Tips for Picky Eaters & Chowhounds

The pet food aisle has become a tricky place for pet owners to navigate. Nowadays, there are a dizzying array of brands, flavors, proteins, carbs, and an endless list of ingredient options. Just reading the labels can be overwhelming, even for someone like me who spends her days researching pet products. My personal mission is to help people find the best choices for their pets’ needs. Sometimes this means calling a manufacturer with specific questions. Sometimes it’s hunting down a special order item. With the two feeding issues below, a little detective work and education offer solutions.

The Picky Eater: “He just won’t eat.”

I hear some version of this statement from concerned dog owners who walk into my store every week. They’re in search of The Perfect Food that will inspire their fussy dogs to lick their bowls clean. I have a standard Q&A for this issue: Which brands has your dog tried? Which flavors? Dry food? Canned food? How about freeze dried, dehydrated, or raw foods? Have you tried adding goat milk? If we exhaust that list, the owners often sigh and say, “We’ve tried everything.” I truly feel for them because I’m a pet parent too. None of us want our babies to suffer for a moment. Then I ask, “Your dog is still alive, right? So he must be easting something.” I pause to make sure they’re with me. Then I ask, “Will he eat treats?” Bingo! Yes, it turns out the dog will eat treats and has likely been eating them to the increasing exclusion of everything else.

Just like us, dogs have a limited stomach size. And like any child, they’ll happily eat dessert and never save room for the meat and veggies. When treats are scaled back and reserved for special occasions, dogs usually regain their appetites. Once you hit the reset button, it may take a few days for the eating pattern to normalize. Even the pooches that go on a hunger strike will eventually eat what you offer. However, if your dog is still refusing food after a few days of strict management–and you’re 100% certain that NOBODY is sneaking him treats because he looks so woeful– it might be time to consult with your vet to be sure there’s not an underlying medical issue or perhaps a sore tooth that’s making it difficult to chew.

Treats do have a role in your dog’s life, mainly as a reward for a job well done. My dog behavior friends say that super delicious morsels are High Value Motivators, just like having a stack of $20 bills to dole out. Their greatest use is for training and reinforcing specific behaviors that you want your dog to do more often, like racing over to you at top speed whenever you call his name.

The Chowhound: “My dog inhales his food.”

I don’t hear this comment often, but when I do my ears perk up. It’s important to address it promptly, especially for deep-chested, large breed dogs who may be at risk for bloat (gastric torsion). This is a very serious medical problem where the stomach twists as a result of the dog eating too fast and gulping in too much air and/or water. The main remedies are to keep the dog from exercising after eating and to slow the act of eating down. This can be done by hand feeding or with specially shaped bowls that trap the food and parse it out in very tiny amounts. It can also be accomplished with stuffable food toys such as Kongs®.

The Kong company revolutionized the dog world decades ago with these clever “work-to-eat” items. They’re a blessing for any busy dog owner because they turn the act of eating into an entertainment session for your dog. Behavior folks call this an “enrichment activity” because it keeps dogs busy both mentally and physically. If your dog has never used a food toy before, it’s important to recognize that it’s a puzzle. Initially, the puzzle has to be easy enough to solve so the dog can excavate the food from the toy. If it’s too hard, he’ll get frustrated and quit. But if he’s successful, he’ll want to do it more. As the dog become expert at the task, you can increase the level of difficulty by using different items to make the puzzle more challenging, including refrigeration or freezing. See the Kong website for their many excellent suggestions.

This article appeared in Bay Woof’s September 2017 edition and was authored by our founder and in-house pet food expert, Cynthia Schorle. Photo Credit: Tracy Donald – Creative Commons.

Help Your Pets Live Longer With Good Dental Care

If we could wave a magic wand, we’d make all cats and dogs brush their teeth before bed every night. Why? Because regular dental care is one of the top things we can do to help our pets live longer.

dog with toothbrushAnimals build up tartar, develop gingivitis, and get rotten teeth just like people do; and that leads to debilitating and often expensive health conditions, especially in older pets. Prevention is totally do-able and has two parts.

1. Schedule periodic cleanings at your vet’s office. This is key because ONLY trained professionals can clean under the gum line and handle serious dental situations like tooth removal. We know it’s not cheap. But it’s so important you don’t want to put it off either. Fortunately, February is National Pet Dental month and many clinics offer discounts during that time. So talk to your vet about what schedule is appropriate for your pet and start budgeting for it.

2. Make regular maintenance part of your pet’s routine. That’s where good products make things easier. Visit us for a wide selection of chews, gels, water additives, and other items to reduce tartar and keep teeth in good condition. If you want to learn how to teach your dog to actually enjoy tooth brushing, watch this 6 minute step-by-step YouTube video from Vancouver dog trainer Donna Hill.

Cheap Shots Mobile Vaccine Clinic Every Month

mobile vaccine clinic

The Cheap Shots mobile vaccine clinic team in action.

Does your pet need a vaccine updated? The Cheap Shots mobile vaccine clinic visits our store on the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Their affordable, high quality service is veterinarian-supervised, and they have been serving the bay area for over a decade. So bring your pet(s) by for a vaccine update, or stop in to meet the nice animal-loving folks who staff the mobile clinic. They’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Visit the Cheap Shots website to learn more about their fees and services. To find out exactly which Saturday the clinic is scheduled for each month, ask our staff or sign up for our short & sweet monthly newsletter the next time you visit our store.

Is Your Dog Ready for a Good Hair Day?

Our grooming department has expanded, and we have appointments available Monday through Saturday. If your caninGroomedDog1e companion is ready for a bath and trim, give us a call. We love helping dogs look and feel their best.

In Praise of Senior Pets

November is national Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, and there are many good reasons to consider a more “mature” pet for your family if you’re looking to add one. If you already have a senior dog or cat in your life, here’s some excellent resources to help you support the more mature members of your furry householdold dog pic:
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue’s Resource Page
The Grey Muzzle’s Health & Wellness Page
The Senior Dogs Project’s FAQ Page
Cat Behavior Associates Senior Cat Page
American Association of Feline Practitioners Senior Cat Page

Free Trial Size Bags of Orijen & Acana

Looking for a new kibble to offer your dog? We’ve got Trial Size bags from Orijen and Acanorijen and acana 2a to help you out. These normally sell for $3.99, but we’re offering them at no cost to our valued customers. Come by and get one while supplies last.

Join Us for Yappy Hour Every Thurs & Fri Eve in September

In celebration of our expanded evening hours and three years in business,  we’re hosting “Yappy Hour” every Thursday and Friday eve in September from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Stop by the store with your on-leash companion to enjoy a complimentary beverage while your dog dines on a free raw food dinner. Can’t bring your dog with you? No problem. Stop by anyways and we’ll send you home with the ultimate “doggie bag” for your pooch.

As always, there’s free parking available in back of store. Contact us with any questions.

Phone: (510) 523-SPOT

Email: cynthia@alamedaseespotrun.com

Join Us for Yappy Hour!

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