5 Easy Tips to Extend Your Dogs Life, That You Can Do TODAY!

If you are reading this right now, I am certain that you’ve already got the most important thing going for your dog. That is Love! Dogs thrive the most when they are loved, so that is always ground zero. The tips listed below are simple suggestions that people can easily implement, that have proven to be life extending. All of my tips regarding food come directly from Rodney Habib. Rodney has dedicated his life to studying canine longevity. He is the leading nutrition expert on the planet right now, and has traveled the world collecting evidence from scientists, veterinarians and pet parents of dogs that have lived to be in their 30’s.

5 Ways To Increase Lifespan At a Glance:

  1. Add something fresh
  2. Add something moist
  3. Fresh Air
  4. Probiotics
  5. Kick the chemicals

Below is a simple description of each

# 1 Diet – Add Something Fresh

As time goes on, it is becoming more and more evident that kibble is not the best food for dogs. That being said, kibble is what most people feed, so these are tips for things that you can do today! No shopping necessary.

Rodney worked with the leading scientists in the world right now regarding canine nutrition, and found that you can increase your dog’s lifespan and reduce their risk of cancer by as much as 80% JUST by replacing 20% of their dry food with real fresh food. Some examples of simple ways to do this are:

Tips

  • Ripping up some kale, spinach or any leafy green and putting it into their kibble.
  • Throw in a piece of broccoli or a chopped up carrot.

The point of these vegetables has less to do with nutrients and more to do with slowing down the digestive track. To gain nutritional benefits, it is true that they need to be puréed. If you have time, this is great, however in their whole form, they work just as well by increasing fiber and lowering blood sugar. Over time, the impacts of this are incalculable!

  • Add in a piece of whatever you are having for dinner either raw or cooked without seasoning. Chicken, beef or fish for example. 20% is all that they need.
  • Crack a raw egg into their bowl (cooked is fine too) just be sure to include the yolk because egg whites alone can cause a biotin deficiency. This actually takes care of the next suggestion also because it adds moisture at the same time.

Here is a quick reference guide for dog safe veggies:

veggies

# 2 Dietary Moisture – Add Something Moist

The biggest problem with kibble is that it is dry. This is extremely taxing to internal organs. Most people choose dry food because of the fact that it keeps teeth cleaner. A good way to do both is by adding in some coconut oil because it works just like toothpaste!

Tips

  • Add some coconut oil to their dinner. This not only eases digestion, but actually helps keep teeth even cleaner. 1 tsp to 1 tbs is all that you need per meal.
  • Fish oil is another great option because it helps balance out the omega 6’s that your dog is already getting in their diet. Too much omega 6 is bad for a lot of reasons but the most obvious is that it speeds up aging and leads to inflammation. The fastest way to reduce this is by adding in omega 3. This neutralizes the impact of omega 6 and adds important dietary elements along with moisture which is crucial.
  • If you don’t have the above two oils you can even add olive oil or avocado oil because these still effectively accomplish adding moisture and decrease organ stress.
  • An egg here also works in this way

For more information about these oils, I have a few articles, such as: Dog Supplements: What’s really necessary? ,  Coconut Oil and Dog Health or Phytoplankton, Fish oil or Raw Fish? Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Omega 3

# 3 Exercise – Fresh Air

The dog that lived to 33 ran about 8 kilometers a day. I’ll be very honest right now, for me, this one is the hardest aspects of dog care. I have health issues and running around isn’t really in the cards. However what I CAN do is go outside.

Tips

  • Make an effort. I’ve learned that just by being mindful of the amount of time we spend outside or how long we walk, makes me make a conscious effort to increase this. Tennis balls allow me to sit for some of the time and I know my dog is happier simply being in the sunshine.
  • Dog parks can be hugely helpful because I can make human friends there that make the time pass while my dog gets to be social and run.

# 4 Probiotics

Just like with humans, the dogs who live the longest always have the most diverse gut flora. A healthy gut = A long life across the animal kingdom. There are countless options of probiotics on the market today, but to do this right now you could either

Tips

  • Add in some of your probiotic supplements if you have them or
  • Give them a small bowl of plain (unsweetened) kefir or yogurt

Probiotics or healthy gut flora, over time, have proven to be the number one common denominator between all of the oldest dogs they have studied.

