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

 

 

 

 

 


How a German village’s fresh raw food changed my American city cat’s life

Andrea_Profile_200x200Guest Contributor—Andrea Chesney O’Neill is an advertising writer and speech writer, as well as traveler, and longtime lover of animals big and small. Her pets have brought joy to her and her family for years. From stray cats on Ocracoke Island, NC, to her own three rescue cats, Toola, Lilly and Bob, she has come to believe that if we pay close attention to our animal companions and to nature, too, we’ll help them live their best lives.

Frau Francesca stands outside the heavy wood door of my little Bavarian house one early spring afternoon with two bowls in her hand. One, she tells me, in careful, melodious Bavarian (because she knew I was still learning their old regional dialect, so different from the sparse German I knew), contained fresh goats’ milk. It was still warm; you could feel it through the smooth sides of the old pottery vessel. The other bowl held fresh goat meat, with some herbs, and two duck eggs.

Not for me, she lets me know, pointing to the big black and white tomcat in a basket across the room, but for him, for Harley.  Harley has been visiting Frau Francesca and her husband of fifty years, Herr Josef, on the sly, you see, and they have come to love his calm, affectionate, big-hearted presence over the last few weeks – perhaps he could use some goat’s milk, some better food, to welcome him back from his visits at the animal clinic?

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Morning milking time like this is a German farming task everywhere

She comes in and pours some into a smaller kitchen bowl and puts it down. He sniffs warily, weakly, then begins to lap it up with serious intent. I am amazed, but she is satisfied, and nods, and explains she and her husband began giving him the milk at their house a few weeks ago, when he was starting to seem unwell, quieter than he usually was, not himself. It will help. She is sure he needs it now.

It turns out, she’s right.

A life-changing visit to Bavaria

Three months earlier, at the end of a cold, endlessly gray winter, I found myself driving into a Bavarian village on the banks of the Isar, taking a long dreamed-of holiday break while typing up notes for a writing project. My glass and stone house, the summer home of a friend in the center of a tiny village, boasted a big wood-burning kamine, stunning mile-long views of woodland and hills, and fantastically friendly new neighbors (from age 5 to 90) with their assorted pets, rabbits, horses and livestock. It was a treasure trove of great family stories, recipes, health tips, and new traditions shared over beer (at the “new’ Gasthaus which was merely 100 years old, apparently vs. the “old” Gasthaus, a much more respectable 325 years old).

 

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Milk jugs like these held the health-giving natural magic

A troupe of little village girls was determined to teach me German and Bavarian in exchange for English lessons, American chocolate chip cookies, and my agreement to be the judge when they decided to perform sing-offs or demonstrate their soccer cheers on Saturday afternoons. They pushed a baby buggy filled with their pet mice up and down my path until they were bold enough to approach “the English girl” with their plan to educate me, and we became friends.

A cheerful, kindly elfin baker drove to our village every morning at 6:30 a.m., his sparkling station wagon loaded with baskets spilling over with oven-fresh breads and pastries; the gossip and jokes shared as we all waited for his arrival with our clean canvas bags taught me half the language I would need (I had to hear out who ran off with Herr Max’s first wife on a popular tv show, and how Fraulein Maria did at the horse jumping event, after all).

 

The city cat meets his new world

It was all life-changing for me, much more than a little vacation escape; it was a new world filled with people I would love the rest of my life.

It was also going to be life-changing for Harley.

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City cat Harley loved the country

A dog-sized, broad-chested Norwegian Forest cat with huge paws and soulful, absolutely square green eyes, Harley began his journey as a tiny scruffy kitten I found in a parking garage. He grew up to be a muscle-bound, Thor-type of character who thought he was my bodyguard, covered in miles of snow-white and blue-black fur. He snorted when upset or impatient. He loved to jump five feet into the air, just because. He loved little kids. He talked non-stop, such a varied language that friends would bring people I didn’t know to talk to him. But before all that, at a vet visit, when he was just 5 months old, I was told a defect in his heart would likely claim him in a year.

When he turned three, a big resolute bodyguard of a cat who carried a small stuffed toy cat around the house, I was told more bad news: he might look like a giant parade float of cat, but his lungs had remained too impossibly small for him to live long, another genetic stumbling block. It was why he often sighed. The ultrasound shocked even me.
And yet, he lived on.

