Looking for Answers: What to do now that we can’t trust our favorite pet food brand
I originally chose Answers Pet Food as our primary dietary recommendation for several reasons. First, when it comes to any food, sourcing is paramount. The sourcing of any ingredient will significantly impact the nutritional content of that specific food. When it comes to sourcing, Answers Pet Food sourcing was the best in the industry.
As an animal rights advocate and vegetarian it is extremely important to me that all the animals are living in their natural habitat, happy and free of fear and mistreatment. Answers humanely raised (GAP 3, 4, and 5+ certified) meats were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to why Answers’ quality was the best. The additional fully transparent aspect of the sourcing (the ability to physically tour the farms and the manufacturing plant, which we did) made any consumer feel assured these sources were legitimate in their claims and certifications. Answers inspected every one of their farms on a weekly basis, something not many others can claim. To say they were obsessed with holding themselves to the highest standards is an understatement. They raised the bar to a level never seen before when it came to pet food. The non-meat food sources are also organic and raised on soil that was truly the finest (look up “Amish Dust” if you have some time).
I conduct Wellness Consultations with Dr. Zac Pilossoph for pet parents who are looking for holistic remedies to help their ailing pets, particularly when conventional treatment methods do not work. We believe that a biologically appropriate fresh/raw diet, accompanied by natural supplements like full spectrum hemp extract, medicinal mushrooms, and many others, can be a game changer for a sick pet. So, when we started provided these consultations last year we turned to Billy Hoekman, Answers Pet Food Science Nutrition director, for assistance—and added their specific diets to our protocols.
Including proven feeding recommendations was special for us, and for our customers and consultation clients in desperate need of a solution to their pets’ health problems. Answers’ Health Guide and its plethora of condition-specific protocols (specific ways to feed their products to achieve therapeutic results for ailments such as Cushing’s Disease), has arguably saved the lives of thousands of pets who had nowhere else to turn, but ended up living happy, heathy lives.
The people behind these formulations and protocols were the ultimate reason we used their protocols, The people responsible for the quality and integrity of Answers Pet Food (Jacqueline Hill, Roxanne Stone, and Billy Hoekman) are some of the most passionate, self-sacrificing individuals you’ll ever meet, in or out of the pet food industry. Just speaking to any of those three people for a few minutes, you knew this is their life’s work and their integrity is without question.
Most people who use or sell Answers know Billy as the face of Answers Pet Food, as he did the most public appearances and videos for the brand. Billy was the person responsible for the creation of Answers’ Veterinary Program, as well as the Education Program that made Answers such an outstanding knowledge base and resource, thus making even hard-headed vets come to recognize, love, and recommend the brand to their patients.
Billy has become a close friend of ours, and his pug Lua uses CBD Dog Health every day! We trust Billy beyond measure, as he has shown nothing but honesty and integrity since Day One.
As of the end of April, Answers is no longer coordinated by Jacqueline and Roxanne, who had held the main leadership roles within the company. Billy Hoekman, has also resigned from his role with the company. Dr. Doug Knueven, Answers’ Chief Veterinarian, also left his position with the company. Billy and Doug have released brief statements expressing they do not agree with the direction in which the company is going. According to Answers Pet Food’s officially released statement, per their President and CEO Keith Hill, this has to do with an ongoing divorce of Jacqueline Hill and Keith Hill, and nothing about the food will be changing. Keith Hill is now the operating agent for most aspects of the company at this point. He has always been the president of the company, but his involvement with the products and day-to-day operations were minimal, so we are not sure how he intends to maintain the brand without the very people responsible for maintaining it.
We at CBD Dog Health think Dr. Doug Knueven’s statement regarding the current situation is well put: “A company is only as good as those who run it. I am saddened to say that those that I have trusted all these years at Answers have left the company and so must I.”
And when the people behind the transparency, education, development, and quality of the brand are gone, I can no longer trust them.
