The number one question I receive (daily) is ‘what diet are Bruno and Carlo on?’ For the first time, I feel 100% confident about sharing the answer!
As many of you may know, Bruno and Carlo were prescribed a wet, metabolic weight loss management food when we adopted each of them – Bruno in August 2018, and Carlo in February 2019. As far as weight loss goes, it worked! Bruno lost 7 pounds in 11 months, and Carlo 3.5 in 5.
Whereas Bruno will consume anything even moderately edible, Carlo’s sensitive. In addition to his over-grooming, he was also throwing up 1-2 times a month. It took a ton of convincing on our part to get Carlo to eat at all, no matter what food we tried. We literally had to follow him around the house with his bowl off and on for hours with every meal. Given he wasn’t crazy about treats either, we figured he just wasn’t food-motivated, like Bruno is.
As soon as we adopted Bruno, I started talking to my friend Carrie Thiergart about him. Carrie and I were co-workers several years back, but after many years in the commercial real estate industry, she made a bold move. Carrie followed her passion and opened Pure Primal LLC – a raw dog and cat food company. For many months, we just purchased freeze-dried treats for Bruno from her, that he LOVES.
It wasn’t until Carrie and I had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one about 10 months after adopting Bruno (4 months after adopting Carlo) that I was able to really pick her brain about cat food. Carrie is incredibly respectful about the fact that a pet’s diet is a very personal decision for the owner, and she’s not one to project her opinions onto anyone. Once I asked for her expertise however, my eyes were really opened to the extreme benefits of a raw diet.
I chose to follow her advice and transition the boys to Primal Pet Foods (a different company than her own). Each boy gets a total of 5 nuggets a day (2 in the morning, 1 in the evening, and 2 before bed), totaling 250 calories. They’re partial to the beef & salmon formula 😊 We re-hydrate the nuggets with water or goat’s milk.
Sidenote: because the nuggets are so nutrient dense, the boys poop way less often, and it it doesn’t smell. WIN-WIN.
For treats, we still give the boys Carrie’s freeze dried turkey heart treats which they both love. They also get PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Treats and Tiki Cat Velvet Salmon Mousse on occasion.
Since we made the transition to a raw diet in the end of July, Carlo has stopped over-grooming, and hasn’t thrown up once. He also seems to genuinely enjoy his food for the first time, and is able to finish each serving within about 20 minutes! This is thrilling for multiple obvious reasons 😊 Both boys seem calmer, and their coats are incredibly shiny. It was so fulfilling to see results within a matter of weeks.
Carlo is down 1 entire pound in a month (despite actually eating more than ever before with us), and Bruno is down .3 pounds (his weight loss has understandably slowed down over the past several months, after losing the initial 5+ pounds). Carlo's weighing in at 16.5 pounds, and Bruno at 17.7.
I asked Carrie to sit down with me to share her insight with all of you, given she's a real expert, and can speak so much more eloquently about this than I can. Full disclosure: neither Carrie nor I are veterinarians, though she has completed the Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist program through Dogs Naturally University, as well as researched the topic for over a decade. I’m merely sharing Bruno and Carlo’s diet as well as Carrie’s journey with you all. Additionally, I wasn’t paid by anyone to share this information, nor did we pay Carrie. We have been gifted Primal Pet Food nuggets in exchange for posting on Instagram – after switching the boys over, I reached out to the brand after about a month of seeing the great effects. However, I wanted to share the long version of the story here on our blog with you!
Lauren: Can you tell us about yourself, your journey with a raw diet for pets, and your company Pure Primal?
Carrie: I started Pure Primal in 2017 and am a one-woman company that makes the highest quality freeze dried treats for dogs and cats. My two dogs, Miles and Truman, have been the inspiration for me to make my own raw dog food and treats for over 11 years. After countless hours of research, reading books, and talking to many others that feed raw, I developed - and continue to develop - my own recipes and treats that have been put to the test for over 11 years. In addition, I have completed the Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist program through Dogs Naturally University. My dogs have thrived on their homemade food. I was always told 'you will be able to tell the difference between dogs that have been raised naturally on a raw diet and dogs that eat a typical (kibble) diet'. It took some time for me to realize that, but it's true - their coats are beautiful and shiny, teeth are clean, they have an abundance of energy and they have a sparkle and light in their eyes. My clients’ dogs and cats have had similar results; even those that simply incorporate my freeze dried meat treats into their pets’ diets have noticed positive health changes.
We have recently fostered and adopted 2 more dogs from Chicago Animal Care and Control and have since transitioned them to a 100% raw diet. The difference in their coats, muscle tone, and energy is astonishing. They have thrived on a raw diet and look so much healthier than they were when we first started fostering them.
Lauren: Why do you think a raw diet is best for cats?