So when he turned five, still strong and hearty enough to please his vet, although showing signs of mild diabetes that we controlled with diet and occasional insulin, Harley found himself in a giant dog-size carrier, in a specially designed private pet cabin with a high ticket price, floating off on a direct Lufthansa night flight with me from Chicago to Germany. Show dogs, white tigers and pandas had used the unique cabin in the past, with its soft lighting, soothing music, and air pumped in from the passenger cabin, plus private vet check-in; now it was big Harley’s turn.

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Harley, in one of his serious “Viking cat” moods, plans his trip

He was given souvenir “wings” by an enraptured flight crew for his handsomeness, his 007-cool “yeah, so?” demeanor and friendly “let’s shake paws on that” trick that he apparently invented on the trip over. At the Munich airport, Lufthansa’s vet proclaimed him a king, and several French tourists took his photo (“is he real? But his head is the size of melon!”). A handsome Japanese businessman with two frantic assistants in matching Chanel suits offered me $1000 for “the lucky cat.” When I declined, his assistants placed his card in my hands with a bottle of duty-free perfume and urged me to think about it and call.

Of course, I wouldn’t call them, but I loved that my big survivor kitty was seen by someone to possess a lot of luck. I felt he’d need it.

“A cat with more soul”

As we waited for my ride, an Air Iberia flight attendant stopped beside us and looked at him, then grabbed my hand and looked intently at me. “He has the eyes of god,” she said. “In my home village, once every seventy years, there is such a cat, with more soul, who is meant to bring something more to all of us, and teach us. This is your cat.” She kissed her fingertip, touched his nose, and was gone.

“Harley,” I told my easy-going emperor, “I think we were meant to make this trip together.” He seemed, with his newly-named soulful eyes, to agree.

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Rocco the dog, Harley’s German BFF

So when I saw my lucky rock star taking his first happy footsteps on the path of our new temporary home, tugging at the harness and leash he wore as a city cat in a strange exhilarating new world of good smells and fresh breezes, breathing the crystal air as a few snowflakes fell on his big broad head, I was happy he’d made it this far. When a few weeks later he shot out the back door on his own to swat a big Bernese Mountain Dog/Shepherd mix with one blind eye that had decided to hang out at our house, and then the two made an instant invisible friendship pact and romped off together to go watch the swans in a pond by the woods (fast friends that would never be parted again until we returned to the states), I knew again I was right to bring him along.

If his life was going to be short, let him go out and enjoy this beautiful place with me, let him breathe the freshest air and hear birdsong. We had all his shots, U.S. and German, every box checked. I told him, “Together forever, little guy” every day, with extra meaning knowing the hidden time-bombs within his strong-looking self.  Now we were together for this visit to a stunning country, too.

Harley quickly acquired a posse of village cats. They appeared one day at the door as if they knew him already, to invite him out, and he looked at me, eyes pleading. I opened the door hesitantly, and he quickly stepped out and joined them like old friends, noses smelled, a few kind licks on ears. Not a hiss or a puffed tail. They walked off together to sit under the trees. In days ahead, they would play in the cornfield, lay on the riverbank to swat at (or catch) little fish this tiny branch of the river carried, or pile on my terrace to nap.

He learned to chase wild rabbits and long-eared squirrels with the dog, always skidding to an elegant stop as their prey scampered safely off. But he also rescued the village girls’ kittens and floppy eared bunnies when they escaped their houses, and would delicately carry them home, one by one, then return to the terrace to flop down with a sigh: another’s day’s work done. He visited other homes with the dog, too, looking for treats. The neighbors would point and laugh in English for me: “Vagabonds!”

Harley also posed nonchalantly in the garden near the road, just inside our fence, when international cyclists, training for races, skidded to a stop to take his photo and ask if all American cats were this big?

He watched television on Tuesday and Friday nights with my elderly neighbors across the road, Frau Francesca and her husband Josef; they waited for him at the door and he would glance back over at me like “’later, my fans need me, see you in the morning.” If strangers parked in the road and then knocked at the door to see the “big American cat?” with their kids, he obliged with his new “shake my giant paw” trick. In Germany, he came alive, running, thriving, chasing, trying to climb the apple tree.

