Walk into any health food store, or shop the natural food section of your local grocer and you will find many products that contain chia seeds. They are sold in bulk bins, added to yogurts, baked into desserts, included in drinks, and often found in granolas and cereals. With so many products made for humans that include chia seeds, it only makes sense that we would also see them show up in pet foods. But why? What does this little blackish seed have going for it that makes so many people, and pets, want to add it to their diet?
First cultivated around 2.600 BC in Mexico and Central America, the tiny seeds have long been a staple in those cultures and it is said that Mayan warriors were able to sustain their energy and endurance on only a tablespoon a day! Let’s look at how this seed benefits our furry friends.
Chia seeds are very nutrient-dense and contain calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, and magnesium. They also contain Vitamins B-12 and B-6. They certainly deserve the title of “Super Food”. They may be small but pack a big punch, with each seed containing between 19-23% protein, 34% oil, and 25% fiber. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids They can help boost your pet’s nutritional intake and support a variety of systems within the body.
Because chia seeds can absorb water, they help keep your pet well hydrated and the absorbed seeds can help to remove toxins from the digestive tract. They assist in balancing electrolytes and are considered an immune system booster. The seeds can be useful for diabetic pets as well because they help to regulate blood sugar and lose excess weight.
The chia seeds we use at Steve’s Real Food come from Argentina and are certified Organic. We seek out suppliers who grow responsibly and provide superior products. We use these chia seeds in our ChiaFreeze Frozen Goat Yogurt. The yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, fiber, Omega 3 and increases the hydration level in your pet, which can be especially helpful for our feline friends. We also include the chia seeds in our pork formulas, which is a highly digestible, palatable option for both your cats and dogs.
Benefits of Bones for Dogs
Dogs have both a physical and psychological need to chew. If not provided with a safe, approved chewing option, they will seek out and find things that we may not want them to!
Puppies start exploring their world with their mouths and will chew on almost anything they can find. As they grow, chewing can help with pain caused by incoming teeth. The action of chewing is also a great exercise for the jaw and helps the teeth grow in proper alignment.
As puppies become adult dogs, chewing is no less important. It keeps the jaw strong and the teeth clean. In fact, chewing on raw bones is one of the best ways to keep your dog’s teeth bright and the gums healthy. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions out there that a dog needs to eat a food that is crunchy to keep the teeth clean, and certainly there are a lot of kibble companies that market to that belief, but let’s think on that for a minute. Try chewing on crunchy pretzels, or crackers, or cereal, and see how afterward your teeth feel a bit sticky and starchy. This is what contributes to dental plaque and decay. Now try chewing on a crunchy apple and feel the difference in how your teeth feel.
Raw bones not only have dental benefits but also provide calcium and minerals for your dog. They are rich in healthy essential fatty acids, amino acids, and raw enzymes.
Besides the physical benefits of raw bones, there are also psychological benefits. Chewing and licking on the bone can help alleviate anxiety by releasing endorphins that can calm and soothe your pet, and also can help to alleviate boredom. Also, giving a frozen raw bone on a hot summer day can help cool down and entertain your pup.
At Steve’s Real Food, we have three different raw bone choices. We have a 2” marrow bone, a 4” marrow bone, and a 4” split marrow bone. The bone is split lengthways so even small dogs can get to the tasty marrow.
***We recommend getting to know your dog’s chewing style. Recreational bones may not be appropriate for extreme chewers with strong jaws, as tooth fracture is a possibility. Always supervise your dogs while they chew.***
Cat Drinking a Lot of Water
“My cat is fine, he drinks a lot of water”. I have heard this so many times when I bring up cats and their unique need for moisture in their diet. If a cat is constantly at the water bowl, that is a pretty good indicator he is dehydrated!
Our modern house cat is a direct descendent of the African Wildcat. In fact, they have indistinguishable DNA, so we know our cats developed in a very arid climate where freshwater wasn’t easy to come by. They evolved to get their moisture needs met through diet rather than by drinking water.
How Cats Drink Water
Cats do drink and need to have fresh water available at all times, but they are not highly efficient at drinking. Unlike a dog, whose tongue curls backward to lap water into its mouth, a cat’s tongue dips relatively straight down into the water and is pulled up quickly. The rough spike-like papillae on the tongue fling tiny droplets of water into the air and the cat catches them as they fall. It takes between 2200-2400 dips of the tongue for the cat to get a quarter cup of water!
Hydrate Your Cat Through Their Food
Part of the reason they didn’t evolve to be more efficient at drinking water is because they are such successful hunters. They have always been able to hunt and kill fresh prey and utilize the intracellular moisture within the prey animal. This is the most effective way of hydrating the cat, and it also balances electrolytes and aids the digestion process.
