Let’s Chew the Fat about FAT

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.

Demonizing fat.

Answers Raw Pet Foods are higher in fat than most other pet foods – there, I said it. They consist basically of 50% fat and 50% protein. A relatively high-fat diet sounds baaaad. Fat has been demonized as a food constituent since the 1950’s when it was theorized that dietary fat leads obesity (and associated problems) in people. The concept is simple, you eat fat and it goes directly to your beer belly. (Why is it called a beer belly? – there is no fat in beer). Since the start of the war on fat, obesity rates in the US have skyrocketed from 23% in 1962 to 39.6% in 2016. This low-fat thing does not seem to be working.

Fat is the better choice.

It turns out that, SURPRISE!, nutrition is complicated. There are 3 macronutrients in food that provide calories – fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Of these, it is actually excessive dietary carbohydrate that is linked to obesity (and inflammation for that matter). Eating fat leads to better satiety (the feeling of being satisfyingly full) in dogs. A satiated dog is one that does not over-eat. A canine eating empty calories (excessive carbs) is more likely to eat more food and put on weight. As for protein, while it can be used by the body for energy (calories) its ideal purpose in a diet is to build tissue. So, as far as sources of calories go, we have carbs or fat. Fat is the better choice, and dogs instinctively know this. Let’s look at the research.

An ideal macronutrient balance – a closer look.

The relative amounts of fat, carbohydrate, and protein in a diet is called its macronutrient balance. Dietary macronutrient balance in animals has been shown to affect growth rate and size,1,2 obesity,3 longevity,4 and disease resistance.5 It is also known that predators select food based on the macronutrient balance that best assures their survival.6,7

So how can we know the ideal macronutrient balance for dogs? One way is to look at the nutrient selection of our dogs’ closest relative, the wolf. This study8 summarized 50 studies of the diets of wild wolves with the expressed intention of discovering optimal dog nutrition. Wolves eat a diet consisting of a macronutrient balance of 54:45:1, Protein:Fat:Carbohydrate.*

WOLF_CHART_1024x500These researchers go on to say, “The nutritive characteristics of commercial foods differ in several aspects from the dog’s closest free-living ancestor in terms of dietary nutrient profile and this may pose physiological and metabolic challenges.”

Now, another way to find the ideal macronutrient balance for dogs is let them pick it themselves. This study9 did just that. They used 5 diverse breeds: papillon, miniature schnauzer, cocker spaniel, Labrador retriever, and St Bernard. Dogs selected a macronutrient balance of 30:63:7, Protein:Fat:Carbohydrate.*

DOG_CHART_1024x500These researchers go on to say, “… the overriding conclusion is that the recent rapid divergence among dog breeds is not substantially reflected in their macronutrient priorities compared with other phenotypic features such as size, color, and temperament.”

Realizing that no study is perfect, let’s average the above 2 studies to get a macronutrient balance of 42:54:4, Protein:Fat:Carbohydrate.* At least that is an approximation of the ideal balance for dogs.

Just for fun, compare this to the AFFCO standards for dog food which is 19:12:69, Protein:Fat:Carbohydrate.*

AAFCO_CHART_1024x500Wow! Lots of yellow. That’s because carbs are a cheap source of calories.

The bottom line is that the Answers dietary formula is remarkably close to the ideal macronutrient balance for dogs as determined by their own, innate biology. My advice is to ignore conventional “wisdom” and embrace the healthy fat in Answers Raw Pet Foods.

* The level of macronutrients in these studies are expressed as the percentage of calories they provide in the food. This is different that the percentage as fed that is on the pet food label.




