Beets for Dog Health

There is a lot of debate about how much dog’s can benefit from vegetables. It is 100% true that their digestive systems were designed for meat. That being said, they also are meant to receive vegetables pre-digested from prey and definitely sometimes used to eat fruit whole. I’ll go more into vegetables in general in another post. For now I want to assume that they can access at least some nutrients from vegetables, especially when prepared properly and talk about why beets can be so beneficial.

Beets and especially beet greens are an incredible resource of nutrition that you can easily add to your dog’s diet (as well as your own!). Although it’s already become a popular dog food additive, this is mostly for filler reasons and profit margins, because the processing involved takes away almost all of the nutritional value. In many cases also, they are using sugar beets which are even cheaper and have absolutely no nutritional value. (Beets or beet pulp is actually a good thing to look out for and avoid in food!)

The two best options for beets are fresh or freeze-dried. Never canned or pickled.

The primary reasons people choose to add beets to their dog’s diet is for liver detox, allergies, inflammation, iron deficiency or weight management, but these are only a few benefits they offer.

The great thing is that because they are so packed with nutrition, a little goes a long way so you don’t need to use a ton of them! (This is good because too much could lead to red tinged diarrhea.)

Red tinged urine on the other hand, should not be an issue because in a balanced diet, this most likely will not occur. The same thing happens to people. Pink urine indicates a lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestion process. This is not dangerous and some digestive enzymes or a good probiotic should prevent it if it becomes an issue. Pink urine and stool can be a scary thing to see and this is the reason many companies that use beets properly (like Darwins) has removed them from their food. It is not dangerous but it is startling.

The general suggested amount is around 1/8 c.

Beets are full of antioxidants, vitamin C (immunity), vitamin B folate (cardiovascular support & normal tissue growth), manganese (helps bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas), fiber (aids digestion), iron (aids formation of healthy blood cells), potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function), and magnesium (bone health and nerve function).

Some dogs with issues such as allergies, inflammation or anemia can benefit from these properties but dogs with diabetes should probably stay away. Although beets are low in calories they are higher in sugar than other types of vegetables and may not be good for this reason. (An important note here however is that unlike other high glycemic index items, beets have a LOW glycemic load, so contrary to intuition they are still moderate in terms of affecting insulin levels making them still a great weight loss tool.) The greens however, would work just fine!

I’ve read a lot of articles and it is still unclear to me exactly how well beets are digested and absorbed in the digestive tract. I looked into the different ways to prepare them, for this reason and still could not find any one method that out-shined the rest. I already know that fermentation is the best way to allow the unique digestive system of dogs to absorb nutrients. I am in the process of learning how to do that, but now I try to do the next best thing which is to purée.

The idea is that the further broken down something is, the easier it’s absorbed. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind purée the better. Feeding this along with an enzyme supplement or probiotic that contains amylase is my go to solution when I can’t get fermented.

This is because dogs don’t have salivary amylase (what breaks down the cell walls in fruits and veggies so the nutrition can be released). They do have some amylase in their pancreas but not very much overall.

Cooking, freezing and pureeing are all ways of breaking the fruits and vegetables down into a more usable form.

I know this works well for spinach for example. It’s also true of beet greens. For lack of further evidence, I will assume it’s also true of beets. They lack fiber this way, but hopefully add more nutritional value. After fermented (not jarred) Raw or puréed seem best. Cooked is the next best after that and is easier for some dogs to accept. Juiced is usually ok for leafy greens but in this case it is not good because of the release of sugar.

I can definitely see myself using them as healthy treats because the fiber is filling and my dog needs to lose a few, but for meals, I primarily use the beet greens with one raw beet as just one ingredient in a big purée. I also like to change up my purée ingredients a lot to add variety. If you supplement with beets to treat a certain condition, it’s always best to get dosing information directly from a holistic vet.

Beet greens are high in protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Beet greens contain more iron than spinach, improve immune function and help protect bone health.”

The compelling reasons listed here are good to consider because while hard evidence regarding digestion is still lacking for this particular vegetable, if they can be fed in a way that they are absorbed, they would be a tremendous resource. This is from dogtube:

“5 Reasons to treat your dog to red beets

1. Beets are believed to lower blood pressure – The natural nitrates in beets covert to nitric oxide which relaxes and dilates blood vessels improving blood flow and blood pressure.

2. Fight Inflammation – Beets contain betaine, which “helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

3. Anti-Cancer Properties – It is believed that the Phytonutrients in beets may help prevent cancer.

4. Detoxification Support – The betalain pigment in beets cause toxins to break down so they can be eliminated from the body and help purify the blood and liver.

