January 1, 2019

New Year, better nutrition!

I'm sure we're all familiar with making good old "New Years Resolutions!" While I'm very familiar with the idea, having made quite few (albeit unsuccessful) over the years; I thought I'd ask my wise all-knowing friend Wikipedia for a definition: "A New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life."

So what does this have to do with RAWZ? Since all pet lovers would assuredly agree that having a healthy pet brings great joy and improves their lives, by transference giving a pet better health through superior nutrition boosts the human partners' spirits as well. As the makers of our pet's dietary decisions, the opportunity of resolving to improve their health and well-being by feeding "The Next Best Thing to Feeding Raw" falls to us.

A question posed on our website is, "Why RAWZ"?: A great "WHY" could be a resolution for 2019 in that by improving your pet's diet by feeding THE NEXT BEST THING TO FEEDING RAW, both you and your pet's lives get better!

November 1, 2018

Vitamin B shortage!

Sometimes I forget that the whole world doesn't live inside the pet nutrition bubble I often find myself. This is probably a good thing considering that the all-encompassing news stories and trends flooding the market could lead to more confusion! One such topic has been that there is a worldwide-shortage of non-Chinese sourced vitamin B. This months' post will attempt to clarify the issue and let you know how RAWZ is addressing the shortage.

A logical question to ask is what caused this shortage? Since it's not as if the demand instantaneously exploded, as one can guess, there must be a supply issue. Remember though, we're talking about vitamin B that is not produced in China, who's the world's largest producer of such ingredients. No one is saying that China is inherently bad, just that when looking at recent history, it has been difficult ensure the quality and safety of Chinese ingredients.

So what happened? BASF, one of the largest producers of vitamins in Europe, suffered destructive fires at their german facility. This left DSM as the primary producer of Vitamins outside of China. Rather abruptly, DSM shifted all of their production to China. Business is business and a company has many reasons for any choice, but with our commitment to quality we wanted to find a solution while holding firm on our sourcing pledge.

In an effort to give pet owners peace of mind, RAWZ has pledged to not use any ingredients from China. So what have we done? Staying true to our promise, RAWZ has partnered with a Pharmaceutical-grade supplier from Poland to provide your pet with premium nutrition! While some choose to use Vitamin's made in China and simply shipped through Europe, RAWZ remains committed to our word.

October 2, 2018

"Sidewalk Pitch?"

We often hear the term "elevator pitch" thrown around in discussing marketing terms or ideas. Generally, elevator pitch is used to describe a brief, but informative dialogue concerning a product. As I've mentioned, I'm sure countless times at this point, I spend quite a bit of my time at RAWZ's retail partners meeting and discussing RAWZ with pet parents. While I hope my communication concerning animal nutrition is clear and at least improved given the amount of time I've had to work on it, yes, even I must admit, there's always room for improvement :) With this thought in mind, I'd thought I'd use this as an opportunity to do better.

So why do I use the term sidewalk pitch? While I believe the term "elevator pitch" is great in that it implies the brevity of the interaction, with an emphasis on getting to the heart of the matter quickly and concisely. The fact is that most retail locations are single floors, also, I'm most likely out for a walk with Clooney (yes the Silver Fox himself) when I happen to meet other pets and their people; when of course RAWZ always is one of the first things that comes up. None of these interactions take place in an elevator which is where the term sidewalk pitch comes from.

Just last night while walking Clooney through downtown Portsmouth the thought to write this post occurred to me when our path crossed with a couple visiting from Connecticut. As is usually the case, Clooney's handsomeness prompted a conversation about dogs and their own lab at home. Obviously, I wanted to steer the discussion to the benefits of minimally processed nutrition, when as we approached where we would part, I realized my time was limited. I did my best, and while admittedly not completely prepared (ie. sample and product literature in hand, no orange shirt on!), to explain RAWZ's nutritional philosophy and 100% cause basis. Despite my best effort, I felt I could have done better. I thought to myself, and may have said aloud to Cloon, why not write what I should've said in this month's blog post...here goes!

At RAWZ we believe a raw diet when fed correctly is truly the best way to feed a pet; however, feeding raw involves great expense along with food safety issues. Seeing the huge gap between heavily processed dry foods, containing rendered ingredients, available and a raw diet, we saw an opportunity. After working with a team of fantastic animal nutritionists and pet food formulation experts, RAWZ was born! After both Andy and I had been blessed with wonderful recoveries and enriching experiences post life-changing injuries, our family was filled with gratitude. Recognizing how difficult building some semblance of a life after a serious disability can be, we're blessed to be able to donate 100% of RAWZ's profits to our phenomenal non-profit RAWZ FUND partners!

So in one sentence, built on the foundation of a belief in minimally processed nutrition, RAWZ exists to help people and pets live their best lives!

