Why Raw?

We believe that for too long pets have been fed the wrong foods.

This creates ongoing health problems, which makes them miserable and ends up costing pet parents a lot of anguish. As true pet lovers we are driven to do better for our pets - and yours. We believe that better nutrition and functional food will not only feed and energise your pets - but it will make them healthier too.

We sought out an expert who could work with us to set the petfood bar higher and create natural, fit-for-purpose petfoods. Our Pet Nutritionist, Dr. Shay Rutherford, has left no stone unturned to create "complete & balanced" meals that exceed AAFCO pet food standards. Dr. Rutherford is highly qualified and respected in her specialist field with practical and theoretical experience in pet nutrition and food science. But the resulting formula is very simple.

We started with the optimum protein choice, wild game meat from New Zealand's pristine mountains, because it is the richest, least adulterated meat available. But protein alone does not give your pets all the nutrients it needs for a balanced and complete diet. So she carefully selected just six natural foods and used holistic food science to create meals that contain ALL the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals pets require to live long, energetic, healthy lives.

The health benefits of feeding WildHQ raw food meals

When it comes to raw food diets for cats and dogs, the commonly agreed benefits are:

  • Better digestion
  • Healthier coat and skin
  • Reduced stool volume and odour
  • Improved breathe and body odour
  • Healthier teeth and gums
  • More energy and vitality

More benefits of feeding non-farmed, wild game protein:

  • No fertiliser
  • No hormones
  • No pesticides
  • No antibiotics
  • No artificial preservatives

Why we choose to Freeze our food instead of using Preservatives

At WildHQ we choose not to use artificial preservatives in our pet food because it is has been scientifically proven to not be good for pets. Instead we supply our meals frozen for these very good reasons:
  • Artificial preservatives such as BHA and BHT used in many pet food brands have been proven in laboratory tests to be a cacinogenic and to cause cancers in the forestomach and bladder/urinary tract, to be skin and eye irritants, and skin sensitisers.
  • Bacterial micro-organisms do not grow when the temperature is below −9.5°C, preventing food spoilage.
  • Freezing is a natural form of preservation, so added preservatives aren't necessary
  • Frozen food doesn't require added sodium for preservation
  • Frozen foods can be more nutritious than fresh foods because the frozen environment helps to retain vitamins & minerals that fresh foods can loose quickly when stored at room temperature (after 2 days) or in the fridge (after 5 days)
  • Frozen foods stored continuously at -18ºC or below can be kept indefinitely
When our food is thawed slowly it will still contain all the unaltered proteins, nutrients, vitamins and minerals your pet needs for a nutritious, complete and balanced meal - and it will still smell great. We recommend NOT to thaw it in a microwave.

Learn More

Beyond the BARF diet

Pet food pioneer Dr. Ian Billinghurst has driven the resurgence of feeding raw with his BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) Diet. His original raw feeding book “Give Your Dog a Bone” together with his worldwide lecture tours became the spark, which ignited the worldwide RAW pet food movement. 

There are two main advancements of the WildHQ diet to the BARF diet. Firstly, our premium meals use only wild game proteins in whole-prey recipes - not mixed proteins. We believe that non-farmed, wild game meats are the purest proteins you can feed your pet (or us!). 

Secondly, we have created 'complete and balanced' meals for cats and dogs (including kittens and puppies and lactating bitches). Many of our raw food competitors supply 'protein only' diets. But raw meat alone is not enough to give our dogs (and cats) all the nutrients they need to thrive. Petfood studies can be quite expensive, but are pivotal to bringing the science back to the conversation before pet owners decide themselves what’s best for their pet. So we have invested heavily to make wise choices of the essential other ingredients the meals need to make them complete and balanced. 

Wild game - a return to pets natural hunting instinct

For thousands of years dogs roamed the ancient world living on the savannahs of Africa, the plains of India and the forests of Europe, Asia and the Americas. Their food came from three sources: prey, plus scavenged and grazed items. Prey would mainly consist of herbivores such as rabbits, deer, goats or antelope. Scavenged food included the scraps left over from the meals of big carnivores such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, tigers, jaguars (all cats!) - and bears. Grazed foods included apples, berries, and other wild fruits and nuts in season.

There’s an increasing demand for raw pet food products that pet owners believe are a more natural and species-appropriate diet that fits their pet’s biology and natural instinct best. Most domestic dogs do not go on hunts any more but that does not mean that they should not enjoy the taste of wild prey. Domestic cats, however, still naturally hunt and consume birds and rodents – even the odd rabbit.

