Guide to Safe Handling, Storage and “Use By” Timing

Different shelf life than other raw foods 

Answers raw food, naturally through fermentation, has high counts of good bacteria. In this environment Salmonella or other pathogens would not survive well or be able to grow. The good bacteria crowds out and prevents the pathogens or bad bacteria from multiplying. If Answers Pet Food is temperature abused, compromised, or gets warmer than refrigerated temperatures, the good bacteria multiplies, grows and creates an environment even more lethal to pathogens, which then causes the pathogenic cells to decrease. Sitting out at room temperature actually elevates the probiotic count. In fact, Answers Pet Food is the only raw pet food that ensures protection from production all the way to the bowl and continuing on through your pet’s digestion. 

Here’s a quick guide to using and storing our raw food products; refer to the packages or our product guide for more detailed information.

Open refrigerator with diet food

General storage and serving

Keep frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or at room temperature in protective bowl or on a plate. Once thawed, portion food and store in refrigerator, or refreeze for scheduled feeding convenience. We suggest storing in sealed glass containers. See recommended storage times below listed by formula type.

Safe handling

Keep raw products separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces, utensils, hands, and any other items that come in contact with raw product with hot, soapy water.

Maximum safe storage time and “use by” timing

For optimum results using Answers raw pet foods, we recommend the following schedule for the safe handing, storage, and use of our products:

Additional™ Formula  – Fermented Raw Milks and Bone Broths.                                      In use: can be kept at room temperature up to 12 hours; then refrigerate or refreeze. REFRIGERATED: KEEPS UP TO 30 DAYS

Detailed™  Formula. In use: can be kept at room temperature up to 8 hours; then refrigerate or refreeze REFRIGERATED; KEEPS UP TO 7 DAYS

Straight™ Formula. In use: can be kept at room temperature up to 8 hours; then refrigerate or refreeze REFRIGERATED; KEEPS UP TO 7 DAYS

Rewards™ Cheese Treats. In use: can be kept at room temperature up to 24 hours; then refrigerate or refreeze. REFRIGERATED; KEEPS UP TO 14 DAYS

Rewards™ Raw Feet Treats. In use: can be kept at room temperature up to 24 hours; then refrigerate or refreeze. REFRIGERATED; KEEPS UP TO 7 DAYS

 


7 Reasons Why We Use Fermentation

 

Fermentation is safe way to ensure healthy, nutritious foods for your pet.

+  Provides the highest-quality, most nutritionally dense, microbially responsible raw food product

+  Inoculates food with billions of probiotics 

+  Enhances the nutritional value of food 

+  Predigests food making it easier to assimilate and digest nutrients

+  Protects naturally occurring proteins, probiotics, active enzymes, vitamins, and minerals

+  Increases the safety of foods by preventing the growth of disease-causing microbes

+  Adds beneficial micro-flora (probiotics) through raw goat milk whey, kefir, and kombucha increases the competitive microbial environment, thus reducing the risk for pathogenic bacteria growth

 

4 ways we control ingredient quality before fermentation

Answers™ implements strict controls to minimize microbial contamination and pathogenic bacteria through competitive inhibition. It starts with happy, healthy livestock, and minimal or limited processing of meat which delivers the most nutritionally dense food and complete raw product benefits to our pets.

Because any processing step can have a deteriorating impact on the molecular composition of the meat, we minimize the processing of our raw materials even before the fermentation step.

+  Livestock is healthy, high-quality, and properly cared for (humanely raised and handled)

+  Livestock is organic, pasture-raised, grassfed, and grass-finished, living in their natural habitat and eating their native diets

+  Vegetables are organic, grown and processed on regenerative farms

+  Regularly visits farms; farms are apart of Global Animal Partnership (GAP rated), processing and post-handling is closely monitored and controlled

 

It’s our mission to protect health and food quality from from farm to bowl, for the good health of all our pets.

