Raw Bones for Dental Health

No matter what your pet is eating, supplementing raw bones into your pet’s diet can have seriously good effects on dental health. Both cats and dogs can enjoy this delicious, biologically-appropriate treat, but it’s important to select the right bone for your pet. We’re here to give you some guidelines on choosing the right raw treat for your furry friend.

Poultry Necks for Cats

Raw bones help keep your cat’s teeth clean and her gums healthy, but it’s especially important to give your kitty the right kind. Poultry necks are the best choice for a cat, and can play an integral role in their dental hygiene.

Necks are made up of cartilage, ligaments and tendons that act as a form of natural dental floss, while chewing the muscle meat can also help keep teeth clean. The process of grinding and crushing the cartilage actually massages the cat’s teeth and gums, cleaning away food residues and helping eliminate tartar development. This, in turn prevents plaque formation, bad breath, dental cavities and gingivitis.

Poultry necks also provide your cat with nutritional support:

  • The calcium in raw necks is more digestible than most common calcium supplements.
  • A chicken or turkey neck has a calcium/phosphorus ratio of about 1.75 to 1.00.
  • Poultry necks contain protein, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
  • They give cats a much-needed external source of arginine, an essential amino acid.

Because poultry necks are made of cartilage, they’re soft and spongy rather than hard. At the Barkery, we have a variety of poultry necks available from Rawsome, OC Raw, and Primal. Although these poultry necks are fairly large, we recommend cutting them into smaller, easy to handle pieces. While our finicky felines are less likely than dogs to gobble down an entire hunk of neck, it’s best to avoid bones of a size that will tempt them to swallow without chewing.

Introducing Poultry Necks

Start small with poultry necks, but cutting down the size to a piece that is slightly bigger than your cat’s mouth. As your cat gets used to handling and chewing on the necks, you can increase the size of the pieces.

Some cats will go into overdrive at first sight of a poultry neck. Our little carnivores instinctively know how to crush and chew a bone. It’s a good idea to get kittens started young with poultry necks so their teeth stay healthy.

It might be difficult to get some adult cats eating bones if they’re not used to fresh meat or already have bad teeth or a dental problem. If your cat displays any discomfort with raw necks, the issue may involve a great deal of tartar and gum recession, and may be time for a dental check with your veterinarian.

If your cat remains unimpressed with your new and wonderful idea, entice her by sprinkling a little tuna juice on the necks the first few times. You can also sprinkle the necks with dry powdered liver or catnip, or rub some canned food on them. A finicky feline may require a few attempts, but don’t give up!

Raw Bones for Dogs

A variety of bone types are generally fed as part of a raw diet. Even if your dog is not on a raw diet, supplementing raw recreational bones containing meat, marrow, and cartilage can satisfy nutrient needs, entertain your dog, and have a major impact on dental health!

Raw bones can provide hours of entertainment for your pup. If you’re worried about the mess, you can feed raw bones inside or outside. If you are feeding inside, it’s best to train your dog to eat it in a particular area, such as on a towel or in the kennel, so that it’s easy for you to wash down the area when feeding time is over.

Choose the Right Size

You must choose the right-sized bone for the right-sized dog. It’s not always as simple as small dog/small bone or large dog/large bone. Observe the way your dog chews and ingests a bone. An 80-pound golden retriever might daintily savor and nibble a chicken neck, while a Pomeranian might try to swallow it whole.

It’s best to choose a bone that is large enough that your dog will not be able to swallow without chewing. After all, the purpose of feeding a raw recreational bone is to clean the teeth.

Introducing Recreational Bones

If your dog is new to recreational bones, it’s best to introduce them slowly to prevent digestive upset. We recommend feeding the bone for about 10-15 minutes, then taking it away. Wait 2-3 days and try it again, but allowing your dog to chew on it for 5 more minutes. Increase the time increments slowly to ensure your dog’s gut is healthy enough to digest the rich nutrients.


Safety First!

You should never cook or microwave raw bones or poultry necks. The benefits of eating bones are greatly reduced by cooking them, and it can actually create dangers. With raw poultry necks and bones, cooking them renders them tougher and more brittle, which means they’ll likely break apart into larger chunks more easily. Your cat or dog may swallow a piece that’s too large to digest, necessitating a trip to the vet.

Broken teeth can occur when feeding bones. Long bones such as femurs are quite hard on the surface, which can result in teeth breaking with aggressive chewers. Flat bones, such as bones found in the spinal column, ribs, pelvis and shoulder, are a better choice for medium to large size dogs because they’re much softer and harder to clamp down on.

Don’t leave raw bones to dry out. They can become brittle and chip, or cause a tooth fracture if your dog continues to chew on them. Let your dog chew on them for a day or two, then toss them in the garbage.

Eating large amounts of bone can cause constipation in dogs. You might see white or yellowish, powdery stools or even yellow, runny stools. It’s important to check on your dog to make sure he’s gnawing on the meat and not chomping down too much bone. If your dog eats more of a bone than intended, just feed him more meat and less bone for the next couple of meals. This will balance out his minerals, including calcium and phosphorus.

Always supervise when you’re feeding a raw bone. This is especially important in multiple-dog households. When a delicious raw meaty bone is present, the behavior of your dogs may change from friendly to aggressive and protective. Many pet owners choose to feed raw bones in separate locations when multiple dogs are present.

Feeding raw bones is an easy way to manage dental health, provide nutrients, and entertain your pet for hours. Imagine your dog having a nice afternoon in the sun, chewing a healthy and delicious treat. You’ll find that your dog is tired and happy after spending the day with a bone, and his belly will be full, too!

