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Spot’s Stew/Ingredients FAQs

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General Product Information | Chicken Meal

General Product Information

Q: Why does Halo refer to its products as natural?

A: Because it is! AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines "natural" pet food as having ingredients from ONLY plant, animal or mined sources. These foods cannot be highly processed or contain chemically synthetic ingredients, such as artificial flavors, preservatives or colorings. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why does Halo refer to its products as holistic?

A: The holistic viewpoint that Halo has stems from the belief that health is achieved by focusing on the whole body through natural living. Halo believes that the quality of ingredients a pet eats is the foundation of overall well-being but that elimination of harsh chemicals from food, treats and the environment is also critical to achieve optimal health. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: How do I transition my dog or cat to a new food?

A: Many pets require up to 7-10 days to adjust to a new food because their intestinal tracts contain unique bacteria and enzymes that need to adapt to the proper digestion of a new food. Follow these guidelines for changing your pet’s current dry or canned food to Halo dry or canned food*:

Days 1-3 75% old food, 25% Halo
Days 4-5 50% old food, 50% Halo
Days 6-7 25% old food, 75% Halo
Days 8+ 100% Halo

*If you have a pet with a sensitive stomach, transition them even more slowly (over 2 to 3 weeks) to avoid digestive upset.

If your dog or cat experiences digestive upset during the transition (poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or soft stool, etc.), return to the new food amount that was not causing problems and keep them there for a few more days before continuing with the diet change.  Once your pet is eating all Halo if you change between the flavors, consider a 2 or 3 day transition to minimize stomach upset.  –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Do you recommend feeding pets dry food, canned food or a combination of both?

A:  I recommend that pets eat a combination of dry and canned food every day.  Their bodies are made of 75% water and they rarely drink enough water to support excellent hydration and organ function so I recommend that at least 25 to 50% of a pets daily calories come from canned food.  You can feed it all at one time during the day or break it up into 2 meals.  –Dr. Donna Spector

Q:  How do I transition my dog or cat to a combination of Halo dry and canned food?

A: Many pets require up to 7-10 days to adjust to a new food because their intestinal tracts contain unique bacteria and enzymes that need to adapt to the proper digestion of a new food. Follow these guidelines for changing your pets current dry or canned food to a combination of Halo dry and canned food*:

Days 1-3 75% old food, 25% Halo (of the 25% Halo; 50% should be canned and 50% should be dry Halo food)
Days 4-5 50% old food, 50% Halo (of the 50% Halo; 50% should be canned and 50% should be dry Halo food)
Days 6-7 25% old food, 75% Halo (of the 75% Halo; 50% should be canned and 50% should be dry Halo food)
Days 8+ 100% Halo (50% should be canned and 50% should be dry Halo food)

*If you have a pet with a sensitive stomach, transition them even more slowly (over 2 to 3 weeks) to avoid digestive upset.

If your dog or cat experiences digestive upset during the transition (poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea or soft stool, etc.), return to the new food amount that was not causing problems and keep them there for a few more days before continuing with the diet change.  Once your pet is eating all Halo if you change between the flavors, consider a 2 or 3 day transition to minimize stomach upset. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: My pet seems to have developed diarrhea on the Spot's Stew. What can I do?

A: First, make sure you have introduced the food slowly over 7 to 10 days. Many times a "cold turkey" switch will cause problems with your pet's digestive system—it takes the bacteria and enzymes in their intestine time to adjust to the new food. Next, take a look at the other food or treats your pet is getting throughout the day. Avoid overfeeding and eliminate all treat with fillers, artificial colors or flavorings as these may cause diarrhea. Some pets require a little more fiber to maintain their digestive health—try adding some natural fiber to your pet's new food—pumpkin, psyllium, potato skins, etc. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why should pets eat both canned and dry food every day?

A: Most pets do not drink enough water every day to stay well hydrated. The addition of canned food contributes the water that is so essential to overall health. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: I have an outdoor cat. Can I use the indoor formula?

A: Yes. Outdoor cats do not have different nutritional requirements than indoor cats and the Indoor Cat Formula is perfect for them. If you have an outdoor cat they may be getting calories from other sources (hunting, neighbors food bowls, etc) so make sure to adjust their calories accordingly to prevent obesity. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: What is the difference between the Indoor Cat and Sensitive Cat formulas?

A: The Sensitive Cat formula has smaller protein sizes to minimize any adverse food reaction from large proteins. It also has a higher percentage of whole egg in the formula to make it even more highly digestible. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Does Halo make a kitten formula?

A: No. The cat formulas are appropriate for either kittens or adults. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q:  Why do the Halo canned foods appear to have a lower protein % when compared to other brands? 

