Phytoplankton, Fish oil or Raw Fish? Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Omega 3

NOTE: If you are using fish oil: Using just any fish oil truly is not safe. Rancid fish oil is a huge problem in the industry and this can have life threatening effects on a dog. Source is extremely important when using fish oil.

As our society changes and scientific progress is being made, we now have an abundance of information available to us about ways to improve the lives of our pets. This can be overwhelming, but one thing that has become abundantly apparent, is that dog’s need Omega 3’s in their diet. One reason for this, is that they get an abundance (or over-abundance) of Omega 6 and 9 in the food that they eat. Too much omega 6 and 9 can lead to inflammation, chronic disease, faster aging and slower healing. This was not an issue for the dog’s ancestors, because their diets were not nearly as laden with these oils as they are today. There are many contributing reasons for this, but one simple reason is livestock feed. Today our meats contain drastically higher amounts of omega 6 and 9 due to what these animals are fed. The most effective solution for the overabundance of these oils and the diseases they create, is introducing Omega 3. This balances the omega 6 and 9, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy healing and eliminates many causes for chronic disease. Omega 3’s (EPA and DHA) also improve brain function, prevent dementia, slow aging, promote skin, coat and hair growth, improve joint health and reproductive health. We can help reduce the omega 6’s in the diet through feeding things such as raw, clean, grass-fed meats, avoiding vegetable oils and staying grain free, but for many dogs this simply is not enough. Dog’s can’t produce Omega 3’s on their own and this is what makes it such an important supplement for them to get. The best sources of these for our dogs, come from the ocean. This is because unlike people, dogs can’t convert plant based sources of omega 3 (such as flax) and therefore need the DHA and EPA in pure form. This translates to meaning marine animals and algae. This brings me to the main point of this article: trying to decide which source of marine omega 3 is best.

*Note: Always stay within feeding guidelines for all types of omega 3 supplements. Too much of any of these may cause very adverse effects including difficulty clotting blood, slower would healing and proper immunity responses where inflammation is necessary to trigger the body’s appropriate response.

After an exhausting amount of research, I basically came to the conclusion that there is no easy answer to this. Each and every leading source available today has pros and cons. It mostly boils down to just what works best for each individual. I personally try to do a combination because it is what works for us.

Raw Fish

Pros:

  • Whole food is the most natural way for a dog to receive nutrients – I try to always go here first
  • The Omega oils are much less likely to be affected by oxidation or getting rancid
  • Parasites can be easily eliminated by freezing
  • Many fish contain additional nutrients including high quality protein, amino acids and vitamin D. This can be very beneficial when fed in moderation because dog’s can’t absorb vitamin D from the sun. (Amounts should be limited here and depend on what else the dog is eating because vitamin D is fat-soluble. Too much can be toxic and too little can cause damage as well. It’s always best to be moderate and ask a vet.)
  • Extra sourcing precautions should be taken with shellfish, (very clean water only) but certain shellfish such as mussels and oysters can be fed safely. They don’t have bones. They contain less omega 3 but still provide some. Mussels for example, contain approximately 665mg per 3 oz serving.  Green Lipped mussels from New Zealand, also make great joint supplements and also provide an array of other nutrients that make them beneficial including manganese, amino acids, antioxidants and enzymes. Oysters contain about 558 mg omega 3 per 3 oz serving and also have B12, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
  • Fats contained in fish help your dog’s body absorb nutrients, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals
  • Most Fatty fish contain approximately 1-2 grams of omega 3 per 3 oz serving, but this varies greatly between fish (this example was taken from salmon). Sardines contain approximately 1.8 g of omega 3 per 4 oz serving.

Cons:

  • A lot of dog’s refuse to eat fish
  • Toxins are stored in fish skin and fat
  • Fish bones can be a danger if swallowed whole instead of chewed (but processed fish is only considered safe for humans)
  • Salmon from the pacific northwest is not safe due to the presence of a particular parasite that can be deadly, its just not worth the risk.
  • Many people choose Sardines and Hearing because they are both high, well-balanced sources of DHA and EPA and dogs seem to eat them more easily. The downside is that even though these fish don’t contain high levels of mercury, they DO very often come from the contaminated waters of the pacific. This means they may have been contaminated by radiation poisoning and contain high levels of strontium, among other things. Whats worse is that MOST sardines come from Japan (where the radiation levels are the highest) and even companies that have no indications on their label, may be sourcing their sardines from these contaminated waters. There are ways to find safe sardines, it just takes a little work. And you can get them boneless.
  • Small fish either eaten whole or processed contain the bones. This means when eating fish from the contaminated waters, the dog is eating the toxic selenium directly because it is stored in the bones. (This also makes fish oil made from small fish more risky.)
  • They carry the same risk of heavy metal toxins as fish oil does including mercury poisoning.
  • Because our oceans are so heavily contaminated we also have to be concerned about industrial chemicals such as PCB’s, dioxins and pesticides
  • Some fish contain high amounts of omega 6’s (such as catfish and tilapia) this could cause more harm to an animal who is already eating a diet high in omega 6. They are also not high enough in omega 3 to provide a benefit.
  • Even wild and sustainably caught fish pose a risk. Many larger fish are simply too high in toxins to ever be safe including, tuna, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and grouper to name just a few.
  • Farm raised fish often contain growth hormones and residue of drugs meant to prevent diseases.
  • You can research the fish source, but it is not as easy to be confident it has been tested for purity (and you can’t do this at all with fresh fish)

