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DCM

Company statement regarding DCM

Company statement regarding DCM

DCM in the News

On June 27 the FDA issued a report on dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, which has raised questions about this condition in dogs and cats and any relationship to specific ingredients or certain foods. Currently, it is not known if there is a link. But, as pet parents and pet lovers ourselves, we at Nature’s Variety take this issue very seriously and we want to do what we can to help determine if there is a link between diet and DCM, and how we can be part of providing a solution that helps all of our pets have long, happy and healthy lives.

 

Our Nutrition Expertise and Focus on Quality

Since 2002, Nature’s Variety has fed hundreds of thousands of pets with safe, healthy and high quality recipes. We are pet food experts committed to quality and safety. Our R&D team members have advanced degrees, including board-certified veterinary nutritionist, a Ph.D. in food science and other experts who are part of our research and development team. Together, our experts guide how we formulate, source, manufacture and test our products to ensure the safety, nutritional value and digestibility of every recipe we sell. All of our recipes undergo vigorous formulation, manufacturing and testing processes to help ensure their safety, efficacy and compliance with all AAFCO nutrient requirements. All of our recipes are tested multiple times annually at a 3rd party world- renowned laboratory. In response to the FDA’s investigation last year, we started to analyze all of our foods for total dietary fiber, total starch, cysteine, methionine and taurine in addition to the normal protein, fat, moisture and crude fiber analyses. We also completed digestibility studies on our diets with positive results.

 

Committed to Transparency

Nature’s Variety has always placed a high priority on being open and transparent. Should you have questions, our Nature’s Variety customer service team is available at 1-888-519-7387, via live chat or email. While there is uncertainty about the cause of DCM, we will do our best to help by communicating the latest research on this condition. We will keep you informed of any additional information on this topic as it becomes available to us. Should you have additional questions, we encourage you to talk directly with your veterinarian.

What is DCM?

What is DCM?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease in dogs. The causes are unknown, but usually involve genetic, toxic, or specific nutrient deficiencies, none of which appear to be the case in this recent series of cases. The FDA has reported over 500 cases of affected dogs. But DCM impacts less than one percent of all dogs in the U.S.

Is it related to the food my dog eats?

Is it related to the food my dog eats?

To date, the FDA has not identified a definitive cause of the reported health conditions. Researchers are actively examining the issue but have not yet found a conclusive link to canine or feline diet. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate this potential association. 

Should I change what I’m feeding?

Should I change what I’m feeding?

The FDA is not advising dietary changes based solely on the information gathered thus far. At Instinct, we have a team of experts with advanced degrees, including a PhD in food science and a certified Veterinary Nutritionist to formulate our diets. We’ve been safely feeding pets since 2002 and feel confident in the quality and safety of our diets. To date, the FDA has neither identified a definitive cause of the reported health conditions, nor found a conclusive link to any canine or feline diet.

How do I know if my pet has DCM?

How do I know if my pet has DCM?

The best step to take if you suspect your dog is having an issue is to have your pet examined by a veterinarian.

How is Nature's Variety addressing this issue?

How is Nature's Variety addressing this issue?

We are focusing on science-based findings and information. Our top priority is, and will continue to be, providing pets with high quality, safe food that meets or exceeds all federal and state regulatory guidelines. Following the FDA’s initial report, we expanded our already robust food testing protocol. In addition, to help support ongoing research efforts, we have committed $50,000 to help fund a research grant to further the DCM investigation to lead to more conclusive results.

As always, our Customer Care team is available to answer your questions at 1-888-519-7387, live chat or email, or we encourage you to talk directly with your veterinarian.

Choosing a Food

How do I decide which Instinct recipe is right for my pet?

How do I decide which Instinct recipe is right for my pet?

With Instinct, you can expect quality nutrition in every recipe - our #1 priority is enabling pet parents to transform the lives of pets through better nutrition. We prioritize real, whole-food ingredients with no fillers and nothing artificial. Many recipes offer complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages, but we have a variety of options tailored specifically to your dog or cat's unique needs, such as small breeds or seniors. 

