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Hey all. I'm toying around with the idea of switching over to raw. Initially I started to consider it as an option for one of our cats, a one year old who has some serious chronic urinary issues that will most likely be a lifetime issue...he's been switched onto a vet prescription food and I HATE it. Ridiculous price tag for a crap food. Someone had mentioned they had a cat with a very similar issue to ours, and that they finally switched him to raw out of desperation and it worked wonders, so it got me thinking. To test out how willing he might be to accept it (I expected a supreme battle trying to get him off the stupid crap kibble he's addicted to), I gave him a couple small pieces of raw pork yesterday and the LOVED it. So did our other cats, and all three dogs. So I'm thinking I may look at switching them ALL over to raw eventually.

I don't think I'm up to or ready to get into home prepared meals yet, so want to start out with commercial pre-made foods at this point. I believe they come in either a freeze dried or frozen option? I'm thinking I'd be going with frozen. Anyway, as this is all very new to me I was hoping those of you who have been feeding raw for some time could point me in the right direction of which are the best quality pre-made raw food brands? And any tips on what to look for, etc. Hubby and I plan to make the rounds to our local stores tomorrow to see what's available to us here and figure out sizes and prices etc. before we go forward, and I would sure like to have some idea of what I should be after :)
 

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I should also mention that my other concern in switching the dogs over, is Tink's chronic pancreatitis. She's been eating vet prescription low fat kibble and canned since she developed the condition about four years ago, and to be fair it DOES really seem to have helped her pancreatitis. I've read a few preliminary articles on this issue specifically, and it seems that a raw diet will be okay for her as well as long as I avoid fatty meats like lamb and pork? Stick with chicken and beef, etc.?
 

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This is strictly my personal experience. I have fed Lulu a ton of Primal. Frozen and freeze dried--every flavor they make. She does better on the freeze dried. The frozen will upset her stomach after a while. I don't know if it's too close to raw (if that makes sense). Also, I don't like to microwave food to warm it--worry about killing nutrients--so it was hard to warm up enough with hot water, and when I fed it to Lulu she would shiver after eating. BTW, I was putting it in the refrigerator for a day or two before feeding so it wasn't frozen, but it was cold. I had not fed Stella and Chewy in a long time, but bought it with Lulu's recent health issue because I was having problems getting her to eat. I will say upon feeding S&C and Ziwi Peak after a few years of Primal her fir is noticeably softer and shedding has completely stopped. She had started shedding terrible, and I hadn't realized how her fir had changed until this diet change, but that could also be contributed to her health issue I wasn't aware of. Now that she's on medication and doing better, the shedding has stopped. I mentioned Ziwi Peak. This is air dried not freeze dried--looks like small squares of beef jerky. Lulu LOVES Ziwi Peak. I will say it is very rich food. I don't think I would feed it over and over by itself, but it would be great in the rotation. I have fed Orijen freeze dried from time to time, and Lulu will eat it, but it smells like grass. She's not a picky eater, but it's not her favorite. Also, they only have 2 choices that they put a few different proteins in--not single protein choices. I have fed Honest Kitchen--excellent brand, but Lulu doesn't like it much. I have fed Sojo. That may be an option for Tink as it's a lower protein/lower fat brand, and Lulu liked it OK. My problem with the last two is you are supposed to let them sit awhile to completely rehydrate, and Lulu is standing there staring at me like, "Are you kidding me?"
All of these cost anywhere from $25.00-$40.00 a month to 6 weeks roughly for me to feed with Primal being the cheapest for me personally. Also, I am able to buy all of them locally at a place called Pet Supplies Plus except Ziwi Peak and Sojo. I have to order them online through Amazon, but I've never had any problem. I used to order through wag or chewy, but Amazon bought wag and Petsmart bought chewy, so you can't get Orijen on it anymore. I doubt you can get the others either now. I fed Nature's Variety raw for a bit, but I just didn't like it.
Also, I buy boneless, skinless chicken breast and boil and chop in food processor and feed this as well in the rotation. As you can imagine, this is quite the favorite.
I could be wrong, but I don't think your going to find any decent raw food options at Petsmart or Petco.

Once you go tomorrow and look, if you see something let us know the brand and maybe someone will know something about it to help.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your input. I'll definitely keep an eye out for the brands you mentioned, but as I'm in Canada I'm not sure what our available brands will be compared to other locations. Tomorrow is strictly a recon mission to check what IS available to us and pricing, so we can mull it over and do some more research before making any decisions :)

Lol no worries, we don't have a Petsmart or Petco where I live, and you couldn't pay me to feed them just about anything that came from there anyway ;)
 

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Thanks all. So, we have officially survived our first week as a raw-fed pet household! I feel like I've been spending every waking moment reading and researching and collecting data lol. Been to all our local pet food stores almost every day gathering more intel. Looks like as far as premade complete meals go, our options here are Stella & Chewys - frozen and freeze dried, but the freeze dried is certainly more abundant!; Nature's Variety Instincts (frozen); and Primal, though only freeze dried at the stores. I am in talks with one of the local stores about possibly being able to special order in Primal frozen foods from one of their suppliers, as the store itself only stocks freeze dried.

We have only done a taste test trial in freeze dried for the cats; Gizmo and Finley have been getting only frozen foods. We started with some sample packs of the S&C dinner patties, which they both went gaga over right away. Then we bought a bag of duck Instincts "kibble", and Gizmo doesn't seem to be a fan. Eats it, but only reluctantly. I just gave him another S&C patty tonight to test if it was the kibble he wasn't feeling, or if he was not so into raw period after a few days...and he scarfed down the S&Cs again.

One thing I've noticed though, is that the feeding guidelines listed on the bags of both S&C and Instincts seem way overstated - like, double what they should be getting? At first I just followed the guidelines on each bag, but it seemed like a LOT of food, so we went and bought a proper digital food scale to weigh it out and the feeding guideline was close, if not more, to double what the weight should be per feeding.
 

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Yes. As you feed you will get used to what your dogs need to eat as opposed to what the bag suggests. When I feed S & C or Ziwi Peak, if I feed what the bag says Lulu puts on weight fast, but I have to feed her more than the bag suggests of Primal or she will lose weight. I totally understand how tiring the research can be! When I first started feeding raw I researched until it all ran together, and I thought I would lose my mind! As far as I have discovered you have picked excellent brands, and you will be amazed at the results.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'd be feeding stella & Chewies if it and the rest weren't so expensive. Which of the above mentioned is the cheapest?
Well, actually, there is one more that we can get from a locally owned store that I didn't mention, because it's not a big national brand - it's made in British Columbia and I think is fairly common around our province, but not sure you can get it elsewhere. It's actually the cheapest - or, about on par with the breakdown on S&C's frozen dinner patties at least. Primal is the most expensive for us but that's likely simply because we've only got easy access to freeze dried, so we'll see if I can get frozen cheaper from a wholesaler via one of the stores. And Instincts is somewhere in between. Though honestly, there isn't a MASSIVE gap in the prices on any of them, so they're fairly similar.
 
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