Facts about Pumpkin and Ways To Use Fresh Leftover Pumpkin!

Every fall we get pumpkins and save the seeds to roast. The ones we carve will spoil but the rest usually just go to waste. This is a shame because pumpkins are an incredible source of vitamins A and C, the antioxidant beta carotene, zinc, iron, soluble fiber and potassium.

*I should note that pumpkins can spoil quickly. Ones left outdoors may not be good options. This is the only time of year they are easy to get, so this isn’t really about recycling old pumpkins, but utilizing ones that were recently bought maybe right around Halloween. (I’d err on the side of caution and say no more than a week old.)

The first thing people always think of in terms of pumpkin is always treating issues related to digestion, but I assure you there is so much more!

Vitamin A is important for vision. Vitamin C aids in joint health and boosts the immune system. Beta carotene is beneficial to healthy aging. *The antioxidants from the carotenoid family (beta-carotene included) are considered especially useful because they are long acting and absorb more effectively into dog’s cell membranes. Zinc helps coat shine and health. Potassium is a blood electrolyte. It’s something to look out for if your dog has a kidney issue because often they need to limit potassium in their diet. Levels of potassium in the blood stream that are too high or too low are an indication of an underlying problem. (A good thing to look out for in a blood test.) In healthy dogs, potassium is great for muscle and blood vessel function as well as regulating the acidity of body fluids. It is also a great way to replace potassium lost during a bout of diarrhea. Soluble Fiber helps weight management because it slows digestion and helps dogs feel fuller longer. It also helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

A lot of people keep plain organic pumpkin around in case of tummy trouble because it’s so good at taking care of both constipation and diarrhea. This is because it absorbs water in cases of diarrhea and the high water content and fiber help the stool pass more effectively.

In cases of diarrhea, it’s important to remember that the diarrhea has a cause. When the body is trying to detox or get rid of something harmful, diarrhea is an effective method. It is very unpleasant but it has a purpose. Pumpkin may be good to help reduce symptoms but I would only use very minimal amounts. The fiber it contains is soluble, so it slows digestion and this is not good in detox. I would prefer to use the seeds in this case to aid in cleansing.

Pumpkin also doesn’t work to fix tummy troubles in every dog. Many do better with slippery elm for example (which I’ll discuss in an upcoming article). I personally like to let nature run its course. Diarrhea usually clears up quickly and if doesn’t, after a few days, it’s time to see the vet.

Dosing is also an important factor when adding pumpkin. Too much is not good and dogs don’t need a lot for it to be effective. The use determines the dose, however, it’s always good to ask your vet! I’ve seen 1 tbs to replace every 1/8c of food for weight loss and for stomach upset:

• 0-15 lbs dog: 1-2 tablespoon

• 15-35 lbs dog: 2-4 tablespoons

• 35 lbs dog or more: 2-5 tablespoons

Again these are just very general guidelines and every dog is different. I always err on the side of less especially in this case because it’s so high in carbohydrates.

Now for my favorite part, the seeds! The seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. They are also a natural dewormer. They contain an amino acid called cucurbitin which paralyzes things like parasites and tapeworms and helps them pass out of the system. The oils in them can help support urinary health, help treat kidney stones and aide with incontinence. They are also anti-inflammatory. The best way to use them is ground plain roasted (no salt).

For years I’ve been adding pumpkin to recipes for dog cookies and purées. It’s an easy thing to bake with and many dogs like the flavor. It never occurred to me to make my own because frankly, I had no idea how to cook a pumpkin… until now! This year I opted to get organic pumpkins for a few extra dollars, just so I could try to use them now, but any pumpkin should work just fine.

Because this is my first year trying, I used directions I found on-line by a woman named Kim Cromptom who had it looked at by a certified vet.