  1. Raubenheimer D, Simpson SJ. Integrative models of nutrient balancing: application to insects and vertebrates. Nutr Res Rev. 1997;10:151–179.
  2. Simpson SJ, Sibly RM, Lee KP, Behmer ST, Raubenheimer D. Optimal foraging when regulating intake of multiple nutrients. Anim Behav. 2004; 68:1299–1311.
  3. Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. Obesity: the protein leverage hypothesis. Obes Rev 2005; 6:133–142.
  4. Piper MDW, Partridge L, Raubenheimer D, Simpson SJ. Dietary restriction and aging: a unifying perspective. Cell Metab. 2011;14:154–160.
  5. Cotter SC, Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D, Wilson K. Macronutrient balance mediates trade-offs between immune function and life history traits. Funct Ecol. 2010; 25:186–198.
  6. Mayntz D, Nielsen VH, Sørensen A, Toft S, Raubenheimer D, Hejlesen C, Simpson SJ. Balancing of protein and lipid by a mammalian carnivore, the mink (Mustela vison). Anim Behav 2009; 77:349–355.



The Big Fat Truth about dietary fat and domesticated pets (it’s not what you thought)

Billy_Profile_200x200Guest Contributor— Answers Pet Food Nutrition Science Director, Billy Hoekman, is involved in Answers diet formulation, research, product development, as well as working with farms and fermented raw feeding science education. Leading Answers Executive Veterinary Program, Billy specializes in developing fermented raw diets that pertain to specific health conditions.


We’re busting the anti-fat myths to help our furry best friends.

Forget the “fat facts” you think you know, read somewhere, or that you applied from your own human diet perspective. Because the truth is, a balance of fats is actually crucial to canine and feline good health. Read that again: it’s crucial.

Offer fats for your beloved pet? Yes. Really, yes. And science tells us why.

So, it’s time to break down the anti-fat myths that can actually be harming your trusty companion and show you a better, healthier way to feed the fuzzy faces you love best.


Big Fat mistakes that can harm your dog’s or cat’s health

Largely due to misinformation, people have turned dietary fat into a scary bogeyman in canine and feline nutrition.

Maybe you’re committed to making your own diet at home for your pet, following what you thought was a good “prey model” diet recipe. Unfortunately, these homemade “prey diets” are actually often problematic interpretations of what is needed, resulting in a diet that’s going to be too high in protein in relation to the amount of fat.

So, okay, maybe you use a commercially prepared diet in your quest for a better choice. There are many out there vying for your attention with good intentions, and great promises. But is your commercial choice using carnivore-inappropriate vegetable oils? Oops. That’s actually another big “no” for your pet’s health.

You can see how easy it is for anyone to make mistakes with the best intentions while trying to create a healthily balanced diet for their furry companion. We read information that may seem solid and reasonable, but that is based more on myth, assumptions and hearsay than real science.

Unfortunately for the misinformed pet owner, and their pets, the cost of believing these myths, in health terms, is much too high.

That’s why we rely on science.


The Big Fat Truth, from the wolf’s mouth

Wolves are carnivores. They eat large animals. They eat small animals. In the wild, wolves’ diets vary by location, by season, by what’s available to them and by other environmental factors. But whatever animal prey they manage to catch and eat, that animal has skin plus a layer of subcutaneous tissue. This is a layer of fat that helps regulate the animal’s body temperature and helps protect bones and muscles from injuries.

Since the hungry wolf is going to eat as much of its prey as it can, skin included, the fat content of what they are eating is dramatically raised. That’s Mother Nature’s plan.

This works out well for the wolf.

And as life would have it, it works well for their canine ancestor (your dog’s!) body too.


Dog teeth being examined by the animal doctor

Carnivores feed on animal tissues, large mouth opening, long sharp canines, sharp jagged blade shaped molars, little to no chewing, gulp food whole pieces.

What we know from evolutionary diets of cats

Like the domesticated dog, cats have dental and biological characteristics that conclude they are carnivores. Unlike dogs, cats are actually obligate carnivores which takes it a step further— cats diets require nutrients found only in animal flesh. Animal tissue, unlike food from plants, is low in carbohydrates and contains an excess of protein and fat. Their essential biological need for high protein, fat, and essential amino acids such as arginine and taurine, is a requirement for them to live and thrive.


