A scoop a day for a stronger heart

Dogs are facing an epidemic that has plagued humans for the better part of 50 years. Obesity is increasing at a pace of over 80% since 2005 with over 54% of dogs being labeled as obese. Not shockingly, they have gone the same path as their owners, but why?

Bad Science

For over 30 years, at least in America, we have been told to avoid fat, and eat more “healthy carbs”, yet we’ve gotten bigger. When you go to the grocery store, take a look around at all of the low fat, no fat, and reduced-fat options that exist….There are more than ever and their sales are higher than ever……yet we are larger than ever.

The largest pet food manufacturers have a history of what?!

You probably didn’t know that the largest pet food manufacturers in the U.S. have their roots firmly planted in…….Candy. Yes, that’s right, candy. Nestlé and Mars are 2 of the largest manufacturers of pet food and have helped set the course of “nutrition” that dog food diets have used for years. Is it really a coincidence that they aren’t as worried about levels of carbohydrates and I don’t know….diabetes?

What do the numbers say

Obesity54% of all dogs are obese
(more than 30% overweight)

An increase of 80% since 2005

An increase of 32% since 2011
Diabetes296,666 dogs had diabetes in 2017

1 in 300

2/10 dogs euthanized w/in 12 months
of diagnosis

60,000 dogs die from diabetes every
Odds your dog will be hit by a car1,200,000

1 in 74


Simply put, this is the biggest nutritional threat your dog faces. Unfortunately, these companies have incredibly deep pockets and the ability to buy influence on a massive scale as they have spent years financing Veterinarian schools & students. 

How does this affect my dog’s heart?

The number one cause of cardiovascular disease……….You guessed it, obesity. With 54% of all dogs suffering from obesity, it’s only common sense that since we’ve checked off diabetes as one of the more common diseases facing our four-legged friends. However, the one lurking in the shadows…..Heart Disease. 

In people, we know if you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to die from heart disease. In fact, 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease. Over time, the excess blood sugar that exists in the blood due to the lack of insulin to convert it to fat or energy damages the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. This results in a weaker heart that is no longer able to pump the way it should. 

What else can cause heart problems?

Ever hear the saying, “too much of a good thing”? You can literally eat or drink too much of anything. You can die from drinking too much water, exercising too much at one time, or even eating too much salt in one sitting…..Does that mean we shouldn’t drink water, exercise, or consume salt? Absolutely not, but you do have to be aware of how you incorporate each of these.

Unfortunately, in the pet food industry, many manufacturers move too quickly when developing new products and don’t take the time to consider if what they’re making can and will, have unintended consequences. I believe with 100% conviction that unfortunately dogs are being fed diets way too high in carbohydrates, and have been for a long time. This is a result of foods being much easier to make when they are loaded with starches and happen to be cheaper.

I also believe that some brands have pushed too hard to ‘remove” grain, and in turn, ended up creating diets that had very little research behind the ingredients being used. When you look at the foods listed in the DCM study by the FDA, many of them use 5-6 different types of peas & pea protein that probably account for close to 40% of the diet in some cases, maybe even more. They also list about 13 different kinds of “fresh meats” to continue bumping the rest of the ingredients down the list.

How our food is different

Well, we didn’t produce our first grain free diet until 2015. You see, we wanted to have a solid understanding of how we could benefit the dog if we introduced a grain free diet. With a history of making dairy feeds for over 4 decades, we knew that what we put in the feed could change the composition of the milk produced, and that balancing specific amino acids, sugars, probiotics, and protein sources all played a vital role. 

Instead of just loading our ingredients into a feed program generator and hitting the “calculate” button, we took time to meet with our Ph.D. nutritionists and examine each ingredient and where we could potentially cause problems. One of the things both of our Ph.D. nutritionists advised us to do was keep legumes under 20%, because after the diets exceed this level, there’s not a clear understanding of how it affects the stomach acid and if this could have a negative reaction towards nutrient absorption (appears that it may). Fortunately, we don’t have any diets that contain over 16%, with many of them coming in under 5%.

