Just as people benefit from eating organic, non-processed foods, so do our pets. In the past, pet parents could only find real food for cats and dogs in frozen form. Recently, a new concept in pet food-preparation has evolved. Feeding our pets the healthy diet they deserve is now easier than ever before– with freeze-dried raw food for cats and dogs.
What’s Involved in Our Freeze-Drying Process?
Our freeze-dried pet foods use the same great formulas that our frozen foods do; we simply use a cold freeze-dry process to remove the moisture. That means we can take our formula from frozen to freeze-dried without thawing or cooking it. By freeze-drying, we preserve nutritional quality and consistency, removing only the moisture. We’re essentially putting the food “on hold” for an extended time. Removing moisture from raw pet food deactivates any bacteria or enzymes that would otherwise greatly shorten its shelf life and compromise its nutritional quality.
Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food vs. Frozen Raw Dog Food
The freeze-drying process does add a bit more to the price of the food because you are paying for the extra step, but freeze-drying gives you the CONVENIENCE of storing the food in the pantry. By adding a little water, you can go from the bag to be the bowl in just 5 minutes. The benefits of freeze-dried raw pet food include:
- Its long and stable shelf life allows you to store it at room temperature for long periods, so it doesn’t crowd your freezer.
- It’s incredibly convenient to take on-the-go.
- It rehydrates quickly and easily– you don’t have to cut up or defrost raw meat.
- Freeze-dried nuggets make great treats for training.
- Freeze-dried food help you transition your pet to a raw food diet since the consistency is similar to kibble.
Are They the Same Nutritionally?
When considering freeze dried raw dog food vs. frozen raw dog food, you may be wondering, nutrition-wise, if they are created equal. The answer is YES, but it may not appear that way at first glance. When looking at the protein and fat levels in the guaranteed analysis in the two types, you may notice higher levels in the freeze-dried product, due to the numbers being calculated on a dry-matter basis. However, freeze-dry dog food is formulated the same way as their frozen raw counterparts so when comparing both on a dry matter basis, the results will be identical. Click here for dry matter basis explained!
Feeding Instructions: Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food vs. Frozen Raw Dog Food
- Rehydrate! If freeze-dried is your pet’s primary food source, we strongly recommend adding water– 1 tablespoon for every nugget or 1/4 cup for every four nuggets. For best results, break each nugget into small pieces and mix thoroughly with water to ensure it absorbs all of the liquid. Once you’ve rehydrated the food, it’s ready to serve.
- Serving Size. Feeding quantity guidelines are the same for both frozen and freeze-dried pet food. Measure out the same number of freeze-dried nuggets as you would frozen ones.
- Portion-Size Pointers. Use our handy calculator to figure out how much to feed your pet. With freeze-dried food, base portion sizes on the number of nuggets. With the frozen kind, you need to pay attention to the weight of the food.
Freeze-Dried Raw: The Perfect Kibble Topper and Treat
Steve’s Real Food is dedicated to providing high-quality freeze-dried and frozen pet food. When considering freeze dried vs. frozen from Steve’s Real Food, keep in mind that both have about the same proportions of vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins. Our pet products are derived from superior, locally-sourced ingredients, with no fillers, hormones or antibiotics added. We provide a practical way to help your pets live their healthiest life possible.
While almost every pet owner knows that a healthy and well-balanced diet is necessary for a healthy pet. For those who might not know, essential fatty acids are nutrients that are carried by fat throughout the pet’s body. These omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids play important roles in the structure and function of smooth muscle. This smooth muscle is important in numerous organs and structures such as:
- The heart
- The reproductive system
- Cells in the liver
- Preserving a healthy skin and coat
- Building and maintaining strong joint tissues
In addition, these essential fatty acids have also been tied to the development of the retinas and various antioxidant processes. Clearly, essential fatty acids play an important role in many different bodily functions. What are some of the benefits of these essential fatty acids?
The Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids for Dogs
There are many different benefits that are provided by essential fatty acids for dogs. Some of these benefits of omega 3 fatty acids for dogs and cats include:
- Cat and dog food with high omega fatty acids can drastically improve the luster, shine, and overall health of the skin and coat
- Dog and cat food with omega 3 fatty acids can also help their bodies fight inflammatory diseases
- Essential fatty acids can also slow the development of certain types of cancers
- These fatty acids can also improve the health of the immune system, helping the body fight infections
- As dogs and cats age, these fatty acids can also preserve the overall health of the joints
Clearly, there are many different benefits for pets that have a diet that is high in fatty acids. There are also several different health conditions that can be improved by improved levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
Health Conditions Improved by Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids can also provide benefits for a variety of different long-term health conditions. Some of these include:
- Elevated levels of omega 3’s can improve the overall cardiovascular health of dogs and cats
- These same fatty acids can also slow the progression of chronic kidney disease
- Visual problems can be improved with diets high in essential fatty acids
- Dry, cracked, and brittle skin can be healed
- Autoimmune and other inflammatory disorders can be slowed
These are only a few of the many different pet health conditions that can be improved by essential fatty acids. Therefore, take the time to select pet food that maximizes benefits to their overall health.
