Choosing a Quality Dry Dog Food

Most of us know that our dogs will eat anything, but feeding your dog a high quality well-balanced food is one of the best things a responsible pet owner can do for his or her pet. A good food serves as a health foundation and will strengthen the immune system, maintain digestive health, keep your vet bills low, and give your dog a longer, healthier life.

Since there are so many options when it comes to dog food, it is important to know what to look for and what to avoid when choosing a diet.

Quality Indications:

  • Lots of animal protein at the top of the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed by weight, so you want to see the top quality animal protein at the top of the list; the first ingredient should be a “named” animal protein source (see next bullet).
  • A named animal protein. Chicken, beef, lamb, and so on. “Meat” is an example of a low-quality protein source of an unknown origin. Animal protein “meals” should also be from a named species.
  • An animal protein meal in a supporting role when a fresh meat is first on the ingredient list. This is to supplement the total animal protein in the diet. Since fresh meat contains  65 to 75 percent water, another source of animal protein should be at the top of that list. Animal protein “meals” – meat, bone, skin, and connective tissue that’s been rendered and dried – contain only about 10 percent moisture and up to 65 percent protein.
  • Whole vegetables, fruits, and grains. Fresh, unprocessed food ingredients contain nutrients in their all-natural state. Keeping the ingredients whole keeps all of their vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants intact.
  • A “best by” date that’s at least six months away. A best-by date that’s 10 or 11 months away is ideal; it means the food was made very recently. Foods made with synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin) may have a “best by” date as much as two years past the date it was made.

What To Avoid:

  • Meat by-products or poultry by-products. By-products are a lower-cost “parts” of an animal other than meat, derived from slaughtered or already dead mammals – beaks, feet, feathers, bone, organs, and so on. Processors don’t typically keep by-products clean or fresh. Because you can never know the source of the meat used to make by-product meals, it is best to avoid them altogether.
  • A “generic” fat source. Such as “animal fat.” The fat can literally come from any fat of animal origin, including used restaurant grease and fats from roadkill. “Poultry fat” is not as vague as “animal fat,” but a specific protein is better, and more traceable.
  • Added sweeteners. Dogs, like humans, enjoy the taste of sweet foods. Sweeteners persuade dogs to eat foods comprised of mainly grain fragments, which contain little healthy animal protein.
  • Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are red-flag ingredients that should definitely be avoided. Your dog is indifferent about the color of his food, and it should be naturally flavored based on its quality ingredients. Natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract can all be used as natural preservatives.

 

For more on quality dog food indicators, please visit:

Healthy Pets with Dr. Karen Becker

Whole Dog Journal

 

Diarrhea Home Remedies

If you have a dog at home, the occasional diarrhea episode is to be expected. It’s not really a matter of if your dog will experience it, but when. Knowing what to expect when your dog has loose stools – and how to manage it – is good to have, especially before you need it. Dr. Karen Becker gives her recommendation to cure diarrhea episodes at home.

Causes of Diarrhea

There are many causes of diarrhea, but the most common reason by far is dietary indiscretion, which means your pet ate something he shouldn’t have and his body is trying to get rid of it as soon as possible.

If your dog eats a stick or a chew toy, diarrhea or loose stools are commonly the result. Just as your body is designed to eat different foods every day and not have diarrhea, so is your pet’s. If you feed your dog or cat the same food day after day, month after month, year in and year out, then suddenly switch to a new diet, a case of diarrhea is just about guaranteed.

It’s not the fault of the different food — it’s because your pet’s gut has been conditioned to process only one type of food, which is not ideal, nutritionally or physiologically.

Transitioning Your Pet to a Varied Diet

The goal is to diversify your pet’s diet to include a variety of foods with different nutrient contents, which ultimately fosters a diversified gut microbiome, and makes the digestive system strong and resilient.

Up to 80 percent of your pet’s immune system is located within the GI tract, so the more you focus on creating good gut health, the healthier your pet will be overall.

