When the weather is nice, there are all types of activities you can do with your dog.
Visiting the park, hiking, or spending the day at the beach are just a few of my favorites.
No matter the activity, If you’re out enjoying the sun, you’re bound to exert plenty of energy. Warm summer days can be extra dehydrating, and eventually, you and your pup will need to refuel!
If you’re reaching for a snack, it’s best to keep your body energized with something refreshing and nutritious.
Why not some delicious fruit?
Easy to pack on the go, fresh, delicious fruit is a great option for keeping yourself hydrated with a burst of flavor. But what about your dog? Can you pack fruit for the two of you? Are all fruits safe for them to eat?
Let’s go on a journey through the world of fruits for dogs! We’ve picked out 7 of the best fruits you can feed your dog to ensure they have plenty of energy to power through playtime.
As always, speak to your trusted veterinarian before feeding any new treats, including any fruits on this list. As a rule of thumb, treats should not make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily diet.
Why Fruit is Good for Dogs
Fruits contain many vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. When fed properly, there are plenty of fruits that are healthy for dogs in the same way they’re healthy for us. For example, many fruits have high water content, making them an extra refreshing, tasty treat that helps keep you and your pet hydrated during the summer and year-round.
7 Safe Summer Fruits for Dogs
Watermelon is a very popular summer fruit. From drinks to dessert, and even main dishes, the crisp sweetness of watermelons are sure to quench your thirst all summer long. Watermelons are 92 percent water, so they are especially refreshing on a hot day!
Why Watermelon is Good for Dogs
“Watermelon is low in calories and sodium. Watermelon is a fat-free and cholesterol free food which makes it a very healthy treat choice. Although watermelon contains a good amount of sugar, the fiber is able to isolate much of the sugar, preventing it from being released into the bloodstream too quickly.” Lindsay Tracy, Director of New Product Development at Redbarn Pet Products said.
Watermelon also contains lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection, improved heart health and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Although the fruit contains many beneficial nutrients for your dog, watermelon should not make up a large part of your dog’s diet.
How To Feed Watermelon to Your Dog
The seeds from watermelon can pose a problem for dogs. Watermelon rinds should not be fed to your dog, as this part of the fruit is tough and generally difficult to chew. This causes dogs to swallow pieces of the rind whole, which may induce intestinal blockage. If your dog does ingest any seeds or the rind of the watermelon, you should be on the lookout for signs of intestinal blockage for at least 25 hours after consuming.
Another tasty way to treat your pup to this summertime snack is to cut the watermelon into bite-sized pieces and stick them in the freezer. Your dog will surely wag their tail for this bite-sized popsicle in the heat!
Blueberries ripen in the summer, and you can find these tiny berries in recipes for jams, cakes, pies, muffins, drinks, salads and more. But can your dog enjoy blueberries with you?. Yes, as long as they’re fresh!
Why Blueberries Are Good for Dogs
Blueberries are low in fat and calories, but high in fiber, making them a great natural treat for the health conscious dog (or cat). They’re also a natural source of the vitamins essential to canine health, including A, C, E, and K. Blueberries also contain phytochemicals, a naturally occurring nutrient in plants linked to fighting cancer.
You can feed your dogs fresh blueberries. Because blueberries are already small, you won’t have to worry about cutting them up into bite-sized pieces. Blueberries can still pose a choking hazard for small dogs, however, so you can also mash them up into a paste or add them to a creamy smoothie. Try frozen blueberries for a cool treat on those hot summer days.
There’s nothing quite like a summer dessert featuring sweet summer strawberries! Strawberries are the first fruit after rhubarb (not on this list) to ripen in spring and early summer. And to everyone’s delight, strawberries are a summer safe fruit for your dog.
Why Strawberries Are Good for Dogs
Just like their blue relatives, strawberries are a great source of antioxidants, high in fiber, and vitamin C.
Ever heard of DIY’s that suggest strawberries for teeth whitening? Strawberries actually contain a unique enzyme known to help whiten teeth— and that includes your fur babies!
How to Feed Strawberries to Your Dog
“Strawberries are high in natural sugar, so just a tiny piece of strawberry is sufficient as a special summer treat. Like all fruits and berries on this list, stick with fresh strawberries and do not feed your dog canned or preserved strawberries.” Lindsay says.
Cantaloupes are the star of many sweet and savory recipes, including salads, side dishes, and even cocktails. Like most melons, cantaloupes grow round and plump in the summer. If you’re cutting up an entire cantaloupe, it can be tempting to offer some of the tasty treat to your dog. Luckily, cantaloupe is a safe treat for dogs. Give in to those temptations!
Why Cantaloupe is Good for Dogs
“The tiniest little piece of cantaloupe can provide vitamins A, B complex, C, plus fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid.” Lindsay states. “Cantaloupe contains large amounts of water and fiber, making it a tasty and refreshing treat for both you and your dog. The high water and fiber content in cantaloupe also promotes healthy digestion and adequate hydration.”
How to Feed Cantaloupe to Your Dog
Cantaloupe should be introduced slowly and fed in moderation. Cantaloupe is high in sugar, which can be a concern for dogs with diabetes. Too much can lead to upset stomachs and, if severely overfed, canine obesity. Like watermelon rinds, cantaloupe rinds are tough and fibrous. Do not feed your dog melon rinds, as this can seriously harm your dog’s stomach and digestive tract.
Apples are a safe treat for dogs, and many dogs love their sweet taste and crunchy texture. Most apples will taste completely different depending on where they were grown. You can find apples everywhere in the fall, but there are only a varieties that ripen in the summer. Summer apples are just as healthy as winter apples, though, and will taste even better when it’s their season to grow!
5 Apples That Ripen in the Summer
1. Lodi Apples
These yellow apples first came about in 1924 and have since remained a staple summer snack. Lodi apples make great applesauce you and your dog can enjoy!
2. Summer Rambo Apples
These sweet apples with the silly name date back to 1535, originally grown and harvested in France. Now, you can find them all over the United States.
3. Yellow Transparent Apples or Grand Sultan Apples
These pale yellow apples have a tart and crisp flesh, making them very similar to the beloved Granny Smith Apple. These apples ripen fully in early July.
4. Jersey Mac Apples
Jersey Mac apples are known for having a long shelf life, and are said to taste similar to McIntosh apples.
5. Paula Red Apples
Paula Red Apples are another great summer apple known for making delicious applesauce. That’s because they are crisp when fresh, but become soft and mushy once cooked.
Why Apples Are Good for Dogs
Apples are a great source of vitamins A, C, and K and are loaded with calcium, phosphorus, antioxidants, and fiber.
How to Feed Apple to Your Dog
Wash your apples thoroughly to remove polynutients from their skin. Do not feed the apple core and make sure to discard of any apple seeds- they contain cyanide that can harm your dog.
“Avoid apple flavored products with added sugars or artificial sweeteners. It’s best to feed organic apples, as most fruits in supermarkets are coated with chemicals to make them shiny,” Lindsay says.”This is another reason it’s so important to wash your fruits before you or your pet enjoys them.”
From fresh, savory salads to warm, sweet cobblers, peaches are a sweet summer fruit we enjoy in many different ways. While you’re enjoying your human treats this summer, you may wonder if your dog can enjoy peaches, too! Good news, as long as they’re fresh (and not from a dish on your plate) peaches are completely safe for dogs!
Why Peaches are Good for Dogs
Peaches are rich in vitamin A, which supports healthy eyes, skin and immune health in your four-legged friend. However, peaches have hard pits that can damage your dog’s teeth if they bite or chew on one, so be sure to slice or cube the peach for your dog to enjoy. The pit can also pose a choking hazard and/or gastrointestinal obstruction, and the jagged edges of peach pits can cause damage to internal organs. Always make sure to remove the pit if you are treating your pet to a peach.
