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Lansdale, PA

Pet care in Lansdale, PA. Certified in Pet First Aid and CPR through the American Red Cross. Bonded and insured. Supporter of local pet rescue!

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Ecofriendly Little Home & Pets Blog

Eco-friendly and earth-conscious features and reviews, pet care tips, and feeding education. Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free autoimmune diet musings.  Interested in having your product reviewed here?  Please email: ecofriendlypetreviews@gmail.com.

Filtering by Category: Raw Feeding

One roasted pumpkin heeds two great recipes

Christina Ottaviano

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I roasted a pie pumpkin while also roasting a spaghetti squash for dinner last week. But why? How? Easy! Cut any type of squash in half and then roast cut side down on a baking pan. I roasted mine for 50 minutes on 425 F.

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Yes, it seems time consuming but I also mowed the lawn, did dishes, and finished up some laundry in that time frame…I also made dog treats from the pumpkin guts! So save yours from pumpkin carving or other baking activities, and read about that recipe below.

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So, I let the pumpkin cool for about 20 minutes, and then I scraped the soft insides from the skin into my food processor.

You could also use a blender. I pulsed it until smooth, then placed it in a mason jar in the fridge, to be used in a delicious pumpkin apple cake. A small pie pumpkin yielded about 1 2/3 cups of pureed pumpkin.

The cake turned out even better than I could have imagined; I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour in place of white flour, coconut oil where the butter was supposed to be, and freshly grated ginger as I was out of powdered ginger. The spices are PERFECTLY on point in this recipe for a fall treat you will absolutely love. I also doubled the apples used. Definitely bake this in a bundt pan (I found one for $2.99 at 2nd Avenue Thrift Store), with all of the apples in it, this cake needs the extra air flow while baking to ensure it bakes evenly. Using fresh pumpkin puree makes this recipe even better, but you could also use canned.

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What’s better than perfectly seasoned pumpkin apple cake? How about dog treats made from the pumpkin guts and seeds? I took the innards from the pumpkin and pulsed them in my food processor. They didn’t break up easily, so I decided to mix the entire recipe in the food processor. Pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (good for overall healthy skin and fur), and the oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds are believed to support urinary health. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron, and may even reduce the likelihood your pet will develop cancer.

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Spinach Pumpkin Seed Dog Treats

Guts and seeds from 1 small pumpkin

1 egg

14 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted, drained (about 1 cup cooked fresh)

1 cup cooked, plain oatmeal (I used the leftovers from making oat milk!)

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Flour your baking sheet well, then turn dough onto sheet, rolling to about 1/4” thickness. A wine bottle works great for this if your rolling pin doesn’t fit on the sheet. Sprinkle with raw oats, score the dough where you would like the treats to break into the appropriate size for your dog, and then bake on 425F for about 45 minutes, leaving the sheet in the oven, with the door closed, after turning it off to allow it to cool and dry further without burning.

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https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2018/10/22/one-pumpkin-2-recipes

The Simple Food Project aims to make raw feeding easy

Christina Ottaviano

Commercial pet food has been the source of dismay for pet owners and more are becoming educated on the topic in recent years. Kibble and canned foods, once thought to be the only choice for feeding pets are now under scrutiny for unsavory practices which have been reported to include everything from 4-D ingredients to faulty ingredient lists, and harmful additives that cause everything from cancer to death in our beloved pets.  At the very least, these foods even at their very best, do not offer the bio-availability that a home prepared diet can offer.  I will be very honest here; I prepare all of my dog food myself from ingredients I buy and put together via a balanced diet I have created.  While I firmly believe this approach to be the absolute best way to feed a dog; it's just not always possible for everyone and that's why I enjoy testing out commercially available raw foods in both freeze dried and frozen formats.  Let's be realistic here: in the event of an emergency, my homemade food that needs to stay cold is going to be the loser in choice over something that is shelf stable.

 Simple Food Project rehydrates easily

Simple Food Project rehydrates easily

The Simple Food Project is a new option that is available for the pet owner who wants to feed an optimally healthy diet without the inconvenience of preparing raw food at home.  Veterinarian created human grade whole food recipes are all sourced in the USA and made in their own facility in Wisconsin.  True to the name, this brand is not only simple in the ingredients listings, but also simple to feed.  Nugget formed meat, organ, and bone are freeze dried and served with ingredients like peas, lentils and apples which assist in the balance of the diet.  What makes this food stand apart from the rest is that it uses no synthetic vitamins or minerals to balance the diet.  This is HUGE and something I have rarely seen on the pet food market, because when we talk about the ability of the body to synthesize nutrition, the most appropriate format for that process is from fresh, whole foods with those nutrients coming from their original form.