 


8 Benefits of Raw Feeding for Pets

The top 8 benefits of raw feeding for pets from an Answers™ raw food diets are the ones we hear about from pet owners, and see in our own dogs and cats.

+ Odorless breath and white teeth, free of tartar and dental disease
+  Shiny, smooth, oil-free coats
+  Healthy skin, odorless body
+  Improved energy and vitality
+  Chronic allergies and infections subside and/or disappear
+  Decreased visits to the vet
+  Reduction in bowel movements. The stool is firm and nearly odorless
+  Clear eyes and ears

An Answers™ raw diet helps deliver those benefits. Here’s why.

1. Pets receive biologically appropriate nutrients.  Dogs and cats are carnivores. Their bodies are designed to digest raw meat. Foods like carbohydrates and grains are difficult for them to digest. And HPP, processing, and cooking foods destroy the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and healthy bacteria that are needed for good health.

The answer? Thanks to our unique, alternative process of fermentation, an Answers™ fermented raw food diet can deliver the biologically appropriate nutrients pets need.

2. Inhibition through fermentation. Fermentation provides the number one missing ingredient in pet food: good bacteria. Unlike any other pet food diet, Answers™ enhances the nutritional value of raw food through this process, creating formulas that encourage a healthy gut.

Fermentation is a huge supporter of immune functions. It increases B-vitamins, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and lactic acid that fight off harmful bacteria. It is also the ultimate source of probiotics.


Your Dog’s Gut Health & Behavior

Mo_BLOG_200x200Guest Contributor—Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. As a non-profit executive for many years, Maureen left her position in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others.

My wife, Deb, and I subscribe to a popular healthy dog type magazine that recently published an article related to the benefits and alleged risks of probiotics in dogs. The article is dense and sounds very scientific, and it includes a broad and sweeping statement that troubles me deeply and casts doubt, for me, about the author’s interpretation of the information and her motivation for publishing the article. As a dog behaviorist and the co-founder of a dog rescue that rehabilitated and re-homed hundreds of dogs who came from shelters with all manner of anxiety, aggression, insecurity, and trauma, I am compelled to address the passing reference that attempts to connect aggression in dogs with a bacteria found in fermented foods, specifically in raw dairy products such as the fermented raw goat milk that I feed all of my dogs and recommend to clients and dog rescues frequently.

The article contains a section that outlines the three types of probiotics wherein she explains that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are bacteria that exists in raw dairy products. The author goes on to explain an assortment of physiological components of the gut as they relate to Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  Fine.  But then she states simply, “A 2019 study found that dogs with aggression had larger numbers of Lactobacillus.”  https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/6-best-probiotics-for-dogs/#4A link to the 2019 study is provided without further comment, explanation or analysis.  Anyone who clicks on the link will be flooded with highly technical and medical terminology that most laypersons will find difficult or at least too tedious. So, the most available takeaway, as summarized by this author in a single sentence, is that this bacteria in your dog’s raw goat milk or other raw dairy products may cause or exacerbate aggressive behavior. Such a statement is irresponsible and harmful.

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Looking at the referenced 2019 study, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6330041/ let me reiterate that I am not a scientist of any sort and I have no medical or veterinary background.  To fully understand much of the technical information in the 2019 study and others, I require a medical dictionary and other resources, but where behavior testing of dogs is concerned, I have years of experience evaluating and working with dogs who were removed from all manner of traumatic situations, including but not limited to, dogfighting operations.  In addition, I have spent countless hours in shelter environments evaluating and working with dogs. As any experienced shelter staff, dog rescue volunteers, or training/behavior professionals will tell you, a shelter environment is absolutely the worst environment to test a dog.  The inherent stress and anxiety baked into the shelter environment makes it nearly impossible to gauge a dog’s true disposition. Moreover, conducting a behavior assessment during shelter intake right after dogs have been removed from a fighting operation and the unimaginable trauma of that environment produces, at best, a psychologically and behaviorally contaminated test group. For me, much more research is required to test the conclusions of that study with a more meaningful test group.

