How to Read a Pet Food Label

Woman reading a dog food labelIf you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head while standing in the food section of your local pet store or browsing the internet trying to figure out what the best food is for your pet, you’re not alone! Many major pet food companies assume that the average consumer really doesn’t know one food from the next, and because of this assumed lack of knowledge, these companies expect you to buy a food much the same way we buy a lot of things—with labeling techniques on the front of the product. Unfortunately, this tactic can confuse the consumer at best and create a false belief at worst.

All the eye-catching graphics and buzz words aside, always remember that it’s what’s INSIDE the bag that really counts.

The First Five

“The First Five” is the best (and easiest) rule to follow when deciphering an ingredient panel. Ingredients are listed in descending order by pre-cooked weight, meaning that once you get past the first five ingredients, the percentages of the remaining ingredients drop dramatically.

First five Animal Proteins...
Because dogs and cats are carnivores, look for a premium food that lists high quality animal protein as one of those first five ingredients. Premium foods will not contain low quality animal ingredients such as animal by-products or unnamed “meat meals”— a named animal meal, e.g. duck meal, is acceptable. The remaining ingredients of the first five should be another high quality animal protein, or a high quality, low glycemic carbohydrate source such as lentils, garbanzo beans or sweet potatoes. These ingredients work as a binder to help keep the food’s consistency and can add extra protein, fiber and vitamins without spiking blood sugar levels.

Just as you’ll find quality ingredients in the “first five” of premium foods, low end and mass market foods are filled with nasty ingredients. Never buy a food with first five ingredients like animal by-product, unnamed meat meal, high glucose grains & cereals (wheat, rice & corn), corn gluten meal, or cellulose. Animal by-product is a dry render product of slaughterhouse waste; basically, this includes everything like beaks, hooves, feet, and any other undesirables. Unnamed meat meal is a collection of unspecified meat sources all mixed together, truly a mystery meat. Grains & cereals like wheat, corn & rice can spike your pet’s blood sugar levels and are not as easily digested, not to mention they lack the essential fatty acids vital to your pet’s health. Corn gluten meal is the starchy residue left after the kernels have been processed and cellulose is made from plant cell walls; both of these are inexpensive fillers with no real nutritional value.

Guaranteed Analysis—Comparing Apples to Oranges

Although pet food labels must state a guaranteed analysis of the minimum and maximum percentages of moisture, fiber, crude protein, and crude fat (the term “crude” refers to the specific method of testing, not the quality of the nutrient), these analyses are stated on an “as fed” basis, which takes in to account the product as it is in the can or bag. When used alone, these percentages can be misleading because of the varying amount of moisture present in different formats of foods.

Moisture content plays a crucial role in correctly understanding the guaranteed analysis in any pet food because wet foods such as frozen raw pet food and canned pet food products typically contain 65-78% moisture whereas dry foods such as kibble, dehydrated, and freeze dried products typically contain 10-12% moisture. Because of this large moisture difference when comparing different formats of food, the most accurate way to determine true percentages of fiber, protein, and fat is not by comparing the food as a whole, but by comparing the food on a solely dry matter basis.

Luckily, dry matter can be determined by a simple formula, but you might need to a pen and paper to remember the steps!

To determine dry matter content:

100 – Moisture Content = Dry Matter

Dry matter is what we’re trying to solve, so, to determine the dry matter content of a can of food with 78% moisture 10% protein 5% fat and 1% fiber:

100 – 78% (the moisture content) = 22% (the dry matter content)

Now that you’ve determined that 22% is the dry matter content of the food, we can forget about the moisture content all together (because it’s really just water and plays no role in the overall nutrition of the food). To determine the true protein, true fat and true fiber of the food in question, simply divide the guaranteed protein, fat, or fiber percent by the dry matter content that you’ve just calculated and multiply it by 100.