Invest in High-Quality Pet Food Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
It is important for pet owners to take the time to understand what constitutes a healthy diet for their furry friend. Diets that are high in essential fatty acids provide countless benefits and can improve long-term health conditions. Therefore, go with nutritious pet food where the ingredients have been hand-picked for a specific reason. Pets will return this care and compassion with years of love.
Our company is driven by five core values and accountability is one of them. We are accountable to the distributor, retailer, and customer. The decisions we make must ensure that we have everyone’s best interests in hand while not compromising on our mission of creating a pet food that is convenient, affordable, and of the highest quality.
Therefore, when it comes to making changes to our food safety practices, we want to be sure we are doing right by our entire distribution channel. We need to make sure that distributors and retailers do not have to go through long mass product shortages. We need to make sure the cost of the food is maintained at an affordable level and we need to make sure that the customer is confident that they are feeding the safest, highest quality food available.
We have spent several months evaluating different options for our food safety program, from test-and-hold procedures to pathogen-targeted probiotic sprays, to HPP. We are happy to announce that we have found a solution that is best for all interested parties. We have decided to use a combination of probiotics and test-and-hold for our frozen beef & pork diets and all freeze-dried products. We will then use probiotics and HPP for just our frozen poultry formulas.
As mentioned, we conducted many tests while going through the food safety evaluation period. We ran tests on HPP and non-HPP food to determine the effect on vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, and fats. We were happy to discover that HPP has a minimal effect on the nutritional constitution of the food.
In particular, we found that the overall protein levels of the formulas increased, due specifically to an increase in the amino acid tryptophan. Fats remained relatively the same, and calcium and phosphorus decreased, but remained above AAFCO’s requirements and the calcium to phosphorus ratio remained at optimal levels. Iron increased, within safe levels. The only change that we feel the need to specifically address is the observable decrease in vitamin A, which we will counteract by increasing liver amounts (a great natural source of vitamin A) in the diets which contain poultry. Surprisingly, we found out there is no effect on enzymes and little effect on probiotics. However, we have chosen to incorporate additional probiotics after the HPP process to have another value-added ingredient.
With these changes, we will also be increasing the frequency of nutritional tests we conduct on our products so we may closely monitor and/or detect any variance. Overall, we are excited about the changes we are making. We feel this will eliminate possible exposure to pathogens and improve the quality of the food. These changes will allow us to keep up on our current production schedule and continue to offer products that are as high-quality and affordable as possible. There will be no new changes to the price of the food due to HPP.
We thank you for your continued support and look forward to all the great things we will be doing in 2019. Please feel free to email email@example.com with any questions or concerns. This email goes directly to our product development team who reviews each email and discusses all customer comments on a weekly basis.
The Steve’s Real Food Team
High-Pressure Pasteurization FAQ.
Why did you choose to start using HPP?
As a company we have chosen to use HPP on our frozen poultry products only after many months of research of various kill step processes that would minimize risks associated to harmful pathogens. Our focus was keeping our pets diet at the highest quality possible without compromising convenience and affordability. HPP is hands down the most effective with minimal effect of the nutritional adequacy of the food.
Why do you HPP only the poultry products?
Through our testing, we found that Beef, Pork, and Emu don’t have the contamination rate that poultry does and therefore test & hold is effective on these diets. We include pathogen targeted probiotics in all of our products. On the non-HPP food, this helps reduce the contamination making our effected rate less than 1%. On the HPP products, we include it after the HPP process to ensure that there is no cross contamination during the re-grind step.
We have a little over 30 SKUs that are not HPPed and 11 that are. By April of 2019, we will have a new protein (Lamu) that will be available in all frozen and freeze-dried and in all package sizes. This will add 5 more non-HPP options for the customer.
When did you start to do HPP?
We started distributing batches of HPP in February 2019. By March, all frozen poutry will go through the HPP process.
What is HPP and what is the process?
High Pressure Processing – high pressure not heat.
Frozen product (29-degrees) is placed in a chamber filled with chilled water (35-38 degrees) it is then pressurized for 180 seconds at 87 PSI (pressure square inch) this validates a 5 log reduction. Water temperature in the chamber only increases by 1-2 degrees which does not change product temperature.
Does HPP change or kill natural Enzymes or minerals?