“Choose a small to medium size pumpkin and clean well, removing any dirt. Cook the cleaned pumpkin at 375 °F for 45-60 min (pumpkin should be soft). Remove pumpkin and allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes. Chop pumpkin in half, remove seeds and separate the skin from the flesh. Place hot pumpkin flesh in a food processor or mash by hand or with electric beaters.”

Pretty darn easy! I had no idea! I no longer have to buy expensive organic canned pumpkin because I plan to freeze it. Every holiday I love to make themed treats. I know carbs are not ideal for dogs but sometimes you just want to make something cute! This is a healthy way to do that. Whatever is left over I’ll keep around in case I want to add it to a purée. Below are some simple recipes but there are MANY many more and a quick google search will give you more options than you will know what to do with!

Easy Fall Themed Cookies

*Both of these recipes use natural peanut butter (no xylitol) however you can substitute this with bananas and they will come out just as good! I use all organic ingredients when I can. I also have two versions of each. One is with coconut flour (my favorite!) for grain-free and the other is for whole wheat. They are different because of differences in flour absorption but they are basically the same in flavor.

Whole-wheat recipe:

  • 2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 C pumpkin purée
  • 3 tbs natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix all ingredients together
  3. Roll thin and cut into desired shapes
  4. Spread out onto a greased cookie tray
  5. Bake for 30 min

(Thickness can affect cooking time so I start checking on them after about 25 min)

Coconut Flour (grain-free) recipe:

  • 1 cup of coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Mix pumpkin, eggs and peanut butter in a large bowl
  3. Add in coconut flour and mix well
  4. Roll and cut into desired shapes and place on a greased baking sheet
  5. Bake for 20-25 min (cookie thickness may affect this so I start checking after 20 min)

* A great tip for both recipes is to add 1 tbs of raw honey for flavor and/or 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

The good thing about these recipes is that they are basic and leave room for personalized added touches. I even hide vitamins in mine, they are great for that!

No-Bake Flour-free option:

  • 1/2 C natural peanut butter
  • 1 C natural pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs raw honey

*optional: rolled oats, these help a lot with easy handling

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Roll into balls (optional: lightly roll through rolled oats)
  3. Place on a parchment lined tray
  4. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour, just so they harden a bit
  5. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator always (2 weeks max)

* In all cases pumpkin can be substituted with sweet potato, some dogs prefer the flavor.

Pupsicles

The size of your ice cube trays or silicone molds sort of determine the amounts here, but the amounts can be easily reduced or doubled.

To fill 1 large tray use:

  • 1 C pureed cooked or canned pumpkin and
  • 1 C pain yogurt (I use raw goats milk yogurt),

(you can also add a ripe banana if your pup likes them!)

  • Fill trays and freeze!

*You can also do this in a Kong

Simple Veggie purée

Trying to pick just one purée recipe is next to impossible because the options for these are endless. This is just one example. I encourage purees because of the ease of digestion and nutrient availability. I didn’t put organic before each item here but as always, organic is definitely the highest quality nutrition and safest option. I also always make sure to wash them.

(Tip: To help get my dog to eat her veggies I usually mix them up pretty well into the rest of her food and don’t give her too much per meal. About 1/4 C or less for a 25 lb dog. Many people also freeze them and their dogs like the crunch!) I also usually add some green Lipped mussels powder into my purées because unlike her other supplements, my dog really hates the taste of these!

  • One bag of baby spinach (at least 5 oz)
  • Two fresh red beet top greens
  • 1 chopped red beet
  • 5 leaves of kale
  • 5 stalks of parsley
  • 1 C puréed pumpkin
  1. Place all items in a blender or food processor (mine is small so I break the recipe in half and combine and stir at the end)
  2. Get to the finest level of purée that you can and

Done!

I’m no culinary expert, that’s for sure, but I hope this provides a good jumping off point! Best wishes and happy fall! Love Jeanne & Jersey Girl

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:

Happy Howl-o-ween! Tricks for Treats

Since making the switch to raw I think the thing I miss most is making adorable holiday themed baked treats! That being said I always used top quality ingredients with health benefits, so in the next few weeks I still plan on sharing those recipes! I also plan on going a lot more in-depth on the treat subject in future posts, this was just something that came to mind during doggie dinner time. I thought it might be helpful with Halloween coming up!