To determine the true protein:

10% (the guaranteed protein) ÷ 22% (the dry matter content) x 100 = 45%

After determining the true protein in this can of food, it’s obvious why it’s so important to know how to be able to use and understand this formula. At first glance, this can of food looked like it only contained 10% protein, when it actually contained over 4 times that amount. Be an educated consumer the next time you want to find out what’s really in your pet’s food; just use this formula and you’ll be leaps and bounds above the pack!

But what does it mean to have a particular amount of protein? Protein is arguably the most important nutrient in your pet’s diet because they are carnivores, and if you’re feeding a kibble or canned diet, it’s important to know that you’re giving the right amount.

For a dry kibble dog diet, less than 25% protein would be considered low and only appropriate for a low protein diet. 25%-30% is considered a medium amount, which is good for a less active dog as long as it’s a high quality, animal source. Above 30% is a high protein diet, perfect for any dog. For a dog canned diet, below 5% is going to be low protein, 6%-7% is a medium amount, and 8%-10% is high protein.

Since cats are obligate carnivores, their protein amounts should be a little higher. For dry kibble cat food, less than 30% will be on the lower end, 30%-35% is a medium amount, and 35% and above (even up to 50%) will be a high, healthy amount for any cat. For canned cat food, less than 6% is low, 7%-10% is a medium amount, and 10% and above is a high, healthy amount.

Ingredients Should Stand on Their Own

woman feeding puppyDon’t quite believe that corn gluten meal is a great source of protein for your carnivorous cat? Neither does your cat! No matter what the front of the bag says, always flip it over to read the ingredient panel. A food touting “High Protein!” doesn’t mean anything to a cat’s biology if the protein is derived from corn and is the first or second ingredient listed. Whenever you’re looking at a bag of food, take the time to read what’s being stated on the front of the bag, and then flip the bag over to look at the ingredient list. If what’s being said on the front of the bag just doesn’t jive with what’s listed on the back of the bag, consider it a red flag and look for a different food.

What’s Best for You Might Not Be What’s Best for Them

Cat in a bowl of popcornPremium, wild caught North Atlantic salmon might strike a chord with you, but what if your dog is sensitive to fish? Remember that our domesticated companions do not have the ability to choose their food in the same way that their ancestors did. It’s up to you to choose a high quality, biologically appropriate food that suits their needs. When in doubt, remember that your furry friend is meant to thrive, not merely survive, on the food you choose for him or her!

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What You Need to Know About Chinese Chicken Pet Treats

Chinese made chicken jerky treats for our pets have made a resurgence in the news recently; most notably the deaths linked to brands like Waggin’ Train and Milos Kitchen. And there have been a number of official complaints made to the FDA over the past six years. It’s become such an issue that Nestle and Delmote have pulled products from the shelves; much to the relief of pet lovers. These deaths have spurred everything from an FDA investigation to numerous petitions. Plus, the stories have made national news, including NBC and National Public Radio.
As an Only Natural Pet customer, you probably haven’t been directly affected by this controversy. You, like us, understand the importance of quality in your pet’s diet. That’s why we have a huge variety of pet treats Made in the USA and pet products Made in the USA, including our Only Natural Pet Chicken Jerky Strips. But for those of you looking for answers and advice, let’s take a look at the facts:

• The FDA has been aware of illness associated with chicken jerky (as well as duck and sweet potato) originating in China since 2007.
• They have received 3,000 reports of illnesses, including 3,600 dogs & 10 cats, and 580 pet deaths related to the treats.
• Cases have been reported in every state.
• Chinese chicken treats have increased 85 fold from 2003 to 2013.