After many third-party lab tests, we found that the overall protein levels of the formulas increased, due specifically to an increase in the amino acid tryptophan. Fats remained relatively the same, and calcium and phosphorus decreased, but remained above AAFCO’s requirements and the calcium to phosphorus ratio remained at optimal levels. Iron increased, within safe levels. The only change that we feel the need to specifically address is the observable decrease in vitamin A, which we will counteract by increasing liver amounts (a great natural source of vitamin A) in the diets which contain poultry. Surprisingly, we found out there is no effect on enzymes and little effect on probiotics. However, we have chosen to incorporate additional probiotics after the HPP process to have another value-added ingredient.
What proof do you have that it did not affect enzymes?
We have done several third-party tests to evaluate the overall nutritional content to HPP VS non-HPP food and we would be happy to provide that information for you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does HPP make the food less palatable?
No, HPP does not alter the palatability of the food. There is a slight texture change due to re-grinding the food after the HPP process. Some dogs notice this and may question the difference, but we have found that it only takes a little while and they are back to their normal excited temperament for the food.
Is there a color or texture change to the HPP products?
No there is not a color change to any of the HPP products, we use the same USDA human grade ingredients. If you notice a color change it is most likely due to the natural changes in the color of the meat from batch to batch.
What benefits does HPP have?
It inactivates foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E Coli & Listeria without changing the nutritional value of the food. It offers a safer option for consumers who are worried about food safety, who have small children or are immune compromised – Or who have a pet who is immune compromised. It also eliminates the need for a more severe and denaturing process such as radiation, chemical preservatives or thermal processing.
What are the disadvantages of HPP?
HPP is an additional process that if can be avoided, you might as well. It increases the time it takes to make each batch which is why we are slowly phasing it in so that we can ensure there are no gaps in supply.
Please email any questions or comments to email@example.com
If you want to upgrade your pet’s nutrition, start by looking at the packaging. Do you see ‘Made in the USA’ on there? ‘Made in the USA’ is a powerful designation that means the product has been created to high safety standards, and all or most of the ingredients are from here in the USA. If you still aren’t sure about paying a little extra for quality pet food, read on.
The High Cost of Cheap Ingredients
Where your pet food ingredients come from matters. In fact, it can be a matter of life or death. In 2007, there were several incidences of pets becoming sick or dying from contaminated pet food. Some pet food companies were attempting to cut production costs by using rice and wheat imported from China. There, the government doesn’t apply the same regulation for food quality as we do here in the USA. The food had melamine contamination that was added by Chinese manufacturers to increase the protein content results. Melamine is a chemical commonly used in manufacturing plastic products. It’s toxic when ingested. Around the same period of time, there was a deadly dog jerky treat outbreak. Over 5000 animals became sick and 1000+ beloved animals died over the five years that these products were on the market before being recalled. Many pet food product manufacturers were finally forced to recall their products years later, despite the number of customer complaints and sick and dying animals that were reported over the years. Incidences like these have been tragedies for the pet owners. Now, consumers have lost trust in imported ingredients. They are looking for a healthy, safe solution in Made in the USA products.
What Does ‘Made in the USA’ Labeling Mean?
This label is about much more than simply stating where an ingredient comes from. It also describes the growth, harvesting, and manufacturing process. Food that isn’t made in the USA may not be unhealthy … but you’ll never know for sure. Other countries have their own food safety standards which can be very different from those in the USA. They don’t face oversight or any civil or criminal penalties for breaking US laws and safety regulations.
When you see ‘Made in the USA’ on a label, this means the product has been regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in both human and pet food. To earn this label, all or virtually all the product has to be made in the United States. This could include the packaging, the ingredients, and where it’s produced. The label means that the pet food meets US safety standards and monitoring at every step.
Don’t Be Fooled by Pet Food Labels
Some companies may try to fool you into thinking their product is a made in the USA product by employing tricks such as putting a picture of an American flag on the bag without explicitly stating that it is made here. Take another look at the label on your bag of pet food. Here’s what you want to look at to verify Made in the USA status.
- “Manufactured by.”This label indicates who is responsible for the food’s quality and safety during manufacturing. It should also say where the product was produced.
- “Manufactured for” or “Distributed by.”This means that the food was manufactured by a different party than the one selling it. This could be, for example, a central manufacturing facility that provides the food sold by several labels. In contrast, companies that use their own facilities have more control over ingredients and how they’re processed. They can also set higher quality control standards and make sure that every batch meets those standards.
- “Based” or “Developed.”These are red flags, and it would be wise to contact the manufacturer to figure out who is making the food and where.
Feed-Grade vs Human-Grade Ingredients
Having USA sourced ingredients is a great start, but it doesn’t tell the full story. Some pet food manufacturers use ‘feed-grade’ ingredients. The problem with these ingredients is that feed-grade ingredients are held to significantly lower, looser safety standards. Pet food is considered feed and is legally allowed to contain some question items. That’s why the healthiest pet food not only has a Made in the USA label but also uses human-grade ingredients.
