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Blog - Make Your Vet Visit Count

Dr. Katy: Making the Most of Your Vet Visit

When ABC’s 20/20 program aired a TV segment in November titled “Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” it left much of the pet community buzzing with questions and concerns.

 

As we all know, trust in the relationship between pet parent and veterinarian is extremely important. The idea that some veterinarians may have pushed unnecessary services onto pets to make additional money is frightening! But as Dr. Katy points out, the vast majority of the vet community always puts pets and their health first.
 Dog Visiting the Vet

 

One of the best ways to avoid a negligent vet visit is to make sure that you’ve properly prepared going into the visit. To help you prepare to make the most of your next visit to the vet, Dr. Katy shares with us some important tips on how to make sure that your pup or kitty is getting the proper care that he or she needs.

 

From Dr. Katy:

 

When ABC’s 20/20 segment on veterinarians came out last November, it created quite the stir in the pet community. While many of my colleagues were talking about it, I really haven’t heard any concern or questions from any of my pet parents. Hopefully that’s a sign of faith in me!

 

But in all seriousness, this is a very important topic to address. I have the utmost faith in the veterinary community, and the response to the segment on ABC’s 20/20 has shown just how much veterinarians truly do care about the pets that they serve each and every day. Regardless of your personal feelings about the segment, it served as a very important reminder about just how much trust plays a role in the veterinarian / pet owner relationship.

 

With all of the veterinarians that I’ve gotten to know over the years, I genuinely believe they’ve always had one thing in mind: what’s best for your pet. But, the veterinarian cannot do it all by him or herself. That’s why it’s important that you approach each vet visit with the proper preparation and mindset, to help your vet make informed decisions in the best interests of you and your pet.

 

Dr. Katy and Her Dog

 

So I’ve put together some “Do’s and Don’t’s” that I’ve learned over the years since working as a vet. Keep these in mind during your next visit to help get the most out of your time there, and to ensure you and your pet leave on the healthiest note possible:
  • DO: Bring In A List of Your Questions: When heading to the grocery store, we often go with a grocery list in hand because it’s easy to forget everything we need. Shouldn’t the same be for your vet visit? I’d recommend keeping a journal, whether on your phone, computer or a good old-fashioned paper one, where you jot down things that your pet does that might be a concern. Maybe a few times a month he/she drinks a bowl of water and throws it up. Or maybe twice a week she walks away from her breakfast without eating. It’s always better to bring up small problems before they become big problems, and writing them down can help you remember to address them at the vet’s office before life’s other distractions get in the way.
  • DON’T: Bring In Tons of Your Own Research! While we love to see the enthusiasm, it can sometimes be misinterpreted by veterinarians as implying that you don’t trust their knowledge or experience. If you’ve done your own investigating, or perhaps a friend has hinted at a potential diagnosis, feel free to bring it up to the veterinarian, but try to avoid creating a diagnosis before you walk in the office. Sharing what you’ve noticed in your pet is invaluable for your vet, but remember, they’re the professionals and are usually the experts in proper diagnoses!
  • DO: Bring a Fresh Fecal Sample: If it’s time for your pet’s annual exam, then your vet will likely run your dog or cat for an annual parasite check. If your pet is experiencing diarrhea, then your vet may look at the stool to determine the cause. No matter, it’s better to be safe than sorry – and bringing a stool sample can be very telling to your vet!
  • DO: Ask for An Estimate: If your vet suspects a problem that may require additional diagnostics or procedures, don’t be afraid to ask for an estimate. Actually, your vet would probably prefer you be up front and ask to avoid any surprises with the final bill. Everyone stands to benefit this way!
  • DON’T: Bring Everyone to the Vet’s Office: You love your family and friends dearly, but you often only have 30 minutes with the vet, so the fewer guests fighting for your attention, the more time you can focus on what’s important during the visit: your pet! If you do bring your kids along, make sure they’ve got something to remain entertained while mommy and daddy can hear everything the vet is saying.
  • DO: Ask About Your Pet’s Oral Hygiene: Most pets start to have some form of dental plaque and tartar build up after age three. A thorough dental exam should be done by your veterinarian at each visit. Ask if your pet needs a professional cleaning, and what you should be doing at home to keep you pet’s teeth healthy.

