Review: Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, Raw Dog Food

My dog has been a picky eater since the day we brought him home. He turned his nose up at the training treats we bought, his kibble, even the cooked chicken I made him when he wasn’t interested in anything else! I figured something had to be wrong with him. I mean, what dog turns up their nose to meat?

Turns out I am not the only one who thinks that dogs deserve fresh, real foods. Darwin’s Natural Pet Products is a company that understands that dogs are not so far off from their wild relatives and have dietary needs and desires that aren’t usually satisfied by most conventional pet foods.

About Darwin’s Natural Pet Products:

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products was founded by Gary Tashjian to help his dog Max deal with the symptoms of arthritis. When he switched Max to a raw, high protein, moderate fat, low carb diet he was amazed by the effect it had on his dog. Max was more energetic and suffered from fewer symptoms.

Gary then switched his other dog, Casey, and saw a radical improvement in skin conditions that Casey suffered from.

Darwin’s has since been committed to producing high-quality food that is raw and natural, keeping your dog as healthy as possible.

Why Raw Meat:

Many dogs can and should eat raw meat. Meat is at its most nutrient-dense when raw and is closer to what a dog’s ancestors would eat in the wild.

But not all dogs are equipped to eat raw meat. Some no longer produce enough stomach bile to safely break down raw meat and prevent bacteria from growing.

Consult with a vet prior to switching your dog’s diet. Each dog is unique, and so are his or her dietary needs.

Eating raw meat, even for a dog, is pretty unconventional these days, but many owners report amazing benefits if your dog can handle raw meat.

  • Stronger immune system
  • A dramatic decrease in common skin conditions and diseases
  • Higher energy levels
  • A longer and healthier life

It’s important to note that there’s not much research into these benefits yet – but some studies have shown that lightly cooked (steamed) food is actually more digestible than raw!

Darwin’s raw meat products are never cooked. But if your dog requires cooked meat to reduce pathogen intake, lightly cooking Darwin’s foods can be a safe and healthy alternative to raw meat that still contains a high level of nutrients.

Also, many traditional dog foods contain preservatives, fillers, grains, and synthetic additives, all of which are hard for your dog to break down and can have a negative effect on his or her health. Darwin’s is free of all of these extra ingredients.

Quick Facts About Darwin’s Natural Pet Food:

  • Gluten-free and grain-free
  • All meats are hormone and steroid free
  • Ethical meat farming
  • Veterinary prescription meals available
  • An organic and economical line of food available
  • 75% Meat, 25% veggies, and a nutrient blend. That’s it!

Your First Shipment:

I am not going to lie, I was SO excited when our first box came. The food comes with dry ice to keep the meat cold, which is great and you don’t have to worry that anything became too warm. In fact, our shipment was still solid as a rock when it arrived! 

At first, I was a little overwhelmed by how much packaging was involved (Kayla had a similar experience with Nom Nom Now).

There were sheets of Styrofoam, the meals came in a big plastic bag, not mention in plastic themselves, and a plastic thawing container (which sadly broke, I think do to the dry ice). 

Immediately I was hesitant to think I would ever order from them again, but then I actually got into the contents of the box and saw they printed a return label with instructions to return all the packing materials so they can be reused.

How awesome is that!

I would have a really hard time justifying all this material every time we ordered food, but now I feel like the only waste happening is the plastic that each meal comes wrapped in, which is far less than what I originally thought. 

We received the Darwin’s Natural Selections lamb and beef, since these are meats Peanut is familiar with.

Darwin’s has two lines of non-prescription dog food, Natural Selections and BioLogics:

  • Natural Selections is the premium line of food and uses organic vegetables, grass-fed beef, and cage-free poultry.
  • BioLogics is the more economical line. While the formula for Biologics is the same as Natural Selections, it uses conventionally grown meats and veggies.  

I don’t mind spending more to use a dog food that sources from ethically raised animals and organic veggies, so I like to get Natural Selections. 

The First Meal:

Darwin’s points out that most dogs take immediately to raw food, no surprise, but there are ways to help ease the transition if your dog isn’t immediately digging his new food, so don’t despair!

Darwin’s makes this incredibly easy. Your shipment contains pamphlets on how to handle raw meat, how to slowly switch your dog from their traditional food to raw, and tips and tricks if you are having a hard time getting them to eat.

It is recommended that dog’s eat 2-4% of the body weigh in food. Peanut weighs about 12 ½ pounds, which is 200 oz., which means 4% is 8 oz., which is one patty.

Smaller and more active dogs should eat at the higher end of this percentage range; since Peanut hikes with us a lot and is small he needs more.

I am pretty thankful that the numbers came out so evenly for us. I don’t ever have to measure since I know each patty is 8 oz., and I can just approximate half for the morning and give the rest at night.

If , for example, your dog requires 27 oz. a day, or some other number that might require you to use only part of a patty, it might be nice to invest in a scale to make sure they are getting the proper amount.

The day before Peanut was switched to raw I put two patties into the fridge. We started with lamb since that was the meat in his dry kibble. 

I was so impatient! I wanted to try feeding Peanut the moment we got the shipment, but A.) It was frozen and B.) Darwin’s recommends fasting your dog the night before, so I just had to wait.