If you want to feed your pet a different food, you have to make the transition very slowly. A slow dietary transition means days to weeks for most dogs, and often weeks to months for cats. Start by feeding 10 percent new food blended with 90 percent old food for several days. Watch your pet’s stool and if all seems well, move to 20 percent new/80 percent old. Keep watching for stool changes and if none occur, move to 30 percent new food and 70 percent old, and so on, until you’re feeding only the new diet. The process should be slow enough that no bowel changes occur.

Treating a Pet With Diarrhea at Home

If your dog or cat is otherwise healthy and his behavior is normal, Dr. Becker recommends to withhold food — not water, just food — for 12 hours. A short-term fast gives the GI tract a chance to rest, repair and restore itself. Tissues can only heal when they’re resting.

Follow the 12-hour food fast with a bland diet. Dr. Becker recommends cooked, fat-free ground turkey and 100 percent canned pumpkin. If canned pumpkin isn’t available, you can use fresh, steamed pumpkin. If you can’t use either one of those, you can use cooked sweet potato or even cooked white potato.

Other Treatment Suggestions

Dr. Becker also recommends keeping some slippery elm on hand. Slippery elm is a neutral fiber source that works really well to ease episodes of diarrhea. It reduces GI inflammation and acts as a non-irritating source of fiber to bulk up the stool and slow down GI transit time.

Give your dog or cat about a half a teaspoon or a capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight with every bland meal. In addition to slippery elm, many pet owners have good luck with herbs such as peppermint, fennel or chamomile. These are especially helpful for the cramping and other uncomfortable GI symptoms that come with diarrhea.

If your dog’s diarrhea isn’t resolving or keeps returning, collect a sample of the stool and take it to your vet. Your vet can test it and do bloodwork to see if an infection is present. It may also be necessary to treat your dog for dehydration in the event that your pup has lost too much fluid.

 

Human Behaviors That Stress Out Your Dog

Your dog can become stressed for a variety of reasons. For example, dogs on leashes typically feel stress when they encounter another dog, especially not on a leash. This is probably because it’s difficult to greet the other dog in a natural fashion while being tied to its owner. But there are triggers by humans that most pet owners do not realize can create stress for their dog. The veterinary publication dvm360 has compiled a list of stress triggers for dogs, and some of them may surprise you.

10 Ways to Stress Out Your Dog

  1. Punish him for behaving like a dog. Your canine companion is a creature of opportunity, and the best way to prevent him from taking advantage of opportunities to misbehave is to not leave tantalizing items within his reach. Ensure the only opportunities you provide your dog are ones he can succeed at.
  2. Tell her “no” over and over. If your dog is doing something she shouldn’t be doing, telling her “no” will probably cause her to stop the behavior temporarily. However, saying no to a dog without offering an alternative turns your “no” into merely an interruption, not a request or demand. It is best to show your dog what you want her to do instead, so she doesn’t turn back to that behavior.
  3. Give her a variety of commands for a single behavior. Many pet guardians assume their dog speaks English, and use different phrases interchangeably as commands. Your dog may know you are commanding her, but isn’t quite sure what you want her to do. Train your dog with simple, preferably one-word commands and use only those words to communicate to prevent confusion.
  4. Tell him, “it’s okay.” Many pet guardians use this phrase in situations where your pet knows he is not okay. Trying to comfort your dog by saying “it’s okay,” will become a verbal cue to panic, rather than cope with an anxiety-producing situation.
  5. Pull his leash. A dog that is properly trained on a leash doesn’t typically do a lot of pulling, so if you are constantly yanking to redirect him, it may be time to refresh his leash manners. It’s important to understand that your dog will naturally stop and sniff as often as possible. Be patient with your pet and allow him a reasonable amount of time to smell-inspect his outdoor territory.
  6. Hold him while you hug or kiss him. Canines don’t naturally get these forms of affection and can be confused by them – especially when the hugger/kisser is a relative stranger. Dogs can feel restrained by being hugged or held and kissed, so it’s best to stick to stroking and petting, which dogs usually can’t get enough of.
  7. Stare at her. Most people are uncomfortable being stared at by other people, and the same can be true for your dog. Dogs view staring as a confrontational signal, which naturally triggers a stress response. There’s no need to stare at your dog unless you are returning her gaze.
  8. Point or shake your finger at her. The finger shaking stance is an automatic stress-trigger for dogs, especially since you are normally doing it while standing over her in a menacing posture and using a tone of voice that signals displeasure. Many guilty dog looks come from pointing your finger, but your dog may actually just be feeling confused and stressed.
  9. Tell him to “get down” when he jumps up. If you use the verbal cue “down” to ask your dog to go from a sit to a lie-down, it’s not going to work in a situation where he is jumping on a person or something else. Try training him to stop jumping by using the command “off” instead to prevent confusion and stress from trying to understand your command.
  10. Wake her up. Unless there’s a pressing reason to wake up your dog, try to avoid it. Being shaken or shouted awake is stressful for all of us.