Dog's Teeth

  • DON’T: Put Off Exams: Annual exams (or semi-annual for older pets) really are necessary! By having your pet examined frequently, your veterinarian can find and address minor problems early on before they turn into something major. Also, if your pet is having a problem, make the appointment sooner rather than later. There’s nothing worse than finding out that something that could’ve been treated early on was left unaddressed for too long.
  • DO: Ask About Your Pet’s Weight: Studies show that thinner pets live an average of two years longer than overweight pets. With over 60% of American pets being overweight or obese, it’s a serious problem. If your veterinarian says that your pet is obese, don’t take it the wrong way, they have your pet’s best interest at heart! Ask your veterinarian for a detailed weight loss plan, discuss your pet’s diet, routine exercise, etc. By being proactive and addressing this properly, you can get your pet’s weight under control and hopefully gain a few more happy, and healthy, years together.
If you can keep these in mind for your next visit, you’ll help your vet help you in making sure your pet is the healthiest he or she can be – and that’s what’s most important at the end of the day!

 

Lastly, if you’re looking for a new veterinarian for your pets, I like to recommend trying a few reviews sites, such as VetRatinz, which often have lengthy reviews from other pet parents like yourselves about local vet practices, veterinarians, etc. Feel free to post your own as well to help grow this community!

 

Do you have a question for Dr. Katy about your pet’s health? Feel free to ask in the comments below and Dr. Katy will select a few to answer!

Walking Dog in Snow

Dr. Katy: Prepping Your Pet for 2014!

With the holiday season having come and gone, we have so much to look forward to with a brand new year ahead!

 

You’re not alone if you may have indulged a little too much in tasty food and drinks over the holidays as you were enjoying the time with family and friends. While it can be easy for us to head to the gym or make slight changes in our diet to get back to our target weight, it can be more difficult for our pets to shed any unwanted pounds they may have added. According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, on average dogs gain 0.3 pounds and cats gain 0.4 during the holidays. That is equivalent to 5-7 pounds for a human; a lot of extra weight for a pup or kitty to lug around!

 

As I’ve often said before, keeping a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our pets is critical for long-term health and happiness. Unfortunately, because our pets cannot choose their diet on their own, it’s important for us to make sure they’re putting their “best paws forward” when it comes to nutrition and activity.

 

As we head into 2014, here are my tips on how you can help your pet battle the bulge that he/she may have picked up in the new year, and how to monitor their weight throughout the year:

 

A quick check to determine if your pet is a bit overweight is by feeling around the rib cage.

A quick check for excess weight can be done by feeling for your pet’s rib cage, which should be easy to spot if your pet is at a healthy weight. (Photo: elfin_peaz. Flickr)

 

  1. Check your pet’s weight regularly. You can check your pet’s weight at home by gently running your fingers along their rib cage. At a healthy weight, their ribs should be felt easily and have a thin, silky layer of skin moving over them. If you feel your pet is overweight, make an appointment with your vet to discuss an appropriate action plan. You can read more about how to conduct the “feel test” here.
  2. Portion control. Pet obesity is largely due to the overconsumption of commercial food and treats. Feeding guidelines are usually based on a “healthy adult pet” and one size does not fit all. There are many factors used to determine how many calories your pet needs, like life stage, reproductive status, physical activity, and disease conditions, so be sure to speak with your vet to determine what daily caloric intake is right for your pet. This is what we call “target weight,” or the ideal weight for your pup or cat. And while we love to feed our pets treats, these added calories can push your pet over their target weight – so treat with caution!
  3. Read labels. Cats and dogs are natural carnivores and thrive on fresh, meat-based diets. Many traditional shelf-stable pet foods are carbohydrate-based and contain fillers like corn, wheat and soy, which are harder for your pet to digest. Instead, look for all natural food that has meat as the first ingredient, like Vital Beef & Bison or Freshpet Select Chunky Chicken & Turkey slice & serve rolls. A protein-dense food will also help your pet stay fuller longer and provide longer-lasting energy.
  4. Avoid table scraps. Human food is not appropriate for household pets in most instances. A complete and balanced food made especially for pets is recommended, just like all of the recipes you’ll find with Freshpet.
  5. Regular exercise. Keeping your pet active will help them burn calories and gain muscle tone. For a list of fun ways you and your pet can exercise together this year, visit my blog post on 10 fun ways to exercise with your pet.
 
Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen - WikiCommons)

Taking your pet for a walk is an excellent way for both of you to get exercise, helping to burn calories and release endorphins. (Photo: Kenneth Allen – WikiCommons)

 

 
I hope that 2014 brings many amazing experiences and memories with you and your pet, but most importantly, I wish you a healthy (and happy) year ahead!

