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Helpful Advice for Owners Caring for a Senior Pet

Helpful Advice for Owners Caring for a Senior Pet

 At times, it can feel as though your pet will live forever. With each passing year, their vitality and energy seem to remain the same. However, at some point, there is always a noticeable change when your pet transitions from their young, jovial self into a senior pet. They start walking more slowly, their minds don’t seem to be as sharp, and they have trouble doing basic things like eating and drinking. When this inevitable period arrives, it’s important for owners to do everything in their power to make the senior years of their pet’s life more comfortable and enjoyable. Let’s take a look at small changes that can be made throughout the house.

 Make their food and water easily accessible.

 When senior pets aren’t sleeping or relieving themselves, they’re usually eating. What used to be an exciting and manageable process becomes more difficult and sometimes painful for older pets. Making their food and water more accessible is an excellent way to help your pet reserve energy and encourages them to eat regularly. Having bowls lower to the ground and with anti-skid gripping on the bottom can make it easier for pets to eat without moving too much. You should also place your senior pet’s food somewhere that’s easily accessible and ideally close to where they spend most of their time.

Invest in an orthopedic bed.

 Senior pets behave very similarly to their older human counterparts. For example, it’s common for older dogs to sleep 16 or 18 hours each day. Ideally, this sleep is happening in a comfortable bed that isn’t contributing to your pet’s health complications. Investing in an orthopedic bed ensures that your pet is getting sufficient sleep that his or her age requires without having the negative effects of a stiff and uncomfortable bed. There are several different styles from which to choose, but you only need to make sure that the dimensions are appropriate for the size of your pet.

Limit their need to go upstairs.

 Arthritis, joint pain, and difficulty moving are all telltale signs that your pet is entering into his or her golden years. Since stairs are already awkward for pets that are healthy, these obstacles present a major issue for senior animals. Unfortunately, many pets will follow their owners up the stairs every time despite the pain in order to be close to their loved ones. To help protect your pet, consider limiting the number of trips you take up and down the stairs. And if your pet has trouble climbing onto the couch or into the car, a pet ramp can be a great way to help them have accessibility

Handle accidents with cleaners and probiotics.

 Accidents are inevitable with seniors pets as their bladders become more difficult to control. No need to fret: Owners can turn toward cleaners that contain enzymes to treat urine spots on carpeting. You can also use vinegar and baking soda for other stains and let it sit before you bring out the vacuum cleaner. Since diet also plays a big role in the frequency and intensity of these accidents, you might want to consider giving your older pet probiotics to aid in digestion while also improving the immune system. While it’s important to talk with your vet before adding any supplements to your pet’s diet, you should also rely on customer reviews and online guides to make sure you’re buying the best probiotic.

Pets show their owners unconditional love from the very beginning until the very end. It’s important to return that loyalty by ensuring the senior years of your pet’s life are comfortable, happy, and fulfilling. Small actions can go a long way in this effort, and your pet will certainly take notice.

Do Vets Like Raw Meat for Dog Food?

Do Vets Like Raw Meat for Dog Food?

In a word, YES!  Over the 55 Million years of our dog's organic evolution, grain-based, dry dog food kibble at the grocery store just wasn't available.   In fact, the idea of dog 'kibble' didn't even arise until 1860 in London, England.  Your vet will tell you that your dog's whole body is built to eat meat, not grains or corn.  From all sharp, pointy teeth to hold and cut meat (like a knife and fork - no flat molars for grinding plants like a cow), to a very short intestinal track that can only process proteins, the heart of a wolf still beats in your pup.  (Did you know that the intestines of a carnivore (like your dog), are only about 6 times their body length, while a herbivore is more like 27 times their body length!?).   

Vets like raw meat dog food not just because it is GOOD for your dog, but because of how BAD kibble is for your dog.  Just do a Google search of 'worst dog food', or 'dog food recall', or even 'class action dog food', to get an idea of how bad kibble is for your pup.  All the pesticide soaked, GMO, not-fit-for-human-consumption grains are what go into your pup's dog food kibble.  Sure, you have to handle and store organic, raw meat differently; but no more so than that chicken in your fridge for tonight’s dinner.  Your pup's health will really appreciate the difference, and it probably doesn't cost any more than the daily latte from your favorite coffeeshop.  Isn't that family member worth the little extra effort?

When it comes to dog food, what does organic mean?

 Pet food manufacturer are selling more and more dog foods labeled “natural,” “human grade” and “organic,” and the industry considers them to be the hot new trend.   Let’s take a look at exactly what these words mean in connection with dog food.

The government has never bothered to define “natural” for human foods, so this word means anything the manufacturer says it does. For pet foods, however, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has a definition:

Natural: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing processes.

Clear as mud, right?  You can grind, heat, render or extrude a pet food to an unrecognizable mush, but it’s “natural” according to AAFCO if you haven’t added anything synthetic—unless your “good manufacturing process” requires you to. AAFCO also says that “natural” must not mislead and if the word appears on the label, every ingredient in the product must meet the definition. Unfortunately that is a standard that is impossible to meet.  Pet food companies typically buy vitamins, minerals and other additives from factories overseas because they are cheaper, and, where, as we learned in last year’s pet food recalls, quality controls are sometimes nonexistent.  US and European sources have strict quality controls and are a bona fide source for natural ingredients.

