mineral info the cat recipes appear to me to be ok for a dog – especially in small quantities. For the K9 Natural, I limit how much I feed because the Vitamin A and Iodine contents are higher than I like.

    Another ingredient that I am steering clear of for now are phosphate additives (dicalcium, trisodium, etc). I’ve read that the artificial forms of phosphate are absorbed MUCH more readily than phosphate from meat, so can interfere with the dog’s Calcium to Phosphate ratio. May or may not be true, but for now it is a worry of mine – it’s always something 🙂 So all of the foods that I mentioned do not include any of those.

    Well, sorry this got so long. I will do better at checking for replies in case you do.

    #185805 Report Abuse
    Patricia A

    Hi M&C,
    I’m glad I still frequent this board even though not as active in the past. So glad I singed in today to learn about Steve’s. Will look into that brand because I always like to rotate the freeze dried with others. Glad to hear you had good experience with customer service also.
    I wish Small Batch didn’t put the garlic in. I have the three Chihuahuas’ so hard for all three to well with. But they love the Turkey Small Batch and never digestive issues. So I have a small bag available and feed infrequently still. For what it’s worth this is what they wrote me back.
    All of our diets are formulated in partnership with veterinary professionals to ensure safety of ingredients and ratios for nutrients – including garlic. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding this ingredient, which in small doses is actually highly beneficial for our pets. We use just 1lb of raw, organic garlic in every 1,500lb batch of food, and have been successfully incorporating this ingredient in our recipe for 17 years. Like many things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and garlic falls into this category, which is why there is so much controversy out in the world when it comes to feeding it to our canine family members. Rest assured that the amounts we use are extremely minimal and safe, and just enough to lend nutritional benefits to our formulation for the dogs eating our diets.
    Yes, I give Bixbi as treats. I’ll write with my experience with Steve’s.

    #185806 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Patricia A – I have read in articles from sources I consider reputable that garlic is beneficial to dogs in small amounts, as Small Batch explained to you. It does seem to me that the Small Batch customer service is quite good, in that they took the time to give you a detailed reply. I actually didn’t realize that Small Batch made freeze dried. I thought they only made frozen and the local store that carries frozen only carries their Base Blends, not the Meals.
    I just now hopped on the Small Batch website and their dog meals won’t work for me because of allergy ingredients (and the garlic, but I’m softening on that), but the cat meals would work. I also notice that the cat meals don’t contain garlic. So maybe those would be nice treats for your Chihuahuas – if you aren’t already. I’m going to request the vitamin/mineral data for the cat meals and see how that looks. I’m surprised they don’t have it online. Or maybe they do and I missed it.
    I like to feed a variety of brands. I feel like it reduces the risk just in case one of the brands is not as good as it seems. I’ve become pretty untrusting of dog food manufacturers, but I just can’t quite take the leap to making my own.

    I hope Steve’s works for you. I don’t think I mentioned previously that I also feed the Steve’s Cat (Quest) freeze dried as treats. My dogs REALLY like that. The Cat nuggets are smaller than than the Dog, and crunchier, so might be perfect for your Chihuahua pack. To me the Quest looks fine for a dog (vitamin/minerals) if it is not the only thing they eat. The Niacin is considerably higher than a dog’s requirements, but I haven’t done any reading yet on how much Niacin is too much.

    I’ll let you know if I decide to try the Small Batch Cat.
    Nice having you to chat with.

    #185812 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Patricia A – Just thought I would follow up with you on Small Batch. I reached out to customer service for vitamin/mineral information. Here is the reply:

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a shareable analysis document at this time simply due to it being in the process of being routinely updated brand-wide (we’ve had new proteins and products introduced and are due for updates to ensure accuracy).

    We anticipate having these values available to share again with our customers in the coming months if you’d like to check back with us at a later date.

    I like the fact that they are on top of updating their online info, but disappointed that there is nothing available now. But, I will keep checking for the new information.

    #185814 Report Abuse

    Hi Mutts and Cats,

    Thank you for posting Smallbatch’s reply to you. I recently contacted Smallbatch and asked for nutritional information. They were very prompt in sending it. However, based on what they sent, it appeared that not every formulation met the AAFCO profile for the labeled lifestage. As I recall, their explanation was that the analysis reflected an average taken over several years. I replied that I found that alarming since it appeared that for years their products may have been falling short of AAFCO and that the apparent problem appears to have not been addressed. I asked for further written explanation, yet after repeated inquiries I have not received any response.

    I found it most interesting that just a few weeks later they replied to your inquiry by saying they do not have a sharable analysis.