 They sent all of their recipes for us to try

They sent all of their recipes for us to try

Ranging from $27.99 for 1.5 lb - $84.99 for 6 lb, these fully grain free recipes include the following choices (and also trial packs):

Duck & Trout: Duck, beef, beef liver, lentils, flaxseed, green beans, trout, apples, whole ground krill, pumpkin seeds, spinach, turmeric, iodized salt, mixed tocopherols (natural preservative)

Beef & Salmon: Beef, salmon, beef liver, flaxseed, peas, beef heart, carrots, cranberries, whole ground krill, pumpkin seeds, ginger, spinach, iodized salt, mixed tocopherols (natural preservative)

Chicken & Turkey: Chicken, turkey, chicken hearts, flaxseed, sweet potato, chicken liver, carrots, whole ground krill, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, cinnamon, spinach, iodized salt, mixed tocopherols (natural preservative)

While peas aren't a favorite ingredient of mine (they can cause gassiness), they're only present in the beef and salmon formula.  My only other complaint is that there is beef in 2 of the 3 formulas.  Beef can be an allergen, but then again so can any other protein source.  I assume it is present due to the amazing nutrient benefits beef liver can provide at a minimal cost.  Realisticlly, this food is a perfect example overall of what you want to see, in which order, in your pet food.

 Lucy kept eating it so fast, I could barely take a picture!

Lucy kept eating it so fast, I could barely take a picture!

My dogs aren't very discerning, so they devoured every recipe choice just like they do anything else.  They're dachshunds and aren't known for being picky! However in my experience as a dog walker and pet sitter, these types of foods are well received even by the pickiest eaters because of the very high level of smelly goodness - meat and organs, which they were built to thrive from.

Overall, we really loved this new freeze dried raw dog food and do recommend it!

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2018/2/8/the-simple-food-project-aims-to-make-raw-feeding-easy

How-to: A video demonstration for homemade dog treats

Christina Ottaviano

My holistic pet treat cookbook contains recipes written and tested by yours truly.  Check out this video I created, which shows you how to make healthy, grain free dog treats in your own kitchen, very inexpensively.

Best wishes for healthy, happy dogs! -Christina

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2017/9/10/how-to-a-video-demonstration-for-homemade-dog-treats

Whole Foods Nutrition with the convenience of Grandma Lucy's

Christina Ottaviano

If you've read my articles before, you know how I feel about kibble-based diets for dogs, and especially for cats.  Of course, not every animal is the same and they don't all tolerate alternative diets equally.  You can choose to make your own raw or cooked pet food, but if you are pressed for time and want to provide whole-foods nutrition to your pets in a more convenient manner, Grandma Lucy's has a line of foods which are a great place to start.

The food comes in freeze dried mixes already balanced with the vitamins and nutrients your dog or cat needs, however it can also be fed as a topper to boost your kibble diet until you're ready to fully make the switch, or fed as the full time diet, or you can add cooked or raw meat to it if you want to cook or prepare your pet food but don't always reliably have the time.  The company generously sent me tons of samples to try with my dachshunds and cat, and we had fun going through all of the varieties and flavors.  Since I already make our dog and cat food, I used the rehydrated food samples in place of the homemade fruit and veggie mix I would normally add to their meals.  Grandma Lucy's is non-GMO, grain free, contains no preservatives, all natural and made in California.

 Healthier than canned and much cheaper! Infographic used with permission by Grandma Lucy's.

Healthier than canned and much cheaper! Infographic used with permission by Grandma Lucy's.

The Artisan formulas are the most traditional as far as ingredients are concerned, with just meat, potato, vegetable and fruit mixes in several different protein varieties.  Our dachshunds are not at all picky eaters and loved every option they tried in this option.  I see it as being a good one for multiple source protein allergy issue dogs as it is fairly limited in protein-related ingredients as compared to some other mixes.  Besides chicken and lamb, it also comes in pork, bison and venison - with an additional pre-mix option which allows you to add in your own meat of choice, or even rotate varieties of meat if you desire.  This is definitely something I will order to keep on hand in the event of an emergency when we need to either evacuate or can't open the fridge or freezer due to electricity outage.  There have been instances where I can't get to the store to buy the fresh ingredients that I need, recovering from surgery, too sick with the flu, or now - going to be in the hospital having a baby very soon.  Even though I make our pet food myself, I always have a backup plan so others can feed my dogs in the event that I cannot. 
 
