What we feed our loving dogs is a key factor in a healthier and longer life. It’s one of the most important and responsible decisions at any stage of a dog’s life. If you’ve been weighing the options of feeding a raw diet vs. dry kibble you’ve probably already been doing tons of research. The scientific facts and the health benefits of feeding raw are of growing interest. If we as humans are touting the health benefits of eating fresh foods rather than processed, it should be also as beneficial for our dogs, right? Everything from building a stronger immune and digestive systems to reducing (or eliminating) allergies to better dental health and shinier coats are proving that a raw diet is a worthy choice for the long run. When I took a deeper dive into the raw dog food sector, I’m now realizing that the companies that offer raw food for pets are not all equal.
I zoned in on NutriCanine.ca, a local Toronto-based company, that offers raw food meals with a customized and made-to-order approach. The company was founded by Jason Knight who tells us he was compelled to change his dog Bella’s diet after working for a few years with big-name dog food brands as a consultant. “I had first-hand look behind-the-scenes and learned how some of the most popular dog food was made, sold, and marketed,” said Knight. “I was surprised and taken back by the whole process. So, I began researching raw food diet for my own dog and what was out there didn’t meet my needs and expectations.”
I told Knight that I’ve been very curious about the category and he suggested that I check out an interesting research titled “Relation between the domestic dogs’ well being and life expectancy” written by Dr. Gerard Lippert and Bruno Sapy published in (Brussels) 2003. Within their findings, it showed a difference between industrial retail dog food vs. homemade of human-grade food to amount more than 32-months in lifespan for dogs on average who consumed the latter. Knight mentioned this was important findings that validated his own decision for switching his dog’s food.
Knight also mentioned that he’s getting more referrals from vets and breeders. “New dog owners tend to trust their advice when it comes to dog food and of course, we all want the best for our dogs. Often we just don’t know any better and let’s face it, it’s much easier to just follow suit. But we started finding out that vets and breeders have also been referring clients to us when they ask about raw. Even Bella’s breeder has her own personal dogs on our raw meals so that’s a testimonial in itself. We don’t pay them to endorse us. We are a small business that puts all our investments into the quality of our products.”
We are a small business that puts all our investments into the quality of our products.”
Realistically switching to raw also needs to be convenient. Hey, we all live busy lives. When you chat with people who are looking to make the switch a few observations come to mind especially for city dwellers. They want to know where the protein is sourced. The food has to be nutritious but it also needs to be easy to feed and to store. Of course, their dogs must love it. Delivery would be ideal. By the way, they offer free delivery within Toronto and the GTA.
When you visit the site, it will ask a series of questions to create a profile. This helps to determine the balance of nutrients and precise amounts needed specifically for your dog. Questions include your dog’s age, breed, weight and more. Based on your answers, the meals are freshly prepared to provide optimum (and tasty) balanced meals for your dog. No need to second guess yourself and wonder how much is enough or what is right.
One of the concerns that many dog owners raise when considering a raw diet is the potential of contamination, say poultry for example. Knight tells me that this was one of his concerns as well and with that in mind, the pre-portioned meals make feeding cleaner. “Before starting this company I would feed Bella raw meals from other companies. The problem was the companies that provided the protein sold in bulk. I had to measure out her portion and then containers would have to go in and out of the freezer or fridge. Containers would often crack or break leaving more chances for contamination not just for us but also for possible spoilage of the food for Bella. It was messy.”
When feeding any food to your pet there’s the need to balance out the right nutrients — something that most of us wouldn’t have time to figure out. Pet nutritionists take the guessing out of what is needed and what is right. They also offer a variety of protein blends suggested for rotation and adjusted according to the growing needs of your pup —not only does that offer more long term benefits and nutrients but chances are your dog won’t get tired of their food. Just think, you’d get bored too if you were eating the same thing for every meal!
The meals are prepared in small batches and flash-frozen in precise portions to keep things super fresh. NutriCanine follows the Ground Whole Prey Model (link to site page here) with high quality, human-grade, sustainable, locally and ethically sourced ingredients available. In fact, Knight tells me that the meat is sourced from a family-run farm just outside of the city in Halton Hills. This was very good news to hear as I had mentioned that I had visited a farm a couple of years ago to learn first-hand how stringent safety and hygiene guidelines were adhered to for human-grade product consumption. Also, important to note with all that’s happening with COVID-19 is that this farm is strictly closed and being managed by their personal staff. No other humans have been allowed on the grounds or in the buildings. NutriCanine’s own farm means complete control over what they offer without having to source from other suppliers.
There is so much information available on their site to help understand the benefits of meals that are precisely created with your dog in mind. From the scientific findings to ingredient sourcing — it’s all very transparent with them. They also include valuable tips on how to transition from other forms of feeding. I also learned that in the long run, the health benefits of choosing a raw diet can also lead to fewer visits to the vet which in turn leads to a naturally longer life. I also peeked into Google Review submissions from actual customers and was really impressed. Dog owners cited everything from happier dogs to positive experiences with picky eaters and even with pups with sensitive tummies.