 

Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Blind Pups Shelby and Raina Are the Fresh Fans of the Week!

When we started Freshpet back in 2006, we set out with the following mission in mind: “ALL pups and kitties deserve fresh pet food, too.”

 

Since Day One, giving back has always been a core principle of what we do here at Freshpet. And rarely is the spirit of giving more prevalent than during the holiday season.

 

When Kristen with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance posted on our Facebook page about her pups Raina and Shelby, we knew they were special. We asked Kristen if she’d share some more details about her pups with special needs, and got an incredibly heartwarming tale just in time for the holidays. We’re so happy to feature these two pooches as our Fresh Fans of the Week!

 

Fresh Fans of the Week: Shelby and Raina of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance!

 Fresh Fans - Shelby and Raina

Here’s what we learned about Kristen and her amazing dogs, Raina (above right) and Shelby:

 

How Did Raina and Shelby Become a Part of Your Family?

 

One day, I was browsing on PetFinder.com. I came across this gorgeous white puppy with the cutest pink nose you’d ever seen. Her name was Raina, and was born blind and deaf, the result of bad breeding. While I’d never had a special needs pup before, I applied to adopt Raina. A round-trip car ride from New Jersey to North Carolina later and Raina became part of the Murdoch family. Having her in our family has truly changed my life.

 

Did Raina Inspire You to Become More Active With Blind Dogs?
You have no idea! After adopting Raina, I became an active volunteer with the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. That’s when I came across other blind pups in need that I couldn’t help but want to bring in under my roof. Shelby, pictured above, is my sixth foster dog for the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance. Shelby was found as a stray on the side of the road in North Carolina, who had developed diabetes and has cataracts, not to mention she is blind, but can hear. Despite this laundry list of ‘issues,’ Shelby is one of the happiest and healthiest girls you’ll ever meet. With lots of love and a nutritious diet, thanks to her favorite Freshpet Vital rolls, she is learning to give and receive affection and how to interact playfully with others!

 

What Are Some of the Challenges in Fostering Blind Pups?
The communication can be an issue with dogs that are blind, deaf or both. So for Raina, who is both, it certainly takes some more time for her to learn instructions and how to live in her environment comfortably. We’ve taught our baby Raina touch commands, like on moving directionally, and it’s amazing how quickly she’s picked them up – she’s so smart! But what’s the most incredible thing is that Raina, being born blind and deaf, doesn’t know that she’s different from the other pups – so we try and treat her that way, too. With Shelby, she can often be more scared of her environment because she can hear noises, but not see where they are coming from, and can be startled easily. It is very important to know the needs of individual pets with specific conditions in order to communicate effectively.

 

 

Blind Dog Rescue Alliance  video 2013 Ryot challenge from linda@ssmpr.org on Vimeo.

 

You Mentioned Raina Inspired You – How Else Have You Gotten Involved With Blind Animals?

 

Where do I start!? I coordinate and volunteer for monthly rescue events with Raina and Shelby. I also maintain the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance’s Facebook page, where these two have accumulated quite the digital following. In 2007, I started Lending a Paw!, a community outreach program which has raised over $18,000 in donations to date! In 2011, I received an Honorable Mention for the Humane Society of the United States’ National Kind Teach Award program. When you find something you love, it becomes so easy to get inspired to get involved and give back – and I’ve got my pups to thank for that!

 

What Has the Freshpet Donation Meant to You and Your Pups?
All of my furry girls LOVE Freshpet! The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance volunteers and our blind dogs truly appreciate the generous donation of Freshpet food. I want my pups to eat healthy, but a raw diet just won’t work in this house. So when I first tried Freshpet, my dogs went crazy for it, and to have some donated now is so amazing. To my dogs, Freshpet is not dog food – they think they are getting a special treat. Raina uses her incredible sense of smell around mealtime, which leads her to the fridge, and Shelby and the other girls will “circle dance” when I open the fridge at mealtime. They all lick their bowls completely clean!!

 

Do you have any experience with dogs or cats with special needs? Share their story in the comments below!
Dr.-Katy-on-Beating-Holiday-Stress

Dr. Katy’s Advice for Beating End of Year Stress

This time of year, it can feel like we’re being pulled in a thousand different directions.

 

There’s holiday shopping, the end of year blitz at work, managing your busy schedule, managing those of your kids (furry ones included), and prepping for the New Year. It can be exhausting. Then, there are so many things that we feel like we should be doing as well: volunteering, giving to charity, going to visit family, etc. With all of that going on, we can forget to take care of ourselves.