Their Pureformance line is formulated for a low glycemic index diet with the inclusion of chickpeas instead of potatoes, blended with some even unique proteins that help with food sensitives or extra protein for active dogs, remaining single-sourced.  In this line, they carry chicken, rabbit, goat, lamb, fish and the popular pre-mix which gives you the opportunity to add in your own protein.
 
Valor is made with quinoa and lentils instead of potato or chickpeas, and is blended with high-quality meat, fruit and vegetables and comes in chicken, turkey and fish.
 
Macanna is the newest addition to their pet food line. They have blended some of the most innovative ingredients of hemp hearts, kale, coconut, and turmeric to provide the best in pet nutrition.  It comes in beef, salmon and the ever popular pre-mix which you can add your own meat to.

Grandma Lucy's is a fantastic alternative to a kibble-based diet.  They also sell a line of cat food and dog treats that our cat and dogs loved as well.  Do you feed your dog chicken and rice when he's not feeling well?  They also have a shelf stable version of that remedy available to purchase!  If you are already feeding a grain-free kibble with less fillers, you are probably already paying more than $50 for a 30-lb bag of food.  What if I told you that Grandma Lucy's Artisan Chicken freeze dried mix is $68 and makes 50-lbs of food when rehydrated?  AND that you can subscribe to it as often as once a month on Amazon's Subscribe and Save program, and get another 15% off, while having it auto-delivered to your door?  And remember, higher quality food is fed in less volume so that 50-lbs rehydrated amount actually converts to even more food for your pet, less processed and healthier in general.

Learn more, check out current promotions and stay up-to-date with new products on their Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2016/11/3/whole-foods-nutrition-with-the-convenience-of-grandma-lucys

Nutrition with Honesty: New Treats by The Honest Kitchen

Christina Ottaviano

I've talked about diets lower in processed food before.  You've heard about how eating whole foods is better for you, healthier for weight management, and more nutritionally sound.  the same goes for your pets.  They're carnivorous in nature, dogs being descendant from wolves and cats from their obligate carnivore big cat relatives.  While some folks jump right into raw feeding, others take a more step-by-step approach and opt to ease into a less kibble-based diet through the feeding of whole foods treats and toppers.

The Honest Kitchen is a company whose name truly indicates their mission.  They actually even have permission from the FDA to label their foods as human-grade.  If you know anything about the pet food industry and their collective non-apparent transparency over ingredients and sourcing, this is a very big deal.  From cleanliness to production, the manufacturing facility used by The Honest Kitchen is held to the same strict standards as any human food production facility, because that's exactly what it is.

 The difference between feed grade and human grade food. Source: The Honest Kitchen

The difference between feed grade and human grade food. Source: The Honest Kitchen

I agree with their feeding philosophy, wholeheartedly.  Every living thing is a machine and real, minimally processed whole food is fuel.  What goes in should optimally provide the most bioavailable nutrition possible per calorie and be diverse as to access as many vitamins and minerals as possible.  The company has recently introduced a new treat to their already stellar line of balanced diets: Nice Mussels.  

 New treats by The Honest Kitchen

New treats by The Honest Kitchen

 Photo credit: The Honest Kitchen

Photo credit: The Honest Kitchen

They sent a bag for us to try and the results were as expected...four dachshunds and two cats agreed that they were delicious!  They're simply freeze-dried mussels from New Zealand.  You don't get more whole foods than that - with no fillers or other added ingredients they were the perfect treat for everyone in the house, which is tough to do considering that they all have different food allergy issues.  While we have fed fresh mussels in their homemade diets, having a shelf stable version was extremely convenient.

