Thursday, July 30, 2020

Meat Treats; Pieces and Parts

While rawhide has been a popular dog chew for decades, it is actually one of the most common causes of bowel obstruction. Rawhide is a byproduct of the leather industry and it isn't very digestible. It may also be treated with preservative chemicals making it even more dangerous. Dogs love to chew, and they also need to. It is a stress reliever and helps keep their teeth clean. So what are some good choices?

Trachea, necks, duck heads and pig ears
Giving your dog or cat freeze dried animal parts, like pig ears or beef trachea adds a minimally processed component to the diet. Pig ears and snouts are made up of cartilage, highly digestible
while providing a longer lasting chew. Beef trachea or esophagus, duck or chicken feet are also good choices. Freeze dried organ meats like hearts or gizzards are a pretty quick chew but are rich in protein, supplying amino acids and vitamins that can be lacking in processed pet foods. Farm Hounds has a great selection of organ meats made from pasture raised animals, hearts, livers and poultry gizzards just to name a few. They source their ingredients from small family farms, avoiding the contamination risks of factory farming.

A popular choice on the Vital Essentials Raw Bar are freeze dried poultry 
Magic shopping the Raw Bar
necks. Neck bones contain a lot of cartilage so are a good source of glucosamine and chondroitin, both important for joint health. Because the necks are freeze dried the bones are essentially raw, so unlikely to splinter into sharp edges. It is important to choose the necks that are the appropriate size for your dog. Small dogs would do fine with chicken necks, medium and large dogs would do better with duck or turkey necks. Fish skin jerky is a great way to add Omega 3 to your dog's diet, a fatty acid that can be missing in processed dog food. Omega 3 is thought to decrease the inflammation response in dogs with arthritis and can decrease skin itchiness for dogs with allergies. 

For many pet owners giving treats is showing love. Our pets are perfectly ok with that and enjoy every crumb. By giving freeze dried or dehydrated pieces and parts you are adding important nutrition to your pet's diet and adding quality to their lives without piling on excess calories and carbs from starches. Definitely a win-win.

Friday, April 10, 2020

So You Have A New Puppy; What To Do Next

Bringing home a new puppy is a very exciting time. They are cute and fluffy, but they will also chew your house apart if you aren't careful. Especially now that everyone is social distancing, how can you make sure your new dog gets everything they need?

Magic, Mayhem and Fritz
Nutrition is extremely important for a growing puppy. Large breed pups especially need food that is formulated to support healthy growth, but at a slower rate than smaller breeds. All puppies need food with the proper calcium to phosphorus ratio for healthy bone growth. Regardless of breed, the first year is a time of rapid growth and development. A high quality food will support that growth and get your puppy off to a good start. It is also a good idea to feed a variety of different proteins. Studies have shown that introducing different proteins early in life can help prevent allergies later in life.

Oliver with a Bully Stick
Safe and healthy chews are very important for a puppy. There are a lot of different chews on the market, some are better than others. Rawhide is very popular, but can be very dangerous if your dog bites a piece off and swallows it. Most vets advise against rawhide for this reason. I like to give my dogs Bully sticks. These are pieces of dried beef tendon and they are very digestible. Freeze dried necks, chicken or duck feet or other "pieces and parts" are also good choices. The Benebone Company makes a nylon based chew, these are made to wear down very slowly and even the tough chewers don't break pieces off.

Puppy classes are great for socialization and training, but with the current shelter in place order in Ohio training classes have been cancelled. Abbe Moen at Affinity Canine is currently holding virtual classes, and can help get your new puppy off to a great start. Check out

Most important, enjoy this time with your new family member!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What Are High Value Treats?

The term high value treat is used frequently in dog training, but what exactly makes a treat high value? The short answer is flavor. To be high value a treat has to be more important to the dog than whatever distraction is going on around them. When you are working with your dog in the living room or back yard with no distractions, kibble would likely work just fine. When you are at the park surrounded by people, running children and other dogs, a treat has to be much more interesting to keep the dog's attention.
Meme courtesy of At Attention Dog Training.

