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
Did you know that the raw food sector is the fastest growing division in the pet food market? More people are finding out that just like unprocessed foods in human diets benefit them by improving their overall health, immunity, and vitality, so does raw food for their pets. Check out some of the amazing benefits that raw foods have on your pets.
The digestive system of pets like cats and dogs is much shorter than humans, which means their bodies have less time to absorb nutrients. They’re designed to digest raw meat and bones from prey found in the wild, and not grains or fillers present in many kibble foods. Unprocessed foods, like those found in raw pet diets, deliver the maximum amount of absorbable nutrients and healthy bacteria for your pet’s overall wellness. Additionally, pets do not have the enzyme amylase that is required to digest grains. When feeding a pet a grain-filled diet, their body has to work extra hard to process the grain and cor. Long-term stress on the pancreas can create toxic bacteria in the lower bowel that can cause liver and kidney problems.
Better Dental Hygiene
Periodontal issues are one of the most common reasons for trips to the vet, and it is often caused by bacterial growth from eating starchy kibble which sticks to the teeth. This means a sticky film of carbohydrates sticks to the teeth leading to pets with bad breath, sore gums, plaque build-up, and even requiring painful tooth extractions. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will exhibit some stage of gum disease by two years of age. Raw pet food does not contain starches and processed fats, which means the saliva is able to break food down so it doesn’t stick to the teeth.
Stronger Immune System
Have you ever wondered why wolves and wild dogs appear stronger and have fewer health problems compared to domestic dogs? This is primarily due to the diet. Raw foods are rich in fatty acids and immune-boosting nutrients. Raw vegetables have vitamins and antioxidants in their natural and absorbable form. While kibble manufacturers try to replace them with artificial additives, they only succeed in making the nutrients harder to absorb.
A Healthy Skin and Coat
About 40% of the protein a pet ingests goes into their coat and skin. A grain-based diet means that they do not have the necessary amount of proteins to grow a healthy and shiny coat. Better nutrition from raw foods implies that there is a minimum to no shedding of your pet’s hair which results in a shiny and healthy coat.
Better Muscle Tone and Healthier Bone Structure
Intake of a diet rich in proteins will help your pet develop healthier muscles, skin, and joints. This is unlike the alternative which is only rich in carbohydrates which can contribute to pet obesity. Puppies raised on raw are shown to have fewer bone problems in their later years. Most of the calories in raw are from meat which has a high protein, low carb content which promotes a healthy growth rate. Later in life, pets will benefit from the high levels of Omega-3’s, and experience less inflammation and ease joint problems such as arthritis
Common symptoms of allergies in pets include constant itching and/or discharge from the eyes. Many pets are allergic to grains and fillers in kibble. Feeding a raw diet eliminates these allergens from their diets. Adding raw goat milk to the diet further boosts their immunity which consequently reduces allergies.
Smaller and Less Smelly Waste
As the digestive enzymes in pets are better suited for raw foods, they are able to absorb more of the food’s nutrients and subsequently, there is less waste excreted. You will notice stools are smaller, firmer, and devoid of super-smelly odor that occurs due to the incomplete or improper digestion of processed foods.
Ask Your Local Pet Store for Steve’s Real Food
The increase in pet diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, digestive issues, obesity, constipation, and so on could be attributed to the highly processed commercial pet foods due to their inferior quality. Steve’s Real Food uses only ingredients that are 100% bioavailable for your pet. This means that everything put in it can be digested and all the nutrients can be used. Feeding your pet foods from Steve’s Real Food will ultimately result in fewer trips to the vet and a happier, healthier pet.
Episode 12 – Great Goat!
Why Goat Milk is so Great
More people drink milk from goats than from any other animal worldwide, yet here in the US, less than 5% of people regularly drink goat milk. With small (but increasing) popularity, it’s no wonder that most people aren’t aware of the great benefits goat milk can provide to us and our fur babies. So let’s take a look at what those benefits are and how you can incorporate goat milk into your pet’s daily diet!
It’s easy to digest. Goat milk has smaller fat particles which produce a smaller, softer curd in the stomach. These curds are much easier for the body to break down in the gut and intestines. Goat milk is also low in milk sugars (lactose).
It contains high amounts of short and medium-chain fatty acids. These nifty fatty acids provide an energy boost without storing “extra” as fat, can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising good cholesterol (HDL), and can even help prevent coronary and intestinal disease. Even though they provide the same amount of energy for the body, they have fewer calories and are much more easily digested.
It reduces inflammation. Goat milk contains oligosaccharides and a unique enzymatic composition that soothes gut inflammation. Oligosaccharides act as prebiotics in the colon; promoting healthy gut flora, lowering occurrence of inflammation-causing bacteria, and even help repair damaged gut cells that may arise from such problems as leaky gut syndrome or diabetes.
It supports metabolism and acts as an antacid. With a high fat content and low sugar content, glucose metabolism is much more effective and insulin sensitivity is improved, meaning that goat milk is a great tool to help prevent or manage diabetes. The antacid properties of goat milk are thanks to the very high amounts of potassium in the milk that, when consumed, is alkaline-forming and helps to maintain a proper pH balance in the body.
