We work a lot with myths in the pet industry, and in a lot of ways it’s no different from the human food industry. Apparently food lobbying brought into existence the grain-heavy food pyramid, which has now been changed into the food plate. Studies come out all the time about this food or that food, and I’ve seen red meats demonized, breakfast cereals recommended, and the benefits of veganism vs. paleo vs. keto debates, and, ultimately, it’s obvious the unfortunate reality of what the American diet is doing to a lot of us.

It’s a lot to navigate. This is especially true when there’s industry interest in promoting one thing or another. It’s the same thing with pet health - likely you want to do what’s best for your pet, but there’s so much information out there it’s hard to know what exactly is best. Often even the “watchdogs” of pet health spread misinformation or don’t completely do their research.

I’m ruminating on this after Raw Month has ended because likely you’ve been left with questions on raw foods. I’ve addressed some issues such as cleanliness and given some options for pet owners with various concerns with our partial brand lists, but I think there is still more to note.

The first is there may be some surprising ingredients in some of our foods. You’ll notice some raw foods, for example, contain garlic. What’s this about? Isn’t garlic supposed to be toxic for dogs and cats?

While, yes, garlic does belong to the allium family, which is the same family as onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. Onion is most resoundingly toxic for dogs and cats, and to many other mammals. When I started reading about garlic, I came across repeated anecdotal evidence of horses and cows and other animals eating wild onions back in the day, and then showing signs of being poisoned. And, yes, garlic does contain thiosulphate, n-propyldisulfide, and other sulfides referenced that I don’t completely understand. These combinations and alterations of sulfur can impact the blood, possibly causing Heinz body anemia.

Definitely don’t feed your pets onions in any form or quantity.

So this doesn't look good for garlic. But, as always, there’s a twist. Apparently the main study cited when discussing the dangers of garlic was a small sample size (four dogs taking the garlic, four dogs as a control). Furthermore, each dog was fed an excessive amount of garlic for almost two weeks. For some dogs that meant several heads of garlic, while for others it meant several cloves. At the end of the study, the dogs had shown changes in their blood and some had developed Heinz bodies, but no dog had yet developed anemia.

This is a really extreme study, and it goes to show how our bodies can differ from our pets in ways we don’t expect. But does this mean that garlic truly has the potential to kill our furry companions?

The advice I’ve found on the internet (so, legit) says, yes, treat giving your pets garlic with care. For example, puppies should absolutely not be eating garlic, as their bodies don’t regenerate blood cells as frequently. Of course, take care with any pregnant animals, and those that already have anemia or blood issues. Cats are more sensitive than dogs, reportedly, so be more cautious with the amounts you give them. Finally, the frequency with which you feed them garlic should be changed according to health and season; this is because garlic apparently does build up in the system, and so feeding too consistently may cause problems. You may want to feed it seasonally because garlic is a touted natural remedy for making blood less appealing to fleas and ticks!

Recommended doses of garlic for dogs, according to Dogs Naturally. Try smaller proportions for cats.

The type of garlic you feed and how you prepare it also matters. One thing I’ve learned in my admittedly sparse discoveries of food chemistry is that chopping vegetables can cause certain compounds to mix and become even more beneficial for health. This is true for garlic. Mincing fresh garlic releases more of those healthful properties. That being said, using garlic powder or garlic from the jar might not cut it (pun not intended). Many of our customers at HPNW, for example, are worried about feeding their pets food or treats that come from China, as China doesn’t have the best track record in this area. The same principle applies to garlic - we can’t always be sure where it comes from in some forms, so fresh, organic, garlic you can get in the produce section at the grocery store might be your best bet.

Overall, my personal belief is that there are some benefits to eating garlic in small doses. But, as a precaution, please find your own sources and consult a vet if you have any further questions. Here is a more comprehensive article about foods dogs and cats can’t eat, and there are some cases of garlic poisoning on the list for those who are curious.

One final note for those families that grow herbs inside: if your cat enjoys nibbling on chives, as mine does, keep in mind that chives are a part of the same family as onions, and your cat might run the risk of getting sick. Try hanging them away from other surfaces, or put them in a hard-to-reach place. If your cat eats small quantities, it’s probably fine, but there just isn’t the same amount of research there, so be safe!