 

There’s a known term for letting our hearts get too big and actually causing stress: “Compassion Fatigue.” Whether you’ve got a house full of pets, kids still at home, or are responsible for the well-being of others as part of your career, when you focus on others too much without practicing self-care, that’s when a healthy adjustment might be necessary. While there are many lessons we can learn from our pets, taking time for ourselves to relax is one of the most important and healthy.

 

Dr.-Katy-on-Beating-Holiday-Stress

 

As an emergency veterinarian, I have certainly experienced “Compassion Fatigue” in my career. There are days in this job where it seems like everything I see is in critical condition, and every owner has a story that pulls on the heartstrings. Some days, all I can do is stay compassionate and supportive for them and their pets. But when I have my own things to worry about, taking on someone else’s can be draining.

 

While caring for the needs of others is extremely important, balancing their needs with your own is critical. If you’re not happy and healthy, it’s hard to care for someone else! Thus, prevention of emotional, physical and spiritual burnout is key. Here are my tips for surviving the busy (and sometimes overwhelming) holiday season and heading into the New Year with you on your mind:

 

    1. Carve Out Time for You: I know, easier said than done; but as a multi-career working mother, wife, entrepreneur, volunteer, daughter, friend, etc. let me assure you that it can be done. Be sure to make yourself as much a priority as you do everyone else.
    2. Get Some Rest and Manage Your Intake: Beware of yummy “feel good items.” It’s okay to have that delicious Gingerbread Latte occasionally, but having to have one can become a problem. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can make you feel better temporarily, but are not the answers when experiencing burnout. Instead, make sure to get into bed earlier to wake up feeling well rested and with a more positive outlook.
    3. Spend Time With Your Pets: Loads of research over the last 25 years has shown us that living with pets provides numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. In an article I wrote recently, I mentioned that spending more time with our pets could lower our blood pressure, lessen anxiety, reduce allergies, encourage healthy socializing, and boost our immunity. So, there’s a great excuse to build in more time with your pets, even if it’s just a quick walk together or extra few minutes of giving them affection.
    4. Get Some Exercise: Just a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood with your furry friend can make a healthy impact. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural “feel good” hormones. This way, you’ll be doing your body and mind a favor, while helping your pet experience the same. Here are some great ways to get exercise in with your dog or cat, whether at home or on vacation this holiday.
    5. Ask for Support from Those Closest to You: It’s never a sign of weakness to tell those you love that you could use a hand. Perhaps you can delegate a few responsibilities, or ask for them to help you get something done. Or, sometimes just having someone to listen can make us feel so much better. It’s important to be sure to ‘escape’ from the busy lifestyle every once in a while and, sometimes, doing so with a close friend or loved one is the best way!

 

 

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Our pets are great at taking time for themselves, something to emulate! And don’t underestimate the positive effects spending time with our furballs can have on our health. (Photo: Phil Roeder, Flickr)

 

By taking a little time for yourself, you strengthen your own ability to give to others by making yourself a happier person. As we enter the thick of the holiday season and begin to think about the New Year, it’s important that we remember these important tips to take care of ourselves.

 

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and I can’t wait to connect with everyone again in the New Year!

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Freshpet Visits the Bloomfield Animal Shelter

We love spending time with some of the shelters that we work with.

 

Last Friday, when the Bloomfield Animal Shelter invited us to come see how much their pups and kitties were loving our Freshpet donation, we jumped at the opportunity!

 

Over the last few months, we’ve donated more than 1,500 cases of Freshpet Vital food to shelters around the country in time for Thanksgiving. Our friends at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter received more than 500 pounds of their favorite Freshpet Vital Beef & Bison rolls to help their rescues get the proper nutrition and energy they need in hopes of being adopted by a permanent family. So, what did they think of their special delivery?

 

One of the two Bloomfield Fridges filled with Freshpet Vital!

 

When we first arrived, Shelter Manager and Supervisor of Bloomfield Animal Control, Mike, gave us the grand tour. They had not one, but two Freshpet fridges stocked with boxes of Freshpet Vital food! The pups were so excited and were wagging their tails intently as we walked through.

 

After showing us around, Mike brought out Orlando, an absolutely precious pit bull with such a sweet disposition – quite the charmer! Orlando came to the shelter two weeks ago after being picked up by someone as a stray. Given how friendly he was with shelter volunteers and our team, it seemed as though Orlando had previously been living with a family or at least was used to human interaction. This adorable pup joined us outside for some Freshpet taste-testing. He was so excited for an afternoon treat!