 Miss Molly

Miss Molly

I used some of them to pose the dogs for this photo shoot in my handmade collars for our Etsy shop and full credit goes to The Honest Kitchen for the great shots I got bribing the dogs with these delicious treats.  Adding a healthy source of Omega-3's like mussels can give your pet a shiny coat just like sweet Molly's.  We are giving away a bag of these healthy treats to one lucky person on Facebook and Instagram.  Go to either (or both!) to enter and win Nice Mussels, worth $12.99!  Giveaway ends Saturday, 11/5/16 at 11:59pm.

This is a great company who cares about pets, and you can stay in the loop by following their social media: Google+PinterestYouTubeInstagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2016/11/3/thehonestkitchenmussels

My Mason Jar Lunchbox + Giveaway

Christina Ottaviano

 Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

Mason jars are my favorite containers for packing leftovers, brewing tea, cold brewed coffee, and lots more.  They’re easily portable, reusable, non-toxic and come in a variety of sizes to create perfect portions.  Normally, I would pack one full of strawberries, salad or gluten free pretzels or crackers, and then another smaller one for dips, salad dressing or more snacks.  This can become cumbersome, carrying two jars, plus my drink which is almost always in a jar.  As a dog walker, I drive all day, traveling and make constant stops so there are two things I need: A lid for my jar so it doesn’t spill in my car, and healthy snacks that I can easily eat while I am driving.  If you’re looking for the perfect gift for your green-minded friend or family member, read on!

Cuppow has produced a creative solution that is simple and straightforward, allowing the transformation of a mason jar into a lunchbox.  A simple cup, BNTO, that is made to fit into the top of a wide mouth mason jar, it offers the opportunity to combine more than one item in a jar.  I’ve used them with everything from yogurt and granola, to cereal and coconut milk.  I’ve packed strawberries and coconut milk whipped cream, hummus and carrots or pretzels, salad and dressing, soup and gluten free crackers and even cookies and coconut milk.  I love that I can just drop the cup back into the mason jar when I have to pause when I make a stop, and then easily start again when I get back in the car.  The cups are made from recycled plastic and they are BPA free.  The packaging they come in is made of recycled paper and is also recyclable.   They’re made in the USA and definitely something everyone needs.  Check out their gift section for your holiday shopping.

What better compliment is there to a functional condiment cup than a Mason jar lid?  I cannot live without them.  I pack everything from hot liquids such as coffee, tea and hot chocolate to cold iced tea, juice, water, breakfast smoothies and my personal favorite: lemonade.  Drop these cute lids right onto a mason jar and screw the band on, and you’ve transformed your jar into a travel cup.  I love that they have an opening either for sipping or putting a straw through; and my metal reusable straws fit into it perfectly.  They come in a variety of colors and are made with the same standards as the BNTO cups, recycled plastic and packaging and made in the USA.  I’ve run both my lids and cups through the dishwasher many times since I received them, and they always come out looking great.

Cuppow didn’t stop there, though. In their quest to provide products that do not create waste, they’ve produced USA made, reusable coffee filters made with organic cotton for drip machines, pour over devices and cold brewing coffee.  I’ve been using mine for over two years now, and it’s still in perfect condition.  I just rinse it and allow it to air dry after every use.  And, they've created the Mason Tap, a game changer in making my own homemade salad dressings for dipping which I take with raw veg in my BNTO cups quite often.  I've also used it to dispense bone broth when raw feeding my dogs and cats, create infused oils, marinades, and lots more.  Cuppow was generous enough to give me two, one to try and one to give away!  All you need to do is like my Facebook page, Eco-Friendly Pet Product Reviews, like Cuppow on Facebook, and share this post to enter.  A winner will be chosen by 5pm 9/6/16.  Or, order yours on Amazon today!

Here’s something else that makes this company even more special: They donate a portion of their profits to Team Rubicon, a nonprofit which supports our veterans.  This is a company that proudly manufactures their products within our country, gives back to our war heroes, and has phenomenal customer service as well.

Connect with them as well on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest sales, contests, new products and giveaways.

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2016/9/5/my-mason-jar-lunchbox-giveaway

Feeding kibble? Don't assume an expensive brand is healthy for your dog

Christina Ottaviano

It says "dog" on it, so it must be what I need to buy to feed my dog, right?  Not necessarily...

Historically, kibble based diets for dogs developed because pet owners began to regard dogs as luxury items, and less often the working animals they started out as; they believed that dogs needed to be "civilized," and since wild dogs and wolves ate raw meat, domesticated dogs should not be so "untamed".

