The Lowdown On Food Toppers For Dogs

Wouldn’t your dog appreciate a food topper?

While dogs only have about 1700 taste buds (compared to humans’ 9000), it doesn’t mean that their kibble doesn’t become bland after years of consumption. Think about it, could you eat wheat bread two times a day, every day, for the rest of your life? That’s why some dogs can benefit from food toppers.  Not only do they boost palatability, but can provide added nutrients and a little variety to your pet’s diet.

Food toppers are great for picky pets, or  animals whose appetites are lacking due to surgery or stress. Food toppers are also perfect for prompting pets to eat when switching foods. Even for pets that aren’t picky, a food topper makes for a nice treat and a little variety.

Make sure you’re buying a quality food topper so you aren’t bogging down your pet’s regular nutrition with unnecessary fats and/or low grade ingredients. Our Flavor Enhancer is made from 100% beef or chicken liver to provide delicious flavor plus added protein and fiber. It can be sprinkled right on the food or mixed with water to make a delicious gravy that can also soften food for older pets.  We’ve also had many people write in to tell us that they use our Raw Naturals freeze dried food as a topper too!

Whichever product you choose, be sure to follow the feeding instructions. We also recommend you discuss the addition with your vet to ensure they’re not getting too much of a specific nutrient.  Finally, monitoring their stool is useful anytime you incorporate something new into your pet’s diet.

Let’s take it to Facebook: Do you opt for a topper for your pet? Why or why not?

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5 Questions And Answers About Using Slow Feeders For Dogs

Let’s talk slow feeders for dogs

As pet food experts, we’re often asked about slow feeders for dogs: What are they? What’s the point? Do they really work? Does my dog need one? Well, allow us to elaborate with a pseudo Q&A.

Q: What exactly are slow feeders for dogs? 

A: Slow feeders for dogs are bowls designed to make your pet ‘work’ to get the food out, often with obstacles or barriers to break up the flat surface of a bowl that allows pets to take big bites or eat too quickly.

Q: What’s the point?

A: Many animals ‘inhale’ or rapidly eat their food. This behaviour can cause vomiting, choking, upset stomach, or food bloat – which is potentially life threatening. A slow feeder is designed to avoid rapid eating, either prompting pets to chew between bites or just allowing less food in their mouth at a time.

Q: Do they really work?

A: Yes.  Most pets do take longer to eat, but finding the right slow feeder for your pet may take some fielding. Some may be too easy while others may take the joy out of mealtime for your animal altogether. You want one that allows your pet to eat at a comfortable pace.

Q: Any downsides?

A: Sure – some pets have ingested parts of the plastic barriers or even chipped a tooth by not being careful; other pet owners have noted it can be messy, meaning the bowl is harder to clean or their pet flips it over when trying to get to their food.

Q: So, does my dog need a slow feeder?

A: Suffice to say, not every dog needs a slow feeder but if your dog eats so fast you hear them choke or it’s caused them to vomit, a slow feeder could absolutely aid in preventing that.

Now it’s our turn to ask questions! Does your pet use a slow feeder? What prompted you to get one? Are you happy with the results? Tell us more on Facebook!

 

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Dear Stewart: Should My Dog Eat Gluten Free Dog Food?

gluten free dog food

We received the following email asking our opinion on gluten free dog food

Dear Stewart,

I live in an area, where consuming carbs and gluten pretty much makes you a social pariah. Admittedly, I try to avoid them for my figure (and social life), but it got me thinking… should my dogs avoid the same ingredients? They do alright on their current kibble, but my friends from spin class agree that grains and gluten would never be in a wild animal’s diet. Obviously my Yorkies are a far cry from wild animals, but I just really want to know: should they be eating gluten free dog food?

Toodles Foodies,

Bread-less 

 

Dear Bread-less,

This question can be difficult to answer, but we will say this: all of our food and treats are grain and gluten free because, you’re right, dogs have no use for these ingredients – wild or otherwise. Of course, domesticated dogs have evolved to be able to digest and process grains and, for most dogs, they certainly aren’t harmful but, generally speaking, they’re really just cheap filler ingredients.

It’s important to clarify the difference between grain free and gluten free. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, namely wheat, barley, and rye – so foods that are gluten free can still contain some grain, while grain-free foods are exactly that and, thus, gluten free as well. To attempt to answer your question, Bread-less: Many pets suffer food allergies and, since grains are seemingly useless, many owners eliminate them first an an attempt to stop the itching, inflamed skin or hair loss. Very few animals require a gluten-free diet, but all of them can benefit from a nutritious diet rich in protein, low in fat, and devoid of fillers like corn, soy, and wheat.