Pets big fat needs

Domestic dogs and cats use protein to rebuild muscle. They use fat for energy. That’s simple biology.

What they don’t have, though, is a biological need for carbohydrates. Carbs aren’t found in the natural wild diet of dogs or wolves: there are no dog biscuit bushes in the wild. There’s no kibble field along the river. Cats don’t stalk corn (see what we did there?).

Nature also gives dogs and cats a built-in propensity to store energy. If you have an active fun-loving pet, you know this storehouse is a serious thing. Fat gives pets what it needs to have and store energy.

But when a dog’s or cat’s diet doesn’t have enough fat but does contain carbohydrates, guess what happens? Their body will store carbohydrates for energy. To get the right amount of energy takes twice as many carbs, weight-wise, compared to fat. That’s a lot of carbs.

What’s important is this: storing the right amount of good fat doesn’t make the pet fat. But storing that big double-load of carbohydrates does make your pet obese.

The recent upswing in pet obesity is directly related to the increase in carbohydrate-rich plant ingredients in modern pet foods. It all sounds good on the label, but…

The other end of the doggy and kitty danger zone: many of the incorrectly designed “prey model” diets relay on lean meats are actually deficient in both fats and carbohydrates. This is a big negative for your pet’s health, because now their body is forced to try to use protein to create energy, creating extra nitrogen that has to be processed by the kidneys, and that’s extremely tough on the kidneys.

Starting to get the picture? The big fat myths about fat are a dangerous thing for our beloved pets.




British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 113, Issue S1. January 2015 , pp. S40-S54.
Guido Bosch (a1). Esther A. Hagen-Plantinga (a2). Wouter H. Hendriks (a1) (a2)
(a1) 1  Animal Nutrition Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands. (a2) 2  Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.151, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands

James G. Morris. Idiosyncratic nutrient requirements of cats appear to be diet-induced evolutionary adaptations. Nutrition Research Reviews (2002), 15, 153–168 DOI: 10.1079/NRR200238. Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA






“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.


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


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.

Scientific Evidence of Effects of HPP on Meat Products

ChelseaKent_Profile_200x200_altGuest Contributor —Chelsea Kent co-owns Hero’s Pets in Littleton, Colorado. Hero’s Pets has been in business since 2007 and Chelsea has been active in the pet industry for 19 years. Her greatest passions are pet health and nutrition, consumer education, industry research, herbs, homeopathy and holistic alternatives. Visit Chelsea at www.HerosPets.com


High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) claims to decrease the potential of pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and E.Coli in raw meat pet food products while still maintaining the “raw” integrity.

How does HPP work?

HPP is a non-thermal, cold processing technique in which the food, in its flexible, plastic, oxygen rich packaging, is subjected to high levels of hydrostatic (water) pressure. In 2012, documents were published stating that pressure greater than 400 MPa is necessary to achieve efficient microbial inactivation. However, Staphylococcus Aureus, Spores, Protease Cathepsin, etc are resistant even above 600MPa (87,000 psi (pounds per square inch)). HPP treatment at subzero temperatures (on frozen raw foods) is not effective in decreasing microbial counts in meats due to lack of plasticity of the product. (1)
How much real life pressure is 87,000psi? When a Scuba Diver is exposed to underwater pressure Boyle’s Law states that effects of pressure cause an increase in the absorption of nitrogen which can lead to oxygen toxicity, nitrogen narcosis, carbon monoxide toxicity and decompression sickness. (19) These physiological effects are usually reversible in a living being because a living being is capable of persistently working to metabolize excess nitrogen and strive for homeostasis, while dead tissue is not. Of course, humans can’t survive the depths of the ocean (17,000 psi) without a submarine. Even a submarine would not survive 30,000psi which bends steel. A Scuba Diver would have to reach 200,685 ft (6.3 times the depth of the Mariana Trench) to reach 87,000psi (21) thus it would take a diver 418 hours of active metabolizing to recover from the physiologic changes caused by the pressure. The tissues of deep water sea-life brought up to shallow surfaces suffer the congealing pressure off its lipids, start to ooze internally and lose integrity in their nerve cell membranes (which get “quite leaky”). (23) Imagine the effects of an animal brought up from 6.3 times that depth!!! Yet that’s what HPP does to your pets’ food.