 

For more on how humans trigger stress in dogs, visit Dr. Karen Becker’s article here.

Brookside Barkery

Prevent Fleas & Ticks In a Non-Toxic Way

Tick and flea season is rapidly approaching, and it is time to start thinking about prevention for your furry friend. Tick and flea control can be challenging for pet owners, especially when you are searching for a product that is natural and non-toxic.

Dogs Naturally Magazine breaks down the establishment of fleas and ticks on your pets body using this helpful graphic. This shows that 95% of fleas on your pet’s body start from eggs, and only 5% of pests affecting your pet’s body are “adult” fleas that are visible and recognizable. The key to flea and tick prevention is to target the eggs, larvae, and pupae in order to prevent future generations from being born.

Unfortunately, most flea control products are directed at the bothersome adults, and most of these are toxic chemicals that are poisonous to the pet and its person.

In case you’ve had only good experiences with putting topical pesticides on your animal, many of  your neighbors have not. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating.

This directly from the EPA itself:

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets.”

The good news is that there are effective, safe, non-toxic ways to address the flea population where it counts and not make everyone sick in doing so.

Prevent Pests the Natural Way

  • Bathe your dog with a natural flea and tick shampoo. Nature’s Specialties is a favorite at Brookside Barkery and is a safe, non-toxic formula that deep cleanses and soothes skin irritations caused by flea and tick infestations. Leaving the lathered shampoo on for 5-10 minutes will drown out the “adult” fleas and leave your pet’s skin feeling less irritated.
  • Spray a natural pest repellent on your dog and the outdoor area your dog spends time in. Biopel is a natural pest defense that repels fleas, flies, ants, and mosquitos, and is safe to use around pets, your furniture, and your bedding. BioPel also comes in an outdoor version to use on your lawn, trees, and gardens and does not contain any harsh chemicals. Another all-natural flea and tick killer/repellant is Wondercide, and it is safe to use around your home, around humans, and around pets.

Many pet owners may be concerned about the effectiveness of all-natural flea and tick preventative, especially if their dog is frequently outside, in different environments, or at a higher risk for attracting pests. Although it is not 100% chemical free, Seresto Flea and Tick Collars are a smart choice for pet owners that want long-term, less toxic flea control.

The active ingredients in Seresto are stored within the collar. They are released in low concentrations and are distributed over your dog’s hair and skin surface for 8 months. As active ingredients wear off over time, Seresto for dogs continuously replenishes the skin and coat with a new supply of active ingredients. Fleas and ticks are killed through contact with the active ingredients — no biting required.

 

If you have questions regarding your pet’s protection against pests, stop into Brookside Barkery in Lee’s Summit or Brookside, and ask an associate what will work best for your pet.

 

Titer Testing: An Alternative to Annual Vaccinations

For those of us that share lives with our pets, preventative health care, including vaccinations, is typically at the top of our lists. Our veterinarians send us post cards recommending that our pets be vaccinated annually for rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and MLV (modified live virus).

Here’s what your vet doesn’t tell you:

  • Over-vaccinating can cause diseases.
  • Vaccines do NOT improve the immune system.
  • Annual “booster shots” are a BAD idea.
  • Many breeders choose no vaccinations.
  • Over-vaccinating can trigger cancer.
  • Many blame pet allergies on results cause by over-vaccinating.