# 5 Kick The Chemicals – Cleaning Products

If you have a dog that likes to clean your floor like mine does, it’s important to reduce their exposure to chemicals. Even walking on the floors can be harmful if they are cleaned with chemicals, especially bleach. Dogs have pores on their feet that can absorb toxins, they also tend to lick their feet. Accumulation of this kind of exposure can lead to a number of problems down the road. Neurological disorders, cancer etc. With all of the different chemical exposures dogs may have, this is an easy thing to take out of the equation. I’m a germ freak, and have looked into this extensively. In 2010 they did a study comparing bleach to vinegar in killing an array of viruses and things like e-coli. In EVERY test they did, vinegar showed itself to be 100% as effective as bleach across the board. This finally convinced me, and my current favorite cleaner is vinegar!

Tips

  • Distilled white vinegar (in a pinch any vinegar will work, this one just smells the least)
  • Lemon juice
  • Castile soap
  • Baking soda (for scrubbing and deodorizing)

They all have multiple uses but for my floor, I just mix vinegar with Castile soap and water and it does an amazing job! I have some additional tips for this here: Pet Friendly Household Cleaners

*Along with kicking the chemical cleaning products, I wanted to say something very quickly about vaccines and heart worm medication. If your dog has been properly vaccinated early on, they should not need further vaccines. A titer test can tell you weather or not they are still covered by a vaccine. More of it doesn’t do any good, so this can be a great way to eliminate extra toxins from vaccines. Furthermore, if you live in a place that has winter, you can also safely take your dog off heart worm medication during these months and give their system a break! This isn’t a quick tip, but I did want to put this information out there because I know early on I was hesitant to ask my vet. This was a mistake because these chemicals can do a lot of harm and reducing them truly is a longevity increasing step! I have some more information about titer testing here: Titer Testing and the Dangers of Over-Vaccinating

Never Stop Learning. This is probably the one thing that encompasses all of this. The best thing we can do for the animals we love is to simply be open to learning. There is some incredible information coming out today. Now more than ever, it is easy to stay up to date and current simply by following these people either on their websites or on Facebook (links below). The two biggest positive influences in the pet world right now are:

Rodney Habib and

Dr. Karen Becker

They are very engaging and absolutely worth looking up!

Why Diet Is So Important

Studies done on life spans for dogs show that the biggest factor that separates those that live longer is what they are eating. Science has proven that raw food is the best quality of food for canine health. I am a raw feeder now, but I can tell you, I certainly did not start out that way! Like most people, I fed what my vet recommended without questioning it because they are doctors and I am not. It wasn’t until I took a moment to look into the food they were recommending that I began to question this advice. I’m not going to get too much into it but the bottom line is, most traditional veterinary schools are funded by pet food companies. These schools provide very little education when it comes to nutrition. Well meaning doctors, that love dogs, are told to protect the masses by suggesting foods that meet AAFCO guidelines. They don’t mention the detrimental effects of synthetic vitamins and denatured meat sources. Even the highest quality kibble is deficient, simply based on the process that is necessary to make it kibble. For most vets it’s all about what most people will realistically do, and that is buy kibble. Raw diets require a certain understanding of balance and if done wrong animals can get hurt. This along with not having enough education about it, is the biggest reason they do not usually recommend going this route.

However, things are changing. There are currently a number of resources available today that take the guesswork out of raw feeding. There are companies that hire food scientists to create pre-made raw options that are completely balanced and ready to serve. You can get frozen options that can be poured into a bowl just like kibble or you can save money and buy “chubs” that are the same thing, except you have to cut it yourself. This is by far, the easiest way to make the greatest impact on your dog’s longevity.

Two companies that provide this that I like very much are:

Answers Pet Food

Steve’s Real Food

You can buy them or order them from your local independent pet shop.

To save even more time Darwin’s Pet Food offers a subscription service where they pre-portion meals for your dog specifically, and send them frozen to your door.

A wonderful documentary that explains all of this on Netflix is Pet Fooled it’s an easy watch and very well done!