This is why dog trainers will tell you to practice at home until the dog has mastered the behavior, then head to the park to "proof" the behavior with distractions. It is also important to increase the value of your treats as you increase the distraction level.

I like to use freeze dried foods as training treats. They are small, flavorful and since they are nutritionally complete they are a wonderful part of my dog's daily diet. On days we are doing a lot of training I can subtract from regular meals without sacrificing nutrition. These treats come in a variety of proteins so you can change up flavors to keep your dog interested. 

Treat size and consistency matter too. It is very helpful in training if your dog doesn't have to stop and chew. A small, soft treat is a great reward but it doesn't break up the flow of training. 
These treats also hold up well in your pocket or treat pouch, so you aren't fumbling to get one out. Timing is very important in training, when your dog does something great you want to let them know.

We carry a great variety of training treats, please come in and talk to us. We can help you make a great choice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

CBD Oil For Pets

I started hearing about CBD oil well over a year ago and started researching its uses. I am a bit of a cynic about new products and won’t bring something in to the Grateful Dog Bakery until I verify it through independent sources. What I found was that people either raved about how well it worked or said it didn’t work at all. Further research showed me that the best results were coming from a full spectrum molecule product with a high concentration of CBD per dose. The more I read the more sense it made. The full spectrum molecule is able to attach to receptors in the body and brain to relieve pain, anxiety and a host of other problems.

Once I figured out how the product worked it was time to start researching companies. While there are many products made specifically for pets I settled on the Clean Remedies Company for several reasons. Their product is grown in Oregon, organic and vegan with no use of any pesticides. The thing that really sold me on the product was that their pet product and human product are one in the same, simply packaged with different dosing instructions. Their product is tested by independent labs and the results are made public to verify it is what they say it is. Finally their staff is very well educated and happy to answer any questions in plain English.
I take pride in the fact there is no product in my store that I won’t give to my own dogs. Beau, our 12 year old golden retriever, has arthritis in his hips and spine so I started giving it to him twice a day. Ophelia, another golden, is storm phobic, so I also gave it to her for thunderstorms. I am happy to say she seemed much calmer with the CBD oil. Beau is more mobile, spending more time out strolling the yard than he has in the last couple years. Finally, since I also have arthritis myself I started taking it. I can’t say I am completely pain free but I am a lot more comfortable, especially after a long day at the baking table.
The feedback I am getting from customers is very positive. Dogs with arthritis are more mobile, anxious dogs are calmer. One customer giving it to her dog who was having seizures reports no seizure activity in the 3 months since the dog started taking it. Prior to that the dog was still having 1-2 seizures a week even while on anti-seizure medication. The owner will be talking to her vet about decreasing the medication dosage with hopes of weaning it off entirely.
All in all CBD Oil is a product I am confident in recommending.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Talking Prices: Save Money, Shop Small and Local!

I see a great many social media posts asking people to shop small and support local businesses. I am suggesting you shop small to save money as well. We are competitively priced with other small businesses, the big box stores and the online retailers! Surprised? The commercials for the big box stores and online retailers always say they are the most economical, but let me show you how that isn't true. I compared prices at two of the online retailers, Chewys and Petflow. Their prices are pretty much identical, as are their so called "list prices". I am not sure where these list prices come from, but they are not the manufacturer's suggested retail price.

Let's start with the Champion Co. They make Orijen and Acana, two very high quality dry foods. I selected Orijen Original and Acana Pork & Squash to compare prices.
Orijen Original 25 lb., our price 76.99, online price 78.99
 Acana Pork & Squash 25 lb. our price 68.99, online price 68.99

The Champion Co also gives independent retailers a bonus: we can offer the frequent buyer program. After you buy 12 bags your 13th bag is free. So while 13 bags of Orijen from the online retailer would cost you $1026.87, buying from us would cost you $923.88. 13 bags of Acana from the online retailer would cost $896.87, buying from us would be $827.88. As you can see that is a significant savings!