Biscuits for dogs did not come about as an idea for a healthy treat - they were marketed as inexpensively as possible to sell to pet owners.  The pet food industry was not born of necessity for canine health; but in fact a way for entrepreneurs to cheaply manufacture a product in which there would be and inexpensive way to do do, with a very a long shelf life.   

"In the late 1850s, a young electrician from Cincinnati named James Spratt went to London to sell lightning rods. When his ship arrived, crew members threw the leftover "ship's biscuits" onto the dock, where they were devoured by hordes of waiting dogs. That gave Spratt an idea. "Ship's biscuits," or hard tack, were the standard fare for sailors for centuries. Flour, water, and salt were mixed into a stiff dough, baked, and left to harden and dry. The biscuits were easily stored and had an extremely long shelf life, which was important in the days before refrigeration. And they looked a lot like today's dog biscuits. Spratt had the idea that he could make cheap, easy-to-serve biscuits and then sell them to the growing number of urban dog owners. His recipe: a baked mixture of wheat, beet root, and vegetables bound together with beef blood. When Spratt's Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes came on the market in 1860, the pet food industry was born. Spratt's Dog Cakes were a hit in England, so in 1870 he took the business to New York …and began the American pet food industry."

But...what about "people food"?  This term was coined by advertising in 1964 and has relatively no basis for truth whatsoever.  In fact, the lobbyist division who promoted bagged-only dry food for dogs was also fear mongering table scraps at the time as dangerous.  While some of this may be true (cooked turkey skin, for example in large amounts can cause pancreatitis), it was overwhelmingly blown out of proportion to include any fresh food at all.  Leading pet owners to believe that they were, and still are quite unable to feed their own pets a diet of anything except processed food that is supposedly balanced for their dog.  Even going far enough to specify different foods for different breeds.  In the grand scheme of rationalization, science prevails and numerous studies have proven that dogs not only live longer on a diet made of more fresh food and less processed food - they're healthier for it.  Not just healthier in general - they lacked the cancer rates, skin and ear infection issues, autoimmune diseases, anemia, liver and kidney malfunctions that kibble-fed dogs endured.  Suspected reasoning for this lies in the fact that kibble is often comprised of inferior ingredients, carcinogens and toxins.  Vitamins and minerals must be added in due to high-heat processing which makes the food shelf stable.  It must contain a certain percentage of carbohydrate in order to hold together in kibble form; both difficult for your dog to digest properly (hence, the gigantic poops and gastrointestinal discomfort associated with having no beneficial bacteria and live enzymes running through the tract), and also creating an environment for molds to grow and feed on when stored in an open container, such as the bag or in a moist environment such as a basement or other high humidity zone.  Additionally, heterocyclic amines have been proven to arise in meats subjected to high heat methods of processing due to the reaction between amino acids, sugars, and creatine.  These same substances are also found in car exhaust and cigarette smoke.  In rodent studies, these compounds fed in high amounts led to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, leukemia and lung cancer.  Other research linked these compounds to different types of cancers in addition to the ones listed above.  How does a 100% kibble based, no "people food" diet sound now?

 In addition to commercially purchased treats I also buy dried anchovies at my local Asian market

In addition to commercially purchased treats I also buy dried anchovies at my local Asian market

So, what's the answer?  Well, my degrees are in psychology, not nutrition.  However, I consider myself to be a person who relies on science and has a solid foundation of nutritional science backed by peer reviewed research through reading and understanding physiological processes.  And, I believe strongly that I can feed myself, so feeding my animals by the same less processed, more fresh food principles will lead to healthier lives for us all, less visits to the doctor and vet and less incidence of environmentally and nutritionally caused disease.  Are there some genetic factors that cannot be solved with nutrition?  Sure, my Ricky has IVDD, and there's nothing I can do about it except be sure he doesn't launch off of furniture (we have ramps), keep his nails trimmed to keep his posture healthy (I do nails every 1 to 2 weeks), feed him a diet rich in back-healthy minerals and vitamins and understanding how they work together in synergistic terms (like B vitamins, vitamin E, wild salmon oil, HA and MSM, for example).  Promoting healthy muscle mass in a dog predisposed to disc issues, along with ensuring less inflammation due to lower carbohydrates, omega-3's and antioxidants will not cure him, but it will vastly improve his chances of having another disc-related issue.