A:  AAFCO requires that pet food labels list ingredients on an “As Fed” basis, however, for nutritional accuracy, it is important that diets are compared only on a dry matter (DM) percentage.  Because Halo has a higher moisture content than most other canned foods, it makes the "As Fed" percentages seem less. For example, a canned cat food with 78% moisture and 9.5% protein is equivalent in protein to Halo's 81% moisture and 8% protein…both of these diets have approximately 42% protein when evaluated on a dry matter basis. Please contact Customer Service if you need more information.  –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: How many calories are in each formulation?

A:  Please refer to the website description of each individual product for specific calorie information or contact Customer Service.

Q: What are prebiotics / probiotics? Does Halo have these in their food?

A: Prebiotics are specialized forms of fiber that have been proven to stimulate growth and function of beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Probiotics are live bacteria that help restore the bacterial balance within the intestine. Halo adds both prebiotics (e.g. inulin, a fructo-oligosaccharide [FOS]) and probiotics (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus species) to all dry formulations for maximal digestive benefits. Read my article about prebiotics and probiotics and Halo's gastrointestinal health benefits. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Is it okay for dogs to eat the cat food?

A: I don't recommend routinely feeding healthy dogs the cat formulation of Spot's Stew. Halo cat formulas are designed with higher levels of protein and fat than what dogs require. This creates a food that is higher in calories and can lead to problems with obesity when fed to dogs long term. The vitamin/mineral balance is specific to cats as well. Dogs should stick with our canine formulas to reach optimal health. ~Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Is it okay for cats to eat the dog food?

A: Although your cat getting a nibble of Halo dog food from time to time isn't bad (our dog foods are supplemented with proper amounts of taurine for cats), I definitely don't recommend routinely feeding them food formulated for dogs. Cats (as strict carnivores) require higher levels of protein and fat than dogs and Halo foods are designed accordingly. Halo dog food just doesn't have the right balance for cats to reach their optimal health level. ~Dr. Donna Spector

Q: My cat is finicky. How can I encourage my cat to eat the Halo cat food?

A: You can try adding our fatty acid supplement (Dream Coat) or some of the Halo Dinner Party protein sprinkle on top of his food to spark his interest.  Also adding a small amount of warmed canned food on top of the dry can entice even the pickiest eater.  –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: My dog has refused Spot's Stew. What do I do now?

A: First, make sure you have introduced the food slowly over 7 to 10 days. Sometimes a "cold turkey" switch will turn your dog off. If you were trying only the dry—add in a little of Halo's canned food to help stimulate your dog's appetite. Sometimes even just a little chicken or turkey that you have prepared at home can be added to the dry food for a little extra zing! You can also try adding our fatty acid supplement (Dream Coat) or some of the Halo Dinner Party protein sprinkle on top of his food to spark his interest. Keep it up—he will realize how good it is! --Dr. Donna Spector

Q: My pet doesn't seem to drink as much water since he's switched to Spot's Stew. Is that a problem?

A: Many people notice a decrease in the amount of water their pets drink after making the change to Spot's Stew canned. The canned formulas have a high moisture (water) content so your pet is getting better hydration from the food itself. When a pet is on a dry food or one that does not have as much moisture, they need to drink more to keep their bodies hydrated. Just like people, pets often don't drink as much as they should which can lead to mild dehydration—dry skin, dull coats, etc. This is why we always recommend adding some canned food to your pet's meals every day! --Dr. Donna Spector

Q: How long does Spot's Stew last once opened and in the refrigerator?

A: Whenever you open a can of food transfer it to a food-grade storage dish for safe-keeping in the refrigerator. Generally food stored this way will stay fresh for 3 days. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: How long does a bag of Spot's Stew dry food stay fresh?

A: All of Halo's dry formulations come in a re-sealable bag—it is important to reseal the bag between each feeding to minimize the food's exposure to light and air which could cause accelerated degeneration of the food. My preference is to store the resealable bag inside an airtight container to retain maximal freshness. If you have a small dog or cat and purchase the larger bags, it is important to divide the large bag into smaller portions and store them in airtight containers until you are ready to use that portion. Always smell and visually inspect any food that has been opened and stored longer than one month. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Is canned food bad for my pet's teeth?

A: No. While many vets recommend dry food to "keep teeth clean and healthy" it is a fact that many pets do not chew their food well enough to get any abrasive cleaning action from dry food. Whether you feed dry or canned food…the single most important thing for dental health is tooth brushing. It is a fact that by age three more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of gum (periodontal) disease and this is because most owners do not give their pets proper dental care (DAILY tooth brushing and annual dental cleanings). Keep the canned food and start brushing! See my article "Getting to the Root of Bad Breath" for more info on dental health –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Andi Brown always said dry food was not good for pets. Why is Halo making a dry food?