Treats can be as simple (or as complicated) as we want them to be for various purposes. These are a few of my favorite “tricks” to keep quick and easy treats on hand.

1. Almost anything can be dehydrated! I can’t say enough about how much I love my dehydrator! It’s a cheap and easy way to make whatever meat I have an excess of into a long lasting crispy treat. I can also control the quality this way and I know it won’t be full of preservatives! AND it saves money and freezer space!

I also dehydrate veggies for snacks for both animals and humans in the house 😉

2. Almost anything can be frozen! This is another great and even easier option for excess meat!

It’s also a great way to hide veggies! I bought these adorable little paw print silicone molds (ice cube trays work just fine) fill them with a veggie purée I make and throw in something appetizing. A lot of dogs will eat them plain… mine won’t! Adding a bit of puréed liver or ground beef makes her love them. Typically she’s not great about the veg mix so I like this method a lot.

BONE broth works great also!!

Frozen chicken feet take longer to eat on a hot day and blueberries are great to use also!

After these more basic treats is my personal favorite for fall:

Candy corn frozen treats:

(Any silicone mold or ice try will do)

1. Fill 1/4 of tray with plain yogurt (I use raw goats milk yogurt) and place in freezer for around 20 min or so just so it freezes

2. Fill the next 1/4 layer with organic pumpkin purée and freeze again

3. Fill the last 1/4 with golden paste (or puréed banana) and freeze until the whole thing is solid.

The extra 1/4 is just to allow for expansion, I always end up going over the 1/4 measurement and it’s always fine. It’s just a guideline.

Now you’ve got yourself some super healthy candy corn dog treats! *These can be messy so be careful to serve on a surface that can be cleaned easily!

3. Almost anything can be baked! Before I had a dehydrator or even now sometimes when I just don’t have time to use it, the oven is the next best option. I don’t personally like to use it for all meat because of issues with cooked meats being linked to cancer risks, but I do bake veggies and liver.

I try to stick with a low temp (200 degrees max) for liver. It’s also a GREAT way to make kale, apple, sweet potato, etc crisps for some crunchy, tasty, healthy fiber!

*Also, most dehydrated treat recipes come with oven version options!

Here is a link to my go-to liver treat recipe:

Liver treats

4. One final trick I use is feeding her daily bone AS a treat. 2-3 times per week she gets a larger meaty bone. I serve it separate from dinner time because it’s messy and takes longer to eat. This might be cheating but she’s always thrilled to see it!

All of these items (besides the candy corn) can also be found at most independent dog stores, they are all healthy and great for cleaning teeth! I also love to buy and keep some freeze dried in the house because they retain their nutrients the best (I can’t freeze dry on my own) and they’re a great back up for unforeseen circumstances and trips!

For Howl-o-ween this year I made

chicken and duck feet because I had a bunch and they’re supper creepy!! I also made some bone broth pupsicles with dried string bean sticks.

Every dehydrator machine is slightly different. I have a Nesco but they all come with detailed descriptions for different items (meat, fish, fruit, veg etc). I do most meats at around 158F. Different cut thicknesses and fat content also vary the time they take to make so many recipes are just guesstimates. You kind of just have to check. I’ve left them in too long many times though and it’s always fine so I usually don’t stress about it.

The down side of feet is they take 3x as long as lean thin cut meat strips so when I make these, I make a lot so I don’t have to do it too often. Dehydrating most meats takes around 12-24 hrs but feet take me 3-4 days at 122F. (Lean meats also lasts the longest because fat can’t fully dry.)

A good tip for thin slicing (organs especially – after washing and patting them dry) is freezing them first!