Why Choose Steve’s Real Food?
Steve’s Real Food has more than two decades of experience making high-quality pet foods. We source our ingredients in the US from USDA approved farms that humanely raise free-range animals. The raw meat we use is human grade and 100% free of added hormones and antibiotics. Our fruit and vegetable ingredients are also locally sourced here in the US and are pesticide-free.
To find out more about our company policies on quality ingredients and origin disclosures, read our pledge here.
As anyone who has completed a long-distance run can tell you, much of the way you feel after exerting yourself will depend on the food you ate. This principle holds true for animals as well. Working dogs such as law enforcement dogs, sled dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs, and herding dogs generally have higher nutritional requirements than those set by AAFCO when compared to non-working dogs. Meeting these nutritional needs is the key to ensuring working dogs perform at their best. Feeding the best dog food for working dogs with sustainable energy and healthy nutrients is a great way to thank these dogs for everything they help us do. Read on to learn more about selecting a pet food that will meet your working dog’s needs.
What is Classified as a Working Dog?
Usually, working dogs are larger breeds that are trained to perform a certain task such as sledding, farming, herding, and hunting dogs. The most common working dogs include Akita, Alaskan malamutes, Border Collie, Belgian Malinois, Doberman pinschers, GiaSchnauzersers, Rottweiler, Australian Shepherd, Newfoundland, and Siberian Huskies. However, working dogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you may have a Dachshund that helps hunt tunneling animals, or even a Welsh Corgi herding chickens.
How Much Should a Working Dog Eat?
Generally speaking, working dogs will need anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 times the amount of food as a less active dog. Working dogs who are operating in very hot or cold environments will need even more food.
Working dogs also have greater hydration needs than less active dogs. Because dogs can’t sweat, most of their water loss comes from the surface of their tongue or the pads of their feet—and during heavy exercise, they can lose 10 to 20 times more water than normal.
What to Look for on the Ingredients and Guaranteed Analysis Panels
There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating your working dog’s food choices. Working doges require specific levels of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and water. But the proportions (and quality) of each of these ingredients will dictate how healthy they are for your pup.
- Working dogs need a high protein diet to build and maintain strong, healthy muscles. However, not all proteins are created equal. The best pet foods for working dogs have a real animal protein as the first ingredient such as Turkey, Pork, or Beef, rather than “meat meal.”. Dog food with corn, grains, or soy protein as the first ingredient isn’t likely to provide the nutritional profile your working dog needs to perform at his peak.
- Working dogs also need a food that provides them sustainable energy, and has a relatively high fat content. If looking to feed a raw diet, a prey model is higher in protein and fat, and is ideal for working/performance dogs that need more calories to keep on weight. Dogs eating a grass-fed and grass-finished meats, like in Steve’s Real Food, will be eating meats with more natural contents of Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids.
- Working dog food should support healthy joints as their work can be hard on a pet’s joints. Look for ingredients that contain glucosamine and chondroitin like Eggshell Membrane that promote healthy joint function.
- Finally, there is no reason for dog foods to contain artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or other additives. These substances don’t provide any added benefit and, in some cases, may actually harm your pet’s health.
Always read the ingredients panel carefully to make sure you understand everything your dog food contains.
The DOs and DON’Ts of Feeding Working Dogs
Here are just a few of the “DOs and DON’Ts” you’ll want to keep in mind when making any changes to your working dog’s diet.
- DO: Encourage Hydration: Water is the most important element in any working dog’s diet. Making water available and encouraging your working dog to take water breaks is key to avoiding dehydration.
- DON’T: Make Sudden Changes: Dogs can be sensitive to sudden or drastic changes. If you are planning on changing the food you provide your working dog, it’s a good idea to make any changes to your dog’s diet slowly, incorporating the new food over the course of 2-4 weeks. This same principle holds when you adjust your dog’s food intake. Just because your dog is getting plenty of exercise doesn’t mean that their stomach is equipped to handle double or more the volume of food it normally processes—increasing their food supply overnight may lead to some digestive upset. Adjust the amount of food you offer your pup by no more than 20% a day (or less) until you’ve reached an amount that allows them to maintain a healthy weight and energy level.
- DO: Begin with Label Recommendations: Your dog food label should indicate a recommended amount of daily food based on your dog’s size and weight. Although your working dog will usually need more than this recommended amount, a slow increase is the easiest way to identify the amount of food your dog needs to maintain their weight at their current activity level. Your dog’s individual metabolism and how much exercise they’re getting will determine how much to feed. A dog at an ideal weight will have a waist when viewed from above, and you should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs when lightly running your hands across its sides.