A: It has always been our standing that commercial dry pet foods did not provide enough quality ingredients to allow pets to reach their optimal health level. We have finally created a dry food that closely resembles the quality of our canned Spot's Stew! We avoid lower quality ingredients (like meat meals, corn, rice, etc) and provide only whole meats and vegetables to make our well-balanced dry diet that provides 100% of pet's nutritional needs. By nature of being a dry food, the moisture content is low (only 10%) and pet owners must encourage their pets to drink plenty of water to receive proper hydration. The addition of canned food also helps give pets the water they need every day. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: What is the difference between just plain "meat" (like "chicken" or "lamb") and "meat meals" (like "chicken meal" or "lamb meal")? Following are AAFCO definitions:

A: Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to the part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. Meat meal is the rendered product from flesh and other mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

Q: What are meat by-products? Note: Following is the AAFCO definition:

A: The non-rendered (non-cooked), clean parts, other than meat derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed from their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.

Q: What are poultry by-products? Note: Halo does not use poultry by-products!

A: Non-rendered (non-cooked) clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice.

Q: Why doesn't Halo use meat meals (like 'chicken meal' and 'turkey meal') when it seems that many other pet food makers do?

A: Halo has chosen to use only high quality ingredients in its pet foods.  Meat meals do contain meat and can be of high quality, however, they may also contain 4-D meats (dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals) and other waste products. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Halo does not have as high of protein levels as other foods…why?

A: Halo does not use meat meals as a concentrated source of dried protein and uses only whole real meat ingredients. It is more difficult to achieve very high protein levels when using whole real meat instead of a meat meal. Halo uses eggs and peas as an additional source of highly digestible protein to support protein levels in all formulations. We feel this is a healthier alternative to meat meals. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why is Halo more expensive than other foods?

A: Halo has chosen to use only the highest quality ingredients which are more costly than other less superior ingredients. Although it is more expensive at the check-out it may help save you money in vet bills. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why does Halo use so much egg and peas in their formulations?

A: Halo uses eggs and peas as an additional source of highly digestible protein to support protein levels in all formulations. Halo does not use meat meals as a concentrated source of dried protein and uses only whole real meat ingredients. It is more difficult to achieve very high protein levels when using whole real meat instead of a meat meal. We feel the eggs and peas are healthier alternatives to meat meals. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why does Halo avoid rice and corn in their foods?

A: Halo defines corn and white rice as "fillers". These are carbohydrates that may raise blood sugar levels rapidly and create hormonal signals that may have negative long term effects on metabolism and weight gain. Although corn and white rice are often thought of as staples of an American diet, they are not healthful for pets in the large quantities used by many pet food companies.  Corn and rice are often the main ingredients in other foods and treats because they are a less expensive way to fill up a bag and still meet basic energy requirements.  This has led to industry-wide creation of pet foods and treats which are high in carbohydrates, relatively low in meat protein and are a major factor in the pet obesity epidemic.  These corn and rice based diets may also contribute to chronic symptoms of maldigestion, such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Halo makes healthier carbohydrate choices by using whole grains such as barley and oats and vegetables like sweet potatoes.  These carbohydrates are nutrient-dense because they supply energy as well as high levels of fiber for digestive health and high levels of vitamins and minerals for overall health.  –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: What is Halo's philosophy on grains / carbohydrates for cats?

A:  Low carbohydrate foods are best suited to the natural biology of cats as carnivores.  Cats reach optimal health levels and may avoid many food-related problems (such as obesity, diabetes, some intestinal diseases) by eating high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods.  Protein (not carbs) should make up the majority of every cat's diet, however, many cats appear to benefit from a small to moderate amount of complex carbohydrates (fibers that are not broken down to sugars) in their diet.  Remember long ago cats hunted for their food (and some still do!) and were exposed to carbohydrates within the digestive system of their prey.  The domesticated indoor cat appears to benefit from the digestive health that COMPLEX carbs (in the form of fiber-rich vegetables, oats and barley) provide. Halo includes only this type of carbohydrate in our cat formulations.

Halo does offer grain-free options as well.  All Halo Spot’s Stew canned cat foods and the Hearty Chicken Recipe Dry food are all grain-free formulas.

Q: Are Halo foods gluten-free?

A: Gluten is a protein found in many grass-related grains, most notably in wheat, barley and rye and is problematic in the small percentage of people who have gluten-intolerance (celiac disease). This condition is exceedingly rare in dogs and cats and providing gluten-free foods offer no other proven health benefits to pets. All Halo natural dog food products (canned and dry) and the dry natural cat food (with the exception of the Grain-Free recipe) contain gluten in the form of barley and/or oats.