It provides complete, bioavailable nutrition. Goat milk not only contains exceptional amounts of nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, but the raw and natural (bioavailable) form of the nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed by the body. Disorders such as malabsorption, bone demineralization, and anemia may be prevented or treated by providing such bioavailable nutrition. Additionally, high amounts of selenium and zinc can help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.
Also pretty neat: Goats are easy(er) on the environment—three goats can live on the same acreage required for one cow, they require less food than cows, and they produce less harmful gas such as methane.
So, how should you feed raw goat milk to your pet? It’s easy! Raw goat milk can be found in the same freezer section as other raw frozen foods at your local pet supply store. Raw goat milk comes in several packaging options, and many brands have added ingredients to make goat milk even more amazing. At Steve’s Real Food, we take goat milk to another level by turning it into raw yogurt (extra probiotics!) and adding chia seeds. You can find the Enhance Chia Freeze in a 16oz. resealable pouch with other frozen Steve’s products. You may add the defrosted goat milk to your pet’s regular meal or use it as a meal substitute in times of digestive upset. Follow packaging directions for proper feeding amounts.
Please also check out the Enhance line of products, exclusive to Steve’s Real Food. Enhance is a line of products designed to add a nutritional boost to your pet’s diet, no matter what they currently eat. All freeze dried powdered formulas begin with a freeze dried raw goat milk base and have extra functional ingredients specifically designed to address common nutritional needs for both dogs and cats. More information on our Enhance line can be found HERE.
Note: As always, we are referring to raw goat milk. Raw goat milk has not been pasteurized and so retains enzymatic and biotic activity, as well as unaltered fat molecules. These benefits mentioned above will be not as effective or non-existent when the goat milk is cooked (pasteurized).
Episode 10 – Giddy Up!
We’ve gone over some of the physical changes you will see in your pet when making the switch to a raw food diet, but you may ask: will this affect their mood/behavior too? You betcha! With all of the bioavailable nutrition, digestible protein, and biologically appropriate animal fats available in a raw food diet, your pet will have the nutrition and fuel it needs to put a spring in its step!
First of all, it’s important to understand that cats and dogs obtain nearly all of their required energy from fat and protein. This differs from omnivores, like humans, who typically rely on carbohydrates for a high source of energy (though omnivores do use fat and protein for energy as well). Interestingly, it’s not the familiar “carbs” that provide energy, but glucose. Glucose is readily available in the types of carbs we are used to (like grains and sugar), but glucose can also be obtained from fat and protein in a process called gluconeogenesis. The body prefers to use carbs to obtain glucose because it requires the least effort. It has to put in a bit more elbow grease to get glucose from fat, and even more from protein. So if carbs are readily available, they will be processed first, and the “extra” fat and protein are likely stored as fat.
Dogs and cats have a very limited ability to break down plant material and digest carbs, so they’re totally unnecessary to include in their diet from an energy standpoint (though the bioavailable nutrition provided from fruits and veggies is very important!). Have you ever heard of a carbohydrate deficiency in pets? That’s because dogs and cats don’t have an actual need for carbohydrates.
It’s true that carbohydrates can provide a boost in energy for your pet, but it’s also important to note the type of energy. Since carbohydrates are so easy to metabolize, the glucose both enters and leaves the bloodstream quickly. That fast burst of energy results in an energy low in a short period of time. That process isn’t optimal for the body since glucose highs and lows can cause fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, irritability, and even cardiac symptoms. It also isn’t useful for times when energy needs to be sustained for any period of time, such as when exercising or training. When there are no available carbs, fat and/or protein are used as the source of glucose, and energy levels remain constant for a much longer period of time without resulting in a slump afterwards. Surprisingly, fat actually provides more energy per gram than carbs do, so they’re more effective in more ways than one!
(Quick note: When we say “fat”, we are referring to animal fats specifically. Animal fats are a natural and healthy aspect of your pet’s (and your!) diet, whereas plant-derived fats such as corn oil or canola oil are very difficult to digest and do not break down in the same way. A good rule of thumb is: if it’s not naturally “greasy”, don’t eat its “fat”)
With all of this natural and sustainable food energy, you can expect your pet to be more focused when training, have more endurance when exercising, and keep a lean a trim physique. So what is the best way to provide digestible, usable and beneficial energy for your pet? Lots of healthy animal fats and proteins. And you can find those and more in (you guessed it) raw food!
Episode 11 – Let Me See that Smile!
Raw-fed dogs and cats tend to have healthier teeth and gums. I know, I know, we were all told for so long that the best way to clean our pet’s teeth was by feeding them a dry, crunchy food. But consider this: after you eat dry, crunchy pretzels, how do your teeth feel? You have bits of pretzel stuck in and around your teeth, right? It’s definitely not a clean, just-brushed feeling. Now think about eating a crisp raw apple. It leaves your teeth squeaky and mostly free of particles of leftover food. The same thought process can be applied to our pet’s food.