Dog Foods Pulled After Investigation Finds Euthanasia Drug

Retailers pulled at least 31 varieties of dog food off the shelves nationwide after a months-long investigation that found the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital.

After releasing the results of lab tests that identified the drug, the FDA launched an investigation. Now, just days later, Smucker’s, the owner of almost all the brands in question, has announced a voluntary withdrawal of products in the canned food lines of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy and ‘Ol Roy. Retailers, including Walmart, removed it from over 4,000 stores.

For seven months, ABC7 investigated what’s in dog food by conducting hundreds of tests across dozens of brands. Sadly, consumers have no information about what they’re really feeding their pets based on current labeling standards.

Among ABC7’s tests were 15 cans of Gravy Train, made by Big Heart Brands, owned by Smucker’s. Nine cans, 60 percent of the sample, repeatedly tested positive for the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital.

While the levels detected were not lethal, under federal law it is not permitted at any level, and never allowed to be used on animals intended for food. The question remains – how is this drug getting into the food in the first place?

Accusations of the company using “euthanized animals” in their pet food formulas have emerged. Of course, Smucker’s does not like this explanation, and posted on its website that it does not use pets in its food.

Although our customers know better than to feed any of these pet food brands, it’s always important to consider where the ingredients in your pet food are coming from. This topic brings us back to Barkery 101 – our first Barkery U seminar – on what’s in your pet’s food and how to read pet food labels. If you missed it, check it out below!


Feline Nutrition 101

Feline Nutrition 101. It’s more straightforward than the marketing would like you to believe! For National Cat Health Month, we want you to understand your cat’s nutritional needs. There are a couple of basics you ought to know.

1. Cats are Obligate Carnivores

This is a statement you may have heard once or twice at the Barkery. This means that their diets should consist almost entirely of meat. An obligate carnivore is an animal that, by its genetic makeup, must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive. In nature, cats don’t eat grains or carbs of any kind. Many grain-free foods are substituted with starches, which are just as bad but allow pet food companies to market as “grain-free.”

Since meat is so important to feline nutrition, the quality of the meat should also be carefully considered. Not all meat is created equal, and how it’s cooked can also make a big difference.

2. Cats Need Wet or Raw Food to Stay Hydrated

Our furry feline friends evolved from big desert cats, and while that’s been happening for millennia certain things haven’t changed. Given the scarcity of water, they adjusted to staying hydrated from the fresh meat of their prey rather than drinking water. This is why most cats aren’t big drinkers.

When cats eat dry food only, they tend to become dehydrated after a period of time. This is because dry food is between only 8-12 percent moisture. Wet food mimic’s a cat’s natural environment by keeping them hydrated through the food they eat. Many common feline health issues, like renal failure and urinary crystals, are a result of a lifetime of dehydration.

3. Cats are Prone to Vaccinosis

Many conventional veterinarians recommend both puppies and kittens get their core vaccines first and annually thereafter. Since vaccinations stay in your pet’s body for much longer than the 1-year recommendation, over-vaccinating  can cause major health problems for your kitty, including allergies, tumors, seizures, and autoimmune problems. To prevent vaccinosis, consider a titer blood test instead. This test shows immunity levels of your pet to the virus which you are vaccinating for, and there is no harm in checking before you vaccinate your animal. This will ensure the health and vitality of your cat.

Hopefully you feel a little more knowledgeable about the health of your cat. For National Cat Health Month, we’re giving away one free can of Fussie Cat to our cat-owning pack members in February! For questions on cat health and vaccinosis, visit your local Barkery and speak with a nutrition specialist today!


7 Tips for Preventing and Treating Dental Disease in Dogs

February marks the start of National Dental Health Month – a time to recognize the importance of oral hygiene to your pet’s overall health. Periodontal disease is the #1 health issue plaguing dogs today. It’s estimated that over 80% of adult dogs over age 3 are affected. Dental disease is a common problem that can directly impact your dog’s vital organs like his heart, kidneys, liver and digestive system.

Aside from the fact that a healthy mouth is good for your dog’s overall health, there’s another strong incentive to keep your dog’s mouth healthy – you’ll avoid having to put him through dental cleanings at the vet every year! It’s expensive, risky, and shouldn’t be necessary if you take a few simple steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

10 Tips to Maintain Your Dog’s Dental Health

#1 Feed a Raw Diet

Feeding a raw diet is the #1 way to ensure dental health for your pet. Natural, raw diets provide the right habitat for your healthy oral microbiome. Natural live enzymes and “good” bacteria can help prevent tartar build up.

Any kibble diet, even premium kibble, can be a direct cause of weak teeth and weak gums. This shocking study done by Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale shows the effects of raw fed dogs switched onto a kibble diet. After only 17 days, dogs who’d started with perfectly healthy teeth and gums got stinky breath, yellow teeth and sore, bleeding gums. 

#2 Feed Raw Recreational Bones

Regardless of whether you are feeding a raw diet, canned food, or kibble, we recommend giving a raw bone to your dog roughly once a week. Easing into feeding these bones is important to prevent digestive upset, and picking the correct size for your dog is just as important! Raw bones are nature’s toothbrushes, and effectively polish and scrape away tartar as the animal crunches and gnaws. Twelve-year-old Barkery dog Cai is showing off his pearly whites in this before and after photo – this progress is after just 6 months of raw bone feeding!Gnawing on bones is not only nutritious and good for your dog’s teeth and gums, but also provides hours of enjoyment, exercises your dog’s neck and shoulder muscles as well as his mouth, and even stimulates his neurotransmitters.

#3 Give a Daily Probiotic Supplement

Probiotic supplements can help create a healthy bacterial environment in your dog’s mouth. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association found that probiotics were effective in treating and preventing dental disease! You can do this by adding probiotics to your dog’s food daily in the form of fermented vegetables or kefir, or you can give your dog a probiotic supplement. One of our favorites is Carna4 Ground Sprouted Seeds, which are 10% off this month at the Barkery!

