Don’t Go Breakin’ (Your Dog’s) Heart

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a pretty frightening word, and certainly not one you want to hear associated with the health of your beloved canine. This condition has been in the news a bit lately and can be especially worrisome to hear that certain forms of the condition may be related to diet. It’s worth taking a moment to understand the issue and what you as a pet parent can do to make sure the condition doesn’t affect your dogs.

Diet’s Role in Doggy Dental Hygiene

Most dog owners go a long way to keep their four-legged friend healthy; routine checkups, regular exercise, quality food, and so on. But what about his dental health? According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), periodontal disease is the most common oral disease in dogs. A healthy dog’s teeth should be white and free of tartar and plaque. They should also not be broken or jagged.

Food Safety Program Update

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.

Giving Thanks With Our Pets

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.

Benefits of Raw Pet Food on Dental Health

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.

All About Pet 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?

How Raw Food Helps Trim Down and Build Up Your Pet

According to a 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight, and those percentages are growing every year. That’s incredible! Mostly, it’s incredibly sad. Most people know that obesity is dangerous, but many pet parents seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to their pet’s size.

The Benefits of Raw Food for Digestion

Episode 6 – In One End…

You may often hear about how digestible raw food is, but is there any proof of why? There sure is! In this post, we will go through how and why raw food is easier for pets to digest and how, as a result of that, your pet will be happier, healthier, and poop less (really!).

Enzymes are perhaps one of the greatest aspects of raw food. We’ve gone somewhat in-depth about enzymes in an earlier post, but here’s a refresher: enzymes are catalysts for many biochemical processes in the body from digesting food to replicating DNA. These vitally important molecules are highly specialized and considerably fragile; temperatures as low as 118 degrees Fahrenheit can destroy nearly all enzymes in food. So why do we care so much about these little guys? Because the more enzymes we can obtain from whole raw food sources, the less our bodies have to work to digest the food we eat. Foods that are rich in enzymes can actually “predigest” in the stomach in a process called autolytic digestion. This happens without the aid of stomach acid and can be responsible for up to 75% of total meal digestion. If the body is able to predigest the food in this manner, it will not have to use its own store of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and stomach acid levels can remain low. Without ample enzymes in the food, the pancreas and small intestine have to work overtime which in turn stresses the endocrine system and can lead to problems such as leaky gut syndrome and diabetes which of course cause a whole host of problems on their own.

Take away: More food enzymes = less work for the body to digest.

Raw food also contains whole, undenatured proteins. This means that the protein molecules found in raw meats (and produce too!) are in their whole, natural, and easily recognizable form. Cooking alters proteins by breaking down molecular bonds and disrupts alpha-helix and beta sheets, causing the proteins to uncoil and reshape into unrecognizable forms. This inability to recognize the shape of a protein is one of the greatest causes of food-based allergies. Basically, the body has no idea what to do with the weird-shaped proteins and it sends a team of histamines to destroy it. And we all know histamines can cause a whole lot of damaging swelling, heat, and uncomfortable itching. Interestingly, dogs and cats (and humans) can have an allergic reaction to a cooked protein, but can oftentimes tolerate the raw form of the food. It’s one of the main reasons why infants can easily digest breastmilk, but as adults, nearly 97% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant to some degree.

Take away: Cooking proteins makes them less recognizable and digestible.

Probiotics are another great aspect of raw foods. Probiotics are commonly referred to as “good bacteria” and are one aspect of a healthy bacteria ratio and biome both inside and outside of the body. There are trillions of bacteria cells in dog and cat bodies and only so much real estate, so bacteria strains are constantly battling each other for precious territory. Without enough “good bacteria” in the body, the bad bacteria (and yeasts) can overgrow and cause lots of problems such as widespread yeast infections and diarrhea. Raw foods contain live, naturally-occurring probiotics that can help your pet keep a nice healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria, which in turn can help support gut health, brain function, and infections prevention.

Take away: Healthy, live probiotics = healthy, lively pet.