Mandating (or lack thereof) of HPP

Rumor falsely states the FDA will soon mandate HPP.  This is a false statement.  Since 2009 the FDA has worked with the FSIS (Food Safety & Inspection Service) and FIC (Food Industry Counsel) to enforce HACCP plans (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point) to pet food companies (canned food excluded) because the FDA does not have the authority to enforce pathogen stop-gap measures. The 2016 USDA’s FSIS HACCP enforcement program is designed to ensure food safety and quality control by requiring raw and cooked, human and pet food companies to maintain a detailed log of manufacturing processes, standards and tracking. It does not specify or enforce stop gap methods such as HPP, irradiation or cooking. Legally, according to the FSIS authority HACCP, itself, is considered a “stop gap method” just as irradiation, HPP, cooking and “other methods” that are “not yet researched” such as fermentation are (if it can be proven by the company to work) (Answers Pet Food proved to the FDA in a court of law that fermentation is an effective stop gap method).

APF_HPP_InfographicDamage done by HPP… what does the science say?

HPP fractionates the protein molecule and delays rigor mortis, which is useful for tenderizing. It disassociates myosin, actin, albumin, myoglobin and causes coagulation, aggregation or gelation of sarcoplasmic proteins and myofibrils. (1)(12) Muscle proteins are also susceptible to oxidative reactions that involve the loss of essential amino acids and decrease protein digestibility, thus affecting the nutritional value of the meat. (1) HPP can affect protein conformation and lead to protein denaturation, aggregation or gelation. (10) The higher the fat or water content the greater the “whitening effect” caused by protein coagulation (loss of solubility of sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar protein and/or globin deterioration from heme group displacement). Therefore, in addition to beef and other fatty meats (20-25%) being more susceptible to whitening, they are also more susceptible to lipid oxidations. (1) HPP induces meat protein modifications that result in varying effects on meat product texture and water retention. Because of this the meat develops a cooked and sticky look after thawing. Because the muscle proteins and heme groups are displaced the thawing and freezing time is decreased and the meat doesn’t freeze uniformly unless in an oxygen depleted environment (vacuum sealed) (1) which may allow bacteria to re-proliferate and speeds oxidation of lipids. Glutamate/Glutamic Acid (not to be confused with gluten) are naturally present in amino acid rich proteins. Hydrolyzation is a process where proteins are broken down into their component amino acids (accomplished by many methods, including, obviously, HPP). Hydrolyzation releases natural glutamate into its “free form” which results in a by-product of 5-20% MSG. (20)

Lipid oxidation (peroxide and cholesterol) is dramatically increased after HPP especially in oxygen rich environments. Oxidative reactions make meat susceptible to loss of amino acids and decrease protein digestibility. The only ingredients known to limit oxidative damage in HPP products are rosemary, sage, EDTA, or egg white powder. Tocopherols, most commonly used in raw pet foods, are specifically listed as being ineffective. (1) Lipid peroxidation is the oxidative degradation of lipids which results in cell damage and rupture of red blood cell membranes which may be mutagenic and carcinogenic. Tests of toxicity of lipid hydroperoxides done on mice showed they did not survive past embryonic day 8, indicating that the removal of lipid hydroperoxides is essential for mammalian life. (2,3) Considering that most pets stay on a diet of one brand, and often one protein, for their entire life this science makes it seem life-threatening to use HPP meats as the primary source of any animals diet. Studies showed that lipid oxidation was ONLY slowed if the meat was pressure treated at 500MPa or above for 30-60 minutes at 20-70* C (68-158* F) (cooked) and vacuum sealed at the time of processing. Raw Pet Foods HPP for only 3-5 minutes at lower temperatures at 600MPa and do not commonly vacuum seal. Additionally, HPP meats are more stable and resistant to re-proliferation of pathogens ONLY if cooked prior to, or in conjunction with, HPP. (1)

