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Kick Start The Day

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Well this simple, quick and effective powerhouse breakfast recipe is the perfect meal to break the fast for our pups! You can follow this with their normal brekkie (with a short break of 30 mins – 1 hour is advised).

Ingredients

Kefir – gut restoration food. Kefir is both antibacterial and anti-fungal, and is full of live good bacteria.

Coconut oil. This can kill giardia and is an effective aid in helping your dog to rid themselves of worms and other nasty parasites. Used externally, coconut can also act as a repellent for fleas and ticks (make sure your coconut oil is 100% organic cold pressed, raw).

Calendula. This is a natural pain relief and has wonderful healing powers. Its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimicrobial properties make it beneficial for boosting health and immunity.

Mixed berries (pomegranate, goji and blueberries. Organic if possible). All of these are a good source of fibre. Pomegranate is a natural anthelmintic (anti parasite) and is useful against tapeworm. Goji berries contain antioxidants and are high in vitamins and minerals. The same can be said for blueberries.

Mint (homegrown is best). This promotes digestion, stimulates enzyme production and soothes the stomach. Mint is also uplifting.

Cucumber. Cucumber contains cucurbitacin which is an amino acid that paralyses and eliminates worms from the digestive tract. Feeding organic cucumbers is very important because they make the Dirty Dozen list for 2019.

Thyme (homegrown is best). Traditionally used to treat worms in children and still often found in natural worming blends today, thyme is antiseptic and antispasmodic.

Below we’ve given you some ideas for presentation (our gojis are re-hydrated)! Remember, if you make this recipe we would love to see it. Post it on social media and tag us using #teamstefs. We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we enjoyed making it for you. It’s pawfect for them, but safe for us to share!

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Let’s Talk Felines

Feeding our felines raw is often overlooked. When we talk about feeding raw to our pets, most think about feeding our canine friends. In fact, it’s really about feeding a species-appropriate diet to all animals. Our feline companions are obligate carnivores. What does this mean? People refer to cats as being obligate carnivores to put more emphasis on the fact there is little difference between them and any other meat eating predator. They need to eat meat to thrive.

So why do we feed our beloved furry friends kibble, biscuits, nuts (etc depending on what you call them) and/or wet food that is full of carbohydrates, sugars and other various added extras? They need meat. Fresh meat. We are told over and over again that we will become unhealthy if we eat processed meals; we need fresh foods. So why do we not think about this for our animals?

Have you ever wondered why your kitty gets kidney failure, obesity, dental disease or urinary tract problems? I could go on. The majority of our pet’s ailments can be pinpointed back to diet. So why doesn’t your vet tell you that? The simple answer is your vet isn’t trained in nutrition, just like your GP isn’t trained in nutrition. So they’re not to blame.

Let’s talk about how to introduce raw. I hear you, your cat is fussy, they will only eat fishy food in jelly, chicken based food in gravy etc. Yes, I feel your pain. Kittens are easier to change onto a raw diet because they are more open to trying new things. Most cats become very suspicious of any diet changes after the age of around 16 weeks. This means if you haven’t introduced it by then, it could take longer and require a lot more patience but it will be worth it.

Transitioning to raw smoothly

First of all, I would highly recommend having a look at what you feed. If it’s a low meat content food with various carbohydrates, various sugars and salt, or worse it has illegible ingredients, the most important piece of advice I can give you would be move onto a high meat content wet food like Natures Menu Wet Cat Food Pouches (other brands are available). Introduce this into their biscuits/wet food or alongside them. Start slowly. If they are asking for more, that’s fab news.

Hopefully you’ll have moved exclusively onto a grain free, high meat content wet food after a couple of weeks. If not, please be patient. Keep in mind that if I offered most children and/or most adults a fast food takeaway or a chicken breast salad, which one would they choose? Once you’ve done the hard work, please don’t slip back and offer them a McDonald’s type meal again.

To introduce raw, why not just try some cut up chicken breast to start with alongside the wet food. Some will take this immediately, some won’t. Fab news if they take it. If not, keep offering them some small, cut up chicken breast (always remembering that they are highly suspicious). If they take to it like a duck to water, keep offering various fresh meats.

There are now a lot of pre-made raw foods available and we have various brands and types of raw cat food on our website. We are ideally looking to feed a diet with lots of various proteins and textures. This means chunks, minces, bones and offal. You can opt for a pre-made complete meal or go for a more DIY approach.

My top tips for the transition period

1. Try feeding at room temperature or above. This doesn’t mean put it in the microwave but simply add it into a bowl and put the bowl in some warm/hot water. This would replicate a mouse’s body temperature for example. I’d predict the majority of cats wouldn’t want to eat their food straight out of the fridge and would prefer room temperature or higher.
2. Mix a little bit of raw food into the wet food, gradually increasing the amount you’re adding in over time.
3. There’s always the bribe technique but I’d only recommend this as a last resort. You could add their favourite things on top of the raw i.e catnip or some flakes of tuna etc.
4. The two bowl technique – this means placing a bowl of their wet food next to a small piece of ‘pre-made’ raw in another bowl. Keep this up at every meal until they show signs of being interested. Slowly increase the raw and decrease the wet. This can take anything up to 3 months depending on how suspicious they are.

