Don’t Panic About The Latest Pet Food News

We spend a lot of time researching pet food ingredients at our store. So when the FDA released a statement in July about a potential connection between grain-free dog foods and canine heart disease, we took careful note of what they said: “…certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients.”

This is a Big Story in the pet food world, and it’s received some worried-sounding news coverage. The bottom line is that it’s an investigation by a regulatory agency that doesn’t have many details to share.

Our Advice: Don’t panic.
Thankfully, this isn’t a recall. There are huge numbers of dogs living healthy lives on grain-free diets. These foods were formulated to remove troublesome (often itchy-scratchy) allergens such as corn and wheat.

The FDA is investigating why a very small group of dogs scattered across the country have developed a specific type of heart disease. Their theory is that it might be connected to grain-free diets. But it’s a puzzle and their research is ongoing. We look forward to the official findings plus whatever developments unfold for pet food makers.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering what to feed your dog in light of this news, we encourage you to look at “meaty” products with a high percentage of meat-based proteins. There are 3 main types: Raw, Freeze-Dried, and Cooked.

(1) Fresh-Frozen Raw Food
These nutritionally robust foods are in our freezer case. They’re easy to use with a regular defrosting routine. Based on enthusiastic customer feedback, plus the work of leading holistic veterinarians, our observation is that a lot of dogs positively thrive on raw food.

If you’re worried about food safety, raw pet products are carefully made and healthy for dogs to eat every day. Remember to use  appropriate raw meat handling practices in your own kitchen.

We carry Stella & Chewy’s frozen patties and morsels, Primal complete frozen formulas, Small Batch frozen patties and morsels, and Answers probiotic & fermented supplements including raw goat kefir. We can order Answers pasture-raised diets on request.

(2) Freeze Dried Raw Food
These convenient foods are packed with meaty nutrition. Simply add water before feeding. Plus, dogs that don’t adapt well to raw food are often able to digest freeze-dried products more easily.

We carry Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried patties and “Meal Mixers”, Primal freeze dried nuggets, Orijen freeze dried medallions, and Rawz freeze dried dinners.

(3) Cooked Foods
Some dogs do better with cooked food. These diets come frozen or canned. In our freezer we carry My Perfect Pet, a food that is gently cooked with human-grade, whole ingredients. Their Low Glycemic Blends are specifically free of grains, potatoes, and legumes.

Canned pet food, also called “wet food” due to its high moisture content, has a long tradition of delivering meaty ingredients. Nowadays, the quality of premium canned brands is unbelievably good, making it an excellent way to get more meat into your dog’s diet.

However, be sure to read canned food labels closely so you know what other ingredients are in the formula. Some grain-free recipes do contain potatoes or legumes, though in much smaller amounts than used in kibble.

Our most meaty and popular canned brands include: Merrick’s “Grain-Free 96%”; Evanger’s “Grain-Free Game Meats”; Lotus Foods “Just Juicy”; and Rawz “96% Meat” which is also free of thickening gums.

What About Cost?
Adding any meat-based food to your dog’s daily diet will obviously cost more than feeding plain kibble. What you’re paying for in a raw, freeze-dried, or canned food is a lot more meat protein. Since that meat isn’t rendered down into tiny bullets of kibble, it doesn’t have to be combined with starchy fillers like legumes or potatoes to hold its shape and sit in a bag for a year.

Kibble relies heavily on carbs and that’s why it’s so much cheaper. So if getting more meat protein in your dog’s diet is important to you, but seems like a budget challenge, we’ve got creative suggestions. Remember, we are pet owners too.

Our Meaty Feeding Tips:

  • Use a small amount of meaty food as a kibble topper to tilt the meat percentage in your dog’s favor and stretch your dollars, especially in a multi-pet household.
  • Feed a dedicated meaty meal a few times per week to increase the overall quality of your dog’s diet.
  • Serve a meaty meal in the morning, then offer a modest bowl of kibble in the evening. This is how Cynthia feeds her own dogs and she continues to be amazed at the results, especially for her senior dog, Garnet.