What do you think of feeding garlic to pets? Have you ever tried one of our foods with garlic in them?


Healthy Pets Northwest was founded twenty years ago with the goal of helping pets live longer, happier, healthier lives. It breaks our hearts when we here about people losing a pet for any reason because we know from experience how hard and painful it is. We also understand why the recent reports from the FDA combined with news coverage and social media attention about canine dilated cardiomyopathy (CDM) and diet are causing such concern.

In our twenty years, we have been through minor recalls to massive recalls like the one in 2007 that emptied store shelves. This current scare is not the same. That does not mean that we are ignoring or downplaying the issue. We are looking at all the facts we can find from every trusted, reliable source available, including the FDA.

In its most recent report on June 27, 2019, the FDA tried to clear up some of the rumors and misinformation from its earlier reports. This is one of the conclusions the FDA reached in its own report:

"Therefore, we do not think these cases can be explained simply by whether or not they contain grains, or by brand or manufacturer. To put this issue into proper context, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. As of April 30, 2019, the FDA has received reports about 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM suspected to be linked to diet. Tens of millions of dogs have been eating dog food without developing DCM.”

The FDA also admitted in that report that it does not even know whether this is a real crisis or not.

“Because the occurrence of different diseases in dogs and cats is not routinely tracked and there is no widespread surveillance system like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for human health, we do not have a measure of the typical rate of occurrence of disease apart from what is reported to the FDA.”

What else do we know from the FDA report?

  • There was no recall, just a listing of brands associated with reports.
  • Foods from small manufacturers to the three largest were on the list.
  • Not all the foods on the list were “grain-free.”
  • Chicken was the most commonly fed protein.
  • The overwhelming majority of dogs in the report ate only dry kibble.
  • 25% of cases involved dog breeds predisposed to DCM.
  • Nutritional levels between grain-free and grain-containing products were similar.
  • Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP).
  • The FDA does not recommend changing foods.
  • The FDA is continuing to study the issue.

What can you do going forward?

  1. Add raw food to your pet’s diet. The amino acids taurine, cystine, and methionine only come naturally from animal sources. Even a little bit on a regular basis will go a long way to improving your pet’s health.
  2. Rotate your pet’s diet. Change proteins, manufacturers and even food types. If you are uncomfortable with raw, we recommend adding freeze-dried, lightly cooked, and canned foods to your dog’s diet. Just remember, if your dog is not used to variety, go slowly and give his system a chance to adapt. Michael and Barb feed Meadow a variety of proteins like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, venison, duck and rabbit using raw, freeze-dried and canned foods.
  3. Add meaty treats. Freeze-dried muscle meat, liver and heart are super additions, with chicken liver and hearts leading the way for the highest natural taurine.
  4. Add raw, fermented goat’s milk and kefir. These are super sources of nutrition and probiotics.

These are not new recommendations from us. They have been part of our nutritional philosophy since the very beginning of Healthy Pets Northwest.

What if you are still concerned about “grain-free?”

Talk with us and we’ll be glad to make recommendations for foods that include grains and that do not contain legumes or potatoes. We carry a wide range of options because we know dogs have different needs and families have different situations and budgets.

If you have questions, please reach out to us. We are here to help.

We know there is a lot of information to go through, and that the situation is still up in the air. Please be assured, that we will take appropriate steps if actionable information comes to light.
We thank you for trusting us with your pet’s health and we promise to do everything we can to deserve your trust every day.

Barb Cantonwine, Michael Carroll, Donna Trilli and Dennis Breslin
The Healthy Pets Northwest Ownership


I last wrote about the benefits of going raw for pets. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and click on over to see why we at Healthy Pets NW support feeding raw.

Otherwise, I’m starting the first of my lists regarding raw brands we love. Today we’re talking about the fun, mildly frivolous but incredibly important, realm of treats!

You may be skeptical. They’re just treats, right? Dogs will mostly eat anything and cats are so notoriously picky, so why bother?

Well. There are actually a couple of convincing reasons to invest in raw treats for your pet.

