It seems reasonable that if a pet food manufacturer, who has never met your pet, could make a raw pet food for your pet that you could do it cheaper and safer, right? Well… the truth is that sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. So here are some considerations you should keep in mind before you commit to a home-made vs a commercial raw diet for your furry kids.
While we would all like to think that food we find in the grocery store for our own consumption is held to higher standards than commercial raw diets for pets, this is unfortunately not always true. Raw meat that we find at the grocery store is stored and handled with the assumption that it is going to be cooked prior to consumption. This means it is considered safe to have a surprisingly high level of allowable pathogens on these raw meats. Not so for high quality commercially available raw diets. In fact, it would be considered down right dangerous to feed raw chicken from the grocery store to your pets. The ONLY incidences of illness caused by raw diets are linked to contaminated meats purchased from grocery stores or butchers and used in a home made raw diet. Another consideration is quality. It is VERY uncommon to find grass FINISHED and pasture raised meats in the grocery store. This is something that a number of high quality commercially available raw diets consider critical to making a healthy formula for pets. Also keep in mind that “USDA inspected” is a tragically misleading statement that implies quality…well Taco Bell beef is USDA inspected. Most higher quality raw diet companies are employing standards such as Global Animal Partnership Animal Welfare Rating. This is a scale of 1-5 that requires that the treatment of animals used for food meet certain standards. If you are getting meat from the grocery store you MUST cook it. The only pets that have ever died from a “raw” diet, died from grocery store meats fed raw (there are literally NO deaths and not even one single reported illness EVER from a commercial raw pet food. There are numerous deaths of pets and people linked to feeding home-made diets fed raw) … the pathogen levels are allowed to be very high on grocery store meats because you’re supposed to cook it. The only time I recommend making your own food is if your family hunts or farms and it is your own kill. Quality Control for meat you’ve raised or hunted yourself requires numerous steps. Keep it frozen for at least 3 months prior to feeding to ensure certain parasites and pathogens are killed. When processing the meat essential oil diffusers can also be used to help with decreasing pathogen levels and contaminates. If you are utilizing a processor to butcher your meat rather than doing it yourself, can you guarantee it isn’t being cross contaminated with lower quality meats? If they only process meat for human consumption they will also have that higher acceptable level of pathogens you find at the grocery, making your meat no longer safe.
While it may seem like home made diets should be less expensive than commercially available diets, this is often not true. Certainly, some commercially available diets are expensive (rabbit based diets for example) but in order to fully balance a home-made diet a number of supplements and/or difficult to obtain body parts are required, thus making this process costly AND time consuming. There are many raw companies that are far less expensive and better quality that what we could ever create for ourselves. Homemade diets are ultimately cost prohibitive to do it yourself with the same standards that some companies utilize. It would literally be a 40 hour a week job (as it is for good raw food manufacturers) to properly source and blend the food appropriately. It won’t be tested to verify that it’s levels are sufficient, thus creating a higher risk of malnutrition than when using a commercially available diet.
I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT’S IN IT
This is a GREAT benefit of homemade diets. However, as discussed above this doesn’t necessarily increase the safety of the diet to your pet. There are companies out there with purely ethical motivations behind their raw diets. These companies are trustworthy (perhaps more so than your grocer) and they often don’t use synthetic supplements to create a balanced diet. Synthetic supplements are not always absorbed by the GI tract, making it impossible to know just how successful we are at making a diet that is actually balanced. These companies are also testing the actual levels of the vitamins and minerals in their foods, giving you in fact MORE information about the diets than you would be able to know about a diet made at home.
I KNOW IT’S FRESH
Sadly, this again requires a discussion of food quality standards at grocery stores. Fresh is a very relative
term. Freshness is only guaranteed if you are sourcing your meats by hunting them yourself.
ORGANIC MEAT IS BEST
Do you know what that animal ate before it died?
-Grass fed doesn’t mean Grass Finished and when a grass-fed animal is finished on GMO corn at a feed lot they can still be certified as organic. However, you lose the CLA and other great health benefits of using a grass-fed meat.
Was it ever on a truck?
-Stress hormones are released in very high quantities and stored in muscle meat which we are ultimately
consuming or feeding to our pets. These stress hormones can cause endocrine issues and even trigger abnormal cell development, similar to the use of steroids.
Was it vaccinated?
-The chemicals that make up vaccine adjuvants are extremely toxic and feed animals are often grossly over vaccinated.
Was it medicated?
-This is something that directly effects antibiotic resistant infections in our pets. Over use of antibiotics in feed animals is rampant and unless your meat source is going out of it’s way to ensure antibiotic free, this is not usually the case. Certified organic does NOT mean antibiotic free.
Was it in a feed lot?