#4 Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

If your companion eats a well-balanced natural diet all the time, she will likely have strong, clean teeth and gums throughout her life, even without brushing. An occasional brushing is a good idea anyway, even if her teeth and gums appear perfectly healthy.

If your pet does not eat raw foods or bones on a regular basis, plan on brushing at least once a month. If her teeth appear yellow and prone to plaque, then brushing should occur at least once weekly.

Start by choosing a toothpaste and toothbrush designed for use in pets. Begin with brushing the outer surfaces of just one or two teeth per session, concentrating on the upper portions of the teeth along the gumline where tartar typically collects.

Another option is to have our experienced bathers do the work for you! Teeth brushing is an add-on service available to bath and groom appointments, and this month, all teeth brushing services are 1/2 off!

#5 Feed Bone Broth

Make bone broth for your dog and feed it several times a week. It’s chock-full of minerals that really help strengthen teeth and gums. Bone broth contains collagen, which is found both in our teeth and connective tissue that keeps teeth in place in the jaw. It’s also vital for improving bone density, which is vital for healthy teeth. Bone broth is really easy to make, or is also available to buy at your nearest Barkery.

#6 Try an Organic Kelp Enzyme

Thorvin is a mineral rich powder harvested form 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.

#7 Dental Care Treats

Some of our favorite dental chews at the Barkery come from QCHEFS. These all-natural dental chews reduce oral bacteria by up to 80%, help reduce and prevent plaque and tartar, and freshen your dog’s breath. These hard cheeses and chews are low in calories, easy to digest, and free of sugar, gluten, grain, lactose, and additives.

Aside from the fact that a healthy mouth is good for your dog’s overall health, there’s another strong incentive to keep your dog’s mouth healthy – you’ll avoid having to put him through dental cleanings at the vet every year! It’s expensive, risky, and shouldn’t be necessary if you take a few simple steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

February is a month where you’re supposed to be thinking about your pet’s dental health. Like us, their smiles need maintenance. Thankfully, we’ve got all sorts of stuff to help. All Barkery dental products are 25% off this month, and tooth brushing services are half price with any bathing or grooming service in February. We’ll see you soon!

Why Does Your Dog Scoot?

Most dog parents are at least mildly horrified when their furry family member scoots across the carpet, an expensive area rug or some other fabric-covered surface.

“Scooting,” as it is lovingly called, signals an itchy or irritated backside. Rarely, the behavior is caused by tapeworms, in which case there are usually other symptoms such as weight loss, poor coat or skin condition, a painful abdomen or diarrhea. Scooting can also signal other problems like a perianal tumor, or irritation caused by diarrhea or a perineal yeast infection, but most often the reason is an anal gland problem.

Your dog is dragging or scooting his bottom across the ground to try and relieve itching or irritation caused by an inflamed, infected or impacted anal gland. In this recent Healthy Pets article, Dr. Becker explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your dog’s anal glands, but were afraid to ask.

What Exactly Are Anal Glands?

Your dog’s anal glands or sacs are small and oval shaped, and sit just inside of the rectum on either side of the anus at around the 8:00 and 4:00 o’clock positions. They secrete a remarkably stinky, oily substance. This fluid may function as a territorial marker in the world of canine communication, allowing your dog to leave a personal biochemical mark for other dogs to investigate.

When your dog poops, if the stool is normal consistency, this potent fluid is expelled out of the glands through tiny ducts and onto the feces.

This is an efficient design of nature, but unfortunately, today’s dogs often have loose stools are irregular bowel movements that don’t press against the anal glands during evacuation.

Other contributors to anal glad problems can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, certain skin disorders, and infections. Dr. Becker describes three main causes of anal gland problems: diet, trauma to the glands or the position of the glands.

Problem #1: Your Dog’s Diet

The grains in commercial pet food are allergenic and inflammatory, and the first thing you should do to reduce recurrent anal gland issues is eliminate all grains from the diet. It’s a good idea to eliminate anything containing corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy.

Dr. Becker also recommends switching to a novel protein for your dog. For example, if your dog has been eating only beef and chicken, make a transition to bison or rabbit. A constant diet of 1-2 proteins can trigger a food sensitivity, meaning an allergic inflammatory response. Unaddressed food intolerances are a common cause of chronic anal sac issues.

If your dog’s poop is frequently unformed, soft, or watery, her anal glands aren’t getting the firm pressure they need to empty. Feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet will address this issue, as well as adding probiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes by creating consistently firm stools.

Problem #2: Trauma to Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Many injuries to dog’s anal glands are caused by well-meaning but misguided groomers, veterinarians, and pet owners. Although not a routine service at the Barkery, many groomers are in the habit of expressing the anal glands of every dog they groom as part of “included services,” along with cleaning ears and trimming nails.

However, routine expression of healthy anal glands is pointless, unpleasant and potentially harmful. So if you take your pet to a groomer, make sure to mention that no anal gland expression is necessary. Over time, regular expression of these little sacs can interfere with their ability to function on their own.

Many veterinarians immediately express the anal glands if the owner mentions their dog scoots now and then. This approach doesn’t identify or address the cause of the problem, only the symptom. It’s important to identify the root of the cause, rather than repetitively treating the symptom by manually expressing the glands.

The anal sacs are delicate little organs that can easily be injured through squeezing and pinching, and trauma causes tissue damage and inflammation, leading to swelling. Swollen glands can obstruct the exit duct through which the fluid is expressed. If blocked secretions build up and thicken in the glands, it can lead to impaction and anal gland infection.

