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What is the big deal with GRAIN-FREE FOODS?
- PREMIUM INGREDIENTS. Grain-free foods are becoming increasingly popular because they use quality protein sources, which is important for your pet’s health. Because these foods use premium ingredients, your pet will be healthier and therefore will have to go to the veterinarian less; however, there is significant debate about the benefits of a grain-free diet. Here we give you both sides.
- PREVENT VET BILLS: Many studies have linked poor health to grains: by spending a little extra money on a high-quality food, you will be preventing unnecessary veterinarian bills.
- LOWER CARBOHYDRATE CONTENT: Carbohydrates have been shown to contribute to obesity, diabetes, kidney stones, and allergies. Switching to a grain-free food will act as a preventative diet for these problems. REDUCED WASTE: Since grain-free foods contain less filler, there will be less pet waste to clean up. This means your pet is using the food they eat.
- HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN: Low quality, hard-to-digest high protein content (like corn) is what contributes to kidney disease. As such, switching your pet to a diet with a high quality protein will reduce your pet’s chances of kidney disease.
- BACK TO NATURE: A compelling argument for grain-free foods is that pets are not evolved to eat grains: they are unable to efficiently digest and process them. A grain-free diet is closer to what they would eat in the wild.
- IRRITATES SYSTEMATIC YEAST ISSUES: Grain-free diets use potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams as their carbohydrate source. A grain-free diet may not be right for pets that suffer from systematic yeast issues and for pets that are allergic.
- HIGH QUALITY GRAINS: High quality grain (like oats and rice) in proper proportions as a carbohydrate source, not a protein source, can be good.
- HIGH COST: Grain-free diets tend to cost more, since the ingredients used are more expensive (corn is inexpensive; meat sources tend to be more expensive).
- NEW PRODUCT: Grain-free diets are relatively new: as such, we do not know all of the benefits and the drawbacks a grain-free diet will have in two generations.
How can you treat and prevent URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS/BLADDER STONES/CRYSTALS?
There is much information out there that feeding a GRAIN-FREE DIET can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and crystals. Diets that include low-quality grains, especially, give the urinary system an excessive elimination load and cause alkaline (low-acid) urine in pets. It is also important, for prevention and treatment, to make sure your pet has access to fresh water at all times. If your pet does not find still water appealing, try a running water pet fountain. To treat a UTI it is necessary to give your pet antibiotics and possibly pain medication (talk to your vet about these things) but in addition to the treatment, a cranberry supplement works well for helping your pet get back on track!
My pet is OBESE/OVERWEIGHT, what is the best way to lose the weight and keep it off?
The most important thing a pet owner can do is pay attention to the FEEDING GUIDELINES on the back of their pet food. Switching to a "low calorie" diet is unnecessary. The best thing to do is to feed your pet less and give them more exercise and the weight will come right off. A contributing factor to the increased obesity in pets is due to the grain-based foods, so switching to a grain-free food or a food with better grains can be a good option!
My pet is UNDERWEIGHT, how can I help them gain weight?
If your pet is underweight, it is important for them to gain weight. Have your pet checked out by a vet to make sure what a proper weight looks like for your pet. Once you have your pet examined and if there are no other underlying problems, you should begin to feed your pet a nutrient-loaded food that has a lot of calories. You also want to make sure the food is highly-digestible so your pet is getting the most from the food and not using a lot of needed energy to process the food. This means you should stay away from foods that have a lot of grains in them, especially foods that have corn (which is hard to digest). Make sure to switch your pet over from their old food to their new by mixing half and half for about a week or more. This way your pet’s digestive system can get used to the new food and your pet will not lose weight through diarrhea in the process. If your pet still does not gain weight after two weeks on the new food only, then you should probably see your veterinarian again to make sure there is not an undiagnosed illness keeping your pet from gaining weight.
What contributes to KIDNEY DISEASE?
Contrary to popular belief, high-protein diets do not necessarily cause kidney disease: high-protein diets with UNHEALTHY SOURCES OF PROTEIN, like corn and by-products, are what contribute to kidney disease. The most important factor to remember is that your pet needs to be drinking water: with sufficient water and a good diet you will most likely never have to worry about these problems.
How can I prevent HAIRBALLS?
In the wild, cats will eat GRASS to help prevent hairballs; however, letting your cat out to eat grass is not a good option, especially if there are wild animals around that urinate in the grass. A safer option is to grow wheat grass in a heavy container and allow your cat to eat the grass. At Your Pet Stop, we have ready-to-grow wheat grass! Of course, frequent grooming is also a good way to prevent hairballs.
Why is my pet SCRATCHING and/or LICKING?