- DON’T: Feed Your Dog Immediately Before or After Strenuous Exercise: Exercise requires one’s body to do a lot at once and eating immediately after strenuous activity can cause digestive upset or discomfort. Putting off their meal until they’ve cooled down a bit is the best way to avoid diarrhea, cramps, and other uncomfortable side effects.
Try Steve’s Real Food for Your Working Dog
Steve’s Real Foods frozen raw prey diet is ideal for working dogs—it includes only human-grade, USDA-inspected, free-range meats that are 100% hormone-free and antibiotic-free. The frozen raw prey diet is far higher in fat and protein than other dog foods on the market, giving your pup the energy, they need to perform at their highest level.
Corn is the number one ingredient in kibble, (and in many human foods) because it is heavily subsidized by the US government and so can be grown cheaply by farmers. Yet as prevalent as it is in our food, the largest buyers of corn in the US are not food manufacturers, but large-scale meat companies that feed their animals an unnatural, corn-based diet, which their bodies were never designed to eat. This translates into a decrease of nutritional value in the meats you and your dog eat. Nutritionally deficient cows = nutritionally deficient meat. The rise of chronic disease, cancer, infertility, anxiety/depression, ADHD, obesity, and many more diseases can be linked back to nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances that come from eating cheap foods manufactured with an eye on the dollar and not on public health
Are you noticing rapid weight loss in your pet? Does your cat or dog vomit often? While these symptoms could present in an array of conditions, they are prevalent in pets with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is in most cases the primary cause of prolonged diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats. Pets suffering from IBD also suffer substantial nutrient deficiencies along with the discomfort its symptoms present. According to research, IBD is more common in Yorkshire Terriers, German Shepherds, and purebred cats, although other breeds could also suffer from the same. Even though IBD is common in older pets, it has been known to affect pets younger than two years.
What is IBD?
IBD is a condition that occurs when the pet’s small intestines or the mucosal lining is prone to irritation due to the presence of an abnormally large amount of inflammatory cells. This abnormal invasion interferes with the mucosal lining’s ability to digest and absorb food. This results in diarrhea or vomiting depending on which part of the digestive system is affected. Pets whose stomachs or upper intestines are affected will vomit while those whose lower digestive system is affected normally have chronic diarrhea.
Signs and symptoms that your pet could be suffering from IBD include;
- Chronic vomiting
- Fatigue or lethargy mostly caused by a poor appetite
- Excess gas or flatulence
- Weight loss
- Traces of blood in the pet’s stool
- Rumbling sounds in the stomach
- Abdominal pain
- Distressed coat
Quite a number of conditions can cause the above symptoms, but when they become intermittent and chronic, the probability of your pet suffering from IBD is high.
What Causes IBD?
Researchers haven’t found a single cause for IBD, however, potential causes include; bacteria, parasites, food allergies, and a non-functional or poor immune system. Most of the food allergens that are believed to cause IBD are milk proteins, the gluten in wheat products, artificial coloring, food preservatives, and certain meat proteins. There is a genetic factor also believed to play a major role in the likelihood of a pet suffering from IBD. Due to the varying potential causes, vets treat each case individually. This helps to customize the treatment plan, so its root cause is addressed.
How is IBD Diagnosed in Dogs and Cats?
Once you suspect that your pet is suffering from IBD, it is vital that you schedule an appointment with a vet as soon as possible. On your appointment, the vet will most likely ask you to provide a detailed history of your pet, how long the symptoms have persisted, and their severity. They will then run a number of blood, stool, and urine tests. The vet may also do an ultrasound to rule out other conditions such as bacterial or parasitic infections, metabolic diseases, or even cancer. A food test using hypoallergenic diet may also be necessary to rule out food allergy as the cause. Presence of IBD could also be confirmed through biopsy performed on the intestinal tissue. This can be done through endoscopy, colonoscopy, or abdominal surgery. The biopsy is often the last resort as the procedures are invasive and costly.
The Disadvantage of Treating IBD through Conventional Means
Conventional treatment typically includes one of the veterinary “prescription” diets. They may prescribe an expensive, specialized hydrolyzed protein diet available only through them that has synthetically minimized protein so that the allergen is undetected by the pet’s body. Often, these diets are expensive and only sold at the vet’s office.
The vet will additionally prescribe an immunosuppressant, drugs which suppress the lymphocytes, antacids, anti-nausea drugs, and synthetic corticosteroids. While a specially hydrolyzed diet and these drugs may work, they do not address the root cause of the IBD by getting rid of the irritation. You might also need to medicate your dog for a prolonged period or even the rest of it’s life when you choose these routes of treatment.
