Tips from The Primal Pooch

Recently I was at my day job and an old friend, or work associate, (whatever I like to think of her as a friend), emailed me to let me know her new site is up. It was Amy Marshall from The Primal Pooch. I thought cool, another raw dog food site, my favorite. Well, I went there and I was shocked! She has collected the most extensive list of raw providers I have ever seen. Along with a bio for each company and where they ship to complete with a link to the vendor. Luckily she was willing to give me an interview to let us know what it takes to make her list.

I hope you find it as informative as I did!

1.       What is your definition of a raw diet for dogs?

I try to keep it simple. I define a raw dog food diet as raw, unprocessed, and meat based.

2.       Do you have a favorite raw diet? ex: B.A.R.F, Prey model, RMB, etc.

My favorite diet is one that is varied. Whether it’s BARF or Prey Model is inconsequential to me. Many raw feeders, myself included, don’t follow one type of raw diet strictly. There may be days I feed a BARF style diet (with plant materials) and days I feed more of a Prey Model style diet. I care more about variety and balance than sticking to “one side.”

Unfortunately, I feel as if types of raw diets create more problems than they solve. They’re a huge source of debate, division, and mostly confusion among raw feeders. It seems as if so many people are fighting over which one is “right” or more authentic. At the end of the day, there’s not one correct answer to that question. Plus, what’s affordable, practical, or comfortable for everyone varies. What’s more important in my opinion is feeding a fresh, varied, REAL-food diet that will heal your dog and help him/her to achieve optimal health and longevity. And that’s the point, right?

3.       What prompted you to create your site?

Confusion, plain and simple.

When I first started feeding raw, I did my research. I read all the books and online articles and it sounded simple enough. But when I actually got started, I’d found myself with a million more questions. If I felt this way, I knew there were others who felt the same. And sure enough, I’d hear all the same questions from my readers.

I’m someone that needs to understand the “why” to execute the “how” correctly. I felt I needed something that could answer all of my questions so I began researching and writing really long in-depth articles. At first, Primal Pooch helped me learn and over time (and after many different reiterations of the site) I settled on a clear vision for what it was that I wanted to do. Now, my goal is to provide new or experienced raw feeders with everything they need to get started and succeed with a raw diet.

4.       What was your largest obstacle when you first started feeding raw & how did you overcome it?

This may repeat a lot of what I said above but I lacked a true, solid raw feeding base of knowledge. There are so many articles out there that explain how to get started with raw, but it seems as if a lot of them share the basics. You can’t learn how to feed your dog a raw diet with one 1000-word article. There’s no way you won’t run into questions as you start.
For me, raw feeding was a constant source of highs and lows. I’d read something and get motivated and super excited. Then I’d start to implement what I learned and be like, “wait, what happens now…” and “if this happens, then what do I do next?” At the time, I couldn’t find an answer to my questions and either stopped or was stuck and couldn’t move forward.

5.       What was your biggest surprise as you did your raw dog food company research?

How many raw feeding companies truly exist! It seems as if raw dog food is so hard to come by but once you start digging, you’ll learn there are raw feeding companies, brands, and stores that sell raw dog food almost everywhere. I want to make it my mission to uncover them so raw feeders have more options. I can’t tell you how much of the email I receive is people asking me where they can find/buy raw dog food near them. It’s a serious pain-point for a lot of dog owners.

6.       How many brands in how many countries do you provide resource info on & why so many?

At the moment, I list brands/companies in 4 countries: the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. All these countries have a huge raw feeding population but I plan to expand this even further in the future. I always strive to solve my reader’s problems and once I start learning where my readers are from and what they need help with, I try to create solutions on that can help.

7.       What are the 5 most important things you look for when evaluating a raw dog food brand?

This is a great question and there are tons of separate criteria that can be used to evaluate raw dog food brands. I’d need a whole post to accurately answer that question. Ultimately, though it depends on your needs, which varies from dog owner to dog owner.

In my case, I feed a homemade raw diet but I still LOVE prepackaged raw dog food and make sure there is always some stocked in my freezer. It’s a super convenient option for the days I haven’t meal prepped, am too busy, or when I travel.
Since I feed mostly a homemade diet, when I feed premade raw dog food my priority is to find proteins I can’t get locally for more variety.  But if you’re someone who wants to feed only premade dog food, you’ll likely be more interested in learning if the brand meets AAFCO or NRC guidelines. It’s hard to say what the 5 most important factors should be because they’ll change based on your goals/needs and even mine change frequently.