5. Beets boost stamina – Thought to be the result of beets reducing the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.”

To me it sounds like this is geared more towards people, but there is no debate that beets are good.

This all brings me to the reason I decided to write this article:

Yesterday I was ecstatic to find out that my local pet store had the highly anticipated Answers Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice! I’ve been waiting for this one! First, because of their fermentation process, that unlocks nutrients and maximizes the benefits of everything they make. Second, because red BEETS are included now!

I will still use the greens and some beet on my own, because this is only beet juice, but with this product I am more confident that my dog is benefiting from the beet. This is exciting because beets have a lot to offer!

* For a good freeze dried treat style option I love Olewo for their dedication to quality! (Sold on Amazon, chewy etc)

Finally, a wonderful article on vegetables for dogs is written by Dr. Dobias

Here he explains more about which vegetables dogs can benefit from the most! (Note *The feeding guide fermentation he mentions here is not the same as the process we make.)

Beets are below their greens, but they’re still on the list!

Here is a good quick list of useful veggies (I leave out peppers)

And here is just a quick way to remember which beets are best for dogs (the only really bad one is the sugar beet – the one that looks like a bull’s eye)

The highly anticipated new Answers product:

Raw Feeding Diary 10/27/17

So, I decided to upgrade from parts 1-5 to a diary on here because we’ve finally turned a corner (or I have) and am successfully making my own food!

It’s been another crazy week and I’m kind of exhausted, but extremely happy with how far we’ve come. Miss picky Mcpickerson is finally EATING!! And it’s only because I stopped trying pre-made!

I’ve also been multitasking like crazy trying to get some posts out from my previous knowledge that I had saved in draft. I still have a few more to go such as Natural Ear Remedies and Allergies but hopefully I’ll get to that next week. Then I hope to start with recipes and tips on things as I come across them (beef trachea and fish for example). One day maybe I’ll have some sort of guide for my hybrid barf model diet also.

I also want to clean up my post about raw meat suppliers because I wrote it after a really long day and I just wanted to get it written but it ended up being way too long. I didn’t even want to read it lol so that’s on my list too.

One thing that’s been a big help has been joining a raw feeding group on Facebook. I got a TON of articles to read plus direct advice. It’s hard to find a good group because so many can be so judgmental but I finally did at: Raw Feeders “Kicked Out” Club

An anecdote to all the intense animosity in the other groups lol they are brutal!

These guys are awesome! That being said, because it’s so active I spent like half a day responding to posts and checking my notifications lol so I need to step back a bit. I’m definitely in danger of burn out so I’m going to try to take a night off. It’s unlikely lol but I’m gonna try! Tomorrow I’m going to start in on trying to learn how to ferment my own vegetables… then I’m going to try sleep! 😉

Today we got our box from raw feeding Miami and we’re waiting on my pet carnivore for all our exotics so that was exciting! My bulk comes from the local farm but the selection of these other companies is so crazy awesome, I was really happy to have new things to add.

The important thing is she’s eating, I’m learning and we’re on the right track.

I never wanted her to just be ok I always wanted her to thrive so I am hugely grateful that I got this information when I did! I hope it helps someone else some day! We are 100% inspired by love.

Amino Acids and Raw Feeding

Although I have never seen a homemade raw feeder worry about this because the balanced raw diets take care of this issue very well, I know that amino acids are important so I thought this was a worthy share.

AMINO ACIDS

Most people know the importance of protein in a dog’s diet, but what most people don’t know is that it is not actually the protein itself but what its made up of that is important. Amino acids make up the basic building blocks of all protein. The arrangements of these amino acids is what makes each protein unique. Every dog has the natural ability to manufacture every amino acid he needs except for 10 very special ones. These 10 amino acids must come from the diet. The protein chains are manufactured by the dog’s cells but if just one amino acid is missing the entire process shuts down. It is because of this that every dog’s diet must contain all 10 and why the quality of protein is more important than the quantity. These amino acids are: Arginine, Methionine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Leucine, Tryptophan, Lysine and Valine. (For cats, Taurine is also essential, humans can synthesize both Arginine and Taurine.)

Aside from the amino acid profile, the digestibility of the protein is most important. More than the amount of protein in the meat, it’s all about digestibility, so high protein is misleading when it doesn’t have the right amino acids because its valueless (not common in raw diets). The best part of feeding raw is that:

“Eggs, muscle and organ meats are the most complete, most digestible sources of protein and should be the main ingredients in a quality diet.”

(Luckily, raw covers this but it’s still good to be aware of.)

Even though every cut of meat is unique, and every dog will metabolize it differently and need a different amount, I tried to get some guidelines. Below are some charts from Pack lunch raw that I like to keep around just to be aware of. It’s good to remember that more isn’t always better so once again, variety is key!

