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How to Can Raw Pet Food

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.
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I read about canning raw food several years ago when I first started making homemade raw from the information on the CatInfo.org website. I thought it was an interesting idea back then but never really thought that I would ever can raw pet food.

Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.When we were evacuated last September for the Butte Fire, I had just run out of homemade raw. Even if I had frozen raw, it would have been a hassle to keep it and prepare it during the evacuation.

I had read lots of articles about the poor quality ingredients in many commercial pet foods so, when I had to go buy something at the store, I agonized over what to get. Christy gets severe diarrhea on commercial canned food and I didn’t want to put that added stress on her.

If I had my own canned food on hand, it would have been easy to pop in the cats’ go boxes. It would have been easy to store and feed from the jar. It would’t need heating – yes, I slightly warm my cats’ raw food in the microwave because it is too cold out of the fridge. Cats like their food at mouse body temperature.

Even after the evacuation I didn’t try canning right away. It wasn’t until I decided to attend BlogPaws and take Christy with me that I knew I needed to learn more about how to can raw pet food.

Last week, I told you about some of the benefits of Canning Raw Food. Here are a few more reasons to can raw pet food.

Reasons You Might Want to Can Raw Pet Food

  • You aren’t comfortable feeding raw but want to know exactly what is in your pet’s food
  • To use to transition your pets to raw
  • Your friend or pet sitter is not comfortable feeding raw while you are away
  • It’s not practical to take raw food while you are traveling
  • To include in your disaster evacuation go boxes
  • To entice a raw-fed sick cat to eat (cooked food has more aroma than raw)
  • It is fit for human consumption

Christy eating canned food - How to Can Raw Pet Food

The idea of canning pet food might be a little misleading. What I learned while researching the process of canning pet food is that you can only the meat without bone or supplements. That’s why it is fit for human consumption. You follow the same procedure you would if canning meat for human use.

I only found one post that discussed canning food for dogs. Those instructions said to cook the meat and vegetables first but I would not can my dog food that way. I would raw pack the meat and vegetables just like I did for my cat food. The temperature reached during pressure canning cooks it so pre-cooking is an unnecessary step.

Steps to Can Raw Pet Food

Preserving food, by whatever method, is serious business. It is important to follow instructions carefully to avoid serious illness. Meat is a low acid food and MUST be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner.

Get Your Supplies Together

  • Pressure canner
  • Jars
  • Lids and rings
  • Lid lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Jar lifter
  • De-bubbler/headspace measurer
  • Dish towels
  • Bowls
  • Large spoons

Prepare Your Jars and Lids

Wash your jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water and rinse well. Check your jars for any imperfections. If you are using the raw-pack method, your jars do not need to be pre-heated. Heating is to prevent breaking when hot food is added. Prepare your lids and rings according to package directions – some need to be pre-heated, some don’t.

Prepare Your Meat

Since you are going to “cook” the meat, you don’t have to worry about bacteria. You can make things really easy for yourself and buy ground meat. I still purchased my meat in bulk and ground it at home since it is more economical that way. I had a beef roast and a pork loin so I ground and canned both. You can also just cut the meat into chunks.

Raw pork in jars - How to Can Raw Pet Food

If you see a recipe for canning meat that says to add salt, don’t! The salt is for flavoring meat for humans, not preserving and we don’t want it in the pet food.

If you are making dog food and adding fruit/vegetables, stir them into the raw meat.

Pack your meat into your jars as tightly as possible and try to remove any air pockets. Leave one inch of head space. Do NOT add any liquid. The meat will make it’s own delicious juice.

Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth to be sure it is perfectly clean. Put on the lids and screw the bands on finger tight.

Raw beef and pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pressure Canning Your Meat

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for more specifics on preparing the canner itself.

  • Put 2 to 3 inches of hot water in your canner.
  • Place the filled jars on the rack in the canner using the jar lifter.

Jars in canner - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Fasten your canner lid securely, leaving the weight off the vent.
  • Turn your heat to high, heating until the water boils and steams. Always vent for a full 10 minutes.
Steam venting - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Steam venting

  • Place the weight on the vent.
  • Start timing the process when the pressure gauge indicates that the recommended pressure has been reached or, for canners with no gauge, the weight begins to wiggle. The pressure will depend on your altitude and you’ll find this information in the instructions with your canner.

  • Regulate the heat to maintain the pressure at or slightly above the recommendation.
  • Processing time for the meat is 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. I recommend pints for cats because you will need to use it within about 3 days once it is opened. I even used half pints since I was making this for just one cat. If you do use half pints, you still need to process for the full 75 minutes.
  • When the timed process is complete, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down naturally. This can take up to 45 minutes.
  • When the canner is completely depressurized, remove the weight and wait another 10 minutes.
  • Unfasten the lid and open it away from you.
  • Remove the jars from the canner by lifting them straight up (do not tilt) with the jar lifter and placing them on a rack or folded towel away from drafts. Do not leave them in the hot water to cool. They will fail to seal.

