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There has been some recent discussion in the natural dog rearing community (read one article here) highlighting an important issue that most raw-diet advocates know: dogs can’t live on raw meat alone.

In the early 1980’s when I was first discovering the raw foods diet for my own dogs, we learned from a master herbalist and early proponent of natural rearing methods for animals, Juliette de Bairacli-Levy, (11 November 1912 – 28 May 2009) about how when animals make a kill in the wild, they will eat the intestines of their prey first. What’s in these intestines? Pre-digested grains and grasses recently eaten by the prey. Afterwards they then eat the whole carcass, bones and fur and all, depending on the size of the animal! It’s important to remember that true wild raw appetites instinctually demand more than muscle and organ meat for nutrition.

How does the average pet owner know what foods to add to get sufficient nutrition for their pets when feeding a home-cooked or raw foods diet? For example, meat alone does not provide sufficient zinc, choline and Vitamin E to prevent deficiencies. For modern dogs and cats who rely on their owners to bring them food, the challenge is where to get the minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients in bio-available forms, from digestible real food, rather than synthetic pre-mixes. After all, we choose to feed the home-cooked or raw diets so that we can avoid highly processed, “feed-grade” ingredients and synthetic additives.

Fortunately, there is a natural solution – sprouted seeds and legumes. Used in the right concentrations, these superfoods can add huge amounts of the nutrients dogs and cats need, naturally. Sprouted seeds are highly digestible and full of live digestive aids including probiotics and enzymes – eliminating the need for any synthetic supplementation to ANY diet, not just a raw one. And because our recipe contains a blend of organic sprouted seeds in it, every vital nutrient missing in an all-meat diet is contained in abundant concentrations in Carna4.

In 2011 when Dave and I created Carna4 Synthetic-free dog food with sprouted seeds, our aim was to give busy pet-owners a convenient option for feeding a fully balanced real food diet, either on its own, or in conjunction with the feeding of raw meat. It is based on the regimen originally described by Juliette de Bairacli-Levy in her ground-breaking 1955 book, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, in which she advocates fasting our animals once a week and otherwise feeding a daily meal of raw meats in the morning and a grain and herb mixture in the evening. The logic in this is easy to understand: the high-protein meat meal gives the dog energy in the morning to start her day. In the evening, she gets the higher-carb meal which can be a bit more sedative, and contains the rest of the vital nutrients the body will use at night when cell repair and healing is most active.

Carna4 is an excellent evening meal in this mixed feeding regimen. A number of our corresponding raw diet consumers report that they are feeding Carna4 as their evening meal and it is working well for them. It provides their dogs a primarily animal protein diet with daily servings of fresh raw meats, live probiotics, and all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals they need in REAL FOOD, using no synthetics at all.

The nutritional profile of our sprouted seed mixture is astounding:

– Total enzymes (Lypase, Cellulase, Amylase, Protease) – over 1 million units per kg.

– Total probiotics – over 17 billion units per kg.

– Prebiotics (FOS, MOS & Inulin) – over 50,000 mg per kg

– Lignans – over 13,000 mg per kg

– Essential vitamins & minerals – most daily dosages exceed requirements for dogs

For those who want to feed only raw meats for every meal but are concerned about missing nutrients, or whose pets have conditions requiring special care, we advocate adding ground sprouted seeds & legumes to the feed bowl on top of the meat, strictly avoiding prepared synthetic supplements ( for more information on why synthetic supplements and vitamin “premix” should be avoided, see my recent article published in the May issue of Dogs Naturally Magazine).

Very soon we will be announcing our newest addition to the Carna4 line – a ground sprouted seed mix made from the same organic home-grown ingredients we use in our Carna4 recipe. Just sprinkle it on the top of whatever meal you are feeding –raw meat or home-cooked– to get the plant-based antioxidants, probiotics, minerals and vitamins which complete and enhance a natural pet diet.

Maria Ringo

Co-Founder, Carna4 Inc.