How do I get started?

Most pets do fine on a cold turkey switch rather than half-kibble and half-raw food. Remember to keep things simple for your dog or cat when starting. Start with chicken mince for the first couple of days and sprinkle some digestive enzymes on the raw food for the first week to help in digesting this new food.

Introduce the veggie packs after a few days of just chicken. If your pet doesn’t like veggies on there own; mix in with some muscle meat or organ meat, or with an egg or yogurt (or kefir).

When starting a raw diet, most people feel a little overwhelmed at first. You may think it is complicated (and maybe even more expensive), but in time, you’ll find it's much easier than kibble. Many believe that raw is less expensive than kibble, and in the long run it is. You’ll spend less time and money on what appear to be today’s inevitable diseases.

You can do is some reading/research on the raw diet. There are a few books: "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet" by Kymythy Schultze. “The New Natural Cat” by Anitra Frasier, are good reference books.

You can search the Internet or join a raw feeding email discussion list. You will find many people's stories about how they feed raw diets and what led them to the transition from kibble.

Can I feed kibble and Tollden Farms?

It is not recommended to feed kibble and raw foods in the same meal. Kibble digests at a much slower rate than raw. If you send them down for processing at the same time, the raw food will be trapped with the kibble food and could cause problems with bacteria and digestion.

Most people feel the need to hang on to a bag of kibble while they make the switch to raw foods. It kind of acts as a security blanket. By all means, keep the kibble, but once you get into a rhythm with raw, you’ll be donating your kibble to the local shelter.

What proportions do I feed?

For both dogs and cats:

We’ve formulated our Meat and Vegetable Diets to be 85% meat (muscle meats, organs and bones) to 15% vegetables. Our Meat and Botanical Diets are 99% meat (muscle meats, organs and bones) with 1% botanicals (roots, seeds and grasses).

Tollden Farms also carries DIY (Do It Yourself) components for those who know how to formulate their own diets.

Is it possible to see some sample meal plans?

There are a few different ways to feed Tollden Farms. First, we have our vegetables packaged separate from our meat. So with this feeding method, you’d need to determine what amount of veggies to feed daily and what portion would be meat. This method is a little more time consuming, but is slightly more economical.

The alternative is to purchase the meals that are already mixed together at a 85% meat to 15% veggie ratio for dogs and cats. With this feeding option, you’d just need to determine your pet’s weight and purchase the package that best suits your size pet.

Here’s a few examples using the Do It Yourself (DIY) feeding method of the vegetables and meat packaged separately:

- 25 pound dog would consume 6.8 ounces of meat and 1.2 ounces of veggies per day. And to this you’d need to include supplements kelp and fish oil

- 50 pound dog would consume 12 ounces of meat and 4 ounces of veggies per day. And to this you’d need to include supplements kelp and fish oil.

- 80 pound dog would consume 1 pound, 11 ounces of meat and 4 to 5 ounces of veggies per day. And to this you’d need to include supplements kelp and fish oil.


Here's a few examples using the second packaging option of the meat and veggies already portioned and mixed together:

- 25 pound dog would consume 1/2 pound daily, which is the portion of each patty, so you would divide that between two meals per day. Supplements are already included, you would just need to thaw and serve.

- 50 pound dog would consume 1 pound daily, so 1 and a quarter patties would be fed over the course of the day. Supplements are already included, you would just need to thaw and serve.

- 80 pound dog would consume 2 pounds daily of the complete meal plan, so 4 patties per day would be fed over the course of the day. Supplements are already included, you would just need to thaw and serve.

How do you measure the food?

Generally you will feed adult dogs between 2 to 3% of a dog’s ideal body weight. Adult cats should be fed between 3 and 4% of their ideal body weight. Puppies under 5 months should be fed approximately 6 to 10% of their weight, puppies from 5 months to 8 months should be fed approximately 4 to 6% of their weight, and adolescent dogs from 8 months to adulthood should be fed between 2 to 4% of their weight.

