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Answers to common store, delivery, raw feeding and nutrition questions
We have 13 stores across New Zealand. Check out Find Our Stores for locations, hours, and contact details. We love it when you bring your pets in, too!
Our retail stores are open Monday - Sunday between 9am - 6pm. Check out Find our Stores for locations and opening hours.
You can shop our online store 24/7 and we monitor our online chat during usual store hours.
We have a strong team in place that can help change a diet, with different levels of support available depending on the complexity of the case.
However, we only offer dietary advice and support and cannot offer you veterinarian support. If your pet is unwell, please contact your regular vet. Likewise, if your pet has a medical condition, is medicated, or sees the vet often we strongly recommend you chat to your vet before changing diets.
A Raw Essentials diet should cost about the same as a ‘premium’ veterinary diet, but this can vary with costs based on product availability, what you are feeding and the age and condition of your pet.
Costs can vary based on
If you are worried about your costs, please let us know. We may be able to help you find ways to save money, without compromising variety and quality.
No, at this stage our online store is set up for home delivery only.
Yes, we do! A selection of our products are available in bulk, which is a great option to keep costs down - especially if you have a big freezer. Here is a full list of products available in bulk.
Due to the perishable nature of our frozen product, we are unable to accept returns for individual product units that weigh more than 1kg, and ask that you select and purchase your product carefully.
See our Returns Policy for more information.
For the time-being, we do not wholesale our products.
Thanks for enquiring though!
As our product is frozen, we have worked hard to find sustainable (i.e. non polystyrene) packaging solutions to minimise defrost within the various delivery windows we offer. However, due to the length of some delivery runs, we have implemented some minimum order requirements to maintain product quality and reduce the chance of defrost.
We suggest you be home (or close by!) for the delivery as the product will need to be put straight into the freezer. Some of our larger or bulk orders will be okay to be left outside for a couple of hours if in a cool place.
At the moment, we can only make frozen product deliveries within Auckland and Wellington (and surrounding areas) but we are looking to expand this service as soon as possible. Refer to Delivery for more information.
Our delivery fees start at $9.99 per order and varies based on total order weight. Check our Delivery for more information.
We have three delivery options across Auckland:
We have one delivery option in Wellington and Wairarapa:
Check out Delivery for more information
We suggest you're close to home at the time of delivery so the product can be popped straight into your freezer (we can not take any responsibility for the package once it is delivered).
If you are not going to be home at the time of delivery, please leave instructions for the courier at the checkout so we can ensure your delivery is left in a safe and cool area of your property. You will be notified by our couriers once the delivery has been made via text message.
We've worked hard to find sustainable (i.e. non polystyrene) packaging solutions to minimise defrost within the various delivery windows we offer. For our longer delivery runs (Wednesday in Auckland and Sunday in Wellington) we pack orders with ice packs and foil pouches to help insulate the product.
We use Urgent Couriers to deliver your order. They provide a great tracking system including text messages once the order has left for delivery and once it has arrived. Once delivered, we can not take any responsibility for your package so we advise you to be close to home at the time of delivery so your product can be put straight into the freezer.
No, we do not currently export any of our product.
As a rule, no. Wherever possible we will source locally as this fulfils our vision of a truly sustainable and local supply chain.
From time to time, we have had to use imported raw material from Australia when a product is temporarily unavailable in New Zealand, however this has happened extremely infrequently.
Every product we sell has a batch number, expiry date, and processing plant identifier.
And, for every product batch, we have details regarding the raw product's source. For example, for a venison-based product, we would know that a particular deer was brought in by Alan the hunter on a specified date, and Alan might have been hunting deer on a specific station in North Canterbury.
In time, we aim to give customers this information in real time, to lift our supply chain transparency.
Raw Essentials was founded as a sustainable and ethical model to change the way pet food is sold and consumed in New Zealand. With next-to-no marketing budget, but with expert knowledge at point of sale, we have opened thirteen retail shops, selling nutrient dense food to resolve health issues for pets with chronic disease.
Direct from farm and field, to processing plant, to retail, to consumer, we specialise in nutrient dense, species-appropriate food (including a healing bone broth) which pets love to eat, and owners love to feed. We are focused on soil health, animal health and welfare, plant health and resilience, and promoting the benefits of excellent quality, whole foods.