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 11 hours ago by aimee.
    #185816 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Hi aimee – thanks for sharing that experience with Small Batch. Sounds like you called a problem to their attention. Or, maybe they knew about it and were hoping it wouldn’t be noticed. At least they seem to be making changes to address the problem. Although I was a little surprised that in the reply to me they indicated it would be months before they have data available again.

    I have to say that I’m getting worn down by my interactions with dog food manufacturers. Since I became intensely interested in the vitamin/mineral analysis information I sure have found a lot of anomalies in the online data, or what they provide when I request it. And sometimes when I call it to their attention I get a lame response that tells me the person doesn’t understand the data and has no intention of following up on it. So, they become another company that I won’t buy from.

    It also bothers me when I see that the online data never changes. When I first started looking at it I assumed that companies would be retesting every few months, or even every year, and then update what is online. But I’m realizing now that I had unrealistic expectations.

    From what I’ve seen in my reviews of Steve’s online data in the last couple months, it seems that they are at least keeping the online data current. And, when I ask questions I get an immediate response from someone who actually seems interested in the problem. I just hope that continues. I don’t want to be disappointed again. 🙁

    Is there a company that you have decided you have great confidence in – overall and in regards to the integrity of their analysis data?

    #185818 Report Abuse

    Hi Mutts and Cats,

    My experience with the nutritional information companies provide mirrors yours. It is concerning when a company purportedly producing a complete and balanced pet food appears to have no clue when it comes to very basic nutritional concepts.

    I have seen companies change recipes/ingredients and yet there is no change in their posted nutritional analysis. I’ve seen companies whose nutritional analysis are identical across all formulations. ( The company told me that they actually only tested one formula and then just copied the results into each formula while changing a few numbers here and there.) I’ve come across companies who change their on line information based on what numbers I’ve told them it needs to be to meet AAFCO.. The list goes on and on. Like you they become companies I won’t buy from

    I’m have more confidence in the larger companies: Purina, Iams/Eukanuba, Royal Canin and if someone wanted a raw/freeze dried option Natures Variety

    #185821 Report Abuse
    Mutts and Cats

    Hi aimee. Your experiences bring back memories of some of mine, and sends my blood pressure up. Thanks for sharing those companies. I’m surprised actually, that you like Purina, Iams, and RC. I had written those companies off long ago as “you have got to be kidding” (regarding the ingredients). But I can see from your posts that you are quite knowledgeable, so maybe I should take another look at their premium lines. I really doubt that they are going to offer the kind of transparency that I insist on regarding % meat ingredients or % protein from meat. But maybe things have changed and I should at least explore.

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether I have more confidence in large companies or small ones. In theory, I think a small company could produce a better food, but in reality I think some of them may be developing their foods without a dog nutritionist and despite their good intentions they may not have a good quality control program. Plus, a small company would be more likely to pull some of the online info stunts that you mentioned, whereas a large company with a good reputation is not going to take that risk, and what they put online is more likely to be accurate. But, all things considered, I still lean toward the smaller companies, but ones that have been around awhile.

    I used to factor cost into my decisions about which dog food to feed, but now, with one of my dogs in poor health, I don’t. Whatever you want to charge me is fine, IF I feel good about your product. Sadly, I can’t say that I feel great about any of the foods I’m feeding now – even after all of my research. Fairly good about them, but not great. 🙁

    #185823 Report Abuse

    Hi Mutts and Cats,

    Meat is defined by AAFCO as striated muscle with attached connective tissues (skin ,fat, blood vessels, tendons etc). I asked my feed control official if anywhere in the AAFCO definition does it specify what % of “meat” has to be striate muscle or if tissue that is 99% non-muscle and 1% striate muscle can legally be called “meat”?

    The answer I got was that AAFCO does not specify, and it would be up to each individual state feed control official to interpret. In other words, my theoretical mix with only 1% striate muscle could be considered “meat”

    Knowing that, for me it is a moot point if a company claims X % of protein comes from “meat” because while we assume striate muscle when we hear the term meat, it seems, based on legal definitions, the protein may be from skin, tendons and other tissues of lower quality. Therefore, I personally see those types of claims as too easily subject to marketing department manipulation, it all goes back to how much do I trust the company?

    I understand your surprise at my feeding choices. I suppose it really comes down to feeding philosophy. Every ingredient has pros and cons. I tend not to vilify ingredients. That isn’t to say I don’t look at ingredients on the label because i do but I may just be using that information differently than someone else.

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