For more info you can visit: Canine Nutrition Basics

Requirements for a 50 lb dog:

Spirulina, Chlorella and Kelp for Dogs

These are all health powerhouses that have been clinically studied and proven helpful to dogs. They are ingredients in an all-in-one supplement we use called Green Min

Prior to finding this supplement, we have bought them all separately as well. I have studied spirulina extensively and found that getting a quality source was not only important (contaminants can be more dangerous for dogs than for people) but somewhat difficult to find. It took so much effort because it was one of the ONLY supplements that needed to NOT be organic. The process of making it organic is actually detrimental to the quality in this case. It also needed to be from Hawaii. I found a few but when I found green min I finally felt 100% good about the source so that’s the bottom line reason I use that. I have some other brands as back up or to increase the dosage (down side of an all in one) but I’ve yet to find a share-worthy brand. The best ones I’ve found were unaffordable for me so I have no experience with them. If that changes I’ll definitely share it! (Chlorella and Kelp were easier and I have some, but again, using the green min I’m at a loss of brands that I might want to promote.)

A basic run-down:

SPIRULINA is one of the most complete sources of essential nutrients on the planet. Abundant in chlorophyll, essential amino acids, omega oils, beta-carotene, and other phytonutrients that nurture, cleanse and detox. It is a complete protein source, containing 60-70% protein, B-complex vitamins, phycocyanin, vitamin E and numerous minerals. It contains antioxidant and inflammatory properties and improves endurance. One of the richest sources of chlorophyll rich foods in the world, it helps remove toxins from the blood and boosts the immune system which reduces allergies. It has been proven to improve fatigue, anxiety and depression in humans and has been shown to have a similar calming and balancing effect on dogs. It contains ten times more beta-carotene than carrots. Clinical studies have shown it to reduce tumors and prevent the formation of cancer cells. It absorbs and removes heavy metals and other toxins. It is a great source of essential fatty acids critical for proper function of the brain, nervous system, tissue and cell regeneration and healthy coat and skin.

CHLORELLA is an immune booster, gastrointestinal aide and detoxifier. It is also rich in chlorophyll and contains a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and high levels of protein. What makes chlorella unique is what’s called the chlorella growth factor which is rich in nucleic acids. Nucleic acids are hugely important in slowing down the aging process and boosting health in dogs especially as they age. Other benefits include the detoxifying benefits of destroying toxic build ups left over from things like pesticides, herbicides, vaccinations, unhealthy food, chemical pest preventatives for fleas, ticks and heartworm and environmental pollution. Exposure to these toxins can wear on dog’s organs so eliminating them is important in preventing chronic conditions that can appear later in life.

KELP contains a rich natural mix of salts and minerals (including iodine, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium) which help keep your dog’s entire glandular system, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland as well as the thyroid gland, (the glands that regulate metabolism), healthy.

Kelp helps reduce dental plaque and tarter buildup in dogs. This is due to a bacterium that resides within the kelp that releases an enzyme that breaks down the plaque coating the teeth. It is rich in iodine, a chemical element necessary in thyroid health. It reduces itchiness due to allergies and other skin conditions as well as repel fleas. It improves the general condition of the skin and coat. It is high in iron and calcium which improves the ability of blood to distribute oxygen to the cells. This helps dogs heal faster and helps prevent arthritis and other bone condition. The amino acids support tissue repair and improves longevity.

Raw Feeding 101 and How To Find The Best Raw Food Suppliers

While I really don’t think learning how to correctly feed raw is as difficult as people might think, finding the right raw food sources can be absolutely DAUNTING! (I am particularly strict about my sources so it does not have to be this way for everyone!)

There are two basic models that people follow (BARF and Prey) that I’ll discuss more in another article. The most common and simple raw feeding guidelines are: 80% meat 10% bone and 10% organ (usually 5% liver and 5% offal aka a secreting organ) In the beginning, it doesn’t have to be perfect and you learn over time what works best for you and your dog. Balance is the goal but in the beginning we all just do our best, the important thing is to start. You don’t have to learn everything in one day or have it all figured out before hand, nature kind of has a way of teaching us what we need to know as we go along. Dog poop is the best indicator if there’s too much or too little of something and we’re lucky because we get this daily 😉 The easiest place to start is either with pre-made raw (links below) or with simple protein choices such as chicken and beef. Then you can be a little experimental. The important thing is, anytime you add something new, just read up on it and soon you’ll have a whole book full of knowledge just based on experience. You don’t have to worry about remembering everything or knowing it before hand unless your dog has certain health conditions to watch out for. Variety is very important and is the key to avoiding most problems.