Vitamin A has up to 100% loss at 87,000 psi. (1) Vitamin C has 30-40% decrease at only 400MPa and up to 70% at 600MPa (87,000psi) that is only limited by lowering oxygen concentrations. (5) Synthetically supplemented B Vitamins have a 30x greater rate of decay after HPP, especially Thiamine Monophosphate (TMP). (8) TMP deficiency results in the disease called Beriberi which may result in difficulty walking/incoordination, mental confusion, pain, strange eye movements, tingling, vomiting, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure and swelling of the lower legs. Lycopene (11) and Carotiniods (7) are damaged by HPP. HPP decreases the pH of meat products. (1) Excessively low pH levels may cause metabolic acidosis, which leads to acidemia, resulting in fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, coma or death. Whether the decrease of pH caused by HPP is significant enough to cause acidemia is debatable but a pet with existing health concerns such as urinary stones/crystals, infections, cancer, etc caused by low pH may be exacerbated by HPP.

Degrades and denature nutrients

HPP can inactivate microorganisms and enzymes as well as degrade and denature nutrients. (6) While blood and muscle tissue are void of DIGESTIVE and food enzymes metabolic enzymes are found in other tissues, including blood and muscle.  These enzymes are still part of the natural process of carnivore digestion, and are therefore beneficial for health. Just as cooking salad or fruit removes many beneficial enzymes and nutrients from foods, natural enzymes from all raw foods assist with balanced health in people and pets.

Studies have shown that polymer packaging material (plastic) that pet food is kept in is modified by high pressure. A significant migration of compounds from the plastic material into the food product has been observed. Traces of n-hexanal and some hydrocarbons have also been found by Schindler and others in 2010. (1) The Ecology Center lists “product packaging and food wrap plastic” under the section for Phthalates (DEHP, DINP, and others) and states that they are Endocrine Disruptors, linked to asthma, developmental and reproductive effects, release of dioxins and mercury, including cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, decreasing sperm counts, infertility, endometriosis and immune system impairment. (4) Plastic fragments have never been found in raw pet foods.  However, plastic fragments have also never been found in plastic water bottles that were left in a 100* car or frozen, though research is wide-spread proving the health detriments of drinking water from a plastic bottle that has been heated or frozen.

Dog teeth being examined by the animal doctor

Dogs and cats are designed to tolerate pathogens

They have pathogen regulating, rather than digestive enzymes in their mouths, their short digestive tracts pass foods quickly, before they can harbor pathogens, their stomach acid is 1, far more acidic than a person. While a dog or cats system is fully capable of tolerating high levels of pathogens, in the case of illness it is unnecessary for the immune system to be forced to endure pathogens when it could be using metabolic and immune resources to heal. So the question becomes, is truly raw or HPP safer for an immune compromised pet??? Studies show that HPP is only highly effective in short and long term pathogen regulation when products are cooked or cured first, and then HPP. HPP alone does not always provide sufficient regulation of pathogens. HPP increases oxidation and free radicals, decreases enzymes and antioxidant capacity and destabilizes the amine matrix. Therefore, an already taxed immune system would have an increased free radical load, decreased contribution of enzymes to regulate health and decreased antioxidants to assist in regaining health.