The other thing we did was use proven proteins that have high levels of cysteine and methionine, and we incorporate appropriate levels of B vitamins in the diet that are necessary for taurine synthesis. By taking all of these things into consideration, moving slowly, and not using the cheapest path on formulating our diets, we have one of the few brands that were not listed on the FDA’s 3 reports. 

Extra preventative steps that can be taken

If you’re new to Muenster, have an obese dog, or maybe just an older dog that you’re concerned could have heart issues, one of the best things you can do is provide a supplement like Taurine. Taurine is an essential amino acid that’s responsible for strengthing the heart and allowing it to pump the blood through the chambers. When you have a weak heart, it’s not able to pump blood all the way out of the left ventricle. This results in congestion within the heart as well as reduced oxygen levels.

How do I feed my dog extra taurine?

As we all know, feeding your dog supplements and medicine is difficult because most of the time it doesn’t taste good, and it’s full of useless & unpalatable ingredients like vegetable glycerin. 

approximately 40-45 servings per 12 oz container

What we did different, is take taurine and mixed it to a Freeze-Dried meat, you can learn more about this process here. This provides a very palatable and appetizing product that allows you to provide your dog with an incredible supplement. That is also made using ingredients naturally rich in Taurine like Beef heart, beef liver, beef tripe. What you won’t find in it; glycerin, flour, rice, peas, potatoes, or any other filler.

How much Taurine is in the topper, and will my dog eat it? 

Enough to ensure your dog is getting an adequate supply regardless of what food they’re eating. This will raise the amount of taurine to at least .15% of their diet when fed according to our feeding directions. The best thing about this topper?? It makes the food taste absolutely incredible. If you add this do your dogs bowl, they’ll not only have a boost in one of the most powerful amino acids for heart health, they’ll also be members of the clean bowl club!

For more information on our HeartStrong Taurine Topper, just click here

If your dog doesn’t absolutely love it, we’ll give you a refund 🙂

-Mitch Felderhoff, 4th Generation owner.

Substance vs Substitutions

While the jar on the left is 35% less full than the jar on the right, it has the exact same weight of product in it. This is the difference between high quality, meat-rich diets, and cheap, least-cost formulated foods.

You see, at Muenster, we have fixed recipes and a deep ethical conviction that dogs need to eat diets high in protein & fat, yet low in carbohydrates. We don’t compromise this for profit, because more importantly to us, the health of the dog comes first.

When you look at the jar on the right, you see different colors, different shapes and anything else that can be done to distract you from the fact that you just bought a bag of marketing garbage.

What is “least-cost”? Well, it’s when you can manufacture about 50 varieties of a recipe and still be in line with the ingredient listings on the back of the bag. This is why a lot of these companies do a few things:

1.) They use a ton of different ingredients in the food. This gives them a lot of flexibility. Ingredients are listed in order by weight, and if they’re the same weight, they can be listed in any order. Many of the larger companies are able to arrange their ingredients in a way that allows them to adjust levels of things like corn gluten, rice bran, and wheat midds in order to keep their price low.

2.) They have a committed price to national chains for 12-18 months in many cases. They aren’t concerned with ingredient prices changing because they’ll just substitute something cheaper.

3.) I’ve heard so many times that some of these larger companies are better because they have 20-50 nutritionists….Well, there’s a great reason for that too. If you don’t have a fixed, tried and true recipe, you need that many nutritionists to keep your food cheap. They simply exist to constantly modify the recipes in order to create a cheaper version of the food that still hits the ingredient listing, yet also provides them the margin they need.

Funny story to go along with this experiment….As a joke, I ate some of our Chicken and Pork recipe on the left and said, whoa….not bad…..

Then, I tried the food on the right, and holy crap….it tasted like cheese cracker, I was impressed, it was delightful, until my ears started itching like crazy within seconds. You see, I have a gluten allergy, and I completely took for granted that I knew our foods were 100% safe for me to eat, and didn’t pause to consider the food from this National Brand may have wheat in it…..well, it did, and today, I feel terrible because of it.

Also, dog food shouldn’t taste like a cheese cracker, it should taste like meat!

RECAP: the food on the left (Muenster) was made with the dog in mind, the food on the right was made with the shareholder in mind.

What is Freeze-Dried dog food?