Problem #3: Poorly Positioned Glands

Certain dogs have anal sacs that are located very deep inside their rectums. As stool collects in the colon, the pressure should cause the glands to empty. But if a dog’s anal glands aren’t adjacent to where the greatest amount of pressure builds in her large intestine, they won’t express properly.

This is a situation that may require surgery to correct because the location of the glands is genetically dictated.

Impactions, Infections, Abscesses and Tumors

When a dog’s anal sacs malfunction, it is most commonly a problem of impaction. This occurs when the oily substance builds up in the glands and thickens, and isn’t expressed, resulting in enlargement and irritation of the glands. Gland infections are usually bacterial in nature and cause irritation and inflammation. As the infection progresses, pus accumulates within the anal gland.

An anal gland abscess is the result of an unaddressed anal gland infection. The abscess will continue to grow in size until it eventually ruptures. For these extreme cases, Dr. Becker recommends infusing the anal glands with ozonated olive oil or silver sulfadiazine (diluted with colloidal silver).

Anal gland tumors, classified as adenocarcinomas, are usually malignant. Occasionally anal gland tumors cause elevations in blood calcium levels, which can result in significant organ damage, including kidney damage.

Getting to the Root of the Scooting

If your pet is having anal gland issues, your vet should work to determine the cause of the problem rather than just treating it symptomatically by manually expressing the glands.

It’s important to try to re-establish the tone and health of malfunctioning glands using a combination of dietary adjustments, homeopathic remedies and natural GI anti-inflammatories. Sometimes manually infusing the glands with natural lubricants or herbal preparations can help return them to normal function.

The goal should be to resolve the underlying cause and return your pet’s anal glands to self-sufficiency. If your pet doesn’t have anal gland issues already, we recommend telling your vet to leave the glands completely alone to avoid future problems down the road.

Canine Flu Vaccine: Is It Necessary?

Veterinarians across the country are encouraging pet owners to vaccinate their canine companions for the flu. Is your dog at risk? And if so, is the vaccine going to prevent that risk? We’re here with help from Dogs Naturally to cover this popular topic to help you decide what is best for your best friend.

What is Canine Influenza Virus and What Are the Symptoms?

The first US strain of canine influenza virus (CIV), H3N8, was identified in racing greyhounds in Florida in January 2004. In 2015, a second strain, H3N2, was identified in Chicago. Since that time, cases have been reported across the States and a few, more recently, in Canada.

Symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • dry coughing
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • restlessness
  • watery eyes, runny nose
  • fever (one of the things that makes it different from kennel cough)

Is Your Dog at Risk for Canine Flu?

The media, many conventional vets and especially vaccine manufacturers would love for us to believe that the canine flu is a major epidemic, that our dogs are seriously at risk at that every dog needs the canine flu vaccine.

This is not the case!

The canine flu is not widespread. In fact, most dogs never come in contact with the virus. While the number of dogs exposed to the virus who will get canine flu is around 80%, the mortality rate is very low. And those dogs that do become critically ill from it are typically those who have other health issues to begin with.

There’s more.

According to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, the first strain of canine influenza virus (H3N8) isn’t common among household pets in the US, with studies showing the level of the virus in the population at less than 5%. In some areas, exposure rates have been low even in pets who participate in high risk environments such as training or agility events.

So maybe its the second strain, H3N2, that’s the problem? Here are some numbers from Dogs Naturally to help put it into perspective:

So, on the extremely off-chance your dog gets the flu, what can you do?

How to Treat the Canine Flu if Your Dog Gets It

Just as with humans, the treatment for a dog with the flu is largely supportive. Because it’s a viral infection and not bacterial, antibiotics won’t help. Here are some of the best things you can do to nurse him back to health:

  1. Keep a close eye on him to make sure he’s eating and drinking. Fluids are important to avoid dehydration.
  2. Check his diet. A fresh, raw diet packed with vitamins and nutrients will help your dog fight back against the flu.
  3. Add some immune boosting supplements like turmeric, Echinacea, goldenseal, oregano, and garlic to his food.
  4. Give him lots of rest. Exertion causes the cough to become more intense, so limit it.
  5. Clean up. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and hands for 12 hours, so do a thorough cleaning using white vinegar, which is an effective bacteria and germ killer.

Most healthy dogs get over the flu easily within 2-3 weeks. Since symptoms are generally mild, it’s usually best to let nature run its course. This will also help your dog build up a natural immunity to this and future strains.

Remember – the virus is contagious, so keep your dog away from other dogs to prevent the virus from spreading.


What You Need to Know About the Canine Flu Vaccine

So, you understand it’s highly unlikely that your dog will get the canine flu, and if he does, the symptoms will probably be mild, but just in case you’re still thinking about giving your dog the vaccine, there are a few more things you should know.

The canine flu vaccine is a killed vaccine.

The worst vaccine you can give your dog, rabies, is also a killed vaccines. Leptospirosis and Lyme are also killed vaccines. There are countless studies showing the adverse reactions caused by these vaccines, from allergic reactions to death.

A killed vaccine contains a killed form of the virus. Manufacturers do this because they don’t want the live virus to spread.

Supporters of killed vaccines say they’re safer because the virus isn’t live. What these supporters don’t mention is the fact that this also makes it hard for these vaccines to trigger an immune response. So, to make them more effective and longer lasting, manufacturers have to add adjuvants (added chemicals) to them.