Treating IBD with a Raw Pet Diet
Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease may be effectively controlled through raw pet foods. Healing of the pet’s digestive system will only begin once we acknowledge that the pets are carnivores and feed them on a diet that’s suitable for them. Feeding your pet with a raw pet diet restores its digestive system’s physiological balance. We do not claim that a raw diet “cures” IBD, but feeding dogs and cats a high quality (human grade, unadulterated), fresh meat-and-organ based diet their digestive systems are designed to metabolize, enables those systems to return to physiological balance.
Pets with gastrointestinal conditions respond quite well to raw diets, and once they successfully transition, you will no longer need additional supplements to maintain their health or reduce IBD symptoms. However, if the pet is diagnosed with severe inflammation, it might get infected by the bacteria that occur naturally in raw meat. It would be ideal to start feeding him with cooked food and slowly reduce the cooking times as symptoms subside. Keep in mind that it might take some time for symptoms to subside even after the irritants have been removed from the pet’s diet.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that are important to humans and pets alike. Their role is to maintain a healthy stomach through the re-population of the digestive tract with healthy bacteria and helping in digestion. While giving your pet probiotic supplements is a good way of maintaining a healthy gut, it would be better the probiotic was incorporated with his meal. Steve’s Real Food is fortified with raw goat milk which is rich in probiotics, supports metabolism, boosts the pet’s immune system, and is an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Our raw pet food is balanced and features the most superior ingredients on the market. Alternatively, you could top your pet’s meal with a raw goat milk product. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our products.
It can be a mystifying experience trying to pick the right food for your dog. TV and print ads are often misleading. Package labels can be so lengthy and confusing that it can be very hard to figure out what you’re buying. And, your dog may be a bit of a finicky eater. Now what? All things combined, the quest for truly nutritious food that your dog really likes can turn into a pretty long journey. Here’s some helpful information to help you choose food that is healthful, that your dog likes, and that is ethically and environmentally responsible.
Rendered Meat Products
Popular pet food brands often use a meat rendering process. In the rendering process, a bunch of “leftover” meat products are mixed and ground together into a sludge. The substance is then cooked in a vat at high heat for a few hours to render the grease, fat, and solids. When these drifts up to the surface, they’re skimmed off. This scraped-off substance is then packaged and labeled as “meat by-product” or “meat meal.”
That may not seem like an ideal way of producing high-quality pet food. That’s because it’s not. You don’t have to be a pet food industry expert to recognize the major shortfalls in such a process, or in terms of producing an optimally nutritious, good-tasting or well-balanced pet food.
What’s in Meat By-Products?
Pet food industry experts have conflicting opinions on the advisability of feeding a dog meat by-products. Some argue that pet food production from by-products fulfills an important ecological need, repurposing biological materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste. But, others have concerns about meat-rendering pet food plants possibly using meat sources that are unfit for use as food.
Pet food producers are legally permitted to mix protein sources in rendered meat products. Adding to the uncertainty is the matter of relatively weak regulation of rendered by-products, which has led to reports that meat used in plants is from dead animals taken from roadways. There have also been reports of producers using ingredients like hooves and heads from cattle, pigs, horses, and sheep. Some reports have claimed that diseased animals and others that are unfit for human food are used. That’s why pet food labels list “by-products” or “by-product meal” instead of easily identifiable meat sources. This situation has led many people to look for food with proteins from a single animal source and ingredients that are of a quality fit for human food.
Know Pet Food Packaging Buzz Words
At a minimum, people should be able to understand dog food labels. The labels shouldn’t be misleading in the language they use. Quality producers of pet food products back up their labels with sufficiently clear information. But run-of-the-mill producers may use language that makes information about what’s really in the can or paper package pretty obscure.
For example, if the label says:
- “Contains Beef” or “With Beef” — Can mean that the product contains as much as 97% of other substances and as little as 3% beef.
- “Beef Flavored” — Can mean that the product does not contain any actual beef.
- “Beef Dinner,” “Beef Recipe,” or “Beef Formula”— Must mean that at least 25% of food’s total weight is real beef. The remainder of the weight (up to 75%) can consist of other ingredients.
- “Beef Dog Food” — Must mean that at least 95% of the food’s total weight is real beef.
Flashy Pet Food Labeling Adds Mystery
With all the baffling labels, decoding the terms to figure out which ones offer your high-quality pet food becomes more than a minor challenge. Throw in another layer of labeling ambiguity, such as one of these below, and you’ve really got a vague description of whatever is in the package.
What do those descriptions really mean? Fingers crossed. Do they at least mean that the pet food in the package is better and actually worth paying a little extra for it? The answer is—not really. Such adjectives in labeling are often just embellishments used to stimulate some excitement in buyers.