ALLERGIES are the main cause of scratching and licking in pets. Some allergies in pets are airborne while other pets are allergic to products used in the home; however, the majority of pet allergies are to food. The two main food products pets are allergic to are: CORN and CHICKEN. Without allergy tests, finding a food that is right for your dog is trial and error. We usually recommend switching to a food without corn first. The next stage would be to switch to a food without chicken. Many customers simply switch to a GRAIN-FREE, CHICKEN-FREE diet for their pets. Taste of the Wild Pacific formula is the best for dogs with severe allergies. In addition to allergies, there are other diseases which can cause your dog to scratch, lick, or pull on his hair.
Are RAWHIDES bad for dogs?
There are many different opinions out there about RAWHIDES, so it is difficult to tell which source is accurate. In general, rawhide is DANGEROUS for many dogs. It is true that some dogs do very well with rawhides; however rawhide is not digestible and can cause serious problems if it gets stuck in your dog’s esophagus, stomach, or intestine. Many pet owners have had to resort to surgical removal. In addition, rawhides provide NO NUTRIENTS for your dog. If you find you must buy your dog rawhides, at least make sure they are high-quality and made in America: American-made rawhides chews are fresher and are less likely to contain illegal or toxic chemicals. Some alternatives to rawhides are beef tendons or moose antlers: both are digestible and are safe to chew. Bones have the tendency to splinter and can cause internal damage.
Is CANNED FOOD better than DRY FOOD?
Canned food has a high percentage of WATER—this is true. For cats that do not get enough water during the day, this is a benefit. However, canned food does not necessarily contain more protein, less carbohydrates, and superior fat sources than dry food. QUALITY dry foods actually tend to contain more protein, less carbohydrates, and superior fat sources than canned foods, without the added sugars and salts found in most canned foods. In addition, canned food does not provide the dental benefits of dry food. Both sides of the argument claim that their suggested diet is closer to what would be found in the wild, but the fact is, neither is closer than the other: canned food is not as tough as the meat found in the wild, while dry food does not contain the moisture found in the wild. The bottom line is, if you are feeding a high-quality food and your pet is drinking enough water, either diet is good for your cat. If you feed a dry food, make sure your pet drinks still water or has access to running water. If you feed a canned food, make sure your pet has sufficient ways to keep their teeth healthy.
Can I feed my pet TABLE SCRAPS?
The short answer is yes and no. If you are going to feed your pet table scraps there are a few key things you need to know. FIRST, always stay away from processed foods and food with sugar in them. It is especially important to stay away from meats made in the deli--they tend to be high in salt, fat and nitrates. SECOND, stay away from the bones found in the meats. In general, if the bones are raw they should be alright for your dog if they are not small or sharp; however, cooked bones get brittle and splinters easily into sharp shards that can cause internal damage. THIRD, feeding your pet table scraps can make them not want to eat their regular food. This can become troublesome for owners who do not have the time or inclination to feed their pets a healthy homemade diet. So resist those big eyes and feed your pet their own food. FOURTH, if you only feed your pet table scraps because you believe a homemade diet is better for your pet, it is important to remember that it is only better if you do it right. This means you will have to invest a significant amount of time in researching and preparing a healthy, balanced diet. Want to know more about a homemade diet without the research? Email us!
I have a FINICKY EATER, what do I do?
There are a couple of things that you can try. FIRST, it is possible that if your pet is leaving food in the bowl, there is a good chance you are overfeeding them. Make sure to check the feeding guidelines on the package and cut back slightly. SECOND, if the amount of food is not a problem, make sure your pet has the right food for them. The best pet food in the world might not work well for your pet's needs. Sometimes, it is just trial and error: Your Pet Stop has samples of many of our foods so that you are not left with bags of unused food. THIRD, feeding your pet twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) is a good habit to get into. Make sure to leave the food down for only 30 minutes at a time. After that time, pick up the bowl and do not allow your pet to eat until the next scheduled feeding time. This way, your pet will learn when it is time to eat and eat during that time. FOURTH, watch how many treats you give your pet so that you do not spoil their appetite. Sometimes, giving the food you feed your pet as a treat out of your pocket will motivate them to eat. FIFTH, if none of these tips work, try making eating fun for your pet. There are many toys that hold kibble so that your pet must work to get their food. Otherwise, hiding the food around the house is also a good idea, if there are no kids or other animals in the house.
What can I do for my pet's DRY or DULL COAT?
