It took a great leap of faith for us to switch Cotton over to a 100% commercial diet – Thankfully this proverbial leap had substantial benefits for Cotton and we have definitely made the right choice!
“You are what you eat.” – A healthy and balanced diet is essential for everyone, pets included.
Ever since Cotton’s first day with us, she has been on a home-cooked diet, where we strived to give her what we felt would be a proper and complete diet. However, no matter how adequate our food for her could be, there was always this nagging frustration that we would never truly know whether what we felt was best for her, would actually be the best. Without a proper chemical analysis of the composition, nutrients and minerals in her cooked diet, it is difficult to deduce whether it would actually be balanced and healthy over a period of time.
After seeing so many pawrents switch their furkids to raw food diet and the countless benefits we heard, it just seemed that the next best step would be a Raw Meat-Based Diet (RMBD). But, having read that in a recent study*, 57 out of the 90 homemade RMBDs trialed had serious nutritional imbalances, doing more harm than good, we decided it would be best to source for an AAFCO standard commercial raw food diet – Primal Freeze-dried Formula.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinary nutritionist or a veterinarian. The following views and mine and mine alone. Cotton is under sponsorship for Primal Freeze-dried Formula, but if she wasn’t, I would still fork out money out of my own pocket (which I did initially) because I know Cotton is and will do well on Primal Freeze-dried Raw Formula.
1. What exactly is Raw Diet?
Raw feeding was initially introduced by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst who suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: Raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps.
There have been certain evidence to show that raw meat does indeed have higher digestibility in terms of macronutrients than cooked meat**, and many owners have sworn by raw diet helping their pets with ailments or just general health maintenance.
2. Reasons why we chose Primal Freeze-dried Raw over other brands
“If a commercial RMBD is formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for a particular life stage (ie, growth-reproduction or adult maintenance) of a dog or cat, there should be minimal risk of nutritional inadequacy.” – Vet Med Today: Timely Topics in Nutrition
When we first looked into commerical raw diets, we decided that freeze-dried raw would be the best option as freeze-drying retains more nutrients and vitamins as compared to dehydrated raw foods. We then shortlisted several reasons as to why Primal would be superior over other brands available in Singapore.
- Ingredients are sourced from both USA and New Zealand: Fruits and vegetables that are certified organic, Meats that are 100% human-grade, antibiotic- and steroid-free, and without added hormones
- Contains only naturally derived, unrefined, certified organic vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A, B-complex, C and D
- Healthy, moderate fat content as compared to competitor brands. Once hydrated with water, the protein and fat percentages decrease significantly to about 1/3 the original percentages – guaranteed to be similar percentages to their Primal Raw Formulas (reduction from 61:26 to 16:7 crude protein to fat ratio)
- Detailed analysis from Calcium to Phophorus ratio to percentages of meat, bones and supplements added explicitly stated on the ingredients list that can be found on Primal Pet Foods website. Such information cannot be found for most brands, competitors or otherwise
- Available in 4 different formulas (for Singaporean pawrents); Able to meet the needs of most furkids
- Addition of supplements such cold-water Salmon oil for essential omega-3 fatty acids and organic coconut oil for linolenic fatty acids
- All Primal Pet Foods Formulas are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages, and not just for supplementary or intermittent feeding
- The only 5 Stars Rating Freeze dried formula by Dog Food Advisor available in Singapore. Other freeze-dried raw brands have low ratings such as 2 stars, due to excessive fat content
- No bloody smell that some other brands have
3. Effects on Cotton (in 30 days)
After hearing miraculous stories of raw diet, we were curious about the effect on Cotton. To date, Cotton has been on 100% Primal freeze-dried formula for nearly 2 months. We were truly amazed at the differences!
- Skin & Coat: Softer, glossier and whiter. Mama Tan commented how Cotton looked so much better!
- Energy Level: Much more consistent and higher energy level. In the past there will be only 1-2 days a week where she got excited that the family is awake, but now it’s practically everyday I wake to kisses in my face! :* She can now even jump onto the sofa and bed when in the past her tiny legs couldn’t do so. She’s also much more excited to go for walks and wants to continue walking when her walk is over.
- Appetite: Eating 8/10 meals, as compared to eating 5/10 meals on home-cooked diet. When we tried to get her to clear her existing batch of home-cooked meals before fully starting on Primal Freezedried Raw, she went on a 2 day fast. Needless to say, those home-cooked meals had to be thrown away! On some days we can even use Primal nuggets as training treats – which is incredible given how picky this dog is. It is also so much easier to hide supplements when in the past we had to cover them up with treats. (Note: Cotton prefers Lamb and Sardine and Turkey formula over Chicken and Duck Formula, so we usually do have to mix the proteins given – There’s only so much this picky dog can change!)