Though our house cats no longer rely on their hunting skills to secure their meals, they can still rely on the moisture of raw meat to stay well hydrated. Our Quest line of cat diets is full of the intracellular moisture cats need. Steve’s original formulas are also an excellent choice for keeping cats (and dogs) naturally hydrated. If you are primarily a kibble feeder and would like to continue being one, we have something for you as well! Our ChiaFreeze yogurt and our PurrGurt are both goat milk-based products that are sold frozen, thawed at home, and then poured over the kibble at feeding time.
Summer is hot, make sure your favorite feline is well hydrated, healthy, and happy!
You may have heard a lot of buzz about goat milk and why it is so good for you and your pet. It seems that everywhere we look there is a pet product calling out goat milk, but what is so good about it? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, and why we should include it in our pet’s diet.
- Dense bioavailable nutrition and highly digestible
- The small curds make it easier for the gut to break down and utilize
- Contains intracellular moisture which is the most natural way for your pet to stay hydrated
- Rich in natural probiotics and full of beneficial bacteria
- Contains high amounts of short and medium-chain fatty acids which provide an energy boost without storing as fat
- Reduces inflammation of the gut due to the oligosaccharides which act as prebiotics and help soothe and settle the irritation
- Works as an antacid thanks to the very high amounts of potassium which is alkaline-forming and helps to maintain a proper pH balance in the body.
- Improves insulin sensitivity due to the high fat, but low sugar content
Goat milk is an excellent addition to any pet’s diet and especially beneficial for supporting leaky gut repair, diabetes, and working/ sporting dogs.
For more information on the benefits of goat milk, please check out this article:
As a company whose logo states clearly that we care about not only our pets but also about the ground they walk on, we have made many innovative changes to move more in the direction of sustainability.
Sustainably marketed products have been driving growth and did not stall during COVID but instead saw a steady increase with no signs of slowing. Much of this growth has focused on a younger generation that puts an emphasis on sustainable, reusable, and recyclable materials.
With a growing interest from consumers to purchase from companies that are sustainably sourced and who utilize sustainable packaging, a new term has been created. “Greenwashing” is used by companies wanting to appear to consumers as operating by sustainable guidelines and is used in marketing but has no real value in practice.
Currently, there are over 300 million pet food bags ending up in landfills. The Pet Sustainability Coalition (PSC) partnered with Pet Food Experts and ran a pilot program called Flex Forward that encouraged consumers to return their pet food packaging to a collection site at the retail location. The collections began in August 2020 and a whopping 8,000 lbs or 35,500 total used pet food and treat bags were returned. This shows a willingness from consumers to recycle, even when there is an added burden of washing the empty bags to prepare them for recycling. The collection portion of the program went better than expected, but the recycling itself was more challenging.
The first 3,200 lbs of packaging were sent to Engineered Packaging Inc, in Erie, PA to begin the sorting and test recycling process. Out of the total amount of packaging sent in, 1,600 lbs were able to be recycled and of that 300 pounds of pellets were created. The pellets will then be melted and made into new products.
One of the main challenges that hindered the success of the recycling efforts was the materials used for the packaging. Much of the packaging used several layers of different material that had to go through multiple runs of the process as each layer had a different degree of recyclability. Some companies who are touting their packaging as recyclable or compostable at the landfill, are currently using materials that can not be easily recycled and will take decades to break down and compost.
Steve’s Real Food has made an investment in the future of our planet by working with a company that creates strong, attractive packaging that is also easily recyclable.
We use Velo-Flex, which is a mono-layer, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) material that allows for strength and flexibility. The PE material is also able to withstand printing inks without having to rely on multiple layers of unrecyclable materials. The velcro closure on the bags are also made of the same material and is completely recyclable. The bags are a #4 rated, recyclable plastic that can be dropped off at facilities that collect other plastic bags, such as grocery and retail bags.
We are sincere in our commitment to sustainability and hope to see this expand to packaging from other pet food brands.
Signup before October 1st and get the opportunity to participate in our Enhance-A-Palooza where you and your store can win prizes and store events!
At Steve’s, we are adapting quickly to keep up with demand and stay safe. We hope that everyone practices their social distancing and remembers to keep laughing. We will get through this even if the end result is a new norm.
It’s game day! All the heart-thumping action centers around your TV to watch the biggest football game of the year. Loud cheering, new people, and smells of gameday snacks can be an exciting or even overwhelming, but there are a few things about a Super Bowl party that are downright dangerous for dogs. Keeping the event safe for pets doesn’t take much effort, just a little advance planning. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe for the upcoming game.