How to Feed Peaches to Your Dog
Again, when feeding peaches to your dog, be sure to thoroughly remove the pit. Like apple seeds, peach pits contain cyanide, which is harmful to your dog.
It’s also best to go with organic peaches, as many peaches may contain pesticides or herbicides that could make your dog sick. And, just as you would with your own food, make sure to select and prepare fresh peaches free of mold or rot. Wash, cut, and remove the pit or any stems or leaves that may be present.
Now that the peaches are ready, how many can your dog have in one serving?
“Too many peaches can cause your dog to have an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. It’s best to feed peaches in moderation.” Lindsay suggests.
Although they’re technically a spring fruit, tropical, colorful mangoes are an ideal fruit to enjoy all summer long. They’re also a wonderful summertime snack for your dog! If you’re peeling and cutting up a mango for yourself, feel free to give a slice to your dog. However, like any other fruit, mangoes should be served as a treat. Always monitor your dogs when giving them any fruit.
Why Mangoes are Good for Dogs
Packed with vitamin A, mangoes are good for the eyes, skin and the immune system. They also contain B6, which helps with energy and brain function, and vitamins C and E, which have great antioxidant properties.
“A mango has over 200 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C— a powerful antioxidant that can offer many health benefits.” Lindsay states. “The potassium in mangoes assist in the proper functioning of nerves, muscles, fluid levels, and enzymes. The magnesium in mangoes also helps with the absorption of essential minerals and vitamins into the body.”
What makes mango a superfood?
Mangoes help with digestion.
Mangoes are high in fiber and do not contain any enzymes that break down proteins. This helps with digestion and proper bowel movements.
Mangoes help fight cancer.
Mangoes contain antioxidants like astragalin, fisetin, and gallic acid that helps protect the body against different types of cancer.
Mangoes protect the eyes.
Rich in vitamin A, one cup of sliced mango equals 25 percent of the daily need for vitamin A.
How can I feed mangoes to my dog?
“Always remove the pit before treating your dog to any mango. The skin on a mango may be too tough for your dog to digest. It’s best to feed the main fleshy, fruity part of the mango. “ Linsday explains.
3 Tips for Serving Fruits to Dogs
1. Wash and clean all fruits before feeding them to your dog just like you would for your human family. Washing helps rinse away dirt and residual chemicals.
2. Cut into small bites, puree, or mash them into a paste. For larger dogs, it may be okay to serve certain foods by the slice or the whole berry.
3. Start out slowly. Call your veterinarian if you notice stomach upset, digestive issues, intense scratching or an increase in thirst
4. Supervise your dog. As with almost any food, there is a risk your dog maybe allergic. If you see signs of an allergic reaction, including swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, coughing, or other symptoms, you should stop feeding your dog the fruit and contact your veterinarian right away.
Feeding Fruit Daily
Can fruit be part of a dog’s daily diet?
If your dog loves fruit, you don’t have to restrict yourself to only feed it as a treat a few times a week.
There are dog treats your pup may enjoy as a full meal that can be suitable for every day! One example would be Redbarn’s Bully Slices in Original Beef Flavor. These treats are loaded with functional ingredients, including delicious blueberries!
Fruits Unsafe for Dogs
Not all summer fruits make safe treats!
Unsafe fruits for dogs:
Avocados (technically a vegetable, but such a popular yet dangerous snack, we had to include it)
Grapes or Raisins
“Cherries, avocados, grapes (and raisins), figs, lemons and limes are unsafe for your dog,” Lindsay says. “When feeding your dog any fruit, remember to do so slowly in order to avoid upsetting their stomachs. And, as always, please check with your trusted veterinarian before introducing your fur babies to any new treats, including the summer fruits on this list.”
What’s your favorite summer fruit to feed to your dog?
Let us know in the comments below!
We’re so excited to have fun in the sun that we’re bringing you a First Day of Summer Giveaway! Thanks to our wonderful partners, one lucky winner will receive all the treats and toys in the photo below.
Be sure to follow our giveaway partners, and collect your entries below!
All dogs bark, whine, and growl, but most of the time they “speak” via body language designed for dog-to-dog communication.
Think about the last time you were out with your dog. Did you ever wonder why they held their head down, stood tall around other dogs, or growled?
Learning to read and understand your dogs’ mannerisms is similar to studying a foreign language. It requires time. Communication is complex and even for dogs, can carry different meanings.
The Fundamentals of Dog Behavior
Over the centuries, dogs have become more adept in interpreting human body language, spoken words, and even hand signals. For this reason, many dogs are trained to become Therapy Dogs, assisting more than just one person in need. Therapy Dogs are in-tune with human emotions and are helpful for a variety of reasons, (that’s why we believe everyone can benefit from having a therapy dog!) When we think about all the love and affection our dogs have given us over time, it’s only fair to make the effort to better understand them!
To understand “dog” successfully, we must stretch beyond ourselves and over into canine culture.
A dog’s face, tail, ears, eyes, and mouth can speak volumes without them needing to make a sound. For example, everybody recognizes a rapidly wagging tail as a sign of canine excitement. But did you know the tail is also a primary conveyor of a dog’s social standing and mental state? As responsible dog moms and dads, we should never make the mistake of automatically interpreting tail wagging to mean friendliness.
What Does it Mean When My Dog Wags Their Tail?
Generally, a tail held above and away from the body or curled over the back denotes dominance. If this action is accompanied by bristling of the hair, there may be signs of aggression. Keep in mind that every dog is different, and some dogs, such as the Siberian Husky, have tails that curl up naturally.
A relaxed dog, comfortable in their surroundings, generally holds their tail lower and away from their body.
A frightened or submissive dog may hold his tail close to his body, tucked between his legs. Again, every dog is different, so be aware that some breeds like greyhounds, for instance, will naturally carry their tails between their legs, whether they are being submissive or not.
What Does it Mean When My Dog Is Smiling?
Ever looked at your dog and thought, are they grinning at me? It turns out, they are! Just like humans, a dog “smiles” when their content. When a dog smiles, the muscles in their body are relaxed, which you can notice most by observing the face.
Top 3 signs of a content dog:
1. Instead of clenching their teeth together, the dog lets their mouth hang open.
2. The tongue is relaxed and hangs loosely so it’s visible over the front of their teeth.
3. The eyes are soft and the ears are straight.
Bottom line: When you see your dog smile, they are relaxed and content, and you should be, too.
What Does it Mean When My Dog is Growling?
When a dog growls, he’s letting you know he’s uncomfortable.
He’s either scared or trying to show dominance.
“It’s a precursor to a bite. Never – I repeat: NEVER – punish a growl. Many dogs who have been punished for growling learn that giving a warning first doesn’t work, so they skip through the lower level communications (e.g. freezing, wide eye, lip raise, growl) warning of their intentions, and bite first instead,” Certified Trainer and Behavioral Specialist Cathy Madson said. “A growling dog is trying to tell you something – don’t teach them that this less aggressive form of communication doesn’t work and make them choose a bite instead.”
Top 3 Reasons a Dog Growls
1. Resource Guarding: Are you approaching a resource they think you’re going to take away from them, like a toy, chew or spot on the couch? Resource guarding is a natural dog behavior, and if your dog shows signs of guarding food, space, or items, this should be worked on with a certified positive reinforcement dog trainer.
2. Signs of Pain: Is someone petting them in a sensitive area, or, does that someone seem to make them uncomfortable? Growling during petting or other human touches may mean they are in pain or remembering negative experiences. First, have your veterinarian look them over to check for any underlying pain. If they receive medical clearance, a certified dog trainer can help you work on body handling desensitization.
