How to Translate a Dog Food Label

“Natural,” “beef flavoring,” or “gluten-free” — how do you know which ingredients to say yes to, which to avoid, and which ones are just plain marketing?

At The Barkery, not only can we help you select a great all-natural food for your dog (or cat), we can also help you distinguish what complicated food labels really mean. Here are some helpful tips for Pet 360 to get you started:

1) Check the Guaranteed Analysis

This is the mandatory guarantee that your dog’s food contains the labeled percentages of crude protein, fat, fiber, and moisture. Keep in mind that wet and dry dog foods use different standards (the percentage of protein in a wet food isn’t the same as in a dry food). Convert wet food to dry matter to compare two different types of food (it’s easy to do online) or ask your vet for the low-down. For instance, 8% protein in a canned cat food isn’t the same as 8% in dry food (wet will be a lower percentage), since canned food contains 75-78% moisture and dry only has 10-12% water.

2) Choose Dog Food that Fits

Size-specific formulas can be helpful in determining what food is the right fit for your dog. A dog food labeled “Small breed formula” caters to toy dogs like Chihuahuas with kibble that’s tinier and a serving size that’s lower in calories; a large breed puppy formula would provide nutrients geared at minimizing diseases such as arthritis for a big dog down the road.

3) Consider Allergy Needs

Does your dog have an allergy? Hughes cites beef and dairy as the most common food allergies in both dogs and cats, while wheat tops the charts for dog allergies. While there is no legal requirement on dog food labels that tout food as wheat- or gluten-free, Hughes says it’s normally a trustworthy claim. If in doubt, scan the ingredient list the first time you buy to make sure.

4) Find the Protein

Ingredients on dog food labels are listed in order of weight, starting with the heaviest. Since your pup needs plenty of good protein sources in his diet, including chicken, beef, fish and lamb, double check that these are listed within the first few label ingredients. Hughes says chicken meal (chicken that’s dehydrated) packs more protein than fresh chicken, which is 80 percent water. The same goes for beef, fish and lamb. So, if chicken meal or beef meal are number one on the ingredient list, you can be sure your dog is getting an appropriate amount of protein.

5) “Flavor” Ingredients

Additions such as “beef flavoring” can help dogs look more favorably upon some foods, giving them a meatier, richer taste. However, pet foods with ample amounts of high quality protein usually make additional flavorings unnecessary. Be sure proteins are in the first few ingredients and that a flavoring is not being used to cover up a grain-heavy formula. If a dog food has flavorings, opt for specifics like “beef flavoring,” instead of “meat flavoring.” This offers a better idea its origins.

6) Opt for Natural Dog Foods

Feeing Fido food labeled “natural” means that all ingredients haven’t had any chemical alternations, according to FDA guidelines. While natural dog foods can be beneficial, be wary of foods touting a “holistic” label. Hughes cautions due to its lack of legal definition, it likely means nada when slapped on a pet food label. Looking to go organic? Like human products, dog food should tout an official organic label from the USDA. If the seal says “organic” it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt. If it says “Made With Organic Ingredients” it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt. If a manufacturer wants to show that a product has some organic ingredients, but they make up less than 70% of the total, it can denote those ingredients as “organic” in the ingredient list, but no seal is used.

7) Opt for ‘Natural’ Dog Foods

This is easy when you visit us at The Barkery! Feeing Fido food labeled “natural” means that all ingredients haven’t had any chemical alternations, according to FDA guidelines. While natural dog foods can be beneficial, be wary of foods touting a “holistic” label. Hughes cautions due to its lack of legal definition, it likely means nada when slapped on a pet food label. Looking to go organic? Like human products, dog food should tout an official organic label from the USDA. If the seal says “organic” it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt. If it says “Made With Organic Ingredients” it must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water or salt. If a manufacturer wants to show that a product has some organic ingredients, but they make up less than 70% of the total, it can denote those ingredients as “organic” in the ingredient list, but no seal is used.

8) Determine AAFCO Nutrient Profile

Dog foods are generally marked with one of two AAFCO labels, “All Life Stages” or “Adult Maintenance.” All Life Stages is formulated to meet requirements for a growing puppy (or a lactating dog), and are generally higher in calories, calcium and phosphorus. All other healthy adult pets should eat “adult maintenance” foods, says Hughes.

9) Find the Nutritional Adequacy Statement

Shop for dog food that meets minimum nutrition requirements, and has a label that confirms this: “[Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (or Cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for [life stage(s)]”.

