How to Switch Dog Foods

Owners can find themselves in the position of having to switch dog foods for any number of reasons. Maybe your dog has been diagnosed with a dietary responsive disease. Perhaps it’s time to switch from puppy to adult food or from adult to mature food. Or maybe you’ve simply decided that your dog’s current diet isn’t the best choice for him anymore.

Whatever the reason for the change, owners commonly ask, “What is the best way to switch dog foods?” The pat answer that you’ll often hear is “gradually,” but this can mean different things to different people and it may not always be the ideal way to go. So, here’s my take on the best way to change your dog’s diet under a couple of different scenarios. Why does it matter what method I use to change my dog’s diet? Well, sometimes it doesn’t. If you have a dog with an iron stomach, you can probably get away with any method you want. After all, in comparison to some of the things these dogs eat with no ill-effects, moving from Brand A to Brand B, or a switch from a beef-based to a chicken-based diet is relatively benign.

But for the rest of you out there who are either uncertain of the nature of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract or, like me, know you have a dog that’s just looking for an excuse to develop diarrhea (or lose its appetite, vomit, etc.), gradually is usually the way to go. The directions I hand out to my clients under the circumstances I just outlined read as such:

    • Day 1 – Mix 20% of the new food with 80% of the old.
    • Day 2 – Mix 40% of the new food with 60% of the old.
    • Day 3 – Mix 60% of the new food with 40% of the old.
    • Day 4 – Mix 80% of the new food with 20% of the old.
    • Day 5 – Feed 100% of the new food.

*If at any point during this process your dog stops eating or develops vomiting or diarrhea, do not feed any more of the new food and call the office.

There are times, however, when I do recommend the cold turkey approach. In cases of gastroenteritis, heart failure, kidney disease, some type of bladder stones, canine cognitive dysfunction or food allergies, I will use a prescription diet as I would a medicine because I want the benefits to kick in ASAP. If we have reason to be particularly concerned about a dog developing gastrointestinal distress, I might recommend a slower approach or add a probiotic or other medication into the mix, but I’ve rarely had to do so.

On the other hand, if your dog is a picky eater or if you are dealing with a chronic condition like obesity or osteoarthritis, where delaying full implementation of the new diet by a couple of days won’t do any harm, mixing the old and new foods together for a few days can maximize the chances that your dog will be receptive to the change. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all method for changing from one dog food to another. Perhaps the best rule of thumb is to use the gradual approach unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

February is Pet Dental Health Month

Time to Brush Up on Your Pet’s Oral Care

from Veterinary Pet Insurance

February is pet dental health awareness month. When was the last time you checked Max or Fluffy’s pearly (or not-so-pearly) whites…or took them to the veterinarian for a dental exam?

Many pet owners may not realize just how crucial oral care is; according to the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA), an organization dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

The good news: More pets are getting the care they need. In 2013, VPI policyholders filed more than $10.2 million in claims for dental care. Preventive dental care can help prevent severe pet health problems.

Dental Disease Can Be Deadly

While those are dangerously high numbers, research indicates that when it comes to our fuzzy friends, dental care is not a priority. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey reports that only 14% of dogs and 9% of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office.

“Dental care is key in maintaining a pet’s overall health,” says Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI).

Gross says bacteria in an animal’s mouth can get into a pet’s bloodstream and infuse different organs, causing infections that can potentially cause death. The AVMA reports the organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and even the nervous system.

The AVMA reports the organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and even the nervous system.

Three Simple Steps to Dental Care

Pet owners can brush up on their four-legged friends’ oral care by following three simple guidelines outlined by the American Veterinary Dental Society:

Vet examines dog's teeth
  • Take your pet to get a dental exam. Your pet should have a routine veterinarian examination, including a careful examination of his teeth and gums, at least once a year.
  • Start an at-home regimen. Ask your veterinarian to suggest nutritional supplements and a regular teeth brushing schedule or a specially formulated food proven to help remove plaque and tarter from your pet’s teeth.
  • Schedule dental cleanings. Take your pet for regular dental checkups.