I do not recommend ever starving your cat. This is not going to get them to eat the raw any quicker. Good luck.

Final thoughts

There are just a couple of other points I need to tell you about for a balanced raw diet. Firstly, I need to mention the importance of protein from meat and fish. These proteins have amino acids such as taurine and arginine. Taurine is very important; if cats don’t get enough of this, it will make them go blind. Taurine is found in muscle meats, red meats and poultry (especially legs), particularly in heart, liver and kidney. It’s also found in shrimp and clams (it’s higher in these than any other animal protein), fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and lastly water.

So just to re-cap – feeding a varied, raw diet to your cat or kitten is simply giving them everything they need.

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Diving Deeper

The most important piece of information I can give you is that balance is achieved over time. This can be over a week or a month. So stop worrying, you don’t need to feed a complete, balanced meal every time. What was your last meal? Was it complete and balanced?

In fact I have never met anyone that achieves a perfectly balanced meal 365 days a year 2/3/4 meals a day. If you do have a perfect recipe, it becomes imperfect as feeding this alone wouldn’t give variety. 


Fresh feeding guidelines – key points

Balance over time means one meal could have more bone content, another more meat or organ. The approximate ratio to aim for overall is:

• 70% Muscle Meat, Fish*, Sinew, Ligaments, Fat (10%), Skin, Fur and Feather (organic, wild, free-range if possible)
   – Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Lamb, Beef, Quail, Pheasant, Pork, Rabbit, Hare, Venison, Goat, Exotic Meats
   – *Oily Fish 2/3 times a week (wild caught if possible)
   – Salmon, Sprats, Herring, Smelt, Mackerel, Sardines, Mussels, Oysters (unless they have a shellfish allergy)

• 10% Edible Bone
   – Ribs, Wings, Necks, Wings and Carcasses (not weight bearing bones)

• 5% Liver (if you can’t source the other organs, up liver to 10%)

• 5% Other Organ Meat
   – Kidney, Spleen, Brain, Testicles, Thymus, Pancreas

• 5% Veggies
  -Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Pumpkin, Leafy Greens, Jerusalem Artichokes, Asparagus, Butternut Squash, Mushrooms,  Green beans, Red Cabbage, Parsnips, Sweet potato, Peppers, Cabbage

• 2% Fruit
   – Berries; Blackberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Red Currents, Coconut, Melon, Avocado, Pomegranate, Pears, Pineapple, Orange, Papaya

1% Seeds & Nuts
 – Sunflower, Pumpkin, Hemp (soaked), Chia (soaked), Flax (soaked), Sesame, Almond (soaked), Walnut, Hazels, Sprouting Seeds

• 1% Herbs
  – Parsley, Basil, Dandelion,  Coriander, Sage, Thyme, Mint, Rosemary, Nettle

• 1% Extras
   – Garlic, Ginger, Kefir, Bone Broth, Turmeric Root, Seaweed, Pink Himalayan Salt, Algaes

Note: Felines don’t need veggies.


Things to remember

• Meats are high in phosphorus; bones are high in calcium. Ideal ratio is 1:1. That means that when you feed 10% bone, it’s usually spot on. Whole prey, whole fish, whole eggs and tripe have a balanced ratio.

• Organ meat should not exceed 10% of the diet overall and 5% of that should be liver (beef liver has the highest nutrient levels). Feed liver once a week (or several small servings per week) and try to find an organic, free-range source if possible because the liver is responsible for filtering toxins out of the body. If you can’t source the other organ meats (see above), up the liver to 10%.

• If feeding pork or fish, be certain to freeze the meat for two weeks before feeding to reduce the small risk of parasites.

• NEVER feed cooked bones of any type as when bones are cooked they become harder and are dangerous for the dog as they can splinter and pierce the stomach or intestines. Raw bones are soft enough to bend and digest easily.

• Feel free to feed ‘weird and icky things’ such as chicken feet, beef trachea, tails, lung, kidney, testicles and pizzles (penis). Beef trachea, trim and chicken and turkey feet are loaded in natural chondroitin and glucosamine which help to build healthy joints.

• We strongly recommend a nose to tail approach when fresh feeding. Each cut will provide something different. Fibre is super important which is why we’ve made sure we added fur, feathers and the veggies. Don’t skip them, they are just as important as everything else.

• Weight bearing leg and knuckle bones from large animals, such as beef, should only be fed as a play bone. Play bones can be used to make bone broth. Raw meaty bones are the sort of bones that are fully edible. They are fantastic for oral health, mental stimulation, nutrients, calcium and phosphorus, and they are rich in omega 3 fats. Other types of bones include chicken wings, rabbit quarters, turkey necks, lamb ribs and pheasant carcass. I could go on.

• If possible, try to find grass fed animals that are not given hormones or medications. Younger animals in general will have accumulated fewer toxins to pass on to your dog. Remember, it’s important to choose wisely.