A dry, crunchy kibble isn’t effective in cleaning teeth, but here’s why raw food is: moisture (wet food doesn’t tend to stick to wet surfaces) and enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts for processes in the body such as digestion and breaking down of nutrients. They are found naturally-occurring in the body but are also found in high amounts in raw food. Enzymes happen to especially good at breaking down the biofilm that bacteria create as a protective barrier on teeth. That slimy biofilm is tough to get rid of, and even proper brushing cannot break it down effectively. Enzymes help destroy the biofilm, effectively “brushing” the teeth and removing that pesky bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath. And, as a nice plus, the boost in immune support that raw food provides will help ward off oral infections and promote healthy saliva, with an appropriate balance of bacteria strains.
Ok, so now we know that raw food will help your pet’s oral health, but will any ol’ type of raw food do? A regular raw food diet will absolutely provide benefits, but the most effective way to reap the dental benefits is to incorporate raw bones into your pet’s diet. Raw bones are soft and fun for your pet to chew, and they have marrow, muscle/tendon meat, and cartilage (great for joint health). The raw enzymes do their job breaking down the biofilm and plaque, and the chewing and scraping motion will help whisk all the bad stuff away. Interestingly, cats won’t often chew on a marrow bone in the wild, but they do enjoy crunching on a poultry bone, especially the smaller pieces that are easy to swallow. And, your dog will especially love the raw bones because it helps fulfill a psychological need to chew (especially puppies)!
So where’s a good place to start? Try to incorporate 2-3 raw bones per week into your pet’s diet. Make sure to choose a bone size appropriate for your pet (ie: big dogs should only have big bones—larger than around 4 inches). Feed the bones either outside, or indoors on an old towel or in the kitchen or even in the bathtub, where any mess can be cleaned up easily. And always monitor your pet, as you would with any chew toy or treat. Your pet will be smiling in no time!
Note: We are only talking about raw bones here. Raw bones are soft and full of moisture and have a different structure than cooked bones. Cooked bones are brittle, break apart in sharp pieces, and are not easy for pets to digest. Please make sure that all bones you feed your pet are raw!
Episode 9 – Nothing to Sneeze About
All About Allergies
The phrase “my dog has allergies” may be one of the most common phrases uttered by pet parents, right after “who’s a good boy?”. But why are there so many pets with so many allergies out there? Was it always this way? And what can we do to combat allergies?
Allergic reactions in dogs and cats manifest as itchy skin, hot spots, hair loss, ear infections, watery eyes and nose, redness and swelling, respiratory issues, and digestive problems. The most commonly reported allergens for dogs and cats are fleas, outdoor factors (grass, trees, pollen), indoor factors (dust, mites, chemicals), and some foods. True allergies are uncomfortable for your pet and may be detrimental to their health, so it’s important to find a way to alleviate symptoms by eliminating the source, or in extreme cases, seek veterinary treatment and medications.
Interestingly, despite how common we think allergies are, only about 10% of pets have true diagnosed allergies. So why then do we see so many more dogs and cats experiencing symptoms of allergic reactions? The answer may not be the “allergens” themselves, but how the body handles inflammation.
Inflammation is pretty much the root of all evil or at least the root of most sickness. Everything from heart disease to cancer can be attributed to chronic inflammation. (Read more about inflammation here) Inflammation is intended as a short-term reaction to protect the body from things that hurt it, which we can see in the swelling of a sprained ankle, for example. It’s kind of like “high alert” mode in the body. While a short-term inflammatory response can be a good thing, too much inflammation for too long can be harmful. It puts enormous stress on the body and stops things from working as they should. Systems in the body no longer focus on what they are supposed to be doing (like removing toxins, for example), the swelling impedes function, and the increased release of hormones and steroids can cause adrenal fatigue. Inflammation can be a pretty nasty thing, so we should try to reduce or prevent inflammation in our pets as best we can.
Allergies and inflammation can go hand-in-hand: allergies cause an inflammatory response, and inflammation can cause an allergy-like reaction. A good first step in combating these issues would be to reduce overall inflammation your pet experiences so that you may see if there are still any “true” allergies to deal with. A raw diet helps to reduce inflammation in your pet because it contains biologically appropriate proteins, fats, and nutrients that are easy for your pet to digest and use. The easier time your pet has digesting and processing its food, the less inflammation is likely to occur. Steve’s Real Food includes unique ingredients in our formulas such as coconut oil and raw goat milk that actively fights and prevent inflammation in the body. Once your pet has been eating a raw diet for at least a month, you will be able to tell if there are persisting symptoms of a true allergy. You might then consider rotating through different protein sources to see if that may be the culprit. The goal is to isolate the allergen, identify it, and eliminate it. But don’t forget that treats may be the culprit! Many treats are grain-based, which can definitely cause an allergic or inflammatory response in pets. So remember to consider those as a possible inflammatory trigger and consider switching your pet’s treats to something like freeze-dried whole food treats such as liver, lung, and heart.
It can be hard to watch our precious pets suffer from the symptoms of allergies, but with a little effort and detective work, you can identify and remove the problem. Reduce inflammation, identify an allergen by elimination, and get it out of your pet’s life. Your pet will be happier, and so will you!