We do not see too many claims about human-grade ingredients on package labels, mainly because AAFCO does not have an official definition of the term, and without an approved AAFCO definition, an ingredient or term is not supposed to be used on pet food labels. AAFCO says “human-grade” is false and misleading, and constitutes misbranding, unless every ingredient in the product—and every processing method—meets FDA and USDA requirements for producing, processing and transporting foods suitable for consumption by humans, and every producer of the ingredients is licensed to perform those tasks. Few pet food companies can meet these criteria.

In spite of the above, AAFCO’s unease does not stop pet food makers from using the term, particularly because the law appears to be on their side. In 2007, a case against The Honest Kitchen led the Ohio courts to rule that the company had a constitutional right to truthful commercial free speech, and could use “human-grade” on its labels. The Honest Kitchen advertises on its website that it is “the only pet food manufacturer in the United States to have proven to the Federal FDA that every ingredient it uses in its products are suitable for human consumption.”

Only a few other companies make human-grade claims on their food labels, but many use the term freely in their in-store materials and website advertising. For example, Newman’s Own Organics presents this information in a question-and-answer format: “Q: Does Newman’s Own Organics use human grade materials? Why isn't that written on the bag? A: Newman’s Own Organics organic pet food uses human grade and fit for human consumption ingredients such as natural chicken and organic grains. The AAFCO Board … actually prohibits the printing of ‘Human Grade’ on pet food packaging.”

So what about “organic” in the context of pet food?  For human foods, “organic” has a precise meaning defined by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). To be certified as organic, plant ingredients in pet foods must be grown without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge. Animal ingredients must come from animals raised on organic feed, given access to the outdoors, and not treated with antibiotics or hormones. Producers must be inspected to make sure they adhere to these standards. (Note: Even if they are inspected, whether the standards are good enough is a separate question- see below regarding GMO animal feed.)

In 2002, the NOP did not include pet foods in the organic rules because it could not figure out how to do so. In 2005, it appointed a pet food task force to examine the issue, and this group recommended that organic standards for humans be applied to pet foods. In discussing their recommendations, the NOP cautioned, “these requirements will present challenges for pet food manufacturers, especially sourcing non-genetically engineered ingredients.” The NOP was referring to the fact that 88% of corn, 93% of soybeans, over 50% of the alfalfa and sugar beets grown in the US are all GMO  products.   These are all commonly used in either feeding animals used in pet food manufacturing or directly used in the manufacturing.  Another very interesting fact is that there is no governmental requirement that these GMO items be labelled as GMO products.  So how does a feed lot who professes to be non-GMO actually know it’s feed it non-GMO?  The short answer is it probably doesn’t and is relying on the supplier. 

And what does the term GMO actually mean for these animal feed and pet food products?  The majority of these GMO products contain a pesticide that cannot be washed off.  Most GMO products grown in the US are “Roundup Ready” which means they will be able to withstand  spraying with Monsanto’s Roundup and grow while the weeds around it die.  Of course, whether or not the Roundup ever gets washed off the product is another question.

To date, the NOP has not yet adopted the task force recommendations and organic pet foods are in regulatory limbo, leaving AAFCO to explain how to label “organic” pet foods. AAFCO says that (1) under NOP rules, pet foods may not display the USDA organic seal or claim that they were produced according to organic standards. But (2), NOP also says labeling terms such as “100% organic,” “organic” or “made with organic ingredients” on pet foods may be truthful and do not imply organic production or certification. Therefore (3), AAFCO recommends that labeling rules for human foods apply to pet foods.

So what does this actually mean in terms of pet food? Many industry insiders, and most of the pet food manufacturers think the statements imply that nobody is going to make a fuss about organic claims on pet foods, even when some, most or even all of their ingredients are not really organic.

Following the rules for organic labeling is extremely complicated. Even so, you can go into a pet food store and easily find products that violate these standards. In fact, most of the major pet food manufacturers are actually many of their products organic when their foods may contain only a single organic ingredient. 

 At the moment while “organic” means something for human food it does not mean much for pet food. Many industry insiders believe that the USDA doesn’t think pet foods are important enough to care what is said on their labels or have the budget to enforce pet food labels vs human food labels.

So how do you really know if a pet food is organic?  We at Raw Wild can only speak for our product.  Our ingredients come from wild animals from the Rocky Mountains and have no access to any GMO feed or pesticide or insecticide sprayed feed.  They eat what they have for hundreds of thousands of years- naturally growing grasses and plants in the wilds of the American West. 

In addition, Raw Wild is made in a USDA inspected, human grade facility that only processes wild game animals so there is no danger of any cross contamination with commercially raised animals.

Feel free to contact us at your convenience through the Contact Us section of our web site.