I chose to home “cook” so I learn everyday. Today for example, I learned that beef trachea can lead to hyperthyroidism (especially when you combine it with necks, feet or green lipped mussels) This is because the thyroid is often left attached and unless you can cut it off, your dog will be getting too much of the secreted thyroid hormone and if you feed a lot of it over time it can lead to problems. In small doses it’s a GREAT joint supplement because of the glucosamine and chondroitin levels, so it’s shouldn’t be avoided but it’s just one thing to look out for. I’ve also learned a lot about how long it takes to thaw meat …I’m bad at it lol, but all of these things come with hands on experience. It’s a learning process, it can be overwhelming if you decide to make the food yourself but if I can do it, anyone can!

To start, I want to dispel the myth that raw feeding has to be expensive. I can honestly tell you that I am not someone with resources. I have the same amount of money as I did when I bought kibble so everything I talk about on here is coming from someone with a very small budget.

Like everything, our journey to raw didn’t happen over night. The first dog I had all on my own literally found US out of the blue one day and all of a sudden I was a brand new dog owner. I had some background in human health issues but none in dog health. Our first stop was the vet for obvious reasons because she came from the streets of Miami and we wanted to make sure she was OK! Luckily she was and no one claimed her so I was blessed to be granted with the gift of being her mom. One of the biggest jobs of any mother is providing food, so I asked my vet what the best food was. She said Science diet… . I’ll admit I bought this once but fortunately learned very early on that this wasn’t only a bad food but one of the worst on the market. I did some research and the next step we took was Honest Kitchen . I am very grateful for this because I still feel like it’s a good quality food. I’m also grateful because I know how expensive premium kibble can be and it would have been an absolute waste. I got some Origen occasionally which I think IS the best kibble and it still doesn’t compare in quality. We did that for a while and then one day she just stopped eating it… like entirely! At the time I was super busy so I resorted to cooking her organic chicken etc and just adding it so she would eat at least a small portion and get a balanced diet. One day I finally just decided this had to stop because she wasn’t getting a wide enough variety of the things I knew she needed. I decided to really take the time to commit to finding her the best food for her. I discovered after reading countless volumes of evidence on the subject, that doing that meant only one thing: raw food. From that time forward, we haven’t looked back. I set out on the path to make that happen and that has brought me to where I am today.

Because I knew the danger of raw food is not parasite related but balance related, I tried to learn all that I could about what that meant. (I should add here that balance is only a problem over time, in the short term transition, it is perfectly safe to introduce raw meat slowly. Some days are more perfect then others and dogs systems are set up to naturally balance as long as they get what they need over time. In the wild they didn’t get perfect meals and they skipped days getting food (it’s actually good for them), so while balance is a big deal long term, it should not scare people from trial and error.)

It wasn’t too complicated, just very important. To err on the side of caution, I decided to start with a company that took the guess work out, came from a reputable source and was readily available in my area. That lead me to Steve’s real food and Answers. Answers, as a company truly blew my mind because not only were they 100% ethically sourced but they had come up with a solution for unlocking the key ingredients in food that’s usually lost because dog’s don’t have the ability to extract nutrients from certain things like vegetables. Their fermentation process literally unlocks the foods full potential (meat too) and because they use such high quality sources, this was a very big deal! They even have incredible and unique supplement products like raw goats milk and fermented fish stock, that use the same process and provide superfoods in a way like no one else in the industry. PLUS they were SO affordable, I was literally in shock when I heard the prices. They deliver to my local pet shop so no shipping fees and no having to order ahead of time! I was in love (and still am) but alas our journey wasn’t quite over yet because my dog just wouldn’t touch it. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up, I know it takes time and I will go back to it eventually for supplemental feeding, it just made me decide to cast a wider net of resources.

* Fermenting is not the only method but it’s one of the best because it’s the most similar to how the dog would receive vegetable nutrients from an animals stomach in the wild and helps maximize the digestive process at the same time. One side goal I have is also learning how to ferment my own vegetables. This way I can be sure of ingredients and benefit by eating it myself. It’s still far off but when I get there I’ll post about what I did to do it!

*Another easier method is blending or food processing. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind the better. Feeding this along with an enzyme supplement or probiotic that contains amylase is my go to solution when I can’t get fermented.

(Dogs don’t have salivary amylase (what breaks down the cell walls in fruits and veggies so the nutrition can be released) they do have some amylase in their pancreas but not very much overall. Cooking, freezing and pureeing are all ways of breaking the fruits and vegetables down into a more usable form.)