With canines always check their weight by feeling for their rib cage. You should be able to feel the ribs with your fingertips when you apply gentle pressure along the rib cage. Make sure you keep your dog lean so that you can see a waistline.

The above are general guidelines and will vary with activity level, age, and breed of dog.

For cats you will feed about 3 to 4% of your cat’s weight through all life stages. This is a general guideline and will vary depending on your cat’s activity level and age.

***For ease of measuring, 1 pound of food equals 2 cups

Should I switch cold turkey or is gradual better?

Most pets do very well being switched over to raw foods cold turkey. It is recommended that when you are ready to begin, don't try and rush things. Take is slowly. Try to keep the diet bland and simple at first. This is particularly important for older/middle aged dogs. Start with chicken mince for the first couple of days, keeping meals small to begin with and don't let your dog overdo it. Once the dog has settled into this, add some veggies with a bit of muscle meats.

The veggies do need to be pureed as dogs and cats cannot digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs and cats to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls.

You can start adding richer food like eggs and organ meat after a couple of weeks. After a month on raw food, start thinking about adding supplements. We recommend adding digestive enzymes to the food when introducing new protein sources and when introducing recreational bones, just sprinkle the powder on top of the new proteins when serving or with the muscle meats if you’re giving a recreational bone after a meat meal. Digestive enzymes can be found at your pet supply or health food store.

What is the best way to start my older dog on raw?

It is best with an old dog to keep the diet fairly bland and low fat when changing over. I would suggest adding some probiotics to the diet to help restore good bacteria into the system to fight the bad bacteria and help increase immunity. You can do this by adding yogurt with live cultures in it to the diet or by getting some kind of probiotic supplement. If you are feeding grains, you may wish to either reduce the amount or remove them altogether, until your dog has adjusted to his new way of eating.

Remember to start slow, adding a new food item every few days...build up the number of items slowly as you and your dog begin to get the hang of it.

 If your older dog has health issues, do not start on a raw diet without the guidance of a holistically minded vet. 

When should I start introducing veggies?

They are probably the second thing I would introduce after some Raw Meaty Bones such as chicken. When to add them usually depends on your dog. If he handles the chicken well for a few days, you can try adding small amounts of the Veggie & Fruit packs.


What about salmonella, I heard that is a concern?

First, you will employ safe handling practices when handling raw meet products. Wash hands and surfaces after touching meat. You can disinfect counter surfaces with white distilled vinegar to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Salmonella and e-coli are shed many times in a healthy dog or cat. The high levels of hydrochloric acid in your pet’s stomach keep the ‘bad’ bacteria from overpopulating a healthy dog or cat’s stomach. If your pet’s health is severely compromised, consult with your veterinarian about introducing a raw diet to your pet.

Can I use my microwave for thawing Tollden Farms?

When using a microwave to thaw meats that contain bone, the microwave can begin to cook the food from the inside (the bones) out. Thawing Tollden Farms in the microwave is NOT the recommended method. NEVER give your dog a cooked bone, as it can splinter and cause severe internal complications. The safest method of thawing is room temperature or, if you're in a bit of a hurry, soak the package in luke warm water in the kitchen sink.

What are proper food safety techniques?

Basic food safety techniques are really not much difference for handling dog food as they are for people food. Basically they involve washing your hands after handling meat making sure cleaning cloths are clean and washed regularly (or use paper towels).  Clean all work surfaces with white distilled vinegar to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria.

When thawing, is there a point where the food is considered dangerous and should be thrown out?

Dogs and cats can eat food that would send humans to the hospital. Food that is even slightly smelly will still be OK to feed. But we can understand if that is difficult for you as it’s not something we’re used to doing. It is best to thaw meat slowly in the fridge, or to thaw for a few hours or overnight in a container on the kitchen counter. Just thaw as much as you need for one day at a time.

Leaving meat out for extended periods of time, (like while you’re at work) might be too long and it could smell ‘off’ when opened.