Signs Of Dental Disease

So, what are some indicators that your cat or dog may have dental disease? The American Veterinary Dental College, the clinical specialist organization for veterinary dentists, lists the following on their Web site:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose or discolored teeth or teeth covered in tartar
  • Your pet is not comfortable with you touching within the mouth area
  • Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight

Your pet’s dental health is just as important as your own; if your pet shows any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Buy a Wooden Toybox and Save 20% on Accessories and Toys!

You’ve got pet toys everywhere you look – what to do?

It’s time to make a trip to the Barkery to pick up one of our new charming wooden toy boxes!

Perfect for keeping things tidy (surely Bandit can play with one or two toys at a time) – and to add to the collection, you’ll get 20% off any new accessories or toys that you can fit in the box!  Hugs close and soothes anxiety.

We’ve got everything from leashes to squeaky toys, and calming thundershirts to catnip. You can view some of our collection online by clicking here, but stop in today to see the full array!

Cat Dental Care

In this article by Dr. Jennifer Coates from Pet360, she explains how to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy:

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll just say it at here at the beginning: I never have brushed any of my cats’ teeth. Not once.

I know I should; I council my clients that they should. But when I get the “you’ve got to be kidding me” look, I quickly offer alternatives that, while not as effective as tooth brushing, still do help maintain feline oral health. I don’t dispute the facts showing that daily tooth brushing not only helps maintain the health of a cat’s teeth and gums, but can also prevent more widespread health problems down the line. My decision was purely practical, originating at a time when I lived with four cats, four dogs, and two horses. If I was going to brush all those teeth every day, I wasn’t going to get much else accomplished. And since brushing teeth less frequently than every other day or so doesn’t seem to have much benefit, I just decided to forgo it completely. So if you brush your cat’s teeth every day, keep up the good work. I am impressed. For the rest of us slackers out here, here are a few of the other options that are worth considering.

  • Regular dry foods don’t do much to keep a cat’s teeth clean, but some of the diets that have been specially formulated to help prevent dental disease do actually help. Look for a product that carries the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. You do not need to feed one of these “dental diets” exclusively. You can offer a small handful of kibbles once or twice a day (decreasing your cat’s other food to compensate for the extra calories) and still get some benefit.
  • Drinking-water additives are extremely easy to use. Again, the VOHC seal of approval will let you know whether or not a particular product has undergone unbiased testing.
  • And finally, there is what I call tooth-wiping. Simply wrap one of your fingers in a piece of gauze (the rough texture is ideal), apply a small amount of a feline oral-care product to it, and run your finger once along your cat’s teeth on each side of the mouth. You’ll wipe away some of the plaque that is developing and put the active ingredients where they are needed most, from the back of the mouth up to the canine teeth. The whole procedure should take a total of about ten seconds … if your cat is cooperative, that is.

A lack of time (or desire) to brush your cats’ teeth isn’t an excuse to ignore their mouths, however. Do what you can preventative-wise, schedule a dental prophylaxis (exam, cleaning, X-rays, etc.) when one is needed, and if a problem like a broken tooth develops, deal with it quickly. Your cats may not thank you, but they’ll be healthier because of your efforts.

Winter Walking Dangers

Keep your pets safe outside this winter by using these tips from pet360.barkeryblog3

If your dog or cat spends any amount of time outdoors, winter can be a particularly dangerous time. While the freshly fallen snow can make the world appear as a winter wonderland, there are a lot of hidden hazards to be aware of. Ice covered sidewalks, chemicals scattered across driveways and walkways, these conditions can be hazardous to animals and humans alike. Keep yourself and your pet safe this winter season by being aware and taking precautions.