SIDE NOTE: When Answers comes up, often Darwin’s does also. In my eyes it’s a company very similar to Steve’s (the other pre-made raw food I tried) so it’s the main reason I haven’t tried it. I think it’s a good company also, just not one I could get without a subscription. That along with the fact that I didn’t see any outstanding reason to use it (or any other pre-made) is why I’m not going to. I know they offer a trial but I was only looking at things I could pick up locally. Steve’s was my backup for answers (that she wouldn’t eat either) and other than answers I’m going home-made for stronger source control. I’m not discrediting the value of these resources. Many are wonderful and extremely convenient. They also help a LOT of people make the transition. It’s very important however to be sure it’s coming from high quality meats. Here are two links for more info on these companies that may help in choosing one.

Best Raw Dog Foods

Raw Dog Food Reviews

The journey continues…

One thing I am obsessed with is quality. This is the reason my journey was so difficult. It doesn’t have to be this hard, I just refused to compromise. If I was going to learn raw feeding, I was going to learn how to do it right and if I was going to learn all that, I wasn’t willing to use sources that I didn’t trust absolutely! Human Grade didn’t cut it. The meat industry is FULL of horrible profit based practices. They are inhumane and I am not willing to support that.

I am a vegetarian, so ethical farming is of huge importance to me, plus it’s the highest quality of meat.

The grocery stores and even Whole Foods might be ok for finding some organic meats but ultimately I wanted better. My first stop was finding a local organic farm. I did this by using a service online called Eatwild.com . This is not the only search engine, just one I came across that had good results for where I live. I found one small farm right away, but they only sold meat a few times per year and weren’t selling at the moment. I ordered some for the end of the year but ultimately it was a dead end. Some hours and google searches later, I found a local seller who worked at one farm but traveled and sold from a network of organic farmers. This made their resource list HUGE and their ability to supply a year round operation. I was beyond excited about this and blown away by the fact that they had organs and bones on their lists!! One might think this meant that my search was over lol but I’m never satisfied, so I kept looking for a secondary source for certain cuts that were more specific to my dog’s needs. (I could get chicken bones from this seller for example but no other bones that were a good match for my dog’s size.) The biggest benefit from this is that by casting a wider net I have a better chance of getting high quality things. I enjoyed the people I met at this small farm very much and I think human quality is always better, but I didn’t get to see the animals or other farms. I trust them but these are just the best farms in proximity to where I live, so I wanted a wider net for more reasons than just the cut choices.

I tried to google “best raw food suppliers” but as you know if you’ve ever googled something looking for unbiased reviews or truth about a product, it’s an unlikely thing to find directly. First you need patience, then you need to sift through all the nonsense, fake reviews and huge amounts of MONEY put into making certain companies come up first. Once you do that, you might actually get somewhere.

It took hours but I finally stumbled onto something useful by reading the comments section in a blog thread of the Dog Food Advisors chat forum. (I forgot to mention why I didn’t do this with raw meat for humans: 1. They didn’t have cuts any different from my local supplier and 2. They rarely ship and if they did I couldn’t afford it) I followed the discussion by real unbiased people who had real experience trying certain companies and shared my sourcing concerns. I took some notes and then proceeded to look up each company one by one. My conclusion to all of this was that while it IS hard to find true transparency, it’s not impossible. I ended up learning a lot about meat also. Everyone’s pretty much heard of “grass-fed, steroid, antibiotic and hormone free” but denatured and irradiated were two new terms for me that made me really re-evaluate what I wanted to know about my meat. I’m not going to get too much into it but basically Denatured means it’s been made “safe” and the USDA requires this of all “compromised” (3 and 4D for example which stands for “dying, diseased, disabled or dead”) meat. It’s considered too dangerous for human consumption until it goes through a process usually done with charcoal and other dangerous additives that get rid of diseases the meat may contain (not including many chemical drugs that the animal may have been treated with however) but have horrible side effects. Irradiation is similar but it’s done to preserve (salts, and yes, RADIATION etc). BOTH are horrible for dogs so I wanted to add these to my list of requirements. (These links provide great info on both!) The problem with this is, because they’re less known words, “unaltered” may in fact mean these things but I wanted a source that had more clarification than this. (Plus a raw food company that uses 3 or 4D denatured meat will say it’s USDA approved NOT that it’s 3/4D OR made from from certain farm animals fed this, or affected by the contamination in their food as a byproduct of this, which is another big deal… so it’s important to clarify!) Almost all kibble comes from these sources. The USDA’s guidelines when it comes to this are notoriously lax and continued abuse of the system takes place, especially where marketing is concerned. Getting clarification has become something we as consumers unfortunately have to do on our own. There was only one company that I’ve found so far that did this completely.

