March 15, 2018

Evolving pet food market!

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, which I am certainly not, to see the rapid changes in the animal nutrition market. While I've only officially worked in the space for about 3 years since the launch of RAWZ, the recent trend of raw inclusion and less processing being recognized as beneficial to pets only continue a focus on total pet health by pet parents. I can still remember the idea of "Grain-Free" being a huge step while now it makes more than half of total sales according to Pet Food Institute.

The evolution, or changes for the better, in the nutritional quality and makeup of foods on the market aren't the only aspects of feeding pets that have changed. In fact, even the way consumers shop for their four-legged family members food has changed. What may have started as part of the endless quest for efficiency, or to simplify our ever quickening lives in a rapidly changing world, has truly become a different buying experience. Whether it is the auto-ship function on many e-commerce sites or an online quiz that uses pet owners answers about their pet to generate a food recommendation, one may come to the conclusion that the independent pet specialty retailer no longer is practical.

We at RAWZ wholeheartedly disagree with this assertion! As with many of the modern movements focused on convenience centered in internet-based activity, the ecommerce boom has seen tremendous growth (estimated to be nearly a third of total sales). So why, you ask is RAWZ sold only through authorized independent pet specialty retailers, excluding any retail partner lacking a physical (brick and mortar) location? First, we don't have the marketing money to push a mass media marketing campaign out to educate consumers about the unique attributes that make RAWZ THE NEXT BEST THING TO FEEDING RAW. Second, unfortunately we'll never meet many of our valued customers, but think that a personal connection between RAWZ and you, the guardian of your pet's health, is paramount to improving the lives of your pets. Ultimately in this pursuit we've chosen to work with select independent partners to communicate our When Only the Best Will Do nutritional philosophy!

I recently held a demo at RAWZ's hometown independent retail partner's beautiful new store, Ann-imals in York, ME. The great new location right on Rte. 1, really displays the value of a good independent pet specialty store in that it is nicely laid out, has a quality product mix, and customers receive personalized advice from a fellow pet lover. Ann, owner/operator, is a true animal lover who's not only a pet owner herself, but also a supporter and foster parent of area rescues. It was great explaining the benefits of RAWZ at a retailer who strongly supports and educates her clients on the benefits of Raw feeding!

February 8, 2018

Transitioning: A common concern...

I don't like to go on and on ad-nauseum about how great it is to spend time with our fantastic retail partners and fellow pet lovers at RAWZ demos; for two reasons. I mean to be honest, as the middle child I don't usually get that much air-time, and, my dad might make me pay him an hourly rate to work if he thinks I'm having too much fun! However, it is talking with the extended RAWZ community at these events that gives me direction for most of my posts. That said, one concern I often hear from pet parents is that that diet changes cause digestion distress, usually emphasized by recounting a recent challenging experience!

So why is it you may ask would moving to a superior diet like RAWZ pose any challenges, isn't a better food supposed to be easier? I can really identify with these concerns, not just in regards to difficulty with change myself (Mom calls it stubbornness, while I prefer "difficulty with change"), but with some understanding of an animal's GI systems.

There are a few important factors that make changing a pets' diet particularly challenging. First and perhaps most obvious is that because pets typically eat the same exact diet exclusively for great periods of time the GI tract becomes conditioned. Like human's, pets GI systems, while adaptable, become conditioned to the macronutrient breakdown of their eating pattern. However; for pets who eat the same meal so consistently, any change or transition to something new will take time to adjust. Common difficulties are loose stools or diarrhea, which while messy and inconvenient, generally don't indicate serious problems. Prolonged vomiting should not occur and your veterinarian's assistance can be sought.

We can all probably relate to sitting down to a unique meal or treat and having it seemingly disappear from our plate. With pets shifting to a new diet this phenomenon is referred to as the novelty factor. When a pet gobbles a food down faster than usual some digestive strain can occur.

Lastly, RAWZ's high meat content and minimally processed ingredients can take time for a pet's system to adjust to, which is to be expected. Generally, pets on raw diets see almost no intestinal distress when incorporating RAWZ, and those on grain-free, higher meat diets transition quite smoothly. With these factors in mind, we recommended transitioning to feeding 100% RAWZ in 5-7 days. An addition of a 20% portion of RAWZ (to the total food fed each day) usually yields good results.

January 4, 2018

Grateful for 2017....Hello 2018!

Wow: Time sure does seem to be flying by! As I sit here we are being blasted by the monster winter storm "Grayson's" blizzard conditions. While the amount of inconvenience a storm of this magnitude causes is great, spending most of the day lounging with Clooney has given me time to reflect.

The last 12 months have been very exciting for RAWZ, both concerning the growing number of pet owners choosing THE NEXT BEST THING TO FEEDING RAW and watching the impact made by The RAWZ Fund's amazing non-profit partners! I can personally attest to the spirit among the Krempels Center's membership being vibrant with the program thriving; After attending an evening highlighting Northeast Passage's multi-faceted therapeutic recreation offerings I was inspired; and finally, simply by watching the powerful bonds between service dogs and their human companion in the community (don't forget Earle, fellow adaptive sailor Chris' awesome NEADS trained Lab has his own FB page!) is truly moving!

The movement towards less processing and overall recognition of the benefits that a raw diet provides among pet owners is extremely synergistic with the RAWZ nutritional Philosophy. So here's to helping people and pets in 2018 and beyond!

December 5, 2017

Choosing our focus

A trip to any pet store nowadays can be a dizzying experience. With many brands expressing why their products are the best with formulation tweaks to convince consumers that the food is a "perfect fit" for each pet's life-stage or breed. I don't doubt that most people working in animal nutrition love pets and strive to produce quality products; but with all the different messages putting value on varied aspects of nutrition products in the space, I thought I'd take a moment to reiterate our compass.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record in that I've previously blogged about "RAWZ's primary purpose!" being the health of your pet, I wanted to clarify what exactly that means. If you look carefully at some packaging out there, you'll be left confused as to what the manufacturer finds important. Some brands use what is often called the "everything, but the kitchen sink" theory of branding: the claims and attributes listed are so voluminous as to be sure to include the latest catch phrase! While I'm not here to minimize anyone's efforts to be different, RAWZ's only concern is the well being and internal health of your pet!

"So what about the RAWZ Fund and your causes?" you may ask. The truth is that while certainly providing the RAWZ team with motivation and the reward of seeing people benefit, the genesis of RAWZ was the acknowledgement of a need for a minimally-processed, premium alternative to feeding raw. While we're blessed to be able to give 100% of our profits to causes close to our hearts: Pets and their families deserved the wide gap from a nutritionally complete and balanced raw diet to the heavily processed products on the market be filled. Enter the Next Best Thing to Feeding Raw...RAWZ!