Directions from a Vet: How to Transition Your Cat to Answers

Dr_Doug_3724_Silo_BLOG_200x200Guest Contributor— Answers Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Doug Knueven, veteran among veterinarians, examines raw nutrition as a healing power of pets and works to ensure an all-encompassing true health (physical, mental and spiritual) regimen in veterinary medicine for animals. Apart of his work with Answers Executive Veterinary Program, he’s a consultant for Answers product and program development, lecturer, and participant on panel discussions.

How to Transition Your Finicky Cat onto Answers Raw Food

Adult cats tend to be very finicky about their foods. In fact, cats become imprinted on the food they are first fed. They can even become addicted to the shape of the kibble. That’s why each pet food company makes their kitty kibble in distinct shapes.

The companies also spray the surface of the kibble with “animal digest” which is similar to MSG and has a taste cats can’t resist. I liken this to Doritos. I personally do not care much for plain old corn chips. However, when those same chips are sprayed with that delicious, orange, Doritos coating, I can’t resist. Similarly, the cat’s natural proclivity to eat a healthy diet is hijacked by the technology of flavor enhancers. Many cats out there will only eat dry cat food.


Sugar and Spice, Dr. Doug’s Answers Raw transitioned cats.

I have personal experience with switching finicky, dry-food-only felines to raw. Several years ago, I inherited my parents’ cats and these kitties were dry food junkies. When I put raw food in front of them, they looked up at me and said, “We can’t eat this. Are you trying to kill us?” Well, my other cats were all eating raw food, so I told the newcomers, “You’re going to have to eat this food like everyone else.” Each morning and evening, I put a bowl of raw food in front of them, and each time they turned their noses up.

By day three of their hunger strike I think I heard them say, “We’d rather die than eat that raw food.” By the way, although a healthy cat can miss a meal or two, even a healthy cat that does not eat for three days can go into liver failure and die, so I do not recommend the starvation method of food transition. Because of my learning experience, taught by a couple of pros, I have come up with the following finicky cat transition technique.

Easy Steps with Lots of Patience

The first step is to get your cat on a twice-a-day feeding schedule. No matter what your cat may tell you, they do not need a bowl full of food sitting out all day. If cats were in the wild, they would not have dead mice lying around to eat. In fact, cats would have to get their butts off the couch and catch a mouse. And, if they missed that mouse, they would go without a meal.

So, first thing in the morning, you put ½ of your cat’s daily ration in the bowl and put it down for them to eat. If your cat is like most, they are likely to eat a few pieces and walk away, confident it will be there later. But it will not be there later because you are going to let the bowl of food stay down for only 15-20 minutes and then put it up and away.

Then, in the evening when you put a bowl with the other ½ of the daily ration down, your cat is very likely to finish it off. Your cat will quickly (within a few days) get into the new rhythm of eating on schedule. If you have more than one cat, I recommend that you feed them separately, and in different rooms if necessary, so you know if, and how much, each is eating.

It may be best to start the feeding schedule during the week when people are not in the house to hear the cat complain about the lack of readily available vittles. And, if you are home for the transition and your cat does complain, do not give in. Giving your cat food when they get loud and obnoxious will only reinforce the unwanted behavior. You must resist the temptation to give in to your cat’s demands.

Now that your cat is used to eating morning and night, it’s time to start adding the Answers raw cat food. With each feeding, put a teaspoon of raw food on the bottom of the food bowl and put the dry food of top. That way, your kitty won’t have to touch the raw food, but will smell it with every bite of dry food they take. Considering the sensitivity of the feline nose, this is a big step.

Once your cat adjusts to the new aroma, mix the raw food in with a small amount of the dry on the bottom of the bowl. That way, if your cat wants to get a whole belly full of food, they’ll have to eat some that is touching the raw food. Now, very gradually mix in more and more of the raw and less and less of the dry. After a month or so of this process, you should have a totally raw-fed cat.

If your cat likes canned cat food, then switching can be even easier. First of all, be sure to eliminate any dry food, then basically follow the procedure above – get kitty on a feeding schedule and very gradually mix in the raw food. You may need to start with a teeny, tiny, little portion of Answers raw. And remember, most cats can stand to miss a meal or 2 so don’t give in too easily.

For many cats, the owner has to really want their companion to eat a healthy, raw diet. It takes persistence and a slightly deaf ear, but it can be done. If I can make raw eaters out of my parents’ cats, I know you can do the same for your kitty.

2 Keys for Transitioning your Dog onto a Raw Food Diet

Switching from processed dog foods to raw foods places your pet on the road to ideal health. To help you make a success of the switch, we focus on our two key principles for transitioning any dog onto a raw food diet.


What to know when making the transition

Processed or kibble foods are riddled with addictive ingredients, much like junk food, that can make switching to raw more challenging than we’d like.