Muenster Milling’s Freeze-Dryer, located in Muenster, TX

By now, most of you have heard the term “freeze-dried,” and have probably seen it on the shelf at your local pet food retailer or online. It’s one of the fastest-growing segments of the pet food industry and for good reason. The process gently removes moisture from the food without cooking it, leaving you with a nutritious, shelf-stable, uncooked product to feed your dog. 

Why is freeze-drying a superior process for producing pet food?

It’s simple really, you get out of the freeze-dryer what you put into it without having to add extra fillers. The freeze-dried process was initially developed to maintain structural integrity and nutrient levels in foods for our astronauts. When cooking foods, vitamins & minerals are lost during the heating process. In freeze-dried, since everything happens in a frozen environment, the proteins aren’t denatured, so vitamin/mineral concentration isn’t lost. The freeze-dryer provided our astronauts with a complete and balanced diet that was light and could be reconstituted, while ensuring they had all the nutrients necessary for their travels. Another important application of freeze-dried products is in pharmaceuticals.  As expensive as prescription drugs are, the manufacturers can’t afford to lose half of the integrity of their product to the heating process – which is why, oftentimes, pharmaceuticals are freeze-dried.

Our goal for feeding your pets is to give them the nutrients they need without having to pack in an abundance of high-calorie carbohydrates to make it happen. Carbohydrates are sugars that have low nutritional value for carnivores – but do a great job of holding kibble together, making extra carbs a common ingredient in conventional pet food. Since freeze-drying removes water from foods while frozen, carbohydrates are no longer needed to hold the foods together. Freeze-drying also negates the need to add glycerin to foods (used many times in baked & cold extruded treats). When freeze-dried, a dog’s diet is more simple & pure without extra filler ingredients.

This image was taken shortly after opening our freeze-dryer in Muenster, TX. The ice you see on the condenser plates is the moisture we have removed from the meat via freeze-drying.

What exactly is the freeze-drying process?

  1. We put frozen, raw meat onto trays in our freeze-dryer.
  2. The temperature lowers to around -60°, turning the water content in the meat into ice.
  3. A vacuum seal lowers the pressure to less than .06 ATM (atmospheric pressure).
  4. The trays heat up gradually. Once above 32° and without pressure, the water in the meat moves directly from ice form to vapor form, skipping the liquid form entirely (like dry ice evaporating on a counter).
  5. The water vapor collects on condensing plates (similar to the way frost condenses to your car in the winter), effectively drawing the moisture out of the meat. This condensing process can take anywhere from 24-48 hours.
  6. After all moisture has been removed, the vacuum is released and we’re left with a shelf-stable, super-nutritious raw meat product you can feed your dog or cat without any fillers or added carbs!

This is what frozen chicken looks like prior to entering the freeze-dryer. The trays slide onto the shelves and the sublimation process begins, taking water directly from ice to vapor.

How to incorporate freeze-dried into your pet’s diet

  • Freeze-dried foods can be 100% of your dog’s diet by allowing them to transition to a full carnivore diet over the course of one week.
  • Incorporate freeze-dried as 25-50% of your dog’s diet by mixing it in with kibble or canned foods.
  • Feeding freeze-dried during the day and kibble at night is a popular method.
  • Gradually adding freeze-dried meal toppers to kibble can be used to slowly remove carbohydrates from the diet.
  • Use freeze-dried as a treat only. Personally, when feeding as a treat, I like to hide freeze-dried foods throughout the house and let my dogs “hunt” for it. 

Image of our Freeze-Dried Elk & Venison Meal Topper. All it takes is a little sprinkle over their regular food, and your dogs’ mealtime will never be the same!

However you choose to incorporate the freeze-dried product into your dogs’ diet, you’ll want to make sure you monitor how much food your pets are eating. Freeze-dried foods are more rich in protein and nutrients than conventional pet foods, so your pet will likely need a lower quantity of food in general. But every single dog is different and will have different needs. You are the best judge of your dog’s body condition, and you can easily help your dog by ensuring you adjust the feeding amounts as directed. If you need any help putting together a freeze-dried feeding program for your dog, please reach out to us and we can help set you up a program. Send us a note: info@muenstermilling.com

To save 50% on our Freeze-Dried Elk/Venison meal toppers, use coupon code 50offelk.