 

Here’s our adorable new friend, Orlando, as he eats his Freshpet Vital!

 

Before leaving, we met another new friend of ours, Atlas. This pup was also found as a stray in town, but was really on his last legs when he arrived at the shelter. Without much more than skin, bones and a few very painful-looking sores, Atlas’ weight was at a mere 21 pounds. Thanks to some veterinary attention and endless love and affection from the volunteers at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter, not only are Atlas’ infected sores cleaned up, but he’s beginning to regain his coat and now weighs in at a healthy 42 pounds! Mike said that without Freshpet, not many of the pups that come in with such low weight issues would be able to regain the muscle and fat they need to survive and potentially be adopted.

 

Our new furry friend Atlas, who put on over 20 pounds since arriving at the Bloomfield Shelter!

 

Thank you so much to Mike and the rest of the volunteers over at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter! We loved coming to visit and are so thrilled that the pups and kitties are enjoying their Freshpet food in time for Thanksgiving. We hope to hear about many adoptions for the animals you have taken in soon and thanks again for the work you do every day!

 

For more information on how we work with shelters around the country, please visit our Freshpet Charitable Donations page here.

 

The Bloomfield pups ready for new homes!

 

 

The Bloomfield Animal Shelter has many deserving cats and dogs available for immediate adoption to residents of any community. If you’d like to learn more, please contact them at (973) 748-0194!
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Dr. Katy’s Tips For Keeping Your Fur-Kids Safe This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we hope that you get to spend lots of time with loved ones over delicious food!

 

But, as Freshpet friend and veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson reminds us, there are some very important things to keep in mind this Thanksgiving in order to keep your fur-kid safe. We asked Dr. Katy to give us the inside scoop on what pet parents can do to prepare for the holiday. So, what tips does she have for us?

 

From Dr. Katy Nelson:

 

The holidays are about celebrating family and feasting on fresh food.

 

But it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind during the holidays…especially if you’re hosting! With so many friends and family members wandering around the house this Thanksgiving, there are many things to remember in order to keep your dog or cat out of harm’s way.

 

So what should you consider?

 

This Thanksgiving, Keep Those Suitcases Closed for Your Pet’s Sake!

  • Try and Keep Your Suitcases Closed: As we know all too well, our pets can be bad decision makers when it comes to eating things – and your suitcase can be a hot zone for unhealthy temptations. If you have medications, vitamins or cosmetics, be sure to zip them away in your suitcase as they can be very dangerous if ingested by your pet(s). In fact, the number one call to animal poison control every year is for human medications. Even dirty laundry full of smells, especially socks and underwear, can be enticing for pets. If they decide to eat them, this can lead to intestinal blockage and even (expensive) surgery. So do your best to remember to keep those suitcases closed and zipped.
  • Handbags Should Be Out of Your Pet’s Reach: All female pet parents out there know that our handbags are full of wondrous items! While the sugar-free gum that we love so much is yummy to us, it contains a compound called Xylitol that can be deadly to pets. Snacks, especially those containing chocolate or nuts, can also be a major problem, especially for dogs. For those of us that like to keep hand sanitizer in our purses, keep in mind that the rubbing alcohol in those bottles can be extremely dangerous for our pets if they somehow manage to ingest some. So keep the handbags on your arm or up high so your pets don’t accidentally harm themselves.
  • Keep An Eye On Doors and Windows: Thanksgiving often means having a lot of family around. While it’s great to have everyone together, this can create much coming and going, and thus doors opening and closing. Whether you are heading outside to greet, or for the Thanksgiving family touch football game, be sure you and your guests keep an eye on the door so that your furry friend doesn’t run outside without proper supervision. When in doubt, you can always put your pets in an animal-friendly room with plenty of food and water, litter, and toys to make the foot traffic less of an issue.
  • Update Microchip Information: In the event that your pet does slip out of sight, it’s always a great idea to have your pet’s microchip information updated and the most current information on his/her collar tags. I’d recommend registering your pet’s microchip and information online with a service like HomeAgain. Checking that this information is up to date can help keep the entire family together (pets included) this Thanksgiving.
  • Feeding From Plates or Tables Should Never Be Allowed: What can start out as an innocent treat from the table can turn into something much more serious. While you may be aware of your pet’s allergies and sensitivities, visiting guests may have no idea how much harm some of the Thanksgiving feast items can pose to your furry friend. Be sure to let your guests know of any specific intolerances that your dog or cat may have so they, too, can be cautious with food around your pets. Try keeping your pup satisfied while everyone else is eating by having a bag of Freshpet Dog Joy Sweet Potato Chews handy. After all, they’re in the spirit of Thanksgiving, too!
I’ve worked in the veterinary emergency room on many Thanksgivings before and have seen just about everything – from dogs swallowing underwear to pets stealing the turkey. But if you follow these tips this Thanksgiving, you and your pet will likely have a stress-free Thanksgiving so you can focus on what this holiday is all about: family and food.