So as you can see, this problem is hugely expansive. And in the face of such a huge problem, it’s hard as a pet owner to know what to do to protect your furry friends. But with sound advice, extra planning, and informed decisions, you’ll be able to give your pet delicious treats without fear.
1. Look for signs of illness: Most of the illness associated with these treats has been gastrointestinal. This includes problems like vomiting, diarrhea, and blood and mucus in stool. More serious issues have arisen however, including pancreatic and GI bleeding and even kidney failure. If any of these issues arrive, seek veterinarian help immediately.
2. Stop buying treats made in China: Unfortunately, all too often, profits outweigh safety for big corporations. Chicken jerky brands like Only Natural Pet and BIXIBI are safely and proudly made in the USA.
3. Remember, chicken jerky is just a treat: Your pet doesn’t need treats to survive, so if you are at all concerned, stop feeding them treats. A balanced diet is essential for your pet’s health, treats are just the icing on the cake.
4. Share with your friends: Make sure every pet guardian you know is aware of what’s happening. Share on social media, like Facebook, talk to them at the dog park, whatever it takes! Get the word out to everyone that these treats are dangerous.
5. Make a statement: This one is easy and powerful. As consumers, we have the power to say to these big companies that our pets are more important than profits. Shop with smaller brands that produce in the USA. Let them know you appreciate their dedication to your pet’s health and happiness.

Navigating the world of pet food can be scary when dangers like Chinese treats and salmonella recalls are popping up so often. But these threats are easily neutralized when you’re a caring, informed pet parent. Together we can stand up for the rights of our pets.

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Halloween Pet Safety: Prevent a Fun Time from Becoming Frightening

Dog in Halloween CostumeHalloween is definitely one of our most unique holidays: we celebrate the beginning of autumn by dressing up in costumes, decorating with jack-o-lanterns, and giving out candy to our neighbors. And when we’re asked why we do these silly things, we inevitably answer, “That’s just the way it is.”

As intuitive as our pets may be, if that’s the best answer we have for people, how could we begin to explain this bizarre day to our pets? With that in mind, it’s best for us to have a game plan in mind so we can keep our pets healthy, happy, and most importantly, safe, on what can be a very hectic, confusing, and over-stimulating day.

People Treats Can Be Pet Trouble

One of the most important things for us to remember on Halloween is that people treats can be dangerous, and often poisonous, to our pets.

The Pet Poison Hotline reports a 12% increase in call volume during the week of Halloween, most of them associated with pets consuming chocolate, raisins, and wrappers. These are all dangerous to our pets and should be treated as a poisoning if they’re accidentally ingested.

Chocolate is one of the most toxic treats for pets. Dogs and cats both struggle to metabolize it and when it’s ingested, it can cause everything from vomiting and diarrhea to elevated heart rates and even seizures. The culprit is a caffeine-like chemical called methylxanthines. This compound is more highly concentrated in dark chocolates, but is still present in all forms, so make sure all chocolate is kept out of reach.

Whether they’re in the form of healthy raisin treats or a peeled grape trick, even a small amount of Raisins & Grapes can cause kidney failure in your pets. These must be kept out of reach! If you suspect that your pet has ingested either of these (symptoms can include vomiting, abdominal pain, & lethargy), make sure you contact your veterinarian immediately.
Dangerous Pet Foods
Unfortunately, our pets don’t always remove wrappers from treats before they eat them, making even non-poisonous treats dangerous. Plastic and foil can cause serious bowel obstruction, which sometimes needs surgery to correct. Even if the candy is eaten, your pet may still be attracted to the discarded wrapper, so keep the trash bin closed and inaccessible.

Keep Calm & Celebrate On

One of the biggest issues for our pets on Halloween is the constant line of trick or treaters or party guests. This can be especially troublesome if your pet is protective or hates when things are out of place. Fortunately, some small steps can go a long way in keeping them calm.

Make sure you have plenty of stress & anxiety remedies available and administer them before the trick or treaters start. A multi-faceted approach always works best, including flower essences, pheromone soothers, and swaddling products, like a Thundershirt. If you wait until after your pet is nervous, these aren’t as effective, so introduce them to your pet gently throughout the evening; when the visitors start arriving, your pet will be calm enough to handle it.

Safe spaces are important for letting our pets feel protected, so allow them access to them on Halloween and make them extra safe. Nervousness can induce extreme panting, so have plenty of water available.

