Learning the in's and out's

Concerned about bacteria? Raw chicken bones? Choking? Vet telling you that raw food is bad? Here at Thrive we focus on feeding our animals the SAFE way, the Species Appropriate Feeding Experience.

Keep reading below for the whole scoop. 

Sometimes people are concerned with bacteria or the possibility of contamination. But with the right handling and knowledge you don't need to worry.


Understand how to handle it safely here

Switching doesn't need to be complicated. As a matter of fact, we've written out a good method for making it as easy as can be.

Read how to safely switch here

When learning about the pet food insutry or raw feeding it's important to trust your sources. That's why we've put together a collection of educational videos made by world renouned veterinarians that explain the benefits of feeding a species appropriate diet.

Watch our videos here

We want our customers our customers to feel confident that they're feeding a well balanced diet and getting all of their nutrition needs met, so we've created a simple to follow meal plan, with a variety of proteins for different sizes of dogs.


Meal Plans

Raw feeding common FAQ's

If you feed wild game without freezing it first, sure. But all frozen, prepared raw foods, or any wild game that has been frozen a month, is safe and free from parasites. Your freezer is your friend, it kills parasites naturally, without killing nutrition

Dogs digestive systems are designed to be resistant to bacteria like salmonella. It would take an immunologically compromised animal subjected to a high load of bacteria to become ill. Wolves and wild dogs eat dead stuff all the time without incident. The risk from salmonella is not to the dog, but to the humans in the house. Commercially prepared raw foods are fresh, and salmonella free. Many are HPP treated or contain bacteriophages to naturally eliminate bacteria. Handled properly with respect, raw foods are as safe or safer than kibbles. Every year thousands of bags of kibble are recalled due to salmonella contamination, and hundreds of people have become sick from handling contaminated kibble. I don’t think there has been a single case of a raw fed dog causing a salmonella infection in a human.

A study showed that if you feed a dog a salmonella laced raw food, it was likely to have the same salmonella in its feces. This, the CVMA warns, makes them a contamination vector to humans. Well, it only does if a) you feed raw food loaded with salmonella and then b) eat dog poop or handle it without washing your hands afterwards. Pretty easy things to remember not to do, right?

Not really. Commercially prepared meals will contain a variety of proteins sources, as well as fat and bone in appropriate balance. If you are worried about whether your pet is getting all the vitamins they need, we do sell pet vitamins, and there are many other foods that you can add to naturally provide those additional vitamins and minerals you may be worried about. And balance doesn’t have to happen in every bite. Imagine if we tried to balance every meal we ate? Yikes. Over time, though, our diets balance. And so do raw fed pets. Once you get into raw feeding, you will always be looking for something new to feed your pet, and that’s how balance happens.


Until a bone is cooked, it’s generally safe to consume. The smallest dogs and cats have strong jaws and can crush bones into pieces small enough to safely swallow. Some pets may swallow pieces that are too large, if they gag/choke on a piece, its not because of the bones, but the size of the morsel. For these ones, ground mixes may be a better choice. We do caution about cut bones, like porkchops and t-bones, because they can break into pieces that are not naturally formed, and can be sharp and damaging. Whole ribs, whole chicken quarters, whole backs or necks, marrow bones, knuckles all are safe as long as they are not cooked, and as long as the pet does not try to swallow too big a piece.


If anything, people generally report that raw fed dogs have much more stable personalities. Because they are getting a satisfying and nutritious diet, they have a more focused energy, and don’t have the need to go after blood, they are already getting their fill. There are multitudes of pictures on the net of raw fed dogs and chicks, bunnies, babies and other defenseless creatures.

Comparing the blood levels of a raw fed animal to those fed a carbohydrate based commercial diet doesn’t really make sense. Make sure the vet realizes that this is a raw fed dog, and refer them to the “normal” levels to be expected when raw feeding. A good reference can be found at: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/normal-blood-values-and-raw-fed-dogs/

It took me a long time to embrace frozen raw dog food.  It just seemed to be too difficult, too expensive and too dangerous to actually be worth doing, especially with all the hype about great kibble dog foods out there.  And so many vets seemed to be against it, it has to be bad, right?

But I saw the results many of my friends and customers were having using raw diets, and my attitude changed.  Yes, you can get fantastic results with high quality kibbles, and I don’t think we’ll ever see them relinquish their hold on the majority of the marketplace.  But for those that want the best for their pets, regardless price or convenience, there is definitely no match for a balanced diet of quality raw pet food.

However, make sure, just like with kibble, that you get a good quality food, made by a reputable company from great ingredients from human grade source.

And for those worried about whether pets can handle raw foods, please remember:  There has never been a case of a pet owning a stove.  Until we started feeding them, they ate raw.  And raw chicken bones are OK, it’s once they are cooked that they become choking hazards.  Imagine trying to “make a wish” with a raw chicken wishbone.  Just not going to happen.  But be conscious of how your animal consumes any bone in meat, if they gulp or try to swallow pieces that are too large, it can be dangerous.  Supervise the initial offerings, and in the case of raw beef or bison bones, remove any pieces that might be choking hazards. 

Why do holistic vets embrace raw, while vet clinics seem to hate raw?  When trying to solve a question like this, we have to follow the money.  Watch the videos on our site, by a world renowned vet who specializes in nutrition.  And then ask the anti-raw vet where they get their nutrition information from.  I bet there’s a kibble logo on the document.  Its not rocket science to figure out if there is a bias there.  But we want the best for our pets, so we have to look past the bias.