Chemicals on the Ground

It is common practice to apply chemicals to sidewalks and driveways so that the ice can be made to melt, or just to make it so that the feet can grip the ground easier. The problem with these chemicals is that they get onto animals’ unprotected feet, where they can irritate the skin or get into small abrasions in the foot pads. The animal may also lick the chemicals off of their feet and ingest them, resulting in stomach and intestinal problems. There are products that are relatively safe for animals, but not everyone uses a pet-friendly product for their sidewalks and driveways.

One solution is to outfit your dog with a set of booties, so that the foot pads are protected. Booties are also good for keeping hard snow and ice out of the spaces between the toes, something that can be very painful for an animal.

If your pet will not tolerate wearing booties, you will need to be vigilant about cleaning your pet’s feet and underside as soon as you return home from a walk. A simple rag that has been dipped in warm water will do the job.

It is also a good idea to make a habit of checking your dog or cat’s feet on a regular basis after they come in from outside to be sure that the footpads and toes are clean and free of abrasions.

Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) Poisoning

Another common winter practice is the changing of antifreeze/coolant in the car engine. There will always be unintentional spills to watch out for, and not everyone is conscientious about cleaning up the spills in the driveway or on the garage floor. While a lot of companies have changed the formula of their antifreeze products so that they do not have a sweet taste, there are still plenty of antifreeze products on the market that do have that tempting sweet smell and taste to them. Dogs and cats, of course, do not know any better, and they lap up spilled antifreeze solutions when they find them on the ground.

The main ingredient of most antifreeze solutions is ethylene glycol, an extremely toxic chemical that leads to a lot of accidental illnesses and deaths in pets every year. If there is no one around to witness the pet ingesting antifreeze and the symptoms are not treated immediately, the animal may suffer severe nervous system and kidney damage within a short period after ingestion. Even the newer pet-safe products have a degree of toxicity, and the only way to avoid accidental poisoning is keep the products out of reach of pets, and off of the ground.

All antifreeze products need to be carefully secured in an area that is out of reach for pets — and children, for that matter. All spills should be cleaned immediately using a water hose or similar procedure. In addition, if you are out walking and see a puddle in the street or on a driveway, do not let your pet walk through it or drink from it.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, the best thing you can do is call your veterinarian or local emergency animal clinic immediately. Ethylene glycol is a fast acting chemical, and minutes can make a difference.


Your pet may not be complaining about the cold, and is probably even having a blast playing in the snow, but just like us, animals do not always notice that their skin has started to feel funny. As the body’s temperature decreases in response to the outdoor temperature, blood is diverted to the core systems, leaving the outer organ, the skin, at risk of freezing. Once the skin has been frozen by the ice and snow, there is tissue damage, basically causing a condition akin to burning. At highest risk for frostbite are the footpads, nose, ear tips and tail.

Upon returning home after being outdoors for an extended time, or when the temperatures are especially low, check your pet’s risk points (along with the rest of the body). Early symptoms of frostbite include pale, hard skin that remains very cold even after being inside. As the skin warms, it may swell and change to a red color.

Your pet may try to relieve the irritation by licking and chewing on the skin, in which case you will need to have the skin treated and covered immediately before permanent damage is done.

Never apply direct heat to the skin, water or otherwise. Only tepid to warm water should be used on the skin, and non-electric blankets to cover the animal. You may need to consult with a veterinarian to make sure that the condition is not severe.

In some cases of severe frostbite the tissue needs to be removed, or the limb removed before the dead tissue allows infection to set in.


One way to project your dog’s paws is by using an all natural paw protector called Paw Stik. Is is made with bees wax, coconut oil and shea butter to protect your dog’s paws from salt, snow, and ice.

Litter Box

If you’re having problems with your cat using the litter box, there are reasons this could be happening. Read this article by Lisa Pierson to learn about the top reasons this happens and how to fix it.


Urinating and defecating outside of the litter box, also known as “inappropriate elimination,” is one of the most common reasons for a cat to be relinquished to a shelter or, in some cases, abused.  Sadly, in most cases it is the fault of the human in charge of the litter box duties making this an ‘appropriate elimination’ issue because who would want to walk in their own urine and feces?