Basic decisions about what pet food to buy have become more confusing than ever for all of us who love our dogs (and cats too). We’re here to help you sort out the facts and make the best choices you can. Come see us with your questions and get some yummy free samples for your dog to try out. Woof!

Be Aware of These 2 Dog Walking Hazards

The arrival of warmer weather gets more of us outside for dog walks over the island. But this comfortable season also brings two hazards that can seriously harm your canine companion.

#1 FOXTAILS: This dangerous seasonal weed is in full production right now, and it’s not limited to trails or parks. You’ll find plenty of foxtails in every neighborhood, usually near sidewalks, fences, vacant lots, or anywhere the landscape isn’t well maintained. The stalks grow to knee high which puts their barbed seed heads in perfect position to attach to dogs as they walk, sniff, and eliminate.

Foxtails work their way into paws, ears, noses, and tender skin. If you’ve ever been through an emergency foxtail removal, you know how much pain your dog was in and how expensive the vet bill was. If your dog has never picked up a foxtail, count yourself lucky and keep an eye out for them.

Our Practical Advice: Give your dogs a thorough check after every walk, especially between their toes, and read this helpful article that details the common signs of a foxtail injury.

#2 LAWN CHEMICALS: Warm weather means the return of mowing and weed control measures used by homeowners who want to turn their lawns into lush green carpets. While it seems obvious to keep your dog off the toxic, emerald-colored grass, don’t let your dog walk on ANY LAWN because you don’t know what’s been sprayed there, and chemical “drift” can happen when neighbors spray their own lawns, then the herbicide floats over to nearby properties.

The residue from chemical weed control and fertilizers easily transfers to dog skin and fur, then gets tracked all over your house, and is licked off when pets groom themselves. This stuff is carcinogenic to dogs and cats, so you need to pay attention.

Our practical advice: Teach your dog to potty in a safe spot at home first, then it will be easier to keep him or her OFF the lawns and ON the sidewalks. We also recommend wiping or washing paws, and watching this excellent public service video from holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker and pet educator Rodney Habib. They cite recent veterinary studies on the health risks of lawn chemical exposure to pets. Please share it with your dog-loving friends.

Coffee Time With Holistic Vet, Dr. Ashley McCaughan

On Saturday, April 14th from 12:00pm to 2:00 p.m. we’re delighted to welcome holistic veterinarian Dr. Ashley McCaughan to our store for a good old-fashioned Meet & Greet. Join us for complimentary coffee and snacks, plus informal Q&A time* with Dr. Ashley. She recently opened Marina Village Veterinary Clinic where she offers a full range of services and integrative veterinary care including acupuncture, chiropractic, Chinese herbal medicine, and non-anesthesia dental cleanings. If you’ve ever wondered what a ‘holistic vet’ is, or are curious how acupuncture, herbs, and chiropractic care might help your pet, this is the perfect chance to ask your questions.

*Please Note: This event is not a formal veterinary consultation for you or your pet. Q&A time with Dr. McCaughan may be limited depending on the number of people who wish to speak with her. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you!

Dog Flu Advisory For Our Customers & Grooming Clients

As a dog-loving business and grooming salon, we’re dedicated to your dog’s well-being. We’re sharing the following information to make you aware of the current outbreak of dog flu that has been reported in the South Bay area. The virus may or may not make its way to the East Bay, but we are being proactive in communicating about it.

Important Facts:

  • Dog flu is easily transmitted between dogs through sneezing or coughing. So it can spread through any shared surfaces like water bowls, toys, bedding, kennels, or even via the hands and clothes of animal-loving people.
  • Anywhere dogs hang out together can increase exposure opportunities, such as dog parks, daycares, group walks, boarding facilities, or training classes.
  • Symptoms include runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, lethargy, and fever. These symptoms may or may not show up right away if a dog becomes infected.
  • There is a dog flu test and a vaccine. Consult with your veterinarian to learn more.
  • Dog flu does not affect humans. If you’re concerned about your cat, call your vet.