 

Sincerely,

Your Low Carb-Eating Comrades at Stewart

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Do You Know What’s In Your Dog’s Treat?

do yo know what's in dog treats

Dog Treats

Treats are an essential element to training and do a great job of expressing appreciation and validation toward your animal in a way they can’t misunderstand. Not only that, but dog treats make your pet happy! That in itself is enough of a reason to get them into our grocery cart.

An unsavory fact about some dog treats

Because treats aren’t intended for,  or advertised to contribute to your pet’s nutritional health, we can tend to not pay as much attention to what goes into them.  Lots of questionable and unnecessary things can make their way onto the ingredient list.  Added sugar, meat by-products and rendered fat are a few. Chemical colorings, flavorings or preservatives are a few of the lesser savory items that can make the list. Like your pet’s diet, it’s important to consider what goes into their treats, especially if you’re generous with them between meals. 

And the good news is;

Now, before you abandon treats altogether, what if we told you there’s a delicious treat out there with just one wholesome ingredient?  One ingredient without by-products or chemical additives?  Nice, right?  Now, what if  that ingredient is also high in protein and low in fat? You guessed it, our Pro-Treats are made of 100% pure beef liver, lamb liver, pork liver, turkey liver, chicken liver , duck liver, bison liver, chicken breast, or wild salmon that’s small batch produced and perfectly portioned into freeze dried bites. 

When it comes to ingredients, we think less is more. If you’re looking for a healthy, natural alternative to overly processed biscuits and treats, consider upgrading to Pro-Treat!

What’s your pet’s best trick to get a treat? Show us on Facebook!

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Homemade Dog Food – Why It May Be Time To Switch To Freeze Dried

There are a lot of pet owners out there who not only opt to feed a raw diet, but who prefer to prepare it themselves. While the reasoning is understandable, pre-prepared freeze dried raw diets are expensive, while homemade lets pet parents control each ingredient. Homemade diets also offer the ability to tailor to your pet’s respective taste. Why would you do anything else, right?  Possibly, but preparing your pet’s meals is not a lighthearted commitment. It takes diligence and an understanding of your pet’s nutritional needs to really accomplish the intended benefits. Yes, freeze dried diets are expensive, but they take all of the nutritional guess work out of meal prep. In fact, to create a homemade dog food with the same nutritional benefits as freeze dried, it would quite possibly cost you more to purchase the individual ingredients than it does to buy the pre-prepared food. Also, with with the rising popularity of freeze dried dog food, there are now more flavors available than ever! 

If you’re still considering at-home pet food prep, keep these 4 pitfalls in mind.

1. Inconsistent Portions.

Don’t eyeball your pet’s proportions, be consistent in weighing out their protein and administer the same supplements every time. Common sense right?  Maybe, but it is seriously more difficult than it sounds.

2. Nutritionally Lacking.

Simply providing protein, fat, and veggies may seem like a wholesome meal, but other nutrients – like fiber, calcium, and phosphorus – aren’t often considered. So while your pet may have a balanced meal in their belly, without fiber they have no real way to eliminate it without nutritional supplements.

3. Nutritionally Imbalanced.

Not only do dogs require specific essential nutrients, like protein, carbs, and fat, they also need to be balanced.  As an example, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be one to one to maintain skeletal health. This takes research as well as consideration for your specific pet’s age, activity level, and breed-specific issues. Your best bet, along with research, is to talk with your veterinarian before making homemade dog food.

4. Too Lean.

While lean meat is all the rage with humans, dogs should get proteins with 15-20% fat content (depending on if you add supplemental oils) and don’t shy away from the innards – the kidney, liver, heart, and spleen all offer wonderful natural nutrients for your pet.

As we’ve previously mentioned, you could take all the guesswork, measuring, and preparing out of it by opting for any of our nutritionally balanced, responsibly sourced diets – available in 7 recipes ranging from beef to lamb to bison!

What are some snags and successes you’ve had with at-home food prep? Share your story on Facebook!

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K9 Veterans Day: What it Takes to Be a K9

March 13 is National K9 Veterans Day

K9 Veterans Day commemorates the day in 1942 that the US Army K9 Corps was formed. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, it seemed everyone got called to duty. Many, to aid in the rebuilding and retribution, including canines. Our armed forces have never looked back. From police, military, border control, and more, canines serve an invaluable and heroic role in aiding our country’s (and our communities’) safety. It’s no wonder the training they endure is absolutely awe-inspiring.

How does a dog become a K9 veteran?

