We chat with Brandine Strand, CEO of Cali Raw, a California-based raw dog food company dedicated to the best nutrition doggy parents could possibly hope for.
I came up with the idea in early 2018 and I was highly motivated after losing my very first dog, Clyde. Working within the pet industry became a dream I was never able to let go of. At the time, I was only really aware of a kibble diet for dogs and so the quality of life for Clyde’s last five years was not optimal.
It was only when my rescue dog started developing allergies shortly thereafter, that I was introduced to raw dog food. I saw the difference within weeks, and I was sold. I was so compelled by the visible changes that I started telling all my friends about the benefits of raw dog food and trying to convince them to switch over.
This was the beginning of Cali Raw!
Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding (B.A.R.F.) is a species-appropriate diet and is what dogs are designed to eat. It generally consists of about 80% meat, bone, and organ, and 20% fresh vegetables. Prey Model Raw (PMR) is the same, minus the vegetables. Overall, I’m more of a believer in the B.A.R.F. diet, however, if a dog suffers from severe allergies, for example, a PMR diet may be better suited.
We source, produce, and deliver a B.A.R.F. diet direct to customers. We also offer puppy formulas, and I believe we are one of the only direct-to-consumer regional companies with puppy formulas.
Our offices are located in Southern California, as is our USDA-certified kitchen, and we currently ship to 20 states.
We deliver locally in Orange County. We also offer curbside pick-up at Newport Beach. Additionally, we do a lot of volunteering and community work and all the Cali Raw staff are very involved in community activities, particularly those involving dogs.
I don’t, but our Formulator, James Pendergrass, does. James has been an Animal Diet Formulator for over 15 years and is currently completing his qualifications to become an Animal Nutritionist He also formulates for a company called Darwin’s, several smaller regional companies, and even worldwide.
All dogs are different when it comes to metabolism, weight, age, activity level, etc... The very first step is to calculate the particular needs of your dog. You can enter the details using the feeding calculator on the website, and it will calculate the amount that your dog will need per day, and per month.
Customers can subscribe if they choose, or do a one-time order. We are very mindful about coaching our customers through the transition phase and we even have a transition team. We try really hard to communicate with our customers, follow up, and make sure their dogs are transitioning as they should be. Once the transition phase is over, and the dog has adapted successfully, you can see just what a difference the B.A.R.F. diet actually makes. At this stage, our customers are hooked!
We do attract a lot of allergy-prone dogs, and not all of the ingredients work for them. As I say, all dogs are different. I would say that 50% of our customers come to us to solve a problem and 50% come to us to prevent problems. The one thing that all our customers have in common is that they prioritize their dog’s health.
I like to differentiate between the different types of veterinarians. There are traditional vets, then there are integrative vets. Across the board, integrative vets are 100% into raw dog food. They study and promote the prevention of problems versus the traditional vets who treat problems with medication. I always recommend that doggy parents have a relationship with both.
It’s more pricey than other diets, but this is because we’re working with human-grade, fresh, wholefoods. We actually source our products from restaurant suppliers. It’s a premium product, and we’re feeding our dogs the same quality of food that we would eat ourselves.
Obviously, if you have a small dog, you’ll be spending a lot less than if you have several dogs or one bigger dog. I do like to remind people, however, that they will ultimately be saving a lot of money in terms of vet bills (chronic ear infections, digestive issues, eye problems, etc…).
Prevention will reduce veterinarian bills and you’ll have a leaner, healthier dog, which means a longer life expectancy. This is an investment that will save your dogs from potentially a lot of suffering, and save you a lot of money in the long run.
We have many. One that comes to mind, is a rescue dog that came from Thailand. Among other things, she had a terrible rash all down her chest and stomach. We didn’t know anything about the dog’s history but we got her on a raw diet. The rashes cleared up completely within two weeks. We deal with stories like this every single week.
The diet is the same, but the amount of food required is based on their needs. Different breeds have different needs. We have something called the Body Score Chart and this is how we determine if a dog needs to be fed more or less based on its weight. Nutrition is quite a science.
I’m absolutely certain that we’ll grow and expand in the future. At the moment, we’re trying to maximize what we have, and focus on our local market and the twenty states that we can easily supply.
We actually launched our sister store on the website this week – a company that sells crafted treats. We’re really excited about this new venture!