Depending on the quality and longevity of the diet your dog is transitioning from, they may be more resistant to change. Many pets are picky about certain consistency, texture, and smells when a new food varies from what they’re accustomed to, even before sampling it.

That’s why the following principles are so important to a successful feeding transition process for your dog.


Answers™ 2 Key Principles to A Successful Feeding Transition for Dogs

1. Tough love & timing.

Typically, dogs are in the habit of eating when they are being presented with food.

So, introduce their raw meal in replacement of their food and habitual feeding times. Let it sit out for 30 minutes. If your pet doesn’t eat, take the food way, refrigerate and wait an hour or so. Repeat.

When you give them their raw food, let it sit out. Pets can be picky to temperature. Counter-intuitively, fermented raw foods can sit out at room temperature up to 8 hours. In fact, the longer it sits out, the more good bacteria populates the food, the healthier it is.

Repeat this method until your dog understands that when you place the food out, it’s time to eat. They will soon understand the pressure of eating when presented with raw food, otherwise the food will be taken away.

(Important Reminder: never, ever try the tough love method when transitioning a cat to raw foods; cats are much pickier and will actually starve themselves if they don’t have access to a food they like.)


2. Transition slowly, please.

Some dogs will take to raw food immediately, but some will not.

Introduce a small amount of the raw food at first. Add 1/4 of our raw product and/or a raw fermented milk or bone broth to their current diet, and then gradually continue to add more raw food to their diet until the ratio reaches 0:1, and you are feeding your pet a 100% raw food diet.


Why it’s so worth it: 8 benefits of raw feeding for pets

. + Odorless breath and white teeth, free of tartar and dental disease
. +  Shiny, smooth, oil-free coats
. +  Healthy skin, odorless body
. +  Improved energy and vitality
. +  Chronic allergies and infections subside and/or disappear
. +  Decreased visits to the vet
. +  Reduction in bowel movements; ?stool is firm and nearly odorless
. +  Clear eyes and ears

Ready to get started? Learn more about the benefits of a raw food diet for your dog’s health and the positive effect it can have on kidney health, liver health, senior dogs, and more.

Answers Raw Diet Saved My Dog

Mo_BLOG_200x200Guest Contributor—Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. As a non-profit executive for many years, Maureen left her position in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others.

I feel compelled to start by saying that I am not a veterinary professional. I have no medical expertise of any kind. I am a dog behavior expert and a typical dog owner who would do anything to protect my dogs and keep them healthy and happy. I have had dogs my entire life, but it was not until 2014, not long after our beloved collie mix Macy had a near fatal experience, that my dogs’ nutrition became a focus of my dog-loving life.

Macy is momma dog type of girl. We took her as a foster from a municipal shelter the week before she gave birth to 9 robust puppies. She was a great mother. She is an equally great friend, to me and Deb and to our three other dogs. She is a role model for my client dogs, and often steps in to provide calm assurance to my anxiety rehab cases. Macy is smart and funny. With some herder DNA, she is prone to nip for attention and to talk and “whisper bark” at us if we are not paying attention. She is the kind of dog who is so smart and endearing that you would swear she has a sense of humor. She is simply wonderful.

So, when Macy suddenly developed severe symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and lethargy, with a distended and painful abdomen and fever, we were terrified. She almost did not survive. She was hospitalized for days and eventually diagnosed with pancreatitis. We are forever grateful to the veterinarians and staff who saved her life.

Her recovery was slow, and we were tremendously careful to follow the strict orders to feed her only Royal Canine ID and nothing else. No treats, no homemade food, no exceptions. We were told that if we did not keep Macy on this strict and limited diet for the rest of her life, that her pancreatitis would return, and she may not survive. At that time, our fear prevented us from asking questions or exploring options. We just bought our Royal Canine and stuck to the plan.

As the months went by with Macy’s interest in food lukewarm and her energy levels somewhat low, we crossed paths through our dog rescue with some folks who were bringing healthy, holistic and organic pet food options to our hometown of Louisville, KY. The woman leading this effort to transform pet owner awareness about nutrition, Kim, also happened to have a pancreatic dog and she and her boy, Otto, had been down the same path we were on with Macy.

As our conversations progressed about our dogs, we expressed our concerns about Macy’s overall well-being with her nutritional consumption limited to a food that was not only devised in a laboratory, but also consisted of things like corn, soy, beet pulp and animal by-products. While our trusted veterinarians seemed to feel more secure about the prescription food, they did not see Macy’s energy dim and her enthusiasm fade about food, play, walks, etc. She was free of pancreatic symptoms for those months while she ate only her prescription food. There is no doubt about that – the prescription food prevented symptoms. But she was consuming so much unhealthy material and we worried about how that would affect her health and quality of life. We did not want to trade one evil for another evil that just chipped away at Macy more slowly.