Avoid Food Fumbles
The typical menu normally contains lots of salty and rich foods, and while your pets might beg for a taste, their stomachs can’t handle the spices, heavy helpings of cheese, or excessive salt. If they get into food left within their reach, they may be facing a painful bout of vomiting, diarrhea, or even poisoning. Here are common game-day snacks to be cautious of:
- Chicken Wings – Your guests will be looking forward to the flagship snack, hot wings with dipping sauce to go along with the pulse-pounding highs and lows on the screen. If your pet ingests cooked chicken bones, they can break and become lodged in the throat or digestive tract.
- Appetizer Toothpicks – Toothpicks skewering meats and cheeses can tempt pets with their smell even after they’re discarded. If pets ingest toothpicks, they can get lodged in their throat or digestive tract.
- Alcohol – A dog’s body is not made to process alcohol. While some people might think it’s funny to give dogs some beer, it is no laughing matter and can be life-threatening in large doses. Whether it’s beer, wine, or a cocktail, alcohol consumption by pets can cause nervous system issues, vomiting, diarrhea, and hypothermia. To avoid pets getting into alcohol, be sure to keep cups off the floor and out of their reach.
- Chip Bags – Pets may be attracted to the scent of an empty chip bag, but they can get their heads stuck in the bag and suffocate.
Be sure to arrange your buffet and dining surfaces so food stays well out of reach of furry family members.
Our pets have a powerful sense of smell and can detect any leftover food particles on empty plates or coming from the trash. It’s best to keep pets out of wastebaskets by ensuring they are secured. Animals who chew plastic plates, cups, straws, or utensils stand a good chance of ingesting bits of plastic, which can easily be dangerous. Score extra points with your pet and feed them ahead of time with high-quality food from Steve’s Real Food, so they won’t be hungry.
Neutral Zone Infraction
Be mindful of your pets’ temperament around strangers or if they are prone to darting out the door. If they seem a bit fearful of new people or display unsportsmanlike conduct, make them comfortable by creating a safe area where they won’t feel exposed with their favorite toy. Designate a favorite spot in the house or backyard where there will be less noise and traffic.
Sack Anxiety Before It Starts
Food and treats formulated with CBD have been shown to relieve situational stress for pets. If you have a nervous-prone pet, a little CBD before the excitement can do the trick. CannaGurt by Steve’s Real Food, is a goat’s milk yogurt with added CBD. Fatty milk products help CBD take effect faster, and your pet will love the creamy taste. Give CannaGurt to your pet about an hour before the excitement begins to lower their anxiety before new people arrive.
Your pets feel most comfortable around you, and there is no need to block them from game day fun. With a few simple fixes, you can keep your pets calm and safe.
The need for minimally processed, microbiologically safe, chemical-free raw pet food is growing in demand exponentially. For several years the use of high-pressure process has shown to be a viable solution in the human food category and is embraced by manufacturers looking to manage the microbial environment without synthetic preservatives. However, before employing it in the SRF raw food diets it is of vital importance to understand the kinetics of HPP on nutritional validity, toxicity, and taste. For two years, Steve’s Real Food has conducted both internal research and sought out outside sources to fully understand the best practices within this process and its effect on the food.
We conducted internal testing of 95 nutrients and saw an insignificant change in nutrient value. This combined with extensive research done by 3rd parties has lead us to the conclusion that HPPed raw diets and non-HPP raw diets are bioequivalent. We also tested for the migration of toxins from plastic packaging and found no change in BHA. Finally, the additional testing on enzymatic and probiotic activity has deemed this process as a viable option to manage the microbial environment and preserve all our raw meat diets.
We conducted several tests on HPP raw meat diets and non-HPP raw meat diets to determine the effects of the process on proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and toxins. The tests were conducted on the same lot numbers to ensure that the biological makeup of the control group and the test group were equivalent.
The objective of the tests was to first determine the effects of high-pressure process on raw meat diets, and second to identify any negative side effects that the process may produce.
We divided our testing into four different sections; nutritional, enzymatic, probiotic, and toxins.
Nutritional Tests Conducted
Prior to implementing the HPP process on our poultry, we ran two full nutritional analysis panels on chicken using the same lot for both the control group and the HPP treated group. This test consisted of 95 vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and fiber. It was shown that there was minimal effect on all of these nutrients with the exception of 4 vitamins which had moderate losses. These losses were not significant enough to fall below the AAFCO’s recommended amount*. We continued to do regular testing going forward to achieve more data points, specifically on the ones where we found a moderate nutritional change.
