#13 Kasie Maxwell: How to make the jump to raw

Kasie Maxwell is back, this time sharing her decades of experience in helping pet owners make the transition to raw feeding. We discuss kittens, puppies, kibble addicted cats, and dogs and how each is unique in their needs to make the jump smooth.

Not only has Kasie worked through her SFRAW buying club to help people climb to a higher nutritional plane for their pets, she also shares how a walkabout in Kenya helped shape her recommendations on feeding your cats. She was lucky enough to live among the Masai for a spell and learned how lions actually eat. And what “normal” big cats stools look like!

If you’ve ever needed a little help getting your animals switched to raw, you’ll want to listen to this episode closely and read the accompanying material linked in the show notes.

Bottom line: all those groups of animals need a somewhat different transition but none of it is difficult when you learn from an expert like Kasie.

Links for this episode

Kasie’s articles on transitioning to raw:
For your dog
For your cat

Vital Signs Video

And Kasie’s favorite toy for engaging cats in play pre mealtimes

Rescue Remedy(with a reminder from Kasie, do NOT use the human tablets sweetened with xylitol, known to be toxic to dogs)

My Bach Flowers for Animals course is yours when you join our Vital Animal Pack

This episode brought to you by our sister site, Vital Pet Health, where you’ll find our powerful canine immune booster:

Using these two together is a perfect complement to all you are already working on to make your animals naturally disease-resistant.

Thanks for listening!

If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to Vital Animal Podcast so you don’t miss a single episode.
Next week: FEAR! This episode will help you see why, most always, it’s not good for you OR your animals. And I offer up the chief way to combat it in this “Age of Pandemic.”

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  1. Shonda Chapman on February 21, 2022 at 10:44 am

    I have a 7 year old standard goldendoodle–a lovely dog. He has been on a raw diet based on Pitcairn’s book for over 6 years. We do feed some oats and sweet potatoes, which I may try to reduce both quantity and frequency. He also seems to have trouble with chicken (gets jelly poops), but does great on turkey, beef, bison, venison, chukker, etc. His one issue is he sometimes will not eat in the morning, acts nauseous and sometimes throws up bile. If I catch it soon enough, Nux Vomica will often interrupt this process, but I would like to help him get over this. I would say he has a sensitive stomach generally. He gets pastured chicken wings as well. I used Pitcairn’s Healthy Powder and make my own egg shell powder. I try to get him to eat sardines on occasion, though he is not a fan. Any ideas about the morning puking?

  2. Kathryn Kennell on November 25, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Excellent podcast. Very informative. Thank you

  3. Amy on November 25, 2020 at 9:53 am

    I have been making raw cat food for 6 years now with chicken thighs, bones, hearts, gizzards and livers. I have two cats lived to 20 years old been fed with both dry and canned food but another cat loved dry food and died of fatty liver disease. I learned how important that is to feed them good nutritious food so I switched to make my own.
    Now I have a question whether it is a good idea to incorporate some wild caught fishes in the mix. They like fish so we do add some canned fish (not tuna) in their raw food.

    • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 27, 2020 at 10:29 pm

      Hi Amy! Thank you for your excellent question for which I think others will also benefit learning more about.

      First off, it’s just outstanding that you’ve made the switch over to a species appropriate, fresh, raw whole food diet for your kitties. Well done! Making this important choice will serve them well – from what we have learned, this change will support them to be able to enjoy as long and healthy a life possible – free of suffering from so many common ailments and a tragically shortened lifespan that so many other domestic cats are subjected to when fed processed foods and dry kibble. That you have made decision to put in the extra effort by committing to a DIY menu is laudable and an inspiration. That’s awesome! Removing the damaging foods and then feeding them what they are designed to metabolize best, by nature’s design, is really the very best we can do for our animals that depend on us for nearly everything in their lives. I bet they’re shining examples of good health! <3

      As for the question about adding in seafood to your cats’ diet. While certain seafood choices such as clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, mackerel, cod livers, are exceptional sources of important, even essential, nutrients that cats require be provided in their daily diets – namely taurine (highest in clams and other shellfish) and animal sources of vitamins A & D (found in cod livers, along with incredible amounts of valuable omega fatty acids/fats) plus important minerals like zinc and selenium, for example – it is my position that seafood should be avoided in the feline diet entirely for a number of reasons. I review some of the reasons in my blog post here:

      Tuna in particular is an especially dangerous choice for cats due to the higher levels of bioaccumulated contaminants and naturally occurring heavy metals. Tuna consumption can even cause your cat to develop a Vitamin E deficiency which may lead to a painful, inflammatory condition known as steatitis (“yellow fat disease”). All seafood can be highly addictive to felines and can be a primary or maintaining cause of dysregulated appetites. Having a troubling/variable appetite, pickiness or inappetence can all be a real problem in felines, even as we try our best to provide them with nourishing foods.

