What's so great about fermented dog food?

What’s So Great About Fermented Dog Food?

My visit to the Global Pet Expo 2023 in Orlando, FLA this week prompted me to revisit the topic of fermented dog food.

I’ve fed fermented dog food before, but not on a regular basis. When I did, it was Answers Raw Dog Food in the US. Currently, I mostly add green tripe as a fermented component to Wally’s raw dog food.

As you may know, green tripe is the fermented stomach contents of ruminant animals.

A few months ago, Wally’s homeopathic vet in Germany also brought up the topic of fermented dog food in the form of fermented vegetables and herbs. As a result, I’ve been trying a fermented dog supplement with him that’s apparently popular with wholistic vets in Germany.

It’s called Gut Active by cd Vet and consists of fermented stinging nettle, echinacea, hibiscus, oregano, peppermint, stevia, fenugreek seed, ribwort plantain leaves, licorice root, yarrow herb, wormwood herb, marshmallow roots, thyme, Chinese rhubarb root, anise, fennel, raspberry leaves, cowslip roots, arena berries pomace, spiny rest harrow roots, rosemary leaves and sunflower blossoms.

Fermented herbs & veggies for dogs and cats from cd vet
Herbal ferment for dogs (and cats)

Either way, as I made my way through the myriad of booths at Global Pet, I also walked past Answers Pet Food and Steve’s Real Food.

What do they have in common besides selling raw dog food?

You guessed it, a fermented component. One more so than the other, but we’ll talk about that in this blog post.

What’s So Great About Fermented Dog Food?

What's so great about fermented dog food?

What Are Fermented Foods?

But first of all, what exactly ARE fermented foods?

Well, fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by microorganisms such as good bacteria or yeasts. It’s also a way of preserving whole foods thanks to the addition of brine.

An example you’re sure to be familiar with is Sauerkraut, which is salted shredded cabbage. You may also have had the fermented tea known as “Kambucha”.

Speaking of Sauerkraut…can dogs eat Sauerkraut? I’ll cover that up next!

What Fermented Foods Can Dogs Eat?

Dogs can eat a large variety of fermented foods, including veggies, herbs, eggs and meats.

I already mentioned a bunch of fermented herbs that I add to Wally’s raw dog food.

Additionally, dogs can eat the following fermented veggies:

  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage (<- that’s what Sauerkraut is, fermented cabbage…so yes, dogs can have Sauerkraut, but make sure to only feed the kind that doesn’t have any additives)
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Collard greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green & yellow squash

Fellow raw dog food blogger Kimberly from KeepTheTailWagging.com shares a cool recipe for fermented veggies for dogs on her blog.

Check it out if you’re thinking about making your own batch of fermented goodness for your pup(s)!

For fermented meat options, check out the Answers Pet Food section in this blog post.

For fermented treat options, you’ll want to see what Steve’s Real Food has to offer.

Benefits of Fermented Dog Food

Fermented dog food is rich in natural probiotics.

A true probiotic powerhouse!

Fermented raw dog food is more nutrient dense than regular raw dog food and has much more probiotics because it’s been predigested by good bacteria.

So if you’re feeding fermented dog food, there’s no need to supplement with artificial probiotics.

Higher bioavailability

Fermented dog food is also more bioavailable – that means useable – for the dog’s body than regular raw dog food.

As a result, dogs need about 40% less of it compared to regular raw dog food.

Smaller poop

This also means that your dog is going to have less bowel movements with smaller piles of poop.

Answers Pet Food

Answers Pet Food is the only fermented raw pet food supplier in the US.

As such, they “enhance the nutritional value of raw food through the process of fermentation”.

“Our raw fermented pet foods are formulated to create a healthy gut. Fermentation supports healthy immune function by increasing the B-vitamins, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and lactic acid that fight off harmful bacteria. It’s also the ultimate source of probiotics.”

The brand uses raw whey in its natural liquid form to ferment raw whole foods that result in Answers fermented raw dog food.

They don’t use any HPP (High Pressure Pasteurization) to avoid killing good bacteria, and the vegetables they use in their batches are all organically grown.

Answers Pet Food carries the following fermented dog food options (as liquids, nibbles & patties):

Limited Ingredient Diet

  • Beef (Beef, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidney, ground beef bone, whey, salt)
  • Chicken (Organic chicken, organic chicken heart, organic chicken liver, ground organic chicken bone, whey, salt)
  • Duck (Duck, duck heart, duck liver, ground duck bone, whey, salt)
  • Pork (Pork, pork liver, pork heart, pork kidney, ground pork bone, whey, salt)
  • Turkey (Organic turkey, organic turkey heart, organic turkey liver, organic turkey gizzard, ground organic turkey bone, whey, salt)

Complete and Balanced Diet

  • Chicken (Organic chicken, organic chicken heart, organic chicken liver, organic ground chicken bone, organic carrots, organic duck eggs, organic yellow squash, cod liver, organic green beans, whey, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement)
  • Beef (Beef, beef heart, beef liver, beef kidney, ground beef bone, organic carrots, organic duck eggs, organic green squash, cod liver, organic broccoli, whey, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement)
  • Duck (Duck, duck heart, duck liver, ground duck bone, organic carrots, organic duck eggs, organic yellow squash, organic green beans, whey, cod liver, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement)
  • Pork (Pork, pork heart, pork liver, pork kidney, ground pork bone, organic yellow squash, organic duck eggs, organic green beans, cod liver, whey, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic spinach, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement)
  • Turkey (Organic turkey, organic turkey heart, organic turkey liver, organic turkey gizzards, organic ground turkey bone, organic carrots, organic duck eggs, organic yellow squash, cod liver, organic green beans, whey, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement)

Additionally, they also carry the following fermented add-ons:

Fermented pig feet and chicken feet from Answer's Raw Dog Food
Fermented raw pig feet and chicken feet from Answers Raw Dog Food
Fermented raw duck eggs from Answer's Raw Dog Food
Fermented raw duck eggs from Answer’s Pet Food

Did you know? Fermented raw foods can be kept in the fridge for 7 days. That’s 3 more days than regular raw cuts of meat.