Below are the percent changes for all of the AAFCO nutrients.
|Sample: Raw Chicken Diet||Amount Changed|
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||-176||IU/kg|
As shown, 67% of the nutrients had an increase in value while only 17% had decreases. There are only four nutrients with losses greater than 20% which did flag concern. However, after further research, we found that these nutrients were in such abundance that we were still far above AAFCO guidelines.
Below is a breakdown of the nutrients with losses greater than 20%.
|Vitamin||AAFCO Minimum||Average Amount
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||5000 IU/kg||5538 IU/kg|
|Pantothenic acid||12 mg/kg||13.1 mg/kg|
|Pyridoxine||1.5 mg/kg||1.7 mg/kg|
|Vitamin B12||0.028 mg/kg||0.169 mg/kg|
*We have updated the formulas as follows to ensure that in the HPP formula these vitamins are met in abundance above the AAFCO minimums.
- Increased Liver for more Vitamin A
- Increased Organ Meat overall for more Pantothenic Acid and Vitamin B12
- Increased the Muscle Meat for more Pyridoxine and Vitamin B12
It is noted that the calcium and phosphorus levels increase. This increase is not of concern due to the CA:PH ratio maintained within the optimal level of 1-2:1. However, due to the need to increase the meat and organ levels, we have reduced the raw bone which in turn maintains our calcium and phosphorus levels.
Nutritional Tests Summary: There were minimal reductions in minerals and slight reductions in four vitamins of which we have made formula adjustments to account for the changes.
Enzymes Tests Conducted
Enzymes are critical in our raw food diet and are one of the main elements that make a raw diet more nutritious than a lightly cooked diet. It is of critical importance that we understand the effect of high-pressure pasteurization on enzymatic activity. To achieve this goal we conducted both internal tests on our raw diets and researched 3rd party studies that contained extensive testing on food-derived enzymes.
Our internal testing was done on the raw chicken diet. We tested the enzymatic activity on the same lot of food prior to HPP and post HPP. The results were definitive that the HPP process had an insignificant effect on enzymatic activity. This was then supported by the third-party research we found.
In a study by “Pressure-Induced Inactivation of Selected Food Enzyme” published in the Journal of Food Science it was found that enzymatic activity has little degradation after the HPP process using a pressure of 600 MPa. The study was conducted to find out at what pressures the enzymes would have to be put under to become fully inactivated. Most enzymes required an MPa of 800 or more for long periods of time. They tested many pressures, temperatures, and immersion mediums to fully understand the effect of HPP on enzymatic activity.
They found that at ultra-high pressures such as 900MPa, there was a quick degradation in enzymatic activity reaching 100% by 5 minutes. However, by reducing the pressure and temperature, the enzymes become more stable.
One of the tests was done on the enzyme pectinesterase. A pressure of 600MPa was applied for 2 minutes at 45 Celsius and it resulted in a reduction in the activity of only 10%.
They also tested enzymatic activity in bovine milk and found that it had a protective effect. Under the same parameters stated above, the enzymatic activity had no change when tested in milk. This could be an indicator as to why our internal test showed no change in enzymatic activity.
The pressure and time that is used with our High-Pressure Technology (600MPa @ 160 sec.) are similar to what was used in this study. We do the process at a much lower temperature but it was found that under 45 Celsius, the temperature did not have an effect on enzymatic activity. Due to the similar parameters used in the study and the similar outcomes we found in our internal tests, it is determined that enzymatic activity is not affected using our High-Pressure Technology.
Enzyme Tests Summary: After doing internal testing and researching 3rd party testing we have deducted that there is no change to enzymatic activity using out HPT.
There have been a lot of studies on how High-Pressure Pasteurization is proven to be highly effective in inactivating pathogenic bacteria and so it is important to understand its effect on healthy probiotic bacteria. There are very few studies on this but from what we found, the Lactobacillus genera of bacteria are very pressure resistant. One study cited in the article “New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat products” found that Lactobacillus only had a 2 log reduction which was regained after 6 days of chilled storage. This can be compared to Salmonella which at the same pressure had a 4 log reduction and no recovery after 60 days of chilled storage or E. Coli in raw meat that achieve total inactivation at 700MPa for 5 minutes.
Hyperbaric, the manufacture of high-pressure machinery cites a study where it was found that yogurt cultures stay active after an HPP process using 500 MPa, while mold cultures are inactivated. This study was done by a company that used it to attain patent US78549500B2.