While it seems that the passing reference to the 2019 study and the suggestion that fermented food could be linked to aggression in dogs may benefit the author and her product sales, it is irresponsible in my opinion. The anecdotal data that I have is based on years of experience with personal dogs, client dogs and hundreds of rescue dogs. I do not design studies or examine levels of bacteria or any other physiological and biological materials. My job is to problem solve and to find strategies that will help dogs achieve psychological and physical health so that they are in the best position to then address behavior concerns of all types, including anxiety and aggression. I have seen countless dogs who suffer from skin conditions, gut-related conditions, malnourishment, orthopedic discomfort, and more who have turned around after the addition of fermented raw cow milk kefir, fermented raw goat milk, and various components of a balanced fermented raw diet. When those dogs recovered and regained their physical health, it became much easier to then build mental health and develop behavior rehabilitation plans.

Blueberry_Keira_Rescues_1400

Blueberry (left) a sweet rescued boy is on Answers Fermented Raw Goat Milk and Fermented Raw Cow Milk Kefir to help with his digestive issues and allergies. Keira (right) is never far away from her buddy.

We should demand more from our “experts” where our beloved pets are concerned. Issues related to dog behavior, especially the range of potential aggression in dogs, are complex and layered with medical and environmental considerations. Of the hundreds of rescue dogs that I’ve nourished with fermented raw dairy and fermented raw products, not one became more aggressive. We must do a deep dive on all studies and represent results in a balanced manner, not in passing as a marketing tool.

 

About the author: Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT, Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen owns Downward Dog Canine Transformation in Emerald Isle, NC where she provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. Before moving to North Carolina, Maureen founded Saving Sunny, Inc., a rescue that prioritizes Pitbull-type dogs, as well as services to underserved and low-income communities in Louisville, KY. For nearly 10 years she volunteered for Saving Sunny as a Board Member and as the leader of their behavior program, which rehabilitated shelter dogs to improve their adoptability. Maureen also provided free behavior services on behalf of Saving Sunny to low income families to help prevent the need to surrender dogs to shelters for behavioral issues. During her tenure with Saving Sunny, Maureen decided to leave her career as a non-profit executive in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others, before starting Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP).


Raw Organic Chicken Feet: A Closer Examination

Fermented raw organic chicken feet consist of bones, skin, and tendons, but no muscles. They are packed with valuable collagen, protein, calcium, cartilage, gelatin, and glucosamine that are easily absorbed and beneficial for your pet. They are also an excellent source of chondroitin, and when paired with glucosamine, they possess an even more beneficial effect on joints.

Fermentation delivers a diverse population of live active beneficial bacteria in their natural environment, and significantly enhances the nutritional value of raw food. There are some wonderful health benefits that come along with it, such as preventing plaque from forming on the teeth and gums and improving overall oral health.

Our company ethics, standards and practice is ensuring all of our animals live in their natural habitat, eating their native diets. Chickens, especially pastured organic chickens that are allowed to run and forage in fields, can develop calluses on their feet due to walking on rocky pastures. This is often confused with a condition called Bumblefoot— a lesion that is more than half of the area of the footpad with major swelling and ulceration also present.

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Bumblefoot

Exactly what constitutes a true “bumblefoot infection” as opposed to a simple scab or small benign lesion on the foot? Consulting veterinarians advised that the small lesions seen on some of our chicken feet are not an indication of a bumblefoot infection, rather a bumblefoot infection is a much worse condition having severe lesions or abscesses.

As a part of our high standards in quality assurance, and ruling out any bumblefoot infections, we consulted with one of our food safety advisors who has 30 years of experience in the broiler chicken industry and sent some samples of our chicken feet with lesions out to an independent microbiology laboratory. If there was bumblefoot infection present it would test positive for the Staphylococcus bacteria or it’s residual toxin. All of our samples tested (before and after we fermented them) were negative.

Bumblefoot_BLOG_1200x675

Fermented raw organic chicken foot with a callus

In varying terrain and open fields and pastures, normal paws will vary in color, overall appearance, size of the footpad and may sometimes have small lesions or healed skin.