      Consumption of seafood has also been correlated to the risk for developing urinary stones, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), hyperthyroidism, and renal dis-ease. Anitra Fraizer wrote in The New Natural Cat (first edition published in 1981) about a cat client for whom she had finally gotten their FLUTD under control with a raw diet that experienced a flare of the condition after a single innocent nibble of shrimp. I used her book as my guide when I switched by first cat to raw in 1989, and I’ve just always avoided seafood from the recommendations she made in her book.

      For these reasons, I do avoid feeding cats seafood completely and this is my recommendation to others as well – especially tuna and things like dried bonito flakes, etc. Instead, I have chosen to focus on providing my cats with plenty of taurine-rich foods including the dark meat cuts of turkey and chicken (and other poultry), pork or beef heart, liver and tongue, other meats like lamb stew, elk or venison stew meat, and even some seasonal live insects (such as crickets and other nutritious grubs known in the exotic trade as "live feeders" – whichever ones they enjoy eating). They also really benefit from the inclusion of egg yolks which I think is fairly necessary in the feline diet for providing adequate levels of choline, for example. The eggs are available seasonally in most areas when truly pasture-raised outdoors where they are permitted to forage freely – this changes the nutrient quality of the eggs. The yolk in particular is very beneficial and this might be my first choice if you were to consider adding other ingredients and foods to your kitty’s menu plan.

      Now, if you really, really, really want to include some kind of fishy things, there are a few other options.
      1) seaweed such as kelp, dulse, wakame/arame and nori maybe added and used in moderation and provide a nice source of iodine and other trace minerals – just be careful to not overdo or you may risk causing a thyroid imbalance from too much iodine
      2) MarinePhytoPlanktoin is a sea plant based form of clean and healthy omega-3s which would be outstanding to include and I do highly recommend the inclusion of this in the feline diet – I like the Alive or Sunfood Brand myself, but there are other nice ones available, Be sure to ask the company for a certificate of analysis to ensure their product meets the purity, safety and nutrient standards you require.
      3) Adding the liquid from any packs of meat that you defrost or serve is always a good idea as this is where many nutrients will be found – we call these “meat juices” or run-off myoglobin and it is considered a good source of nutrient dense moisture and can really help your cat when added back into the food as a dressing or when you make your meals
      4) lastly, one thing that might be okay and not have the usual associated risks is clam juice which is incredibly high in taurine. This is simply the water taken from when they steam/boil clams – so it is not the clams, but the juices. Adding extra moisture to the feline diet is always a good idea/practice, and this may very well provide some great nutritional benefits that your cats are seeking out in a safer way over tuna and other seafood. Alternatively, if you consume water packed wild salmon (from a brand like Vital Choice, for example) – giving the water from these cans is also very high in taurine and this , too, could be a similar benefit to adding in calm juice to the diet as a topper or mixed into the meals as a flavor enhancer and also little nutrient boost without the risks associated with consuming seafood.

      I hope this helps! If you have any more questions – feel free to ask away 😊 I’ll do my best to answer.

  4. Kim T on November 24, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I tried raw food for my (then 1 year old) dog over a year ago (various commercial brands and proteins.) She came from kibble, transitioned over a couple of weeks and did OK for a couple of weeks after, but then for 3-4 months after that, we had ever more frequent vomiting (6-8 hours after a meal and by the end every day.) We tried more frequent meals, digestive enzymes, switching brands, switching protein, lower fat, mixing in raw goat milk/kefir, etc… nothing helped. Finally had to abandon raw and now feed various commercially prepared ‘lightly/gently cooked’ foods and while she had some vomiting even after the switch, we’re now stable for months, no vomiting. I’ve thought to dip my toe back into raw (maybe switching from lightly cooked be easier?) but am nervous to get back to the daily vomiting. Any advice?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on November 24, 2020 at 9:23 pm

      My first thought as a homeopathic vet is there’s some underlying chronic disease that needs to be addressed. Raw food should be easier to digest than any other and is species appropriate to dogs by definition, genetically so similar to the wolf. On our cat interview with homeopathic vet Dr. Tasi earlier, she points out how healthy cats don’t vomit. If they do regularly, there’s illness present and, like all well trained homeopathic vets, we’d approach that constitutionally, i.e. treating the unique individual and only looking at digestion as one part of a larger whole. When their chronic disease is cured, the vomiting stops, along with an overall improvement that’s usually visible in several different areas.

      So, the fundamental question is: was the fault the food or the dog? I think the latter. As we learned from Thomas Sandberg earlier, even grocery store meats can make a huge uptick in health for a dog coming off commercial food. Often with miraculous results, in fact.

      I tell you how to choose a qualified homeopathic vet on my Rec’d Resources page.

      • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 27, 2020 at 11:28 pm

        I concur with Dr. Falconer on his suggestion to seek out the counsel of a qualified homeopath to help treat your animals’ imbalances. A healthy animal should, indeed, be able to eat the foods their body’s are so perfectly and elegantly designed to eat and homeopathy can help restore this balance and ability in such an easy and gentle way. It would be my first choice.

