How to Train Your Dog When Feeding a Raw Diet

If you're feeding your dog a raw diet, you invest too much in keeping them healthy to feed them junk food, even for the sake of training them… and with our creative tips, you won't have to!

Lifestyle Habits

Being professional dog trainers, we look at it as not only an activity but a way of life.  There are so many different ways that we each interact and live with our dogs that can either help or hinder our goals… it is in what we do (or don't do) in our day-to-day life that predicts how successful we are in training our dog to be well-behaved.

It's best to start with a plan.  Pay attention to what your current daily routine is and audit it to see where you have room to improve.   If you're feeding a raw diet, be sure you know what time to start thawing their food for the following day or how long it takes to rehydrate a meal.

Make sure that the frequency, amounts, and times are agreed upon and understood among all members of the household.  Develop a system for communicating your dog's intake that works for everyone to keep track and avoid under or overfeeding.

using steves real food for training

Activities & Exercises

Since training is always happening, it's important to know what things can be implemented into our routine to reach our training goals so that we're not left asking where we're going to find all this extra time!

Instead of feeding them all their meals in a bowl, use one or both mealtimes as a training opportunity.  We'd be using food/treats to train them anyway; you might as well do double duty.

The wonderful thing about feeding Steve's Real Food is that we have plenty of options to use as a stand-in for training treats… and the formulations are similar enough to be unlikely to cause tummy upset:

  • NEW! Protein Bites (Fermented and Freeze-dried treats to boost gut health)
  • Freeze-Dried Raw Nuggets
  • Quest Cat Food (Bite-Sized, Prey Model Diet Nuggets)
  • Cut up Frozen Raw Patty

If you don't have time to actively work their brains, let them do it themselves!  You can squish their food into a lick mat, a food-dispensing toy, or a safe bone and they can learn some independence as well (which is equally important to teach them).  And you can buy yourself even more time if you freeze it first!

Learn What and How to Train

Even more important than what we use for training, is when we are training… and because we believe it's a lifestyle, we encourage pet parents to use the things your dog wants throughout the day to teach them the things that you want from your dog.

Don't just give them a treat because they're cute… have them do something for it!  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Have them sit before giving them anything
  • Make them wait to be released for their food
  • Call your dog to you for a treat
  • Give them a piece of their food every time they go into their crate
  • They have to stop jumping up to get the ball before you throw it
  • The fun stops if teeth are felt on your skin
raw dog food for training

No matter what you're doing, whether it be socializing your puppy during that stage in their development (8-16 weeks), teaching them obedience, or reinforcing good manners, nothing will help you reach your goals faster than being consistent with them.

If you're interested in learning more about consistency, we welcome you to check out our free webinar:
"The 3 components of Training your Dog to be Well-Behaved through consistency"

  • Gaining the confidence to know What to Do AND When
  • The #1 way to get your dog to Listen to You
  • How to continue consistency around Other People

We wish you all the training success and congratulate you for doing what's best for your dog's health... You really don't have to sacrifice your principles to train your dog to be well-behaved.

on-dog-training-academy-logo

~ By: Jenny Schneider, OnDog Training Academy

{Side Note: Our dog is an intact male Belgian Malinois turning 7 years old on March 1st, 2023, named, “Luda”… short for Ludacris, with AKC registered name of “Mohawk's Southern Hospitality”}

 

Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Postbiotics for Dogs and Cats

All disease begins in the gut  - Hippocrates

Much has changed since ancient Greece, but time and modern science have taught us that Hippocrates was right; gut health is one of the most critical aspects of overall health. With over 70% of your pet's immune system residing in their digestive tract, one of the most impactful things we can do is support their gut.

BUT HOW DO WE SUPPORT THE GUT?

Gut health relies on the community of microorganisms, called the microbiome, residing in your pet's digestive tract. High quantities of friendly bacteria are necessary to keep harmful bacteria in check. Enter Probiotics!

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?

Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria and yeasts) that help to fight off harmful bacteria to keep your pet's gut microbiome balanced. They contribute to many aspects of your pet's health that you may not even realize are gut-related. Probiotics may help reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, better absorb nutrients, prevent diarrhea or constipation, and boost your pet's immune system

Gut health = overall health! 

Here are a few easy probiotic-rich options you can add to your pet’s bowl:

  • Fresh raw food: raw dog food like Steve’s Real Food that has not been sterilized or processed with heat is naturally rich in probiotics.
  • Raw goat milk: raw dairy products are a great natural source of probiotics and digestive enzymes; for an even bigger boost of probiotics, you can culture them!
  • Fermented foods: fermentation is an effective method to increase the probiotic content in foods; for more info, check out our blog on fermentation

WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?

Now that we know probiotics support our pets' health, we must ask how we support probiotics—the answer: Prebiotics. If probiotics are the worker bees of the digestive tract, prebiotics is the nectar on which they feed. Prebiotics are the plant fibers that probiotics use as a food source.