Quality control was one of the main aspects that Roxanne was responsible for overseeing and regulating. This is the primary reason we cannot continue to support Answers Pet Food. The new lack of communication from a previously open-book company is beyond concerning, and to us, speaks volumes. As we’ve said before, we can only speak on the facts of the current situation, and our plan moving forward. Any other speculation is uncalled for at this point and is just that—speculation.
The current situation is heartbreaking, tragic, and angering to everyone involved. Everyone suffers in their own way, whether it be the ownership of the company and their life’s work being ripped out from under them, a consumer with an ill pet who survives solely on Answers Pet Food, or the many independent pet store retailers, like ours, who now won’t have this amazing food to offer to our customers. Here in Florida, our choices are very slim, so sourcing another brand you can trust is time consuming. But we’ll continue to find the best options to offer to our customers.
“Everybody wants transparency in all aspects of life. Answers was transparency in pet food. Billy, Jacqueline, and Roxanne devoted their time and passion to making the highest quality and most transparent pet food! I’m heartbroken for the pets surviving off their diets and the countless small shops who believed in Answers. Without those 3 and Dr. Doug, we can no longer recommend this brand and will discontinue all sales once our stock is gone.” – Jeff DiRe, co-owner and founder of Bruce & Willy’s Natural Pet Source in Illinois.
So, what do we do from here?
It looks like we have about a month supply of Answers pet food at the distributors, so we are going to take this time to find appropriate substitutes especially for their goats’ milk and straight formulas which are an essential part of our Ketogenic diets for cancer and immune suppressed dogs.
There are other fantastic pet foods to choose from out there, and here are a few of my favorites, thanks to Susan Thixton of The Truth About Pet Food. I only choose the brands that meet Susan’s criteria, and who raise and treat their animals humanely.
Raw Food Companies:
- Small Batch (Freeze Dried, lightly cooked and Raw)
- Dr. Harvey’s (freeze dried)
- The Bones and Co (raw)
- Green JuJu (raw, freeze dried)
- Open Farm (raw)
- Raised Right (raw)
- Vibrant K9 (raw)
- All Provide (raw and cooked)
- Carna 4 (slowly baked, air dried nuggets)
- Simple Food Project (raw)
We want you to know we are here to help you make this transition as painless as possible, so feel free to reach out to me if you need assistance in choosing a replacement food source. You can book a consult with me and Dr. Zac here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who may now choose to go the DIY route for feeding, we also have many resources to help you start this journey.
- Dr. Judy Morgan’s book “Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs: Maximizing Health with Whole Foods, Not Drugs”
- Ruth Robert’s book, “The Original CrockPet Diet”.
- Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib’s book, “Homemade Dog Food Recipe”
- Dr. Richard Pitcarin’s book, “Complete Guide to Natural Health”
Looking for raw feeding guidance and inspiration, here’s a few of our favorites:
- The Raw Storm, Hahnbee Choi – www.therawstorm.com
- KeeptheTailWaggin, KimberlyGauthier – https://keepthetailwagging.com/
- NaturalCanineKitchen, EmmaRutherford – https://thenaturalcaninekitchen.com/
- Perfectly Rawsome, Ronny LeJeune – www.perfectlyrawsome.com
Facebook Groups and Pages:
- Raw and holistic cat and dog FB group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1411906099101822/?ref=share
- Dog Raw diet and nutrition – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1547347072040205/?ref=share
- Dr Judy Morgan FB Page – https://www.facebook.com/JudyMorganDVM
- Rodney Habib and Dr Karen Becker Planet Paws FB Page – https://www.facebook.com/PlanetPawsMedia/
- Two Crazy Cat Ladies – https://www.facebook.com/TheTwoCrazyCatLadies
These recent developments break our hearts, and are a tragedy to everyone in the pet food business.. We hope for the best with the company and its future, but our duty to our customers is to be honest and transparent, about how we feel and where we are going from here. Our duty remains the same: we are here for the pets and will help you every step of the way to make the most educated decisions that are in your pet’s best interest.
Thanks for listening!
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.