Vet makes pet food of raw meat
Sun, 21 Oct 2012 6:21p.m.
By Samantha Hayes
A small Kiwi company is trying to take a bite out of the $300-million pet food market by turning owners off conventional pet food and on to raw products made from pests like rabbit and possum.
Raw Essentials has just picked up a sustainability award for its novel approach, but not without some controversy.
Lyn Thomson has been a vet for 15 years and has used her expertise to develop the range of raw pet food for cats and dogs.
“We use a lot of rabbit, lots of hare, possum, goat, venison, chicken, lamb and fish as well,” she says.
Pest species like rabbit are gathered by hunters and processed at a factory in Ohoka, Canterbury.
This earned Raw Essentials a sustainability award earlier this month because it decreases the amount 1080 poison needed to control the population.
“At the moment there are a lot of rabbits down in Canterbury, so we've probably got at least 12 hunters out nightly,” says Ms Thomson.
The other meats come from the human food industry and would otherwise go to waste or be shipped overseas, made into conventional pet food and shipped back.
But it's that dry food diet most vets back, not Ms Thomson’s.
“I wouldn't recommend a raw food diet at this stage,” says veterinarian David Bond. “I don't think there's enough evidence to show it's entirely safe and also that it is completely balanced.”
Ms Thomson says it's a complete diet based on prey that pets would naturally eat in the wild.
“Theoretically we know what's in them and at some stage when our company is big enough and we've got the budget to be able to do it, we will do all the testing,” says Ms Thomson.
But Mr Bond says millions of dollars has already been spent researching animal nutrition to make a better product, and nature doesn't always know best.
“The African wild dog has a life expectancy of five years, whereas the pets that we have today feeding on commercial diets would live 12 to 15 years.”
Independent testing to prove whether Raw Essentials stacks up will cost $50,000. But Ms Thomson says anecdotal evidence and a loyal customer base at her four Auckland stores prove for now she's doing something right.
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30/10/2012 9:31:01 p.m.
My puppy has never been a huge eater more a grazer. It got almost impossible to get her to eat premium commercial puppy food. She constantly had upset tummy & the runs. I started her on Raw Essentials after she stopped eating her food. With the food & natural chews they sell, teething has not been an issue, she is still a grazer but loves her food & eats well. She is healthy & people comment on her lovely coat. The decision to go raw was made easy as she hated the other food & also if I want organic unadulterated food why wouldn't I want that for my pets?
Whenever I' ve had questions or queries the staff at Raw Essentials in multiple branches have been more than happy to take the time to answer my questions.
29/10/2012 2:56:20 p.m.
Lesley Rainbow wrote:
My 8 year old King Charles Cavalier has been on a Raw Essentials diet for around 15 months now. The genetic eye problem she suffers from has improved markedly, her stomach and bowel are now normal, her coat is beautiful and glossy and she has even grown gorgeous long eyelashes! Vet visits are now few and far between - used to be there almost every month. All thanks to Lyn at Raw Essentials. I would never ever consider feeding any pet of mine the processed crap sold by vets and supermarkets, which is just a money spinner for the sellers, rather than wholesome food.
28/10/2012 5:15:35 p.m.
I switched to Raw Essentials when I kept hearing about it from dog owners at the local park. Everybody kept raving about how much healthier their dogs were because of it and so I decided to give it a try. My dog has never been happier, healthier or smelt better in his life. I'm so happy I realised that conventional vets are sponsored by the pet food companies to generate sales and use scare tactics against raw food.
27/10/2012 1:46:58 p.m.
Samantha Spray wrote:
I've been a veterinary nurse for 13 years and switched my dog onto a raw diet last year and he has never looked or been healthier. After educating myself on the differences between raw and dry diets I can't believe I advocated dry diets for so long, if you were a dog what would you rather eat?
25/10/2012 7:12:57 a.m.
Sally Thomas wrote:
It is almost like the Breast v Formula debate! Similar too in he way that medical health professionals began to influenced baby feeding in the middle of last century; they told mothers that they that milk formula was 'superior' to what nature provided. NZ vets are obviously similarly 'in bed' with pet food companies. My vet doesn't approve of the raw diet I feed my dog. Despite no health issues and no need to have her teeth cleaned on a regular basis and also no hot spots since she came off dry food....
24/10/2012 7:51:30 a.m.
Aaron Goddard wrote:
The African wild dog dose not get vaccinated or wormed and yet Dr Bond is compairing this wild animal to a house pet. come on! we all know you get kick backs from the multi national pet food companys, I mean seriously!
23/10/2012 10:22:51 p.m.
mandy thomson wrote:
I would rather stick to what nature provides when feeding my pets and my family. It's thanks to a scientific approach to feeding that our supermarkets are full of the de-natured crap that we believe to be okay to feed our families and pets.
23/10/2012 7:42:31 p.m.
Mary Chapell wrote:
I am very happy to see Lyn getting some coverage for what she is doing at Raw Essentials to better the health of our pets here in NZ.
23/10/2012 12:14:25 p.m.
Trish Clark wrote:
We have gone Holistic for ourselves and have now gone Holistic for our dogs, which is how we found Raw Essentials.
Without going into long details, I know what a difference raw food makes to a dog – even an older dog. They are happier, eyes brighter and coat is softer and shiner.
While our Corgis were on ‘pebbles’ we LIVED at the vet with a wide array of issues. Unfortunately our beloved Corgis have both passed on (one from Cancer) and we now have two Beagles.
They have been on raw meat from the minute we got them. They love it and I have NO doubt that it is better for them. When we got our Beagles, one had a history of a skin rash. She no longer has any issue with her skin and both of their coats are silky soft.
I will be staying with raw meat and have a clear conscience that I am doing the best for my dogs.
22/10/2012 8:47:20 p.m.
Chris McDonald wrote:
My two canines, Big Dog Bella and Mighty Zeus, both are on a raw food diet - total. Nothing is cooked or changed in any process. They are so healthy and Big Dog used to get lots of itches and rashes - hasn't had any since she changed to raw food. When I feel Zeus' neck muscles from all the bones he chews, and see his healthy sheen, I know I'm doing the right thing. Twice a week I also make a vegetable mix in the juicer and food processor - from the garden in goes parsley, spinach, fennel, carrots, kale, thyme and sage; from the supermarket pumpkin, eggs and anything I haven't got in the garden, and it's mixed with his meal - he loves it and also likes apples.
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