We examine our food chains to make sure they are equitable for hunters, farmers, processors, retailers, and customers. But, sometimes even the most sustainable and ethical option is not good enough, and we have to make a tough call. We've done this before and stopped using hoki. Despite being certified as a sustainable option, our staff began to have doubts when they did their own research into hoki and by-catch. As a result, the team made a decision that we were not comfortable stocking hoki, which is a common ingredient in mainstream pet foods.
We also looked into our poultry sources after a campaign for Countdown to stock only cruelty-free eggs. We discovered one of our sources had made changes and we were no longer comfortable with the ethics of their operation, so we stopped stocking their product. This was a popular and highly affordable product for our customers - yet we received nothing but support from them over our decision.
More recently, we have stopped stocking products containing palm oil (common in soaps and shampoos). The planting of palm is a major contributor to loss of biodiversity in world forests, and sustainability claims around palm are dubious to say the least!
YES! As part of our delivery service, we have tried to minimise waste wherever possible so have chosen a chilled courier service which means your order will just arrive in a cardboard box (no polystyrene boxes or unnecessary packaging).
Our packaging can be recycled as follows:
In general, yes you can just convert your dog to raw food (a straight swap), however the transition does need to be carefully managed especially if your dog (or cat) is showing signs of digestive stress or under current veterinary care.
At Raw Essentials we will quiz an owner about the health of their animal and put them on a feeding plan that best fits their history and life stage.
Feeding a raw diet is a bit like feeding yourself: you eat a variety of foods, with the expectation that this will meet your nutrient needs over time.
Our biggest tip for balanced raw feeding is to offer a mix of meat, bones, organ & green tripe from a variety of prey sources. As a rule of thumb, we recommend feeding from at least three different prey species over a week. Wild populations of cats and dogs eat meat, bones, organs, and often tripe. They do not just eat meat. Feeding an all-meat diet will cause mineral deficiencies, and is dangerous to your pet's health.
Before you start feeding bones, it's best to chat to one of our staff members for advice. Bones need to be the right size for your pet and new bone eaters need softer, meatier bones to begin with. Check out our Bone Feeding Guide for more info.
We believe fully raw is the way to go. Even though it may be convenient at times, we don't advocate mixing raw with other dry or processed foods as it interferes with the digestive process. A raw food diet requires a stomach with high acidity. The carbohydrates found in processed foods, like biscuits, can lower stomach acidity and impair digestion.
For more info, see Mixed Feeding & Gastric Acidity.
In the freezer. Lots of our customers buy a chest freezer to take advantage of buying in bulk. It will also last 3 days in the fridge once defrosted.
We work out a suggested amount to feed per day based on your pet's age, weight and activity level. As an example, for an adult dog that has an average activity level and wants to maintain current weight, we would recommend they feed approximately 2% of bodyweight per day.
Check out our suggested Feeding Amounts for both cats and dogs.
Remember, though, every pet is different. Monitor their condition closely, and adjust their intake as needed (and let us know if you need help with this too!)
What to use:
Keep separate spaces:
Most of our product is nutritionally suitable for both cats and dogs, so don’t panic if your cat sneaks outside and helps herself to your dog’s dinner. But this situation is best avoided - especially when it comes to dogs accessing the small meaty bone suitable for cats - they could be a choking hazard. Also - pets can find it stressful if they do not have a secure place to eat - and stress can inhibit optimal digestion.
For these reasons, we advise that you plan carefully so that all cats and dogs have their own safe and secure place to eat.
Fully grown dogs do not need to be fed more than once a day. You can feed them more often if you wish, but just make sure that ‘more often’ doesn’t mean extra food! Some people prefer to feed very active, or very lean dogs twice a day. You may want to feed minced product at one meal, and then a meaty bone with a cube or two of tripe later one. Or you may feed minced product on one day, and a meaty bone and tripe the next day. It will all depend on how much food your dog needs. Remember - you are aiming to get a range of nutrients into them over time, not in the space of any one meal.
Cats do better on two (or sometimes more) meals a day - they may eat several times in a day in the wild.
We suggest putting food into a sealed container in the fridge, and letting it defrost overnight before feeding. In the interests of hygiene, use a sealed container that is for your pet’s food only.
Some care does need to be taken when transitioning onto raw food, so as not to overwhelm the gut. As a general rule we recommend feeding a variety of 3 - 4 proteins over a week to make sure your dog or cat is increasing its nutrient range. These can be in one meal or spread out.
We generally recommend feeding defrosted product, but there are exceptions.