The FDA, FSIS and FIC implemented a Zero Tolerance Policy (24) and “War on Pathogens” in 2009 (though FDA lists NO raw food recalls prior to 2009) on ALL raw pet foods. This means that non-HPP, completely raw pet foods, as well as HPP or other “stop-gap treated” foods, are allowed to have 0% pathogens in the food. Pathogen levels as low as .05% (far below levels that cause illness) will be recalled. For the consumer this means that untreated raw products are just as safe, if not safer than HPP. A non-HPP truly raw product must maintain superior standards because they must rely on the quality of well-sourced ingredients to be capable of testing negative for pathogens. Truly raw products would also maintain their natural bacterium that prevents pathogen proliferation once home with the consumer (22) while HPP pet food could purchase a Salmonella contaminated product and test free of pathogens after HPP, though bacteria needed to regulate the RE-proliferation of Salmonella were killed in the HPP process. It’s therefore safer to feed an immune compromised pet a fully raw product (that is unconditionally regulated for pathogens by FDA, FSIS and FIC) than it is to feed a HPP food product that burdens the body with lipid oxidation, decreased pH (metabolic acidosis), endocrine inhibitors, loss of Vitamin A, Thiamine, Vitamin C, Carotenoids, Enzymes, etc.

Sourcing of Raw Foods is a Key Factor

Where is the meat coming from? Where and how does livestock live? What are they being fed? How are they handled and processed? Food safety is a growing concern with the introduction of new technologies, questionable farming and manufacturing practices. Pathogen control begins with sourcing livestock that are raised in their natural environment, fed species-appropriate food and not confined. This type of sourcing and manufacturing practices have substantially less potential for high loads of toxins and pathogens. In contrast, factory farming, lower quality of standards, and/or the use of most mass-marketed pet foods using rendered and 4-D meats warrant the use of HPP. Rendered and 4-D meats is a poor quality of ingredients from dead, dying, disabled or euthanized animals sourced from: dead animals from farms, ranches, feedlots, marketing barns, animal shelters, and other facilities; and fats, grease, and other food waste from restaurants and stores. The increased use of HPP is not due to the problems stemming from unadulterated raw foods, but the quality of foods that need to have a pathogenic kill-step.

What if there ARE pathogens??? Wouldn’t HPP make the food safer?

Again, truly raw food is legally required to have substantially lower levels of pathogens than even Grocery Store meats for human food consumption. There have only been 5 recalls caused by the FDA’s Regulatory Offensive “War on Pathogens” that implemented microbiological sampling of over 2,000 raw pet food samples taken from retail stores between 6.1.2015-8.31.2015. FDA was instructed to enforce recalls on all products that tested positive for Salmonella, Listeria, E.Coli or Campylobacter. Despite the sampling of 2,000 raw (and HPP) pet food products only 5 (.002%) were recalled. 80% of the raw food recalls enforced in this time frame were popular HPP products. Only 20% (1 product (.0005%)) were caused by non-HPP, untreated raw pet food. Hundreds of other bags from the same truly raw batch were tested and no others came up positive.
Since 2007 there have been 7 recalls on Raw, untreated pet foods (no reported illnesses or death), 16 recalls on HPP pet foods (57% more than that of raw, untreated, non-HPP products), 2 recalls on Dehydrated raw pet foods, and nearly 300 recalls on Dry Kibble (Cooked Dog and Cat Food) and Cans (numerous reported illnesses and deaths), despite FDA’s active efforts to recall raw pet foods. (14)

E.coli is highly responsive to HPP, however since 2007 there has only been ONE recall of pet food for e.coli (dry food), making it a moot point for pet food regulation. PASTEURIZED dairy caused one recall. (17) Campylobacter – There is minimal reference to HPP’s ability to regulate Campylobacter. However, NO cases of campylobacter have ever been associated with pet food recall, making it a minimal concern. (18) Listeria monocytogenes has been observed to have a higher survival rate in cooked and HPP meat than in raw meats. (Simpson and Gilmour 1997) (1) From 2011-2016 there have been 10 Outbreaks caused by Listeria. None of them have been caused by pet products, 6 were caused by PASTEURIZED dairy. (15) Salmonella – In September of 2015 Dr. William James, a 28 year Chief Veterinarian of FSIS in charge of pathogen and residue sampling published a document showing his disappointment in FSIS’s ability to decrease Salmonella in food products since 2000 despite changes in policy. He states that FSIS will not change their regulatory strategy for Salmonella, despite its failures. (13) Since 2006 there have been 60 outbreaks caused by Salmonella, TWO of which were caused by COOKED, DRY PET FOOD (none from raw). (16)