Adjuvants are dangerous for your dog. Here are some of the most common ones and why they’re so dangerous:

  • Aluminum is the most commonly used adjuvant in vaccines and it’s a neurotoxin. It messes with your dog’s brain and nervous system, and can cause inflammation in the brain, as well as dementia and seizures. It’s also a known carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde. Yes, one of the chemicals used to preserve dead bodies is a common vaccine ingredient and also a known carcinogen.
  • Thimerosal is a mercury-based additive that’s meant to preserve a vaccine. It has been proven to cause tissue cell death and neurological disorders. It’s especially toxic to your dog when combined with aluminum.
  • Phenol is another preservative commonly used in vaccines. It’s a highly poisonous, corrosive substance that comes from coal tar.
  • Animal tissue. Most disease micro-organisms are cultured on animal tissue, and when manufacturers make a vaccine, it becomes impossible to divide the two. This tissue is put into the bloodstream, where the white blood cells have to fight it, making it harder for them to fight the other, more dangerous foreign substances.

Not only is the canine flue vaccine a killed vaccine, it hasn’t even been proven to prevent an infection. So you’re risking your dog’s health with something that may not even prevent it! Another risk is that, as manufacturers modify these vaccines to fit different strains, the viruses become resistant, making it so that your dog needs to keep getting these toxic drugs because the old ones won’t work (even though they may not work to begin with!).

So, what are the most important things you need to know about the canine flu vaccine?

  1. It isn’t widespread and your dog is unlikely to come into contact with it.
  2. If he does get it, the symptoms are usually mild and it’s best treated with supportive care at home.
  3. The canine flu vaccine is not the answer. It’s a killed vaccine, it’s toxic, may not work, and is causing the flu to become resistant. Skip it!


13 Winter Care Tips for Your Dog

Does your dog love winter, or would she rather cuddle up on the couch under a cozy blanket? Either way, you should be prepared to protect her when she ventures out into the elements this season.

Many dog owners live with the misconception that because their pets have a coat of fur, they can tolerate cold better than humans. This isn’t necessarily the case. As you explore the winter landscape with your faithful four-legged friend, please keep these winter care tips from Dog’s Naturally Magazine in mind!

1. Beware of the temperature.

Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures, but dogs with thinner coats may need a sweater or coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember – coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet, or tail…so even with a cozy coat, you shouldn’t keep your short haired dog out too long in freezing temperatures.

2. Go outside when the sun shines.

If your dog feels the cold, try to walk her in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer, and avoid early morning or late evening walks. Spending time playing outside when it’s sunny brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with vitamin D.

3. Limit outdoor time in winter.

Your pet may love to spend time outdoors, but in winter even the furriest dog can get cold. Ears, paws, and tails are all susceptible to frostbite. A good rule is to go out with him, and when you’re ready to come in, he probably will be too.

4. Make sure your dog has cozy bedding.

Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm, rather than sleeping on a cold floor. Warm blankets, raised beds, and heated beds can help keep the stiffness out of aging joints. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts and uncarpeted floors, preferably in a favorite spot so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar.

5. Protect your dog from heaters.

Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and fireplaces if at all possible. Or be sure to create a pet=proof system to keep your dog out of harm’s way.

6. Moisturize.

Dry and cold weather can do a number on your pet’s skin. Help prevent dry, flaky skin by adding a skin and coat supplement to her food. Coconut oil is a good natural moisturizer that can keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. You can also use it topically as needed for ears, paws, or tail when dry or cracking.

7. No overfeeding please!

Although many dogs need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and waistline, and adjust your feeding guidelines accordingly.

8. Keep your dog hydrated.

Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog spends time outdoors in your yard, make sure she has access to a water bowl, and be sure to check it often and break ice that forms on top.

9. Groom your dog.

Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep her properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, especially before allowing her outside.

10. Paw care is a must.

Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hairs that grow between the pads to prevent ice build up. Winter salt on city sidewalks can also burn and is toxic, so try using booties or rinsing your dog’s paws to remove any salt – you don’t want her licking it off. For areas around your home, we recommend using a paw-safe ice melt,  available at your local Barkery.

11. Avoid exposure to toxins.

With winter comes antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet and dogs (as well as some children!) will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amout can be fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where she may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.

12. NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car, no matter what the season.

Just as cars get dangerously hot in summer, freezing cold temperatures are equally dangerous for your dog in winter. Leaving the car running involves additional risks, so it’s best to leave your dog at home when you go out to run errands.

13. Use special care for seniors.

Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly with arthritis. It’s important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm, soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already use a natural joint supplement, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.

Harsh winter weather brings a wide variety of concerns to responsible dog owners. Paying special attention to your loyal friend’s wellbeing during the winter season will ensure that each of you enjoy it to the fullest.

Keep these winter care tips in mind, and don’t forget that winter cuddles with your canine buddy are a great way for everyone to keep warm!

15 Ways to Ensure Your Dog Gets Quality Meat

When it comes to feeding your pet, it’s not always easy to tell where ingredients come from or how they’re cooked. Even the numbers on the label aren’t as helpful as they could be, making comparisons hard.

Expect quality pet food to cost more, but make sure you’re actually getting your money’s worth. Remember, good quality dog food companies don’t make it difficult to find things out. They’re proud of what they make, and want you to know that.

The product labels on quality dog foods will have more detailed information rather than just fancy marketing. Their website should get even more specific. Of course, you’ll see the results in your pet’s health as well. Here’s a closer look at how you can ensure your dog gets plenty of meat that is actually of good quality and beneficial for his health, from Top Dog Tips.

1. Look for a biologically appropriate diet.

We should all know what a diet of processed food does to health and the growing obesity epidemic in both the human and canine world. Dogs and cats didn’t evolve to eat corn, rice, soy, wheat, and potatoes – never mind the artificial preservatives and other unnatural ingredients in today’s commercial products.