The “fault” usually involves a dirty box or one that is too small and it is perfectly ‘appropriate’ for a cat to seek out a cleaner place to do his or her elimination.  Wouldn’t you consider doing the same thing if you were not offered a clean bathroom?

Punishing these cats is not only inhumane but is ineffective and will often make things worse.

When someone is asked how often they flush their toilet, the answer is usually, “every time it is used, of course!”   We all know how repulsive ‘porta-potties’ are and we are not even asked to walk around in our own waste like humans often ask of their cats!

So why do we expect our cats to use dirty litter boxes instead of just going some place else?

Humans seem to forget that a cat’s sense of smell is infinitely more sensitive than our own.  Add to this the instinctive nature of the cat to be clean and it is easy to see how a dirty litter box often spells disaster.

Think about how a wild cat would handle his bathroom duties.  He would not be confined to a 1’ x 2’ ‘bathroom.’ He would not choose to walk around in his own waste.  He would simply choose another plot of land and that “plot of land” could be behind your sofa or in another area of your home.

Here are the top reasons that your cat is no longer using their litter boxes:

  • Dirty litter box(es)
  • Poor choice of litter form (using pellets/crystals/non-clumping litter which are uncomfortable to walk on and do not allow for complete urine removal)
  • Poor location of litter box(es)
  • Blocked from the box by a dominant feline housemate
  • Unable to relax and get to the box, or use it, due to fear of a strange human, dog, active child, loud noise, etc., in the house environment
  • Box size is too small
  • Too few boxes
  • Medical problem(s) -This should always be a serious consideration.

Read more at to learn about solutions to this problem.

All Natural Dog Shampoo

Pavia Proporsoothe Shampoo is an all natural shampoo made with the best ingredients such as oatmeal extract and  natural glycerin. These are the types of ingredients that make shampoo anti-itch, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. barkery blog 1

Today more than ever it is important to use a gentle yet effective dog shampoo on our pets. The reasons are simple – we have more and more chemicals in our environment that are landing on, and often, staying our our pets on their skin and fur. Adding to this the strong use of pesticides has caused fleas and mosquitoes to seek out new home; and a dog becomes a great choice. So using a good all natural dog shampoo will go a far way at providing your dogs the needed cleansing ability during a bath to clean out the environmental chemicals in their coat and skin, while at the same time moisturizing and cleaning to avoid infections. A great ingredient to look for in organic and natural dog shampoo products is Aloe Vera juice; it does great at moisturizing after the bath!

The natural juice moisturizes great and will also help create a nice shine to the fur of your dog. Some other good ingredients to look for in natural dog shampoos are essential oils as these oils do a great job removing mosquitoes and fleas naturally. They also help heal any damaged skin and will help to stop itching and scratching.

Continue reading this article here to learn about what important ingredients to look for in your dog’s shampoo.

Raw Bone Dental Safety

With Pet Dental Health Month coming up in February, check out this info from the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal  on raw bone safety. 

Jodie Gruenstern, DVM, CVA says, “The major purpose of feeding raw bones is to clean the teeth. This can only be accomplished if the pet chews the bone. Gulping is not beneficial…A variety of bone types are generally fed as part of a raw diet. In addition to eating flesh and organs, these raw-fed dogs need to ingest a variety of bone types that also contain meat, marrow and cartilage, to satisfy nutrient needs. When bones are simply fed for recreational purposes, the composition becomes less important, but has an impact on safety and enjoyment.”

Gruenstern goes on to discuss factors to consider when giving your pet a raw bone, and how to choose the right-sized bone for the right-sized pet.

“It is not as simple as small pet/small bone or large pet/large bone. Owners should be encouraged to observe how their pet chews and ingests a bone.” She then covers different types of bones and bone parts pertinent for cleaning teeth.

Reported problems include:

  • Too much bone can harden stool
  • Too much marrow causing diarrhea
  •  Dogs can sometimes chip or break teeth on raw bones
  • Bacterial contamination is a possibility

Continue reading the full article by clicking here