Can I refreeze the food?

Yes, Tollden Farms can be thawed and refrozen with no ill effects to the nutrient content.


What exactly is the difference between “raw meaty bones” & “recreational bones”? Which should I feed?

Raw meaty bones (or RMBs) are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat - things like chicken necks, turkey necks, or duck necks, which make up about 60% of your dog’s diet and 50% of your cat’s diet. Recreational bones, on the other hand, are larger bones that the dog will chew on but will not eat the whole bone - things like beef marrow or neck bones.

Why are the veggies & fruit ground up so fine?

The reason for this is that dogs cannot digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls. Chopping them up only crushes the cell walls on the outside, leaving the bit in the middle pretty much unavailable to them nutritionally. Cooking them will also destroy the cell walls, but as this also destroys a lot of the nutrients and enzymes in the veggies (even canned veggies), it kind of defeats the purpose. Freezing the veggies and then thawing is also breaking down the cell walls.

Help, my dog won't eat his veggies!

You can include the veggies in with the meat source or if you’d prefer to feed them separate, you can entice them to their veggies by tempting him with one of his favourites, like:

- canned fish (mackerel, tuna, sardines) or ground muscle meat
- parmesan cheese on top
- grated cheese in the mix
- 1 - 2 tsp. of molasses or raw honey
- garlic powder or regular garlic
- raw egg
- yogurt
- organ meat

Is it OK to mix the veggie mush with ground meat?

Yes, you can mix ground meat in with the veggies.

Aside from natural calcium, what other nutrients do RMBs provide?

Raw meaty bones provide nutritious marrow, amino acids/protein, essential fatty acids, fibre, enzymes, antioxidants and a vast array of species-appropriate minerals and vitamins all in a usable form.

Is it OK to feed grains?

Grains are not a natural food for dogs. It is not something they would eat in the wild. Those grains they would have access to would be in small quantities eaten from the stomachs of prey animals that had (in the right season) eaten some grasses that had seeded. These grains would also not look like our modern grains - more like wild rice.

Grains are also full of carbohydrates, which can be easily converted to sugars. Cancer cells feed on sugars and it is believed that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, we may greatly reduce the risk of cancer (which is a growing problem among modern dogs).

Do I really need to use supplements?

If you are providing a good varied diet you will be providing pretty much what your dog needs - all in a highly bio-available form.

As we don't necessarily feed the whole animal (for example eyes, brains, stomach, intestines, etc.) the addition of things like essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary. Oils like salmon or marine oil 4 to 5 days per week will help maintain a soft, healthy coat, keep you pet in good mental focus and help balance the Omega 6 fatty acids found in chicken.

Kelp should be included for its vitamin, mineral, and iodine content.

But remember you are providing a much more nutritious product to begin with when feeding raw, natural foods. They are probably getting more nutritional value now out of a varied raw diet without the supplements that they ever did on kibble.

How do I know what supplement is for what, should I decide to supplement?

B and C vitamins are water soluble, which means whatever the body does not use are eliminated in the urine. You basically cannot "overdo" the vitamins except too much can cause loose bowels. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and it IS possible to cause problems by over supplementing - sometimes the problems can be as bad if not worse than UNDER supplementation.

Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, K AND U, plus beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, protein, amino acids, trace elements and fiber. It reduces tissue damage from radiotherapy, helps bleeding disorders, has antibacterial action against salmonella and has a protein with known anti-tumor activity. It's used as a general tonic, to detoxify the body and to treat colon disorders, hemorrhages, diabetes, ulcers and arthritis.

Kelp contains vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E, plus zinc, biotin, bromine, calcium, choline, copper, inositol, iodine, PABA, potassium, selenium, sodium and sulfur. Its iodine content is very good for glands and organs, especially the thyroid and liver. It can bind with chemical pollutants in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent their absorption by the body. It increases the contractile force of the heart, improves circulation and is often used for hair loss, goiter, ulcers, obesity and mineral deficiency. Equal parts of alfalfa and kelp in your dog's or cat's food provides a vast array of health-enhancing nutrients as a complete vitamin and mineral supplement.