Even better, look for a food that meets the minimum nutritional requirements “as fed” to real pets in an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defined feeding trial. Then you know the food truly delivers the nutrients that it is “formulated” to. AAFCO feeding trials on real dogs is the gold standard. Brands that do costly feeding trials (including Nestle and Hill’s) will indicate it on the dog food package.

10) Take Caution with Supplemental Food Sources

Dog food that’s labeled “supplemental” isn’t complete and balanced, says Hughes. Unless you have a specific, vet-approved need for it, it’s not something you want to feed your dog for an extended period of time, she says. Check with your vet if in doubt.

Does Your Cat Have Food Allergies?

As humans, we have several options to determine what might be causing an allergic reaction, especially to food. But how can you determine this with a cat? One sign could be a red sore on his body. Arnold Plotnick from Cat Channel, explains.

Plotnick, DVM, notes that, “Many cats with skin allergies will develop a large circular red sore on their back, often right in the middle of their back in the shoulder blade area. Often, the sore will ooze a little serum, and it can sometimes become infected. These are similar to “hot spots” that commonly develop in dogs.”

A few things can cause them:

  • Inflammatory or Auto-Immune Condition Anti-inflammatory medication — steroids such as prednisolone, a synthetic version of cortisone — often cause the sore to resolve. I personally prefer to prescribe tablets rather a steroid injection, as I feel it is safer. Steroids didn’t work, so an inflammatory or an auto-immune condition seems unlikely.
  • Bacterial Infection If a secondary bacterial infection develops, it might need antibiotics. Antibiotics didn’t work, so an infection is unlikely.
  • Flea Allergy Cat flea allergy can certainly cause scabs throughout your cat’s skin, but usually doesn’t cause a persistent open sore. Flea treatment didn’t help, so fleas are unlikely to be the cause.
  • Food Allergy Cat food allergy can present in a variety of ways, although a persistent sore is not your typical presentation. I’m surprised that the steroid injections had no effect. The next step is to determine whether your cat has a food allergy.

How to Determine Whether Your Cat Has Food Allergies
•    Start a hypoallergenic diet. A hypoallergenic diet contains a protein source that your cat has not been exposed to before, such as rabbit, venison or duck. (Most veterinarians carry prescription diets designed for this purpose.)
•    Feed this food, and ONLY this diet, for up to 10 weeks, before concluding whether or not food allergy is the culprit.
•    Alternatively, you may opt for a skin biopsy. This simple procedure will very likely reveal the diagnosis.


NEW Bocce’s Bakery Treats

Bocce’s Bakery is based in NYC and is an all-natural dog biscuit company. The ingredients are so fresh, your dog will think he’s sitting at the dinner table!

From the Bocce website: “We believe dogs deserve real food. Organic, All-Natural, Local, Healthy Food. Our treats are all wheat-free, baked in small batches, with fresh human grade ingredients. No strange chemicals, no watery broths as flavoring. Just real, simple, wholesome ingredients.

Stop in today and select from several flavors, including Apple Pie, chicken Cordon Bleu, Lobster Roll, Truffle Mac n Cheese, Green Juice and PBnJ!

How to Leash Train Successfully

Taken from Dog Channel

A dog pulls on the leash for several reasons:

• Sees, hears, or smells something exciting.
• Excess energy makes it hard for her to contain herself.
• Through experience, realizes that pulling on leash makes the handler walk faster or go the direction she wants.
• Because she can.

Why this dog behavior is a problem

Pulling on leash can start off innocently, but can become a problem for both the dog and the handler. The added pressure of the collar against the dog’s windpipe (trachea) can cause wheezing or coughing, which may be only temporary, or may cause long-term or even permanent damage to the dog. A dog who pulls strongly can cause the handler to lose balance and slip or fall. Strong leash pulling by a large dog, especially near roads with traffic, can lead to serious accidents.
Changing from a neck collar to either a head halter or front-attachment body harness can bring an immediate solution to leash pulling. These tools provide a mechanical advantage for the handler and do not cause pain for the dog. Using a head halter or front-attachment harness immediately allows the handler to control the direction and speed of the dog, without needing a lot of physical strength to accomplish this, but the dog still needs to learn how to walk politely, without pulling at all.

Teaching your dog to walk on a leash

A good way to teach loose-leash walking to a dog who pulls on the leash is to show her that pulling no longer “works” they way she thinks it will. When your dog starts to pull, simply stop walking. Stand still and wait for your dog to realize she’s not getting anywhere.