When you look at Fromm on the online retailers they show a list price that makes their price look pretty good. I chose Fromm Gold Adult 33 lb. to compare prices. The "list price" is 68.99, the online price is 46.66. Our price is 47.99. Not a huge difference, but here comes a big savings when you shop local. Fromm also has a frequent buyers program. Buy 12, get your 13th bag for free. So the price comparison for 13 bags is 606.58 from the online retailer, 575.88 when you shop with us.

When you look at freeze dried foods the difference is even bigger. I compared online prices and two of the local big box stores, and was very pleased to see our prices are lower. I selected Primal Freeze dried Duck Formula 14 oz and Sojo's Freeze Dried Beef 8 lb. For the Primal 14 oz Duck Formula our price is 26.99, online price was 30.99 and the big box store was 28.99. Primal also gives us a frequent buyer program, buy 12 and your 13th bag is free.
So let's compare; 13 bags from us is 323.88. Online
is 402.87 and the big box store 376.87.

For the Sojo's Beef Formula 8 lb. our price is 76.99, online
price is 83.14. Again we are able to offer a buy 12 get your 13th free so you are saving even more when you shop with us!

The price comparisons on canned foods were similar as were dry, canned and freeze dried foods for cats. When it comes right down to it, the online retailers and chain stores aren't saving you any money. The online retailers do offer convenience, but certainly not savings.

One of the things we promise our customers is high quality products. We do a lot of research before we bring a product in, and we will never carry a product just because we can make money on it. If I wouldn't give it to my dog or cat I won't sell it to you for yours. That is our pledge to you. My online and big box competitors can't say the same thing, as I saw looking at their websites. The Whole Dog Journal and recently put out a list of the worst dry dog foods and I was appalled to see all of these foods were available online and in the stores. What that says to me is they don't care what you feed your pets as long as they make money selling it to you.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Is Dry Food Enough To Keep Your Pet Healthy And Happy?

For many people, pet food comes in a dry form in a big bag that they scoop into their pet's bowl according to the directions. The bag clearly states it is a complete diet, leading the pet owner to believe that's all there is to pet nutrition. If you watch television the pet food commercials certainly want you to believe it is. I am encouraging you to "think outside the bag" and look at other food options for your dog or cat. While dry food (kibble) is very convenient it is a processed food. The heat used in processing destroys some of the enzymes, amino acids and vitamins and minerals. Some companies add vitamins and minerals back in at the end of the process, but they aren't as easily absorbed as those that occur naturally in food.

Dogs and cats benefit from having a raw component added to their diets. Even having one or two raw meals a week is beneficial. The enzymes found in raw meats help keep teeth clean and breath fresh, the amino acids are present in their natural form and are easily absorbed during digestion. Dogs and cats that get even a couple raw meals a week have healthier skin and coats, less itching and dandruff and healthier teeth. Most commercial raw diets are very low in carbohydrates, helping to maintain a healthy weight.

Although many people find the thought of giving their pets raw meats or fish unappealing, there are commercial raw diets available that take the "ick" out of feeding raw. Freeze dried and dehydrated diets are processed at a very low temperature, leaving the nutrients in the food intact. Frozen formulas are not heat processed at all.

Freeze dried diets are processed at very low heat. They are available in either nuggets or in a loose oatmeal consistency. Both types are meant to be rehydrated with warm water, the nuggets need to be crumbled so they absorb water faster. Honest Kitchen, Primal, Northwest Naturals, Grandma Lucy's and Sojo's are all excellent companies that make food for both dogs and cats.

Grandma Lucy's  has a complete line of freeze dried foods, with a variety of proteins. Their new
Grandma Lucy's Macanna
Macanna line is made with hemp hearts and kale, a great formula for dogs with allergies.These foods are rehydrated with water and have an oatmeal like consistency. I have used their products for my dogs and I can tell you the food even smells good. The Baker dogs gave it a very enthusiastic 4 paws up, even our picky dog, Beau.

Cats love a raw diet.