First, possum and rabbits appealed as “natural prey” that pet owners can visualise their pet chasing. The latest thinking however is for 'novelty protein' pet food made from wild game of larger size - including deer and goat.

We don’t really like the term ‘novelty protein’. Wild game is WildHQs ‘everyday‘ protein - and we believe it should be your pets too. Venison has been labelled novel because it was hard to come by, expensive and with irregular supply. Some vets would recommend it from time-to-time to assist with dietary shortages or to ease digestion problems and allergy issues. It’s no wonder. Wild game is pure and natural - free of all the impure, man-made 'nasties' that can cause health problems.With our guaranteed chain of supply, using our concessions with DOC and helicopter harvesting, wild game is no longer rare or a novelty. Deer, goat, tahr and wallaby are in fact 'out-of-control' pests that are quickly destroying New Zealand's fauna and environment - and need to be culled in great numbers.

Wild venison meat is one of the leanest, heart-healthy meats available – low in fat, high in protein and packed with zinc, haem iron, phospherous and vitamin B. It helps dogs maintain healthy energy levels and most dogs enjoy the taste. Pet foods containing venison are a good option for dogs who may have food sensitivities or allergies to other protein sources – such as beef or chicken. Because of its leanness it's a great choice for a dog needing to loose weight.

Wild goat meat is a great gourmet, healthy, natural treat for your pooch. Goat meat is especially welcomed for dogs with sensitivities and allergies to other meats. Goat meat is a good choice for dogs that are overweight or need to lose weight. It is lower in fat and calories than other meats, except venison, but still provides the protein your dog needs.

Complete and balanced meals - 'from the bush to the bowl'

Current AAFCO standards have been used to formulate the WildHQ dogfood and catfood, whereby nutrient levels must exceed set minimums, be in the correct ratios for healthy growth and development and fall within safe ranges, as determined from published research. 

We use is the best cuts of our wild animals including; rump, loin, tenderloin, topside, silverside and the organs (except the liver). 

Then, to meet the AAFCO requirements, we add raw carrots and orange kumara (for fibre and carbohydrates), cold-pressed sunflower oil (for Omega 3 and 6 - essential fatty acids,) and the essential vitamins and minerals – all tested to be in their correct ratios.  AAFCO standards dictate that nutrient levels must exceed certain minimums, be in the correct ratios for healthy growth and development and fall within safe ranges, as determined from published research. 

Vitamins and minerals, are in the most natural forms available, to optimise digestion, absorption from the gut, storage in organs (to create a reserve) and functionality in tissue and cells. This means that WildHQ meals, when served according to our feeding guide, will deliver all the nutrients required by the dog or cat. The feeding guidelines are scaled for portion size based on the pet’s body weight. 

We have created the appropriate meal serving size for a maintenance diet for adult pets of all sizes. This is the baseline. Owners should then adjust feeding sizes based on the optimum size their pet should be - in consultation with their vet. We have also formulated recipes and serving guides for puppies and lactating bitches, cats and kittens, and soon we will be developing recipes for senior dogs and special needs. 

Functional food, more than just feed

Today’s pet owners are far more aware of their pet’s needs and they are looking for ways to support their furry friends’ overall health and agility in the best possible way. For preventive healthcare or to assist in managing existing health conditions, functional pet food becomes a factor. Functional food is ordinary pet food that includes a combination of nutritional and pharmaceutical ingredients to give it a specific medical or physiological benefit, other than a purely nutritional effect

WildHQ food is no 'silver bullet' with proven medicinal benefits. We can't claim that (yet). But it was and is our hope that by making our healthy food available it may have a positive effect on our pets health - particularly with digestion, renal failure, cancers, lumps, and allergies, skin and coat issues caused mainly by kibble and processed diets.

Wild raw food is simply better for digestion and allergenic

Initially, the pet food market was an outlet to sell poor quality meat, gristle, viscera and cereal by-products not fit for human consumption. More recently there has been a big drive by some manufacturers to create the perfect biscuit diet, however, no matter how high the quality of the ingredients used to manufacture these foods, there is one step that cannot be omitted – the need for processing, and cooking. This changes the nature of the proteins from their natural form, destroys vitamins which have to be added back artificially and in the case of biscuits removes the moisture which would have been normal constituent of a raw diet. 

This can result in symptoms such as persistent itch or eczema, dental problems or smelly breath, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, food hypersensitivity, lethargy, dull and scurfy coat, and arthritis. 