For some better kibble options, if you are not ready to make the switch I have found a few here: Kibble

You certainly don’t have to change everything over night, this just isn’t realistic. What you can do is just add one thing. Even just one carrot can make a difference! Science has proven this and because I know how much every moment with my dog means to me, I wanted to try to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

Rodney has many great videos, but here is just one:

Why don’t dogs live forever?

Safe Ways To Store Food In The Freezer Without Plastic

For years now, I’ve being hearing all the negative studies and chatter going on about the dangers of storing food in plastic. I always used to use Debbie Myers Tupperware without a care, but these just gave me a false sense of security. Even BPA free plastic is considered unsafe. All plastic leaches chemicals and many have proven to be even worse than BPA! I knew this, but at the time I only really had to worry about refrigerated items and making the switch to glass and silicone was pretty easy.

Now as a raw feeder I’m a lot more concerned. First of all we need to freeze EVERYTHING! Second, freezing and thawing items in plastic is a lot more dangerous because the process of freezing and thawing causes a lot more toxins to be released. Third, dog’s are more sensitive to these toxins than humans are. Fourth, my dog gets enough toxic chemicals just from her heart worm pill and Fifth, this is her FOOD!

I know most people use ziplocks and call it a day. They see no ill effects and everyone is fine. For the items I buy that are already frozen, I don’t have a choice. If I want duck necks, my local butcher is never going to have them, so I’m forced to either buy them as they are (in plastic) or not have them at all. What I CAN do however is change the container when I get them. It may not do a whole lot at this point, but it’s worth a try. The other thing I can do is transfer all the fresh meat I buy immediately before freezing and gain at least some measure of safety that way. Some people can take their own contains to buy the meat. Currently our supplier is not set up that way or I would do that also.

Then comes the issue of the freezer itself. Space is problematic and I really need to make the most of every inch. I know I have some good containers that can technically go in the freezer but they are not meal size portions and it’s important not to defrost too much at a time. This led me to finding a better solution.

The best way to store small items in the freezer

Answers pet food uses milk cartons. I love this idea plus they are recyclable. I own some bags that are paper and waxed on the inside. My problem is I’m not 100% confident about what the wax is made of in these. The ways to buy them are limited and I’ve yet to see a decent explanation of what’s inside. I’m sure there are safe waxed boxes and bags out there, I just haven’t found them yet. I also need things that are reusable!

Reusable options

Silicone is not only great in the fridge, but works awesome in the freezer too. These containers are also collapsible, so if they are not full they can be pressed down without risk of breaking open.

They are also expensive, so my next thought was silicone freezer bags! They are a great option for items that are very moist. There are a TON of brands that make them and many you can even vacuum seal! It is however important to research the source a bit. I haven’t found a favorite yet but when I do I’ll update this! My problem here is again economical. I would love to use more of these but I will have to reserve them for wet items only.

Glass is another great option. I think I like glass the most in general. These in particular come in a good variety of sizes and have silicone lids. They make a lot now also for baby food which is too small in most cases, but because of this the options are widening.

Mason jars are awesome too and they make silicone lids now that fit any bowl, but I just don’t have the space. I will use the jars for bone broth though.

All of these are expensive methods however. I don’t have the budget for this many containers of either kind. That led me to finding my two new favorite things!

Natural parchment paper and one that’s even better because it’s reusable is

Beeswax storage paper The obvious problem with these is the fact that there is no seal. Freezer tape doesn’t cut it. To remedy this I would prefer to double wrap but with so many meals to freeze, this just isn’t economical. I choose to fit a week of wrapped food inside one glass container. I just happen to be a glass fan, but Stainless steel would work great too. This remedies both freezer burn and leakage. (Many people double wrap with tin foil but this worries me.) For the items that are longer term stores, I will also use the parchment and wrap a lot heavier.

Another great idea is using muffin tins. You can fill them with meals and cover them with the bees wrap. My dog’s meals are a bit too large, so this options out for us, but I’m sure it would work great for someone!

If you’re really ambitious, you can make your own beeswax paper much cheaper. I haven’t tried this yet but I really want to! Homemade beeswax wrap

One day I hope to be able to invest in 100% glass or maybe silicone… I’d like to see more studies done on it first though. I feel like silicone is just too new. I also hope to get a second freezer. Until then however, I’m just doing my best!