Halo does make several gluten-free products including: canned cat food formulas, the Grain-Free dry cat food, Liv-a-Littles Protein Treats, Healthsome Peanut ‘n Pumpkin Vegetarian and Well-Being treats for dogs, and Healthsome treats for cats. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: My vet recommended a "senior" or "lite" diet for my pet. Can I use Halo?

A: Halo foods can be used successfully in a weight loss program. Halo donated food for a weight loss challenge to a New York City shelter (Bideawee) and I monitored the progress of 7 obese cats over 4 weeks—all successfully lost the desired amount of weight. For more information on this study see Dr. Spector's article. Several of our formulas fall within the "lite" category as defined by AAFCO (canned dog food <900 kcal/kg, canned cat food <950 kcal/kg): the Canned Dog Chicken and Canned Cat Chicken and Lamb formulas. Dr. Spector recommends reaching for these formulas first when starting a weight loss plan. Click here for more information on Weight Loss Tips. –Dr. Donna Spector

Q: Why do your foods contain garlic?

A: The original Spot's Stew formula created in a kitchen over 25 years ago used garlic for its anti-oxidant properties. It is very common that herbs or natural treatments are beneficial. Garlic is a safe ingredient when used in small amounts.

Chicken Meal

Q: Is Halo saying that chicken meal is terrible for animals?

A: No, we believe that chicken meal can provide good nutrition.

Q: Isn’t chicken meal higher protein than chicken, pound for pound?

A: It can be, and often is. So it’s important to check the protein level of the food (especially the dry-weight protein level), and the quality of ALL the ingredients. Companies like Halo that avoid chicken meal have to put in much more real chicken to get the same protein level as a company using chicken meal – a much more expensive proposition. All else being equal, chicken is a far superior ingredient.

Q: If a brand uses chicken meal, but has a terrific reputation for quality, can’t we assume they avoid 4D and waste products?

A: They may choose to avoid 4D and waste products. But chicken meal may legally contain 4D and waste products.

Q: Some companies use chicken AND chicken meal – is that better?

A: Yes, it’s certainly better to have real flesh meat than not having any. Instead of using any meals or other rendered meats, Halo uses real flesh meat plus ingredients like eggs and pea protein as additional high-quality sources of protein.

Q: What about meat meals, such as beef meal, lamb meal or salmon meal?

A: Like chicken meal, other meals are rendered ingredients which may legally contain 4D ingredients and waste products.  Halo's philosophy is not to use those ingredients.  Also, if an ingredient does not specify the species, for example "meat meal," it will not be clear exactly which animal flesh was used in manufacturing.  Halo's fresh ingredients are always identified by species, i.e. "lamb.

Q: What about by-product-meals?

A. Like chicken meal, by-product meals are rendered ingredients which may legally contain 4D ingredients and waste products. Halo’s philosophy is not to use those ingredients.

Q: Why does Halo use so much egg and peas in their formulations?

A: Halo uses eggs and peas as an additional source of highly digestible protein to support protein levels in all formulations. Halo does not use meat meals as a concentrated source of dried protein and uses only whole real meat ingredients. It is more difficult to achieve very high protein levels when using whole real meat instead of a meat meal. We feel the eggs and peas are healthier alternatives to meat meals.

Q: Why are you introducing a vegan diet for dogs?

We will be introducing Spot’s Stew Vegan Garden Medley as a choice for people who are Vegan or otherwise cannot feed their dog meat (due to allergies, etc.). Like Halo’s Spot’s Stew meat-based diets, the Vegan Garden Medley is a complete and balanced diet made from natural, real-food ingredients and provides adult dogs with all the essential nutrients they need (based on nutritional levels established by AAFCO).

We continue to proudly offer chicken, lamb, beef, salmon and other meat-based Spot’s Stews. We will not be offering a Vegan diet for cats (who are obligate carnivores).

Q: My vet recommended a "senior" diet for my pet. Can I use Halo?

A: All of Halo’s Spot’s Stew adult formulas are formulated to meet the AAFCO nutritional requirements for all life stages. While Halo doesn’t specifically make a senior diet, it can successfully be fed to aging pets. Many times vets recommend senior foods because they are lower in calories and higher in fiber. This makes them appropriate for older pets who have a slower metabolism and are more likely to gain weight and struggle with obesity and constipation. Halo has a lower calorie dry formulation—called Healthy Weight—and most of Halo’s canned formulations are quite low in calories. By adding some canned food to your aging pets feeding plan you can help decrease the overall calories while providing additional water to help your older pet combat dehydration. Halo formulas also contain fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains which are beneficial for an aging pets gastrointestinal health to avoid constipation. Dr. Donna Spector

“I finally feel as though I am able to give my pets a good healthy meal that smells and looks wonderful even to a human!”

P. Cody, Coon Rapids, MN

 

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