If your dog continues to pull after you’ve been stopped for three seconds, start very slowly walking backwards. Your dog will realize she’s losing ground now, not gaining it. When the dog turns around to look at you, wondering what’s gone wrong at your end of the leash, the leash will loosen a little bit. At that point, you can praise her and start walking forward again.

By consistently repeating this process each time she pulls, she will start to realize that pulling activates your “brakes” and not your “accelerator,” and the frequency of pulling will gradually diminish and eventually disappear.

Once your dog understands how to walk without pulling when wearing a head collar or body harness, you’ll be able to re-introduce her to walking politely while wearing an ordinary collar.


Natural Dog Food No-Nos

Learn about the 10 most common chemical ingredients a natural dog food shouldn’t have.

By  for Dog Channel.

About the only thing dog-food manufacturers can agree on is that no one can agree on the optimal ingredients – or ratios of them – that belong in Molly’s dinner bowl.

For their part, manufacturers of more natural foods have tried to minimize the use of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. From anti-caking and anti-gelling agents to flavor enhancers and texturizers, dog food has plenty of them.

Here are 10 ingredients sometimes found in “regular” dog food that likely won’t be present in their “natural” counterparts:

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): There’s no getting around it – dry dog food requires preservatives to prevent spoiling. Natural brands tend to use healthier choices such as vitamin C (ascorbate) and vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), though they provide a much shorter shelf life. By contrast, synthetic preservatives BHA and BHT can extend shelf life to as long as one year. There is concern, however, about studies that have suggested they are carcinogenic.

Ethoxyquin: Another chemically synthesized preservative whose long-term safety in dogs has not been studied. Some reports have noted impaired liver and kidney function. Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded the additive does not pose a health threat, in 1997 the government agency reduced the amount of ethoxyquin permitted in dog food.

Propylene glycol: This clear, colorless liquid is used in some semi-moist foods to prevent them from drying out. It may be toxic if consumed in large amounts, causing central nervous system impairment and changes in kidney function. Propylene glycol is also the basis for less-toxic antifreeze used in dairies and breweries.

Propyl gallate: This fine white powder is an antioxidant that helps keep the fats and oils in a food from spoiling. In humans, it can cause stomach and skin irritation.

Coloring agents (such as Red 40 and Yellow 5): Manufacturers use these and other “food, drug, or cosmetic colors” to enhance the appearance of dog foods. More health-conscious brands seek out natural ingredients, such as carrots, for color-enhancement.

Phosphoric acid: This clear liquid is sometimes used as an emulsifier and flavoring agent. It also inhibits discoloration. But concentrated amounts can irritate dogs’ skin and mucous membranes.

Sorbitol: A popular synthetic sugar substitute, sorbitol is used as a flavoring agent. If eaten in large amounts, it can cause diarrhea and intestinal upset in dogs.

Dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate: Vitamin E is commonly used as a preservative in natural dog foods. This synthetic form of the vitamin is not as readily absorbed by the body as its natural counterpart (mixed tocopherols).

Menadione sodium bisulfate vitamin K3: This synthetic version of vitamin K is sometimes also listed as menadione dimethyl-pyrimidinol bisulfate, menadione dimethyl-pyrimidinol bisulfite, and several other variations. Critics contend it is an unnecessary ingredient in dog food, and reports indicate it can irritate mucous membranes, respiratory passages, and the skin.

Compulsive Cat Disorders

Is it just a habit your cat has or a disorder? Pet 360 investigates. 

While some of the ways in which cats behave may seem odd, it is only when the behavior becomes self-harming, obsessive, or repetitive to the point that the cat is neglecting other needs, that it is considered a disorder.

Signs & Symptoms of Compulsive Disorders

Some of the actions and signs associated with compulsive behaviors include:

  • Excessive sucking and chewing
  • Hunting and pouncing at unseen prey
  • Running and chasing
  • Paw shaking
  • Freezing in place
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Self-directed aggression, such as tail chasing or foot chewing
  • Over-grooming or barbering of hair

Causes of Compulsive Disorders

There may be a genetic predisposition to compulsive behaviors. For example, wool sucking is more common in Oriental breeds of cats.

Behavioral problems and compulsive, repetitive behaviors may be instigated by stress due to recent changes in the cat’s life, boredom, allergies, or neurological problems.

Feline hyperesthesia is a possible underlying cause, and this will have to be ruled out by your veterinarian before your cat can be treated for a behavioral disorder.