 

Have a Happy (and safe) Thanksgiving!

 

 

Dr Katy Nelson
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Freshpet and the History of Pet Food

It took a long time, but our fur-kids are finally being fed like we would the rest of our family members: with fresh, all natural ingredients from the fridge.

 

 

However, it wasn’t always this way. For nearly 70 years, food options for dogs and cats remained largely unchanged: dry, extruded kibble or canned wet food. But in 2006, with a simple idea that all pups and kitties deserve fresh, all natural and nutritious food, that all changed.

 

A Brief History of Pet Food in the United States

 

Years before “pet food” was sold, pets ate what we ate. Back in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s, without much knowledge of proper pet nutrition, our dogs and cats ate either what was readily available, like table scraps, or what was cheap. When Purina and many others introduced dry dog food in the 1950′s, the cooking process may have changed, but pets still lacked the proper nutrition and fresh ingredients the needed to thrive. The extrusion process used to make this kibble involved such high cooking temperatures that essential nutrients, like amino acids, were often lost in the process.

 

Fast forward 70 years and kibble is made much the same way. While the introduction of premium and natural kibble has been a step in the right direction, the production process still involves overcooking ingredients to make our pet’s food shelf-stable for years. So, in 2006, we decided to take a whole new look at pet food.

 

Knowing that we felt better eating fresher, healthier foods, we asked ourselves: “Wouldn’t our pets, too?” Because we see our pets as family, we believed they deserved to eat like family too. That’s why we began cooking Freshpet recipes using fresh ingredients, while gently-cooking our batches instead of rendering them. This helped us to lock in the essential nutrients our pets need. Finally, because our recipes were made from fresh, all natural ingredients, they needed to be refrigerated, just like the food we eat every day.

 

 

There are now over 10,000 Freshpet fridges throughout the US and Canada!

 

It’s pretty hard to believe how little change there was in our pet’s food for so long. But since the introduction of Freshpet, more and more pet parents are heading to their local Freshpet fridge for the fur-kid’s food, like your pup’s favorite Freshpet Select Slice and Serve roll, or your kitty’s favorite Vital Complete Meals. No longer is shelf-stable kibble or canned wet food the only option for your furbaby. Today, your loved ones can eat fresh, all natural and refrigerated food, just like the rest of the family does.

 

Now that’s what we call pet food evolution.

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Freshpet Puts on the Chef’s Hat for a Fridge Challenge Meal

After six weeks of the Freshpet Fridge Challenge, we’ve been thrilled to see how pet parents are viewing fresh foods in a different light when it comes to feeding us and our fur-kids.

 

So, after chronicling the Fridge Challenges taken by Dr. Katy Nelson and other pet bloggers, it was our turn to cook for ourselves using only shelf-stable foods! However, as we soon found out, life without the fridge is not only difficult, but can be a bit frightening.

 

Yesterday, members of the Freshpet team headed to the grocery store to see what shelf-stable ingredients we could find for a fridge-free dinner. We had a plan, which was to build a well-balanced meal that included the following:

 

  • A good source of protein
  • A green vegetable
  • Some sort of carbohydrates
  • Keep our meal to a reasonable price

 

With this simple strategy in mind and shopping basket in hand, we headed to the pasta aisle to tackle our carbohydrate portion of the Fridge Challenge meal. We grabbed a big box of bow tie pasta along with a large jar of pasta sauce, which pained us because we love to make homemade pasta sauce with local ingredients. Next, we wandered over to the canned meats section of the grocery store. Next to the canned tuna, tucked away on the top shelf, lay canned chicken, which we decided to try because it was high in protein and seemed like a much better option than SPAM! Lastly, we grabbed a small container of parmesan cheese and a can of green beans. After all, how much different could canned green beans taste than fresh green beans?

 

What we picked up at the store for our Fridge Challenge Meal!

What we picked up at the store for our Fridge Challenge Meal!