Freeze-dried duck hearts from Momentum

The first is for training. We all know the importance of training a dog properly in its first years, and even old dogs are willing to learn new tricks - for a price. Sure, your dog may sit for that biscuit, but trainers these days will share the importance of using high-value treats for the best results. Raw foods, especially those novel proteins, can be very persuasive for teaching your dog to behave a certain way, or for inspiring them to associate, say, a trip to the vet with something less painful.

The same goes for cats who are, rumor has it, trainable, but need the right kind of enticements.

The impact of high-value raw treats has been exemplified with my dogs. My little gremlin refused to be trained for much - she’d sit there staring as my big black dog learned to play dead, army crawl, and the basics. It wasn’t until we brought home some nice, stinky, salmon that she laid her head on her paws in an approximation of playing dead. Success? We’ll take it.

Animals really can be a lot easier to train when you have something they want. Furthermore, even feeding a small bit of raw can have health benefits; we sell some beef hearts that are a great source of taurine for cats, as well as fish rolls that clean teeth, and any raw food could also be used as a high value treat.

With no more delay, here are some of my favorite raw options for cats and dogs.

Vital Essential freeze-dried minnow

Anything from the Vital Essentials Raw Bar

This is both gruesome and exciting stuff. The contents of our raw bars vary across stores, but generally you may be able to find bully sticks, pig ears, fish skins, and any other variety of body parts. They are freeze-dried, chewy, and can be gross, but they are great snacks and distractions for your pets. They’re marketed as being for dogs, but I’ve known a few cat owners who really like feeding them to their kitty. I also especially like Vital Essentials’ packaged minnows, which have that strong scent but are less likely to be contaminated by mercury or other toxic chemicals in the ocean.

Sojos Simply Wild freeze-dried boar treats

Sojos Freeze-Dried Simply Wild Treats

Sojos was the first raw food on the market, if I’m remembering my facts correctly. While Healthy Pets NW generally sells the turkey and chicken freeze-dried foods, the Simply Wild treats have great novel protein options. You can find goat, wild boar, and venison among their offerings, as well as the more conventional proteins like beef and salmon. The treats themselves aren’t too large and are delightfully crunchy. Personally, I get really excited about the goat option - my dogs go crazy for it!

Primal raw meaty bones, also look for NWN Naturals bones

Primal Meaty Bones

At the Woodstock store, we keep in our freezer a lot of raw bones. I’m recommending Primal, but they’re not the only brand we carry. In general, raw bones can be quite good for animals - there are of course the benefits animals get from the meat on the bone, but the bones themselves provide calcium, and the scraping of your pet’s teeth against said bones can help with dental health! We always recommend feeding bones under supervision, just to be safe. Askour sales associates which bones could be right for your pet!

Momentum freeze-dried beef hearts

Momentum Freeze-Dried Treats

We were so excited when we got this stuff in stock. The heart and tripe options are a fantastic way to get additional essential nutrients into your pets - taurine for cats, probiotics, iron, the works. Often I wish that people in our culture ate more organ meats to get more nutritional benefits - seriously, eating diversely is a great way to guarantee health - but I’ve tried to cook heart and lungs here in Peru and haven’t been able to make myself accustomed to it. Your animals though? They’ll eat this stuff without any issues.

Answers Raw Goat Milk and Cheese

I used to love goat products before I discovered my lactose intolerance extended to goat lactose. Utterly tragic. But for dogs and cats, this stuff can be really good. Answers ferments their goat products, and so there are additional probiotics in their milk and cheese - if pumpkin isn’t doing it for your pet, Answers could be the answer. In addition to the fermentation, their products have anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger and cinnamon, and anti-inflammatory and antibacterial raw honey. This stuff is so good, some of the staff eat it themselves.

These are five of some incredible raw treats we have on hand at Healthy Pets NW, but there are so many more options than that. If you’re thinking of dipping your toes in the raw pool, have a picky pet, or need your animal to behave a little better, these are great choices - but you can always ask our sales associates for their favorite products as well. We at Healthy Pets NW are happy to help!

Which treats on the list have you tried for your pet?

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