Finally, try to meet the trick or treaters on the porch. Preventing the doorbell from always ringing or stopping the constant knocking at the door can give you a huge advantage in limiting your pet’s anxiety. And with the calming aids, your pet might not even realize anything out of the ordinary is happening!

Keep the Costumes Comfy & Safe

Our pets are part of the family, and if they’re comfortable with it, there’s no reason they shouldn’t enjoy the fun part of Halloween… the costumes! There are some things to keep in mind:

If your pet doesn’t want to wear a costume, don’t force it. Just like people, some pets don’t always like dressing up. If your pet is one of them, just let them go as they are, or better yet, make their lack of costume part of their costume… World’s Best Pet comes to mind.

If your pet loves dressing up, make sure the costume fits properly. If there is any kind of rubbing or constriction, it can remove fur and irritate your pet’s skin. Also, keep it simple so your pet isn’t tempted to think the costume is a toy. We might see a fully functioning robot pet with all the buttons and switches, but your pet sees something that needs to be destroyed, and possibly lodged in their gastrointestinal system.

Decorate with Your Pets in Mind

Commonplace Halloween decorations can be trouble for our pets. Candles in jack-o-lanterns can be singed whiskers and tails for our curious companions. If you’re using open flames, try to put them at a level where your pets won’t be tempted to get at them.

Fake cobwebs and glow sticks that are bad for pets can also look like a tempting toy; cats especially love to chew on these. Unfortunately, these are bowel obstructions (and a surgery) waiting to happen. Keep pets away from the decorations as much as possible. If you do catch them playing with decorations, it’s best to grab the pet rather than the camera.

They Only Stay in at Night

With hectic neighborhoods on Halloween, your best bet for safe pets is to keep them inside. This will keep everyone calm and happy. As an extra precaution, make sure all of your companions are wearing their collars with appropriate contact information. Halloween can be a nervous night, and often our pet’s first instinct is to flee.

Don’t Get Spooked

Most importantly, don’t let all of these potential dangers frighten you from a fun night. The most important steps for us to take are to keep our pets calm, be mindful of their actions, and make sure they’re having as much fun as we are!

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The Truth About Grains

by Alyse Stark, Only Natural Pet Nutrition Consultant

Choosing the right food for your furry friend can be a daunting task, even when you’re only dealing with one seemingly simple question:  should your pet go grain free?  Although the “Grained versus Grain Free” debate has been in full swing for quite some time, the basic arguments remain the same.

Dog in a field of Wheat Grain

To Grain or Not to Grain?

Proponents of a grain based diet for dogs argue that grains increase protein content and are a good source of necessary nutrients.  In the case of working breeds or active sporting dogs that digest and assimilate grains well, they may benefit from the higher carbohydrate content of a grain based diet.

Always choose a premium brand that does not contain a grain as the first ingredient.  Grains should be used as a carbohydrate and not as a primary protein source.  It is important to note that while grains do contain protein and certain amino acids, dogs assimilate animal based nutrients more readily than plant based nutrients.

When considering wolves and wild dogs, the vast majority of their diet comes from consuming other animals.  Because of this, proponents of a grain free diet argue that grains are not a biologically appropriate addition to dog food and are added as an inexpensive “filler” ingredient.  Grains can also contribute to weight problems because of their high carbohydrate content.

Cats Are Carnivores!

Cat hunting in a treeObligate carnivores, meaning that they are carnivorous by necessity and cannot fully digest and utilize nutrients from plant material. Cats eating a predominantly plant based diet would need to have all necessary nutrients added to the diet artificially to avoid being severely deficient in almost all necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Cats have all the chief characteristics of an obligate carnivore, including sharp claws, superior eyesight, soft pads for silently stalking prey, and sharp, pointed teeth.  Cats also have highly acid stomachs, as well as short digestive tracts which aid in the prevention of harmful bacterial colonization. Cats are biologically optimized for a meat diet!

Are There Better Grains For My Dog?