We choose not to remove these calluses, as many companies will for cosmetic reasons. We believe pets should receive the most natural and complete nutrients like they would in the wild by keeping their natural state intact.


Probiotic Misinformation

Dr_Doug_3724_Silo_BLOG_200x200Guest Contributor— Answers Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Doug Knueven, veteran among veterinarians, examines raw nutrition as a healing power of pets and works to ensure an all-encompassing true health (physical, mental and spiritual) regimen in veterinary medicine for animals. Apart of his work with Answers Executive Veterinary Program, he’s a consultant for Answers product and program development, lecturer, and participant on panel discussions.

Probiotics and the intestinal microbiome are hot topics these days.

Research on these subjects are poring in from the scientific community and it can be difficult to know how to apply this information to improve the health of your pet. To add to the confusion, there are commentators who, either through their own misunderstanding of the research or due to their desire to sell a product, twist the conclusions of certain studies.

A case in point is the study, “The gut microbiome correlates with conspecific aggression in a small population of rescued dogs (Canis familiaris).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6330041/

I have recently seen articles implying that this research shows that Lactobacillus bacteria, like those found in fermented dairy, cause aggression. The commentaries conclude that it is dangerous to give your dog fermented milk products. A superficial look at this study by anyone who is unfamiliar with the subtleties scientific literature might lead to such a misinterpretation.  So, let’s dive into this study with scientific eyes and see what it is really saying. We’ll look at some key lines from the study to come to a better understanding.

From the “Results” section of the study we read, “The family Lactobacillaceae was more abundant in aggressive dogs, while the family Fusobacteriaceae was more abundant in non-aggressive dogs…” If this were the only line you read from this multi-page study, then I could understand being suspicious of fermented dairy which contains lots of Lactobacillaceae bacteria. However, the line just before this one states, “Specifically, Proteobacteria and Fusobacteria manifested higher relative abundance in non-aggressive dogs, while Firmicutes was relatively more abundant in aggressive dogs.” So, the association was not just with Lactic Acid bacteria. It could be that certain combinations of bacteria are associated with aggression. Also, different species and strains of species within Lectobacilllaceae can have very different biological effects. This study did not differentiate the bacteria to that level.

Two dogs behind the table

Now let’s go back the basis of the study. From the “Materials and Methods” section we find, “A single fecal sample was collected from the kennel of each of 31 pit bull type dogs residing at a temporary shelter while in protective custody.” The researchers then corelated the behavior of the dogs to the bacteria found in their stool. From a scientific standpoint, 31 dogs is a low number from which to draw conclusions. Also, one stool sample from each dog may not fully represent their microbiome. In the Abstract, the researchers themselves admit that this is a small sample size. Furthermore, they were certainly not looking at typical pet dogs and none of these dogs were receiving any probiotic supplementation. This study has nothing to do with dogs consuming fermented dairy products.

Finally, a well-known truism within the world of scientific research is that “association does not prove causation.” For example, it has been observed that people who are found walking around on college campuses carrying calculus books score higher on IQ tests. From that information it does not follow that if you want to improve your IQ, you should get a calculus book and walk around on a college campus. Similarly, there could be other factors involved in the association between certain gut bacteria and aggressive behavior in dogs.

The study that needs to be done to prove causation is to take a large group of non-aggressive dogs and, under a double-blind, placebo-controlled condition, give half the group one specific strain of Lactic Acid bacterial probiotics. If the behavior changes, then you have suggested causation. When that experiment has been repeated several times with the same outcome, you have reasonably proved the hypothesis. Until then, there is only inuendo.

Every scientist will tell you that it is unwise to draw any firm conclusions and base your behavior due to any one, small study. From my work with using Answers fermented dairy products in the treatment of hundreds of pet dogs over the past decade, I am confident that these real foods do not adversely affect behavior. The value of probiotics was discovered by the observation that people who consumed fermented foods were healthier than those who did not. It makes sense that fermented foods are a superior source of probiotics to any pill or powder.