Diagnosis of Compulsive Disorders

The process begins with differential diagnosis – ruling out or treating any possible underlying medical causes.  Since a variety of medical disorders, including painful conditions, food allergies, neurological diseases, and dermatological disorders, can cause many of these signs, an extensive diagnostic workup will be needed to rule out any underlying medical problems before the behavior itself can be addressed. You will need to share your cat’s health history with your veterinarian, as well as any recent changes in your cat’s life that may have brought about the changes in behavior.

In cases where the cat is exhibiting self-directed or self-harming behaviors, such as tail mutilation or psychogenic alopecia, a dermatological workup will include taking samples of blood and skin for biopsy and culture to rule out infection or parasites. In many cases, doctors choose to begin a diet trial to rule out food allergies

Your veterinarian may also use a corticosteroid to rule out itching or inflammation as the cause for your cat’s behavior.

Treatment for Compulsive Disorders

Addressing the underlying motivation for the behavior is essential for the cat’s long term health. In addition to medical treatment to control the infection and pain of self-mutilation, behavioral therapy and behavioral drugs for compulsive disorders will likely be needed.

If the problem is diagnosed as a compulsive disorder, drugs that can be used to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin may be effective at reducing or controlling some of the signs, but concurrent behavioral therapy and environmental modifications are also likely to be needed.

Some of the changes your veterinarian may recommend are:

  • Providing a predictable daily routine
  • Providing a reward based training approach that shapes desirable responses and avoids the use of punishment or negative reactions
  • Avoiding the use of rewards except when desirable behaviors are exhibited so that the cat learns what behaviors will earn rewards
  • Providing a few regularly scheduled social interaction sessions (including social play, exercise, and training)
  • Minimizing boredom by providing stimulating play toys that use food and textures to maintain interest
  • Between social interaction sessions, providing a quiet area away from the business of the house for rest and relaxation
  • Devices such as E-collars (cones) may be used to prevent the cat from inflicting further damage on its body until the habits can be changed

Prevention of Behavioral Disorders

Some cats will chase and even viciously attack their tails. This may arise as a form of play, especially if there is boredom due to a lack of sufficient routine and stimulation. Situations of conflict and anxiety may lead to displacement behaviors such as tail chasing or over-grooming. The behavior may escalate to a more serious problem if done repetitively. Attempts by the owner to stop the behavior may add to the cat’s anxiety, further aggravating the problem.

Regardless of the underlying cause, if the cat manages to catch and bite its own tail, or is over-grooming to the point of skin damage, the problem may progress to more serious mutilation. The skin and tail will be painful and infected, and the tail may need to be amputated.

In particular, specific stimuli that precede or incite the compulsive behaviors should be identified. Then these situations of conflict can be identified and either prevented or resolved. Normalizing routines and providing daily interactions with positive attention are useful in the prevention of compulsive behaviors. It is important for cats to have an outlet for their energy. This may involve a set time of the day when you play with your cat using laser light toys or wands, providing plenty of cat friendly toys for your cat to play with when you are away, or using puzzle balls that require the cat’s interaction to get treats out of the ball.

Changes are unavoidable, so you will need to do your best to help your cat through life transitions such as moving or new members of the family.

The 10 C’s of Halloween Catastrophe

By Dr. Becker from

All Hallows’ Eve is just a few days away, so it’s time for my annual reminder to pet guardians to keep their furry family members safe on the holiday. This means taking just a few common-sense precautions to insure both you and your pet wake up healthy and happy on November 1st.