        So, yes! I think you can and should try again. I’m so happy to hear you haven’t given up entirely; your willingness to not give up on your animal is HUGE and will go such a long way in helping them to live the very best life possible. You are acting as your animal’s selfless advocate and this is so wonderful to see 🙂 It really shows how much you care and love them to continue to strive to make these good choices for them.

        In case homeopathy is not your first choice, there are other things you can consider and I’ll review some suggestions below.

        For example, you may want to consider doing some “biological” at-home testing to determine if there are any imbalances that you can work on as your transition them back to a raw diet. A few great tests that can help you learn more about the inner ecology of your animal’s unique system include:

        a) AnimalBiome fecal test, to get an analysis of their gut microbiome that can help determine which specific probiotic strains or prebiotic fibers might be most useful in restoring a better balance to their gut microflora (and digestive health)

        b) the Parsley Pet Nutritional Blueprint test can help you to learn if there are any issues with heavy metal toxins which can be found even in some ingredients/foods found in some of the best raw diets but might need to be avoided for your individual pet. The test results may lead you to adding in certain foods or herbs to help alleviate any issues they are experiencing. The tests also show if there is an imbalance in specific minerals and also their adrenal function/metabolic fitness – all useful when putting together a plan for an animal experiencing problems eating any diet.

        c) Consider either the Glacier Peak Animal Life Stressors test or the HemoPet NutriScan tests for testing of food intolerances or reactivity. The Glacier Peak test uses bio-resonance reading for a very extensive test for many different ingredients and foods, and costs less to do. The HemoPet NutriScan test provides you with antibody levels to a limited number of foods and is more costly. These tests can help you come up with a nice starting roadmap/plan for which proteins could be used in your return to feeding fresh foods, and also help you to decide which things you might want to avoid.

        These tests are certainly not required or necessary options, but some people have found them very helpful in sorting chronic problems like this out and figuring out a way to improve upon their current menus. I mention them here only to point out these options in case they resonate with you, and becasue you just may not have known about them – they’re just something to consider.

        If you were to walk into SFRAW, my question would be to ask you to think back to when your animal was doing really good on a certain food and then try to remember what protein that food was made of. We would probably start there – maybe it was salmon or beef or turkey? — whatever the “flavor” was that they seemed the most stable on and enjoyed the most.

        Then we’ll feed just this – just the muscle meat from a super high quality source (regenerative farmed, wild, pasture-raised, well produced from a great supplier) and nothing else. Just the meat – either stew meat or ground burger meat. We can cook it at first, too, if this is what you think your animal would do best on.

        This would be in addition to my usual transition suggestions reviewed in the podcast for fasting into the diet and going slowly when it comes to quantity.

        If all goes well, after about a week or two we begin to build the diet – adding in a source of calcium first (maybe Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium) then adding in one organ meat at a time – first heart, then liver, kidney or gizzard, etc.

        We add one thing at a time and give it a few days or aa few weeks before adding in the next thing until we have a fairly well rounded base to work from.

        This can be cooked. If any addition causes problems, we’ll reassess and pivot – seeking out other options such as freeze-dried organs, for example.

        Slowly you can start to cook these base meals less and less, so that you are feeding a mostly or fully raw diet eventually. At that time, we will begin to build in much more variety and create a better long-term menu plan.

        But start with just plain meat first – then add in calcium, then organs one by one.

        If vomiting occurs at any point along the way, you can try adding in a splash of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar to the meals (or an HCL supplement). This can sometimes fix the problem, but for some it can make things worse. So you just have to try it and find out which way it goes with your dog.

        Adding in prebiotics and probiotics will certainly help, too, and I have suggestions for this — it’s very specific and beyond the scope of this comment but there is a lot of new research on this fascinating topic that we can use to help our animals. It’s pretty exciting! One probiotic product is not nearly the same as others that are available – there is a lot to know here. The combinations of different types of categories and different probiotic species employed make a huge difference in determining outcomes.

        Prebiotic choices are many and we would choose one based on a number of things – perhaps you have a test result we can use (see above) to determine the best choice, or maybe there’s one you are using for yourself that would help your animal, too!

        Herbals can be very useful in these cases. Have you already tried things like slippery elm bark, ginger, fennel seed, peppermint, dandelion, chamomile, catmint, chicory? Incorporating digestive “bitters” can work wonders for some.

        These are some simple suggestions that I hope might help you in planning your next steps.

        Again, I applaud you for not giving up! We’ll be here cheering you on as you slowly make you way back over to a raw food menu.

        As you see, I think for your animal should DIY type diet at first but there’s a possibility that a commercial diet might work in the end. This will be further down the path, however and for this, there are but a very very few that I can comfortably recommend, but I’d be happy to if you get to this point eventually.

        I sincerely hope that some of my suggestions might be of use and help you and your dog try raw again together!

        • Kasie Maxwell Grujcic on November 29, 2020 at 10:33 am

          Apologies for all the typos. If anything might be difficult to discern due to this (or any other reason) please let me know and I’d be happy to clarify. I thought I would have the option to go back and edit and tidy this up, but there’s not an option to do this. Please excuse my mistakes made in writing.

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