-Feed lot animals are exposed to contagious diseases (more drugs), stress (hormones in muscle tissue), and GMO feed (abnormal cell growth and allergy issues).
How long was it kept under good conditions?
-In order to obtain an organic certification, animals do not have to be raised organically from birth, just for a certain period of time prior to slaughter.
Did it get sun?
-While this may seem like common sense to most, sunlight is not considered a required part of organically raised animals lives.
DON’T FORGET ORGANS AND BONE
Some absolutely critical vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are only found in organ meat and ground bone (calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, taurine, etc). Liver and heart are the most commonly used organs. The liver’s job is to detox the body. If you are using liver from an animal that was not cleanly raised you will be feeding concentrated toxins to your pet. Bone powder is a crucial source of Calcium and Phosphorous. Synthetic forms of these vitamins and minerals are often not well metabolized/absorbed leading to nutritional deficiencies.
It’s a full time job for someone to make that commercial food. Do you have 40+ hours a week to make your pets food? It often requires at least 2-3 entire days of prep per week to make one week’s worth of food for your pet. Your time is valuable, and this is a huge commitment for something that has associated risks without saving you time or improving on the quality available in some commercially available diets.
RATIOS AND DAILY FEEDING AMOUNTS
An ideal ratio for your diet is 65% muscle meat, 25% organ meat (5-10% of this should be ground bone), and 10% fruits/veggies (do NOT exceed 25% fruits/veggies). As far as daily feeding amounts, this is complicated as it varies based on the primary meat source (beef is higher calorie than elk per ounce). If you are rotating often (at least every week) most adult dogs with moderate activity require 2% of their body weight per day. This will require adjustment based on age and reproductive status.
KEEPING IT COMPLETE
If you decide to make your own food the best vitamin/mineral supplements are those that are not synthetic… nothing man made. Therefore, Answers Raw Cultured Goat Milk (do NOT use Primal brand), Answers raw Cow Milk Kefir, Elemental Provisions Organic Bee Pollen and/or Elemental Provisions Spirulina are excellent whole food supplements. Each of those is a complete diet and will cover all your bases on its own… rotating between those things will ensure you’re covering more bases and increase variety in the diet. I also like that the Goat Milk and Cow Milk are anti-inflammatory and contribute a large variety of pre- and probiotics. An additional whole food supplement (this doesn’t create a balanced diet, but offers many benefits) is the Answers Fish Stock for joint, brain, heart, kidney, liver, immune, bladder, digestive health, etc.
Answers Raw, Cultured Goat Milk or OC Raw (uncultured) Goat Milk
– Just like breast milk for an infant, raw goat milk is a complete diet, consisting of all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, proteins and nutrients essential for life. Not only does Raw Milk provide necessary nutrients in a non-synthetic, perfectly balanced form… it also works as an excellent vitamin/mineral supplement for adult pets.
– Often times, pets have difficulty with the absorption of their foods. Feeding more calories to these pets can aggravate digestive concerns while feeding Raw Goat Milk assists in nutrient absorption and decreases the effort required by the intestinal villi to utilize the nutrients the body needs.
– Hydrolyzed protein diets have the side effect of causing imbalances in the body and loading the system with MSG. Raw Goat Milk has the ability to digest itself, and the cultures in Answers Raw Goat Milk have the ability to break down proteins in food ingredients, similar to the effect of Hydroxylation but without the side effects, making it an excellent alternative to hydrolyzed diets.
-Diets that don’t contain fruits, veggies or bone can benefit from the addition of Goat Milk to complete the food
-In the case of a dog or cat with severe allergies this would be the least allergenic option for supplementation.
– Raw Milk is a natural appetite suppressant and histamine reducer.
-We don’t recommend other brands, ESPECIALLY not Primal**
– Steve’s Goat Milk is a moderate quality raw goat milk in our opinions because it is substantially more expensive than Answers or OC Raw and contains coconut flour and chia seeds (both of which have benefits but also disadvantages such as anti-nutrients).
**Primal contains Turmeric and is sold in a plastic container. We LOVE turmeric, but it emulsifies fats and plastics. So, when kept for long periods of time in plastic it actually EATS the plastic and pulls endocrine inhibitors into the product. Endocrine inhibitors may lead to endocrine disorders such as diabetes, Cushing’s, pancreatitis, thyroid imbalances, etc. If you’d like to add Turmeric to your pets diet it should be purchased in glass container and mixed
with ginger or black pepper to increase absorbability. Hero’s Pets sells Elemental Provisions brand of Turmeric/Ginger that may be added to food or Answers/OC Raw Goat Milk.
Answers Fermented Fish Stock – Why is Answers Fish Stock so awesome???? ….