Two dogs behind the table


2 Keys for Transitioning your Dog onto a Raw Food Diet

Switching from processed dog foods to raw foods places your pet on the road to ideal health. To help you make a success of the switch, we focus on our two key principles for transitioning any dog onto a raw food diet.

 

What to know when making the transition

Processed or kibble foods are riddled with addictive ingredients, much like junk food, that can make switching to raw more challenging than we’d like.

Depending on the quality and longevity of the diet your dog is transitioning from, they may be more resistant to change. Many pets are picky about certain consistency, texture, and smells when a new food varies from what they’re accustomed to, even before sampling it.

That’s why the following principles are so important to a successful feeding transition process for your dog.

 

Answers™ 2 Key Principles to A Successful Feeding Transition for Dogs

1. Tough love & timing.

Typically, dogs are in the habit of eating when they are being presented with food.

So, introduce their raw meal in replacement of their food and habitual feeding times. Let it sit out for 30 minutes. If your pet doesn’t eat, take the food way, refrigerate and wait an hour or so. Repeat.

When you give them their raw food, let it sit out. Pets can be picky to temperature. Counter-intuitively, fermented raw foods can sit out at room temperature up to 8 hours. In fact, the longer it sits out, the more good bacteria populates the food, the healthier it is.

Repeat this method until your dog understands that when you place the food out, it’s time to eat. They will soon understand the pressure of eating when presented with raw food, otherwise the food will be taken away.

(Important Reminder: never, ever try the tough love method when transitioning a cat to raw foods; cats are much pickier and will actually starve themselves if they don’t have access to a food they like.)

 

2. Transition slowly, please.

Some dogs will take to raw food immediately, but some will not.

Introduce a small amount of the raw food at first. Add 1/4 of our raw product and/or a raw fermented milk or bone broth to their current diet, and then gradually continue to add more raw food to their diet until the ratio reaches 0:1, and you are feeding your pet a 100% raw food diet.

 

Why it’s so worth it: 8 benefits of raw feeding for pets

. + Odorless breath and white teeth, free of tartar and dental disease
. +  Shiny, smooth, oil-free coats
. +  Healthy skin, odorless body
. +  Improved energy and vitality
. +  Chronic allergies and infections subside and/or disappear
. +  Decreased visits to the vet
. +  Reduction in bowel movements; ?stool is firm and nearly odorless
. +  Clear eyes and ears

Ready to get started? Learn more about the benefits of a raw food diet for your dog’s health and the positive effect it can have on kidney health, liver health, senior dogs, and more.


“Warm” & “Cool” Foods: Nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

For thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine experts have known that some foods could cool down or increase the internal temperature of the body. With this came knowledge of the different energies of “warm” and “cool” foods: nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) were partnered.

The TCM experts found the idea to be of value when approaching nutritional needs during different seasons, or when considering different human health issues, including allergies and other ailments, and feeding different kinds of natural human energies, from hot to cool. These ancient experts applied this knowledge to their healing practices through dietary recommendations.

Their concept was a simple and logical one: some illnesses may have a cause related to imbalances within the body and using food as medicine would help bring the body back into balance in the most natural and lasting way. Some beings ran warm, some cooler, and comfort could be achieved through balance. Their harmonious concept of “yin and yang” applied here, with the idea that health is a matter of maintaining a good internal balance via the foods we consume.

 

The energy of the animal interacts with the energy of the food

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that every being possesses its own unique energy, and the “energy” of the food that is consumed will therefore interact with the energy of the human or animal.

When it comes to our pets, those aware of holistic remedies and teachings pay attention to TCM. For example, within this concept, the liver is considered the source of Qi, the body’s life force, and its function should therefore be smooth and balanced. But, if the pet’s liver “overheats” because of an allergic reaction to the food it is processing, then phlegm can accumulate, affecting the coat of the animal, making it feel greasy to the touch. Energy and behavior can be affected by an imbalance in the yin and yang of consumed foods, it is felt.