 Clients, Sophie and Hershey LOVE Vital Essentials dried Minnows

Clients, Sophie and Hershey LOVE Vital Essentials dried Minnows

Let's put it this way: if I ate cereal for my entire life, two times per day and for every meal, I would probably merely survive if I was lucky and had pretty good genetics to back me up, and if I did not develop cancer, I might still have kidney disease, gastrointestinal issues, or liver problems.  But would I thrive?  Probably not...especially not with the higher incidence of disease linked to such a highly processed diet.  Remember, bodies whether human or canine are machines.  Living machines need fuel from food.  Real food!  Not processed garbage...that's technically not food at all - it's marketing.  Is there a place for it here and there?  Sometimes, it's not easily avoidable, especially in today's busy schedules.  But can an effort be made to improve nutrition every single day?  There is realistically no valid reason it cannot.  And this goes for your pets as well.  Even those with time limitations can just as easily feed their pets a healthy, less processed diet now that there are several really great companies who offer healthier options.  A switch to high-quality, grain free canned food exclusively is a step up from a kibble-only diet, however because it is still highly heat processed in order for the meat to be shelf stable in the cans, it is not the best choice.  Better!  But not best.  I make my own raw pet food and treats, but commercial options are also available and when I am busy, I utilize them for convenience and sometimes more concentrated format.  I also keep bags of freeze dried raw dog and cat food on hand, in the event of an emergency where either we need to evacuate, cannot open the freezer, or if something were to happen to me and someone else needs to feed my pets with little to no instruction.

But my dog has a "sensitive stomach" and these foods are too "rich"!  Actually, your dog most likely has a very depleted level of beneficial bacteria in his gut due to having such highly processed kibble and biscuits passing through it for so long and can't easily digest food in general.  Probiotics specifically for dogs (not people - they won't hurt a dog but they won't be nearly as effective due to the differences in bacterial strain requirements), packed with live cultures that dogs need added in while making the switch will help him not only digest the new, enzyme-filled food better but also make him healthier and more resilient in the long run.  Maintenance with tripe, a natural probiotic-rich source will decrease the incidence of gas, bloating, diarrhea and vomiting.

But it costs too much!  Actually, it doesn't - when you factor in the thousands of dollars you'll save in vet bills, and the trade for a pet who has a longer life and is healthier...the cost is negligible.  In reality, with kibble you're paying for fillers that your dog poops out (uncomfortably), anyway.  Why bother feeding him anything that will literally weigh him down?  Buy less Starbucks, take one less trip to the beach, downgrade your cable from the channels you don't even watch (or ditch it completely and get Netflix like we did) and you'll find the money to accommodate this way of feeding.  Remember this: high-quality raw food is fed in much less volume than kibble or canned food due to having no fillers, and pets stay full longer due to higher protein content coming from fresh, raw meat.

 My at-home raw food prep

My at-home raw food prep

But it's dangerous! Pathogens and scary bacteria!  Actually, this is not specifically true for dogs.  It's an issue for people.  Without going into a ton of detail, cleaning practices that normally apply to your kitchen still apply no matter who in your home is eating what.  Duh.  I am 6 months pregnant and haven't managed to kill myself, my baby boy, my dogs, cats, husband or anyone else...and the "but it's gross" debate is not arguable either.  Yes, it's kind of gross.  Commercial food is all ground up and doesn't even look like organs and bones.  And by the way - commercially prepared raw food is not only often subjected to high-pressure processing, but also tested before it's sold which eliminates this debate altogether.  One company even has a place on their website where you can see test results published for your batch.  What I prepare myself is pretty gross and I hate liver with a passion that probably most people can identify with.  But...it's not about me and what I like.  I barely eat meat or dairy when I am not pregnant.  I don't care for it, but my animals need it.  Why would I feed them something I am more comfortable with feeding them because of the way it looks?  That's ridiculous and selfish...and archaic.  Tip: freeze dried food is more expensive per pound than frozen.  Freeze drying is an extra step to shelf stability and therefore costs more to produce.  Dehydrated falls somewhere in between.

But...kibble cleans his teeth!  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Wrong!