Many responsible pet owners simply aren’t aware of the possible dangers inherent in immunizations. Since vaccinations stay in your pet’s body for much longer than the 1-year recommendation by vets, over-vaccinating is a common mistake made by pet owners. Giving your pet a vaccine when your pet is already immune doesn’t increase its immunity, but does increase unnecessary risk to your animal and can cause a variety of health risks and fatal diseases, including:

  • Vaccine-induced sarcomas
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Tumors
  • Seizures

For those of you who now have questions about what is best for your pet, you have an alternative choice by asking your vet about antibody titer testing. Titer tests can prove that your pet does not need to be vaccinated, and that the old shot is still doing its job just fine. Titer tests measure the amount of antibodies to a certain disease that are currently in the blood. By doing this test, you will learn your pet’s current immunization levels and thus have a better understanding of what vaccinations are truly “necessary,” as recommended by your vet.

No one in town cares for your pet’s whole health like the Barkery. That is why we challenge you, on your next annual vaccination visit, to request a titer test and see the results for yourself. The alternative test is the same cost as your vaccinations, so you have nothing to lose other than the overall wellness of your pet by over-vaccinating.

 

For more on antibody titer testing, visit veterinarian Dr. Becker’s article here.

Puppy Love: Study Explains the Bond Between Human and Dog

Have you ever looked into your dog’s eyes and wondered, “why is my dog so charming?” What is it about your dog’s adoring gaze that makes it so powerful? A new study by Japanese scientist Miho Nagasawa seems to have found the answer, and it has to do with something called the cuddle chemical, love hormone, or oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a substance in the blood that encourages bonding. Levels of oxytocin increase, for example, when a mother feeds her newborn baby. High levels of the “love hormone” have also been observed in couples in the first six months of a relationship. According to Nagasawa’s study, levels of oxytocin can also go up when we look deeply into the eyes of a dog.

The Cuddle Chemical/Love Hormone

Humans and dogs have been working together for nearly 30,000 years. In order to better understand how the love hormone worked between dogs and humans, Nagasawa and his team conducted an experiment. They tested levels of oxytocin in dogs and humans, and learned that oxytocin levels in both humans and dogs were higher after interaction with one another. The same was not true for wolves and their human handlers.

The results of this study tell us a lot about the history of the bond between humans and dogs. Over time, dogs that have interacted with humans have become more loyal to their human partners. So loyal, in fact, that they are capable of releasing a “love hormone” just by gazing into our eyes.

As expected, puppy love is just as powerful as love from other humans. The bond you form with your pet is remarkably similar to the bond you form with your child or significant other. This Valentine’s Day, make sure you share the love with your pet too!

Read more about puppy love here.

Find out how to share the love this week at Brookside Barkery.

 

 

5 Benefits of Feeding a Raw Diet

When you believe that fresh is best, that belief makes it into every meal – including your pet’s! As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your pet’s needs are being met, including a healthy diet. The quality of your pet’s diet will have a direct impact on his general health and wellbeing, and can seriously impact your dog’s lifespan in general.

What is a Raw Diet?

A raw food diet for your pet is exactly what it sounds like – a diet made up of fresh, raw foods. While there are different ways to create a raw food diet for dogs, the most popular and beneficial options consist of mostly raw meat and bones, fortified with some fruits and vegetables or supplements to ensure nutritional balance.

Dogs are carnivorous animals, which means their bodies are adapted to gaining nutrition from animal-based protein. This mean that meat should be the primary focus in a dog’s diet.

The Benefits of Raw Diets

  1. Improved Nutrition – Raw diets are not cooked, so the original nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved. Synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements added to commercial dog and cat food are not necessary since the diet is fresh and never cooked.
  2. Healthy/Regular Digestion – Both dogs and cats have short digestive tracts which limits their ability to digest fibrous plant foods. Sine raw food is largely meat based, it requires less energy for your pet to digest, which in turn makes the digestive system work more smoothly and regulary – and results in fewer, firmer stools.
  3. Cleaner Teeth – The process of chewing raw meats and raw bones provide dental benefits by helping to scrape the plaque off the surface of your pet’s teeth. The chewing process also massages your dog’s gums, increasing circulation.
  4. Shinier Coat – A diet that consists of fresh, natural foods will give your dog the nutrients it needs and help to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Raw food diets include essential fatty acids which are key to optimal skin and coat health.
  5. Relief from Food Allergies/Sensitivities – The more dogs are exposed to potential, unnatural allergens such as corn, wheat, and soy, the more likely they are to develop a reaction. Raw food diets are typically grain-free which reduces the risk for allergic reactions.