Naturally occurring moisture is pretty important too. Intracellular moisture is the fancy name for moisture that is found in plant and animal cells. In addition to providing the most natural, effective way for dogs and cats to absorb moisture, intracellular moisture helps keep the whole digestive process a well-lubricated machine. Think of raw food cells as little miniature water balloons. Those little balloons stay intact until they reach the small intestine where cell walls are broken down and processed. Water that is added back into a cooked food or water that is drunk cannot behave in this way and goes through the digestive system in a separate process. Since the body requires moisture to digest and process any food, it would make sense to feed our pets a diet that already has that moisture built in, so they don’t have to use their own moisture reserves to complete the task. Pets who are fed a diet high in naturally-occurring moisture can digest their food more easily and do not have to over-consume water. In fact, many raw-fed dogs and cats drink very little water from their bowls! Another reason why moisture is so important? It helps to flush out the liver and kidneys, keeping them as healthy and free from excess toxins as possible.

Take away: Naturally, occurring moisture eases the digestion process and helps support liver and renal health.

Lastly, a word on poop. Poop is one of our favorite things to talk about in the raw pet food world. Poop is the best evidence for what’s happening digestively within a pet, and when feeding raw food, you’ll see plenty of proof in the pudding. Well, pudding may be the wrong word. That’s because the poop of raw fed pets is more firm and dry than anything else. Less smelly too. Why? Because the pet is using everything it is eating, instead of passing on indigestible food that starts to get preeeety pungent. By eating raw food, your pet is absorbing and using all of that naturally-occurring moisture found in raw meat and produce, leaving behind dry poops that are easy to pick up and have a pleasant aroma (ok, that last part might be pushing it). One of the greatest things about this hard, dry poop is that it helps to naturally express the anal glands of cats and dogs, so you don’t have to worry about your pet developing that particularly stinky problem. But the best part about all of this business is that you’ll notice your pet poops less frequently. Waaay less frequently. And who doesn’t love that?

Take away: More raw food = less poop.

Previous Episode 5 – Detoxing   ||  Go To Episode 7 – Skin and Coat

Detoxing Your Pet

Episode 5 – Out with the Old, In with the New

Detoxing Your Pet

A few years ago, detoxing was all the rage. People got caught up in the very appealing idea of eating nothing and drinking something like lemon and cayenne water all day in the hopes they could cleanse their body and release years of built-up toxins. While the methods-of-old certainly have shortcomings, the concept of detoxing the body is sound. Detoxing is simply the process of ridding the body of toxins or harmful substances. There are various methods of going about this (a quick internet search will prove that), but the healthiest and most natural way to rid the body of toxins is to eat a clean diet. How can we do this for our pets? Why, with raw food of course!

So what are toxins, anyway?

A toxin is some kind of harmful matter in the body that builds up over time and overwhelms systems, causing them to work less efficiently, or not at all. Toxins can come from a source within the body, such as accumulated cellular or bacterial waste, or they can come from an external source like heavy metals, poor air quality, or chemicals found in the home or common pet products.

How do toxins harm my pet?

As toxins build up, our pets’ bodies become less and less able to flush them. Eventually, both internal and external toxins can cause harmful conditions or diseases such as liver failure, malnutrition, allergic reactions, respiratory failure, and digestive issues. The body has two big organs that help filter toxins: the liver and kidneys. The liver removes toxins in a two-step process to create water-soluble toxins that can be flushed out of the body through the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. If any of the steps in this process go awry, things can get backed up. As a secondary measure, the lungs, skin, large intestine,

and bladder can also process small amounts of toxins, but because that is not their primary function, they easily get

overwhelmed and cannot do their day-jobs as well, which causes even more harmful conditions.

How does detoxification work?

The primary goal of detoxification is to increase liver and renal support so those organs are functioning properly to remove toxins and prevent build-up. This is best achieved by eating the correct kinds of foods, so there goes the notion of fasting or highly restrictive diets. The most effective elements in detox are water, antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals such as selenium and sulfur. When the body is receiving these ingredients, it is able to complete the phases of detoxification and kick out the toxins. Luckily for us and our pets, raw food diets are a great source for all of these things. Raw organ meat is especially high in folate and vitamins A, B12, B6, and E. Raw fruits and veggies are a great source of bioavailable vitamins and minerals, and cruciferous veggies are a great source of sulfur. And of course, all raw food is high in (intracellular)moisture, enzymes, and amino acids!