- Tear Stains: Her tear stains drastically decreased and the staining faded. There’s also less tearing from her eyes. I was impressed to say the least seeing the before and after pictures of Cotton taken 3 weeks apart. Hopefully soon they will all disappear and I can get my white puppy back!
Note: I did talk to some people who were feeding a competitor brand of Freezedried Raw Food. Their main reasons for feeding that over Primal was because they were told explicitly that Primal would result in more tear stains. Where their marketers got that evidence or claim from, I have no idea, but here’s evidence that Primal will not cause more tear stains, but help with the reduction of tear staining.
- Other changes: Her poop amount has definitely decreased while her weight has maintained, hence I would wager a guess that more food has been digested and absorbed.
In general, I would say Cotton had really good changes since starting on Primal, and we look forward to more positive changes 😉
4. Transitioning to Raw Diet and Preparation
Some recommend slowly introducing the raw diet in increments to acclimate your dog to the change in diet. Others recommend “cold turkey”, where you either fast your dog for a day and transition your dog into 100% raw diet or immediately start with the 100% raw diet.
For Cotton, we gave her 50/50 primal and home cooked food initially followed by 100% primal. She went through the initial “detox period” and had soft, pungent stool for 1.5 weeks, but from then on her poop became firm, smaller and nearly odourless and we started observing the differences as mentioned above.
It’s really simple to prepare primal: Just crush the primal nuggets into smaller pieces as shown, then add 1tbsp of water for every Primal nugget. Use a fork or spoon to mix the crushed nuggets until it rehydrates – It is then ready to serve!
You can use this feeding calculator to determine how many nuggets your pup should be taking per day.
5. Other notes and controversial ingredients: Fat Content and Sodium Selenite
“A diet that provides about 10-15 percent fat is best to maintain health. The time when fat in the diet becomes a problem is when animals are allowed to eat too much fat and calories, without getting enough exercise to balance things out.” -Pet MD
A diet high in fat content can lead to pancreatitis, even if the fats are raw and the type of energy a dog’s body will utilise first.
The high fat content present in competitor brands might be suitable for dogs who are extremely active, or working dogs, but not high-density-living dogs that have a walk of 20-30mins every other day. To me, it just spells trouble – Obesity and health problems a few years down the road.
Proponents of other brands have also brought up that Primal uses Sodium Selenite. Sodium Selenite is no longer used in Primal Pet Foods. Instead, selenium is used, which research shows it is an essential mineral in small amounts (like every other mineral), and regulated at a maximum amount of 2.0 mg/kg on a dry matter basis.
It ultimately boils down to trust with Primal Pet Foods – A company going 14 years strong with no recalls for their dog food formulas.
At their website, you can also see the exact ppm of selenium (and other minerals) in Primal Formulas.
Cost wise, it will be more expensive for bigger dogs. Currently a 14oz bag will last Cotton 30days, which is roughly $1.50/day. However, many owners with bigger dogs practice “raw boost”, in which a mix of Primal nuggets with existing food the dog is eating to give an added edge and benefits.
6. Primal Treats
Primal Treats for Singapore come in 3 varieties – Freezedried Turkey Liver Munchies, Dry Roasted Lamb Lung Puffs and Dry Roasted Venison Lung Puffs.
They are a definite go-to training treat for us and is:
- Made with meat from USA with no added hormones or antibiotics
- Single source proteins
- Free of preservatives
- No added salt or sugar
- Great for furkids with allergies
All in all, Primal Pet Foods Inc is a reputable dog food company that produces both healthy foods and snacks for dogs, and we are thankful for the chance to review this product! With just $1.50 a day you can be feeding your dog a 5 star dog food!
To obtain samples of Primal Freeze-dried Formula, simply head to B2K’s facebook or instagram and drop them a nice message! With regards to the 1-for-1 Primal Freeze-dried Formula, it will be an indefinite promotion for the foreseeable future according to Primal’s distributor, B2K.
Jamie and Cotton ❤
Citations: *Dillitzer N, Becker N, Kienzle E. Intake of minerals, trace elements and vitamins in bone and raw food rations in adults dogs. Br J Nutr 2011; 106:S53–S56.
**Vester BM, Burke SL, Liu KJ, et al. Influence of feeding raw or extruded feline diets on nutrient digestibility and nitrogen metabolism of African wildcats (Felis lybica). Zoo Biol 2010;29:676–686./Kerr KR, Vester Boler BM, Morris CL, et al. Apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility and fecal fermentative end-product concentrations of domestic cats fed extruded, raw beef-based, and cooked beef-based diets. J Anim Sci 2012;90:515–522