3. Reactive Growling: Is your dog growling when they see other dogs while on a leash or when interacting with people? This could be due to reactivity, which is often based in fear. Work with a certified dog trainer on how to counter condition your dog to cope being around people and other dogs.
What To Do When You Encounter A Fearful or Aggressive Growling Dog
If a growling dog’s mouth has an elongated shape with visible gums, your dog is probably frightened and prepared to defend himself. His ears may also be flattened. A growling, fearful dog is often more dangerous than a dog showing dominance as his survival instinct is to lash out.
While backing away from a scared dog is your best option, it may indicate weakness to the dog. If he charges, stand still, keep your arms folded and make no eye contact (stare up at the sky, for example). Under no circumstances should you turn your back on the dog.
In general, someone who wants to tell the world, “I’m in charge!” will try to make himself as big as possible. The same holds true for dogs.
A dog with a taste for power will stand “very tall with legs quite straight,” their body tense, allowing for maximum height, says Madison. The dog may also raise their tail over their body like a flag to make certain no one fails to notice him.
“This kind of body language is usually seen along with a high and tight tail wag, forward ears, and closed mouth,” Madison said. “Body language is very contextual – you might see this tall posture in a variety of situations.”
On Their Back
Just as a dominant animal goes high, it makes sense for a frightened one to go low.
A scared dog will lower his body and drop his tail. If they’re extremely anxious, they’ll roll on their back, displaying their belly and throat.
“Dogs who expose their belly can be acting submissive, telling other dogs that they are no threat and don’t want to a challenge. Other times, a dog will roll over and expose its belly because they know that this often results in us humans giving them an awesome tummy scratch,” Madison said. “Dogs who feel very comfortable in their environment have no problem laying on their back and exposing their belly – which means they feel safe.”
A High, Fast Wagging Tail
Although people tend to assume a dog with a wagging tail is a happy one, they may actually be declaring, “back off!”
The higher a dog’s tail, the more dominance they are displaying. The faster the tail is moving, the more excited they are. Be concerned if the tail is moving in a flicking motion, like a nervous twitch. This may be a sign of aggression!
A Low, Slow Wagging Tail
Remember The Peanuts’ Charlie Brown walking home with his head hung low every day?
His body language is telling the world he’s miserable.
A dog can communicate his or her’s discontentment, as well, through their tail. If the tail is low and moving slowly back and forth, it could mean your dog is feeling insecure, ill or distressed.
Staring at You
A dog staring at you could mean different things, depending on whether it’s a familiar dog or not and the accompanying body language.
Direct and prolonged eye contact can be considered a challenge in dog body language, so if an unfamiliar dog is making and holding eye contact paired with tense body language, closed mouth, and high posture, you may want to beware.
“If this behavior is coming from your own dog, or a dog that is familiar with you, they are making eye contact in order to get your attention, invite interaction, or simply because they really do love you,” Madison said.
Fun fact – did you know that a mutual soft gaze with your dog actually strengthens your bond? Check out this awesome study about the role of eye contact and oxytocin (the happy hormone)!
Your dog will also stare at you when they want to know what’s happening—whether it’s where you’re going to throw the ball or if you’re going to share a piece of your steak. This wide-eyed stare is different than the more casual look displayed when a dog is trying to figure out what you’re going to do next.
Staring at Nothing
Some dogs have an ambiguous habit of staring off into space. You may find yourself wondering, “what are they staring at?”
Well, that’s a great question!
One common explanation is that a dog may be listening or sniffing in that direction since vision plays a smaller role in perception. Maybe they heard a noise or smell something in a distance we, as pet parents, aren’t capable of hearing or smelling.
According to the AKC, another common and more serious reason a dog may stare off into space may be Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome(CDS). CDS is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people and is becoming more common in dogs (they’re living longer than they did in the past!).
What should you do if you still can’t decode your dog’s behavior?
If you’re unsure why your dog is behaving certain ways, the best thing you can do is connect with a certified dog trainer in your area. Whether it’s a group class or private training session, a trainer can help teach you the basics of speaking and decoding dog language and behavior.
Many pet parents also turn to online resources and books to gain a better understanding. While you won’t directly see your dog’s reactions as you would in a training class, there’s still plenty of valuable takeaways.
“There are lots of wonderful books available for dog owners about canine behavior – but my all-time favorite is The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson – I recommend it to all my training clients,” Madison said. “It’s a great introduction to the world of dog behavior and learning.”
You’ve heard of sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, and even sweet potato pie!
On a quest to lead healthier lives, many people are replacing white potatoes with their vibrant counterpart, sweet potatoes (hold the Thanksgiving brown sugar and marshmallow edition).
But is the switch safe for all our family members?
We need to answer the most important question yet— can dogs eat sweet potatoes?
What is a Sweet Potato?
Sweet potatoes originated in the Americas in the 15th century, becoming a staple crop with the arrival of Christopher Columbus. In love with the taste, Columbus eventually brought the orange potato back to Spain, and by the 16th century they quickly dominated European gardens.
Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes
Are sweet potatoes and yams the same vegetable?
Despite the fact that the terms sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably in the states, they are actually quite different from one another.
Although both are underground tuber vegetables, yams are drier and starchier than sweet potatoes and are typically only found in specialty markets. Your everyday local grocery store likely carries sweet potatoes.
While sweet potatoes have become very popular in recent years, you’re probably still more accustomed to seeing white potatoes. Sweet potatoes, however, have more fiber and Vitamins C and A than a white potato.
Can Dogs Eat Sweet Potatoes?
The short answer is…yes!
Dr. Gary Richter, veterinarian and member of Rover’s Dog People panel of experts, advocates for including fresh and healthy foods like sweet potatoes into your dog’s diet. He explains, “the closer to fresh, whole food diets you feed, the healthier your dog is likely to be.”
Baked, boiled or mashed potatoes should only be given to dogs on occasion, however. It’s most common to boil, freeze, and/or dehydrate sweet potatoes for dogs. But be sure to start off with small amounts, your dog may not like the taste or they could have a sensitive stomach. If you want to mix sweet potato into their dry kibble for extra nutrition, try steaming or boiling the sweet potatoes, whichever works best for you.
Make sure to keep your dog away from the processed and fried potatoes like French fries, potato chips, potato skins, and baked potatoes piled high with flavorful and fatty toppings.
The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Dogs
Sweet potato is a safe, healthy, and natural treat for dogs, offering a range of health benefits (and a sweet flavor they’ll likely love). For example, sweet potatoes support a healthy digestive system thanks to their high dietary fiber content. They’re also low in fat and contain essential vitamins like B6, C, and A.
Have you ever wondered what gives sweet potatoes their yellow, gold, or orange (and sometimes even purple) coloring? It’s beta-carotene!
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer while simultaneously providing protection against heart disease.
“Each Beta-carotene converts to two molecules of Vitamin A in your dog’s body, which is essential for your dog’s vision, bone growth, skin and reproduction,” Steve Doerr, Technical Director and Research and Development Scientist at Redbarn Pet Products said.”
Symptoms of serious Beta-carotene or Vitamin A deficiency include night blindness, poor skin quality, abnormal bone/teeth development, and abnormal reproductive development.
Dogs can convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A. Cats cannot; they must directly consume preformed Vitamin A.
One of the main reasons for adding fiber to a dog’s diet is to encourage regular, healthy bowel movements.
Sweet potatoes are also used to alleviate constipation and diarrhea, depending on the fiber type. Some diets have higher fiber content to displace calories, increase a feeling of fullness, and help a pet lose weight.
When observing your dog, If you see your pet repeatedly straining then a vet check is strongly advised.