Finished pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

  • Do not adjust the rings. Do not try to dump or wipe any water from the lids.
  • Leave the bands on the jars until they have cooled completely – up to 24 hours.
  • Once completely cool, remove the bands.
  • Check each jar to be sure it is sealed by pressing the middle of the lid with your finger. If it springs back, it didn’t seal. Refrigerate any jars that haven’t sealed properly and use within 3 days.
  • Wipe the jars with a damp cloth. Some oil may have seeped out during processing. You can replace the cleaned bands or leave them off.
  • Label and date your jars. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one year.

While the meat was processing it smelled so good! As I mentioned above, I did both pork and beef. I filled the jars the same and although the pork looked like it had more fat, it was actually the beef that had more.

Finished beef and pork comparison - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Since you can only the meat, you add your supplements when you serve your meat, or meat and vegetables in the case of dog food. This created a bit of a challenge for me. You can buy supplements pre-mixed but I already had my supplements that I use when I make raw so I made my own. I mixed up a batch of supplements (minus the fish oil) that I would use for 3 pounds of meat then calculated how much I would add to one half pint jar that is about 7 ounces of meat and juice.

When I opened the jar, I poured the contents into a bowl, stirred in the supplements and put the unused portion of the meat back in the jar.

Pork straigt from jar - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Pork with supplements - How to Can Raw Pet Food

Ready to serve pork - How to Can Raw Pet Food

All three of my cats love this cooked meat. Looks like I’ll be making another batch soon.

Is pressure canning a new idea for you or do you already use a pressure canner to preserve food for your family? Have you canned or thought about trying to can raw pet food?

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Step by step instructions: How to can raw pet food. Read why it is a good idea to have home canned food available for your pets whether or not you feed raw.

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3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins in Your Pet’s Diet

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How many of us have found a food our pets like and eat well so we stick with that? We feed them the same thing at every meal, day in and day out. How would that go over with you? How healthy do you think your diet would be if you ate like that? I doubt we would choose that for ourselves, yet we choose it for our pets.

3 reasons to Rotate Proteins

3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins

Alleviate Boredom

I think this one is pretty obvious once you think about it. We would find eating the same food every day pretty boring, at least eventually. I realize we are not dogs or cats, but in the wild, our pets’ ancestors did not eat the same thing every day. They are designed to eat multiple sources of protein to meet their nutritional needs. Different tastes and textures will make mealtime more exciting for your pet and reduce the chance of them becoming a picky eater. Once they are used to the same thing over and over they are less likely to want to try new foods.

More Complete Nutrition The 3 Reasons to rotate proteins in your pet's diet

Just like we need a variety of foods for complete nutrition, so do our pets. All pet food on the market must meet the standards set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials); however, it is unlikely that any one formula is the ideal food for the life of your pet. No matter how complete and balanced a food claims to be, it is unlikely it contains everything all dogs or cats need for their entire lifetime. If a formula is low in a particular nutrient, your pet could become dangerously deficient. Nutrients like amino acids, fatty acids and minerals all vary from protein to protein. Varying what your pet eats means they will get a better balance of nutrients.

Prevent or Heal Food Allergies and Intolerances

Pet food allergies develop due to overexposure. For decades, pet food has been made from chicken and beef which, by no coincidence, are the most common pet allergens. In order to make pet food cheaper, animal protein was partially replaced with plant protein from corn and wheat, the two most common grain allergens. By rotating proteins and feeding foods that are grain-free you will reduce the risk of your pet developing a food allergy or intolerance and can likely heal an existing one.

 

You can rotate proteins in your pet’s diet using a combination of canned, freeze dried, and raw. I don’t recommend dry food but at least dogs don’t have the hydration issue with dry that cats do. Rotate brands as well as protein sources.

Remember to change food gradually if your pet has a sensitive stomach and is used to one food. I feed my cats homemade raw food and change their protein with every batch I make — about every 10 days. They are used to eating a variety and don’t require a gradual change.

Rotating proteins will help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Are you already feeding your pet a rotation diet? How does it work for you? If not, have you considered it?


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Homemade Dog Treat Recipe Roundup

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Dog Treat Recipe Roundup photoI love cooking but I’m the only human in the house and can consume only so much food. As a result, my cats and my client’s and friend’s cats and dogs sometimes become the guinea pigs for my pet recipe creations when I feel the need to cook.

I don’t make treats very often but when I do, I like for them to be as healthy as possible but, after all, they ARE treats!

Here are a few recipes I found recently that I want to give a try so I put them in this dog treat recipe roundup. They sound yummy. Pop some of these treats in a homemade treat jar and you have an inexpensive gift for a four-legged pal.

If you try, or have tried, any of these recipes, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments.

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe Roundup–

Just in Time for Holiday Giving

 

Gingerbread Cookies For Dogs – Easy and Yummy!