– It’s a great topper for picky eaters
– Vitamin D is a primary mediator of the immune system. Known for its function in preventing cancer, regulating minerals, building bones and regulating hormones in the body it is essential to maintain in sufficient levels to prevent dis-ease.
– Without sufficient Vitamin D (which must be received through animals with hair/fur) the minerals all act “drunk” and get lost in the body (calcium/phosphorus/magnesium…) which increases the likelihood of problems with the kidney’s (stones/crystals), bones, thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, spleen, etc. Supplementing with non-synthetic Vitamin D, coupled with natural, non-synthetic Vitamin K, can prevent as well as break up urinary stones/crystals.
– Vitamin D needs Vitamin K to regulate it. Vitamin K is found naturally in fermented products. The fermented sardines in Fish Stock make Vitamin D supplementation more effective.
– Vitamin A inhibits Vitamin D absorption. Most supplemental forms of non-synthetic Vitamin D (such as Cod Liver Oil) add Vitamin A, making Fish Stock a better alternative
-Synthetic Vitamin D calcifies the heart and is used as the primary ingredient in rat poison and synthetic Vitamin K is a known to contribute to allergic reactions, weakened immune systems, toxic reactions in liver cells and inducing hemolytic anemia… which is why we Fish Stock as a whole food version rather than using synthetics
– It is also a great source of easily absorbable macro and trace minerals that trigger metabolic enzymes which enhance the healing process.
-High in glycine which is known to have calming effects that may help with sleep.
– High in Iodine that supports the thyroid. Iodine also helps the protect the body from radiation
-Scurvy is a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency but in reality it’s actually a deficiency of collagen because Vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen. It converts proline in hydroxyl proline, thus, sufficient supplemental collagen can decrease problems with bleeding gums, bruising, poor wound healing, soft tissue injuries, cartilage and bone injury (including dental… as a matter of fact it can re-mineralize teeth)
-Chinese studies have shown gelatin to increase red blood cell and hemoglobin count, increase serum calcium levels, increase the absorption and utilization of calcium and prevent and treat myotonia atrophica (muscle wasting)
-The bio-available collagen in Fish Stock make it good for repairing holes and damage in the joints, kidneys, liver, thyroid, skin/coat, etc.
– High in Astaxanthin – a natural sunscreen and potent antioxidant
– High in Vitamin B12 – is required for the proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells and many other parts of the body. It’s notoriously used as supplementation for diabetes, sleep disorders, depression, weak bones, swollen tendons, IBD, asthma, skin allergies, macular degeneration, Lyme disease, ringing in the ears, MS, and protection against poisons and allergens.
-Contains 33mg/ounce of Taurine, which is necessary for eye and heart health
SKIN/COAT AND INFLAMMATION:
– High in natural Omega 6 and Omega 3 for skin and coat– isolated omega oil supplements (such as Salmon Oil) is often heated (making it carcinogenic), is preserved with Ethoxyquin (a cancer causing preservative that is often not listed on the label) and can easily go rancid. Fermented Fish Stock offers the healthy Omegas you’re seeking in fish oil without carcinogens or rancidity
Choline (regulates weight), Sodium (necessary mineral), Selenium (necessary mineral that is toxic in its synthetic form.. thus, making this a much safer way to get it).
KIDNEY AND URINARY TRACT:
– Fish stock is naturally high in arginine which assists the kidneys in utilizing proteins more effectively. Pets with kidney problems benefit from arginine in the diet to regulate protein usage without causing muscle wasting (a condition caused by decreasing protein levels in obligate carnivores… it’s a condition where the body eats its own tissues to survive)
-Arginine has also been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis and whole body inflammation
– High in CoQ10 which assists in maintaining heart health and tissue elasticity
– Fermentation also provides good bacteria that can rebalance gut health
– Gelatin prompts digestive fluids stimulating appetite and provides better digestion of nutrients in the food
– Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion
– Contains high levels of GAG’s (glycosaminoglycans) such as glucosamine, chondroitin and other nutrients that act as anti-inflammatories
-As noted above, Arginine, Omega’s, and CoQ10 also assist in decreasing inflammation, repairing joints and increasing elasticity of tissues in the body. Other anti-inflammatories found in fish stock are glycine and proline. How much does this miracle juice cost???? It’s only $4.95/pint (16oz) We understand that this product sounds way too good to be true but we at Hero’s Pets feel that any healing that comes from nature and whole foods is a million times better for the body than synthetic attempts by man (did you know that scientists worked to find every identifiable nutrient in Bee Pollen and when they made a synthetic version of it and fed it to bees all the bees died? Man can’t re-create the perfection of nature… so we are happy to promote a miracle product made of two natural ingredients over far more expensive, less effective and potentially unsafe supplements that would be necessary to match the awesomeness of products like RAW goat milk and fish stock)