For an overview of all recipe lines, visit the For Dogs or For Cats pages, but here's a summary of some of our most popular recipes.

Instinct Raw and Raw Signature - The new gold standard: We always recommend frozen Instinct Raw or Instinct Raw Signature first and foremost. Our raw frozen recipes are minimally processed, never cooked (so all nutrients remain intact) and have simple ingredient lists - this makes them a great match for pets of all ages and often for pets with food sensitivities.

Raw Boost Kibble - High protein kibble + freeze-dried raw: If you prefer to feed kibble, Raw Boost Kibble is a better way to feed it, combining grain-free, high-protein kibble plus freeze-dried raw in one bag. 

Limited Ingredient Diet - Grain-free with one animal protein and one vegetable: A purposefully simple ingredient list perfect for pets with food sensitivities, focusing on ONE ANIMAL PROTEIN and ONE VEGETABLE – versus the mix of each you’ll find in most other pet foods.

Be Natural - Kibble with hearty whole grains: And if you'd like a with-grain feeding option, Be Natural is a kibble recipe line for dogs with high animal protein, no fillers, and freeze-dried raw coating on every piece.

What are the WSAVA Guidelines? Does Instinct meet them?

What are the WSAVA Guidelines? Does Instinct meet them?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) published a nutrition toolkit in 2011. It was designed to help veterinarians and pet owners discuss feeding pets. The Recommendations on Selecting Pet Foods contains of list of 8 questions that should be asked of a manufacturer to help decide if the food they make is of a quality that can be trusted with a pet’s health and well-being. At Instinct, we are proud to meet the standards set in the WSAVA Guidelines.

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Raw 101

What is raw pet food and what are its benefits?

What is raw pet food and what are its benefits?

What is it?
Raw has real ingredients, is natural and never cooked. When food is cooked, it loses essential nutrients and phytonutrients which help our pets thrive. We protect those nutrients by never cooking our raw recipes so our pets can experience the benefits that only come from raw. Our frozen Instinct Raw and Instinct Raw Signature recipes are protein-packed with up to 95% meat, organs and bone! Other real, whole-food ingredients like organic fruits and veggies are added to provide even more nutrients to make Instinct Raw and Raw Signature complete and balanced meals. Read more about Instinct Raw | Read More about Raw Signature

Raw can also be freeze-dried to make it shelf-stable - our Instinct Raw Boost Mixers are a freeze-dried meal topper or treat that are a delicious, high protein supplement to your pet's meal. Read more about Raw Boost Mixers

What are the benefits of raw?
We've seen raw provide unmatched benefits like better digestion, more energy, allergy relief, leaner, stronger muscles and healthy teeth and gums. But you don’t have to believe us. See how real, raw nutrition can transform the lives of pets. Read the stories of some of those pets, as shared by their proud pet parents.

How do you keep your raw pet food safe from bacteria?

How do you keep your raw pet food safe from bacteria?

We have always been dedicated to providing complete and balanced recipes that maximize our pets' wellbeing and are safe for both pets and pet parents. We use High Pressure Processing (also known as HPP or Cold Pressure) on all of our frozen and freeze-dried raw recipes to ensure they are free from pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria. This is the same process used for human foods like cold-pressed juices and guacamole. We also test every batch for safety before it leaves our facilities.

How do I transition my pet to raw?

How do I transition my pet to raw?

We always recommend that pets gradually transition to any new food. Adjustment is key because dogs eat the same food day in and day out, so a rapid, full diet change would be more likely to upset their system. During the first week, mix raw with your dog’s existing food, increasing the amount of raw each day. Depending on your pet, you may need more or less time to transition.

When transitioning, your pup may temporarily have loose stools or digestive upset. Also, since frozen raw is so different from kibble, the texture and temperature change may take a little getting used to. This is all normal and expected, but if you have any questions, feel free to check in with our Consumer Engagement team!

How is your raw food different than if I were to make my own pet food?

How is your raw food different than if I were to make my own pet food?