If you decide to go with grains for your dog, you should always select whole or whole ground grains such as rice, oats, barley or millet.  Avoid grain by-products such as corn gluten meal, soybean mill run, and brewer’s rice, among many others.  Corn and soy especially are a known cause of canine allergies.

Pancreas Under Pressure

Another argument against a grain or plant based diet can be summed up with one simple word:  amylase!  Salivary amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starchy carbohydrates in the mouth and is produced by most herbivores and omnivores.  Dogs and cats do not produce salivary amylase, leaving the production of amylase to the pancreas.

Proponents of a grain free diet argue that feeding a grain based diet to dogs and cats taxes the pancreas because it must work harder to produce amylase in order to break down the carbohydrates.  This straining of the pancreas may lead to health concerns such as pancreatitis and diabetes.

 

 Allergy Alert

Grains and BeansMany dogs are allergic or sensitive to grains, which contributes to the argument for a grain free diet. Symptoms of a food allergy come in many forms, including dry or itchy skin, paw biting, ear scratching, obsessive licking, digestive distress, vomiting and diarrhea – just to name a few!  Corn, wheat and rice are at the top of the list of most common causes of allergic reactions in dogs and cats, as well as common proteins including chicken, beef, and soy.

If you suspect that your dog or cat is suffering from a food allergy, the next step is finding out what is causing the allergic reaction.  Your veterinarian can perform a blood test for allergies, but the test can be expensive.  Limited ingredient and novel ingredient pet foods are an excellent resource when identifying your pet’s food allergies at home.

A limited ingredient food contains fewer components than a multi-protein, multi-carbohydrate food.  If your dog has been eating a chicken, fish and rice diet and is showing symptoms of a food allergy, try a limited ingredient duck and sweet potato diet.  If your dog’s symptoms diminish on the duck and sweet potato diet, it is safe to assume that duck and sweet potato are not allergens for your dog.

Your pet is most likely to develop an allergy after repeated exposure. A novel protein, such as pheasant or buffalo, is an ideal first choice for a limited ingredient diet since your pet is less likely to be allergic to a new protein. Determining an allergen through a limited ingredient/novel protein diet may take many months and lots of patience, but when the result is a happier healthier pet, it’s worth it!

 

Change Is Good!

Two Dogs One Bowl of FoodEven if you think you’ve finally found the perfect food for your dog or cat, be it grain free or not, unless your furry friend is severely allergic to multiple proteins or carbohydrates which leaves you with few choices, remember to change it up!

Simply put, dogs and cats get bored with their food just like us.  If that isn’t reason enough to change it up, consider that feeding the same food every day increases your pet’s chances of developing an allergy to that food.  Try buying a new high quality food every time you’re about to run out of food, and always remember to transition foods slowly over 10 days. Use 1 part new food to 9 parts old food the first day, 2 parts to 8 parts the second day, 3 parts to 7 parts the third day, and so on.  Eventually, your dog or cat may become used to eating new foods all the time, but in the beginning, slow and steady is best.

It’s normal for a dog or cat trying a new food to have minor digestive upsets over the first week or so, so don’t give up!  Adding a digestive enzyme to their food is a great way to manage tummy upsets.  Digestive enzymes not only help break down the food while it’s in the stomach, but help your pet assimilate all the nutrition in the food properly, making for an all-around healthier digestive system.  A healthy digestive system is the first defense to preventing first time and recurrent food allergies.

 

You Be The Judge

Smiling Woman and DogAs with any changes you make to your pet’s lifestyle, and as much as the debate regarding a grain free or grain based diet continues, always remember that YOU are the best judge of your pet’s well-being because you know your furry friend best!

If you’re trying a new food and it just seems like it isn’t working out, by all means change it—just remember that it often takes a few days to several weeks for a dog or cat to get used to their new food, and always remember that the outcome of any food changes you may decide to make should always be a happier, healthier four legged-best friend!