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Harley relaxes with Hermione the chicken (front) and her sister

Then one fine early spring day, he was sick. He went overnight from lively explorer, shiny fur and sparkling eyes, stamping the ground with excitement as he followed our chicken Hermione around the yard, to still and quiet, distant. Always at my side or eager to play, he stayed in his basket. The next morning, his eyes, his expression told me something was going wrong. I rushed him to a vet I’d heard about, a small family-run practice that offered holistic care too. They didn’t like his gum color, from what I could understand, and I was sent to another village, to a vet who had the latest ultrasound machine.

That vet was modern, brisk, and direct: Harley had cancer, a tumor near his tiny lungs, and we should put him to sleep. It was best. He had beaten the odds with that heart, those lungs, but he could not beat this.

Shocked, I found myself driving back through the winding Bavarian country roads to our holistic vet. We talked. He and his daughter, both vets, were kind. They had talked to the ultrasound vet and suggested I take a few days, and try a holistic oil, a few drops in his food or on his tongue, let him rest. At least a few days to say goodbye. They sent another prescription to the Apotheke, run by an animal-loving pharmacist who was also happy to help us.

At home, Harley nibbled food lightly, turned his head away, and lay in his bed next to the long ceiling to floor windows. Outside, on the cool hard spring ground, his loyal friend Rocco the dog hulked like a mountain range, watching his feline friend through the glass, unwilling to leave, unwilling to go home with his owners when they came. We agreed Rocco could stay at my house. He came in and slept near Harley that night, tried to offer Harley his food in the morning and then slumped home, repeatedly looking back over his big wolf-like shoulder.

Harley’s village steps in: eat, pray, love

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Frau Francesca

Word traveled quickly through the village somehow, and the little girls, worried, brought Harley their favorite toys and petted him and sang quietly. Then, right after I’d hung up after talking to our American vet, Frau Francesca appeared with her two bowls. The goat milk would strengthen his blood and muscles, she told me in Bayerisch and a few American words her son had armed her with for the visit. The goat meat. From their own animals, healthy, only good food, playing the fields…. good meat. Raw, and fermented. Healthy traditional foods good for us all.

Crack a duck egg open in another bowl, or a chicken egg, freshly laid; let him lick it up. This helped all their animals. It helped Frau Sofie’s calico cat when it fell off the roof and was healing after surgery at the finest vet in Munich; it would help our big American cat, too. She knew this because sometimes she gave Harley goat milk and eggs when he would visit and look at his nice fur! She, proper and bright, but also tiny, bones still stiff after a tractor accident on their farm decades earlier, then suddenly lay down upon the floor, murmuring to Harley, petting him, talking, telling him in her way to eat, eat, such a brav boy… He looked at me, but, for her, he shifted and made the effort to lick at the goat milk. He licked egg off my fingertips.

 

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Duck eggs: traditional health food from the farm

The next few days melted into a swirl of neighbors and friends checking on Harley, bringing us fresh butter, duck meat, more eggs, broth. Some suggested their freshly baked bread placed in the goat milk (fresh bowls daily) would be more nourishing. Some added garlic to their homemade chicken broth. I was a girl alone in village in Germany with a gravely sick best friend, but I wasn’t. The village showed us love, compassion, and climbed over barriers of the several dialects spoken there to offer advice and hope, or watch him while I tried to work. They each had a Harley story somehow, this cat that they had only known for a couple of months.

And he, ever the king, obliged one and all, obediently licking the milk and broth and eggs, then the next day, licking more.  On day three, he wanted the fresh goat meat, a piece of goat cheese, and some pickled vegetables. The vets called me: was I ready to say goodbye? No, I told them, looking at Harley chewing goat cheese for his fans with a new glint in his eye, no, not yet.

Day five, there was a shout of laughs from the village men and boys outside the house. The giant loyal dog Rocco had furiously dug a massive pit, six feet across, three feet deep. He emerged to cheers utterly filthy with a squirming mouse in his teeth that he had unearthed.

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Harley and Rocco (new haircut!)

He marched proudly with it to the window of the French doors. Harley, in his bed looked up. A look was exchanged. Harley slowly stood, and as we watched holding our breath, indicated he wanted to go out. I opened the glass and wood door and Harley stepped out shakily to Rocco. With the dog leading the way, they went around to the terrace. A moment passed and two little boys returned to say excitedly that the giant American cat ate the mouse promptly and then curled up to sleep with Rocco.