Our raw frozen recipes offer complete and balanced nutrition for dogs and cats that meets AAFCO guidelines. It's quite a challenge to make complete and balanced raw diets at home; Instinct Raw meets the needs of raw feeders looking for raw nutrition without the added step of calculating what makes a balanced diet for their pet. We also use High Pressure Processing to ensure our raw recipes are free of pathogenic bacteria and safe for pets and pet parents. As an extra safety step, we test every batch before it leaves our facilities.

What's the difference between the dog and cat frozen recipes? What about freeze-dried Mixers?

What's the difference between the dog and cat frozen recipes? What about freeze-dried Mixers?

In our frozen Instinct Raw and Raw Signature lines, the only difference between cat and dog recipes is that we add taurine to our cat recipes. While both dogs and cats need this amino acide, cats cannot synthesize taurine like dogs can. For this reason, AAFCO deems taurine an essential nutrient for cats but not dogs, so we add taurine to our frozen raw cat recipes. We do want to mention that some taurine occurs naturally in all of our recipes due to the high amount of animal ingredients.

Our freeze-dried Raw Boost Mixers - whether labeled "cat" or "dog" - are suitable for either species since they are for supplemental feeding and not a complete and balanced meal. They are packaged differently to make it easy for cat and dog parents to easily locate them in their pet store, but nutritionally our Mixers can be served interchangeably.

Do I have to feed 100% raw or can I include other types of food?

Do I have to feed 100% raw or can I include other types of food?

Add raw as often as you'd like! Many pet parents rotate between raw and a kibble-based food, or top their pet's kibble with either frozen or freeze-dried raw. Just remember to be cautious of overfeeding if you are topping a pet's existing meal with raw.

Are your raw recipes complete and balanced nutrition? Do I need to supplement my pet's diet with anything else?

Are your raw recipes complete and balanced nutrition? Do I need to supplement my pet's diet with anything else?

Our frozen Instinct Raw and Raw Signature recipes offer complete and balanced nutrition, following the AAFCO dog and cat food nutrient profiles. Our frozen recipes provide all the nutrition your pet needs, so it's not necessary to supplement their diet with other foods or vitamins. 

Please be aware that our freeze-dried Raw Boost Mixers (with the exception of Mixers Blends) are not formulated to be complete and balanced nutrition. So if you feed Mixers, it should be a supplement to a complete and balanced pet food.​

How long can the raw food be left in the fridge? (not freezer)

How long can the raw food be left in the fridge? (not freezer)

24 hours.

How do I handle & serve raw pet food? Are there special instructions?

How do I handle & serve raw pet food? Are there special instructions?

Handle our frozen raw in the same manner that you'd handle raw meat; wash hands, working surfaces, utensils, bowls and any other items that come in contact with frozen raw with hot, soapy water. If you feed raw bites, keep them frozen until 5-15 minutes before your pet's mealtime since they defrost in minutes. If you feed raw medallions, thaw them in the fridge for about 4-6 hours between feedings. Patties are easiest to thaw overnight. If your pet doesn't consume all the food presented within 30 minutes, discard any leftovers.

Ingredients and Nutrition

Who formulates Instinct recipes?

Who formulates Instinct recipes?

Each recipe is carefully crafted by Instinct® employees and our on-staff DVM, DACVN, who is also is a board-certified nutritionist in veterinary nutrition and integrative medicine. She’s one of 97 board-certified veterinarian nutritionists in the US. Our Chief Scientific Officer has a PhD in Food Science and one of our Directors of R&D holds a masters in food science. Both have decades of years of experience in pet food.

Where do your source your ingredients from?

Where do your source your ingredients from?

Our nutritional philosophy is to source the highest quality, safest, and most nutritious ingredients possible. We look for our ingredients domestically first, but sometimes turn to other locations when their ingredients are truly the better choice. For example, we started sourcing lamb from New Zealand because grass-fed lamb raised outside in large pastures is more abundant there. None of our proteins come from China. 

We are very stringent about our sourcing and have good relationships built with our vendors for quality ingredients. If you have specific questions regarding sourcing, please email cservice@naturesvariety.com and we would be happy to tell you more.

Where is your food made?

Where is your food made?

All Instinct recipes are made in the U.S.A. Our frozen and freeze-dried raw recipes are made in our company-owned facilities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Our kibble and wet recipes are made in Kansas. 