More Health Promoting Vitamins
According to PETMD, sweet potatoes are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A, which promotes healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerves, and muscles in dogs. Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, calcium, and iron, just to name a few!
While it is true that white potatoes are cheaper than sweet potatoes, they offer less nutritional value. Because they contain more carbohydrates, white potatoes can potentially be one of many factors to cause blood sugar problems and obesity. That said, sweet potatoes are also primarily carbohydrates so don’t go overboard and only add a limited amount to your dog’s diet.
When adding any new food to your dog’s diet, be sure to check with your vet before making the transition.
Did you know?
One cup of cooked sweet potato contains approximately 5.94 grams of fiber.
Sweet Potato Nutritional Information
According to the USDA, one medium baked sweet potato with skin contains 103 calories, 2.29 grams of protein, 23.6 grams of carbohydrates, 0.27 grams of fat, 3.8 grams of fiber and 7.39 grams of sugar.
Image source: USDA
A medium baked white potato with skin, on the other hand, contains 115 calories, 2.49 grams of protein, 0.06 grams of fat, 26.71 grams of carbohydrates, 4.6 grams of fiber, and 0.81 grams of sugar. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and B, as well as potassium.
Sweet potatoes are mainly composed of carbs.
“Most of the carbs come from starch, but sweet potatoes also contain a decent amount of fiber,” Steve said. “A medium-sized sweet potato (boiled, without any skin) contains 27 grams of carbs.”
You can find more nutrition information on the official USDA.GOV website.
How Do I Give My Dog Sweet Potato?
The best and easiest way to treat your dog to sweet potatoes is to steam or boil them— do not add any seasonings to the pieces you feed your dog. These methods help retain more nutritional value than roasting. And remember, start by giving your dog a small amount.
“Depending on the size of your dog, start with between a teaspoon and a tablespoon,” Steve Doerr said. “Pet owners should consult a veterinarian before feeding sweet potatoes to dogs, as too much vitamin A can cause bone problems and muscle weakness, and a sudden increase in fiber could create gastrointestinal issues, so start slow!”
*All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.
Happy early Mother’s Day to all the cat and dog moms out there! We’ve put together a Mother’s Day Giveaway, just for you! This time, we’ve teamed up with our partners over at ONOFRIENDS to bring you an extra special prize. Be sure to complete the actions below to collect your entries! Don’t forget to share, and tell us what you think!
More details below. Good luck to all!
We can all attest to the mood lifting and stress relieving benefits of having a pet around.
We can’t help but smile and laugh when our dogs cuddle up next to us on the couch, or when our cats crawl into our lap and give us those playful, wet, kitten kisses!
But, did you know owning or being around a pet is scientifically proven to have physical and mental health benefits in people?
Therapy animals are a way for people in lonely, stressful, or traumatic situations to share in the benefits of interaction and pet ownership.
Pet therapy is guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. When required, a handler is also involved. The purpose of pet therapy is to help someone cope or recover with a health problem or mental disorder. We’re going to breakdown three important types of dogs: emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and certified service dogs.
1. Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional Support Animals provide support to their pet parents through companionship. They can help ease anxiety, depression, irrational fears and more. Although emotional support animals are not certified service dogs and do not have the same rights, anyone with a need has the right to train their dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program. For more information about service dogs and how they differ from emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs, check out the ADA’s guide to Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.
2. Therapy Dogs
A therapy dog is a dog who is trained to provide comfort and accompany patients during hospital visits or those living or temporarily residing in retirement homes, nursing homes, and hospices, to name a few places. They also help comfort those with learning difficulties or people experiencing stressful situations such as natural disasters. Typically, therapy dogs do not serve just one person, like emotional support or service dogs, and are generally accompanied by their trained handler.
Research shows that interactions with therapy dogs can increase oxytocin(chemicals responsible for bonding) and dopamine (chemicals responsible for happiness) levels while lowering levels of cortisol (the chemical responsible for stress) according to Psychology Today.
There are three common types of therapy dogs:
1. Therapeutic Visitation dogs
Therapy dogs that assist with therapeutic visitation are household pets whose owners take time out of their personal lives to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities. A visitation dog can brighten the day of someone stuck away from home, help lift their spirits, and motivate them to stay strong until they go home.
2. Assisted Therapy Dogs
These dogs assist physical and occupational therapists in meeting goals important to an individual’s recovery. These special pups can help individuals regain motion in limbs, motor control, and hand-eye coordination, to name a few. Animal-assisted therapy dogs typically work in rehabilitation facilities
3. Facility Therapy Dogs
Facility therapy dogs primarily work in nursing homes and are typically trained to help keep patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other mental illness from getting lost or confused. These dogs are typically handled by a trainer or handler.
There are so many uses for therapy dogs, and anyone can benefit from their help.
Do Certain dog breeds make better therapy pets than others?
Given their friendly nature and success in obedience training, golden retrievers and German shepherds are generally considered one of the best support animals you can have. But because most dogs are naturally supportive and loving, most breeds are smart enough to figure out when you’re feeling down or blue. However, there are certain breeds that definitely stand out when it comes to providing emotional support, according to TherapyPet.org.
Top 5 Therapy Dog Breeds according to Therapy Pet
1. Golden Retrievers
2. German Shepards
4. Cavalier King
3. Certified Service Dogs
According to The United States Americans with Disabilities Act, “A service animal refers to any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” This includes anything from pulling a wheelchair, reminding a person to take medication, or cheering someone up.
Animals used for therapy purposes can range from pets who act as emotional support animals, any animal certified by organizations like Therapy Dogs International or Pet Partners, and volunteer animals that work with and are trained by hospitals or other organizations.
According to the ADA, service animals are defined as, “working animals,” not pets. These are animals that have been specifically trained to perform tasks related to the disabled person’s specific disabilities.
A great example is dogs specifically trained to help alert their owners to with diabetes when their blood sugar drops, 20 to 30 minutes before today’s latest technology can. Redbarn is the official treat sponsor for a California-based non-profit, Dogs4Diabetics, who provide free diabetic service dogs trained for this specific task. Their service dogs are trained by their licensed handlers through an extensive process.
Different Type of Service Dogs
1. Guide Dogs
Guide dogs, also known as, “seeing eye dogs,” assist the visually impaired. Guide dogs are one of the most commonly known types of service dogs.
2. Hearing Dogs
Hearing dogs alert those with hearing impairments to alerts such as alarms, crying babies, or potential danger. When a service dog hears the specific sound, they’ll touch their human and lead toward the noise.
3. Mobility Assistance Dogs
Mobility assistance dogs are dogs that can assist certain people returning to work or school after an illness or injury. Mobility assistance dogs can help in a wide range of activities. They are trained to bring people objects, open doors, and even help pull wheelchairs up ramps.
A few more tasks service dogs may help humans with include:
Pressing “open/close” door buttons
Pressing elevator buttons
Assisting with undressing
Opening drawers and cabinets
Turning Lights Off and On
Carrying items down stars
You can read more about mobility dogs and how they help people every day on Paws4Ability.com.
By providing this type of help, guide, hearing and mobility assistance dogs can help restore a sense of independence to those with illnesses or disabilities, reducing their dependence on others. People living with balance problems, cerebral palsy, arthritis and spina bifida are just a few of the people who benefit from the help of service dogs.
4. Seizure Alert and Response Dogs
Seizure alert dogs will act in a certain manner when their owner is about to have a seizure. Seizure response dogs, on the other hand, are trained to respond when a person is experiencing a seizure. Seizure response dogs are typically trained to bark for help or press an emergency button when their owner is in need.