I also ALWAYS dehydrate outside on my porch because it can be pretty stinky. Not really lean meats but feet, organs, ears and tripe would be nauseating in the house (learned this one the hard way lol).

Pig ears are another great treat! They take a little bit less time (16-24 hours depending on thickness) and provide extra entertainment because of how long they take to eat!

As we get closer to the holiday madness, I will be trying to come up with new ways to make these items more festive. Raw food is perfect for Halloween however and couldn’t make for a healthier treat!!

Remember, tricks deserve treats on this holiday 😉 and it’s no fun being healthy without the occasional treat!

We hope everyone stays safe and has a spooktacular night!!

XO

Candy corn pawsicles

Dehydrated chicken feet

Dehydrated duck feet

Dehydrated pig ears

You can make anything interesting if you want to! As adults we can play with our food (I know my dog does!) It’s fun to be creative!

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 Green Tripe

Fortunately I got introduced to green tripe and heard about the benefits BEFORE finding out what it was (I’m pretty sure I thought it was fish) or what it smelled like. Luckily what it really is only actually matters when you need to source it and the smell well that just takes a little getting used to. Green tripe is called green tripe to distinguish it from tripe that has been altered in some way (usually for human consumption) but renders it useless for health benefits, so not all tripe is the same. It comes from the lining of a ruminant or grazing animal such as cow, bison, sheep or deer. It is usually brown mostly maybe with a hint of green. It is enormously nutrient dense and an incredible resource because of the unique composition that allows these nutrients to be fully absorbed. The tripe is the stomach lining only found in these grazing animals that have 4 digestive chambers, because they need it to digest plant material and utilize it themselves. The chambers break down grasses with digestive enzymes, amino acids and gastric juices. The digestive enzymes make the tripe very easy to digest and have the staying power to help increase digestion for weeks or more following consumption. Digestive enzymes also cleanse and purify the blood, remove toxins, parasites and fungus. This includes things like e-coli, salmonella and listeria. One unique enzyme that dogs and cats can’t produce is amylase. This is what allows the grazing animal to absorb nutrients from vegetable matter. By eating the tripe, those nutrients are then transferred to the dog or cat that would otherwise be unable to receive them by eating vegetables on their own. Digestive enzymes also improve hormonal function and the immune system. The combination of digestive enzymes and pre-digested green matter is what makes it such a powerhouse of nutrients. All of this is dependent on the tripe being raw.

The high quality mid-range protein, easy digestion, balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio and slightly high pH make it a especially valuable for animals with kidney disease.

So, basically it helps the animals receive the full nutritional value from their food, eliminates needing a probiotic and strengthens their immune system! THEN there is the omega factor. Natural omega 3’s and 6’s help enhance skin and coat, lubricate the joints and promote healthy brain function.

Green tripe has also been said to help animals with allergies. All in all this is a pretty amazing food source.

The only down side is availability. Because getting it canned or even freeze-dried reduces the quality so much (cooked or canned being the worst) finding it can sometimes be a little tricky. The farm I buy from doesn’t have any right now so I decided to do some further research.

I know the importance of finding this organically or grass-fed so I may have to wait for a local supplier. The sad thing is most farms either throw it out or only sell to big companies in bulk. This is starting to change as more people request it locally but it’s still hit or miss where I am. Some smaller organic pet food companies sell it frozen or mix it in their food, so I’m hopeful some of the companies I trust will start to also. I know the raw food “suppliers” by me don’t use quality meat so it might cost more but it’s worth it. This is not something my dog needs a ton of so that is helpful. In the mean time I got some freeze-dried from a company that seems to use a quality source but this was mainly just to get some (and turkey necks because they’re also hard to find by me) in the house right away. I will update as I find more resources!

Update: I may have located a place that is connected to others around the country and looks to be good quality. Will post the link as soon as I get the details!

Yes! The website Hare Today Gone Tomorrow is awesome and ships nationwide! There are others too so I am extremely excited to replace this freeze https://hare-today.com/. dried!

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.