What do I do about my Overweight dog?

Obesity in Pets

Over the course of the last few decades, pets are facing an obesity crisis that’s mirroring the one people are facing, if not worse. Take a look at these statistics:

  • 54% of dogs in the U.S. are considered obese (30% overweight or more)
  • This is an 80% increase since 2005. 
  • In 2017 out of the 89,000,000 dogs, appx 297,000 of them had diabetes.
  • 60,000 dogs die every year as a result of diabetes.

How did we get here? Well, the answer is actually quite simple, most dogs eat too many carbohydrates on a daily basis. Over time, this causes insulin resistance as they aren’t able to handle the amount of sugar that’s being converted as the carbohydrates are broken down, leading to insulin resistance. When a dog becomes insulin resistant, they try to produce more in order to handle the elevated blood sugar, and eventually, the pancreas waves the white flag and gives up. 

When the pancreas gives in, the dog, unfortunately, becomes diabetic. Now, since the dog can’t talk, they don’t really have the ability to let us know they need to pee more than normal, their feet are tingling, and their vision is getting blurry, all we can see is they’re gaining a little more weight than normal. Beyond these symptoms, they are also more at risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

Conventional & mass-market pet food companies, unfortunately, spend a lot of money trying to research how they can make a diet as cheap as possible. You essentially end up with a product loaded with soy, corn, gluten, rice bran, and other starchy ingredients that cause massive spikes in blood sugar, and take the pancreas down the road of being rendered useless.

The best thing you can do is move your dog to a diet that’s higher in protein and fat, and then…..remove the junk food. When I say junk food, I’m talking about the conventional baked treats that are sold made mostly of flour & potatoes. While our dogs may eat them and seem happy, there are much better options. You see, every time you give your dog one of these sugary treats, it’s causing an insulin release. When insulin is released into the bloodstream, it converts carbohydrates to sugar, prevents fat from being used as energy, and then causes the muscle to be broken down for energy. Over time, you end up with a dog that has added fat, reduced muscle, and been subjected to chronic inflammation. Then we wonder why our dogs have arthritis at an early age and can’t lose weight no matter how much less we feed them. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs get prescribed a “weight loss” diet that’s medicated and has even lower carbohydrates.  Time and time again while talking with customers, they will ask me, “I’ve put my dog on a low-calorie diet, and he/she just isn’t losing any weight”. Then we move them to one of our low carb grain-free diets, cut the feeding amount by almost ½, and in no time their dog has lost the extra weight.

A creature created for low carb diets

If you were to follow dogs/wolves/coyotes through the wild, you would find they would consume mostly meat, eggs, and some vegetables & fruits when they find them. This would result in a starch level of approximately 4%. Keep in mind berries are mostly water, and there aren’t typically enough for a dog to eat to satiety, so they typically are doing it for water content, or they just like the taste of a cool berry! Now, consider most pet foods on the market have a calorie profile where carbohydrates contribute 40-50% of the nutrition (10X what nature intended), and it’s easy to see how the industry has missed the mark. 

Also consider, dogs have 8 hormones to raise blood sugar, and only one to lower it (insulin), it has to make you wonder why we’re working so hard against the genetic makeup of the dog. They have the ability to raise their blood sugar if they need energy with the use of EIGHT different hormones, yet we place the burden on insulin when we feed high carb diets.

What can you do?

The best thing to do is to feed your dog fewer carbohydrates. I have seen countless dogs lose weight that their owners thought would be impossible to lose, simply by moving them to a lower-carb diet, you can find ours here

The next best thing you can do would be to incorporate Freeze-Dried meats to their diet. This will increase the fat & protein of their diet even more, while also reducing the amount of dry kibble you would feed. Beyond being the exact nutrient profile your dogs were mean to eat, it may be one of the tastiest things you can add to their diet. You can find our Freeze-Dried meal toppers & treats here.

Want to save a few bucks and help your dog drop a few pounds?

If you’ve never tried Muenster before, use coupon code lessfat25 to save 25% on your first order of Grain-Free & Freeze-Dried here.