5. Autism Support Dogs
Autism support dogs can be a great help for kids struggling to connect with other children in the classroom. Many children and adults with autism spectrum condition (ASC) have a special bond with dogs. Children with autism tend to have fewer tantrums have higher confidence levels, less anxiety, and improved communication in the presence of a dog, according to research from Lincoln University.
Common Questions Around Support & Service Dogs
1. Are Emotional Support, Therapy Dogs Considered Service Animals?
Emotional support and therapy are all terms used to describe animals that provide comfort to someone just by being by their side. Because they haven’t officially been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals.
State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support, therapy, and comfort animals into public places. Check with your State and local government agencies to learn more about those laws.
2. Who Generally Needs Therapy Dogs?
Dogs are the most common type of therapy animal and are used in a variety of different places to bring joy and comfort to those who need it most— including retirement and nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, veterans, and people with disorders or disabilities.
3. What is the Main Difference Between Emotional Support Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Certified Service Animals?
You may find yourself asking, “What’s the difference between emotional support, therapy, and service animals?”
Although it’s easy to get the terms confused, therapy animals, emotional support animals, and service animals do help people in different ways.
But fret not! We’re here to break down exactly what each term means.
The Physical Benefits of Therapy and Emotional Support Pets
The Psychological Benefits of Therapy and Emotional Support Pets
Lifts spirits and lessens depression
Lowers feelings of isolation and alienation
Helps with speech and emotional disorders
Creates motivation for physical training
Reduces overall loneliness
Common Uses of Therapy Dogs
Anyone can use a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are used in many settings to help people like patients, veterans, and children suffering from illness and/or with a mental or physical disability.
General Pet Therapy
Pet therapy, or “animal-assisted therapy,” is becoming a common way for health professionals to improve a person’s social, emotional, and mental functioning with the support of animals.
Pet Therapy in Schools
Many colleges and universities bring therapy dogs to campus, often around midterms or finals, to help students relax and de-stress after long days. Students say that interacting with these animals can be mood lifting, especially if they have family pets they don’t get to see often.
Pet Therapy in Hospitals
Many hospitals have formal programs or information on various programs that bring in animals for patients. For example, Cedars-Sinai has a program called POOCH, where volunteer dogs visit patients who have requested a pooch visit.
Pet Therapy in Disaster Relief
Some organizations work both locally and nationally to send therapy animals to areas affected by natural disasters. These therapeutic animals help people recover from physical ailments and emotional trauma.
Meet Liv, Bane, and Billie!
But don’t just take our word for it. Meet our Pet Partners, Liv (middle), pet parent to Grizzly Bane (left) and Bille Sage (right).
Liv is a dedicated dog mom of three. Although therapy dogs can be used for many different reasons, Liv used the benefits of therapy dogs to cope with moderate anxiety and ADHD. Her trained dogs help her feel comfortable in public and at home.
Billie Saige the golden retriever is one year old and is known for being a sweetheart. She’s quick to crawl on her mom’s lap and cover her with smooches whenever she senses something seems may be wrong.
Golden retrievers top the list for the best dog breeds to train as therapy animals, and Billie Saige is going currently finishing training. Liv and Saige plan on visiting their local primary children’s hospital every weekend where they will provide support to children battling illness.
Grizzly Bane the German Shepard is 3 years old and is an energetic pup that gets along with everyone.
Adding on to her happy family, Liv is also the dog mom to a four-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Bru. Bru loves to comfort her mom by being the best snuggle buddy ever.
“My favorite memory is just every single time I realize they love what they’re doing and they love helping me as much as I love the help that they’re giving me. “
– Liv Anderson, pet parent to Bane, Saige, and Bru. @grizzly.bane
How Can My Pet Become a Therapy Animal?
Your pet can become certified through organizations like Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International. While Pet Partners’ team of therapy animals is 94 percent dogs, they do register eight other species! That includes cats, guinea pigs, llamas, pigs, and even rats!
While therapy training might sound like a fun and fulfilling activity for you and your pet, there are many qualifications that have to be met. Being well-behaved and well-trained is a must for your pet. Dogs going into training should also be friendly and enjoy being around others.
Dedicated Animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell notes that although “a therapy [animal] must be able to tolerate all manners of rudeness, as the pet parent, it’s our job to eliminate as much stress as you possibly can. As the human half of the team, you play several roles, and one of them is to be your [pet’s] biggest advocate.”
As their pet parent, you must be able to read your pet’s body language at all times to assess their mood so you are able to intervene in a timely manner.
*All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarninc.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.
You’ve arrived at your local pet supply store. Standing in the cat food aisle, you find yourself surrounded in a sea of colorful cans of cat food, all claiming to be the optimal choice for your feline friend.
The cans shout, “Premium! Super Premium! Fancy! High-Quality!”
These days, it’s common for pet food to contain just as many buzzwords as human food. In fact, you may even see some of the same buzzwords or callouts you find on your healthy human snacks.
Of course, our fluffy feline friends can’t read labels or make a conscious effort to choose healthy foods, so your dedication to their well-being is vital. The choice you make for your cat(s) will have a lasting impact on their overall health, well-being, and quality of life.
No pressure, right? But as leaders in the pet nutrition industry, Redbarn is here to help.
With a little research into the basics of cat nutrition, we can uncover what ingredients to look for and what buzzwords are actually meaningful. Even if you’re an experienced cat parent, refreshers into cat nutrition will help ensure your current cat food company is keeping up-to-date.
So, without further ado, let’s uncover the proper ways to nourish our cats’ curious minds, strong bodies, and fury coats!
6 Essential Nutrients Cats Need to Thrive
Just like their human parents, cats require a biologically-appropriate diet that satisfies all of their nutritional needs. There are many healthy cat food options and brands that truly care about your cat’s well-being; you just have to know what to look for!
Did You Know?
Beef, fish, and poultry provide essential nutrients to cats. Because they are strict carnivores, cats cannot survive without eating meat in some form.
1. Animal Protein
Cats are fundamentally carnivores! That’s why animal protein is number one on our list.
Cats can obtain all their essential amino acids from animal protein. Proteins are the building blocks of organs and tissues, including cartilage, tendons, hair, skin, blood, muscles, and the heart. They are part of enzymes, hormones and antibodies.
Complete & balanced cat food should include animal protein from such meats as turkey, chicken or beef, as well as fish and eggs. Feeding your cat a well-balanced diet assists in the healthy functioning and regeneration of body tissues and helps keep their claws and fur strong and healthy.
Fresh, high-quality animal protein is the first ingredient in all of Redbarn’s Grain-Free Stews and Patés for Cats. These recipes, following guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) contain the correct intake of proteins essential for adequately maintaining the internal organs and muscles of cats.
Animal fats are the main source of energy for cats. “Good fats” is a term used to describe fats naturally present in meat and fish as well as the essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These “good fats” are fundamental to feline health.
“Fats help a cat maintain body temperature, provide energy and absorb vitamins such as A, D, E and K,” Steve Doerr, Technical Director and Research and Development Scientist at Redbarn Pet Products said. “Because cats can only receive ‘“good fats’” through what they consume, it is important the cat food you provide is enriched with Omega 3 and Omega 6.”
Although carbohydrates are not typically seen as essential nutrients in the diets of cats, carbs do play critical roles in your cat’s body. Carbohydrates provide a highly digestible, readily available energy source and should be present in all cat foods.
Cats can get their necessary carbs from grains like wheat and rice. Because these grains are typically added ingredients in many wet cat foods, these carbohydrate sources are pre-treated to facilitate digestibility and absorption into your cat’s body. Carbohydrates from uncooked soybeans and other legumes should be avoided as they contain many antinutritional factors.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but did you know cats tend to consume less water than they need? “Seventy percent of a cat is water. In the past, cats lived in natural habitats with restricted access to clean drinking water,” Lindsay Tracy, Director of New Product Development at Redbarn Pet Products said. “Through evolution, cats have adapted to this situation by obtaining the majority of the water they need through the food they eat.”