* A good reference guide for sardines is Here I buy coles or crown prince now

Fish Oil

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to administer
  • Easy to absorb
  • You don’t need a lot
  • Easy to measure amounts of DHA and EPA
  • The safest source seems to be cephalopods such as octopus and squid. They lack bones that store radioactive substances and have very short life spans that keep their mercury and other heavy metal toxin levels at a minimum. They also contained high and balanced levels of both DHA and EPA
  • When produced properly and stored in dark glass ONLY, oxidation levels are usually much less.
  • Rancid oils often have a smell to them. Even when oxidation is taking place, it can be avoided by using a reputable manufacturer combined with proper use and storage.
  • Fish oil is only as good as the amount of DHA and EPA that it contains. Each one is different, but you can tailor it to be the exact amount that your dog needs.

Cons:

  • Heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Heavy metals can cause nervous system dysfunction, epilepsy, blindness, certain cancers, irreversible liver and kidney damage and even death.
  • Other toxins such as those from PCB’s, dioxins and furans may be present – same as with raw fish and most manufacturers will not disclose this.
  • Mixed oil blends often pose the highest risk of toxins
  • These toxins are stored in fat, so the oil is highly concentrated in them if they are present.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are extremely vulnerable to oxidative damage. This basically means when the oil mixes with oxygen, the fat particles break down into smaller compounds such as MDA (malondialdehyde) and contain free-radicals. Both of these damage proteins, DNA, other cellular structures and can lead to disease. Most fish oil has some of this before you even buy it. Sometimes its hard to tell if an oil is rancid but it is CRUCIAL information because rancid oil will do a lot more harm than good!
  • Fish oil stored in plastic (even dark plastic) is at a MUCH higher risk of oxidative damage. Dark glass is always a safer option. Opening the bottle does this damage also, so it is always best to keep this at a minimum.
  • A lot of fish oil comes from salmon sources in the pacific. These fish carry with them the extra threat of being contaminated with radiation poisoning. Fish from these waters are testing positive for radioactive particles such as cesium-37 and strontium-90 which can be deposited into bone marrow when ingested and cause innumerable problems including leukemia and cancer.
  • Krill is a good source of omega 3 but it is being over-fished and is not stable for the environment. Also, the added antioxidant “benefits” have absolutely no proof of making any type of effective difference.
  • For source transparency the oil must be third party tested. If it isn’t, it’s essential to ask for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the manufacturer before you know the analysis is legitimate.

*NOTE: When using fish oil it’s good to look for one with vitamin E in it. “It can help prevent the oxidative damage in omega-3 oil. Not only that, but it may also benefit your dog’s skin health, immune system, osteoarthritis, and more.” bncpet

Phytoplankton

Pros:

  • Easy to administer
  • Easily absorbed
  • You don’t need a lot
  • Easy to measure amounts of DHA and EPA
  • Marine Algae, plant based
  • Does not accumulate heavy metal toxins
  • Farm raising keeps harvesting them from affecting our oceans
  • Is rich and balanced in DHA and EPA
  • Most dogs are mineral deficient and it also contains extra added benefits including trace minerals, manganese, selenium, chlorophyll, magnesium, iodine, antioxidants (such as superoxide dismutase which removes toxins and heavy metals from the body), essential amino acids, protein, vitamins and carotenoids. These are extremely beneficial to overall heath and can prevent and reverse serious disease.
  • It already comes in an easily digestible source so these nutrients can be absorbed in to the system more easily than if they came from other plant based sources. This makes is very restorative and easy on the liver.
  • Phytoplankton contain approximately 14.4 mg of omega 3 per gram of powder

Cons:

  • Almost 100% of it is genetically modified (GMO)
  • Almost all of these producers are being controlled by Monsanto (despite what they advertise)
  • It must be sustainably grown on land and be without any fillers
  • It must be free of radiation, heavy metal and other toxins
  • It is difficult to find transparent sourcing information
  • Farm raised waters can still get contaminated
  • It contains no fat or the benefits that go along with it
  • Has benefits very similar to other algae (such as spirulina) that are easier to get source information on

For more info on this, or a purchasing reference, this article is a good start.

Conclusion:

The cons lists look much longer than the pros list on these. This is misleading though, because I listed the universal pros in the heading. I am in no way trying to discourage adding Omega 3’s into your dog’s diet! It is called an essential fatty acid for a reason! They really should have this in their diet. I’m just trying to present all the facts. So many people just find one source and stop, and I don’t think this produces very balanced view points. I do my best to look at every angle.