 

DIY Homemade Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dog Treats

 

DIY Dog Treats: Mutt Mojito from Pretty Fluffy

 

Dog and sweet potato

Make Your Own Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats in the Microwave (Recipe)

 

treats in hand

The Secret to Quick Non-Crumbly Homemade Dog Treats

 

HomemadeDogTreats

Homemade Dog Treats from A Cozy Kitchen

And you know how you you’re supposed to give guests, like, a little gift bag or something? Well, I’d want to give the animals gifts too.  I’d probably give the pigs the leftovers from the reception, the miniature horses would get some sweet apples, I’d give the cats some private time…and the dogs, well, I’d make them these homemade treats.  I bet they’d really like them because I gave them a try and they’re not half bad. Sooo if your dog is peering over your shoulder as you’re reading this blog post, you can tell them this: these treats have… continue reading.

 

Turkey-Dog-Biscuit-1

Turkey Dog Biscuit Recipe from Budget Earth

After spending hours online, I couldn’t find a recipe that did exactly what I wanted. In the end, I took about five recipes, picked the things I liked most from them, modified that mix with the ingredients we had in the house, and got to work. In the end, I had a recipe unlike anything else I could find, and… continue reading.

 

Coconut-Sunbutter-Dog-Treat-Recipe

Coconut Sunbutter Dog Treat Recipe from Budget Earth

While I do buy them sometimes when we travel, I am not a huge fan of buying dog treats. Many of the dog treats on the market contain ingredients I couldn’t even imagine feeding to my dog. To me, dogs deserve to have treats that contain not only healthy ingredients, but are made to be yummy to humans as well. Let’s face it, dogs love table scraps because they taste good and aren’t boring like their own dog food. Since it’s hard to find treats that meet our criteria for… continue reading.

 

Kohl's Leftover Love

Tasty Tuesday: Leftover Love from Kol’s Notes

Leftovers, done right, can easily be made into delicious, wholesome and healthy treats. Take last night’s meal, as an example: Mom made roast chicken, baked sweet potato, green beans and a salad. With almost no extra work, these leftovers can easily become SNACKS FOR ME ~and there is NOTHING, I love more than snacks for me~… continue reading.

 

Remember to let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of the recipes in this dog treat recipe roundup. Do you have a favorite treat recipe for your dog?


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Homemade Grain-free Dog Treats

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I haven’t had dogs of my own for a while now but I have friends and clients who do. Most of them are pretty savvy and try to do the best for their dogs by feeding them healthy food. These grain-free dog treats are a perfect gift for them.

Healathy, homemade, grain-free dog treats in DIY treat jar

At the holidays, I am better at giving gifts to the pets I know than their human caretakers. When I make treats, I want them to be as healthy as possible so, this year, I developed these grain-free treats.

The dough can be a little tricky to work with but all my taste testers unanimously give paws up for the finished product.

Just 5 healthy ingredients: coconut flour, applesauce, nut butter, eggs and coconut oil

Just 5 healthy ingredients and a few supplies is all it takes.

Mixing ingredients

Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Ball of dough

Form the dough into a ball and chill for about 10 minutes.

Patted out dough

I pat the dough out quite a bit before I start rolling

Rolled out dough

Dust with coconut flour and roll out the dough. I do half of it at a time. That usually fills one cookie sheet.

Dough cut with dog bone shaped cutter

Cut out the dough with your favorite shape cutter.

The finished grain-free dog treats on a cookie sheet

Bake until golden brown and thoroughly dry.

Healthy, Grain-Free Dog Treats

Nutty Biscuits

Ingredients

1½ cups coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
4 eggsJust 5 healthy ingredients in these grain-free dog treats
½ cup coconut oil

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine all ingredients and form into a ball. Dough will be soft but not sticky.

3. Roll out between parchment or on a silicon mat to about ¼ inch or a less. Thickness will determine baking time.

4. Add a little coconut flour as needed to prevent sticking. Chilling for about 10 minutes will also help prevent sticking. I roll out half at a time and leave the other half in the fridge.

5. Cut in desired shape(s) with cookie cutter(s).

6. If you are lucky, they will stick in the cutter and you can pick them up like that. If not, lift up bottom paper or mat and let cutout fall into your hand one at a time.

7. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat.

8. Bake 30-45 minutes or until hard. Gently press the center with your finger to test. Adjust your temperature if necessary. Better to cook them long and low rather than over-brown them before they are dry.

9. Turn every 15 minutes or so for even browning. They should be very lightly browned. Dough is still very fragile so turn carefully. I use my hands.

I like to turn off the oven and leave them in until they are completely cool. The drier the treats are, the longer they will keep at room temperature. If they are not completely dry, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Remember, these treats contain no preservatives.

This recipe made about 50 pieces using a 3″ bone cutter plus a dozen 1″ pieces.

Put these yummy, grain-free dog treats in a homemade treat jar and you have a fun gift for a special pet.


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