10 ‘C’ Words to Watch for or Avoid on Halloween if You Have Pets

  1. Chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs, and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. It contains a caffeine-like stimulant substance that when ingested by your pet can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, racing pulse, and seizures. So make sure all your family members and guests, including children, understand the importance of keeping chocolate away from your dog or cat.
  2. Candy in general. Most pet owners are aware of the dangers of chocolate, but there are other types of sweets that also pose health risks for canine and feline companions, so a good rule of thumb is to keep ALL Halloween candy out of the reach of pets.
  3. Candy and other goodies containing xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in all kinds of products, including sugar-free candy, gum, mints, and baked goods. A small amount of xylitol can cause a rapid and dangerous blood sugar drop in dogs, as well as acute liver failure. Xylitol’s effect on cats is not known, but I would recommend keeping it far away from kitties as well.
  4. Candy wrappers. Halloween candy isn’t the only health threat for dogs and cats. Empty candy wrappers smell like what was in them, which can entice your pet, and ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction requiring surgery. It’s very important to stress to children in particular the need to keep all candy wrappers out of the reach of pets.
  5. Common Halloween non-candy treats. Some people like to hand out small boxes of raisins instead of candy on Halloween. Or small bags of trail mix that contain raisins. Unfortunately, raisins are toxic to dogs and cats and can potentially cause kidney failure in very small amounts. Chocolate covered raisins pose an even bigger risk.
  6. Complicated pet costumes. As adorable as they are, elaborate Halloween costumes can pose a danger to your pet’s health. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your pet’s coat, it’s easier than you might think for him to overheat while all dressed up. Pets have also been injured when their range of motion, vision, or hearing is restricted by a costume, or when they try frantically to remove it. If you just can’t resist dressing your four-legged ghost or goblin in a costume, select something lightweight to avoid overheating, and insure it doesn’t confine or restrain his movements in any way.
  7. Candles. Candles, including the small ones inside Jack ‘o lanterns, are fire hazards. You don’t want your kitty wandering across a table or shelf decorated with lit candles, nor do you want your dog getting too friendly or feisty with a carved pumpkin with a candle inside. Make sure all these types of fire hazards are well beyond your pet’s reach.
  8. Commotion of the holiday. Most holidays involve a bit of chaos and confusion – that’s half the fun, right? For us it is, but for our furry companions, not so much. Even if your pet seems excited by all the noise and activity, excitement is a form of stress, especially for dogs and cats. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s time to remove your pet from the action and tuck her away in a safe, quiet spot in your home (and that time could be before the festivities even begin).
  9. Choking hazards. Those pet costumes I mentioned above often come with buttons, bows, and other small accessories that can be pulled off and choked on or swallowed. This is another reason to keep things simple if you plan to dress up your pet. There are other Halloween-related items that also pose a choking danger, including, oddly enough, those glow sticks and glow jewelry that have become so popular. Cats in particular reportedly like to chew on them, which can present not only a choking hazard, but also a burn hazard if the phenol inside leaks out.
  10. Callers at the door. If your neighborhood tends to be full of trick-or-treaters, it’s a good idea to make sure your pet can’t escape through an open door or window, either to investigate all the activity, or to escape it. Many dogs and most cats find a constantly ringing doorbell, strange voices yelling “Trick or Treat,” and people dressed up in scary costumes to be anxiety-producing. Kitties should probably be closed off in a bedroom or other safe area of the house for the night, and dogs should either be highly responsive to verbal commands, on a leash, or also tucked away in a secure location.

Introducing Steve’s Raw Food and Tucker’s Raw Food

The Barkery is proud to introduce two new excellent foods for your four legged friend! 

Check out some of the features and benefits of each below!

Steve’s Raw Food 

  • Easy to feed as kibble. Can be poured out of the bag and fed without overnight defrosting.
  • Steve’s does not use any pasteurization on any product and stays as close to mother nature as possible.  All of the meat and poultry are free range and fed a species appropriate diet. Steve’s also does not use any antibiotics or hormones and all animals are humanly raised in the northwest.
  • All produce is also from the northwest making Steve’s Real Food a locally sourced product.  Steve’s works with partners that are committed to the environment and practice sustainable farming.

!cid_image004_png@01CFEE17Steve’s Raw Goat Milk 

  • Steve’s Raw Goat Milk Yogurt marries premium nutrition to crave-able treat. Packed with probiotics and the full gamut of vitamins and minerals, it can be fed as a snack or used as a food topper to add raw nutrition to a dry or canned meal.
  • 100% raw frozen diets are available in both convenient nuggets or a 8 oz. patties. Known for bulk options which make feeding multi-pet families or large dog homes easier.

Tucker’s Raw!cid_image006_jpg@01CFEE19

  • Tucker’s provides only the finest and freshest food, supplements and treats for your dog. “What we cannot see we will not sell. This is why all of our raw materials are human grade and only sourced from USDA facilities in the USA/Canada.”
  • Tucker’s treats are made in Wisconsin and made from USDA, USA/Canadian chicken breast. This product is produced under USDA oversight and from 100% human grade raw materials. No chemicals or preservatives are used in their preparation.
  • They are individually wrapped for added convenience. Loose internal wrapping does not affect the treats safety or nutrition
  • All raw pork based:
    1. Certified Pork is a USDA process that partially entails freezing out any potential harmful parasites in raw pork
    2. This is why you see Pork Loin and Pork Chops served rare in some of the country’s finest Steak Houses
    3. Pork is lower in fat , higher in protein and amino fatty acids than most other carnivore proteins

Stop in an chat with us today about the best option for your pet!