For Dogs:

Grain Free Food >

Limited Ingredient Food >

Novel Protein Food >

For Cats:

Grain Free Food >

Limited Ingredient Food >

Novel Protein Food >

Popular Digestive Enzymes >

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Back to School Blues: Tips for Helping Your Pets Make the Grade

Back To School for DogsBack to school time can be a mad rush when it comes to getting kids ready, adjusting our work schedules, being out of the house, and preparing for daylight savings time to end. But we have to remember that all of these changes in our lives can be just as stressful on our pets. Whether they’re missing a child that’s going to be at school or just picking up on our anxiety, these events can cause a lot trouble for our furry friend’s well-being.

Thankfully, there are some surefire techniques that can not only help your pet through these transitions, but help make them a healthier, happier pet.

Routine, Routine, Routine

One of the biggest factors that give our pets the back to school blues is the change in routine. This could be anything from waiting longer for their nightly walk or waking up earlier. The most important thing to remember during these transitional times is to keep the habit that works best for everyone. If this means walking your dog before work in the morning then make sure you take that walk every day. Or if your cat needs attention right after you set down your briefcase, then make sure that always happens.

Our pets are creatures of comfort and the small, routine actions can make all the difference. Try out these tips or create some new routines of your own:

  • 15 minutes of play every day when you get home. It offers exercise, bonding, and is a routine you’ll both enjoy.
  • Try homemade food that you prepare the same every meal. Your pet’s will start jumping for joy when they hear the spoon start stirring.

Keep Them Entertained

dog on a ripped up chairWith our busier fall schedules, our pets can end up spending a good deal more time in the house alone. If this time is left unstructured, destructive behavior and bad habits, like excessive barking and furniture destruction, can develop. Keeping your pets entertained during these times alone and giving them plenty of exercise when you are around can make all the difference.

  • Try your hardest not to leave your pets alone all day. If you can run home during a lunch break or have a pet sitting company stop in, that can mean the difference between a happy pet and a shredded couch.
  • Double up your pet’s exercise during the especially hectic times. You’ll notice your stress slipping away and you’ll wear your pets out so they’ll spend their time alone sleeping.
  • Interactive toys are a great way to keep your pets concentrating on something productive. Whether they’re working towards a reward or chasing a toy, will keep them content and focused.

Limit the Stress

Our pets have a tendency to pick up on our stress easily and to create stress when their routines change. This can lead to shaking, nervous panting, pacing, and even poor stool quality. Combating this can seem like a challenge, but using a multi-faceted approach can make it easy and safe for your pet. Exercise and play are a great way for our pets to work out that nervous energy, and supplements are always an effective, safe way to remedy anxiety issues1

  • Flower essences are great for calming your pets quickly and they have no side effects, so they can be dosed often for effective relief.
  • Thundershirts hug your pet’s body tight, giving them a sense of security. Make sure you put it on well before the stressor will start so your pet can get used to it.
  • If your pet is struggling with poor stool quality as a result of stress, probiotics and other digestive supplements are a great choice. They support proper digestion and will maintain healthy stool quality.

Get Them Learning

purebred english Bulldog in glasses and bookFinding time to spend with your pets and helping them to learn some new tricks is not only a great way to improve your bond with your companion, but it also helps keep them mentally stimulated. Mental stimulation is like exercise for their brains, keeping them focused when they’re on a task and wearing them out so they can get the restful sleep they need.

  • Training treats work wonders when you’re teaching new tricks. And natural ones will let you keep feeding without worry about dangerous fillers or chemicals.
  • When it comes to training, repetition is the name of the game. Try repeating the same command and hand gesture in unison, and always reward with a treat when the trick is done right.

Remember Their Health

Unfortunately, one of the biggest things that can be overlooked during stressful or hectic times is your pet’s health. Remember that diet is the foundation of a healthy life, so make sure you’re always feeding your pets a natural diet made with quality protein sources and from whole foods. Along with a proper diet, make sure you’re feeding quality treats and supplementing properly.