Without going into too much detail, K9 training goes in levels. The first level is obedience training. A K9 dog must respond to its handler’s basic commands without fail; things like sit, come when called, wait, lie down, watch me, etc. Once they’ve proven to be good listeners, they undergo agility training to be able to jump over walls, run semi-long distances, and climb stairs. It’s imperative to get them acclimated to city life because a K9 can’t be nervous in new situations. Then comes the specialty training.

What is specialty training?

Specialty training includes drug sniffing, bomb/gun locating, or missing person/cadaver discovery. The scents are initially introduced to the dog on a towel or other toy and used as a play thing. Then, with a whole lot of time, patience, and consistency, the animals are trained to think the smells are a good thing because that’s when they get a reward. So, while it may sound a little weird, when on the job, these dogs are really looking for their favorite toy.

If you’re looking to commemorate the day, consider making a donation to American Humane, an organization dedicated to supporting and protecting both human and animal warriors. You could also talk with your local police station to see if there’s a way to contribute to the training or care of their K9 crew.

If you’ve witnessed the heroism of a working dog and would like to share your story, head to our Facebook page – we’d love to hear.

 

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Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Why is chocolate bad for dogs?

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means chocolate will be in abundance. A delicious treat for us, but why is chocolate bad for dogs?  Most people know that certain foods (like chocolate) are toxic to dogs and should be kept out of reach – but do you know why? 

A little bit can cause a big problem.

The culprit behind chocolate’s toxicity in animals is theobromine.  Theobromine is a bitter compound found within cacao seeds that is processed very slowly in a dogs’ digestive system.  Theobromine can build up to toxic levels depending on the size of the dog, the type of chocolate, and how much is ingested.

Which chocolate has the most theobromine?

For reference, cocoa, cooking chocolate, and dark chocolate have the highest levels of theobromine while milk and white chocolate have the lowest. When dealing with high levels of theobromine, like in dark chocolate, less than an ounce may be enough to poison a 44-pound dog so don’t underestimate its toxicity!  It’s best to be overly cautious.  Also, keep in mind is chocolate isn’t just candy, it can be an ingredient in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. Some sauces, like mole pablano also contain chocolate.

What to look for: 

Small doses of chocolate can cause  vomiting and diarrhea and will pass, but higher levels can have dangerous results.   High levels of theobromine (theobromine poisoning), can cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, and/or heart attack. If you suspect your dog has ingested a lot of chocolate and/or is exhibiting any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait. Oftentimes, if it’s within two hours of ingestion, the veterinarian can induce vomiting and will monitor your pet’s vitals and organ function.

Out of sight, our of mind.

It goes without saying that boxes of chocolate, baked goods, and other toxic tokens of affection should be kept safely out of pets’ reach. If you suspect your pet’s helped themselves, call your veterinarian. If you want to spoil your puppy love this Valentine’s Day, consider a tub of Pro-Treats and a fun new plush or rope toy!

Don’t forget to post a picture!

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New Year, New Food? 5 Reasons to Consider Freeze Dried Dog Food

premium dog food

5 Reasons to Consider Freeze Dried Dog Food

Whew! It’s the New Year. The holidays are behind us and we can get back on track with our regular diet and exercise. Are you considering a clean, healthy diet to improve energy, mentality, and weigh?  These same benefits should be extended to our pets. While reviewing your personal health goals for 2018, take a moment to consider your pet’s diet. Does it provide optimal nutrition without fillers or by-products If you don’t know, find out. For those who do know, and may be having second thoughts about their kibble, here are 5 reasons to consider our Raw Naturals freeze dried food this New Year.

1. Understandable Ingredients.

Forget cornmeal and byproduct, our freeze dried food has an ingredient list you can actually pronounce: Beef, Beef Liver, Heart, and Kidney, Carrots, Broccoli, Apple… the list goes on (with no tongue twisters!)

2. Optimal Nutrition.

Clean, premium ingredients mean easy digestion of a diet high in protein and low in fat and carbs, just what dogs need to promote lean muscle and overall health.  Lesser expensive dog food uses fillers to keep costs down.  While fillers may provide a full feeling, they offer little in terms of actual nutrition.  Freeze dried food is nutrient dense, withouth fillers to provide full, balanced nutrition in it’s purest form as the ingredients intend.

3. Shelf Stable.

All the benefits of a raw diet in a shelf-stable bag that can be fed the same way kibble is. No handling of raw meat or hoping you’re providing a balanced diet – just measure and serve all the nutritional perks of minimally-processed food.

4. Food Safety Through High Pressure Processing (HPP).

Traditional heat processing destroys a lot of nutrition in the name of safety. Because of this use high pressure processing to kill food-spoiling bacteria while maintaining the complete nutritional value of each ingredient. Read more about why we use HPP here.