So why are these ingredients so common in dog food? It’s because they’re cheaper than high quality meat. Of course, that doesn’t mean dogs and cats shouldn’t have any fruits and vegetables. Wild carnivores eat the stomach contents of their plant-eating prey, after all.

A biologically appropriate diet is about the right balance, avoiding foods that pets are sensitive to, and using foods with a healthy glycemic index to maintain blood sugar levels.

2. Make sure commercial dog food brands are complete and balanced.

There are minimum guidelines set up to help you when picking dog food brands. If your pet food says “complete and balanced” on the label, that means:

  • passed Feeding Trial Protocol(s) with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
  • it meets AAFCO Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profiles
  • or, it’s part of a line of products with AAFCO approval.

It means the product has enough nutritional value that it can be used as the only source of daily nutrition for your pet, not just a snack or a treat. Any other specific uses stated on the label are suggestions set by the company. For example, some foods are intended for seniors, but there are no official guidelines.

Be aware, AAFCO standards are minimum standards, so it’s just a starting point.

3. Provide enough moisture, and know its role when calculating the percentage of protein.

Many owners look at the level of crude protein on the label. When comparing labels from kibble to canned food, it may seem like canned food is a waste of money – canned dog food brands have much less crude protein because they have more moisture than kibble. 

More moisture is a good thing for dogs, because prey animals are about 70 percent water (just like humans). That means wet dog food is closer to what our now-domesticated canines evolved to eat, and there might be more meat than you think.

As a quick rule of thumb, multiply the crude protein in regular canned dog food by 4 to get an approximate idea of how much protein there actually is.

4. Understand dog food descriptions and types.

The best dog food companies are more than happy to tell consumers exactly how much meat is in their products either on the packaging or on their website.

There’s also more information in how manufacturers describe their products than meets the eye – if you know where to look. For example, if dog food sells itself as “Beef for Dogs,” it has to be 95 percent beef. If the type of meat is just mentioned in the name, it might just be beef flavored, with as little as 25 percent beef according to the regulations.

These kinds of products also need some other kind of descriptive term, like dinner, platter, entrée, menu, or formula. Since consumers often choose dog food by looking for a particular protein source, it would be nice if the label told us everything we want to know, but it doesn’t.

The clearer the company is about the kind of meat used, with specific number values, the better a product usually is. Any vagueness in the marketing should make you immediately suspicious of the company, the manufacturer and the dog food brand itself.

5. Find out where the animals used as a meat source came from.

Quality pet food companies will always tell you where the ingredients are sourced, and how they were raised or harvested.

The closer the source of the ingredients are to where they are used, the fresher they probably will be. Quality pet food manufacturers must carefully monitor every stage of their supply chain, so they know the quality and source of everything.

Ethically raised meat animals are a growing trend in the pet food industry, as well as GMO-free and organic dog food brands. Some labels require certification by third-party organizations, which can give you even more security.

Always look for the country of origin with all ingredients and for words like free-range, grass-fed, human grade, cage-free, non-GMO, certified organic, wild caught, and hormone/antibiotic-free.

6. Rotate named protein sources.

In proper dog nutrition practices, there’s a thing called rotation feeding.  

Regularly changing your dog to different, high-quality protein sources reduces food sensitivities in the dog. It’s more than just good for your pet’s appetite, it also makes sure that your pet gets all the nutrients it needs – including amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids.

7. Understand what makes a protein source digestible for dogs.

Not all protein in dog foods is equally digestible, meaning the body can’t actually use and get the nutrients it needs. That’s why a numbered percentage can’t tell you everything you need to know.

Eggs are the most digestible kind of protein, followed by fish and fishmeal. Lamb and chicken are more digestible than beef, but quality processing is key. The more natural the meat ingredients are, the more digestible they’ll be.

8. Look for shorter lived fish, lower on the food chain.

Fish is very digestible, but can be high in heavy metals and mercury. The longer a fish lives, the more they pick things like that up.

The same goes for predatory fish, like tuna, Mahi-Mahi and swordfish that quickly get contaminated by the smaller fish they consume on a regular basis. Shorter-lived, smaller fish are safer for dogs – like jack mackerel, herring, sardines, and catfish.

9. Know what meals are and their quality.

Meat, in its natural form, is high in moisture – about 75% water. Meat meals only have about 10 percent water, and a lot of the fat is removed too.

According to its definition in the AAFCO Official Publication, blood, hair, hide, and other scraps, even manure, stomachs and their contents can go into “meat meal.” Exactly what’s in your dog’s food depends on the company, which is why it’s better to look for meat meals that clearly say what kind of animals are used and their quality.

10. Grain-free isn’t automatically lower in carbohydrates or higher in protein.

Dry pet food from grocery stores is usually between 40 and 60 percent carbohydrates. Grain-free dog food can be just as high, sometimes replacing nutrient rich whole grains with starchy vegetables, like tapioca and potatoes.

Peas, grains, beans and seeds are often added because they contain protein, so they can raise the crude protein percentage more cheaply than meat. Don’t be foold into thinking that number always shows how much meat is in the product.

11. Don’t rule out the right amount of fat.

Low fat sounds healthier to many consumers, but fat is actually a vital energy source with more than twice the energy found in carbohydrates.

Some fats, like fish oil containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) provide extra essential nutrients that benefit our pets’ skin, hair, and brain. It’s also one of the most well-researched supplements with effectiveness proven in clinical trials.

Fat, in the right amount, keeps our pets immune systems healthy and properly regulated. The younger the animal, the more fat they need to fuel their activity and growth. Even weight control dog food usually has about 5 percent fat. Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent is suitable for adult maintenance foods. You can also supplement your dog’s diet with the right amount of fish oil.