I choose to supplement with a fish oil that I’ve had years to research and trust, add occasional green lipped mussel powder and feed a small amount of raw fish, also from a trusted source. My dog doesn’t like most fish so, this is just what works for us right now.

I have not had enough time to properly source phytoplankton, so I will not purchase this supplement yet. I also already use spirulina. It contains the other benefits that phytoplankton has, and I have had time to source this correctly. Right now, I’m just using a muti-mineral supplement for this, but the way I found the last spirulina supplement that I used, was by reading articles such as this.  For this reason, I don’t find it necessary to add phytoplankton right now.

Having said that, our oceans are getting more contaminated, not less. If anything changes, and I find a source, I will update immediately.

The two supplants I currently use are:

Feel Good Omega which I also take myself, and for spirulina I use Green Min

These charts are a great resource and quick reference guide for selecting raw fish! I am still actively trying to get my dog to be more open minded, but when making a selection, I start my research here first.

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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!!

Raw feeding part 5

Ever since Jersey ate the chicken foot I’ve been stoked about the fact that if she’s willing to do that there’s hope for us yet! It can be overwhelming at times trying to learn how to really do this right. I try to remember that it’s only been a few weeks. Even though we’re not starting the transfer from kibble (we used Honest Kitchen and cooked meat) it’s still a big change and I need to give it time. I’ve come a long way also, in terms of sourcing and reading up on how to measure things but there is just SO many resources out there. I’m trying to be patient. I get really excited when I find new supplements and I try to share them here. Raw goats milk and Fish stock are two things I will be discussing this week! I also found an awesome calculator in the App Store (called Raw Dog on apple) which is full of great info and additional reading. (Pictured below)

Today we made some great source connections. I found a local, ethical and high quality meat vendor that had literally everything I could ever need (including the weird stuff like turkey necks) no tripe but whole animals so there’s hope there. I bought a whole chicken, beef and organ mix. We did pretty good at dinner tonight but she turned her nose up at the raw egg and shell that she loved yesterday… even the goat milk… so I’m forced to conclude there’s no rhyme or reason for her pickiness. The fact is I spoil her and cater to her pickiness so it’s really not about her adjusting as much as me. Stopping that will help. I have to be ok if she doesn’t eat. I actually heard a doctor give a talk about the benefits of dogs fasting one day a week. It helps them detox and is more in line with how they would eat in the wild. It’s all stuff I know but implementing it is still hard for me. So we’re advancing maybe at the pace we should be. I’ll report on how the chicken goes… I might need some assistance touching that! My vegetarian belief system is cringing but the love I have for my dog will make me do literally anything lol! Progress not perfection.

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

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!

Ethical Raw Feeding

There are two main reasons ethical meat sources matter. The first is obviously because animals deserve to be treated humanely and the second is health. There have been countless studies that provide hard evidence that humanely raised animals yield healthier meat. When so much of a dog’s diet is comprised of meat this becomes even more important. One example of this is vitamin D. Unlike us dogs are unable to produce this vital vitamin on their own. They need to get it 100% from their diet. Chickens that never go outside don’t contain vitamin D and chicken is the most common meat in dog food. It’s even been said that the well being of the animal matters. Well fed but caged up isn’t really good enough. If I want to go as far as raw feeding I absolutely believe it’s important to do it right so I’ve been painstakingly looking up how to access meat from ethical farmers. To start with I wanted to find a prepared food from a company I trusted. I chose this because while I wanted to learn how to prepare food myself I know that it takes time. It’s a lot to learn and I don’t want to cut corners or make my dog wait to switch her food over. (I found Answers pet food to be a trustworthy source as well as one called Steve’s that someone just told me about. These were available locally so I just started there.) I knew the transition wasn’t going to happen over night but I was still surprised at how reluctant my dog was to the new food since she hasn’t had kibble in over two years and has been eating a mix of freeze dried raw and cooked meat ever since. I tried everything and the only thing that seemed to work was plain organic raw chicken breast. This prompted me to advance on finding better meat sources a little sooner that I had originally planed because even though I’m not going to start making it yet, I needed better meat to ease the transition than they sell at my local grocery store. I was thrilled that I was actually able to find some! This link is a good tool but I know there are many others. You just type in where you live and it shows farm options. I had two in my area and decided to start with the one that looked like it was run the best way. I’m mostly sharing this to give hope to anyone out there who has never seen this option made available locally (I never have). It’s a wonderful resource for meat for everyone really! I don’t eat meat so I’m fortunate I only have to buy for my dog. Where money is a factor the prepared sources were actually the most cost effective for us. It’s just nice to have options. Companies and products change all the time so to have this as a backup for source for us is a great advantage. I am so grateful there are these ethical farms out there, if I support the meat industry with my business, I absolutely want it to go here!

http://www.eatwild.com/products/