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.

 

 

References

  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

 

 

 

 

 


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.


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.


ANSWERS CELEBRATES: CHRISTMAS DOGS EVERYWHERE

MEET OUR ADOPTED ANSWERS HOLIDAY DOG

Our Answers family absolutely loves our dogs and cats. (You may have guessed that!) We’re always happy to take in a furry new family member and often find our lives profoundly changed by each new addition, and our love for each unique personality.

So, this holiday season, we’d thought it would be fun to share the story of one adorable and lucky dog adopted this year by an Answers family member and the head of the Answers HR department.

The Story of Judah

Meet Judah. Here’s what we know about him. He was found over the summer along the Texas/Mexico border. His tail had been cut (possible home cropping gone wrong) and he was chained to a fence and left to starve.

 His “owners” moved and took their other two dogs, but left Judah for dead. Amazingly, he fought infection and wounds, and his tragedy turned him into a gentle giant who just wants to be loved.

Judah_Rescue_1024We believe he is about a year and a half old and predominately American Staffordshire Terrier. He is a big boy, most recently weighing in just over 75 lbs., and is expected to pack on some more weight.

Since adopting him from the rescue, we have fully transitioned him to @answerspetfood raw diet with an introduction to our fermented cow milk kefir and raw cow cheese bites to his pre-existing diet. Shortly after, he took to our raw diet seamlessly. His favorite foods thus far are Beef Detailed Formula, our kefir and raw cheese bites. Within a few days, we noticed Judah had more energy, required less water, and his bowel movements were less frequent and smaller. His coat is becoming soft and wounds are on the mend. He is thriving.

Avoiding any unnecessary stress, we’ve also given him Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice because it’s high in Glycine. Glycine produces a calming effect and aids in sleep.

The kids have already established a few cute nicknames for him like “Judy with the booty” and “Jude the Dude”, they also think his “hot dog tail” is quite comical.

He has no idea the glamorous life he’s about to live and we are so blessed to have him. Welcome to the family big guy!

We wish a wonderful holiday season to all Answers pets and all the “new adoptions” that 2019 brought to our homes as fuzzy gifts of love we’ll cherish for years to come.

Share your holiday pet photos, and stories of how your new pet joined your family on our Facebook page and/or at info@answerspetfood.comJudah.Outside.1024


Why We Choose To Feed Raw

Dog (Black and White Border Collie) with Raw Chicken Thigh in MoBy Roxanne Stone, Vice President of Research and Development for Answers Pet Food

At Answers Pet Food, our philosophy on pet nutrition is fairly simple. We believe Mother Nature is the best authority on proper animal nutrition and it’s difficult to argue otherwise. A quick glimpse into observing the diets of canine ancestors, as well as their wild counterparts—the wolves, is all that is necessary to gain a good understanding of their basic diet and what makes them thrive.

Once most pet owners do even a small amount of research on dog or cat nutrition, the decision to feed raw is obvious. We encourage all pet owners to become educated on the basics of pet nutrition so they have the knowledge and tools to make the best choice in feeding their pets.

Historically, it has only been in recent years (about 80 years ago), that our pets have been introduced to the highly processed, sterile, grain based, enzyme deficient, modern diet. Prior to this, they consumed a raw, protein-based diet either through hunting smaller animals and rodents or from the raw bone and meat scraps they received from their human caretakers.

It isn’t surprising that we can observe a parallel in the same degenerative diseases and allergies in our pet populations that we see in our own human population, as humans have also moved to this highly processed, high carbohydrate diet.

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM and licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor, clearly explains that the short G.I. tracts of dogs and cats (carnivores) are not designed to digest large amounts of carbohydrates, which unfortunately are the base of most commercial pet foods. Rather, they are intended to digest raw protein based diets. Dr. Becker links many of the following diseases to the high carbohydrate, grain based pet food diets including;

• chronic skin conditions

• auto-immune diseases

• allergies

• urinary tract infections

• kidney stones

• degenerative joint disease

• and cancer

…just to name a few.

Many pet owners who see the nutritional benefits of raw are reluctant to try it for fear of harmful bacteria. Dr. Doug Knueven, DVM and author of The Holistic Health Guide, Natural Care For The Whole Dog, mentions that in his experience, pathogens such as E. Coli and Salmonella, are rarely a problem for dogs and they are able to handle these bacteria much the same way their ancestors have for millennia.

We agree that healthy pets with well developed gut micro-flora should not experience any ill effects from consuming raw meat. However, Answers Pet Food also takes food safety and manufacturing to the highest level when sourcing and preparing our products. We understand that reducing the risk of harmful bacterial contamination starts at the farm, and in the manner the livestock are raised, fed, and handled. All of our raw meat ingredients are sourced from livestock that are free-range, pasture-fed, and have never ever been administered growth hormones or antibiotics. Our raw meat ingredients are from USDA inspected facilities and are passed for human consumption.

Answers_Chickens_0112_altAnswers puts strict quality control measures in place at our manufacturing facility (also USDA inspected) to control pathogens. In fact, many of our ingredients are delivered fresh and processed upon arrival to deliver the highest quality end product. In addition, we use one of the most traditional methods in the history of food preparation for reducing the potential growth of harmful bacteria—fermentation. We add fermented green tea (decaffeinated kombucha) into each batch of our Detailed formula. This decreases the overall pH of the product, provides a competitive environment of “good, beneficial bacteria” and reduces the growth of any harmful bacteria.

On the consumer level, raw products should always be handled with the utmost care and concern. We recommend following the same safe handling procedures as you would when preparing your own meals using raw ingredients. Always keep raw food separate from cooked and ready to eat products. This can be as simple as dedicating one of the lower shelves or drawers in the refrigerator to raw products only. Wash all surfaces, utensils and hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw products. Keep raw products frozen until you are ready to thaw and serve them. Once raw products are completely thawed they should be kept refrigerated (<42°F) and consumed by the pet within 7 days. We recommend not to re-freeze previously thawed raw foods if at all possible. Following these safe handling practices and using good hygiene is the best defense in keeping both humans and pets in the household healthy and happy.

ALL_represented_groupedPreparing your own homemade, nutritionally complete, raw dog food can be expensive, inconvenient, and time consuming. Specially created by a nutritional scientist, Answers Pet Food developed one of the most nutritionally-dense lines of raw dog food. No calculations, guessing, preparing, or mess—Answers raw, fermented food is available in several sizes and forms. These formulas come in an environmentally-friendly, recyclable package. It’s a convenient, nutritious source of naturally raw food for pet owners to choose and feed with ease.

We are here to help support and share our knowledge with all pet owners and provide their pets with a safe, nutritious, high quality, 100% raw, whole food diet.