What We Are Doing:

  • Using extreme care in cleaning and disinfecting our store and grooming areas.
  • Sanitizing our hands between contact with all the wonderful dogs that visit us.
  • Talking with our customers and sharing information from qualified sources including the California Veterinary Medical Association’s resource page on Canine Influenza. https://cvma.net/resources/animals-medicine-diseases/canine-influenza/

Instructions for Our Grooming Clients:

If your dog is showing any symptoms or has possibly been exposed, please keep your dog home and contact your veterinarian. Then call us and we’ll reschedule any grooming appointments as needed.  If we observe any symptoms while your dog is in our care, we will notify you ASAP.

Hopefully, the Dog Flu of 2018 will pass quickly and our community will be unaffected. We will bring you additional updates as we learn more.

Our 3 Point Plan for a Peaceful Holiday Season

We Wish You A Peaceful Holiday Season! Here’s Our 3 Point Plan to Help You Make It Happen. 

#1: Stocking Stuffers With Benefits. Need a small gift for your furry kids or for the pet-lovers in your life? We’ve got a full selection of toys and holistic treats that you can trust. And for every KONG toy you purchase we’re donating one to Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS). That’ll make a lot of kitties and doggies very merry.

#2: Local Delivery Service. Is your holiday schedule running you ragged? Use our Alameda-only daytime delivery service so you don’t run out of kibble, kitty litter, flea meds, chew toys, poop bags, or other important supplies. Just give us a call at (510) 523-7768. For a $50 minimum order, we’ll deliver whatever you need to your street-level Alameda doorstep. For FREE!

#3 Donate Food for Displaced Pets. For just $7 a bag you can amplify year-end giving to Hopalong & Second Chance Rescue with your purchase of Tender & True Organic pet food. This high quality, grain-free product is a huge boost for the cats and dogs that Hopalong has pulled from multiple disaster areas. We’re matching these special donations through December 31st. Buy a bag or two or more. We’d love to see the whole inventory go to them!

Thank You for Shopping Local and Helping the Pets in Our Community.
— The Animal Lovers of Alameda See Spot Run: Jen, Anna, Kelly, Amanda (photo top row) and Karen, Trish, Cynthia (bottom row)

#ShopSmall. Donate Local.

The best part about being a small business in a small town is that when something serious happens or you need help, people pay attention. They ask what they can do. Then they proceed to amaze you.

Since we kicked off our matching pet food drive last month for our adoption partner, Hopalong & Second Chance Rescue, we’ve been humbled by the generosity of our customers. Over the past weeks they’ve helped us donate a mountain of pet food and supplies for the cats and dogs displaced by the fires.

For Hopalong, fostering these pets and finding them new homes is ongoing. It takes time, plus a whole lot of kibble.

So we’re extending our pet food drive through the end of December. We’ll match every $7 bag of Tender & True organic, grain-free food that you purchase from us for Hopalong. This specially priced holistic pet food helps the dogs and cats that need a healthier alternative to other brands.

Because of the fires, the Season of Giving started early this year, well in advance of any jingle bells. For us, it’s become a Season of Gratitude. We are blessed to be among so many animal lovers and rescuers in our community who are willing to do so much.

We’re also deeply appreciative to EVERYONE who recently helped us find a retirement home for our store kitties, Sailor & Grif. They’re now living happily right here in Alameda with their new mom, local textile artisan Jennifer Daley, her husband Andreas, and their cat Tilley.

With Deepest Thanks,

Cynthia Schorle & The Alameda See Spot Run Team

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 Blue Buffalo 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 check out TreeHousePuppies for variety of treats.

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®.

eHome Remedies 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. If you want to learn the best way to brush their teeth subscribe here for some tips and tricks.

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 (this page talks about the topic in detail). 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.

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