12. Avoid hydrolyzed dog food products.

Hydrolyzed protein dog food is a newer trend in the pet food industry, often marketed toward pets with allergies or sensitive digestion.

For the uninitiated, hydrolyzing agents are applied to the meat ingredients, and they’re cooked and ground with special additives. Then, they’re steam cooked again under high heat and pressure to form a slurry or powder.

When it arrives at the pet food plant, these meat ingredients are often cooked again with other ingredients. Almost any animal byproducts and protein can be used, including feathers, because everything is broken down into amino acids.

However, the result will always have less bioavailability than natural animal muscle meat and organs, which decreases the value and nutrition of the dog food. Research shows that very little of the hydrolyzed protein can be used by our pet’s bodies. 

13. Avoid unnamed meat byproducts.

Rendered meat is usually made from the inedible garbage left over from human-grade meat, or it’s often very low quality in the first place.

However, the same cannot be said for organ meat from named animal sources, like livers, hearts, kidneys, and tripe, which are absolutely great and nutritional for dogs.

If a pet food manufacturer doesn’t even name its meat and bone meal sources, they can change them according to what’s available. Meat byproducts can contain stomachs, udders, hair, horns, teeth, and hooves. When these products don’t come from USDA-inspected rendering plants, it might not even be from cows, pigs, or chickens. Basically, it could be anything.

Remember that honest, quality pet food manufacturers will tell you exactly what’s in their dog food and name all the meat and bone sources, as well as specific organs.

14. Consider making homemade dog food.

Making your dog’s meals means you’ll know exactly what’s in it. However, you need well-balanced homemade dog recipes, otherwise you risk making your dog or cat sick, or worse yet, making them malnourished.

You’ll probably need to add additional vitamins and mineral supplements to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. It’s best to work with your holistic veterinarian or a canine nutritionist to create a list of homemade dog food recipes that will meet your pet’s individual needs.

15. Consider feeding a raw diet.

Raw dog food products are advantageous in many ways. Regardless of point of view, raw is the fastest growing sector in the pet food market. The first change you notice when feeding raw food is improved stools. This is due to its superior digestibility. Raw food is also extremely palatable and pets tend to like it. In addition, feeding raw has the following benefits:

  • No preservatives
  • No wheat, gluten, or fillers
  • Clean teeth
  • Fresh breath
  • Shiny and healthy coats
  • Less shedding
  • Fewer allergy symptoms
  • Firm, hard stools
  • 70% less poop

Remember, a good nutritious diet is the best health insurance money can buy. Ask a Barkery nutrition specialist about the type of raw diet that is right for your pet.

January Sale – Tuckers & Petcurean GO!

This month marks the start of an awesome promotion your four-legged friends are sure to appreciate! Tucker’s Raw Frozen & Treats and Petcurean GO! are both on special this month!

Tucker’s offers a variety of raw frozen complete and balanced diets, raw bones, dehydrated food, bones, and treats. Your pet is sure to love the fresh taste of Tucker’s in all shapes and sizes! This month:

  • $4 off 6 pound frozen Tucker’s recipes
  • $2 off 3 pound frozen Tucker’s recipes
  • 20% off Tucker’s treats, Carnibars, raw bones, and dehydrated bones

Petcurean GO! is a premium kibble line with limited ingredient, nutrient-packed recipes that your cat or dog will drool over! Whether you’re feeding GO! already, or just looking to try a new kibble, now is a great time with:

  • Buy one get on FREE on all small kibble bags (4 lb cat/6 lb dog). Mix and match cat and dog recipes!

Additional January Sales

  • 50% off existing stock of Bravo Pet Foods
  • 20% off all coats & sweaters

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet’s Health

A new year means a new resolution for many of us. As you’re thinking of ways to better yourself, you should also consider the life and wellbeing of your pet. Would you feed a different food? Would you give your dog more exercised attention? Here are the top five steps to improve your dog’s health in one year, from Dogs Naturally Magazine:

1. Feed a Raw Diet

One of the best ways to immediately improve your dog’s health is to toss that bag of kibble in the trash and begin feeding a fresh, raw diet. There’s nothing magical about what’s in the raw diet, but more importantly is what’s not in it.

Kibble needs to contain at least 30% starchy carbohydrates to hold together. Some kibbles contain as much as 60% starch, and kibble manufacturers aren’t required to say how much is in the food. Starch is a problem for a few important reasons:

  1. Mycotoxins – Starch is a breeding ground for molds, which produce a by-product called mycotoxin. Mycotoxin can contaminate crops before they’re harvested or after your dog’s food is made. Mycotoxins are extremely harmful to your dog and one mycotoxin in particular, aflatoxin, is the most potent carcinogen (cancer-causing compound) found in nature. A 2015 study in Animal Feed Science & Technology found that nearly all pet foods were contaminated with mycotoxins.
  2. Antinutrients – Antinutrients are naturally occurring or man-made substances in food that can interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and with digestive enzymes. The most common sources of antinutrients include grains, beans, legumes, and nuts.
  3. Glycemic Load – The glycemic load of foods is an indication of how quickly it raises the blood sugar. A small, steady amount of carbs or starch in the diet is fairly harmless, but when large amounts are added, this can cause obesity and insulin resistance. Over time, your dog will become less sensitive to insulin and his pancreas will have to work harder to produce more insulin and can become exhausted, which can lead to pancreatitis and diabetes. Insulin resistance can also increase the risk of thyroid disease, obesity, and some types of cancer.