Kim shared with us her journey with Otto, one that took him from prescription food to a balanced raw diet with a complete disappearance of Otto’s pancreatitis. We met Otto and saw a happy, active and robust dog. We owed it to Macy to educate ourselves and to take responsibility for her health, her whole health. So, our research began. We read everything we could find. We talked to people with years of experience in different types of raw diets and we studied the diet and products offered by Answers. Our friend, Kim, used Answers and praised not only the quality and healthfulness of their products, but also the company’s value systems and prioritizing of animal health, small business, local sourcing and so much more. We studied until we knew that it was time to act for Macy.

In 2014, we spent four months transitioning Macy from her prescription kibble to Answer’s Detailed Beef, supplemented by goats milk and fish stock. The transparency of Answers product and practice made it easy for us to take control of the fat that Macy consumed while also providing her with a balanced and healthy source diet. At the end of the four months, Macy had no symptoms of pancreatitis and she was dancing for her food again. She could not wait to eat, and her overall energy increased noticeably. Her playful nature returned, and walks became a pleasure again. We had our girl back in full form. Macy was again sassy and happy.

Once she was on a full Answers raw diet, we kept a very close eye on her with daily observation for any signs of belly issues. We were prepared to act at the first sign of problems. But months went by, then years, and Macy was the picture of health. Her teeth improved, her muscle tone improved, and she ate with the enthusiasm of a puppy.

Here we are now in 2020. Macy’s health has been outstanding since we moved her to Answers, without any sign of pancreatitis since her diagnosis. We have even been able to expand Macy’s diet to healthy treats in addition to her meals and supplements. At a recent vet visit, we were having some lumps on Macy checked because she is an old lumpy girl now. All lumps were cleared as benign. Because we are those dog owners, we decided to have the vet do an ultrasound just to know how Macy’s organs are doing and whether she had any internal masses. The vet returned with Macy after the ultrasound and expressed surprise and delight at the pristine condition of all her organs. He said that she could not be in better shape internally.

Macy is at least 15 years old now, and while her joints may ache and her back legs may be getting weak, she is full of life and joy. We are certain that we still have Macy today because of the quality of her nutrition. It is the reason for her longevity and for the superior quality of her life. All of our dogs are following in Macy’s footsteps, and every dog who comes along in the future will be an Answers dog.

About the author: Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT, Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen owns Downward Dog Canine Transformation in Emerald Isle, NC where she provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. Before moving to North Carolina, Maureen founded Saving Sunny, Inc., a rescue that prioritizes Pitbull-type dogs, as well as services to underserved and low-income communities in Louisville, KY. For nearly 10 years she volunteered for Saving Sunny as a Board Member and as the leader of their behavior program, which rehabilitated shelter dogs to improve their adoptability. Maureen also provided free behavior services on behalf of Saving Sunny to low income families to help prevent the need to surrender dogs to shelters for behavioral issues. During her tenure with Saving Sunny, Maureen decided to leave her career as a non-profit executive in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others, before starting Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP).



Our Answers family absolutely loves our dogs and cats. (You may have guessed that!) We’re always happy to take in a furry new family member and often find our lives profoundly changed by each new addition, and our love for each unique personality.

So, this holiday season, we’d thought it would be fun to share the story of one adorable and lucky dog adopted this year by an Answers family member and the head of the Answers HR department.

The Story of Judah

Meet Judah. Here’s what we know about him. He was found over the summer along the Texas/Mexico border. His tail had been cut (possible home cropping gone wrong) and he was chained to a fence and left to starve.

 His “owners” moved and took their other two dogs, but left Judah for dead. Amazingly, he fought infection and wounds, and his tragedy turned him into a gentle giant who just wants to be loved.

Judah_Rescue_1024We believe he is about a year and a half old and predominately American Staffordshire Terrier. He is a big boy, most recently weighing in just over 75 lbs., and is expected to pack on some more weight.

Since adopting him from the rescue, we have fully transitioned him to @answerspetfood raw diet with an introduction to our fermented cow milk kefir and raw cow cheese bites to his pre-existing diet. Shortly after, he took to our raw diet seamlessly. His favorite foods thus far are Beef Detailed Formula, our kefir and raw cheese bites. Within a few days, we noticed Judah had more energy, required less water, and his bowel movements were less frequent and smaller. His coat is becoming soft and wounds are on the mend. He is thriving.

Avoiding any unnecessary stress, we’ve also given him Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice because it’s high in Glycine. Glycine produces a calming effect and aids in sleep.

The kids have already established a few cute nicknames for him like “Judy with the booty” and “Jude the Dude”, they also think his “hot dog tail” is quite comical.

He has no idea the glamorous life he’s about to live and we are so blessed to have him. Welcome to the family big guy!

We wish a wonderful holiday season to all Answers pets and all the “new adoptions” that 2019 brought to our homes as fuzzy gifts of love we’ll cherish for years to come.

Share your holiday pet photos, and stories of how your new pet joined your family on our Facebook page and/or at info@answerspetfood.comJudah.Outside.1024