There is a movement towards plastic free options. Blogs like My Plastic Free Life are making a difference and spreading information. My hope is that in the years to come it will be easier to accomplish this!

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 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!!

Fermented Fish Stock for Health

So, this one smells even worse than green beef tripe, but the health benefits are more than worth it. I’m still getting Jersey to warm up to it but dogs who love sardines or raw fish should have no problem! The key benefits are:

Kidney health

Joint health

Thyroid health

Digestive health

Liver detox

Skin and coat health

Immune system boost

I wanted to start with kidney health because I know it’s a hard issue to treat. (I spoke about this in a previous post so if you are looking for help there that post has a more comprehensive list of solutions.)

The explanation below is directly from the only people that I know of currently who make it (Answers pet food) my guess is more will come but I know this is made from wild caught and ethically sourced sardines.

“Great for dogs with kidney disease, because it offsets the low protein diet and helps to reduce stress on kidneys. Adding to diet of dogs fed low protein diet kidney disease will help prevent detrimental side effects of low protein; Contains high amounts of arginine, required to metabolize protein waste & reduces blood pressure reducing stress on kidneys. It reduces the need for protein intake by 50% which helps alleviate stress and contains high amounts of arginine which is required by the body to metabolize protein waste.

There is a more comprehensive explanation in the link below.

Answers quick link

Answers detailed

JOINT HEALTH

It contains a substance known as glycoaminoglycans or GAGs. GAGs are a major component of joint cartilage, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid – all things needed for optimal joint support.  It is also high in anti-inflammatory amino acids which helps reduce the swelling that causes arthritis.  Also contained within, is gelatin, whose job it is to coat the joints and act as a shock absorber between joints.  In short, fermented fish stock might just help your dog who suffers from any sort of joint ailments or prevent your healthy dog from ever having issues.

THYROID

It is a natural source of iodine and thyroid nutrients – perfect for dogs that are pre-disposed to hypothyroidism, dogs that are borderline or dogs who actively have hypothyroidism.

DIGESTION AND LIVER HEALTH

Both the digestive system and the liver are impacted by the fish stock in beneficial ways.  First, gelatin has the ability to line the digestive system which acts as a barrier to bad bacteria, helps heal leaky gut syndrome and helps ease colitis.  It holds digestive juices in the belly longer which aids in digestion of nutrients and aids in increased absorption of vitamins and minerals.  It is high in glycine which encourages liver detox. Glycine is an essential amino acid which helps regulate the making of bile salts and secretion of gastric juices that is required for liver detox.

OMEGA

All Omega fatty acids are concentrated in the fermented sardines which leads to better skin and coat health.

DIABETES

Insulin secretion is stimulated naturally by the fermented sardines.  They are also quite high in magnesium which aids in insulin sensitivity making this a perfect addition to a diabetic pet’s diet.

Fish Stock, when used as a supplement to your pet’s regular diet, will enhance immune function, provide easily absorbed minerals and nutrients, and promotes healing from within.  It can help with joint function and kidney issues as well as give your pet a gorgeous coat.”

So… this is why I’m stoked to try this stuff. It’s a new product for us but getting some buzz so I thought I’d put it out there even though I’m still learning about it myself! If it can help someone now, no reason to wait! We’ll be updating as we learn more!

Raw Goats Milk

I was first introduced to raw goats milk actually just as a way to help get my picky eater to try new things. We had some raw goats milk cheese treats that she loved so I grabbed the milk, kefir and yogurt to try also. She loved it all and I was thrilled even before I found out about all the amazing benefits!

It’s hard to know where to begin but it aids in digestion, helps joint tissue, relieves allergies and has been even linked to treating cancer just to name a few things. Here is a bit of a break down of how and why that I got from an article that summed it up pretty well.

Digestion:

“Raw Goat milk contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids. In fact, the body can digest goat’s milk in 20 minutes. Having fat molecules one-fifth the size of those in cow’s milk makes it easily digestible and tolerable even for dogs with digestive issues.

It is packed with pre and probiotics (over 200 species).

