By now in your education on all things natural you have probably heard all sorts of "wives' tale" style information. Everything from; the taste of fresh blood will turn my pet vicious to; they can get Salmonella or E-coli poisoning from raw food. Well we aim to help sort some of that out with these frequently asked questions.

Should I/Can I cook raw foods? How do I thaw frozen meat?

NEVER, ever, ever, ever, cook your pet’s meal before feeding it. This goes double for microwave defrosting. Cooked bone is a big no-no. Even the prepared diners, medallions and patties have bone in them. *To thaw a dinner I will fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Hot or warm water will start the cooking process also known as boiling -cold water only. Place the sealed meat in the water and set the timer. You don’t want to leave it out too long. Thaw times will vary depending on the various conditions so be attentive. Add some hot water to the food before serving to warm it up to “kill” temperature.

Will feeding uncooked, raw meat make my pet vicious?

No. This is one of those wives’ tales. They will be more excited, possibly unable to remain calm as you prepare their food but unless you’re wearing that Lady GaGa meat dress your fingers will remain in place and your pet will remain the same mentally sound and healthy family member he was.

Can I mix raw meat with artificial kibble?

No. It is not recommended to mix fresh, raw meat with kibble. The artificial ingredients and preservatives that make up kibble take longer to digest -10-12 hours in the stomach. Fresh, raw meat is able to digest at the natural pace, closer to 3 or 4 hours. The Ph balance and stomach acids required to dissolve artificial nutrients, grain and corns is very different from an animal that eats a natural diet. Mixing kibble with raw will slow digestion. This will create a stomach soup that may encourage fermentation and potentially a build-up of bacteria.

What if my Vet doesn’t approve of a raw diet?

This is a difficult question. People put a lot of faith and trust into their chosen veterinarian to care for and advise on health issues with experience and knowledge for the lifetime of their best friends. I believe that this is not as big an issue as it may have been in the past. Everyone knows that healthy and natural is better, and that processed is bad so I doubt very highly that any veterinarian would go to the extreme of telling you not to feed healthy food over processed food for a ‘kick back’.

The modern, educated veterinarian cares for your pet. I would not advise changing vets as some of the more militant raw feeding converted might advise but rather help to educate them. Ask them what their concerns are, use the Internet, call us and ask. I would imagine your vet already has plenty of experience dealing with plenty of raw fed animals and I bet if you ask...they probably feeds raw too.

Fido loves his favorite treat of “insert popular, greasy, unnatural, mock-meat, store brand name treat here” can I still give him that? Are there better options?

When I converted my guys to a natural diet I made a healthy pact with them. No more “junk food treats” there are so many better options. I like to substitute those plastic bone shaped chews with a natural Elk antler. Milk-bone is out, dehydrated anchovies in. I swapped out Puperettes for ducks feet and chicken claws. I swapped my training treat of choice for dehydrated beef lung. On hot summer days I like to give my guys a frozen marrow bone to eat out on the grass and when it’s milder out they get a Himalayan cheese chew bone. Instead of whatever the heck a Greenie is they get a dehydrated Ox tail to brush their teeth with.

So yes you can still give him that junk but why would you? I like to tell people who are considering a processed treat over something natural to consider this. Do you know what they make hot dogs out of? Well those treats contain the stuff that was far too gross to put into a hot dog…food for thought, literally.

How do I handle raw pet food safely?

Safe handling of raw meat is the same for animals as humans aside from that as humans we require our meats to be cooked to kill bacteria while animals don’t have worry about that. I googled and found this site – A Consumer Guide to Safe Handling and Preparation of Ground Meat and Ground Poultry .

Should my pet be eating that? Foods to avoid.

Everyone knows about chocolate and raisins, but what else is there? Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures and even death. Raisins cause kidney failure in dogs. Alcohol and raw yeast bread dough can cause bloating, drunkenness, vomiting and death. Products that contain Xylitol (most coated candies) can cause liver failure and onions can cause vomiting and red blood cell damage.

What do I do if I think my pet has consumed something poisonous?

Stay calm and contact your veterinarian for advice or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre @ 888-426-4435