Since my thawing container broke, I just made a new one with a tupperware container and labeled it so I wouldn’t use it for anyhting else. It is a perfect way to store any leftover food until the next meal.

The next morning I couldn’t wait to feed Peanut!

Since Peanut doesn’t really like kibble, I wanted to see what his attitude was towards pure raw food. I broke from the convention a bit and fed him just the raw meat.

It is probably best to follow the slower transition by combining raw and conventional kibble, and slowly increasing the amount of raw meat and decreasing the amount of kibble, but since my dog was eating so sporadically anyways I figured I would just give the raw meat a shot.

Wow. I think it is safe to say Peanut likes Darwin’s raw food.

I have never seen him, or any dog for that matter, so excited about food! He ate his meals, or inhaled it rather, in under a minute!

True vacuum cleaner style.

It was amazing. He licked his bowl cleaning and started banging it around the kitchen floor asking for more. I was so excited! Finally, Peanut would be able to eat on a regular schedule, because he actually wanted to eat now! 

That night he was at his bowl, waiting. He had never done this before in his life.

When I opened the fridge to get the rest of his food he started prancing up and down on his hind legs. I even mixed in some kibble, in hopes of preventing a bowel movement revolution from switching him so quickly, and he ate all the kibble too!

We definitely have a raw food fan on our hands.

30 seconds later…

Over the next week, we more of less followed the transition plan, though at a quicker pace, and now Peanut eats just his raw food and is loving it.

Results From Our Darwin’s Pet Products Test:

Peanut has been on his new Darwin’s diet for a few weeks and there have been some noticeable differences.

One of the first big differences I noticed was his poop. They were smaller, firmer, and didn’t smell nearly as bad! 

I don’t know if he necessarily has noticeably more energy – he is young and has always been an energetic dog, but he does seem to have more endurance.

Just the other day we did a six-mile hike, which is a lot for him, with a decent amount of elevation gain and he was leading the way the whole time! 

His coat also already seems to be taking on a slightly different texture. Since Peanut has terrier in him, he has a mixture of wiry hair and smooth hair.

The wiry hairs have become softer and his coat has taken on a slightly shinier appearance. 

And lastly, something I didn’t expect but am really pleased about, Peanut’s teeth are not developing tartar or stains nearly as quickly as they did when he was on his kibble.

I do try to brush his teeth every other day, but I’m only human and definitely forget sometimes, and have noticed that where he tended to get buildup before, even if I just missed a few days, his teeth now are much healthier looking.

What I Love About Darwin’s Natural Pet Products:

We already know that Peanut loves it, but here are some of my favorite things about Darwin’s Natural Pet Products

  • There are five different types of meat to choose from: duck, lamb, turkey, chicken, and beef. Some dogs have sensitivities to certain meats, so I love the variety you can choose from. Also, it is good to regularly change up your dog’s diet.
  • You can find the complete nutrition info on Darwin’s website. My family also has a dog that suffers from epilepsy. Our holistic vet suggested switching him to a low carb food, but most dog food makers don’t list the carb content. Darwin’s gives you the carb percentage, which helps us make an informed decision when getting him the proper nutrition he needs. 
  • I love being able to get a dog food with grass-fed, cage-free, hormone free, and antibiotic-free meats and organic vegetables. 
  • Worry free feeding. Darwin’s flash freezes their meats to preserve the nutrients and help prevent any harmful bacteria. Now I know my dog is getting the proper balance of meat, fats, carbs, and vitamins and minerals, without and hassle on my end.

What I Don’t Love About Darwin’s Natural Pet Products:

I love Darwin’s because they make food for my dog to the standards that I would make it, but without me having to do any of the work.

That said, I think the biggest drawback for most people would be the price. I am pretty lucky, Peanut is small and doesn’t require too much food in a day.

Our average cost comes out to about  $3.50/day for Natural Selections beef or duck, which really isn’t that bad.

But depending on the size of your dog and which type of meat you get, you could be looking at spending a decent chunk of money per week.

My family’s dog is 37 pounds, still not that big but substantially larger than Peanut, and they would be looking at spending more like $6.00/day for the cheapest option (BioLogics chicken) or upwards of  $12.10/day (Natural Selections Duck).

Now imagine having a 70+ lbs. dog, or multiple dogs…that would be pricey.

But I believe that if you are committed to having a dog or cat as a family member, you should provide them with the best possible nutrition to support a long and healthy life.

In the long run, you could be saving yourself expensive visits to the vet to treat skin or health conditions that might have been prevented with a raw diet.

I know for some people feeding their dog Darwin’s could be cost prohibitive and may not be possible on a regular basis.

If anything, you could consult with a Darwin’s representative or your vet about switching your dog to a mixture of raw and conventional food.

At the very least, incorporating some natural, nutrient dense raw food might help your dog.

Overall Impressions:

I rarely find something that both Peanut and I love. Darwin’s Natural Pet Products has been such an amazing change for us. From the health benefits to Peanut’s actual enjoyment in eating now, Darwin’s has changed the way we look at our dog’s nutrition.

I feel as though the control of what our dog eats has been put back into our hands, but without exhausting effort on our part.

Darwin’s makes sure you are well informed and offers plenty of support, whether you have questions about nutrition info, how to help a picky dog, or the benefits of a raw diet, they are there to answer your questions and help you make the best choice for your dog and your lifestyle. 

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