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining healthy skin and coats. Food or treats with fish like salmon and trout contain a lot of Omega 3; otherwise you can try supplementing your pet’s diet with flaxseed oil or fish oil. Vitamin E is also beneficial for skin and coat health, so giving your pet vegetables like carrots, broccoli stalks, celery and cauliflower as treats is a great option that will also help prevent tartar build-up! Remember not to just treat the symptoms, but address the problems. Before adding supplements, make sure the food you are feeding your pet has good sources of proteins, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The inside of your pet is usually reflected on the outside, so make sure your pet is getting the nutrition they need to be healthy and look their best! If you are sure your pet has a healthy diet, then the supplements can be used.
How can I stop my pet from EATING POOP?
Pets eat poop either because they need it or they like it. If they NEED to eat poop, it is because they are trying to get nutrients they are lacking. Look at the food you are feeding your pet first. Low-quality foods sometimes lack the nutrition your pet needs to thrive and switching to a higher-quality food is relatively simple. If you are already on a high-quality diet, sometimes adding a supplement formulated especially for pets that eat poop (such as S.E.P.) will help. If neither solution works, it could be that your pet simply LIKES to eat poop. This problem is harder to fix. First, your pet will like eating poop even more if they get a reaction this habit. Screaming and taking it away will only make them want it more. In addition, eating poop gets your attention, which may be all your pet wants. Give it to them only when they don’t eat poop. Second, sometimes your pet simply starts eating poop as a way to clean up. Make sure you clean up accidents immediately and do not let poop sit in a crate. If none of these tips work, as disgusting as eating poop may seem this habit is not bad for your pet apart from the occasional parasite.
What is the deal with ALLERGIES in pets?
Food allergies in pets are rising, but not many pet owners are aware of them. If your pet is itching, scratching, has bald patches, frequent ear infections, or poor coat quality, they may be suffering from allergies to food. Food allergies are the over-response of your dog’s immune system to an invading protein. These proteins are found in meats, but also in grains and vegetables as well. Any protein has the potential to cause an allergy; however, the most common cause is chicken and corn. Switching to a food without either is a good option; otherwise, trial and error can work. Start by eliminating one source of protein for a week. If there is no improvement, begin to eliminate another protein. Your vet can also do a comprehensive test to find what exactly your pet is allergic to.
How do I stop my pet from BUTT DRAGGING?
Butt dragging could be a sign of impacted or infected anal glands: it is important to talk to your vet about it at the next visit. If you notice any blood, do not wait for the next visit and bring your pet in right away. To keep your pet out of the vet’s office, prevention is essential. Feeding your pet a high-quality food with less or no filler will produce firmer stools that will naturally express the anal glands to keep them healthy. Once your pet is switched to the food, keep away from feeding your pet table scraps and treats with filler, as they can lead to softer stools.
What do I do if my pet has HOT SPOTS?
When your pet is itching, biting and/or scratching one spot over and over again, it is probable that they have a HOT SPOT. Depending on how thick your pet’s fur is, hair may begin to fall out of the spot and you may notice a red spot that oozes pus. Hot spots occur most often in dogs with long, thick coats because moisture can get more easily trapped next to the skin and culture bacterium that attacks the skin. The bacterium makes your pet itch, which opens the skin up to infection. Hot spots also occur due to allergies. No matter what the cause, if your pet has a hot spot, the first thing to do is gently clip the hair away from around the edges of the spot. Removing the hair from the spot will help the wound dry (the bacteria love warm, moist environments). Next, wash the spot with soap and water. If the hot spot is severe, you may need to go to your vet to get creams. After the hot spot is treated, it is important to address the underlying causes of the spot. If your pet has long, thick fur, the best solution is frequent grooming. If the cause of the hot spots is allergies, figure out what your pet is allergic to. The solution could be to vacuum your house frequently and keep your lawn chemical-free. It is also important to make sure your pet is not allergic to something in their food. The two major allergy-causing ingredients are corn and chicken, so first try taking one out of your pet’s diet.
My pet has bad GAS, how can I stop it?
Gas is a normal body function that cannot be stopped completely; however, excessive gas can be lessened after a cause is found.
- BACTERIA IN THE COLON that works to digest foods not digested in the stomach and small intestines create foul-smelling gasses. In order to stop the excessive gasses caused by the bacteria, you should change your pet’s diet. Low-quality diets full of fillers and by-products make your pet’s digestive system work harder, since things like corn and barley are hard to digest, causing the colon to work hard and create the foul-smelling gas in order to process the food. Changing to a higher-quality diet without fillers will help.
- SWALLOWING TOO MUCH AIR while eating could cause excessive amounts of gas in pets; however, this gas will not have a strong odor. To lessen the gas, slow down your pet’s eating by either feeding smaller meals throughout the day or placing an obstacle (like a ball or a rock) inside your pet’s dish to force them to slow down.