  • Choose a healthy pet diet that your pets like and is not going to aggravate any food allergies they might have. If you’re noticing allergic reactions, steer clear of grains and common proteins, like chicken.
  • Supplements are a great benefit for our pets overall health. Make sure you’re including a pet daily multi-vitamin every day and also using an essential fatty acid supplement, like fish oil. Along with these, treat with supplements accordingly, whether your pets need joint support, senior care, or anything else.

Back to school is going to be stressful, but following these steps will have some great consequences. It will help calm you and your pets and strengthen the bonds and relationships that you share.

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Chews Wisely: Why Your Dog’s Chew Choice Is More Important Than You Think

Great Dane Chewing Rawhide BoneWhen it comes to chewing, our dogs aren’t always the pickiest: sticks can be shredded in minutes; couch cushions are always fair game; and what’s-that-in-the-yard-I’ll-eat-it-anyway can be a daily occurrence. It has been suggested that dogs chew for every reason from curiosity to boredom, and it’s because of this “chew anything” mentality that the power of pet parenting is even more important.
Go to any pet store and you’ll find entire aisles dedicated to chews for your dog.

Most chews look innocent enough: bright white “bones”, twisted sticks, and even multi-colored braids, but the truth is these chews are not only unhealthy for our dogs, they can be downright dangerous!

To help you find the perfect dog chew, we have some simple things to keep in mind that will go a long way towards caring for your dog:

What’s In Your Dog’s Chews? (Or Better Yet, What’s NOT In It?)

Natural chews are sourced from single ingredients and gently processed, meaning you know exactly what you’re giving your dog. When your dog chews on a cow ear dog chews, you can see that it’s a cow ear. Processed chews, like rawhides, on the other hand, have some ingredients to hide.

Commercial chews undergo a bleaching process that features numerous caustic chemicals; those are soaked into the treat and waiting for your dog to ingest. And the added colors and “dental themed” rawhides are even worse, featuring artificial coloring, artificial preservatives, and fillers like corn sugar.

Where Are Your Dog’s Chews From?

We’ve heard a lot recently about dangerous chicken jerky treats associated with antibiotic fed livestock, but did you know that the cattle used for rawhides are often given similar, unsafe antibiotics? Not to mention the added growth hormones and terrible, unnatural feed. Natural chews are sourced from grass fed cattle, raised without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. The cattle are also free range, meaning they enjoy a healthy, open environment.

Are Your Dog’s Chews Healthy?

Dog health is very similar to human health: the less processed the better! Unfortunately, most commercial rawhides are hugely processed, going through multiple cycles of bleaching, coloring, and cooking.

All natural chews are single ingredient and go through minimal processing. Most of them are high in protein, low in fat, and free of those nasty fillers and preservatives present in commercial rawhides.

This means your dog is getting the nutritional benefits of a healthy snack, not the empty calories of a junk food chew. Plus, different chews can have added benefits!

Does Your Dog Like It?

As important as all the other decisions are when choosing a chew, there’s one that you have to leave up to your dog: the experience. Your dog might not be picky when it comes to chewing, but there is a difference between going through the motions, and truly enjoying something.

Do your dog’s ears perk up when you grab a natural chew? Does he sit with perfect posture, like a grade schooler ready to please?

Happy Dogs RunningAnd taste is just the start! Is the chew long lasting? Natural chews like bully sticks can last significantly longer than rawhides, giving your dog a satisfying experience from start to finish. How does your dog feel afterward? Are they content; or on the opposite side of that, feeling sick and even throwing up? Natural chews are single ingredient and completely digestible, which is gentle on your dog’s stomach.

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Homemade Made Easy

Why Homemade Food is the Best Choice for Your Pet!

Small dog large bone: EasyRawWhen we think about the finer things in life, food is always at the top of the list; and when we think of fine foods, we don’t think of them as plain, processed or overcooked.

We want our food full of fresh, colorful, whole ingredients exploding with flavor and nutrition. This slice of paradise isn’t exclusive to people…
our pets love it too!

Their sense of smell and taste are highly developed, meaning they dream of the fresh, bountiful ingredients just like we do!

