How do innovative whole food supplements for dogs and horses go from idea to reality? A little backstory is in order…
One morning in the kitchen as I prepared various vegetables, fruits, and nuts for the canine and equine populations at the farm—while intermittently taking phone calls and answering texts—it occurred to me that there had to be a better way.
Not that I mind being head chef, sous chef, bus-boy, waitress, and personal maid to my dogs and horses. And I really don’t object to the fact that the diet of the pack and the herd is better than my own on many days.
Time: that unique measurement in which events can be ordered from the past through the present and into the future. It can also be used to quantify our perceptions: I don’t have the time, I am running out of time, I never have the time, can you give me more time, I need to get some free time.
When I was a kid, time seemed to stretch out interminably. Those few days leading up to Christmas felt like weeks. As an adult in the 21st century, time whizzes by; one minute it’s the beginning of summer, the next minute it’s fall.
One of the fundamental reasons for the explosion of processed dog foods, horse feeds, fast food restaurants and microwavable meals is convenience, i.e. time. Preparing real food takes time: shopping for the food, washing the food, cutting/slicing/chopping/dicing the food, cooking the food, plating the food.
As I mulled my way through the time-food continuum, seeking a way to reduce the time of animal food preparation without sacrificing the nutritional wholeness, I had one of those heart-stopping moments: What if I’m sick or injured and need to hire someone to take care of the animals…will I need to reduce the food preparation so that it’s easier for someone else to do?
People who keep their horses in boarding or training facilities know well the challenges of feeding multiple supplements to their horses. Smartpak was brilliant in their packaging solution. And I know plenty of people who use baggies for their BioStar supplements to make it easier on barn staff.
How to do I make real food….easy?
Later, I was sitting in the office of a holistic veterinarian. She showed me a list that she gave her customers: cooling, balancing, warming, and drying foods. She said she found it very challenging to work with even premium dog food because companies often combine warming and cooling ingredients. For instance, brands will combine beef, which is warming, with chicken or chicken fat, which is cooling.
The foundation of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Ayurveda is to feed based on body types/characteristics. In Ayurveda these are known as doshas.
And then one day, while watching the BioStar production team chop and mince organic carrots to go into Optimum, it hit me.
Toppers: real whole food that can be sprinkled on top of feed or dog food. Can be hydrated. Or not. Can be used to support warming or cooling, and fed according to the season: cooling food in summer, warming food in winter. Can be fed based on body type: hot horses and high energy dogs need cooling foods, while the horses who tend to warm up like diesel engines, or the older dogs who are bit creaky, would benefit from warming foods.
Toppers can be the perfect supplements for dogs and horses on processed feed or processed kibble, providing some real, raw, dehydrated food to boost that meal in healthy directions. They can be used for whole food nutritional support in mashes, sprinkled on hay, even fed by hand.
Toppers provide real variety to the diets of horses and dogs. And they are versatile. They can be used as part of a broth for dogs, and can be added to foods of all kinds—cooked, canned, kibble, or raw.
In the excitement of being able to provide real, convenient food supplements for dogs and horses, I had to decide which of our beloved mammalian relatives to start with…equine or canine? As it turned out, a promise I had made to my friend Shannon for a BioStar hoof formula was already being happily honored on the equine side. So the first Toppers are for canines, and were launched on December 1, 2014. Equine Toppers are next, and will be available in 2015.
BioStar is proud to present Buckaroo’s Stew—named after my Australian Shepherd, Buckaroo, whose cheeky character can be described as part hooligan and part Einstein. What’s more, he’s the quintessential canine version of a foodie.
Another wonderful aspect of warming and cooling foods goes beyond seasonal. If your dog is not feeling well, might have a slight fever, or is warmer to the touch than usual, then you can make a broth with Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew. On the other hand, if your dog has diarrhea, his GI tract is telling you there’s too much “fire”. In that case, you would want to give Buckaroo’s Cooling Stew to reduce the heat in the GI tract. Conversely, if your dog needs warming or circulatory support, as an older dog might, even in summer, you can add Buckaroo’s Warming stew to his food.
Toppers re-hydrate quickly (about one minute) in either warm or cold water. Buckaroo eats Toppers out of my hand un-rehydrated, but that’s because he has never met a whole food he didn’t like.
Putting the fun back in food:
Toppers are fun to feed, and fun for the dogs to eat. They provide a real variety of food, too, which is important in reducing picky-eater syndrome, and can help reduce food allergies that come from feeding the same protein and the same brand of food year in, year out.
Convenience and real food:
Our first Toppers aren’t just convenient food supplements for dogs; they’re authentic, real food. We will not compromise quality or cut corners with ingredients like drum-dried fruits and vegetables, which are stabilized with maltodextrin. We will not use foods that are genetically modified. Nor we will leave an important whole food out of a formula because of the high cost. We may sacrifice profit, but we won’t sacrifice quality and efficacy.
That’s how the Toppers story goes.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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