We want to note that all recipes are made in the USA, but include select ingredients from around the world when needed (like grass-fed lamb, which is more abundant in New Zealand than in the US).

How are your foods preserved?

How are your foods preserved?

All Instinct recipes are preserved naturally. Our kibble is preserved with a mixture of tocopherols (vitamin E), rosemary, and citric acid. Our Instinct Raw and Raw Signature recipes are frozen, a proven preservation method, and the canning process keeps our wet recipes preserved naturally.

Is your food human grade? Organic?

Is your food human grade? Organic?

Unfortunately our recipes cannot be classified by the USDA's definition of human grade because our facilities are used to produce pet food rather than human food. That being said, all of our ingredients come from USDA-inspected facilities (or meet USDA requirements in the case of imports) and are from animals that have passed ante and post-mortem inspection.

Our raw recipes are made with non-GMO fruits and vegetables. That being said, our recipes cannot be classified as fully organic. To labeled as such, even the foods our proteins are fed must be certified organic, and we cannot 100% confirm each animal's diet given the slight variances among suppliers.

Storage and Shelf Life

How do I store your frozen raw recipes?

How do I store your frozen raw recipes?

Instinct Raw and Instinct Raw Signature recipes are to be kept frozen until close to mealtime. If you feed raw bites, keep them frozen until 5-15 minutes before your pet's mealtime since they defrost in minutes. If you feed raw medallions, thaw them in the fridge for about 4-6 hours between feedings. Patties are easiest to thaw overnight. If your pet doesn't consume all the food presented within 30 minutes, discard any leftovers.

The shelf life of an unopened bag of frozen raw is up to one year in the freezer, keeping in mind to not exceed the printed expiration date. 

Are your freeze-dried recipes shelf-stable? What is the shelf life?

Are your freeze-dried recipes shelf-stable? What is the shelf life?

Yes! Our freeze-dried Raw Boost Mixers can sit safely on your pantry shelf because we've removed the moisture. 

Unopened Mixers have a shelf life of two years, keeping in mind not to exceed the printed expiration date. Once opened, Mixers are fresh for up to 30 day as long as it’s resealed between feedings.

What is the shelf life of your kibble?

What is the shelf life of your kibble?

An unopened bag of kibble is good for up to 18 months, keeping in mind not to exceed the printed expiration date. After opening, our kibble will stay fresh for about 2-3 months as long as it’s resealed between feedings.

Safety and Quality

How do you keep your raw pet food safe from bacteria?

How do you keep your raw pet food safe from bacteria?

We have always been dedicated to providing complete and balanced recipes that maximize our pets' wellbeing and are safe for both pets and pet parents. We use High Pressure Processing (also known as HPP or Cold Pressure) on all of our frozen and freeze-dried raw recipes to ensure they are free from pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria. This is the same process used for human foods like cold-pressed juices and guacamole. We also test every batch for safety before it leaves our facilities.

Why do I sometimes notice a color or texture change in your recipes?

Why do I sometimes notice a color or texture change in your recipes?

Since our products are natural, some color or texture variation from batch-to-batch is normal.

Are your cans BPA-free?

Are your cans BPA-free?

Yes, all of our cans are BPA-free!

Is your packaging recyclable?

Is your packaging recyclable?

Currently, our bags are not recyclable but our cans are.

What should frozen raw look like? Mine looks freezer burned.

What should frozen raw look like? Mine looks freezer burned.

Since our raw recipes are natural, some color variation from batch-to-batch is normal. There can be a range from pink to brownish, which can also be impacted by how quickly the food was frozen, the freezer temperature or even the source protein. As long as the food isn’t stuck together and it smells normal, it should be perfectly safe to feed.

I'm not happy with the recipe I purchased - can it be returned?

I'm not happy with the recipe I purchased - can it be returned?

We want every pet parent—and every pet—to be happy! Every Instinct recipe comes with a 100% product guarantee. If you are unhappy with the food you purchased for any reason, simply return or exchange it with the original store receipt. Lost your receipt? Contact us!