Excellent sources of prebiotics found in Steve’s Real Food products:

  • Inulin
  • Apples
  • Collard greens
  • Flaxseed
  • Kelp

Feeding a fresh diet incorporating high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and natural supplements is the best way to ensure your pet gets the prebiotics their microbiome needs to thrive!

WHAT ARE POSTBIOTICS?

Postbiotics is a term that few people are familiar with; even in the conversation of pre and probiotics, it seldom makes a debut. Probiotics feeding on prebiotics create postbiotics. When we talk about the benefits of adding probiotics and prebiotics to your pet's diet, we’re often actually talking about the benefits of creating postbiotics! Many of the health benefits associated with the consumption of probiotics are also due to specific postbiotics. For example, the boost to your pet's immune system when taking probiotics can stem from creating short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid, a postbiotic that can help regulate immune responses. Postbiotics also include vitamins B, K, and amino acids, essential nutrients for overall health.

A SOLUTION: PROTEIN BITES

Let food be thy medicine - Hippocrates

Another quote from the “father of medicine” resonated strongly with us here at Steve’s Real Food and influenced our newest product! We’ve partnered with the fantastic people at Gussy’s Gut, a supplement company based in Colorado that specializes in wild fermentation, and chief advisor Dr.Ian Billinghurst, the “Father of Raw Food.” This freeze-dried treat uses meat as the ultimate delivery system for prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Our shelf-stable Protein Bites utilize 20% wild-fermented superfoods, making them a gut health powerhouse! The fruits, vegetables, herbs, and botanicals we have chosen are naturally high in prebiotic fiber, and the fermentation process increases their natural probiotic content and creates postbiotics! 

Check out our new fermented treats for dogs and cats - Protein Bites!

Fermented foods and why they’re so beneficial for dogs and cats!

Can our pets eat fermented foods? YES, fermented foods may actually be one of the most beneficial things you can add to your pet's diet!

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a process as old as life itself. It's happening all around us, even inside our bodies! When it comes to food, fermentation is the process of bacteria and yeasts breaking down sugar and starch. You may already be familiar with some fermented foods and not even realize it! Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha are popular fermented foods you can probably find at your local grocery store.

Why are fermented foods so beneficial to our and our pet's health? 

Fermentation transforms food's nutrients; here are some of the amazing things that happen when food is fermented:

  • During fermentation, bacteria and yeast break down sugars and starch, greatly reducing the overall carb content of a food. They leave the insoluble fibers intact, making fermented foods naturally low in sugar and high in prebiotics, the food source of probiotics
  • As the good bacteria consume the sugars, they rapidly multiply, making fermented foods a great natural source of probiotics! What are probiotics? Well, they’re the healthy bacteria in your pet's digestive tract! Probiotics are responsible for helping your pet break down their food, absorbing vitamins and minerals, and supporting the immune system.
  • Fermentation also helps to break down antinutrients, compounds naturally found in plant matter that make it harder to digest and utilize nutrients. Carnivores have an especially hard time with antinutrients because of their short digestive tract, and fermentation is a great way to combat this issue!
  • If that's not enough, not only is it proven to greatly increase the levels of certain vitamins and minerals already present in foods (calcium, manganese, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin K), but it can create B vitamins not previously present! 

How do I add fermented foods to my pet’s diet?

After learning all the exciting benefits of fermented foods, you may ask yourself: How do I get these into my pet's diet?? Well, at Steve’s Real Food, we were asking ourselves that very same question! Have you ever tried to get your cat to drink Kombucha? Not gonna happen.

So we came up with a simple solution, a highly palatable treat that incorporates 20% fermented foods!

Protein Bites: freeze-dried treats with a purpose

Introducing our newest product at Steve’s Real Food, Protein Bites! This new line of shelf-stable freeze-dried treats will be the perfect solution for getting fermented foods into your pet's diet easily. 80% pasture-raised meat keeps these treats palatable and biologically appropriate for our carnivorous companions while 20% fermented fruits, vegetables, herbs, and botanicals pack a nutrient-dense punch!

To bring these treats to life, we’ve partnered with Gussy’s Gut, an amazing supplement company based in Colorado that specializes in wild fermentation. Created under the advisement of veterinary surgeon Dr.Ian Billinghurst, the “Father of Raw” food movement, Gussy’s Gut’s fermentation process uses the good bacteria and yeasts naturally found in raw fruits and vegetables to ferment the plant matter naturally. By not relying on added bacteria to begin our fermentation process, our one-of-a-kind treats have a different and more diverse profile of probiotics.

With their digestive system making up over 70% of our pets' immune systems, one of the absolute best things we can do for their health and longevity is to prioritize gut health! What better way than adding Protein Bites to their diet?

Look for Protein Bites at your favorite Steve's Real Food store. Click here to find a location near you.

https://gussysgut.com/

Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving for Your Dog and Cat

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, lots and lots of food. While you're looking forward to enjoying turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, it's important to remember your furry friends' needs too. Thanksgiving is the #1 day of the entire year for emergency vet visits. Here are a few tips to remember this Thanksgiving to ensure your pets have a happy and safe holiday.