Pet foods with “premium” on the label, or any of the other above enthusiasm-building adjectives are not required to consist of different ingredients or any higher quality of the same kinds of ingredients than any other product that contains complete and balanced pet food.
“Natural” Pet Foods
Don’t be discouraged. Even though by now you’re probably dreading hearing about yet another misleading labeling term, this is where things improve for pet food buyers. This term “natural” is one that has much tighter rules attached to it. Any pet food with a “natural” label, is regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. The AAFCO is a collective of local, state, and federal government agencies that regulate animal food manufacturing.
The AAFCO requires pet foods labeled as “natural” to contain only ingredients from animal, plant or mined sources. Foods with the “natural” label are not permitted to be highly processed. They also cannot contain artificial flavoring, coloring, preservatives or other synthetic chemical ingredients.
“Organic” Pet Foods
Pet foods labeled as “organic” must be produced, according to AAFCO standards, without using artificial fertilizers or chemical pesticides, and without food additives or use of radiation for ionization. Pet foods wearing the “organic” label must also be free of contaminants from industrial or human waste. Further, food animals must be raised with a healthy diet, without growth hormones, and without routine administration of antibiotics.
Organic pet foods can be produced at differing grades of organic quality:
- “100% Organic” — Pet food bearing this label must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients” — Products with this labeling must consist of at least 70% ingredients that are certified as organic.
Organic pet food producers are required to obtain certification and to meet standards specified for production, in order to qualify to label their pet food products as “organic.”
How Can You Be Sure You’re Choosing a High-Quality Pet Food?
As we’ve seen, there are a lot of misleading labels on pet foods. Since there are currently no general regulations that require pet food labels to be clearer, it’s up to us as consumers to look past the packaging and do our due diligence in pet food selection.
First, when researching which pet foods make the best sense to buy for your dog, you can use this little questionnaire as your checklist:
- Is the first ingredient listed on the Ingredients List identifiable as a single-source of protein?
- Do the ingredients in the pet food product together form food that is nutritionally complete and balanced?
- Is the animal protein source from a producer that is confirmed as one using humane farming practices? Or, if it’s a fish source, does the producer use sustainable fishing practices?
- If there are whole vegetable and fruit ingredients included and are these grown naturally and in an environmentally responsible way?
- Where are the raw ingredients for the pet food from? (Producers of premium pet foods avoid obtaining ingredients from countries where pet food recalls have caused widespread concerns.)
Second, be willing to reach out and questions. Pet food companies that label their products as “Made in the USA” should not avoid answering questions you may have. Here are a few of the kinds of questions to consider asking a pet food company before you decided to start or continue feeding your pet the foods they produce.
- Where are your pet foods ingredients produced?
- Where are your pet food formulations manufactured?
A Good Rule of Thumb in Considering The Best Pet Food
Consumers must use the information and tools we have to figure out what’s best for our dogs in pet food. We have to pretty much accept that the Ingredients List is accurate. That makes a pet food producer’s willingness to be transparent about their sources and processes a central consideration in choosing the food that your dog needs to live a healthy and happy life. So, look for a pet food provider that is transparent about their product. Remember, a pet food company that is committed to top quality will openly explain what is in the food product that you are buying for your dog.
Before buying and feeding your cat or dog pet food, it is important that you check the ingredients used to make the food. This is because some of these foods may contain ingredients that could result in pet allergies. If you are to avoid such ingredients, here are some things you will want to familiarize yourself with before making a pet food selection.
What is a Pet Allergy?
Pet allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system after the pet has been constantly exposed to potential allergens. There are basically two kinds of dog allergies – environmental allergies and food allergies. Some of the common substances that cause these reactions in dogs are:
- Trees, weeds, grass, and pollen
- Dust and dust mites
- Household cleaning products
- Fleas and flea-control products
- Ingredients such as corn, wheat, and soy
If the immune system of an animal misidentifies a protein in food as an invader rather than a food item, it will mount an immune response. This is what is referred to as a food allergy.
The Difference Between a Food Intolerance and a Food Allergy
Although food allergy and food intolerance are both terms used when talking about unusual responses to food, they are different in several ways. “Allergy” and “hypersensitivity” are terms that tell of immunologic responses to food allergens to which there was previous exposure to bring about symptoms. Food allergies result from the reaction of the immune system and are characterized by symptoms such as skin conditions, itching, swelling, and irritation in the ears. On the other hand, food intolerances do not create a typical allergic response and the affected animal will either diarrhea or vomit. Unlike food allergies, food intolerance does not involve the immune system and can occur with the first exposure to a certain food. Intolerance to food in pets can be compared to the digestion disorders characterized by stomach upset or diarrhea in people with lactose intolerance. The best way to deal with this problem would be to identify the particular food causing it and then eliminating it from the daily diet. Since similar symptoms accompany both abnormal reactions, it may require veterinary guidance to tell them apart.