This traditional idea is in use to this day, and is now receiving fresh attention in the spheres of both human and animal nutrition.

For example, is said that an animal with a “cold” energy will seek warm foods, and an animal with a warm energy might seek the cooling energies of a cooling food or cool protein. A pet who prefers the constant warmth of blankets and a fleece bed, or suffers from arthritis, would be said to have a cool energy, and might therefore seek the comfort of what TCM classifies as warm foods and warm proteins. Conversely, a pet that seems to prefer finding a cooler spot on a floor, likes to stay out of the sun, or is prone to panting, might be said to have a warm energy. To know for sure, a trained TCM practitioner would be asked to make this evaluation of the animal.

Be it issues of reddened itchy skin, or mucus, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) teachings focused on the idea that food yin-yang imbalance may be the culprit, and food re-balancing could be the solution.

We thought we’d take a first look at this interesting topic here in a very simple way for those just getting interested in the ideas. We want to stress that  TCM and nutrition is a complicated subject, and we’ll talk about more in an in-depth way; but here, to start, are some of the basics worth knowing.

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Yin and Yang of Food Groups: a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

In general, the energy properties of food groups as viewed from a traditional Chinese medicine philosophy of yin and yang are as follows:

“Cool” foods (yin foods) and cool proteins decrease the temperature within our bodies and tend to be lower in calories while higher in potassium. Fresh cold drinks and water are also part of the cool or yin group.

“Warm” foods (Yang foods) and warm proteins help bring heat to our bodies, and often are higher in calories and sodium. Ideal for colder months, they help warm the body.

Neutral” foods are part of the balance too: oil rice, and most fishes.

“Hot” foods operate on the same principles, bringing extra needed warmth to the system.

Eating too much of one food group can throw your body’s balance off, so one should ideally aim for a diet that offers a workable balance between the Warm, Cool, and Neutral food groups.

Thus, the for a human, this Chinese system proposes a healthy diet is two parts yin and three parts yang, supplemented with the neutral foodstuffs for flavor, fiber and protein. For pets, on the other hand, we look for a perfect balance between the forces of yin and yang via the foods we feed the pet.

 

The foods: Cool, Warm, Neutral and Hot proteins and foods

“Cool” foods (yin foods): duck, rabbit, fish, including sardines; cheese, and vegetables. Fresh cold drinks (milks, kefir, kombucha) and water.

“Warm” foods (Yang foods): chicken, eggs

“Neutral” foods: beef, pork, turkey, quail

“Hot’ foods: goat, venison, or lamb

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The use of single meat proteins: Answers™ raw fermented foods

With all this in mind, as Answers Pet Food introduces our new fermented organic duck line, it can also be viewed as a beneficial “cool” meat in TCM theory.

Looking at our foods through this new lens, you might think of your favorite
Answers Dog and Cat formulas in terms of their specific proteins. TCM experts suggest that to make sure a pet with a warm or cool energy gets the proper food balance for its energy type, it is often best to look for foods that are single meat protein foods, versus foods that mix both cool and warm proteins together in one formula.

It is also important to note that how an animal is raised is very important in their categorization. Our livestock is humanely raised and handled, many of them are organic, pastured, and sustainable, being able to live in their natural habitat eating their native diets.

Our new organic duck formula will offer a unique healthy balance to our chicken, beef, and pork fermented raw food proteins.

Our organic cheese treats, organic eggs, and the organic vegetables in our foods also help pet owners form a healthy, balanced yin and yang diet for pets, with wholesome foods created specifically for the well-being of dogs and cats.

We’ll be talking more about this in upcoming articles in our blog; it’s an interesting approach to good nutrition and balanced well being for the pets in our lives.


Answers Raw Diet Saved My Dog

Mo_BLOG_200x200Guest Contributor—Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. As a non-profit executive for many years, Maureen left her position in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others.