Water is essential for cats and helps the body:
-distribute nutrients correctly
-eliminate toxins, and
Besides increased palatability and generally higher animal protein contents, the high moisture contents found in wet or canned cat food makes it a smart meal choice for cat parents.
Wet food for cats is typically 78 to 82 percent water and is an excellent source of hydration. Redbarn’s grain-free cat stews, for example, have an 82 percent moisture content.
Wet food can be used as a full feed or a kibble topper, helping your cat stay adequately hydrated throughout the day. Don’t compromise the health of your cat due to a lack of water! In addition to incorporating wet food into their diet, be sure to always leave out a water bowl for your cat.
Vitamins are essential to all mammals. The most important thing to keep in mind with vitamins is to feed them in the right proportions. Most vitamins are synthesized from the raw materials found in your cat’s food, which is why choosing a balanced and nutritious cat food is so crucial to good health.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common essential vitamins your cat should receive from their diet.
Crucial for a strong immune system and healthy vision, Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that Vitamin A gets stored in fatty tissue or the liver (versus being excreted by the body like water-soluble vitamins). Too much Vitamin A in your cat’s diet can be toxic. Because of this risk, Vitamin A supplementation should be done cautiously and only under veterinary supervision.
Vitamin D is a vital component of balancing and retaining calcium and phosphorus in your cat’s body. Vitamin D, also known as, “the sunshine vitamin,” aids in the proper functioning of bones, nerves, and muscles. Vitamin D is also Fat soluble and should not be consumed in excess.
-Vitamin B1 (Thiamine):
Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, as well as the maintenance of normal growth and nerve impulse transmission.
-Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):
Riboflavin is needed for growth and overall good health. It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy and allows oxygen to be used by the body. This incredible vitamin helps contribute to the quality of your cat’s skin and coat. A lack of Vitamin B2 may cause adverse changes to your cat’s skin around the eyes and the abdomen.
-Vitamin B3 (Niacin):
This water-soluble vitamin is easily depleted through your cat’s urine and must be replaced regularly to maintain adequate levels. Vitamin B3 keeps your cat’s nervous system, gastrointestinal functions, and skin healthy.
-Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):
Vitamin B6 is also water soluble and part of the B vitamin group. There are 3 compounds that together are called Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 cannot be stored in your cat’s muscle tissue, so they’ll need a constant source of vitamin B6 in order to maintain adequate levels. Vitamin B6 is important for healthy immune function and red blood cell function. The more protein that is consumed, the more B6 is required to metabolize it. It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to produce energy and distribute oxygen. Signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency in cats include growth depression, convulsive seizures, and irreversible kidney lesions. B6 deficiency is rarely seen.
Like vitamins, minerals are also essential to all mammals. Minerals contribute to enzyme formation, pH balance, nutrient utilization, and oxygen transportation. Elemental minerals are generally taken from the earth or water; chelated minerals are those that are bound with other organic substances, often making them easier for the body to absorb. According to Steve Doerr, there are a few minerals that are essential to our cat’s health. These include iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride.
Iron is found in liver, lean meats, fish, whole grains, and legumes. Most commercial cat foods contain a highly available form of supplemental iron to help meet dietary requirements. Iron deficiency caused by illnesses and parasites can make your cat very weak, leading to anemia.
Calcium helps to produce milk female cats give to their kittens. A diet rich in calcium is good for your cat’s overall health and is present in dairy products, eggs, bones, and leguminous plants. Calcium is an essential mineral that helps the body with many functions; including:
-bone growth and formation,
-Nerve impulse transmission, and
-Eclampsia; or, low calcium levels during pregnancy and lactation
99% of dietary calcium is used in the structure of bones and teeth, so the most common disease associated with calcium deficiency is rickets – a condition where the bones become soft and fragile. Feeding a quality diet with adequate levels of calcium can help reduce any chances of calcium deficiencies.
Magnesium keeps your cat overall health well-balanced. Magnesium helps your cat absorb and use certain vitamins and minerals throughout their bodies. This powerful mineral is also necessary for bone growth, enzyme functions, and the production of protein.
“Magnesium is found in raw wheat germ, whole grains, soybeans, milk, and fish,” Doerr said. “The magnesium content of cat food depends on the ingredients, but the mineral is usually not added in supplemental form. That’s because Magnesium deficiency is quite rare. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle tremors and weakness.
Sodium aids in the transfer of nutrients to cells and the removal of waste products. The Association of American Feed Control Officials , also known as AAFCO, recommends dry cat foods contain at minimum 0.2 percent sodium to support normal growth and development. Cat foods high in sodium may cause temporarily increased thirst and water consumption, however, the extra sodium is excreted in cat urine.
Chloride helps maintain the proper alkali balance in your cat’s body. Chloride is also necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach that helps digest protein.
According to AAFCO, kitten and cat foods should contain at least 0.3 percent chloride (on a dry matter basis). If you look closely, you may notice that most cat foods contain higher than the minimum daily requirement.
Because cat food can lack the correct amount of essential vitamins and minerals your kitty cat needs, ask your veterinarian for their recommended regimen of mineral and vitamin supplements. They can often help offset nutritional deficiencies and keep your precious pussycat purring strong.
Free radicals are molecules that can damage cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA and are now considered a factor in premature aging and disease in cats. Free radicals can form internally by exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke, pollution, radiation, and other harmful substances.
If you and your feline friend live in the city, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid free radicals. With our cats being bombarded with more environmental toxins than ever, choosing the right cat food with proper amounts of vitamins and minerals is vital.
The Nutrition Label on Cat Food
What is a Guaranteed Analysis?
As long as your choice of cat food is a complete and balanced meal under AAFCO’s guidelines, your cat should be receiving many of the vitamins necessary to keep them healthy and happy. According to AFFCO, “The AAFCO cat and Cat Food Nutrient Profiles were designed to establish practical minimum and maximum nutrient concentrations for cat and cat foods, formulated from commonly used, non-purified, complex ingredients.” All cat food labels list the minimum amount of protein and fat as well as the maximum percentage of fiber and moisture.
But as always, consult your veterinarian for individual dietary needs.
Pro tip— bring your current cat food and treats with you on the next vet visit, or take a picture of the label and ask your vet to review the ingredients with you.
Just like people food, cat food lists the ingredients by weight, starting with the largest percentage ingredient. The only way to be sure of what your cat is eating is to read the ingredient list.
“Decoding the Label,” with The Name Game!
The way a food is named is the first indicator of how much “good” ingredients are in the food. This is a great rule-of-thumb, but truly understanding it can be a little tricky. Not to worry! We’re going to lay it out below.
According to the FDA, an ingredient list must be listed in the order of predominance in the food. When “beef” is the first ingredient listed, “whole grain corn” is the second, and “soybean meal” the third, for example, there is more beef than whole grain corn and more whole grain corn than soybean meal. If the name of the food starts with protein (for example, Salmon Cat Food), the food must have at least 95 percent of said meat.
What to Look For in Cat Food:
-Real meat as the first ingredient
-Fillers, if any, (corn, wheat, soy) should be listed low, if at all, on the ingredient list
-If a “meal” is listed, be sure it’s from a specific source (ex: chicken, beef, or salmon), not a general “meal” (ex: poultry meal, fish meal, etc.)