5. USDA Inspected and Approved.

All of our food and treats are processed in a human-grade, USDA/FDA-inspected facility right here in the United States. This is important as it lets our customers know that quality and integrity are at the forefront of our mission to provide wholesome nutrition.

Do your pet a favor: read and research what’s in their kibble or canned food and think about whether or not freeze dried dog food may serve them better. It’s quite possible they are perfectly happy and performing well with their current diet. For older pets or pure breeds with digestive sensitivities, a raw, freeze dried diet could be the difference between living and really thriving. If you have any questions about integrating freeze dried food into your repertoire, feel free to ask us on Facebook!

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5 Tips for training a puppy

 training a ouppy

I Got puppy for Christmas!  Wait, now what do I do?

If you’re one of the thousands of people who received a puppy for Christmas then you’re keenly aware that, while adorable, training a puppy  is no easy task. Many people underestimate the responsibility and dedication it takes to raise a young dog, especially once the novelty of the surprise wears off.  Sadly, many Christmas pets are rehomed, or taken to the shelter due to behavioral issues (aka: lack of training.) The truth is, the key to raising a well behaved dog is to train and bond with them as a puppy.  To help you navigate this new endeavor, we’re offering  5 training and bonding tips.

1. Consistency is Everything.

This is so true when training a puppy.  Whatever behavior you’re trying to eliminate, you must be consistent in implementing and correcting it. For example, if you don’t intend on letting them sleep in your bed, jump, or get on the couch when they’re grown you can’t allow for it while they’re small. The best way to make your expectations clear is by being consistent with both positive and negative reinforcement.

Pro-Tip: Our favorite way to correct unwanted behavior is with a squirt bottle, it’s effective yet non-threatening and harmless.

2. Consider Crate Training.

Crate training a puppy is one of the most bond-enriching choices you can make for two reasons: 1. It eliminates the frustration of your puppy ruining things when home alone while 2. Providing them the opportunity to relax in a space all their own. As long as they won’t be confined too long, it’s a wonderful option for working pet parents or anyone with a semi-active social life. Be prepared: they will cry at first, but be consistent… If you give in and take them out, even once, you’ve reinforced that crying will get them released.

Pro-Tip: Make sure the crate is big enough that they can stand up, turn around, and lie down in it comfortably and never use it as punishment – you want them to relax and enjoy their space, not fear it.

3. Toys, Toys and Toys Galore.

Or at least a few of their favorites. You want to be able to distract your puppy away from inappropriate playthings (wall corners, carpet edges, dining room chairs…) with proper toys. Eventually, they’ll understand what’s ok to chew and what isn’t.

4. Puppy Proof.

You may find that you need to train yourself a little in the process to eliminate temptation; put shoes away, try to to hide or block cords the best you can, and put potted plants up for a little while.

Pro-Tip: Consider a chew-deterrent spray for furniture edges.

5. Don’t Forget their Diet.

Setting your puppy’s nutritional foundation isn’t just about their teeth and coat, it also plays into bone health and brain development. Our Freeze Fried Puppy Formula has DHA for brain health, calcium for strong bones, and antioxidants for a healthy immune system – the full package for a growing pup!

Show us your puppies! We’d love to see your Christmas pups on our Facebook page!

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Dog Sweaters: Isn’t their coat enough?

dog sweater on cute puppy

 

We get lots of letters in our in box and every so often, we like to share.  With the cold weather upon us, we thought this question regarding dog sweaters was perfect.  Of course, we took a little liberty with the wording.  😉  Not to mention, it also gives us a reason to use this cutie’s picture!  

Dear Stewart,

December 16 is Ugly Sweater Day and I really want my pet to pawticipate. I’ve already ordered our matching ensembles but this silly spirit day got me thinking… should my sweetie always wear a sweater? Are dog sweaters something pets really need in cold weather or are their coats enough?

Signed,

Coated in Curiosity

Dear Coated,
The short answer is: yes, some dogs (and hairless cats) really do need an extra layer. Depending on their breed, size, and even age, some canines simply can’t keep themselves as warm as others. For those that can’t, dog sweaters help to give their coat a boost. Of course, some breeds like St. Bernards, Malamutes, Huskies, and Bernese Mountain Dogs have coats that are meant for snow and the extra layer of a jacket may just limit their mobility or cause overheating. Some breeds whose coats could use a coat are Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, Pinschers, Shorthair Pointers, toy breeds, terriers, and even Boxers. If you notice your buddy shivering or showing hesitation when it’s time to go outside in cold or wet weather, try a sweater – ugly or otherwise! We hope this helps… and be sure to share a picture of your cutie in their ugliest attire!

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