Those, mixed with enzymes help the gut to establish healthy flora, ease digestion and help alleviate any GI issues. Because of the speed of digestion this also makes it almost 100 times better than probiotic powders or pills.

It is also a great source of easily absorbable and palatable protein.

It can even be used as replacement milk for kittens and puppies.

Arthritis or other joint problems:

The same enzymes that help relieve digestion issues can also help to alleviate inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint issues. They also help speed up tissue repair and improve circulation, all things that can help to alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Allergies:

Raw goat’s milk contains high levels of caprylic acid. This acid helps to fight yeast that often builds up in response to allergies (have you ever given your dog’s paws a sniff? If you have, you might notice they smell a bit like corn chips. What you’re smelling is yeast which naturally develops in that area. Allergies can make that yeast multiply which is why a dog who has allergies will often chew at their paws, among other things). Also, like the good flora that gets built up in your pet’s GI system, raw goat’s milk will also help that healthy flora to establish on the skin and in the ears which will help curb any infections that often are linked to allergies. Raw goat’s milk is also a natural antihistamine.

Cancer:

Many researchers have found that carotene (or Pro-Vitamin A) contains cancer preventing properties. The milk fat in goat’s milk contains a higher evolved carotene that is readily available for the body to absorb. There is also a fat in raw goat’s milk, called conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), that is known as the cancer fighting fat. CLA has actually been shown in some cases to shrink cancer tumors.”

Raw goat’s milk is also great for people who normally can’t digest lactose because in raw form the composition should not impact the intolerance.

I’m still collecting information on this but I wanted to put something out now as there seems to be a big increase in the market lately. As long as it’s raw and from a good source I’d say it’s absolutely worth a try!

NOTE: raw goats milk is best when fed separate from coconut oil or bone broth that contains apple cider vinegar because this can compromise the nutritional value.

Raw feeding part 4

It’s been a busy week so far but we’re still truckin! I’ve spent the last several nights researching green lipid muscle supplements because I am adamant about verifying quality sources before I give anything to my dog, this somehow led to me also researching natural ear infection treatments lol so I will hopefully have posts about both later in the week.

We had a furry house guest these past 6 days so it was a littler harder trying to transition to the new foods without giving Jersey other options so I guess I had a little set back there. I still gave her all organic raw meat along with raw goats milk mixed with her supplements, I just didn’t focus as much on the new stuff as I probably should have.

Due to the length of time this transition may take I followed up with the local humane farm resource that I found last week. I figured if she eats that no problem, I might as well look further into how to get her the best meat. The woman I spoke to was awesome, unfortunately not able to really help us at the moment. It’s a small farm so any order would have to wait until late November and organs might not be easy to obtain. There is one more farm in reasonable distance that I’m going to try tomorrow, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll have to stick with the best I can find at local markets. I wasn’t ready to make my own food yet anyway but I’m glad to be finding this all out now before I do. After that I put a call in to a recommended holistic vet. That’s another thing I wanted to work out before Jersey’s next check up. We’re still waiting to hear back but there’s a database online that we will look on if this one is too busy. She’s still not eating Answers or Steve’s but we are still making some progress… with some things anyway! 🙂

I guess not every path is meant to be straight and we are learning a lot on this one. For that, I am grateful!

The products in the picture are some of Jersey’s favorite. They get her to eat her long list of supplements with no problem! They haven’t quite gotten her to eat the food but I’m hoping they will help. I love these along with honest kitchen bone broth with turmeric and raw goats milk by Steve’s and Answers because they add flavor with so many health benefits!!

**Side note- I’m still perfecting making my own toothpaste but only 1 week using my own vs the best I could find on the market, showed SO much improvement, I’m really psyched about that! I’ll update my previous post and share a new one with a recipe this week also!

UPDATE: This week is turning into a study week. I was finally able to track down a local grass-fed, free-range organic etc farm that had meat ready to purchase by Saturday. They are big enough to purchase organs from too which is a big deal because otherwise I was at the mercy of butchers and grocery stores with questionable supply origins. If I’m going to give Jersey anything prepared by myself human Grade doesn’t cut it. I need the organs to be as healthy as the meat. Finding this source opportunity has me investigating recipes now as well so hopefully by the weekend I’ll have some helpful tips there also!