Commercial brands I love and trust for my guys:

  • Vital Essentials. They offer full, balanced diets for dogs, and the same for cats coming out next year.  Sourcing is transparent and at it's finest - our favorites among the huge selection are wild salmon, beef tripe and turkey.  Their range of treats in freeze dried form is one of the most diverse you'll find - they have  something for any pet, picky or not.  (Tip: picky often is never an issue with raw food. Picky often happens when pets are attempting to tell owners that either their food makes them feel very sick, they're allergic to something in it, which has caused an adverse issue such as vomiting or gastric discomfort in the past, or worse and often in kibble...it has either grown toxic mold you can't see or smell, or the fat it has been sprayed with to make it palatable has gone rancid.)  They've been in business longer than any other raw company out there, as far as I know.
  • Primal.  When I worked for Pet Valu, I was given the opportunity to take a full day class which was presented by Primal and talked all about raw food, why it's beneficial to pets, and specifically why Primal is a good choice: the company commits to USDA human grade meats which means no steroids, hormones or antibiotics, zero fillers and zero ingredients from China.  The vendors they source for protein also do not import the feed which their animals eat.  Additionally, their produce is all organic.  They offer a full line of food for dogs and cats as well as healthy treats.  Our dogs are infatuated with the turkey liver treats.
  • Stella and Chewy's.  I worked for this company for a few years, demoing their food in pet food supply stores so I have an inside view of their philosophy.  I really loved them both as a company and as a supplier for fresh, raw pet food for their commitment to providing grass fed meat, cage free poultry and wild caught fish.  They sell both freeze dried and frozen forms, in cat and dog food and also mixers treats.
  • K9 Natural.  Makes a nice line of balanced foods for dogs and cats, as well as treats like freeze dried mussels and our favorite lamb tripe.
  • Nature's Variety.  I use this company mostly for treats; however some might find that their pets like the mixers which are available as a way to get some raw food into your dog's diet without making a complete switch to full-time raw food. Also has a line of frozen raw foods in a large variety of proteins.
  • ZiwiPeak.  Offers air-dried raw foods that look a little more like flakes of traditional kibble.  They don't process with heat, so the food is still considered to be raw.  They were a pioneer in a raw-type diet long before other companies began to offer raw foods and still continue to be a trustworthy source for commercial, healthy food now.
  • Grandma Lucy's.  Freeze dried, and in a flake-type form.  100% human-grade.  The company began with freeze-dried meatballs and eventually expanded to include freeze dried complete meals.  This isn't a food I've fed, but having the option as a healthy choice for pets is always nice!
  • Honest Kitchen: Dehydrated, and in a flaky form as well. 100% human-grade, and their facility only makes human-grade food.  No kibble manufacturing goes on there at all.  Because it's a human-food facility, it is inspected as such. (Processing plants are another topic, but are actually a pretty big deal when it comes to where your pet food is made.)  Their quality control is pretty impressive.  This was actually the food I fed over 8 years ago when I made the switch off of kibble and canned foods.  I liked that I could re-hydrate it, and add in my own fresh additions.  At the time, I cooked chicken, beef, turkey and fish to add into their mixes.
  • Darwin's.  I've never used this brand, but they offer some mixers in addition to raw diets, if you're not ready to commit to fully switching over to raw just yet.  Available are both raw dog and cat food: their meals are made of free range, grass fed beef; cage free poultry; and organic produce. All meats are hormone, antibiotic, and steroid free as well - and they ensure that the farms they source from treat their animals humanely, too.
  • Bravo.  Another one I haven't tried, but offers great options as well including frozen meals, freeze dried, treats and chews.
 K9 Natural lamb tripe is my favorite way to feed tripe...raw tripe is stinky!

K9 Natural lamb tripe is my favorite way to feed tripe...raw tripe is stinky!

Crucial resources on my list of go-to people in designing a raw diet for my pets:

 I store our dried anchovies in mason jars, with a simple hand pump vacuum sealer

I store our dried anchovies in mason jars, with a simple hand pump vacuum sealer

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2016/8/31/feeding-kibble-dont-assume-an-expensive-brand-is-healthy-for-your-dog

Cats are obligate carnivores

Christina Ottaviano

Our furry little felines, descendant from wild ancestors, are equipped with the necessary teeth and claws to capture small prey.  Why?  Even though they appear to lazily nap away most of the day, they're obligate carnivores - meaning it is an obligation to their health to eat the flesh and organs of other animals.  This diet provides them with specific essential nutrients that they need to survive, which their own bodies do not synthesize themselves and cannot be absorbed in any other way.