It is ok to feed frozen cubes, but you need to be sure that your dog is good at taking their time and chewing. Don’t feed frozen cubes to a ‘gulper’ as they may try to swallow it whole.
Tripe is pretty smelly - some people really struggle to deal with defrosted tripe. In this case, you may wish to feed it frozen, but you need to be sure that your dog is good at taking their time and chewing. In the heat of the summer, food will defrost quickly outside. Again, if your dog is not a ‘gulper’ you may wish to put some frozen food outside and let your dog treat it like a meaty-ice-block.
Some dogs have not had much practice at chewing meaty bones and they will try to ingest them too quickly. Feeding frozen meaty bones can slow a dog down, giving them a chance to get used to using their jaw muscles properly.
We usually find cats prefer their minced products to be defrosted.
Puppies and Kittens can do very well on a raw diet from 8 weeks of age. You will need to monitor growth closely and adjust the food intake to suit (we can help track this).
Come in store to chat to us ahead of bringing your puppy or kitten home. Also, check out our article on Feeding Puppies and Kittens for more information.
Absolutely! However, we recommend natural, minimally processed treats, with no additives or preservatives. They can be a great way to introduce variety into a diet. We have a range of natural treats to choose from that we deliver throughout all of New Zealand.
In most cases there is no need to add supplements to a well-planned raw diet, which means:
Some pets do well on a course of probiotics, or fish oils. In most cases, this supplementation is a temporary measure to control inflammation, and populate the gut with beneficial microbes in order to assist immune function.
However some cats and dogs have a very compromised immune system, and a major microbial imbalance in their gut. These are the animals that will suffer deficiency even on a really good raw diet, or a processed one. Unless the gut health of these animals can be significantly improved, they may benefit from continuous supplementation.
Beef can be an inflammatory protein and we find that many pets get itchy on it, so it's often easier to leave it out of a raw diet. That said, for a healthy dog with a strong microbiome it may be an appropriate protein to feed.
We don't stock beef meat only products however our organs are often sourced from beef and we offer a number of beef-based treats.
A novel protein is a protein source that your pet has not eaten before. For pets previously fed on processed diets (which often contain chicken, lamb, and beef products) rabbit will likely be a novel (or new) protein for them.
For the most part, we recommend feeding against table scraps because it keeps the diet simple and easy to control if we follow the rules of well planned, raw, species-appropriate diets.
DOGS: If your dog has any health issues, we strongly recommend against feeding scraps. The best chance we have of helping you improve your dog's health lies within a tightly controlled diet plan. Any inappropriate nutrients or ingredients can be enough to cause a very annoying set-back. For example - a dog with sensitive skin may be doing really well on their novel protein diet, until someone gives them a crust from their toast, and suddenly the dog is super itchy again.
Wild dogs often have robust constitutions. Domesticated dogs have been subject to many of the same pressures (highly processed foods, antibiotic overuse etc) that have correlated with the rise in allergies and chronic disease in humans. Our pet dogs may be less able to thrive on a diet that includes some scavenged food, compared to their wild counterparts.
If your dog is very robust (no gastro upsets, no itchy skin, so other health issues) and you make the decision to feed them some scraps - please be very selective: make scraps a small part of the diet. Some human foods are toxic to dogs (such as onions), and some are dangerous (cooked bones - the dog on the right in the picture could be in serious trouble if he were to eat that chicken!).
CATS: Cats are very rarely interested in table scraps. And being true obligate carnivores, table scraps are seldom suitable. They are unlikely to provide any nutritional value to your cat.
Raw fish is an excellent source of nutrients, including essential fatty acids. Some species of raw fish contain an enzyme - thiaminase - which destroys a B vitamin required by cats and dogs for good health. For this reason we suggest limiting raw fish to no more than three times a week. Read this for more information about thiaminase and raw fish.
Raw-feeders in the US routinely feed vegetables, but they tend not to be able to access green tripe (which contains plant matter that has been pre-digested by the herbivore that ate it). We are fortunate in New Zealand - we can access a ready supply of high quality green tripe for our pets. So we don't recommend adding vegetables largely because the quality and range of species-appropriate food is excellent, and additional foods are unlikely to be necessary. Read Feeding Vegetables for more information.
And it's a big YES for eggs! Raw eggs are nutrient-dense. The egg white contains avidin (an enzyme) which inhibits biotin (a B vitamin); but it would take a large amount of egg white to cause a biotin deficiency, and mother nature thoughtfully put a whole lot of biotin into the yolk to balance things out. Read Feeding Eggs for more information.