I have had a lot of people come in concerned about diabetes, UTI’s, urinary stones, and other chronic illnesses in their pets.  Will raw fix these?  I’m not a vet, and I can’t guarantee that raw is the answer for these problems in every animal, but the underlying causes of these problems are often linked to carbs in the food, or to improper hydration, both of which are addressed by raw foods.  And no one will ever tell you that artificial ingredients or preservatives are essential to your good health, the same goes for our pets.

We are fortunate to have a local company producing a world class frozen raw diet, right here in Starbuck! And they use local chicken that you would find at the grocery store as its main ingredient.  Fresh and local are great, but the kicker is, it is reasonably priced!

Until now, a good quality frozen raw diet was $3/lb or more in bulk, a lot more if you bought smaller quantities or specialty types.  A lot of that cost is marketing and transportation, two items that don’t contribute anything to the health of your animal.


Tips for handling and defrosting raw diets:

Many people are confused as to the best way to defrost frozen raw foods.  We need to emphasize that properly handled and defrosted, raw foods are totally safe for people and pets.   When we talk about bacteria, many people point out that it is not a problem for most healthy dogs, but rather a safety issue for people.

You should always use a refrigerator for defrosting raw foods.  Yes, use your refrigerator.  When your rotation is properly planned, your fridge is an effective and safe defrosting option.

Many frozen foods defrost overnight in the fridge, but some take up to 2 days.  So, my recommendation is the three-container rotation.  It goes like this:

Find three (or more) containers that hold one day’s worth of food.  Every day, put a day’s worth of food into a container, and put it in the fridge.  Choosing a set time/meal for doing this makes the routine easier.

Having 3 containers in the fridge, (one you put in today, one yesterday, and one the day before) you will always have food ready to go.  Today we use the container put in 2 days ago, tomorrow is yesterday’s container, and in two days, the container you put in today will be ready to go, and by that time, you will have put two more containers in, maintaining the three containers.

Putting the new container under or behind the other two keeps your rotation easy to follow.


Other tips:

For the Perfectly Raw boxes, place boxes in your chest freezer “on end”.  This makes them a lot easier to access and takes up less space. 

To defrost quickly, use the sink method.  Take the frozen product, put it in an appropriately sized zip lock freezer bag (freezer bags are thicker and resist puncture better than sandwich bags).   Fill the sink with cool water, and submerge the open bag up to the seal, taking care not to get water in the bag.  Seal the bag while it is mostly submerged, locking out the air, so that the bag can submerge easily and the food will defrost from all sides, not just the bottom as it floats. 

DO NOT microwave defrost, cook in the oven or on the stove any foods that are whole ground prey, or contain ground bone product (most raw foods contain ground bones).  The microwave (even on defrost mode) can cook the bones, making them not only undigestible but potentially dangerous puncture threats. 

Never leave the food on the counter.  This allows for rapid growth of bacteria once the food approaches room temperature, and food can go from frozen to dangerous quickly.  It isn’t as dangerous to a normally healthy dog as it would be to an immune compromised dog, or to a human, but it is still potentially an issue.  Some people swear by this system, but trying to effectively time defrosting using this method perfectly is difficult at best, so this method should never be used.

Feeding directions: 2-3% of the dogs proper body weight per day. More for working dogs, pregnant or lactating females or puppies. 

Remember, this is raw chicken and all raw chicken handling protocols apply. While salmonella is not a concern for pets, it is with the people they share their homes with. Make sure to clean and sanitize afterwards, and clean the bowls after every feeding. If there are small children or immunologically suppressed people in the household, take extra care, or refrain from using the product while they are present. 

When converting from kibble to raw, we do not recommend mixing.  Because they are completely different modes of feeding, with completely different digestive methods, feeding them together can give a pet digestive confusion, making the changeover more difficult. 

Best result are had if you feed your last kibble meal to your pet, and then skip the next scheduled meal.  That fast helps clear the system and increase the appetite.  Some pets aren’t sure about the new food, as it is a completely different look/taste/texture.  Most dogs rely on their sense of smell to tell them that a food is good, which is why most kibble has “digest” sprayed on it as a natural flavour.  Most raw does not contain any flavourings, and because it is so fresh, it hasn’t acquired a stink that dogs can identify as food.  Sometimes, adding a flavour enhancer, like tripe, or even someting like a little stinky parmesan cheese can entice a picky feeder to eat.  Once they get used to the taste/texture, they will eagerly await dinnertime, and wolf down their food.  During the first month, we recommend restricting the diet to a single meat protein, after a month, anything goes. 60-80% meat, 10-30% bone, 10% organ.  If your pet has loose stools, increase the bone content, it the stool is too tight, less bone and/or more organ meat.

During the first few weeks, a few dogs may have some loose stools, and in a very few instances, some excessive shedding.  These can be a normal part of the detox a dog goes through in the changeover.  But you should see an almost immediate change in the stool to small nuggets that don’t smell and will disappear in a few days if not picked up.  Over teh first month, you should see improvements in the coat condition, as well as the teeth.  After a few months, your dog should get to its appropriate weight (fat dogs lose weight, thin dogs bulk  up), its teeth should be awesome, and the coat luxurious.  And because most dogs lose that standard dog stink when they are fed raw, having them on the couch or bed isn’t a problem, except for when they hog the covers.

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