Answers Pet Food is a family-owned pet food company based in Eastern Pennsylvania. The company recently made news in the pet food world with a major management reorganization. Information on the website supports their past practices that are outlined in our Answers dog food reviews below.
Answers sources and manufactures raw whole foods with fermented ingredients. This includes the Detailed line of five complete and balanced raw foods for dogs. Answers also manufactures fermented raw milks, fermented bone broths, a limited ingredient diet with five protein options, raw cheese, fermented feet and balanced diets for cats.
Only the Detailed (Complete and Balanced) line is reviewed here. The Straight (Limited Ingredient) line contains only animal protein ingredients, and requires supplementation for daily use. The company recommends adding their fermented raw milks and bone broths for this purpose.
Answers has its own food production/manufacturing facility. They employ a food safety consultant to ensure safety, quality control and regulatory compliance.
For our Answers dog food reviews we’ll look at each food line individually, based on the food ingredient quality and safety. There is one lines of five dog foods. Each dog food review was based on these criteria.
Answers Detailed Raw Dog Food Review
Package Ingredients For Answers Detailed Raw Turkey Formula Recipe: 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.
Using our evaluation criteria, Answers Detailed Raw Dog Food is considered a low risk dog food. Here are our concerns:
Answers Detailed recipes lose no points for ingredient safety. Raw frozen dog foods are minimally processed so that ingredients are preserved. Answers uses pasture-raised meats and organic produce, so there are no foods with high pesticide/herbicide residues or GMOs.
The company uses high quality ingredients, including pasture-raised, grass-fed and grass-finished beef, pasture-raised pork and and free-range organic poultry. The recipes have no synthetic vitamins or minerals which indicates better quality ingredients that don’t need supplementing to meet nutritional standards.
However, the recipes do lose a point because they’re high in fat, with an equal percentage of fat and protein. Raw foods should preferably have less fat than protein. Animal proteins are the most expensive ingredient in most foods, so raw foods sometimes use fattier meats to keep costs down. A high fat diet can cause unwanted shifts in gut bacteria populations and can add unwanted toxins since toxins are stored in fat. Most fats, especially pork and poultry fats, are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause systemic, low-grade inflammation.
Here are some other concerns to be aware of when evaluating the safety and quality of dog food:
Does Not Provide Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio
Answers does not state the omega6:omega-3 ratio in their foods. While this is true of most dog foods, it’s a concern because AAFCO allows a very inflammatory limit of 30:1. Diets rich in omega-6 fats can cause chronic inflammation and disease.
Does Not State Farmed Vs Wild Caught Fish
These foods don’t specify whether the fish (cod liver) is farmed or wild caught. Farmed fish is less nutritious than wild caught fish and does not contain the same healthy fatty acid balance.
Here are some benefits of Answers Detailed foods:
Raw frozen foods are minimally processed with no heat used during processing, so the nutrients in the raw ingredients are preserved.
Answers contains fermented foods that can act as probiotics, however they don’t guarantee the colony forming units (CFUs). This measure determines the number of bacterial cells in a probiotic.
The recipes contain less than 8% carbohydrate as calculated on a dry matter basis, which is low, as you’d expect in a raw diet.
No GMO Ingredients
This isn’t a non-GMO verified line, however, there aren’t any ingredients with GMOs which is good to see. There are limited safety studies on genetically modified and Roundup Ready crops although they are lacking in nutrients compared to non-GMO foods
Read more Answers Dog Food Reviews
Is Answers A Good Dog Food?
Overall, Answers dog food is considered a low risk food with high quality ingredients, and all recipes scoring 9.5/10. The foods are higher in fat than protein, when ideally raw foods should have less fat than protein. Fat has an important role in any dog’s diet, but too much of it can be bad for gut flora.
Their meats include pasture-raised, grass-fed and grass-finished beef, pasture-raised pork, and free-range organic poultry. Answers states that the animals are certified as humanely-raised according to Global Animal Partnership standards. However it’s worth noting that the company isn’t currently listed on the GAP website, so it’s possible the certification may have lapsed (GAP audits producers every 15 months).
Answers doesn’t use synthetic vitamins, chemicals, preservatives or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. All vegetables are organic so the risk of pesticide residue is low. The lack of added vitamins and minerals indicates high quality ingredients that don’t need added nutrients. Vitamin E is added as a preservative.
Answers doesn’t use (HPP) High Pressure Pasteurization to eliminate pathogens. Instead, vegetables are fermented, which leads to the creation of good bacteria that crowds out pathogens in the food. The company states that fermentation supports digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and lactic acid that control harmful bacteria. Fermentation is also a source of probiotics that are present in all of their foods. However, a steady diet of fermented foods is not always advisable for all dogs. In some cases it can lead to intestinal issues like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) from too much bacteria, or could exacerbate yeast problems. .
Other concerns with Answers Detailed recipes are as noted earlier.
Answers Dog Food Recalls
- In January 2019, Answers experienced one recall. The FDA issued a warning after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture discovered Salmonella in one product. The company stopped further distribution of the lot in question in Nebraska and removed the product from retail stores.
Answers Pet Food Lawsuit
In July 2019, Answers filed a Declaratory Judgment Complaint against the FDA. This complaint challenges the lawfulness of the FDA’s actions, along with AAFCO and participating state government members, in adopting a nationwide, zero tolerance standard for Salmonella presence in pet food. Answers’ suit claims this standard is non-compliant with federal laws, unsupported by science, and beyond the powers properly delegated to the FDA by Congress. Answers has challenged the FDA’s decision to enforce this zero tolerance standard noting that enforcement appears to be beyond the FDA’s designated powers. There has been no update and Answers Pet Food is under new management since the complaint was filed.
We evaluate and score dog foods based on two criteria:
Are the Ingredients High Quality?
Here are some common low quality ingredients or markers we look for:
- Is there excessive carbohydrate content, which can cause gut imbalances?
- Does the food contain unnamed proteins, which are low quality?
- Does the food use cellulose (wood pulp) as a source of fiber instead of real food?
- Are there excessive vitamins and minerals added in place of real food nutrition?
- Are there excessive added amino acids or plant proteins instead of expensive meat protein?
- Does the food contain inflammatory processed seed oils?
How Safe Are the Ingredients?
Many ingredients come from unhealthy, inflammatory sources or are full of pesticides so we look for:
- How processed is the food?
- Does the food contain known genetically modified foods?
- Does the food contain ingredients known to be high in pesticides?
- Does the food contain natural flavor, which are often MSG or animal digest?
- Does the food contain rice, which is high in arsenic?
Each food is objectively evaluated by these criteria and a score is assigned using the average of ingredient quality and safety. This is NOT a paid list and there are no affiliate links. We’ve partnered with DogFoodReviews.com to make sure dog owners have unbiased, objective criteria to help them choose the best dog food on the market. You can view the full Evaluation Criteria at DogFoodReviews.com.