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The Wild Side

The Wild Side

  • "The Wild Side" originally appeared in the June 2024 "Animal" issue of COMO Magazine
Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog and Empty Food Bowl
Runnels plated The Bones and Co Raw Beef Mince, Raw Kefir, Primal Elixers Power Greens frozen into cacti molds for her canine companions.
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Runnels plated The Bones and Co Raw Beef Mince, Raw Kefir, Primal Elixers Power Greens frozen into cacti molds for her canine companions.

Exploring raw food in pet diets.

Deep in the heart of the Midwest, there is a plethora of coyotes and raccoons and bears — oh my! But within closed doors and warm homes, it hardly feels like an impending danger or threat to our fluffy pets, the once ferocious leaders of the land, now curled up in our laps begging for belly rubs.  

Lately, there has been a movement growing and spanning that harks back to our pet’s primal instincts, offering them a taste of the wild within the comforts of home. But what exactly is raw pet food, and why are so many pet owners flocking to this unconventional feeding method?  

Unleashing the Carnivorous Spirit

Picture this: your furry companion, ancestors of the mighty wolf, roaming the untamed wilderness in search of sustenance. In the wild, their diet consisted of raw meat, bones, and organs — a nutritionally complete feast that fueled their predatory prowess. Fast forward to modern times, and domestication has softened their edges, but the call of the wild still echoes in their DNA; it’s genetic. 

Their bodies are still highly acidic, leading to any worrisome bacteria being quickly fought off from a raw meal. Raw pet food aims to reignite that primal spark, providing our four-legged friends with a diet that mirrors their evolutionary heritage.  

A Tail of Two Dogs: The Journey Begins 

The founders of Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market — Jessica and Kyle Schlosser — are pioneers in the raw pet food movement and champions of canine health and vitality. Their journey began with a boxer named Lizzi, whose battle against cancer sparked a quest for optimal nutrition. Determined to give Lizzi the best chance at a healthy life, they delved into extensive research, uncovering the potential benefits of raw feeding. 

Recognizing the detrimental effects of carb-heavy diets on cancer-prone breeds, they saw raw feeding as a proactive measure to starve potential cancer cells.  

The results were profound. Lizzi’s transition to raw feeding brought about noticeable improvements in her health, from reduced shedding and smaller stools to an overall increase in vitality. Witnessing these positive changes, the Schlossers were inspired to extend their raw feeding approach to all their pets, ensuring that they also benefited from the nutritional advantages. Through the Schlossers’ dedication and commitment, they have not only enhanced the health and well-being of their own pets but have also become advocates for the transformative power of raw feeding in the wider pet community through their business.  

With a similar story, Madison Runnels — a professional dog trainer — found herself on an uplifting journey into raw feeding. Inspired by her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Fix-It Felix, she decided to make the switch. Despite struggling with various health issues and food aversions, Felix’s transformation after a month of raw feeding was remarkable. 

Runnels emphasizes, “One of the biggest benefits of raw food is the transparency the companies have. You can find out exactly what farms the meat comes from, what the animals were fed, how they were made into food, and how they got to you. I love knowing exactly what I’m putting in my dogs’ bodies. I want my dogs to be around as long as possible, and while feeding raw doesn’t turn your dog immortal, it does help reduce the chances or delay the onset of health problems.”  

Raw feeding’s benefits extend beyond health improvements, offering a solution for dogs with allergies and promoting dental health through natural bone chewing. Runnels highlights the joy of crafting diverse meals for her dogs, incorporating various ingredients. 

“I mix up the proteins, I add goat milk, fruit and veggie purees, whole organs like chicken hearts, quail eggs, and more,” she continues. “It makes me so happy to see my dogs excited to eat their food and getting to know what their favorite foods are. I think everyone should try to feed their dogs fresh food, even just as a topper a few times a week. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my dogs.”  

Navigating the Jungle of Information  

Venturing into the realm of raw pet food can feel like embarking on a jungle expedition — dense with information, teeming with opinions, and rife with potential pitfalls. Seasoned guides like those at Lizzi & Rocco’s or the author, Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, light the way. With years of experience and a wealth of expertise, they’ve all carved a path through the underbrush of misinformation, offering pet owners a clear route to raw feeding success.  

Preparing for the Expedition  

Embarking on a raw feeding journey requires careful preparation and a willingness to embrace the unknown. Pet owners must familiarize themselves with the principles of raw feeding, understand their pet’s nutritional needs, and select high-quality ingredients that align with their goals. The Schlossers are emphatic: Whether you choose pre-prepared, frozen raw meals or pre-made raw patties, the key is to research and provide your pet with a balanced and nutritious diet. Without proper research and understanding, this switch in diet can result in a damaging outcome for pets.  

Benefits of the Beast Feast  

Raw pet food isn’t just about satisfying hunger; it’s about nourishing your pet from the inside out. Packed with bioavailable nutrients and free from artificial additives, raw diets offer myriad health benefits for our furry companions. 

“Certainly, one of the most rewarding aspects of raw feeding is the remarkable improvement in dental health,” Jessica says. “A raw diet not only keeps teeth clean but also promotes gum health, ensuring our pets maintain strong and healthy smiles.” 

There are numerous other benefits from improved digestion and enhanced coat health to bolstered immune function and increased energy level. The advantages of raw feeding can be diverse and impressive.  

Budget-Friendly Adventures  

One common misconception about raw pet food is that it’s a luxury reserved for the elite. However, with careful planning and savvy shopping, raw feeding can be affordable. By incorporating raw elements into your pet’s diet — such as raw beef liver, bone broth, or goat’s milk — a few times a week or opting for budget-friendly raw options found at select pet food stores such as Lizzi & Rocco’s, pet owners can provide the benefits of raw feeding without breaking the bank. 

“Do as good as you can within your budget. Some is better than none. That’s always been our whole philosophy,” Jessica advises. “So if you’re supplementally feeding it, you can do it for like less than $10 a month depending on how you’re doing it because there are so many different ways to add raw food.” 

After all, a journey into the wild doesn’t require a hefty price tag.  

Embrace the Wild Side  

As pet owners, there is a responsibility to nourish our companions. Raw pet food is an option, offering a gateway to the wild side, allowing pets to experience a nutritionally complete, nature-developed diet. If there is interest in the herd, heed the call of the wild, complete thorough research, and embark on a journey to raw feeding enlightenment. The path may be unconventional, but the rewards could be boundless.  

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