Other green foods you may use include algae (chlorella, spirulina, blue-green), aloe vera, grasses and sea greens. Since these are plants, they should be fed to carnivores in fairly small amounts, proportionately.

Raw meat, fish and eggs provide an array of amino acids/protein, enzymes, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, pantothenic acid, paba, fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, chromium, copper, manganese, selenium, sodium, sulfur, vanadium, zinc and CoQ10.

Raw veggies provide enzymes, antioxidants, beta carotene, carbohydrates, fibre, phytochemicals, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D, E, K, boron, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, paba, pantothenic acid, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur and selenium.

Many of us are of the opinion that our pets, who are healthy, get the vitamins they need from the varied diet they are fed. Many raw feeders supplement and many do not. Again, the choice is yours.

Why is my dog drinking less water daily? Should I be concerned?

No, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned. Raw food is full of naturally occurring water! All the moisture needed to digest raw food is contained in raw food!

Dog’s and cat’s digestive tracts are meant to extract moisture from the food it is digesting. By extracting moisture from food, it helps reduce the incidence of urinary tract disorders, bladder infections and will reduce the volume of fecal matter.

I'm confused, do I have to fast my dog on occasion?

No, you do not have to fast your dog. In nature, canines (wolves, feral dogs, etc.) don't eat everyday. The theory behind fasting our dogs is that it gives their digestive systems a chance to rest. Most people who fast their dogs do it once a week. Many people give recreational bones or liquid meals on fast days to help their dog get through the fast day. The choice to fast is a personal decision. Many dogs will fast themselves and we must listen to them. If your dog doesn’t eat a meal, just put it in the fridge for the next meal. If this is accompanied by a fever, pale gums, or lethargy, consult your vet. But it can be perfectly normal for a healthy, active dog to choose to skip a meal.

The concept of detoxification, is my pet getting worse or better?

When switching a dog or cat over from commercial dog food to Tollden Farms, your pet's body may begin the process of ridding itself of toxins and impurities as it adjusts to the intake of proper nutrients. This process is called detox. Depending on the overall health of your pet, detox may last one week, one month or even several weeks...or may not be noticeable at all. The most common symptoms of detox include vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin. It is normal for any of these detox symptoms to get worse before they get better. Keep your pet as comfortable as possible during this process. Don’t introduce new foods during a period of detoxification. Include some ground pumpkin (canned is fine as long as it’s pure pumpkin and not pie filling), to help firm up loose stools.

Fish? You mean I can really toss my dog a whole fish?

By all means feed fish. While the bone matter in a whole fish does not substitute the bone found in chicken, duck, turkey or rabbit, it can be fed a couple of times a week.

One reason for not feeding too much fish is the thiaminase enzyme in fish...it destroys thimaine (Vitamin B1). Fish especially rich in thiaminase are herring, capelin, suckers, smelts and various carp species, a total of some 50 species, most of which live in fresh water.

A special note with regards to those who live in the Pacific Northwest: salmon and trout can carry the rickettsia organism responsible for salmon poisoning. It's extremely risky to feed raw salmon and trout from the Pacific Northwest.

I've noticed my dog pooping less and it's almost white in colour, while other times it’s very dark brown and softer. Is all this normal?

Yes, this is completely normal for a raw fed dog. The reason your dog fecal matter is greatly reduced is because raw food is highly digestible and does not include “fillers” and grains. The bone content is what will produce whiter fecal matter. If you notice your pet straining when trying to eliminate, you may need to increase the vegetable matter or muscle meats in the diet.

When feeding muscle meats and organ meats, you will notice a softer stool and the colour will be a very dark brown/red colour. This is normal as well.

My pet is constipated. How can I help him?

Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) helps both loose stools and constipation. You can also reduce the meats that contain bone and up the veggies or muscle meat meals, or even add more ground organ meats to the meal.

My dog has diarrhea, what should I do?

If you're just starting to BARF your dog, the diarrhea may be brought on because of the normal detox process (cleansing out the toxins and impurities) OR because you may have added one too many things too quickly. Pure pumpkin, in the can (not pumpkin pie filling), will immediately halt the diarrhea.
We also recommend adding digestive enzymes when introducing a new meat to your pet. This may also help with any potential upset tummies while he develops strong stomach muscles and digestive enzymes to process the wide array of food now being offered.

If you feel detox or a new food item may not be the cause of the diarrhea, do not hesitate to drop off a stool sample to your veterinarian to check for parasites, worms and even unfriendly bacteria. If your dog is put on antibiotics for his/her gastrointestinal upset, make sure you give him plenty of yogurt, Vitamin C & E, during the recovery process.

Why is my dog's stool wrapped in mucous at times? Should I be concerned?

Believe it or not, mucousy stools can appear any time, no matter how long one has been feeding raw diets, and is generally no reason for concern. When first starting raw, this may be a sign that the digestion track is ridding the junk out of its system (normal part of detox). Mucousy stools can also be related to feeding dairy products. If you are feeding dairy, try cutting them out for a few days and see if this was the culprit. It can also mean an inflammation of the intestinal track. If you notice traces of blood, along with the mucousy stool, a trip to the vet is encouraged.

Mucousy stools are also a sign of coccidia (a parasite commonly found in puppies), so you might want to drop off a fecal sample to your vet, and begin treatment. Again, use your judgment...if dog appears ill (gums may be white and not the normal pink/rose color) and is also having frequent bouts of diarrhea that last 24 to 48 hours, call your vet.

My dog vomits early in the morning, what should I do?

We’ve found that dogs who are new to raw feeding and are fed recreational bones can ingest pieces of bone that are too big for their stomachs to pass through their systems. Sometimes pieces of bones stay undigested and dogs will vomit them up with some yellow bile in the early morning hours. This is normal and will subside the longer he chews these bigger bones.

Digesting raw food is normal for dogs, but if they’ve come off years of kibble food, their stomach acids (hydrochloric acid) and stomach muscles aren’t up to that of a “seasoned” raw food eater. As this develops what your dog is able to digest will increase.

I think my dog is allergic to a certain meat...how can I be sure?

If you are truly concerned that something in the diet is causing a problem, the only true way to identify it and remove it is with an elimination diet. Basically, go right back to feeding one thing only for a time (no supplements or anything else, including treats) and then gradually add things back one at a time and watch for a reaction. As every dog is different, this is the only way you will know for sure what your particular dog is reacting to.

If it is not a food-related allergy, changing the diet around - for a dog already on Tollden Farms - is going to have minimal impact. Basically, if the cause of the allergy is still around, your dog is still likely to react to it no matter what you feed.

That said, raw food can have a positive effect in relation to non-food related allergies. This effect, however, is generally LONG TERM. Basically raw helps to build the immune system, which allows your pet to fight off the allergies when they occur. Over time, as the immune system strengthens, this can help to lessen their impact. While some effects may be immediate when switching to raw, some dogs continue subtle improvements over a number of years. In simpler terms, allergies are an over reaction of the immune system usually brought about by a weakness or imbalance in the body (such as vaccinations, a chronic illness, virus, food, environmental, or thing(s) she/he comes in contact with). You can help boost your dog's immune system by increasing Vitamin C (to bowel tolerance) and adding Vitamin E. The herbs Echinacea, Goldenseal Root, or Pau D’arco also help to boost the immune system.

Will feeding raw meat make my dog vicious/mean and make him

Basically, this IS a myth. There is NO causative relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals. It has nothing to do with what a dog or cat is fed and has everything to do with natural prey drive, training and socialization. Remember that kibble has not been around that long. For generations man has been feeding raw meat and bones to their dogs.