At Global Pet 2023, I met with Answer’s representative Alyssa who gave me a quick rundown of the benefits of Answer’s fermented raw dog food.

Here’s what she said:

As far as where to buy Answers fermented raw dog food, you can:

  • Shop their website. As of March 2023, they ship to 36 US States (mostly East Coast and Mid-West) and are looking to expand their reach.
  • Use their store locator to find independent pet retailers across the US who carry their products.

Good to know: Answers raw dog food is more expensive than the average raw dog food.

That’s due to the tedious, lengthy and therefore expensive process of crafting their fermented dog food.

When I spoke with Alyssa at Global Pet, she quoted the Director of Business Development at Answers who will “never decrease quality to increase margin”.

But even though that means that their products come at a certain cost, dogs need 40% less of it compared to regular raw dog food.

As I said earlier, that’s because fermented dog food is much more bioavailable than regular raw dog food.

So it evens out.

Gussy’s Gut

Gussy’s Gut makes a “fermented whole superfood topper”. They didn’t have a booth at Global Pet 2023 but were there indirectly – more on that when I talk about Steve’s Real Food in the next section.

What’s interesting to me is that Gussy’s Gut’s founder Rob partnered with Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who’s known as the “father of raw food movement”.

One of his famous books is “Give Your Dog A Bone”. I’ve reviewed it here if you’d like to learn more about it.

These are its ingredients:

Active Ingredients: *Red Cabbage, *Cauliflower, *Broccoli, *Cilantro, *Parsley, *Lacinato Kale, *Mustard Greens, *Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke), *Dandelion, *Turmeric, *Papaya, *Red Beets, *Milk Thistle, *Oregano, *Wild Blueberries, *Alfalfa, *Decaffeinated Green Tea, Grass-fed Goat Kefir, *Kelp.

Inactive ingredients: Ancient Utah Sea Salt, *White Cheddar Cheese, and/or *Parmesan.

To order from Gussy’s Gut:

  • Shop their website. They currently (March 2023) ship within the US and to Canada.

Steve’s Real Food

Now, to circle back around to the Global Pet Expo 2023, Steve’s Real Food just launched a new product called Protein Bites.

They’re freeze-dried, fermented treats designed to support gut health, and they’re powered by Gussy’s Gut.

Aha!

Fermented Protein Bites dog treats by Steve's Real Food
Fermented Protein Bites dog treats

As of now, they’re available in chicken and lamb, and consist of 80% meat and 20% of Gussy’s Gut’s fermented product blend.

Brand representative Brad shared the following with me at their Global Pet Expo booth:

These are the chicken ingredients:

Ground Chicken, Organic Collard Greens, Organic Cauliflower, Organic Carrot, Organic Fennel, Organic Green Apple, Organic Ginger, Organic Chamomile, Organic Slippery Elm Bark, Organic Peppermint, Salt, Fenugreek, Local Raw Honey, Coconut Oil

These are the lamb ingredients:

Ground Lamb, Organic Collard Greens, Organic Cauliflower, Organic Carrot, Organic Fennel, Organic Green Apple, Organic Ginger, Organic Chamomile, Organic Slippery Elm Bark, Organic Peppermint, Salt, Fenugreek, Local Raw Honey, Coconut Oil

Unfortunately, Wally has a chicken allergy and can’t have the chicken bites, but he sure as heck can have the lamb bites and LOVES them!

Wally enjoying the fermented dog treats "Lamb Protein Bites" from Steve's Real Food
Wally enjoying the Lamb Protein Bites

To order from Steve’s Real Food:

  • Check their store finder to find a pet retailer near you who carries their products

In case you’re wondering – yes, I’ve fed Steve’s raw dog food when I lived in NC!

vegetables in raw dog food are included in Steve's Real Food
Adding green tripe to Steve’s Real Food Turducken formula

Fermented Foods for Dogs: Bottom Line

In a nutshell, here’s how fermented dog food impacts your dog:

Easy digestion -> Healthy gut -> Healthy immune function

Fermented dog food is rich in natural probiotics.

It helps maintain a healthy gut flora because it’s chock-full of beneficial digestive enzymes.

This strengthens your dog’s immune system as the vast majority of the immune system is based in the gut.

One option is to buy Answers fermented raw dog food as a complete and balanced raw dog food food.

Another option is to add freeze-dried fermented powder to your dog’s raw meals. For example, the kind from Gussy’s Gut. Or you can offer your pup fermented treats such as the Protein Bites from Steve’s Real Food.

Last but not least, you can also ferment veggies & herbs at home and then add them to your dog’s raw meals (or kibble).

The downside of making your own fermented foods is the lack of convenience and that you’ll have to wait for the foods to ferment.

What about you, do you feed your pup fermented dog food? If you care to share, leave a comment below!

Related Reading:

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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