Right now, here’s what I focus on:

  • Quality – was it sourced/made in China or in other countries with a poor track record of food quality? Is it organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, etc?
  • Price – Just like everyone else, I have a budget so I can only buy what I can afford. Price (retail, shipping costs, etc.) play a BIG factor in what brands I buy.
  • Protein options – Is it something I can’t get at home? I prefer to use premade raw dog food to feed proteins I can’t source locally.
  • Vegetables – What types were used and how much? I prefer to avoid and/or limit starchy vegetables so I choose brands that feature low-glycemic fruits and veggies. I also want to make sure the amount of carbohydrates isn’t too high.
  • Bone content – My dog does better with a higher bone content so that’s important to me when selecting or trying different brands of raw dog food.

8.       What criteria does a brand have to meet to make your recommendation list?

I actually don’t have a strict set of criteria.

Here’s why:

I realized that every dog owner (and raw feeder) has different needs. For example, if I were to include only brands that offered the highest quality product (free range, grass-fed, etc), budget-conscious dog owners looking for more affordable prepackaged raw dog food options would be left out. Or, if I included only brands that meet AAFCO standards, I would leave out the dog owners who balance their dog’s raw diet at home but want to find grinds/mixes they can use as a base in their own homemade dog food recipes.

If a brand/company offers something that my readers have inquired about or expressed interested in finding before, I include them within the list. And I’ve actually experimented with different formats for this vendor guide. But every option I tried previously, left out a base of my readers in some way.

The ultimate goal is to list all the options. From there, dog owners can read individual brand descriptions and navigate to brand websites to learn more. That way they can find a solution that works for them.

With that said, I perform my own due diligence. I make sure all brands have been in business for some time and are reputable. I also speak with the people behind the brand to learn more before I make a decision. I also have plans to organize the brands and their offerings better on this page and you can expect to see this in the next update!

9.       Number 1 tip for the newbie to raw?

Baby steps.

Raw feeding can be easy but it can also be complicated at times. The biggest tip I have is not to let yourself get overwhelmed. Just start, then continue to read and learn more. As you learn more, you’ll add more to your dog’s diet and you’ll tweak it further. Just don’t let yourself stay stuck. Start, and once you’re comfortable, expand your knowledge.

Raw feeding is easy if you take baby steps and continue to learn. This is especially true if your feeding a homemade raw diet because you’ll be 100% responsible for your dog’s nutrition. But if you’re feeding prepackaged raw dog food, you can get away with being more hands-off after the initial transition into raw.

Either way, stick with it. It’s so worth it. Not only will you see a happier and healthier dog but you’ll feel so much more invested in your dog. It’s hard to explain but it’s truly a labor of love.

2 thoughts on “Tips from The Primal Pooch

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  1. I’m hoping someone can help me. I made a mistake and watched the documentary “Pet FOOleD. it freaked me out and made me want to switch to a rod diet. After investigation I realized it was going to be very time-consuming. Not that my dogs are not worth that but what I’m getting at is I decided to go with already made raw foods. Stella and Chewys to be exact. They are very very expensive. I talked to my vet about raw diet and she was against it. I decided I was going to supplement their kibble with raw because when I was told is any raw is better than no right at all. My chocolate lab however has been vomiting. I switch back to the kibble for her with no raw and no vomit. I guess my main question is can a raw diet not be good for certain bellies? My yellow lab seems fine with the raw patties and hasn’t been sick. Thank you in advance for any help/advice you can give:)

    1. Hi Jess! Pet FooleD is a great film, I’m so glad you made that mistake. I completely understand how you feel. Going from kibble to real food was a shock to me & my wallet also. First, I suggest following Dr. Karen Becker. She is my go-to holistic vet for raw feeding advice. Second, Stella’s is a great brand but if your dog is having stomach upset with it I suggest starting with just adding some fresh foods as a topping for 2 weeks along with Mercola’s Digestive Aid. Then start incorporating just a bit of raw ground meats for an additional two weeks. Try different proteins to see which ones your dogs aren’t sensitive to. Chicken is the number one offender in dogs. Go slow, very slow, & continue the Digestive Aid. Hopefully, your dog’s gut will get transitioned to digesting whole foods and you can then start trying different raw meal enhancers without upset or wasting funds.

      I hope this helps!

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