Posts

Ending the Monotony Meal Plan: The Benefits of Pet Food Rotation

At The Happy Beast, we believe that there are significant benefits from pet food rotation. In fact, we think it’s a big pet food myth that animals should eat the same formula of the same brand of food for their whole lives. While this is a great marketing ploy for the pet food companies (who don’t want you to feed anything but their brand of food) it is not in the best interest of your animal’s health and well-being. For one thing, eating the same thing over and over is boring… just imagine eating one kind of cuisine for every meal for the rest of your life! Even more importantly, from a health perspective, a monotonous diet can have negative effects on your animal for the following reasons:  

  1. Although pet foods are formulated to be “balanced and complete,” it’s unlikely that one food will meet all of an animal’s nutrient requirements over a long period of time.
  2. Feeding one food may cause your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to the ingredients in that food.
  3. The digestive system of an animal that has only had to process one kind of food will be weaker and less tolerant to changes and natural aging.

The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate pet food rotation into your animal’s diet:

  1. Even if you like feeding a specific brand, choose a different recipe or protein source each time you buy a bag, box, or can of food. Most companies offer several formulas. If you usually feed a chicken recipe, try bison or fish.
  2. If you normally feed dry food or kibble, supplement with another, less processed food. Raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and canned foods can all make great mix-ins.
  3. Add fresh food. “Table scraps” aren’t necessarily bad as long as you’re not feeding them during a meal at the table! Just limit what “people food” you share with your animals to healthy foods like lean meats, salmon skins, yogurt, and cooked vegetables. Although small fish bones are fine, you should not typically feed larger “table scrap” bones because they have been cooked. In comparison to raw bones, cooked bones can more easily splinter and cause a choking risk. 

If your animal has a very sensitive digestive system or has been eating the same food for a very long time:

  1. Add in new foods very slowly.
  2. Supplement the diet with a prebiotic, probiotic, or digestive enzyme. (We like Optagest or raw goat milk.)

Chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef are often used in pet foods, but new protein sources are making their way into the market. “Novel proteins” is an industry term for meats not commonly found in pet foods. We commonly recommend novel protein diets for animals with food sensitivities or allergies, but healthy animals can benefit from these meats as well. Try including goat, rabbit, venison, alligator, or kangaroo in your animal’s next pet food rotation!

 

If variety isn’t the spice of life, is it catnip?

Nuke the Puke: Reduce Cat Vomiting by Eliminating Kibble

Puke, vomit, regurgitation… no matter what you call it, it is disgusting and totally annoying to clean up after your cat has gotten sick. Cat vomiting is also probably the number one complaint that we hear from our cat customers. If you’re able to eliminate the possibility of any underlying health issues then the solution is usually very simple and straightforward: ditch the dry food!

What is it about kibble that can lead to cat vomiting? No matter what brand you feed, kibble is too high in carbohydrates and too low in moisture for cats. Remember “grain-free” doesn’t mean “low carb.” The average kibble ranges from 25%-50% carbohydrates and only 10% moisture. A cat’s natural diet of rodents, birds, rabbits, etc. is less than 2% carbohydrates and 70% moisture. This deviation from cats’ natural nutritional profile makes kibble more difficult for them to digest and thus frequently regurgitated.

cat-vomit-sign-the-happy-beast

A cat’s physiology, whether they are an indoor or outdoor cat, is built to receive its energy from protein and fat. A cat feels satiated when they eat a meat-based diet, not a diet loaded with carbs. Therefore cats that are fed a kibble diet tend to overeat because they don’t feel satiated. Not only can overeating lead to regurgitation, but it can also lead to obesity and diabetes.

In addition to reducing cat vomiting, there are also many benefits to eliminating kibble and transitioning your cat to a meat-based diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they literally have no physiological need for carbohydrates in their diet. Optimal health can only be achieved when we feed a “species-appropriate” diet and ditching the kibble in favor or canned, freeze-dried or raw food is a great place to start.

Stop by the store and we can talk more about your cat’s diet and develop a customized nutrition plan to keep the vomiting down and the happiness up.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post and more info on how dry food affects your cat’s urinary and kidney health.

Raw Green Tripe – Our Latest and Greatest Super Food!

Whenever I find a new health food, I want to know how it benefits me and how it’ll benefit my dog. A lot of the time, my dog and I indulge in the same health foods (like fish oil, chia seeds, and apple cider vinegar.) Right now, I’m super excited about raw green tripe, but it’s one super food that I’ll let my dog have all to herself!

Tripe is the stomach of ruminant (grazing) animals including sheep, bison, cows and venison. To get the benefits of tripe, you need the RAW GREEN stuff! (Not the bleached tripe found in grocery stores. That kind has been stripped of its color, smell and nutrients.)

Tripe has a lot to offer, but it’s one of the stinkiest foods I’ve found. I have to hold my breath when I serve it up to my dog, and she thinks it’s delicious!

The benefits of feeding green tripe include:

  • improved digestion
  • healthier skin & coat
  • improved immunity
  • healthier teeth and gums
  • rejuvenation for senior dogs
  • aids in transitioning to a new diet
  • entices picky dogs or dogs who’ve lost their appetite to eat

How does tripe provide all this goodness? Raw green tripe contains significant levels of digestive enzymes, amino acids and lactobacillus acidophilus. Let’s take a look at each:

Digestive enzymes help break down food into nutrients for the body to absorb.

  • Who needs them most? Dogs with pancreatitis, food allergies, older dogs, dogs who eat poo.

Amino acids are the building blocks of healthy muscles, organs and skin cells. Supplying complete amino acids in the diet rejuvenates the body.

  • Who needs them most? All dogs! Particularly, older animals, athletic dogs and growing puppies.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic- one of the healthy bacteria that facilitate digestion in the intestines. Adding probiotics to the system works to “flood-out” bad bacteria from the digestive tract

  • Who needs it most? Dogs who have recently been on antibiotics, or have a weak or compromised immune system.

Want to see how tripe benefits your dog? We all feed our animals a little tripe, so we can help you find the best one for yours! At The Happy Beast, we carry green tripe in cans, freeze-dried or raw. K9 Natural’s raw and freeze-dried lamb tripe is easy to store (either in the freezer or in the cupboar.) Some dogs prefer the texture and smell of canned tripe. Tripett’s offers canned tripe from venison, beef, lamb and bison.

Warming Foods for Winter

So…winter finally showed up this morning in Lafayette. It’s dropped below freezing and all we want to do is eat a spicy bowl of chili. In the winter months, we tend to center our meal plan on soups, stews, tea and roasts. Why? Warm, hearty foods help starve off the cold! In studying Chinese medicine, we find that certain “warming foods” have a positive effect on the body.

You can take advantage of this to help your dog stay warm this winter too! Older dogs, small dogs, and ones with short hair or arthritis and joint pain may benefit from warming foods. Most pet food companies offer a few  recipes that can be fed in rotation, allowing your dog to easily transition to a different food. (Read our Happy Beast transition tips here!)

For the next few months, choose a diet based with a warming protein like venison, lamb, chicken or turkey.

(And, be sure to spend extra time cuddling your pup by the fireplace!)