While pet food companies treat dogs and cats the same when it comes to making dry food, cats are obligate carnivores. They need a meat based diet to really thrive. They also have a poor thirst drive, as cats evolved in the desert. They are meant to get their moisture from prey animals. This is why cats fed solely a dry diet have frequent problems with urinary tract infections and bladder crystals and stones. Adding a wet raw food to their diet helps keep them hydrated and cuts down on dietary carbohydrates, a leading cause of obesity in pets. Because raw food digests so efficiently hair balls are rarely a problem. Jasmine the Baker cat loves her wet food, and we have had no urinary problems or hair ball issues.

The last type of commercially available raw diet is the frozen variety. These are available in nuggets, patties, bars or "chubs", a 2 or 5 pound tube shaped package. The frozen formulas do require freezer space and preplanning, because you have to remember to thaw tomorrow's food today.

Northwest Naturals Frozen Nuggets
Northwest Naturals has a variety of proteins available and is made in an FDA approved facility. They use HPP (high pressure processing) to eliminate pathogens without heat. The Baker dogs and cat have tried all the varieties and enjoyed them all. Primal also makes frozen varieties for both cats and dogs.

Hundars' Crunch is great for dogs & cats
Another way to add raw food to your pet's diet is by using freeze dried treats. These high flavor treats are a great training treat and add amino acids and proteins not found in processed foods. These treats also have only a single ingredient, which is very helpful for pets with allergies.  They also allow you to introduce different proteins into your pet's diet, lowering the risk of food allergies.

One of the biggest fears about feeding a raw diet is food safety. These are raw meat products, and people are concerned. Using the same food safety practices you would use for any raw meat handling works very well. Wash your hands after handling pet food. Wash pet dishes and storage containers in hot soapy water every time you use them. Use food safe germicidal wipes on your counter tops. Keep children away from any pet food, raw or kibble. These same practices should also be used for handling kibble as there have been incidences with bacterial contamination of those as well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

The holidays are a busy time, and can be filled with celebrations with family and friends. For your dog or cat, these celebrations can be a source of stress and even danger. With a little planning, you can make your fur kid's holiday a happy one.

Some traditional seasonal decorations can be toxic to dogs and cats. Holly, poinsettia, ivy and mistletoe are all toxic to pets. If you want these traditional favorites in your home look for artificial versions. The silk versions look great and can be used year after year, saving you some money, too. Tinsel and ribbons can cause a bowel obstruction if your dog or cat eats it, so keep those well out of reach. Wrapped presents look wonderful under the tree, but to avoid your dog opening packages early storing them out of reach is a good idea.

For many families celebrations include a holiday meal. Make sure your dog or cat isn't self serving when you aren't paying attention. Sometimes well meaning relatives are slipping your pup treats when you aren't looking. All of this can cause upset tummies, so plan ahead to avoid the problem. For the family members that really want to give treats, have some healthy dog safe goodies available. Have a long lasting chew or puzzle toy ready to keep your dog busy. Giving your dog some exercise before the guests arrive helps keep excitement levels under control.

Foods to Avoid: Chocolate, onions, avocados, grapes, raisins. Cooked bones of any kind. Turkey skin and gravy are high fat and could cause pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Raw yeast doughs can cause stomach bloating. The salt dough recipe used for hand made ornaments is very toxic to dogs. Keep these well out of reach.

Foods to Share: white meat turkey, sweet potatoes, green veggies. (Save some out before seasoning or adding butter, cheese or brown sugar).

If a family picture is one of your traditions, don't forget to include your furry family members! It can be challenging to get your cat or dog to cooperate at home, so bring them to our Pet Pictures with Santa! We will be happy to do a family group picture that you will be proud to have on your Holiday cards. All proceeds from this event go to Fido's Companion Rescue so you know you are supporting a good cause, too.

There are some pet friendly holiday events in our area, so follow us on Facebook to see what's going on.

The information in this blog came from articles in Dogster Magazine and If you are looking for well researched and interesting articles, either publication would be a good place to start.