What I will say is that out of the companies I looked at, they have one of the worst web sites and their packaging is “lame” but I see this as one of their biggest advantages in my book. It means they’re not spending oodles of money on “selling” and to me the people who do are usually trying to sell an inferior product because they’re making more of a profit and that allows for the marketing budget. I know this is cynical and NOT always true but it seems to be a consistent thing in this particular industry. They also had the smallest selection and I even liked THIS because it means they’re not outsourcing or accepting lower quality products just to sell more. They say it’s all local and this proves it really is. One more thing that I liked was customer service. I scoured their face book page and they had only one or two negative comments (shipping related of course) but they responded and went above and beyond to refund. Plus the fact that they had a review option matters because many companies now just don’t even ALLOW it! And their website was “nice” no rules or saying things like “if you order too little your order will be deleted and refunded!” Just things put in a rude way for no reason. Plus they had PHOTOS of the farm all over… not just cute staged dogs everywhere! If I’m ordering from a farm I want to see the FARM animals not dogs on a photo shoot. But I digress… lol Anyway, I liked these people. All of the companies I looked into had pros and cons but these guys are number one on my list because my only “cons” are in selection and shipping costs. It’s unrelated to quality so to me it doesn’t really count. I just can’t order from them all the time. Because of that I’ll follow this link with my reviews of the other sources I found.

1. My pet Carnivore

The next two companies I interrogated come in at a tie because I really think they’re very comparable but one is right by my house so it’s second on my list ONLY for that reason.

2. Raw Feeding Miami

The pros of this one is that they are the only one with organic options. They also have a key word search where you can specify things like “grass fed” so although all their meat may not be grass fed they have a huge inventory and are honest about was is an what isn’t. Because of this they have cheaper options and a slightly lower shipping cost. There are also no minimum orders! I can tell you also that I visited the distribution center. It was briefly last year before I moved and we didn’t stick with it at the time but I met the employees and tried their products. They really seemed to care and it was a positive enough experience for me to order from them again for sure!

3. Reel Raw

This company in my opinion is very similar to raw feeding Miami. They have a larger amount of grass-fed options (I think they say it’s all grass fed) but no organic. I may try an order from them but I’m out of freezer space so I unfortunately can’t review them after trying them just yet. They seemed slightly vague about their sources but very adamant about them being grass fed and unaltered. I want to trust the qualities represented by both of these companies, I just wish there was a little more clarification. My carnivore even tells you what farm! These two will be on my back up list however just because their inventory lists are so huge!

4. Hare Today Gone Tomorrow

This company is only very slightly below the other two. My only qualm was once again having to do with sourcing. Just not enough info. Great info, just not enough about the meat. They have minimum orders but it’s only 10 lbs so shipping is comparable to the other sites. The one thing they had going for them was very good reviews. People really seemed to like the freshness and quality, and there’s a lot to be said for that! I’m keeping them on the list because the vagueness could be an oversight and I might be able to find out more if I emailed them.

I plan on emailing these last two companies to see if I can find out the missing source info. As soon as I do I will post it, I just didn’t want to wait to share something that might be valuable. When I get there I’ll put it in a linked post.

All of the companies mentioned also have ready-to-go options which is great for time saving. It’s not accepted by some raw feeders but some people really need this option and I love that they provide that! They also have good selections of (size appropriate) raw meaty bones, organs, whole prey etc that some local small farms may not and many offer high quality supplements also!

Whew! So that was my last 2 days lol! As always, in doing this I came across some fringe benefit info.

If you’re looking for a good green tripe source, at least one of the top 3 companies have organic, but THIS organic really impressed me!

GreenTripe.com

I’ve contacted them to see if they’ll ship to me. Still haven’t heard and they won’t show you prices until you email them but it looks like an awesome source for that so I’ll also let you know when I find out more about it!

Update: they would not ship to me so I still don’t have prices but they do have an east coast distributor at Green Cuisine 4 Pets

* finally got prices… only about $4/lb but minimum order is 20 lb and shipping is $30 or more PLUS a $13 service fee… so out of my price range. Customer service gave me one other option of picking it up but it requires a two hour drive. I appreciate that they did offer that though so that’s a good thing to know. We’ll still try to get it at some point. (Plus they have a lot more than just green tripe by itself.)

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention

CO-OPS! They’re not available by me or I would have absolutely gone there first! It’s basically a group of people who buy in bulk. They are formed when demand creates the supply. People get together and order from suppliers (a lot of which are just for human clients but cater to these requests). They tend to have the highest quality and are local enough that they send trucks to delivery points where your group can collect its purchases. I don’t know a ton about them because I don’t have the option but I’ve heard the most positive feedback on sources and prices from this option.