Kibble is the single most detrimental way to feed a cat.  As with all living species, a whole foods, fresh diet is best - due to the very minimal processing and the bioavailability of amino acids and vitamins in raw meat.  Has your cat experienced urinary tract issues?  Vomiting?  Gastrointestinal illness?  Cancer?  Kidney disease?  These health problems can be traced back to a severely deficient diet.  Forced digestion for an animal that is meant to process whole meats and organs - not dried, highly heated and processed bits.  I'm not just a crazy, raw-feeding fanatic.  These claims are based in scientific fact, and I firmly believe that nutrition is an important preventative measure to not only see an animal merely survive...that animal should, theoretically thrive.  Dry food needs a carbohydrate base in order to hold together in dry kibble form; cats have no need whatsoever for carbohydrates in their diet and food that dry does not provide the 70% or higher level of moisture that a cat needs in order to retain the appropriate amount of water.  I make my own cat food.  It's not difficult and one of my cats loves it.  The other gets a mixture of grain-free kibble and freeze dried raw commercial cat food.  I have tried over 6 of his 13 years to get him onto a fully raw diet, but he refuses to eat enough of the different meats and organs to provide a balanced nutritional long-term intake.  I supplement as much fresh food as possible, but he just does not tolerate a fully raw diet.  You have to compromise at some point with what your cat can tolerate, and what works for you as well, however I will continue trying to get him to eat fresh foods until he's no longer living on this earthly planet...though it pains me to buy kibble at all, in any form.

 Our cat sitting client, Maynard waits for his freeze dried rabbit treat. He LOVES his raw diet!

Our cat sitting client, Maynard waits for his freeze dried rabbit treat. He LOVES his raw diet!

The real solution to the major health issues in cats is raw feeding, and I am thankful our other cat has no issue with it.  He's stunning, handsome and absolutely gorgeous with very soft, blindingly white fur and no real health issues.  Sound gross?  Remember, it's not about you, the owner and what you need.  It's about your pet, the commitment you have taken on by agreeing to care for the animal, and their species specific nutritional needs.  Ready to start a diet to give your cat the energy and vitality he needs, but can't deal with the idea of raw food, either homemade or commercially purchased?  A canned diet with no kibble, grain or carbohydrates is a great place to begin, and many cat owners move on to raw diets after seeing the change in the health of their cats on a canned food only diet.  Canned food with a raw topper is also a great option when transitioning.

 Our handsome white devil, Archer loves Wild Alaskan Salmon freeze dried treats.

Our handsome white devil, Archer loves Wild Alaskan Salmon freeze dried treats.

Do you like to give your cat treats?  Who doesn't want to spoil our handsome, furry tigers?  One way you can work fresh foods into a diet is to use them as treats.  In freeze dried or dehydrated form, treats marketed to pet owners can be difficult to navigate.  So, here's a great way to differentiate the bad from the good.  Most commercial raw food companies also sell a line of treats and theirs are the best place to begin.  One of my favorite businesses for a huge variety of treats is Vital Essentials.  From rabbit to whole fish, their selection of fresh-food treats is a great way to add in vital nutrients and give your cat the prey-driven enrichment he needs as well.  What's the difference between 15 different types of treats, all labeled "salmon", for example?  The ingredients list and the country of origin.  For example, compare these two treats, both marketed for cats:

1. "Single source protein, USDA certified facility, gluten and grain free, sourced, made, and packaged in USA. Ingredients: Salmon."

2. "Made with the finest ingredients available, [these treats] do not contain any chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat or soy. Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Maple Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Potatoes, Gelatin, Natural Flavor, Salt, Fish Oil, Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Taurine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols,Phosphoric Acid, Sorbic Acid, Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid, Oil of Rosemary."

...Which one sounds more appropriate for a whole food, healthy diet - now that you know what it means to be an obligate carnivore?  It's not enough to just look at the advertising on the front of the package.  Read the ingredients and you'll know exactly what's in food and treats you're feeding your cat.  Questions?  I can be reached for help with improving pet nutrition at any time via any of my social media or email. The websites linked in this article are extremely valuable and full of important information as well.

More on sourcing treats and food toppers in my next article...raw food for dogs!

https://www.woofsandwhiskerspets.com/ecofriendly-little-home-and-pets-blog/2016/8/29/cats-are-obligate-carnivores