Checkout was a breeze and light on the wallet, which was one upside of our shelf-stable meal. When we got home, cooking was a synch – another upside of shelf-stable foods. All we needed to do was boil water, cook the pasta and combine the ingredients. However, this came with a price. When we cracked the lids on the cans, we were surprised to find that the canned chicken looked and smelled more like tuna, while the green beans had been floating in some sort of liquid. This was a bit unnerving, but we pushed on for the taste test anyway!

 

After we combined the pasta, pasta sauce, cheese and canned chicken, the meal certainly was not the most delicious we’ve ever tried. That’s what happens when you lack the flavors in fresh pasta sauce, seasoned chicken or market green beans. Right away, we missed that flavorful pop in every bite – such is the life of shelf-stable eating.
When we got around to cleaning up, there was yet another unanticipated result of our shelf-stable evening: no leftovers! On the back of almost all canned food, you’ll find the words “Refrigerate After Opening.” Unfortunately, that meant that the leftover pasta in the pot, remaining pasta sauce and extra cheese had nowhere to go but the trash as we couldn’t crack open the fridge – what a waste!

 

No more than 45 minutes later, we were hungry again. Slouched over on the couch and in what felt like a food coma, we longed for something else from the fridge, but knew it was off limits. As we quickly learned, the simple carbohydrates in the pasta and pasta sauce weren’t providing much energy from which our bodies could feed. Moreover, the higher sodium content found in canned pasta sauce and canned green beans made us question whether our Fridge Challenge meal could hold a candle to fresh food at all. At least the canned chicken was high in protein, but when mixed with everything else, it became apparent that without fresh options, healthy eating truly is a challenge!

 

Chicken Green Beans Dinner

 

The noticeable drop in our energy levels and lingering hunger really made us think about what a shelf-stable diet would do to our health. Doing this everyday, at least twice a day, certainly would have an impact on our bodies. As Fridge Challenge blogger “Keep the Tail Wagging” asked, “Remember the movie Super Size Me?…It’s astounding what difference removing fresh food from our diets makes.” 

 

But that’s what our pups and kitties were doing for decades until 2006, when we introduced healthier, fresher meals from the fridge. If anything, this meal and the Fridge Challenge in general only further reinforces the positive impact that fresh food has on our bodies, and in the lives of our pets. As we continue to serve our babies food from the fridge, whether by itself or in combination with dry kibble, it’s comforting to know that they are getting more of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and energized…which is just the way we like them!
Freshpet's Katie Helps Hand Out Freshpet in Central Park!

Freshpet Joins Pups in Central Park for Dog Fair

We had so much fun at last Saturday’s My Dog Loves Central Park Fair in New York City’s Central Park.
It was such a beautiful day outside and we loved getting to spend so much time with hundreds of pet parents. There were so many different breeds of pups there that we just couldn’t get enough!

 

 

Freshpet's Katie Helps Hand Out Freshpet in Central Park!

Freshpet’s Katie Helps Hand Out Freshpet in Central Park!

 

We brought the Freshpet Truck with us, which is always a big hit with human kids and fur-kids alike. With pet statues on top and huge pet stickers, it’s becoming a My Dog Loves Central Park Fair icon. Between 11am and 3pm, pet parents and their pups walked up and tried free samples of our delicious food and treat recipes. Each pooch that stopped by got to take home one of our one pound Freshpet Select Slice and Serve rolls to try at home – talk about lucky dogs! We also brought boxes and boxes of our Dog Joy Chicken Treats, Dog Joy Beef Treats and Dog Joy Turkey Bacon– the pups were gobbling them right up.

 

Freshpet friend and veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson joined us for her first My Dog Loves Central Park Fair experience too. She helped the Freshpet team greet the park patrons and hand out samples to all of the pups. It was so great to have her on hand, and we think that pet parents would agree. Dr. Katy not only answered many pup-related questions, but she also helped people sign up for our Freshpet Fridge Challenge to have a chance to win free Freshpet for a whole year!

 

Dr. Katy enjoying her first Central Park Paws Fair!

Dr. Katy enjoying her first Central Park Paws Fair!

We love going to local events like these because they remind us of the strong bond between people and their dogs. Every sample we handed out and pet parent we talked to reminded us of why we love what we do. When we see the way pups and their parents interact together, its clear why keeping their dogs healthy with nutritious, fresh food like Freshpet matters so much.