Check out When You Can't Access Raw Essentials for tips and tricks.
At Raw Essentials, our experienced staff will offer you dietary advice and support. A well-planned, species-appropriate raw diet may be very beneficial for a range of health problems, however we are unable to offer you veterinary support.
For this reason - IF YOUR PET HAS A MEDICAL CONDITION, IS MEDICATED, OR IS SEEING THE VET OFTEN - we strongly recommend that you talk to your regular veterinarian BEFORE changing diets.
Dr Rebecca Brown (at our Hamilton store) is able to offer a 'specific and limited range of veterinary services' (in accordance with the VCNZ Code of Professional Conduct) in the form of nutritional support and advice. You will still need to have a regular veterinarian.
If you need help finding a vet who is familiar with raw feeding, we may be able to suggest one. Ask us here.
Farting, belching, burping, vomiting, and diarrhoea are signs of digestive issues. These are often related to a microbial imbalance or leaky gut.
We have a number of dietary protocols in place that can assist. It can take some time to resolve these issues (we usually go off a rule of thumb of one month for each year they have been around) but in general we see great results with the switch to raw with the appropriate protocols being followed.
More information available in our Raw Education section on Common Health Concerns.
Variety is key! We recommend you feed a mix of meat, green tripe, organs, and raw meaty bones from at least three different prey sources per week.
See our article on Balanced Raw Diets for more information
Dr Karen Becker explains why dogs eat grass here. The article is largely relevant to cats too!
Read our article Healthy Weight For Pets for more information on assessing your pet's weight (and what to do about if they need to change).
We're happy to suggest raw-friendly vets - it's best to contact us directly so we can consider your location. Contact your local store, give us a call, or chat to us online and we'll be happy to help.
Healthy animals deal with large amounts of bacteria (just like they would in the wild). Stomach acid, bile and gut microbes control pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. A raw-fed carnivore’s stomach is highly acidic and there aren’t many organisms that can survive it.
Factors that can contribute to salmonella disease can include: age, poor nutrition, quality of food, presence of other diseases, stress etc. We find that the risk of disease caused by salmonella can be controlled by having a healthy animal on a well planned raw food diet combined with sensible meat hygiene practices at home.
Great news for raw feeders - when dogs change to a raw diet, their stool becomes much smaller, firmer, and less smelly! Because the stool is harder, dogs appear to strain a bit more to pass them. It can take a bit of adjusting to get the diet just right for your dog. Too much bone in the diet can lead to constipation. Too much tripe can cause loose stool.
If your dog is straining a lot, and if they are attempting to pass a stool, failing, re-positioning themselves, and trying again - they may be constipated. Let our staff know - they might suggest increasing the ratio of tripe to bone, in order to loosen the stool.
Conversely, if the stool is too loose, our staff might suggest reducing the amount of tripe.
Anything other than mild, transient diarrhoea or constipation must be checked by a vet. If you have any concerns about your dog's toileting - please talk to us, so that we can suggest a dietary tweak, or a vet check-up if need be.
The moisture content of a raw diet is variable, but is usually greater than 70%. Dry pet food (biscuits / kibble) is only around 10%.
If you have changed your cat or dog to a raw diet from one that includes dry food, they will have increased their water intake significantly via their food alone. It is normal for pets on raw to spend less time drinking from their water bowl. If they are healthy and energetic, with normal toileting habits, than it is not a cause for concern.
If they seem unwell, or if you notice unusual toileting behaviour (such as passing urine more often, or in inappropriate places), get them checked by your vet.
Cats in particular benefit from having more moisture in their diet. They do not have a high thirst drive, and struggle to drink enough water on a dry diet. There is evidence to suggest that dry diets are a causal factor in urinary tract diseases.
There is no evidence that raw feeding promotes aggression in dogs. For centuries, dogs have been fed on a diet of the very same livestock that they are charged with herding and guarding. Farmers know that feeding sheep to their farm dog will not turn them into a sheep-killer.
The advice for raw-feeders is the same as it is for those feeding processed diets:
This is always a common one for customers. What we recommend in this case is to feed a freeze dried product if you cannot access a freezer. We have a range of freeze dried product in our stores, but there are other good brands out there like K9 Natural which provide good product.
Some research does suggest that feeding a freeze dried diet long term can impair gastric acidity in dogs and cats (a key factor in digestion), but short term for convenience is absolutely fine.
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