-Specific protein by-products (ex: chicken by-product) are high in nutritional value and generally not an issue; but watch out for general statements (ex: by-product meal) as these are a lower in quality
– The name of food contains the statement “with” or “flavor” (ex: with beef or beef flavored) as this indicates a small percentage of real meat
– The same ingredient is listed multiple times using different names (ex: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, sucrose)
– Fillers in foods and treats or too many fillers in cat food (may not be biologically appropriate for your cat)
– If the name of the food reads “recipe”, “dinner”, or “formula,“ the meat/ingredient in the name must be at least 25 percent of the food (for example, Salmon Formula for Cats).
Using the example from above, changing the name to be “Beef Cat Food Recipe,“ the beef content goes down from 95 percent to anywhere from 25 to 95 percent.
If there are two or more meats listed in the name, like “Chicken and Salmon Dinner for Cats,” the food must have a combined 25 percent of BOTH types of meat. This specific example indicates that there is more chicken than salmon because chicken is listed first in the name.
If you see the word “with” listed in the name, this lets us know that there is an even smaller amount of the meat in the food—only 3 percent. For example, “Cat Food with Chicken” is only required to have 3 percent chicken to meet the required amount.
Finally, if the food name has the word “flavor,” it has at least 3 percent of meat (for example, Salmon Flavored Cat Food). Using the word “flavor” in the name only legally requires 3 percent of the meat to be present in the recipe.
These verbiage rules don’t only apply to meat, though. It goes with any food callout on packaging, including superfood callouts which many companies are currently drawing attention to.
You can learn more about how to read cat food labels with Redbarn’s helpful guide, “Decoding the Label 101.”
Customer Service Hotline
The packaging label found on your cat food should contain the manufacturer’s name and phone number. Call the company’s customer service line directly to learn more about their products, including manufacturing origin, actual nutrient content, calories, and palatability of your prospective cat food choice.
If you ever have a question or concern about Redbarn Pet Products, feel free to reach out to our customer service team at 1-800-775-3849 or direct message us on our social media channels.
You can now feel more confident when shopping for the right products for your four-legged family member. Educated pet parents have an easier time picking the right options for their cats.
An essential nutrition knowledge base is crucial in proper cat parenting. This will help protect you and your wallet from trends and supplements that are overpriced and non-essential to your pet’s health. What do you feed your cat?
Do you have a cat that’s trying to cut calories? We want to hear from you. Send your fat cat’s story and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may use them in a forthcoming article.
Do you have a hard time deciphering which nutrients your cat needs?
Have you ever felt lost walking down the pet food aisle? Perhaps you even left the store empty-handed, overwhelmed by the endless amount of options, most claiming to be healthy, natural, even organic.
It’s important to take a few moments to research what you’re feeding your pet, especially if they’re experiencing any health issues or their breed is prone to certain conditions. Feeding your pet a well balanced and high-quality food is one of the best things you, as a pet parent, can do to fuel a happy and healthy pet.
But how can you be certain you’re picking the best food or treats for your dog or cat if you’re not sure what “quality pet foods” are?
High-quality pet foods should support bodily functions like muscle development, joint health, and bone health; provide a steady stream of energy through natural ingredients and added vitamin and minerals; be easily digestible; help keep their coats and skin shiny and irritant-free; and, even help keep their eyes bright and clear.
Quality food doesn’t stop at ingredient lists and health benefits, though. It also means buying products from companies with leading quality assurance practices, ensuring products are safe for consumption.
But what does quality assurance really mean?
And, how do you know your chosen company is following quality assurance expectations?
The technical definition of quality assurance is the systematic monitoring and evaluation of all raw products that enter and all finished products that exit manufacturing facilities and enter your home. In layman’s terms, quality assurance refers to a series of steps and processes a company puts in place to ensure the final product is safe for consumption.
The main priority of Redbarn’s quality assurance team is ensuring all our products are safe, allowing pet parents to feel confident and secure when selecting Redbarn Pet Products as their food and treat source. As Redbarn’s Quality Assurance Manager, Jennifer Hood, said best, “it’s being a voice for our otherwise voiceless pets.” After all, pets are family, too!
Meet Redbarn’s Quality Assurance Manager
Redbarn believes hiring the most qualified technicians is the first step in building a strong, competent and reliable quality assurance team.
Jennifer Hood is Redbarn’s experienced Quality Assurance Manager. She’s been a Redbarn family member for 4 years, is a HUGE Cubs fan, and, most importantly, is mom to five dogs and two cats— Sandi, Abbie, Junior, Jaxon, Wrigley, Zoey, and Joe!
Jennifer oversees Redbarn’s quality assurance team and has created a robust testing environment for our products and raw materials. She also oversees the Redbarn owned-and-operated QA laboratory, where she runs tests and practices procedures to ensure our food is high-quality and of course, tasty!
Redbarn’s Quality Assurance Labs
Redbarn maintains two state-of-the-art fully equipped labs: one located in Great Bend, Kansas and the other located in Sancay, Paraguay. And before we get too far, while some are understandably wary of non-U.S. manufacturing facilities, it’s important to mention our ownership means we hold both plants to U.S. and Redbarn standards.
Our Kansas lab is fully equipt to test pH, moisture levels, water activity levels, salt levels, and can perform microbiological tests such as aerobic plate counts, anaerobic plate counts, coliform counts, and Salmonella screening. These tests are used to sample raw and finished product. Once all the product arrives in the lab, aseptic laboratory practices are used to prepare and test the products.
Every batch of raw and finished product is tested for quality and safety, with additional samples randomly pulled throughout the production process.
“Redbarn takes pride in doing all of this because we care about you- the pet parent and the safety of your beloved family members,” Hood said.
Our State-of-the-Art Facility Features
From our founding in 1996 through today, Redbarn continues to invest both time and money into our research and quality assurance programs: purchasing state of the art machinery, hiring skilled and educated technicians, and utilizing industry-leading technology and testing protocols.
Temperature Controlled Rooms: Insects can often be a nuisance for pet food manufacturers, especially where bully stick products are made, and a huge concern for pet parents opening infested bags. Our entire manufacturing facility and all testing rooms are temperature-controlled to prevent any insects or harmful toxins from entering the facility.
Food Grade Air Sanitation: Large KES Airocide machines on our ceilings circulate air so no toxins can live within our packaging facility. This machine mineralizes airborne bacteria, mold, fungi, mycotoxins, viruses, allergens, ethylene, and odors.
HACCP: We follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Standards; a recognized management system is which consumable safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from the initial raw material production, sourcing, and handling, to the manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product. This includes multiple required programs specifically designed for our facility and the pet treats and foods we produce. Redbarn’s product and raw material analysis, production and environmental monitoring, and facility audits all support the HACCP program.
Some of our quality assurance tests include:
-Weekly microbiology tests: Our in-house lab conducts thousands of monthly tests to ensure all products incoming and outgoing are safe for the pet and handling by the pet parent.
-Mold and Yeast Screening: All lots of finished products are tested for yeast and mold.
-Pest Control: We utilize an outside contractor who inspects our facilities weekly.
-Water Specifications: Water activity specifications assure all products and materials cannot support bacterial growth.
-Salmonella Screening: Our team performs and manages around 80 Salmonella a day. All lots of finished product are screened for Salmonella and other bacteria as specified before they are released for distribution.
All of these safety tests add up to a total of 2,5000 tests per month. That’s about 800 tests a week!
Additional Steps in Quality Assurance
We want all pet parents to feel confident feeding their pets Redbarn. We’ve established thorough processes and procedures to ensure the final product you take home is of the highest quality
Internal and External Monitoring
-Surprise USDA and FDA audits: All Redbarn facilities are subject to random audits by the USDA and the FDA.
-Monthly Internal Audits: Our management teams perform monthly internal audits to meet Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), as well as regularly scheduled audits for food safety and security.