 

Each day he was better. Each day, his diet was his dab of special cat food topped with a duck egg, plus a small bowl of goat milk or kefir. In the evening, we had our choice of the fresh-caught fish or goat meat or rabbit, or what seemed to be a sort of pickled duck meat, brought by our village supporters. I gave him a drop of the little vial of holistic oil every night. In two more weeks, he was ambling around again, turning back into the king he was. I noticed that when he resumed his visits to favored houses in our village, bowls of goat milk and plates of fresh meat would magically appear. “We had too much, we were about to eat, he can have it,” his host would shrug. “See, he likes it. Good for cats! German cats are strong, he knows what is good, he is really a German cat, see?”

Harley and I returned to America, then made another trip back some months later. Harley was thriving, but clearly longing for his German fields and friends, and the fresh wholesome food I was having trouble replicating back in the States, so back on the plane he went for a little visit. He could breathe air, walk, visit with village friends to eat well, play, boost his health. We booked visits with our German vets.

 

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Pastured goats like these enjoyed the German fields and hills

Our holistic vet was happy but not surprised; nature’s food is best, he explained. He had studied in Vienna and went to seminars, and good, natural healthy food, this is what our pets need. The modern ultrasound vet with his sleek modern clinic was stumped. Harley was still with us? How could this be? He offered to do another ultrasound, free, just from curiosity. The tumor was smaller, hard to see. No one could explain it. We crossed our fingers.

 

One more feast from nature

Harley went back to his Bavarian diet, especially thrilled to have his goat milk and kefir and nest-fresh duck eggs again. Now 6 years old, he ran through the fields with his old friends and made his visits, enjoying the summer evenings as he slept under a bench as neighbors gathered at someone’s courtyard in the evening to laugh and talk. Some nights, he went home with Rocco the dog to sleep in the dog’s lavish, two-story chalet-style doghouse, side by side in the doorway, best buddies always.

Everyone had milk or eggs for Harley’s visits. His fur was glossy, and he bounded around again on strong muscular legs. He made the most of his little vacation in every way.

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Raw Goat Milk

Harley and I returned to the States, and he lived another five years as an indoor city cat again, before heart issues and pancreatic cancer, mimicking a fake bout of diabetes again, caught him short. I had trouble sourcing the milks and meats I wanted for him, though when I could find them, he ate them; though perhaps the cartoned pasteurized goat milk and processed duck eggs weren’t as appealing to him as the treasures carried to him by his loving village friends. I would always wonder if I should have left him in his beloved village with the people who eagerly offered to take him in, the people’s whose knowledge of nature, and animals, gave him seven extra years to be his delightful, strong, loving self on this earth.

Harley’s legacy

But what Harley taught me still lives on. Before his death, a tiny sickly stray Maine Coon came into our lives, frail, nearly blind from malnutrition, suffering from failure to thrive, not recognizing food as something she needed to consume. As he had done back in Germany with the village kittens, Harley took little three-month-old Toola under his wing, chewing food and carefully placing it into her mouth like mother bird might, carrying her around the house on his massive back like a cat taxi, washing her, sleeping with her, until she began to get well. Uncle Harley was her hero.

A few months later as he was living his last days before we put him to sleep, Toola spent 24 hours washing him nose to tail, and back again, a tiny undersized piece of fluff trying to clean and soothe a jumbo jet. The love she had for him echoed the love I, and an entire distant village, would have for him forever.

A beautiful life goes on, with good nutrition

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Toola loves her garden too

Eighteen years have passed, and Toola is now in her twilight years. Two years ago, we were told she had just days to live. But as Harley and a group of wise Bavarians taught me, why give up easily?  Although very picky about eating her whole life, forcing us into a diet regimen we aren’t crazy about to just get to eat and maintain weight, she has been willing to lap up a little goat milk and goat cheese, sardines or kefir every few days. But then, finding Answers Pet Food at our local better pet food shop a little over a year ago meant she can also have the kind of goat milk Harley enjoyed, farm fresh, filled with nourishment few other foods supply. She’s holding her own, still asking us to take her outside to scratch the bark of a favorite tree, or sit on the porch with us for a few minutes, then curling up in my husband’s lap with a look of pure devotion on her face.