Will my pet detox when I switch to raw food?

If your pet is older or has been eating a cooked, processed food for a long time, they will most likely experience some symptoms of detox. However, each pet is different and it’s sometimes hard to say what the effects will be. One thing is for sure though: by switching to raw food, your pet will be much better equipped to deal with toxin build-up in their body.

What kind of things will I notice when my pet is detoxing?

Detoxing is not always a completely smooth process. There is a lot of repair work that needs to be done in the body to be able to get those nasty toxins out. You’ll likely notice symptoms that appear to be flu-like in nature and it may seem like things are getting worse before they get better. This is normal and very common during the detox process. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Decreased energy
  • Extra-bad breath
  • Shedding, more than usual
  • Hot spots
  • “Slimy” poop (a thin coating of mucus)
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint stiffness
  • Itching, especially paws and ears

Don’t be discouraged! Remember that these are temporary symptoms and a totally normal step on the way to better health. Symptoms should clear up in about two weeks, though some can persist for a few months. However, if symptoms become overwhelming for you or your pet, or they persist beyond what you consider a reasonable timeframe, consider introducing the raw food more slowly or adding goat milk to your pet’s diet to aid in digestion. And as always, if you ever feel a serious health concern for your pet, contact your veterinarian.

How can I help my pet through this process?

There are a few things you can do to help alleviate some symptoms of detox. First of all, make sure your pet has access to plenty of clean, filtered water and don’t skip playtime or walks. Try adding raw goat milk to their diet for a boost in probiotics, and perhaps liver or renal support supplements. You can also try giving your pet a bath, focusing on massaging the skin and thoroughly cleaning the paws, from where our pets “sweat”.

Good luck with your detoxing journey! Though you may have to brave the storm before the calm, stick with it. Stick with the switch to raw food and you’ll be rewarded with a happy, healthy pet!

Previous Episode 4 – Benefits of Raw Pet Food   ||   Go To Episode  6 – Digestion

The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Cats and Dogs

Episode 4 – You’ve Got to Admit It’s Getting Better

(This post will focus mostly on the observable benefits of feeding a raw diet, but if you’re into the science and mechanics of why raw food works, check out this blog post for some seriously science-y information.)

Raw feeders often refer to the many observable benefits that feeding a raw diet has had on their pet’s health and well-being. The list of benefits can get pretty long and involved, but you can bet your bologna that we are going to go through (most) of them here. First of all, while you can definitely start seeing the effects of a raw diet on your pet’s health pretty quickly, it won’t happen overnight. You’ll probably notice gradual changes at first, but before you know it, you will have a new pet on your hands. Generally speaking, you will notice many changes about a month into feeding your pet raw, so keep a lookout!

So what changes will I start Seeing?

Poop — you’ll notice your pet poos less, and when it does happen it’s drier, smaller, and less smelly.

Allergiesallergy symptoms can be lessened or even completely alleviated. A reduction in inflammation and histamines mean less redness, hot spots, itchy ears and paws, and weepy eyes.

Weight managementif your pet is on the heavy side, expect to see her trim down. If she’s active and can’t keep weight on, you’ll see it’s easy to “add some meat” pretty quickly.

Muscle developmentlean muscle mass is easy to build, which in turn can help support weak joints or other skeletal issues.

Dental healthyour pet will have healthier gums and teeth with less plaque build-up, and some of that bad breath will go away.

Skin and Coatwill be healthy and shiny without flaky skin and excessive shedding.

Cognitive functionessential fatty acids promote brain health which can help improve focus and the pet’s ability to learn new things.

Energyyour pet will have the energy for long walks, play sessions, or training/work.

Pest mitigationfleas and ticks don’t tend to hang around raw-fed pets as often as they do around pets who are fed other diets.

This is a very basic overview of some of the health benefits raw food provides, but be sure to check back in as we will be going over each topic a little more in depth in future posts!

Previous Episode – How to Feed  ||  Go To Episode 5 – Detoxing

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Steve's Real Food

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