In the end, it is completely up to you what to feed your pet. Because your pet’s diet has a direct impact on his well-being, it is important to choose a diet that provides for his nutritional needs in a healthy, wholesome way.

There has never been a better time to start feeding raw, or simply substituting a raw meal here and there. Huge savings are available this month at The Barkery on OC RAW DOG frozen/raw dog food. Stop in and ask a Barkery Associate how feeding a raw diet can benefit your furry friend.

 

Read more on raw diets here.

Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fats: Dietary Supplement or Dietary Dilemma?

A recent article surfaced on social media from an anonymous dog owner that noticed her three-year-old Neopolitan Mastiff became terribly lame after eating 8 fish oil tablets a day. One day, her dog had trouble rising and it was discovered that he was suffering from Vitamin E deficiency. She immediately stopped giving him fish oil supplements and switched to Vitamin E, and within a week, her dog was completely back to normal.

Should You Supplement Fish Oil for Your Pet?

In today’s modern world, supplementing your dog’s diet with omega-3 rich foods like fish oil would be a good idea, right? Well, yes. But instead of mindlessly supplementing our dog’s diet with fish oil, shouldn’t we first look at the reason why they might need it? Because, as one Neopolitan Mastiff owner found out, the descent into fish oil and omega-3 supplementation can be a slippery slope indeed.

How Do Dogs Get Omega Fats?

Sources of omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Hopefully a small part of you thought “well that shouldn’t matter because my dog doesn’t eat vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.” Hopefully, you’re beginning to see that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids aren’t all that natural for dogs.

We all know that dogs are carnivores, right? We know that dogs don’t have any nutritional requirement for grains. Just as modern diets have caused chronic health issues in  people, they’re doing the same to our dogs. There is one really big reason why dogs need fish oil in the first place: processed dog food contains omega-6 rich plant oils and grains.

Instead of feeding our dogs fish oil, wouldn’t it be really good idea to feed them what they’re supposed to eat – and then perhaps they wouldn’t need the fish oil? Slapping a fish oil Band-Aid on a poorly constructed, processed diet certainly isn’t the best thing you can do for your dog’s health, because there are some real concerns with feeding fish oil in the long term. In the meantime, here are some important diet changes you should make for your dog before reaching for the fish oil tablets:

  • Feed your dog a meat-based diet, free of grains.
  • Avoid vegetable oils of any kind. They’re loaded with omega-6 fats and your dog doesn’t need them.
  • Look for grass-fed meats whenever possible. These will have a better balance of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Look out for vegetable oil in disguise (many ingredient lists can disguise vegetable oil as other ingredients).

 

To learn more about supplementing fish oil, click here to see the full article by Dogs Naturally Magazine.

Dental Products That Will Change Your Pet’s Life!

Dental care is a major part of your pet’s overall health. At age 3, 80% of dogs show signs of dental disease. Fortunately, there are easy-to-use products that make dental care much more convenient as a pet owner. AND since February is dental health month, all of these products are 25% off the entire month!