The Trouble with Many Commercial Kibble Diets
Skin allergies and skin conditions can make pets downright miserable. If your pet is experiencing digestive upset, here are some things to consider when evaluating the food you’re giving your pet:
- Common Allergens are Common Ingredients – Some of the most common ingredients found in popular commercial pet foods can be allergenic. Common potential culprits to which pets may react are wheat, corn, soy, rice, milk, potato, yeast, and some animal proteins.
- Lack of Variety – A myth perpetuated by the pet food industry is that your pet should only be fed one kind of food their entire life. Pet food loyalty is another common cause of health issues in dogs. Feeding your pet the same food daily over a number of years increases the chances of a reaction to certain food ingredients. Switching up proteins with the same pet food can help combat developing an allergy.
- Fillers – Many commercial pet food manufacturers use fillers to make pet food cheaper to produce. However, research has shown that the fillers are not biologically appropriate for dogs and cats and can cause stress on the immune system. The end result can be hypersensitivity and allergic responses to the fillers.
- Additives: Other substances that can trigger food intolerances are flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, preservatives, dyes, sugars, as well as hormones and chemicals found in the meat used to manufacture pet food. In some cases, food intolerances can develop to become systemic allergic reactions.
- Poor Quality Protein: Low-quality sources of protein such as hooves, beaks, and feathers can potentially initiate allergic reactions in pets. There is protein in a leather boot, but that won’t provide the same benefit as protein from a good cut of fresh meat.
- Kibble has low digestibility: Just like eating a bunch of crackers without something to wash it down is a lot of work, a dog’s system has to do a tremendous amount of work to break down kibble and hunt down the nutrients and put them to use. By the time a dog’s gut does all this work, their digestive system is spent. In both humans and dogs, the digestive and immune systems are closely tied. As such, when the digestive system is taxed, there will be some adverse effect on the immune system. This makes it more difficult for some dogs to fight off allergens and inflammation.
Diagnosis of Food Allergies in Pets
The first step in identifying the best dog food for dogs with allergies is to understand what food allergies are and the common factors that cause them. Today, dietary elimination trial makes for the best method of diagnosing food allergies. For instance, a pet that has been fed on beef and rice-based food for several years can be gradually moved to a novel protein source such as rabbit, pork, or kangaroo. It is important that both the primary carbohydrate and protein sources in the current diet are identified so that the new diet does not contain the same ingredients. Once the elimination food trial is done, foods can be introduced one at a time, with the animal’s response being monitored closely. During the elimination diet, it is important not to give your pet anything but the recommended diet until the culprit is determined. This means not giving your pet treats or flavored medicines.
Hypoallergenic Food for Pets with Allergies and Food Intolerances
It is recommended that you rotate protein sources in your pet’s diet. This provides a wide variety, broadens the nutritional base and reduces the risk of food sensitivity. You may also consider a diet of natural raw foods that providethe pet with a variety of meats and vegetables, keeping their bodies nourished and their immune systems strong. In the end, a pet with a strong immune system will have a better chance of fighting off allergens without the need for medication.
Enjoy the Rewards of Feeding Raw – Ask Your Local Pet Store for Steve’s Real Food
If you’re looking for a natural, whole pet food, ask your local pet store for Steve’s Real Food. Steve’s Real Food‘s tater-tot sized nuggets allow you as a pet parent to simply pour and serve. You don’t have to defrost it overnight, you don’t have to cut up raw meat, and you don’t have to mix it with anything. It is 100% complete and balanced, made from only the most superior ingredients on the market. We are so proud of the ingredients we use that we gladly share who we buy from so you can have the same level of confidence as we do.
Gobble Gobble, it is almost Turkey day! At Steve’s Real Food we are thankful for many things, especially our pets which is why we want to share some helpful tips, and fun facts for you and your pets for this lovely holiday.
Thanksgiving is the number 1 holiday for emergency vet visits. This is due to pets getting some of the turkey dinners which has cooked bones, high fat, and many spices that can be very harmful to pets. The best way to have your pet enjoy this holiday is to have some Steve’s Turkey, or Turducken diet so dinner you can also make a scrumptious treat with our ChiaFreeze to make a “pumpkin pie yogurt”
*see the recipe below
Do you feel like taking a cat nap after a large Turkey dinner? Watch this video to figure out why!
Pumpkin Spice Goat Yogurt:
4oz of Steve’s Real Food ChiaFreeze
1 Tablespoon of pumpkin (make sure it is 100% pumpkin)
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
Mix all ingredients into a bowl thoroughly
Either poor into some ice cube molds and freeze or give as a yummy topper for your pets food