Probiotics Effects Summary: The testing that has been done has shown little effect on the pressure-resistant “good bacteria”.
A primary concern when pressurizing food in a plastic bag is the migration of toxins from packing to the food. The packaging that is used during the HPP process is certified BPA free, however, we wanted to be certain toxins where not being leached. We tested two batches of Turkey Diet and found that there were no detectable toxins leached from the packaging to the food. This is discussed further below.
Additional Research and Discussion
There is a lot of research on High-Pressure Processing, particularly on how it affects pathogens. In this comprehensive article, New Insights into the High‐Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat Products, there is a lot of useful information that covers the aspects of HPP and its biological effect on foods. This article provides information on both raw and cooked foods, juices, purees, and other food products. It also talks about the effect of HPP at different pressures, times, PH levels, and temperatures. Below is a summary of the information that is related to raw meat products using HPP processes similar to our pressure, time and temperature.
Effects of Texture
The HPP process can and is used to improve the tenderness of food. The pressurization process changes the structure of myofibrils, and other protein cells which make the meat more tender. The breakdown of the proteins increases cytosolic Ca2, increasing the intracellular fluid. Additionally, it is found the HPP process can increase the ph of post-rigor meats immediately after the pressure treatment.
Lipid oxidation leads to rancidity and off-flavors an undesirable characteristic. The high-pressure pasteurization process has shown to result in lipid oxidation if the pressure hold times are 20 minutes or more. At 600MPa, at a shorter hold time, it is shown to happen but only when the water temperatures are greater than 24 degrees Celsius (75 ℉). In a 2010 study it was found that at 600MPa for 15 minutes at 5 degrees Celsius (41 ℉), oxidation was limited significantly.
Beyond adjusting pressure and hold time, you can reduce the opportunity for lipid oxidation by eliminating the oxygen in the packaging and using vacuum-packed bags. Another practice that has shown to effectively mitigate lipid oxidation is the use of rosemary and sage extract.
Effects on Aroma
Pressure-treated beef and chicken were reported to have better aroma after 14 days of cold storage. This is attributed to the lower microbial content that would be found in pressure treated meat.
Biogenic amines (histamine, tyramine) only form in a microbial environment. High amounts of biogenic amines may have toxicological effects. The pressure pasteurization process controls the microbial environment which in turn lowers the levels of Biogenic amines.
Food that contains nitrites are most likely to result in a toxic environment after pressure treatment. Food with naturally occurring nitrites showed a decrease in the nitrite level after pressure processing.
A 2009 study showed the migration of packaging compounds into high‐pressure‐treated beef and chicken breast packed in multilayer polymeric bags. Significant migration of compounds from the plastic material was observed, but it was not enhanced by the high‐pressure treatment (400 MPa, 10 min, 12 °C). Another 2010 study showed traces of n-hexanal in HPP food, but the researchers did not state whether differences were observed between high‐pressure‐treated and untreated samples.
Bacterial inactivation has been proven via the use of high-pressure pasteurization at the proper pressures, hold times, and temperatures.
- E. Coli
- In cooked ham, dry‐cured ham, and marinated beef that was inoculated at 3.5 log CFU/g, E. coli was reduced below the level of detection during 120 d of chilled storage after a high‐pressure treatment at 600 MPa for 6 min at 31 °C
- With a raw meat – 700 MPa, 20 °C for 5 min equaled Total Inactivation
- Listeria M.
- 600 MPa at 50 degrees for 5 min resulted in 3.4 log reduction of 4
- 400 MPa at 17 °C for 10 min with 6 of 8 inoculated. No recovery during 60 d of chilled storage
Conclusion From Study
Information relating to the effects of high pressure on the bioequivalence of food are abundant and clear that the process does not have harmful nutritional effects. It is evident that under the proper pressure, temperature, and hold times, the effect on enzymes and probiotics are minimal. Thus, high pressure seems to be a desirable technology for the treatment of raw meat pet food products.
Pressure Induced Inactivation of Selected Food Enzymes – March 1996 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1996.tb14182.x
New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat products – April 2012
HPP Probiotics and Functional Products – Hiperbaric Blog – April 2017
Muscle proteinases and meat aging. 1994
Effects of high‐pressure treatment on Ca2+ release and Ca2+ uptake of sarcoplasmic – Feb 1995
Aroma development in high‐pressure‐treated beef and chicken meat compared to raw and heat treated. – Oct 2010
Biogenic amines and their production by microorganisms in food – Feb 1994
Effects of high‐pressure processing on the volatile compounds of sliced cooked pork shoulder during refrigerated storage – Feb 2011