As someone with quite a number of cats, I’m usually on the lookout for new purchases to spoil my furbabies. This could be in the form of toys, treats, and even new food options that better align with their health needs.
Taking note of this interest, the internet began sending me ads for theRAWproof—a canine personalised diet service.
And according to the brand, it’s one of the first in Malaysia to provide NRC (the National Research Council of the National Academies) tailored raw nutrition.
Dictionary time: The NRC is a non-profit organisation that provides evidence-based scientific reports in the fields of sciences, engineering, and medicine.
Focusing on canine diets
Iris, the founder of theRAWproof, shared that they do also cater to cats, because she would occasionally get enquiries from cat owners too.
However, she shared that her service is more targeted towards the canine population.
You see, Iris herself is a dog owner and has been one since young. She’s currently the pet parent of a German Shepherd and a Golden Retriever.
Growing up, though, she noticed that the dogs in her life weren’t necessarily thriving in terms of health. One of her first dogs, a mix spitz named Hilda, died from liver failure at an early age. She also observed that the pets of her friends and relatives would have skin issues.
So she decided to get to the root of these health problems by creating properly formulated fresh diets.
Putting in the work to learn
“I have always been very passionate about animals and wanted to be a vet, but it wasn’t in my cards then,” she confided.
Instead, she previously held different roles in various MNCs for 15 years, including TetraPak, Nike, Coca-Cola, and Colgate-Palmolive.
Which begs the question of how she got into this industry.
“I reskilled myself,” Iris replied simply. She took a course under the Companion Animal Sciences Institute with a focus in Canine Nutrition and became the first (and only, at the time of writing) Malaysian graduate.
Once her course was completed, she began preparing diets for the dogs in her own life and those around her. Not long afterwards, Iris set up theRAWproof and officially opened her tailored nutrition services to the public in 2020.
So… what is a raw nutrition diet?
At this point, you may be wondering, what exactly is tailored raw nutrition and what is the basis for this diet?
The term itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a nutrition-based diet tailored to the needs of your pets. But unlike the typical mass-produced pet food, Iris focuses on serving fresh raw food.
This is because Iris subscribes to the belief that raw diets are more nutritious when compared with processed food like kibbles.
Her aim with theRAWproof is to derive nutrients as much as possible from natural food to form a complete and balanced diet for pets. As such, all the ingredients used are human grade and does not include meat dust.
For context, meat dust is the tiny pieces of meat that get stuck on meat slicers. It’s not bad in nature, but some butcheries slice different kinds of meat. The mixed and unknown component of the resulting meat dust makes its nutrient composition less clear.
To ensure that her offerings meet the dietary requirements of pets, Iris refers to the Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats published by the NRC. The report provides nutrient recommendations for pet diets.
Not fooling around with pet health
“In Malaysia, we often find fresh diets that are ratio-based. For example, 60% meat, 30% vegetables and organs, 10% herbs and oils. They are generic diets catered for the masses, cutting across all life stages and may have nutritional gaps or imbalances based on NRC Guidelines,” Iris explained.
Hence, the diet plans she creates are personalised to each individual pet. It’s based on the pet’s weight, life stage, breed predisposition, activity levels, and current health needs.
How it works is customers first have to fill in her “Tailored Raw Nutrition” form. Once done, Iris will schedule a call to further discuss and better understand the customers and their dogs. “We’ll discuss the diet, and a protein choice is determined,” she explained.
Next comes the formulation work, which requires a fee between RM50 to RM100 depending on the complexity of the diet. Iris will then share her diet plan proposal within five working days which details its components and nutritional facts.
Upon payment confirmation, Iris will begin preparing the food to be delivered in the following days. On average, a total of 14 working days is required to create the raw diet from scratch, just for one pet.
“Our food is prepared in cold temperatures to lower potential bacteria propagation,” Iris explained. “Sometimes we joke that the dogs have better food prep than us humans.”
You pay for the quality of food
Currently still based at home, theRAWproof offers customised meals that are sold in frozen packs of 30 to last a month. Customers just need to thaw the food and feed pets one pack a day.
Unfortunately, though, the personalised nature of these diets means that trial packages aren’t available.To minimise food rejection from picky eaters, Iris assured us that the brand does its best to accommodate pet preferences.
In terms of pricing, it differs from dog to dog. For bigger dogs that are healthy, the usual starting price is between RM30 to RM35 per kg of food. For smaller dogs like poodles, it’s slightly higher and starts at RM35 to RM40 per kg.
While canned wet food would arguably be cheaper, it’s not a fair or accurate comparison to fresh raw food, especially one that has the level of detail that Iris has put in.
Because what Iris is offering isn’t just about the food, but the assurance that it’s of good quality and formulated to your pet’s personal dietary needs. It’s similar to how you would consult a dietitian to come up with a personal meal plan for you.
“Our service hinges on the core belief and foundation that nutrition is never a one-size-fits-all,” she stated.
Featured Image Credit: theRAWproof