I feel compelled to start by saying that I am not a veterinary professional. I have no medical expertise of any kind. I am a dog behavior expert and a typical dog owner who would do anything to protect my dogs and keep them healthy and happy. I have had dogs my entire life, but it was not until 2014, not long after our beloved collie mix Macy had a near fatal experience, that my dogs’ nutrition became a focus of my dog-loving life.

Macy is momma dog type of girl. We took her as a foster from a municipal shelter the week before she gave birth to 9 robust puppies. She was a great mother. She is an equally great friend, to me and Deb and to our three other dogs. She is a role model for my client dogs, and often steps in to provide calm assurance to my anxiety rehab cases. Macy is smart and funny. With some herder DNA, she is prone to nip for attention and to talk and “whisper bark” at us if we are not paying attention. She is the kind of dog who is so smart and endearing that you would swear she has a sense of humor. She is simply wonderful.

So, when Macy suddenly developed severe symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and lethargy, with a distended and painful abdomen and fever, we were terrified. She almost did not survive. She was hospitalized for days and eventually diagnosed with pancreatitis. We are forever grateful to the veterinarians and staff who saved her life.

Her recovery was slow, and we were tremendously careful to follow the strict orders to feed her only Royal Canine ID and nothing else. No treats, no homemade food, no exceptions. We were told that if we did not keep Macy on this strict and limited diet for the rest of her life, that her pancreatitis would return, and she may not survive. At that time, our fear prevented us from asking questions or exploring options. We just bought our Royal Canine and stuck to the plan.

As the months went by with Macy’s interest in food lukewarm and her energy levels somewhat low, we crossed paths through our dog rescue with some folks who were bringing healthy, holistic and organic pet food options to our hometown of Louisville, KY. The woman leading this effort to transform pet owner awareness about nutrition, Kim, also happened to have a pancreatic dog and she and her boy, Otto, had been down the same path we were on with Macy.

As our conversations progressed about our dogs, we expressed our concerns about Macy’s overall well-being with her nutritional consumption limited to a food that was not only devised in a laboratory, but also consisted of things like corn, soy, beet pulp and animal by-products. While our trusted veterinarians seemed to feel more secure about the prescription food, they did not see Macy’s energy dim and her enthusiasm fade about food, play, walks, etc. She was free of pancreatic symptoms for those months while she ate only her prescription food. There is no doubt about that – the prescription food prevented symptoms. But she was consuming so much unhealthy material and we worried about how that would affect her health and quality of life. We did not want to trade one evil for another evil that just chipped away at Macy more slowly.

Kim shared with us her journey with Otto, one that took him from prescription food to a balanced raw diet with a complete disappearance of Otto’s pancreatitis. We met Otto and saw a happy, active and robust dog. We owed it to Macy to educate ourselves and to take responsibility for her health, her whole health. So, our research began. We read everything we could find. We talked to people with years of experience in different types of raw diets and we studied the diet and products offered by Answers. Our friend, Kim, used Answers and praised not only the quality and healthfulness of their products, but also the company’s value systems and prioritizing of animal health, small business, local sourcing and so much more. We studied until we knew that it was time to act for Macy.

In 2014, we spent four months transitioning Macy from her prescription kibble to Answer’s Detailed Beef, supplemented by goats milk and fish stock. The transparency of Answers product and practice made it easy for us to take control of the fat that Macy consumed while also providing her with a balanced and healthy source diet. At the end of the four months, Macy had no symptoms of pancreatitis and she was dancing for her food again. She could not wait to eat, and her overall energy increased noticeably. Her playful nature returned, and walks became a pleasure again. We had our girl back in full form. Macy was again sassy and happy.

Once she was on a full Answers raw diet, we kept a very close eye on her with daily observation for any signs of belly issues. We were prepared to act at the first sign of problems. But months went by, then years, and Macy was the picture of health. Her teeth improved, her muscle tone improved, and she ate with the enthusiasm of a puppy.