Here is one link that has more info and links to a co-op directory

Co-Op Directory

One final website that may help find local meat is Food Fur Life

It’s slightly redundant but it may have some other options.

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day this whole endeavor is a learning process. I don’t think it ever will (or should) end. I’ve shared my findings so far but I know there’s a TON I haven’t found yet. My game plan is to use as much local meat as I can. I’ve ordered from my pet carnivore and raw feeding Miami for the things I can’t get. I’ll cast a wide net and try to get the best of what each has to offer. We’ll keep trying with Answers also, for at least occasional feeding and supplementation. Not putting all of my eggs in one basket gives me options because anything can happen, companies close or get bought out so I like knowing that I have knowledge to fall back on. When I get more confident I’ll share recipes and feeding requirement info as well. This process has been a little frustrating but very enlightening. I look forward to learning more and thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope it’s helpful and I wish you all the best in happiness and health for you and your pet!!

Calcium and Feeding Bones and Bone Alternatives

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Most people learn early on that it is 100% unsafe to give dogs cooked or smoked bones because of the fact that they are brittle and pose choking and digestive hazards. Due to this a lot of pet parents stay away from bones altogether. As a result the pet food industry is full of all kinds of manufactured bones for dental health, chewing, recreation, vitamin supplements etc. These are just as bad (if not worse) then the kibble products and in some cases aren’t even safer in terms of choking and digestive hazards. If you feed raw you most likely already know a bit about bone safety but if not here are a few reasons so many raw feeders love RAW meaty and recreational bones.

1. They are a wonderful source of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is an important part of your pet’s health! (Without calcium in the diet, the body extracts it from its own bones, which leads to many issues related to mobility.) They also contain a variety of minerals not found in other food.

2. They are the best possible form of teeth cleaning outside of the vet’s office. They promote gum health and reduce bad breath.

3. They provide ruff-age and help to maintain anal glands naturally

4. They can help balance the digestive tract and tone digestive muscles that can help reduce stomach issues later in life.

When fed appropriately (about 2-3 times a week unless ground in food at 10%) the digestive hazards are avoided because raw bones break down naturally in the stomach and don’t stay large enough to pose any threat. It’s important to always supervise your dog with a bone no matter what. Instinctively they should know how to chew and swallow them correctly but anything can happen. Aside from the smaller raw meaty bones like poultry necks, spines, feet etc. the general rule of thumb for recreational bones is that they should be about the size of the dogs head or larger. Never smaller because these types of bones are meant to be chewed on and scrapped of marrow but NOT eaten completely. I am personally not a fan of the recreation bones because they can chip teeth and don’t contain the nutrition components that make their positive attributes outweigh their risks. If my dog loved this activity, I’d make an exception but otherwise I see them as completely unnecessary. Marrow can be obtained without them so she doesn’t need a knuckle bone to pass the time and possibly break her teeth on. Raw meaty bones on the other hand are a different story. They should never be weight bearing bones because they are too hard to chew and unlike recreational bones are meant to be eaten completely. I see the value of these bones but they still make me nervous so I plan on sticking with necks and backs because the are considered to be the safest. Chicken wings can be cut to be made safer, but I still don’t love these because I have other options. Ideally I would give her lamb and goat bones because they are considered to have the perfect balance of hardness to effectively clean the teeth but not break any. However these bones, for me at least, are very hard to find. Although red meat should make up about 50% of her diet, chicken, duck, lamb and duck are closer to a dog’s natural prey so they make the safest bones to eat. Chicken and duck are much more readily available where I live and while they might be considered too soft to clean teeth by some people, I brush her teeth daily and am more interested in their nutrition than their dental care anyway. That being said, if your dog (or you) is really against dealing with raw bones in general there are 100% adequate alternatives available and you do not need to feel forced to do so. It may be controversial in some circles but I truly believe you can go without bones and still have a healthy and balanced raw diet as long as you are educated. Things like bone meal are dangerous alternatives (most are toxic unless from a local farm that makes food Grade) but egg shells are a GREAT alternative source of calcium! You can dry and crush them into a powder very easily and make your own supplement. I love this because there are a lot of concerns about the safety of many calcium sources in supplements on the market and as long as you get good quality eggs this takes away the guess work. A lot of people also just add one whole egg shell and all to get the same result. I don’t do this daily so I keep the shells as back up on a day she doesn’t get a bone. For the other minerals you can simply use a mineral supplement, which actually should be given even if you do feed bones because it’s broad spectrum and you know that your pets needs are being met. Some feeders are against supplements altogether because your dog wouldn’t “get fish oil pills etc out in the wild” however I disagree. We need supplements now because of the world we live in TODAY. We have depleted the soil and changed the environment. For this reason I think it’s appropriate to adjust. My dog’s wolf ancestors didn’t live in the same world and it’s the same reason I take supplements myself. I just want the best shot and as long as I am getting them from trusted sources and know how to use them, I think they’re great! Teeth cleaning can be substituted rather easily as well. Any mouth size appropriate tooth brush will do. You can make your own toothpaste or even just use coconut oil. If your dog won’t let you brush, a bit of ground kelp added to the food should help. For more advanced dental issues and plaque you can either get a cleaning at the vet or look up where to get one that is anesthesia free. This method is increasing in popularity, so they’re relatively easy to find now. Either way there are many alternative methods, all of which would be great to add EVEN with the help of bones.