Make a Plan for Your Pet Before Thanksgiving 

If you are hosting or attending Thanksgiving events, it's a great idea to think of obstacles regarding your pets and prepare for anticipated scenarios. 

A few ideas for making your plan:

  • Take your dog for a walk, play fetch, or partake in other physical activities before Thanksgiving events to encourage a calmer, more relaxed dog
  • Feed your dog before Thanksgiving events, so they are full and less likely to seek out food scraps
  • Keep your pet in another room or their crate during peak times, such as when everyone is arriving or sitting down for dinner, to keep pets away from unsafe foods and kids who may not know how or aren’t old enough to be gentle to a dog. 
  • Don't leave dogs in the backyard all night. It can get quite cold in certain regions in November, so leaving pets outside for extended periods is not recommended. 
  • Let your guests know in advance that you have pets so they can take necessary precautions, such as keeping their food out of reach, keeping the front door closed, etc.
  • Consider a calming aid such as CBD oil if you have a pet who is anxious around strangers.

Keep Pets Out of the Kitchen 

The kitchen can be hazardous, with all the hustle and bustle of preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Dogs can get under your feet and eat unsafe foods dropped on the floor or sneak something from the trash while nobody is looking. Cats can counter-surf while you are trying to cook and eat something unsafe or even step on hot surfaces. 

Don't Feed Pets Table Scraps from the Thanksgiving Feast

We all know how tempting it is to share your food when a pup gives you those big, pleading eyes while you are eating - but resist the urge! Thanksgiving table scraps are often high in fat, sugar, and salt, which can be dangerous for pets. 

Here are a few Thanksgiving foods the ASPCA recommends avoiding giving to your dog or cat:

  • Turkey bones and skin: while plain, uncooked turkey can be an excellent protein choice, Thanksgiving turkey should be avoided. The cooked turkey bones can pose a threat of splintering and causing internal damage or even causing blockages if swallowed whole. The string that is used to tress the turkey can be swallowed and require surgical removal. Turkey skin is very high in fat and could stress the pancreas.
  • Cranberry sauce: while plain cranberries can be good for a dog, cranberry sauce can contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to pets.
  • Alcohol: Giving alcohol to animals is never a good idea. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even coma or death in severe cases.
  • Fatty or greasy foods such as gravy, bacon, butter, meat drippings, etc. are not toxic; however, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and in worse cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or other GI issues.
  • Chocolate or baked goods such as pie can pose health risks for pets - as little as 0.5 oz of certain chocolate can cause poisoning. Chocolate contains the toxin theobromine and caffeine, which can cause your dog’s heart to race too quickly.

Some safe Thanksgiving foods for dogs include:

  • Plain carrots or green beans
  • Cooked, plain sweet potato
  • Apples - no core or seeds
  • Plain or canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • Turkey’s gizzards - neck (uncooked), heart, liver

Remember to give these foods in moderation or stick to their regular raw dog food.

 

Following these simple tips can help ensure that your pets have a happy and safe holiday. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Join Steve's Real Food at the Raw Dog Food Summit: Oct 7-9

Just as processed food has contributed to human health issues, processed pet foods are doing the same for our beloved dogs. Chronic conditions such as cancer, obesity, allergies, and diabetes in dogs today are skyrocketing.

The big question then becomes, well, what can we do about it? Just like with humans, the solution is a natural, species-appropriate diet.

Reducing Our Carbon Pawprint

As a pet parent, you want to provide your furry friend with the best possible food, but what does that mean for the environment? With growing numbers of people and pet populations, our earth’s natural resources are dwindling. By making environmentally responsible choices, we can reduce our impact on the planet while providing cats and dogs with nutritious meals they love. ​​

Feeding Picky Cats, Food Rotation & Introducing New Foods

You’re at your local independent pet retailer to pick up cat food. These days you don’t bother with dry kibble and speed past it straight to the canned food, nothing but the best for your kitty (you’ve heard great things about raw, maybe next time). A new canned food catches your eye and even though it’s a little more expensive than you’re used to, you spring for a few cans in various flavors like “beef wellington” and “chicken a la king” because your cat is going to LOVE it!

The Difference in Nutritional Requirements for Cats and Dogs

It’s undeniable; dogs and cats have captured the hearts of millions. Whether you pair ‘em together or think of them as opposites, the two undoubtedly go hand in hand. Or do they? Even though they have many similarities, they have less in common than one might realize. That’s because many of their differences are hiding beneath the surface and these differences impact many things. Today, we’re going to highlight nutritional requirements for cats and dogs. Understanding nutritional differences allow us to make better choices when deciding what to feed our pets. This is important because, despite their differences, their whole health is what matters - inside and out.

Benefits of Chia Seeds for Your Pet!

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?

Give Your Dog a Bone!

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.