It took two deaths for Carole King to decide to sell raw dog food.

First her dog Russ died. She blamed his dry-dog-food diet for aggravating his anemia. Then veterinarians diagnosed her cat Woody with lymphoma and gave him 3 months to live. Woody had been on a raw-meat diet for a year. He lived for two more years.

“Up to his last day he was eating,” she said.

In April 2009, King launched Chow Now in Marshall, Va., which manufactures and distributes raw dog and cat food. Currently there’s a chicken formula for dogs and cats, a lamb formula for dogs, and the company will soon introduce a turkey formula. King says she is considering adding pheasant.

Takoma’s Big Bad Woof sells a pound of Chow Now food for $7.59. The frozen meat has to be defrosted a day before serving, and pets have to be weaned off dry foods before they’ll regularly eat raw meat.

Big Bad Woof manager Mindy Mailman says Chow Now was initially slow to catch on because of the preparation and expense involved, but it has since become more popular.

“We definitely have had people start to ask about it,” she says.

Although the Food and Drug Administration has cautioned pet owners about giving their animals uncooked food, King said the chickens and lambs she uses are healthy enough that pathogens in the meat are not a concern.

The meat, King says, is fit for human consumption  too. Lamb femurs, for instance, are too thick to grind into formula, so they’re sold to restaurants in Washington, she says. She wouldn’t name those customers.