So why are we feeding them boring kibble and canned food for every meal? It’s time to make a change; it’s time for homemade! But don’t panic; homemade doesn’t mean buying lots of ingredients at the grocery store and toiling away in the kitchen. There are a number of packaged homemade pet foods that only need to be mixed with water and served. It might sound simple, but it offers a whole new level of taste and nutrition for your pet.

Homemade isn’t just a food type, it’s a food choice! And it’s one of the best choices you can make to give your pets the gift of a long, healthy, and, most importantly, better quality life.

Top 5 Reasons to Switch to Homemade

(Be warned:  Pets love it so much, they won’t go back!):

1.       Homemade Means “Nature Made” as well

Your dog and cat are not “kibblevores”. They both have extremely advanced digestive systems that crave fresh, nutrient dense, raw foods. In nature, they would be eating an entire animal: this means plenty of raw meat with digestive system supporting probiotics and essential fatty acids; the stomach content of their prey, which would be filled with plant matter that’s high in vitamins and minerals; and a good amount of hydrating fluids from the blood and water rich organs.

Homemade pet food diets recreate this raw meat and vegetable feast, without all the mess!

Some of them feature large, appetizing chunks of raw meat that have been freeze dried, so the protein doesn’t lose the beneficial nutrients that are mostly absent from processed foods. And all of them contain human quality meat with an array of dehydrated fruits and vegetables. These fruits and veggies are not only delicious to your pet, but they’re rich in nutrients missing in the meat, like vitamin C and other antioxidants. Plus, homemade diets are prepared by you with fresh water, which hydrates your pet and offers them a delicious broth.

2.       Variety Is the Spice of Life

When you buy your pets’ kibble, you know the type and relative amount of protein because of the guaranteed analysis and ingredients list. But if you were to just look at the food out of the bag, would you know the ingredients? Probably not. That’s because most kibbles and canned foods are so processed and cooked, they become a single texture, with a single color, and a single flavor.

Homemade diets are different! Once you add water, you’ll see quality proteins that plump up, a flavorful broth form, and shredded vegetables that you can actually see. These combine to give your pets a variety of textures and flavors that will keep them happy and healthy.

3.       Who Wants Cornflakes Everyday Anyway?

When you commit to a kibble or canned diet for your pets, the most effective way to feed them is to buy the largest bag or case. Unfortunately, this is like buying a 40 pound bag of cornflakes or a bucket of canned pasta! With their relatively short shelf lives and depleting freshness once you open them up, kibble and canned diets are not the first choice when looking for a freshly prepared, homemade diet.

Homemade diets are preserved in unique ways (by freeze drying, air drying, or dehydrating) giving them a stable shelf life.

This lets you mix and match your flavors, so you won’t be feeding the same meal over and over again, giving your pets the diet diversity they crave. (To learn more about the importance of variety, please read our article “Why Switch Foods.”)

4.       Your Pet Is Family

Preparing meals for your family isn’t just a means of feeding them; it’s a ritual that teaches us the importance of connection, patience, and love.

EasyRaw Dog wearing chef hatNothing disrupts this experience more than simply dumping kibble or a can into a bowl. Homemade food lets you include your pet in the process! Their food can soak while you prepare yours, and even though most homemade mixes are complete meals, there’s no rule against adding some of your cooking scraps (Only healthy ones, of course. To learn more, read this article about dangerous pet foods to avoid by the ASPCA).

This process lets you bond with your pets in more ways than you might think. It lets you see their food first hand, so you know you’re giving them whole, nutritious meals. Plus, it’s a great way to reinforce your role in your pets’ lives. They’ll know you’re the one who decides when it’s time to eat. You’re not merely providing a meal, you’re providing a routine.

5.       Who Doesn’t Want a Homemade Meal?

The truth of the matter is that homemade tastes better, and is healthier for our pets! Most homemade meals allow you to just add fresh water, wait, and serve, which makes a huge difference when compared to processed, premade foods.

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