Dental Care Products

  • Thorvin For Animals – Thorvin is a mineral rich powder harvested from sea plants. It delivers a wide array of nutrients essential to your animal’s wellbeing, including thyroid health, shinier coats, clearer eyes, and dental health. Sprinkle this affordable powder on your pet’s dinner, and watch your animal thrive.
  • PlaqueOff Powder – Used for dogs and cats, this powder can also be sprinkled on your pet’s food to prevent bad breath, tartar, and plaque. This powder contains no additives, sugar, or artificial preservatives, so you can be sure you are doing what’s best for your best friend.
  • Maxi/Guard Oral Cleansing Wipes – These wipes combine a professional neutralized zinc formulation with textured and easy to use wipes. They provide a gentle mechanical cleansing of plaque and odor-causing bacteria. The embedded taste-free solution naturally freashens the breath and safely cleanses the oral cavity for dogs and cats. These wipes eliminate Halitosis, reduce plaque and tartar formations, extends time between dental cleanings, and are easy to apply.
  • Seadent for Dogs – Another Organic Kelp and enzyme rich powder used to control plaque and tartar buildup. Support your pup’s healthy teeth and gums by adding to his/her food once daily. Contains no artificial color or preservatives.
  • PetzLife Complete Oral Care Spray – This oral spray contains 100% natural ingredients and comes in many flavors. It can be used to remove plaque buildup or as a preventative to help remove plaque and tartar, control bacteria and freshen breath. It is completely safe to use on both dogs and cats.
  • PetzLife Complete Oral Care Gel – A 100% natural flavored gel that is applied directly to the pet’s gumline to prevent and remove plaque buildup. No brushing is required, but recommended for best results.

Dental Care Treats

  • Flavorit Chew Toys – These bone-shaped toys come in many different flavors, and contain little flavor cells that you fill with your dogs favorite spreadable flavor, such as organic peanut butter, cheese, yogurt, pumpkin, banana, or applesauce. The bone has a no-mess, concave design, and your pup will love the flavorful way of cleaning his/her teeth. Three different sizes are available, depending on the size of your furry friend’s teeth.
  • Brushless Toothpaste by Ark Natural Pet Products – A chewable treat, no brushing required! These all-natural treats are helpful for plaque, tartar, and bad breath and are veterinarian formulated and recommended. These treats contain fresh flavors, ridges, and toothpaste in the center for control of plaque and tartar.
  • Super Breath Dental Care Dog Bone – These bones are made with kelp, parsley, alfalfa and other natural ingredients. Giving one of these bones to your dog once a day will help reduce plaque and massage your dogs gums while at the same time cleaning teeth.
  • ILIO Dentals Teeth Treats – A delicious taste dogs love, combined with a unque shape that allows dogs to chew easy and helps prevent choking. Teeth Treats are easy to digest, and the patented nubbed design slows chewing, ensuring better cleaning of the teeth and gums. These treats are gluten, corn wheat, and soy free.
  • Zuke’s Z-Bones – Edible grain-free dental chews with several delicious flavors. Support a clean mouth and fresh breath with these textured bones that help polish the teeth and keep healthy gums.

How To Care for Your Dogs Dry & Cracked Paws

Dry and cracked paw pads can come from a variety of elements. Usually you can give your dog relief from dry or cracked paws at home, although in certain cases vet care may be necessary.

Interesting Facts about Paw Pads

  • They absorb shock, which spares joints from too much pressure.
  • Dogs sweat through their paw pads, which is why bandages may not stick or may have to be changed frequently.
  • Some dogs have overly sensitive paw pads. Booties may be a requirement, and not a fashion accessory.
  • If you use harsh cleaners on your floors, this may be affecting your dog’s paws. Remember that your dog is licking whatever you use on your floors directly off his/her paws.
  • Excessive paw licking could be due to a pH imbalance, resulting from not enough protein in his/her diet.

Dry Paws

Dog paw pads can become dried out and cracked the same way our feet can. Wintertime and salt on sidewalks commonly causes paw pads to dry out quickly. The best thing to do for dry paws is to apply a moisturizing substance, such as Pawmagik by Muttluks. This roll-on moisturizing balm helps heal and soothe paw pads, and protect them from salt, snow, ice, hot pavement, hot sand or abrasion. Pawmagik is available at both Brookside and Lee’s Summit locations!

Overall Care

Keep the area on your pups feet clean and moisturized until the pad has healed. Once your dog’s paws are healed, cut back on the moisturizing. It is better for dogs to have rough paw pads then soft, tender ones, which could lead to further problems.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

If your dog’s paw is cracked, keep the area clean, moisturized, and bandaged at all times. If it is bleeding, add an antibiotic ointment under the bandage. If your dog doesn’t heal within the week, or becomes very swollen and infected, you should seek veterinary help.