• Looking after their gut health is so important. Adding fresh kefir, fermented veggies, bone broth and kimchi. Even soil! I don’t mean just digging around the garden (unless you have clean soil). I’m talking about SBO’s (Soil Based Organisms). Now there’s something for you to look up! It’s important to regularly include these into their diet.

There are many sources of information and books out there about feeding a fresh diet. Remember, what suits my pets might not suit yours. Keep a close eye on their stools. This is a great indication of what’s happening. White stools equal too much bone, dark black stools can mean too much offal, but it’s always worth checking if there’s a medical issue first. You can balance meals out by feeding a high bone meal for breakfast followed by a boneless meal for tea.

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Where It All began

Skye - thriving on raw dog food

Let’s start back at the beginning with my first dog, my best friend, my teacher. Skye was her name and her picture can be found everywhere. She’s gone but never forgotten. I can still smell her, I can feel her touch. I can hear her feet dancing. She is wherever I go, always by my side.

I’m Stef and without Skye there’s definitely no Stefs Pet Pantry. It’s funny how life can take you on a journey and the lessons you’re meant to learn are already written for you. Well let me tell you she was my biggest teacher. Along this journey I’ve met many other great teachers too. We are blessed to live in a time where pet parents want to learn more so they can do more.

Let’s go back to when she arrived. I’d just turned 11. I can’t tell you all the things I did to prove to my parents that I was ready for the responsibility. She was my one in a million. I know everyone is special, but she was extra special. Throughout her life she made an impression wherever she went. The village I grew up in will still ask about her. She really did touch many.

She was a working dog who loved being out in the field. She came from a home of many champions and well-known lines. It was in her blood and she loved to be out in the field working with me. When we weren’t working, I would spend all my time with her. We went everywhere together.

Skye, like most, spent the first 9 years of her life being fed kibble. She wasn’t a greedy Labrador and was even known to refuse food from strangers. She would starve herself despite professionals telling me she would eat when she was hungry. This was never the case. We ended up switching foods every 2-3 days. If she ate something for 7 days, we were lucky. She was clinically underweight on every record.

A working life was hard going. Food should be fuel, it should ignite life. It should feed the mind, the body and the soul. I thought I was doing the best I could. We bought everything over the years from ‘the best’ to the not so great just in the hope that she would eat.

Instead she grew old before her time, in extreme pain with spondylitis of the spine, total muscle wastage in her back end and crippled with arthritis. She was 9! What age is 9? We’re now told our dogs are seniors from the age of 7. That’s crazy. I’ve continued to see the average life expectancy dropping. Yet with the knowledge we have, why is this the case? With all these tailor made diets, it just doesn’t make any sense.

9 wasn’t any age, life was cruel and decisions had to be made. Any vet would have agreed enough was enough. Something that night made me search for a miracle, her miracle. Even though it can be super helpful, there is a lot of garbage on the internet. Make sure your sources are authentic; some are written by those who have more to lose than they have to gain.

Suddenly the searches were filled with raw feeding. I spent all night reading. Firstly I read all the horror stories and the nightmares but then I discovered all the miracles. Miracle after miracle. My heart was saying I have nothing to lose. I announced to my parents that I was going to try it. Horror struck my mum and dad, and I must say, especially my dad. The answer was “no, are you out of your mind? You are going to kill her”. If you are ever in the shop, ask them and they will tell you their shock.

Firstly there’s a couple of things you need to know about me – I’m as stubborn as a old mule and never stand in the way of me and my dogs. Someone will get hurt. I’m a Libra and Libra’s have a fixation on balance.

I’d weighed up my possibilities and I knew I had no idea what I was doing. I knew there was a chance I could kill her but I’d run out of options and was desperate. The stories had such power and they spoke to me.

I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and at the time I could only find Natures Menu. I followed their guide and began to make her first meal. That first meal she danced. This girl hadn’t been able to get up without help. She could barely stand and didn’t move around, yet she was dancing. She danced for every meal after that too.

She’d finished the bowl quicker than I could finish this sentence. I’d never seen anything like it. I finally got it – she’d been teaching me the entire time, I just hadn’t been listening to the lesson. Within days there were improvements. Within weeks we saw muscle repair. Within years I had turned back time for her.

Fresh food is powerful, I just didn’t have any idea how powerful. The best near 7 years of her life were the last 7. She was like a puppy again. I can’t tell you how I felt, words don’t describe it. What I do know now though is that this is my mission. She created this when I was 11 years old but it took me to my late teens to hear her clearly.

I then created Stefs in my late 20’s. We did have a little shop from quite early on which just served friends and family to start with. It just grew and grew. And before you knew it, I wanted to help more and more.

My family and I have fed all our dogs raw ever since, and with us averaging 12 dogs at any one time, they all became teachers. I met incredible people along the way. I’m always learning and expanding my knowledge to report back to you.

Life is so very short and each meal counts. I’ve learnt that adding fresh food to any bowl vastly improves it, but I dare you to dream bigger. Imagine a bowl full of fresh food.

I will stand by anyone who wants to learn more. My door is always open. Come in and become part of the family. This is me, and I am grateful for my shining star.

To bring you up to speed, I lost Skye a month before she was 16. She definitely defied all odds. She needed me as much as I needed her.