Here we are now in 2020. Macy’s health has been outstanding since we moved her to Answers, without any sign of pancreatitis since her diagnosis. We have even been able to expand Macy’s diet to healthy treats in addition to her meals and supplements. At a recent vet visit, we were having some lumps on Macy checked because she is an old lumpy girl now. All lumps were cleared as benign. Because we are those dog owners, we decided to have the vet do an ultrasound just to know how Macy’s organs are doing and whether she had any internal masses. The vet returned with Macy after the ultrasound and expressed surprise and delight at the pristine condition of all her organs. He said that she could not be in better shape internally.

Macy is at least 15 years old now, and while her joints may ache and her back legs may be getting weak, she is full of life and joy. We are certain that we still have Macy today because of the quality of her nutrition. It is the reason for her longevity and for the superior quality of her life. All of our dogs are following in Macy’s footsteps, and every dog who comes along in the future will be an Answers dog.

About the author: Maureen Keenan, JD, MAT, Owner, Lead Behaviorist Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen owns Downward Dog Canine Transformation in Emerald Isle, NC where she provides rehabilitation services and obedience training for dog owners and rescue groups throughout Eastern Carolina. Before moving to North Carolina, Maureen founded Saving Sunny, Inc., a rescue that prioritizes Pitbull-type dogs, as well as services to underserved and low-income communities in Louisville, KY. For nearly 10 years she volunteered for Saving Sunny as a Board Member and as the leader of their behavior program, which rehabilitated shelter dogs to improve their adoptability. Maureen also provided free behavior services on behalf of Saving Sunny to low income families to help prevent the need to surrender dogs to shelters for behavioral issues. During her tenure with Saving Sunny, Maureen decided to leave her career as a non-profit executive in order to rehabilitate and train dogs full time. She trained under Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) and expanded her education under the guidance of several trainers across the country, including Lucas Agnew, Inc. and others, before starting Downward Dog Canine Transformation. Maureen is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP).


You’re okay, the milk’s okay: a guide to what fermented raw milk looks like

Good fermented raw milk isn’t something many of us have seen a lot of in our lives. (Nor is plain raw milk fresh from happy cows and goats.) So even though you know it’s wonderful nutrition for your pets,  you might also be a bit puzzled by what you pour from a fresh carton of our Answers fermented raw cow milk kefir or fermented raw goat milk.

Err, ehm, should it look like this?

The short story is, fermented raw milks are NOT to be confused with other commercial milks or pasteurized milks, any more than a filet of wild-caught king salmon can be confused with a breaded fish stick.

But, “Does this look funny? Is it okay?” you might still wonder. You’re not alone. Some of the comments we get every week include: “Why does the milk from my new carton look different than the last carton?” “Is it curdled?” “Should it be this color?” “My milk is sour.” We’ve heard about confused pet owners returning perfectly good Answers milk to their pet food stores, or even throwing it out, unaware that their “funny-looking milk” and “sour milk” is actually perfectly sound, top quality stuff with incredible nutritional benefits for their pets.

We understand. This confusion can happen because we just don’t tamper with the appearance of our milks to make them look cosmetically, artificially uniform. We don’t believe in unnecessary cosmetic tweaking. Our wonderful milks are the natural products that come from healthy, happy pasture raised, grassfed Jersey cows and goats. How our top quality milks look, in their natural raw fermented state isn’t alway uniform from carton to carton.

It doesn’t look like the pasteurized milk you get for your family. And that’s not only to be expected, it’s entirely okay!

Color and texture can and will vary, batch to batch, because this is real life, with natural organic milk from wonderful local farms. A Hollywood-makeover look just isn’t part of our milks’ impressive nutritional value — the milks’ wholesomeness is what matters.

We promise you that we are obsessed with quality and we monitor every batch closely and fill every Answers carton only with wholesome, safe, highly beneficial milk products for your pets.

That said, let’s show you what you can expect, using our chart of what’s absolutely okay to see and smell when you pour out that farm fresh fermented raw milk for your pet.

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