(1) “New Insights into the High-Pressure Processing of Meat and Meat Products.” H. Simonin, F. Duranton, M. de Lamballerie, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, May, 2012. 10.1111/j.1541.4337.2012.00184
(2) Lipid peroxidiation – DNA damage by malondialdehyde. Marnett LJ. Mutation research 1999 Mar 8;424(1-2):83-95
(3) Muller, F.L. Lustgarten, M.S., Jang, Y., Richardson, A. and Van Remmen, H. (2007), “Trends in oxidative aging theories”. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 43 (4): 477-503 doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.03.034. PMID17640558
(4) Ecology Center, “Plastic Task Force Report” Berkeley, CA 1996 http://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/adverse-health-of-plastics/
(5) Indrawati O., Ven der Plancken I., Van Loey A. Hendricks M., “Does High Pressure Processing Influence Nutritional Aspects of Plant Based Systems?” Center for Food and Microbial Technology, Food Science and Technology 2007
(6) M. Hendrickx, L. Ludikhyze, I. Van den Brock, C. Weesmaes, “Effects of High Pressure on enzymes related to food quality” Trends in food Science Technology, 9 (1998), PP. 197-203
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(14) http://www.FDA.gov Search: “_____ recalls”
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The Heart of the Grain-free Debate

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.

Since last July when the FDA released a warning regarding a possible link between grain-free dog food and the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), the grain-free debate has raged on. Before we get into the grain-free issue, let’s back up and look at the disease we’re talking about. DCM is an ailment of the heart muscle brought on by a weakening in the muscle tissue. It is the most common cause of heart disease in certain large-breed dogs such as the Great Dane, Boxer, and Doberman Pincer, so there is a genetic component. However, this disease is also linked to a deficiency of the amino acid taurine in a dog’s blood.

The concern with grain-free diets is that they might lead to taurine deficiency. Most caregivers choose grain-free foods because they realize that grains are an unnatural ingredient in a dog’s diet. What they don’t appreciate is that grain-free diets simply replace the grain with ingredients such as peas, lentils, legumes, or potatoes, which are equally inappropriate foods for dogs. In addition, these grain replacers contain anti-nutrients which are natural plant compounds that interfere with the digestion and/or absorption of nutrients such as taurine. So, grain-free dog food manufacturers may formulate their diets to contain adequate taurine, but not account for the amount lost to the anti-nutrients in the diet’s novel components.

Meat and dry food for petsThe grain-free link to DCM has brought conventional veterinary nutritionists down from their ivory towers and into the media. They are using the concern over grain-free diets to extol the value of grain in dog foods. The mantra of the nutritionists is that, when it comes to pet foods, it’s not the ingredients that are important, but the nutrients. I suppose that they themselves eat “People Chow” [it would be great if you could link People Chow to this video – https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=934204840081266]rather than freshly prepared meats, vegetables, and fruits.

Pet caregivers are understandably confused. They seem to be forced to choose between foods with crummy ingredients, including gains, with adequate taurine, and dog food with nice looking ingredients that might cause heart disease. Some people have become convinced that corn is good for dogs (which is obviously not true unless you’re talking about corndogs).

For me, this whole grain-free debate is moot. The truth is that no mater how “natural” the ingredients, there is no processed dog food (grain-free or otherwise) that is appropriate for dogs. Dogs have evolved over millions of years to eat a balanced, raw diet such as that of wolves. That’s why their dental structures are nearly identical. A truly natural diet for a dog is free of grains, peas, lentils, legumes, potatoes and other starchy ingredients. It has all the needed taurine and no anti-nutrients.

So, skip the grain-free debate and go raw!