-Independent ISO accredited lab: Redbarn utilizes an ISO accredited lab who verifies our results and ensures we’re doing what we say we’re doing.
Outside Supplier Qualifications
We understand your trust is earned, not given. We not only hold ourselves accountable but our suppliers, as well. As an extension of our family, our suppliers and our globally sourced ingredients are held to the same high standards as our in-house team.
To monitor critical points in our supply chain and ensure our suppliers are delivering high-quality raw materials, we require a Certificate of Analysis from all our suppliers.
This certificate verifies every shipment is pure and the correct grade. And similar to Redbarn, our suppliers are also subjected to surprise audits, where our co-founders and Jennifer Hood visit their facilities to ensure compliance. We won’t package any of our products until our Quality Assurance technicians determine all test specifications are met.
The “Redbarn Guarantee”
Redbarn offers a 100% satisfaction or your money back policy on any and all purchases.
Because Redbarn is in a committed relationship with quality assurance, and we want to bring peace of mind to our pet parents and retail partners. All of our 200 plus products, from rolled and canned food to Bully Sticks and Filled Bones, are consistently held to these high standards.
“I choose to feed my dogs Redbarn not simply because I work there, but because I know our quality assurance standards set us apart. I want to know raw materials are tested for contaminants before the cooking process begins; I want to have confidence in a company’s standards for cleanliness and safety; I want assurance the finished product is safe for my pets,” Jennifer Hood said. “Safety and quality should be top priorities at every company. We have extensive processes and procedures set in place to ensure all our products are pure, high-quality and consistent.“
Redbarn holds our chews, treats, and food to the highest possible quality standards. Our team works hard to ensure we manufacture safe, high-quality dog and cat food, treats, and chews.
“It’s why we continue to invest both time and money into our research and quality assurance programs: purchasing state of the art machinery, hiring skilled and educated technicians, and utilizing industry-leading technology and testing protocols,” Hood said. “Redbarn takes pride in doing all of this because we care about you- the pet parent and the safety of your beloved family members.”
Quality Assurance FAQs
1. How can pet parents be sure the companies they’re buying from place quality assurance as a top priority?
Research and ask. If you call a company’s customer service line they should be able to share insights into their quality assurance programs. If not, this may be a sign the company does not want to share their QA standards or they do not value it enough to keep their entire team up-to-date. Either way, neither of those scenarios should be acceptable to pet parents. Hood, for example, regularly educates Redbarn team members—from sales and marketing to customer service and purchasing— on quality assurance programs. Redbarn is proud of our accomplishments in the QA space and wants to make sure everyone working within Redbarn’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities, in addition to pet parents, feels confident in the products we put out.
2. What questions should I ask a pet food manufacturer to learn about their quality assurance standards?
In a recent interview with Animal Wellness Magazine, Hood shared a list of question for pet parents to ask when researching a company’s QA.
Does your company own independent manufacturing facilities?
If so, does the State Department of Agriculture, FDA and/or USDA regularly inspect it? If not, how do you monitor quality assurance standards and practices within the facility?
What type of testing do you perform on your raw and finished products?
Does your manufacturing facility have any certifications?
Does your facility utilize an outside ISO accredited lab for additional testing, verifying your results?
Does your facility follow HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Standards?
If you have any questions about any of the products or quality assurance best practices, feel free to customer service at 1-800-775-3849.
Did you find this information helpful? Let us know below in the comments! We love engaging with our #Redbarnfamily.
Redbarn’s One of a Kind Bully Stick Gravy Now Available for Purchase!
Ever wonder what makes our Bully Coated Chews so delicious? Or why your dogs love our canned stews?
It’s our unique Bully Gravy, made exclusively by Redbarn Pet Products! Made from a delectable blend of crushed Redbarn Bully Sticks, added functional ingredients, and antioxidants, how could a dog resist?
If your dog is a bully stick lover, they’re sure to do flips for our delicious Bully Gravy Recipe.
Did You Know?
Redbarn manufactures over 1 million inches of Bully Sticks every year.
If you lay them end to end, that’s over 15 miles!
So how do we make our famous Bully Gravy?
First, we melt down heaps of the All-Natural Redbarn Bully Sticks we all know and love. Next, we add in functional ingredients like chicken cartilage, salmon oil, and Vitamin E. These added ingredients are beneficial to your dog’s overall health and work to increase palatability even more.
The delicious Bully Gravy is proven to tempt even the most finicky eaters. That’s why we created a line of natural chews coated in a delectable “special sauce” that we’ve coined as our Redbarn Bully Gravy. Popular treats like Bully Slices®, Bully Nuggets, Chew-A-Bulls®, and our canned stews for dogs are all enhanced with a generous coating of our one-of-a-kind Bully Gravy.
But by popular request from our pet parents, we’ve decided to go one step further.
Now you can purchase your very own supply of Redbarn Bully Gravy! Perfect for dog trainers and doggie daycares, easily take any treat or chew to the next level with our irresistible Bully Gravy recipe.
Our Bully Gravy lets you get creative! From enhancing a boring meal or making an old bone worth chewing again, the uses for our Bully Gravy are nearly endless.
We’re proud to announce 55-gallon barrels of Redbarn Bully Gravy will be sold exclusively at pet specialty stores across the U.S. Be sure to get your Redbarn Bully Gravy for only $19.99 while supplies last!
You heard us right. Over 7,000 fluid ounces of our secret “sauce” all to yourself – now that’s something your dog has only dreamed of. We know this is exciting and you can’t wait to tell the entire dog park! When you do, be sure to say, “April Fools!”
To celebrate our new Youtube video, “Dogs are Wolves..Kind of..”, we are honored to partner with eight amazing pups and their parents to help us give away free product. Take some time to get to know them below, and of course, don’t forget to give them a follow on Instagram!
We always have so much fun connecting our Redbarn family and building a community together.
Brody the Golden Retriever is living it up in South Florida and runs his own Bandana company for dogs! When Brody isn’t swimming in lakes with his family, you can catch him hanging out with his best friends and enjoying hisRebarn Prok Chews, of course! Get acquainted with this golden and visit him on Instagram, @_brodythegolden.
Brother and sister Athena and Ares are two lovable Siberian Huskies that love to cuddle and give kisses! Athena is a moderate chewer that likes to relax with her treat. Ares, on the other hand, can’t wait until his sister leaves her bone unattended! You can find these two on Instagram @athenanares
Harley and Ivy are two biological sisters that love to go on adventures together. @harleyqandivy.boxers
Winston is a fun loving Pomeranian with a big smile and personality to match. Known for being floofy and fabulous, Winston loves posing for the camera and showing us how photogenic she is. You can keep up with this cutie on Instagram, @iamwinstonpom.
Angus the Scottish Terrier is known for being a good boy with a sassy side. Although her hats getting his hair brushed, Angus would do anything for a Redbarn Pork Chew. Check out the Scottie with loads of personality on Instagram @mrangusscotie
Rex is a GSD that loves long car rides and traveling with her pet parent. When He’s not modeling for the camera or on a hike with mom, you can catch Rex munching on his Redbarn Pork Chews!’
Stanley is notoriously known as the #1 Certified dinner table vacuum and will do anything for a snack, especially a Redbarn Pork Chew! You can see Stanley’s contagious smile on Instagram, give him a follow! @Stanleythehuskey
Tobi is a lovely companion and survivor of bloat syndrome. He loves to keep his mom company and get all of his exercises outdoors, whether it’s in the sunshine or snow. Watch their adventures on Instagram @tobiadadane
Don’t forget to enter our Redbarn Natural Bone and Ham Bone giveaway for your chance to win. Good luck and have fun mingling with our newest pet partners!