A sampling of some frequently heard questions, in no particular order:

Q: Where do you get your ingredients?
A: Vegetables and fruits are either grown here in DogTown, or purchased or bartered from Victory Farms, Amy's Garden, Bill Heath, Root Force Collective, Agriberry, and other local growers. Chicken feet are usually from Ault's Family Farm, but sometimes from Empress, Tuckahoe Lamb & Cattle and Rockcastle Farm. Pork, beef and lamb organ meats come from Tuckahoe Lamb & Cattle,  Faith FarmAult's Family Farm and Deblyn Farms, all in Virginia. Look for these fine producers at your local farmer's markets for delicious grass-fed, pasture-raised meat, fresh eggs, pesticide and chemical fertilizer-free vegetables and fruits, and other healthy foods.

Q: My dog loves Dried Chicken Fingers, how many of these can I give him in one day?
A: Since Dried Chicken Fingers are completely digestible, and nutritionally dense, I've never been sure how to answer this question. The protein and fat content are almost equal, which should balance each other out quite well; it's the relatively high percentage of bone, gristle and skin that might be problematic, since carnivores use that as fiber. Theoretically, if a dog ate too many, his stool would be rather firm. Fletcher recently tested this theory out by getting into a tub full of Dried Chicken Fingers right out of the Dryalata™[1] and patient observation has revealed that 3lbs is not too much for a ~130lb dog. So, as tested, a dog might safely consume 2% of body weight of Dried Chicken Fingers per day without consequences.

Q: Aren't bones bad for my pet?
A: Cooked bones are bad; raw bones are good.
Cooking makes bones splinter, but raw ones break up into chunks that make your cat or dog happy and act like fiber in his short, acidic digestive system. For more on this subject, please read Bones for Dinner.

Q: Dried Chicken Fingers have bones in them?!
A: Yes, that's part of why dogs love them so much. Since they are dehydrated, hollow, bird bones, they crumble up like cardboard, helping clean your dog's teeth along the way. The marrow they contain adds a little bonus - omega oil, which tends to improve the temperaments of all mammals, especially during early growth stages.

Q: Is it safe to leave my dog in the car while I run into the store for a minute?
A: No. The air in your car, even with the windows cracked, even on a cool day, even in the shade, will not be refreshing fast enough to keep your dog alive for very long. If the outside air is above 70, the inside temperature will rise much faster. It only takes a few minutes over 100F to kill your pet; any time you would not leave an infant in your car, it is also unsafe to leave a pet.

Q: Where is this stuff made, and why do you call it DogTown Lounge?
A: Everything on the DTL Menu is made by me at my home in Richmond's southside, in an area called DogTown. I believe that happy pets lounge more effectively than sad ones, and hope to assist you in keeping your pets happily lounging. 

Q: Is everything you make raw?
A: Everything on the DTL Menu is raw; the Dried Chicken Fingers are not cooked, just dried out to about 18% moisture. This traditional jerky process makes them chewy and fun for your dog, who needs to exercise his teeth and gums to stay healthy. All the frozen foods are made from fresh raw meat and bone, which are ground into sausage. All other ingredients are shredded or cooked to make them as digestible as possible before being ground, mixed, and frozen. Everything is handled in accordance with USDA guidelines, and each batch is taste-tested by the official DogTown Lounge Tasting Team. The end result is high quality, easily digested food, conducive to a long and healthy life for your pet. Why settle for "survive" when you could have "thrive?"

Q: Why is the Spike's Chicken Salad I bought recently a darker red than it was last year?
A: Beet juice! In my search for good local sources for healthy beet greens, I've started growing heirloom variety Bull's Blood beets in my garden. These are sweet, early harvest beets with very dark red tops, and the deep burgundy of the greens lends its color to Spike's Chicken Salad.

Q: Why does my pet have gas or diarrhea when fed cooked meat scraps? 
A: Cooking kills off the healthy enzymes that your pet needs to properly digest meat, fat and bone, making the proteins less bio-available, so they take longer to digest and cause more digestive distress than raw meat. Some of the spices and seasonings you use to make meat taste better to you are also not good for your dog, especially onions. Dogs and cats also need bone and gristle to assist their intestines in proper stool formation, but since cooked bones splinter, it is risky to give them the bones from your dinner. If you want to feed your pets scraps from your meals, then first cut off the parts you don't intend to eat before cooking, and offer them raw. While it is true that some pets will have digestive upset the first time they eat raw meat, their internal flora and fauna will adjust and settle with repeated raw feedings. Most pets can easily switch to raw food in one meal, but older ones who've only had grain-based kibble may need to be introduced more slowly. Additionally, since kibble-fed pets are not used to chewing their food properly, they can benefit from starting out with their raw meals ground up with bone included.

Q: All the pet food I've been buying for years contains corn, why don't you use corn in your recipes?
A: Corn has very little nutritional value for either cats or dogs, and many of them develop skin problems when fed primarily grain-based proteins. Cats have no real use for grain proteins, and dogs can only glean nutrition from grains if they are whole grains, finely ground or cooked to a porridge. Of the whole grains that pets can glean any nutritional value from at all, oats and barley are the easiest to digest and least allergenic. That our pets have managed to survive on the increasingly higher-grain kibble we've been feeding these last 50 years is a testament to their amazing biology, not to the formulation of the kibble.

Q: The pet food I've been buying for years says right on the label that it has 15% protein, are you suggesting that the label is inaccurate? 
A: The pet food industry in the US is self-regulated, via a series of guidelines for consistent labelling set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) which is a consortium of industry executives. Under these guidelines, there is no requirement that the crude protein percentage listed on the labels is bio-available to your pet. In determining the optimum nutrition to feed my own pets, I followed the species-appropriate guidelines set forth by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. These guidelines can be found here: Pet Nutrition Guidelines

Q: Spike's Chicken Salad contains garlic, isn't that bad for dogs and cats?
A: Garlic contains n-propyldisulfide, which in large amounts can do damage to a dog's red blood cells, and cause anemia. The key phrase there is "in large amounts." Spike's Chicken Salad contains less than 0.25% of fresh and finely ground garlic, mixed thoroughly into all the other ingredients in two separate grinding and mixing steps, to ensure that each serving contains only a trace. This is just enough to take advantage of garlic's health benefits, even though the fragrance might seem strong to human noses. Here is an article about dogs and garlic with more detail: Garlic for Dogs

[1] Fletcher Lou was a Very Bad Dog, but was unconvinced, and shamelessly did victory laps around the yard, before retiring to the corner for a moment. His demeanor the rest of the evening gave the impression that he found his intestinal void rather blissful and invigorating.