September 7, 2018

Mass Confusion, RE: "Grain-Free" diets

In early July, the FDA released an alert about a possible connection with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs fed "grain-free" diets. The release understandably caused quite a stir among pet parents who for years have believed such diets were preferable. The following post digs a little deeper surrounding this issue. Clarifying the Confusion: Grain Free Recipes and the Recent FDA Report Why is this an issue? On July 12, 2018, the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert regarding a possible connection with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs fed “grain free” diets. There has been much confusion and second-guessing among pet owners, retailers and various pet food brands that produce and sell these diets. The issue has affected a small population of dogs (less than 100). There has not been a direct link established regarding the cause, but diet is a suspected component along with animal genetics at this point. What should pet food manufacturers consider doing to address this issue? The balance of bioavailable methionine and cysteine are of critical importance. All nutritionists should be evaluating their diets for these key amino acids. Canine diets should have adequate levels of naturally occurring methionine, cysteine and taurine. The RAWZ Recipes (It’s Not Just About the Taurine) Supplementation with taurine may appear to be the easiest approach. However, this may mask the underlying issue of inadequate key amino acids that may ultimately result in other diseases. It is better to remain focused on the root cause and solve the issues with a sound and prudent approach of an encompassing balanced, superior nutritional profiles. RAWZ has high protein efficiency ratios because it is 100% rendered free. Our protein and amino acid profiles are better retained due to less processing. RAWZ is 100% Rendered Free - Dehydrated proteins and real meats contain higher levels of naturally occurring methionine, cysteine and taurine, compared to some excessively processed meals, such as chicken meal or fish meal. Taurine supplementation has always been added to all RAWZ dry recipes-both canine and feline.

Additional Information

Has there ever been a similar situation with DCM and dogs? Yes. In late 1990’s there were a number of dogs in a few breeds reported with DCM in which diet may have been associated. In these cases, the suspected diet type was based on lamb meal and rice and formulated for maintenance. The dogs were generally large breeds (e.g. Newfoundlands). It was postulated that low circulating taurine may be due to inadequate taurine syntheses in the liver and this may serve as an early indicator of shortcomings in sulfur amino acid supply (methionine and cysteine) for this and other metabolic functions (Backus et al., 2006). Was there something inherent in the lamb meal and rice diets from these studies that would suggest a similar issue for the current FDA alert? It was demonstrated by Johnson et al. (1998) that the cysteine availability in lamb meal can be quite low (<50% bioavailable). This may be attributed to the heat associated with the rendering process or the high concentration of structural proteins (wool and tendons) which are poorly digested. For the rice and rice co-products such as rice bran, it was demonstrated that these ingredients can decrease whole-blood taurine in cats (Stratton-Phelps et al., 2002), and this may be the result of the greater bile acid binding properties of rice bran (Kahlon and Woodruff, 2003) versus the other fibers.

Is there something inherently problematic with grain free diets? First it must be understood that taurine is synthesized from sulfur amino acids methionine and cysteine in the liver. If there is an inadequate supply of these amino acids, then taurine may be depleted. Legume seeds like peas, lentils and chickpeas have low levels of methionine and cysteine and plants do not produce taurine. Thus, these ingredients must be paired with complementary proteins like those from animal sources, or plant sources with offsetting concentrations of these key amino acids or supplemented with synthetic amino acids. There are no reports in the literature evaluating the pulses or tubers on canine or feline taurine levels. However, in a study reported form 1995 (Kim et al.) there was some indication that soybean (a legume seed) protein decreased taurine in feline plasma. This was thought to result from increased fecal excretion of taurine and bile acids and was not considered to work outside the effect of fermentation on deconjugation of taurocholate in the colon. Although soluble/fermentable fibers may have a detrimental effect on taurine levels in the gastrointestinal tract (Ko and Fascetti, 2016). As it turns out, legume seeds can be rich in oligosaccharides which could at higher levels lead to more fermentation and ultimately lower taurine. What should we consider doing to address this issue? First, the diets and dogs identified in these alerts are very few. There may be some common aspects to the previous issues in the 1990’s that have been overlooked in recent times. It is unlikely that all grain free diets are implicated. Possibly only a few and for only dogs predisposed to the condition. Further, the balance of bioavailable methionine and cysteine are of more importance. Nutritionists should be evaluating the diets for these key amino acids.

References: FDA. July 12, 2018. FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Diseasehttps://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/cvmupdates/ucm613305.htm acce ssed 27Aug2018 Backus, R.C., Kwang, S.K., Fascetti, A.J., Kittleson, M.D., MacDonald, K.A., Maggs, D.J., Berg, J.R., Rogers, Q.R. Low plasma taurine concentration in newfoundland dogs is associated with low plasma methionine and cyst(e)ine concentrations and low taurine synthesis (2006) Journal of Nutrition, 136 (10), pp. 2525-2533. Johnson, M.L., Parsons, C.M., Fahey, G.C., Jr., Merchen, N.R., and Aldrich, C.G. 1998. Effects of species raw material sources, ash content, and processing temperature on amino acid digestibility of animal by-product meals by cecectomized roosters and ileally cannulated dogs. J. Anim. Sci. 76:1112-1122 Stratton-Phelps, M. Backus, R.C, Rogers, Q.R., and Fascetti, A.J. 2002 Dietary rice bran decreases plasma and whole-blood taurine in cats. J. Nutr 132:1745S-1747S. Kahlon, T.S, Woodruff. C.L. 2003 In vitro binding of bile acids by rice bran, oat bran, barley, and B-glucan enriched barley. Cereal Chem 80:260-263. Kim S.W., Morris, J.G., and Rogers, Q.R. 1995. Dietary soybean protein decreases plasma taurine in cats. J. Nutr 125:2831-2837. Ko, K.S., Fascetti, A.J. 2016. Dietary beet pulp decreases taurine status in dogs fed low protein diet. J. Ainm Sci Technol. 58:29-39.