2. Replace Dewormers With Herbs

For most dog owners, tapeworms, whipworms or other parasites can mean a trip to the vet. Conventional chemical dewormers contain really harmful ingredients that can have dangerous side effects. Here are some of the most common:

  • Fenbendazole – can cause vomiting, lethargy, weight loss, diarrhea, inflammation, even death
  • Pyrantel – can cause vomiting, weight loss, depression, even death
  • Prazinquantel – can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, even death

Many of the most widely prescribed dewormers contain these ingredients in combination with other drugs, often making them even more risky. As a part of your plan to improve your dog’s health, you can skip these and replace them with herbs and other natural dewormers. Hopefully you’ll find a good holistic vet to help you out, but you can try these on your own to get started:

  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – Food grade DE can reduce the number of worms in your dog. Feed small dogs a teaspoon per day and dogs over 55 pounds up to a tablespoon per day. Make sure it’s well mixed in his food, as inhaling DE can irritate your dog’s lungs. You can pick up DE at your nearest Brookside Barkery.
  • Oregon Grape – Oregon grape is an anti-parasitic, so it’s a perfect natural dewormer. Give it as a tincture, using 12 drops per 20 pounds. It’s also an effective antibiotic and liver tonic. Note: Don’t give this herb to dogs with liver disease or to pregnant dogs.
  • Chamomile – Chamomile is great for preventing and getting rid of roundworms and whipworms. In glycerin tincture form, give 0.25 ml to .50 ml per 20 lbs of body weight twice daily, placed in your dog’s mouth or added to water.

Along with herbs, there are many foods you can give to prevent and get rid of worms. Remember that a healthy gut is unattractive to worms, so a raw food diet is a really good start in preventing them. Fermented veggies, pimpkin seeds, pineapple, papaya, grated carrots, watercress, fennel, and cucumber are all great ways to help your dog fight worms.

3. Replace Fish Oils with Healthier Oils

Although fish oils are loaded with healthy fats, fat is where fish and other animals store toxins… and oceans are becoming more and more polluted by the minute. Heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury can end up in fish oil, along with toxic compounds like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and furans. These can cause nervous system disorders, cancers, liver and kidney damage, and skin problems.

Instead of fish oil, try hemp oil. It’s a good Omega-3 oil if you feed your dog a diet made primarily of meat from ruminants (like beef, goat, lamb, bison, venison). To add help oil to your dog’s diet, give 1 tsp of hemp oil for every 1-1.25 lbs of food.

If you’re feeding poultry, hemp oil can lead to too much polyunsaturated fat in the diet, so you should choose something different. Options include flaxseed oil or chia seed oil plus canned sardines (in water or olive oil). Add 1 tsp of oil along with 1/4 can of sardines for every 1-1.25 pounds of lean chicken, turkey, or duck you feed.

Phytoplankton is also an excellent source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, along with important trace minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Phytoplankton is absorbed by the body as soon as it gets in your dog’s mouth, so it delivers key nutrients without your dog having to digest first.

Coconut oil is another healthy oil to add to your dog’s diet. It’s not an omega-3, but a medium chain fatty acid and has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It’s a good idea to rotate into your dog’s diet to help with skin issues, allergies, and immune support. We recommend giving up to 1 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight.

4. Feed the Gut (Not the Dog)

Bacteria that live in your dog’s gut form 80% of his immune system. These friendly bacteria also produce your dog’s vitamins, help him digest food and more. But these friendly little bugs can easily be damaged by starchy carbohydrates, which feed the harmful bacteria in the gut and crowd out the friendly bacteria colonies. Here’s how you can replace the friendly bacteria in your dog’s gut:

  • Feed Probiotics
    You can boost the number of good bacteria in your dog’s gut by adding a probiotic supplement, or adding probiotic foods such as fermented vegetables, raw goat milk, or kefir. Probiotics assist in digestive help by keeping the gut healthy and full of good bacteria.

Remember, when you introduce probiotics to your dog’s diet, it’s best to do it slowly. If your dog is new to probiotics, they can cause a die-off of the harmful bacteria, which could cause gas, loose stools, and stomach rumblings. Go slow if your dog has a history of digestive upset.

5. Avoid All Unnecessary Vaccines

Here’s an important tip. Most vaccines your dog gets are unnecessary!

Over-vaccination costs you more than just money, it can seriously harm your dog. Vaccine reactions are more common than you think, and they’re well documented. Vaccine damage can range from minor reactions (lethargy, hair loss) to moderate (chronic allergies, lameness, respiratory diseases), to severe (seizures, myocarditis, death).

And there’s actually no need to put your dog’s health at risk…

Research shows that core vaccines (parvovirus, distemper, and adenovirus) your dog gets as a puppy protect him for at least 7 to 1 years. That means he’s covered for most, or probably all of his life after his puppy vaccination. It also means that anything more than those first puppy shots is overkill, which means your dog is getting all of the risk and none of the benefit.

Even though your vet wants you to vaccinate your dog every year or every three years, there’s no research showing this is necessary. Nearly every dog who’s vaccinated at or after 16 weeks of age has been shown to be protected for life.

If you’re worried about skipping your dog’s vaccines this year, you can check to see if he’s protected before vaccinating. Ask your vet for a titer test, which is a blood test that measures the level of protective antibodies your dog has to certain diseases.

Getting a titer test is one of the most important things you can do to stop over-vaccination for your dog. Learn more about titer tests on Dogs Naturally.

Note: Some conventional veterinarians may charge much more than a vaccine cost for a titer test. Stop in the Barkery for information about affordable titer testing before paying hundreds of dollars for this simple blood test!

AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) vaccine guidelines have been updated to say a positive titer can replace vaccination for the core vaccines, so if your vet presses you to vaccinate, you can refer to these guidelines. Don’t just give in and vaccinate, your dog’s life might rely on that decision!

Start the year off right with these five simple changes. We can virtually guarantee they will seriously improve your dog’s health and reduce risk of disease!