 

There were so many exotic breeds there too – including a Puli! He was so sweet and posed for many pictures because the kids absolutely loved him. But our favorite part of the day was when a stroller full of chihuahuas came by around 1pm. Their mom brought them over with these adorable collars and they were just the cutest. We gave them the Dog Joy Turkey Bacon treats and they couldn’t get enough – every Freshpet team member was spoiling them rotten!
A family of Chihuahuas paid us a special visit!

A family of Chihuahuas paid us a special visit!

We can’t wait for next year’s My Dog Loves Central Park Fair! To see where you can find the Freshpet truck next, be sure to click here.
Your next visit is the perfect chance to ask about your pet's weight.

Dr. Katy Weighs In On Your Fur-Kid’s Weight

We want to keep our fur-kids in the family for as long as possible.

 

Maintaining their health is critical in helping them live long, happy lives. Yet, today over 60% of pets in the United States are clinically obese. Extra weight can lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer for our dogs and cats. This is a scary reality that many pet parents face, but it’s an issue that we can work together to solve.

 

Your next visit is the perfect chance to ask about your pet's weight.

Your next visit is the perfect chance to ask about your pet’s weight.

 

We checked in with Dr. Katy Nelson, Freshpet friend and veterinarian, to help put together some advice on managing your loved one’s weight and how Freshpet recipes can help! Here’s what she had to say:

 

Why Maintaining a Healthy Weight is Important for Our Little Ones

 

Sometimes, we think of pudgy pups and kitties as cute, fluffy, or even big boned. But the reality of the situation is that that extra weight can really do damage to their general health. When our fur-kids are overweight, they’re lugging around extra pounds that create a sedentary lifestyle, or put extra strain on their heart and joints. To avoid dangerous conditions like diabetes, it is important to keep their weight in check.

 

How To Determine if Your Fur-Kid is Overweight

 

If you suspect your pet is overweight, I highly recommend scheduling an initial appointment with a veterinarian to analyze your pet’s body weight. However, there are a few simple tests that you can use at home to see if a check-up is necessary.

 

One quick test is to put your hands around your dog or cat’s rib cage. When pressing down gently, you should be able to feel his or her ribs. If you have to put a significant amount of effort and really dig in to feel the rib cage, he or she may be carrying excess weight. Another commonly used test is to look at your pet’s chest –  if his chest is not deeper than his belly, he may be overweight.

 

Feeling for your pet's ribs is a great weigh to determine if there's excess weight.

Feeling for your pet’s ribs is a great weigh to determine if there’s excess weight.

 

How Freshpet Can Help Your Loved One Avoid Obesity

 

One of the first things to consider when helping your pet avoid weight gain is his or her diet. Foods high in carbohydrates, like many dry kibbles or treats, can be difficult for pets to digest and cause excess weight gain. Freshpet recipes are great for weight loss or prevention because they are low in carbs, high in meat content and do not contain simple carbohydrates like corn or white rice. Many of Vital Slice and Serve Rolls or Complete Meals are grain-free, and Freshpet Select Slice and Serve Rolls are made with complex carbs like brown rice, which is high in fiber and helps our loved ones feel fuller, longer.

 

Obesity in our pets is not always due to food content, but rather food quantity. As pet parents, it is our responsibility to effectively exercise portion control when feeding our pups and kitties. Freshpet Slice and Serve rolls have portion measurements that are easy to use, thus helping follow Feeding Guidelines and manage portion sizes.

 

How You Can Help Your Pet Lose Weight

 

The first step to help your fur-kid lose weight is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Typically, the vet will do a general examination and possibly blood work to rule out any underlying health issue leading to excess weight.. Each pup or kitty is different, and your veterinarian can help identify the specific causes, or resulting conditions, that may be resulting in his or her obesity.

 

When meeting with your veterinarian, be sure to discuss suggested changes to your pup or kitty’s diet, as well as calorie counting. The goal should be to establish your little one’s ideal weight, then work backwards from there to chose a target daily caloric intake. It is important to note that simply because the Feeding Guidelines may suggest a certain portion size, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the appropriate amount to feed your loved one. I recommend feeding your pet in accordance with their target weight, as established with your veterinarian, not their current weight. From there, pledge to track the amount of food and calories you give your pets each day. Calories are fairly easy to keep an eye on, as pet foods are required to list calories on the package. On the Freshpet website and all Freshpet packaging, under Guaranteed Analysis, you’ll find the calorie count for their recipes.

 

With proper feeding and regular exercise, you can help keep your fur-kid healthy and happy for years to come!

For more information, listen to Dr. Katy’s Radio Interview on Pet Obesity Here