Bottom line, raw bones are WONDERFUL if your dog likes them but if not you can absolutely still feed raw! Some dogs warm up to them over time so I’d say don’t give up but don’t stress over it too much either! It’s no reason to wait to go raw or worse not at all.

Personally I am doing about one small raw meaty bone per week because my dog doesn’t love them. Chicken feet are the easiest to find organically and they are an excellent joint supplement (glucosamine and chondroitin) so because she eats egg shells and takes supplements I know her dietary needs are being met. Eventually I hope to move to a food that has some ground in so this 1 per week will probably stay at that and if we miss a week it’s no cause for concern.

My super easy calcium supplement is pictured below. My dog is 25 lbs so she needs 550 mg of calcium per day. (50mg per kg) She gets calcium from other sources so I only use 1/4- 1/2 tsp. based on the assessment that:

“One whole medium sized eggshell makes about one teaspoon of powder, which yields about 750 – 800 mgs of elemental calcium plus other microelements, i.e. magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. There are 27 elements in total.”

A vet should be able to assist you if you don’t want to measure it out on your own. Fortunately dog’s having a “fast track” metabolism helps mitigate some concern. A good thing to remember is the simple fact that wild dogs eat what they find. Some days they get a lot of one thing and other days none. It tends to balance out over time but I also do blood tests at her annual check up. Hair tests can be very helpful also. So far we’ve been right on track but never hesitate to ask a medical professional. I know many holistic vets even offer nutritional counseling now so there are resources available if you have any concerns!

*Another great bone replacement for calcium is raw green tripe! It has an ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio and most dogs absolutely love it!

Homemade Bone broth and bone marrow soup

I’ve been using bone broth for some time now. There are some great ones on the market so I never really intended on making my own until today. Today I got to visit a real working farm and it was incredible! In my effort to be efficient I grabbed a little bit of everything. In doing so I ended up with a package full of recreational knuckle bones that were WAY too small for my dog to eat. Rather than let them go to waste I decided to turn them into broth. Because these bones were full of marrow, this is sometimes called ‘marrow soup’ however the process is the same. I chose to add in some chicken feet because I had a lot of them and they are a great broth source because of their high glucosamine and chondroitin concentration. The process takes a while (about 24 hours for chicken, 48 for beef) in a crock pot or on the stove top but the recipe is super easy.

Fill a pot with the bones you want to use and cover with filtered water. Add 2-4 tbs of raw apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hr for chicken, 2 for beef. Reduce to low and leave on heat for 24-48 hours and that’s IT! The same goes for the crock pot (high medium and low settings). You can add dog-safe vegetables if you want but that’s the basic process. I’d say it’s important to keep an eye on the water level because I had to add some half way through but other than that I ignored it.

For my first batch, I kept it very simple. I don’t have a crock pot yet but I found one on Amazon that claimed to be lead free (the problem with many crock pots is chemical leaching). It’s stone ware so I think they are considered safest. When that comes maybe I’ll get more creative, but Jersey definitely gave her stamp of approval! It’s a great supplement to help her eat her vitamins and an all around great dietary addition no matter what (for both of us) so it’s one of the best mistakes I ever made!

Here are just a FEW awesome benefits that bone broth provide:

It helps maintain a healthy gut, especially for dogs with digestive issues.

It supports your dog’s immune system and detoxes the liver.

It helps protect his joints and is a wonderful source of collagen and glycosaminoglycans including glucosamine and other joint protecting compounds.

Also the “glycosaminoglycans from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Dr Shanahan, they act like hormones, stimulating cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the arteries.”

It’s full of minerals, including calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium and phosphorus.

The list goes on but these are the highlights and why so many people love it for themselves and their dogs!

NOTE: Excess bone broth should be frozen because the shelf-life of this is very short. 3-4 days in the fridge max