At every vet visit, the team’s happy amazement at Toola’s continuing journey as she gives them one of her sweet, doe-eyed looks, this gentle little cat reminds me that nothing is over until it is over, that more answers are always around the corner, that just like her superb vet, Mother Nature knows what she’s doing – as a village filled with new friends taught me when I needed the knowledge most.

There’s always another day when the answer can come, and beautiful life can go on, here at home, or along a distant riverbank where a waterfall tumbles to the delight of group of lazy country cats.

And Toola reminds me every day what Harley and I learned years ago:  that sometimes we are lucky enough to have a real village or a village of friends, or a farm filled with caring people like everyone at Answers. A family we didn’t know we had, who know what to offer us to help our pets thrive when they are most in need, and help those little ones we love so much stay by our sides for the journey ahead, wherever it takes us.


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.


“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.


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)

 

 

 

REFERENCES:
(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
(7) A. Fernandez Garcia, P. Butz, B. Tauscher, “Effects of high pressure processing on carotenoid extractability, antioxidant activity, glucose diffusion and water biding of tomato puree.” Journal of Food Science, 66 (7)(2001), pp 1033-1038
(8) P.Butz, A. Bognar, S. Dieterich, B. Tauscher, “Effect of high-pressure processing at elevated temperatures on thiamin and riboflavin in pork and model systems.” Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 55(4)(2007), pp 1289-1294
(9) So YT, Simon RP. Deficiency diseases of the nervous system. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 57. Updated 2014. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000339.htm
(10) W. MEssens, J. Van Camp, A. Huygebaert, “The use of high pressure to modify the functionality of food proteins” Trends in Food Science and Technology, 8(1997), pp 107-112
(11) W. Qui, H. Jiang, H. Wang, Y. Gao, “Effect of high hydrostatic pressure on lycopene stability” Food Chemistry, 97 (2006), pp 516-523
(12) W. MEssens, J. Van Camp, and H. Huyghebaert (1997), The Use of high pressure to modify the functionality of food proteins. Trends in Food Science and Technology (Vol. 8)
(13) FSIS’ salmonella policies: actions vs accomplishments (paid document) http://www.meatingplace.com/Industry/Blogs/Bio?forumId=756
(14) http://www.FDA.gov Search: “_____ recalls”
(15) http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/
(16) http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/outbreaks.html
(17) http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/outbreaks.html
(18) http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/diseases/campylobacter/index.html
(19) http://www.scubadiverinfo.com/2_physiology.html
(20) http://www.scienceofcooking.com/msg.htm
(21) http://www.kylesconverter.com/pressure/feet-of-water-to-pounds-per-square-inch
(22) Food Industry Counsel, LLC, FDA’s War on Pathogens, Criminal Charges for Food Company Executives and Quality Assurance Managers, S. K. Stevens, Esq. http://www.foodindustrycounsel.com
(23) http://discovermagazine.com/2001/aug/featphysics
(24) K&L Gates Docket No FDA-2010-D-0378; Draft Compliance Policy Guide Sec. 690.800, Salmonella in Animal Feed (75 Fed. Reg. 45,130 (August 2, 2010) Zero Tolerance Pathogens

 

 

 

 

 


Take a Bite Out of Oral Disease

Dr_Doug_3724_Silo_BLOG_200x200

Guest 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.

Oral disease is the most common affliction of dogs.

Most dogs over the age of three years have some level of gingivitis or periodontal disease. The development of oral disease is insidious. Bacteria in the mouth coat the surface of the teeth forming plaque. Over time the bacteria incorporate minerals and develop into thick, brown tartar. Eventually the bacteria work their way under the gumline causing gingivitis. If left untreated, the bacteria dive deeper into the tissues surrounding the tooth root resulting in periodontal disease and tooth root infections which can be very painful.

What’s more, once the bacteria invade the gumline they gain access to the blood, which can have far reaching effects. Research shows that periodontal disease is linked to heart conditions[i] and an increase in systemic inflammation[ii] in dogs. At the stage of tartar and gingivitis, the pet needs to have their teeth cleaned by a veterinarian. Because animals do not rinse and spit the way we do, dental work requires general anesthesia. Many times, extractions are needed. The whole ordeal can get expensive and is not without risk. Obviously, prevention is the best course of action.