There are probably several reasons for this. Most commercial pet food contains biologically inappropriate ingredients including additives, preservatives, too many carbohydrates used as fillers, and poor quality proteins. Fillers (e.g. potato, grains, starches like rice, and fibres like caraganeen gum) help reduce the volume of meat that needs to be used, making a food cheaper to produce.

The gastrointestinal tract (the stomach and gut) is designed to thoroughly absorb nutrients that have been totally digested and keep out any partially digested nutrients. Essentially, the gut lets nutrients in and tries to keep anything undigested out. If partially digested nutrients (including proteins) pass through the gut wall, the body will recognise these nutrients as foreign invaders (allergens) and will mount an immune response. This leads to the release of histamine – and the typical results are itchy rashes and hot spots, and even vomiting and diarrhoea.

Much of the kibble foods are baked at such high temperatures that it breaks down the molecular structure and goodness within the small percentage of protein that it contains - plus extracting the moisture the food needs. That glossy coat on the outside of the kibble is actually the fat that is sprayed on to replace what has been lost in the processing!

In contrast, WildHQ meals contain a minimum of 87% protein! and contain NO fillers, grains, glutens, starches or unnatural products. The smell is unaltered and drives your pets 'wild' at mealtime.

Arguments for and against raw feeding

Most of the arguments against raw feeding are driven by the'Big Three"pet food corporations who have the money to spend millions on advertising their highly processed products. But understandably, there are many pet parents who have concerns about feeding pets raw food. Pet parents have become become confused with the huge range of choices and easily influenced by persuasive marketing and fancy packaging. They often elect to 'go with the flow' and chose a kibble or other processed pet food that is 'popular'.Raw feeding has become 'outside the norm', less 'user friendly' and as the 'Big Three' would have you believe a 'risk' for your pets. So we want to address those concerns here, point by point. 

Risk of disease or contamination. One argument against raw feeding is the accusation that diseases such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Ecoli and Listeria can be carried and transferred to humans by raw meat. Research by Finland-based  DogRisk found that a raw meat diet may be beneficial for cats and dogs, and that actually there was a 'low incidence' of the pathogens campylobacter, salmonella, and yersinia in the frozen raw foods they tested - even lower percentages in wild game. 

In actual fact, there are in fact a far greater number of diseases carried by farmed animals - known as Zoonoses - which can affect humans.

But - for your peace of mind, and ours, we batch test our foods for these diseases through the Cawthron Institute to ensure these diseases are not present. 

Our MPI Certification. This requires that all animal acquisition and processing is carefully controlled against infection and the risk of protein contamination. We are trained and certified to check all animals used -antemortem and postmortem - for any signs of disease or illness. If an animal is identified it is not used.

At the time of cull, the stomach, intestines and gut bag are clamped and cut cleanly from the wild animal carcass to eliminate any risk of contamination during processing from disease-carrying faeces or tonsils.

When we cull our wild animals they are placed into our >2º chiller truck within an 'hour' of cull (the actual standard required by MPI is 'within 3 days'! ). We process the animals within 72 hours of acquisition and all animals are kept within a >2º chilled environment in our plant in Nelson. It is also kept on ice to final consumer delivery. The MPI Certification also ensures our factory is pest free, clean, washed down and that all foodstuffs are pristine and detected for metal. 

Other arguments against raw feeding

"It’s smelly". In actual fact we have had hundreds of comments that our food does not smell badly. Many have stated "its almost like human food". Did you know that dogs smell is 40 times stronger than humans? If it wasn't a good smell the dog wont eat it. And cats are very fussy - there sense of taste is 18 times less than humans. Their main sense used to judge food is their high sense of smell also.

"Will my pet choke on the bone?". No. Bone is a very important component of our meals. But we alleviate the risk of choking by grinding all our bone down to almost a powder. There are no pieces bigger than 8mm in our meals. 

"It's too expensive". Typically, raw food is a bit more expensive than other dog foods but for true pet lovers you know in your heart that feeding them well is better for their health - and you will probably save thousands at the vets!.

"Can I feed a mix of dried and raw?". Not everyone wants to feed an exclusively raw based diet. Some pet owners will opt to mix raw meats with kibble and other ingredients. We don't recommend this for the many reasons above but we are happy to guide you through how your personal choice.

"It’s not convenient". We have done all the work to make mealtime super-convenient for you and exciting for your furbaby. Our meals come in environmentally-friendly packaging that makes it easy-peasy to serve. Just spoon the medallions, mince or sausage into your pets bowl - no mess, no fuss.