Carrie: Cats are considered obligate carnivores, which means they MUST eat meat to survive. Their digestive systems are designed to eat meat and the majority of their diet should consist of meat. Cats have a short and acidic digestive tract and can quickly and efficiently process species appropriate food (meat) in approximately 12 hours, which gives any potential bacteria very little time to proliferate enough to cause any harm. While cats can easily digest meat, carbohydrates on the other hand are hard for them to process since they only have one enzyme capable of processing them. Kibble is VERY high in carbohydrates; typically 30%-40% and sometimes even higher! Raw meat diets are naturally very low in carbohydrates (around 5%), which make them ideal for cats. In addition, when meat is cooked, the high heat used (especially in kibble) causes many vitamins, minerals and amino acids to be lost in the process. Due to the extreme nutrient loss in cooking meat, these vitamins, minerals and amino acids must be added back into the kibble to create a “complete and balanced” food. However, these things are not added back in their natural food form; they are added as synthetic supplements, which are not nearly as easily absorbed into a cat’s body as the vitamin that occurs naturally in muscle and organ meat. So basically, although you may feel like you’re feeding your cat a “complete and balanced” kibble, in reality, your cat is not receiving nearly as many nutrients as it would if it were to be eating a raw diet, where all of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are provided in their natural forms.
To simplify things, take a look at the list of ingredients on the back of a bag of dry cat food; ingredients are listed in order of predominance. How many ingredients are in the food? Where is meat on the list, and what quality is that meat? Why are there so many things that most of us cannot pronounce added to our cats’ food? Now take a look at the ingredient list for a package of raw cat food – raw cat food is typically sold either frozen or freeze dried (if freeze dried, you should add water or a small amount of raw goat milk to rehydrate since cats need more moisture). You should see meat, ground bones (not a calcium substitute), organ meat (not synthetic nutrients), a limited number of fruits/vegetables/oils and a couple natural supplements. That comparison alone should tell you which option is far superior for your cat. I know raw food can be more expensive than kibble; however, my philosophy is that you can pay now for better health and longevity, or pay later in vet bills.
Lauren: What are the benefits of a raw diet, specifically for cats?
Lauren: What would you say are some common fears about raw diets?
Carrie: Most dry food/kibble is produced by a handful of very large companies, who in recent years have discovered how much money is to be made in the pet food industry – and therefore are slowly buying up the smaller companies. When this happens the quality almost always goes down in order to maximize profits. In addition, due to all of the numerous recent recalls of dry food (euthanasia drugs found in pet food, salmonella, elevated levels of vitamins), more pet parents are starting to question what their pets are eating and therefore are making the switch to raw/homemade diets. The big companies are realizing this and feeling threatened, so they have started to attack raw companies and diets. They use scare tactics to prevent people from switching to a healthier food. They claim raw diets are not “complete and balanced”. If you choose to feed a commercial raw food, found at most high-end pet food stores, the food is complete and balanced, so there is no need to worry. They also try to scare people away from raw by saying you will contaminate your home by feeding your pets raw meat. Do you ever cook raw meat at home? Use the same precautions. As long as you wash your hands after handling the meat and wash the bowls/surfaces your pet eats on, that’s all you need to do. My dogs have been on a 100% raw diet for almost 12 years and I have never had an issue.
Lauren: How do you transition your cat to a raw diet?
Carrie: When you make the decision to transition your cat to a raw diet, you can do it as fast or slow as you’d like. It will take some time for your cat’s gut to become acidic enough to properly digest raw food, so in the beginning your cat may have loose stools. This is normal and is part of the transition process. Some people like to “rip off the bandaid” and make a quick switch, while others like to ease their cats into a raw diet. It’s a personal choice and depends on your cat and what you are most comfortable with doing for your pet.
Lauren: Can you tell us some more about your company, Pure Primal?
The treats I make are all 100% meat, from small Midwest family farms, with NOTHING added. I never use meat from factory farms because I believe in only using meat from humanely treated animals; it is the ethical thing to do, and the meat itself is so much healthier than factory farm meat. I cut the meat by hand, freeze dry the treats and package them myself in small batches so the treats remain fresh. The freeze drying process gently removes the moisture from the meat while retaining the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are crucial to our pets’ overall health. It’s the healthiest treat option for our pets since they are single ingredient, 100% high quality meat treats.
One easy way to incorporate some raw meat into your cat’s diet is to feed freeze dried meat treats (they can either be fed dry or rehydrated with water). Pure Primal has a variety of proteins (duck, rabbit, turkey, venison, beef, goat, lamb), and I have found that the turkey heart chips, rabbit treats and duck heart training treats are most popular with my cat clients. If you’d like to try some of my freeze dried treats, use the coupon code BRUNOANDCARLO for 10% off your first order at pureprimalpet.com
DISCLAIMER: The material in this blog has been written for educational purposes only. It should not be regarded as veterinary medical advice. I am not a veterinarian. Please consult with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or a holistic veterinarian before applying what you learn from this blog.