Many pet caregivers, and even some veterinarians, believe that kibble cleans a pet’s teeth. The truth is that dry pet food does nothing to scrape the plaque and tartar off the teeth. As soon as the tips of the teeth contact the kibble, the nugget crumbles. Thinking that chewing dry pet food cleans a pet’s teeth is like believing that chewing on pretzels keeps our teeth clean – no brushing necessary.

Another thing to consider is that, unlike Answers raw pet foods, all kibble is high in starch (even grain-free dog food). Since starch readily breaks down into sugar that feeds bacteria, I believe that dry pet food is a major contributor to the pet dental disease epidemic.

Dog teeth being examined by the animal doctor

The Answers Three-Pronged Approach to Oral Health

First, Answers foods provide optimal nutrition to keep the tissues of the oral cavity at their healthiest level, and healthy tissue is better able to ward off invading bacteria. Fermented, raw foods are loaded with enzymes that can improve circulation, help speed tissue repair, and reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation —all helpful in healing gingivitis and gum disease. Raw milk is rich in Vitamin K2, which assures proper placement of calcium, and fermented bone stocks provide minerals in a form that the body can easily absorb. All these factors l work together synergistically to keep the teeth and jaw bones strong and healthy. Fermented stocks also contain glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which help repair compromised gum tissue and strengthen the ligaments that hold each tooth in place.

Second, Answers products use fermentation to propagate probiotic bacteria. These good bacteria inhibit the growth of bad bacteria that cause oral disease. By maintaining a healthy oral microbiome, these fermented foods help the mouth’s natural disease-fighting systems stay fully functional. Also, when the probiotics reach the gut, they improve the function of the systemic immune system which further helps to maintain oral health.

Finally, Answers has unique products to help with the mechanical removal of plaque, namely fermented chicken and pig feet. These are great for dogs to chew on for healthy gums and teeth. They naturally “brush” teeth clean while being chewed, scraping away plaque. Fermentation provides good bacteria that help prevent plaque from forming and is wonderful for overall oral health. Fermented chicken and pig feet are also a good source of glucosamine from cartilage that supports bone health. Of course, what a veterinarian sees as tools for dental disease prevention, pets regard as yummy, fun treats.

Oral disease can be deadly, and chances are that your dog is at risk. Defy the odds and prevent oral disease in your dog with the Answers approach.

 

 

 

[1] Glickman LT, Glickman NW, Moore GE, Goldstein GS, Hugh B. Lewis HB. Evaluation of the risk of endocarditis and other cardiovascular events on the basis of the severity of periodontal disease in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assn. 2009;234(4):486-494.

[1] Rawlinson JE, Goldstein RE, Reiter AM, Attwater DZ, Harvey CE. Association of periodontal disease with systemic health indices in dogs and the systemic response to treatment of periodontal disease. J Am Vet Med Assn. 2011;238(5):601-609.


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!


From Farm to Bowl

OUR PASSION IS CREATING A HIGHER STANDARD OF PET FOOD.
We knew there needed to be a higher level of quality nutrition, food bioavailability, and a more humane way to source farm animals in the pet food industry.

Knowing the state of operations and quality of food that were currently on the shelves, we didn’t want to be a large, industrial corporation that outsourced materials, or one of the so-called raw food companies employing harsh processing techniques like high pressure processing or freeze-drying.

We knew it was time to offer a humane, sustainable way of organic, pasture-raised farming that protects the food state, environment, animals, and our pets’ well-being. From farm to bowl, this is how Answers Pet FoodTM was created.

Our standards are set both by science and by socially and environmentally conscious principles. We’d like pet owners to re-examine how to meet their pets’ nutrition requirements and health care needs.

Our mission is to be more than a pet food manufacturing company, but an ethical, social,
environmentally conscious and best-practices-based movement in the raw pet food industry. And our goal is to improve the probability that our pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Beyond the Bowl was created to meet the needs of our pet parents that were looking to us for guidance on nutrition, feeding practices, health concerns, current and upcoming events, and sharing advanced medical news and research in the holistic pet health care industry.