- GI TRACT INFECTIONS, DISEASES, AND DISORDERS can cause excess gas production. Other signs will also occur with the infection, like diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Of all of the causes, this is the least likely culprit; however, you should check with your vet to make sure your pet is healthy.
My pet is CONSTIPATED, what should I do?
Most pets will get constipated once in their lives. Make sure that your pet is having difficulty defecating, not difficulty urinating. If your pet has difficulty urinating, get to your vet immediately as it can be life-threatening. If your pet is indeed having difficulty defecating, there are many possible causes and treatments. If your pet has a tendency to excessively lick their fur, this can cause hairballs which can potentially block the colon. A lot of times, pets will consume objects like rock, gravel, fabric, rawhides, etc. These can cause constipation and sometimes will require surgery to remove. To find out the cause of your pet’s constipation, take your pet to the vet. If you want to prevent your pet from getting constipated, there are a few good ways. First, make sure there are not any foreign objects lying around that your pet can consume. Second, you may want to look at changing your pet’s food to a high quality food with lots of vegetables and fruit, or adding a fiber supplement. Giving your pet carrots as treats is a great way to get them fiber and reward them at the same time!
What is a good way to TRIM NAILS?
It is important to start trimming your pet’s nails when they are young and to do it consistently. This way, they get used to it and it will be easier on both of you. Keep your pet restrained so that you do not accidentally cut the “quick” (the blood vessel that runs down each of the nails). Once your dog is restrained, grab a paw and push the pad in so that the nails are exposed. Locate the quick on each of the nails and trim them slightly above the vein at a forty-five degree angle. If you cannot locate the quick because the nails are dark, start with the tip of the nail and make a series of small cuts. Do not forget about the dew claws (the “thumb” nail on the front paws of all animals). They grow the fastest and cannot be trimmed by walking.
How should I CLEAN my pet’s EARS?
Start by getting an ear wash formulated for pets. Never use peroxide on your pet’s ears, because it causes burning and can damage your pet’s ears. Once you have the ear wash, soak a cotton ball thoroughly with in it and squeeze out any excess. Place the cotton ball in the ear of your pet and gently rub up and down. Allow your pet to shake in order to prevent ear infections, and then move on to the other ear.
My pet is having VISION PROBLEMS, what can I do?
Diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and cataracts affect sight. All of these can be diagnosed by your vet; however, there is significant evidence that Omega 3 fatty acids and Pro-vitamin A (like that found in carrots or other orange vegetables) can help with eyesight and the health of the eye in humans. As such, it is possible that they can provide the same benefits in dogs: Omega 3 is great for skin, coat, and joints too, so you can’t really go wrong with giving it to your pet. Carrots and other orange veggies are also beneficial for animals, so go ahead and treat your pet with them!
My pet has ANXIETY, how can I help?
Anxiety is a very stressful problem for both you and your pet. It is a problem on its own, but it can lead to barking problems and shaking too. First, you need to make sure that there is nothing physically affecting your pet, like an illness or disease. Next, make sure your pet has a comfortable environment: are their scary dogs in your neighborhood that bark? Is it too hot or cold in your house? Is there a new resident in your house? If you cannot find anything wrong physically or in your pet’s environment, the anxiety needs to be dealt with directly. Here’s how:
- It is important to remember not to make a big show of you either coming or leaving. Ignoring your pet for a few minutes after you get home may help solve the problem.
- Make sure you give your pet plenty of socialization and exercise.
- Give your pet plenty of things to play with when you leave.
- Pets tend to get more anxious when they are hungry, so make sure they are well-fed before you leave.
One good method to tackle separation anxiety specifically is to step outside as often as possible whether your pet is watching or not. Make sure to use the door you most often leave through. Do this for a couple days and make sure to come right back in before your pet gets upset. It will help to start taking things you regularly take with you outside and vary it: take your coat, keys, purse, wallet, etc. Sometimes, leave for longer than a few minutes and take a walk. Mixing up your routine may also help.
If nothing is working, or if your pet is specifically afraid of something like thunder or fireworks, try the THUNDERSHIRT. It is a shirt for dogs that helps ease their anxiety by gently hugging them and making them feel secure!
Do I need to give my pet PROBIOTICS?
It depends. Probiotics are good bacteria that are present in the gastrointestinal (GI) track and are thought to be useful for improving digestion and immune functioning. The balance in the GI track is upset or diminished by a high grain diet, a weak immune system, toxins from food, artificial food ingredients, and antibiotics; as such, if you feed your pet a good food it should not be necessary to add probiotics to their diet. If your pet has a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, or has problems with digestion, probiotics may be useful. It is important to remember that probiotics are “host specific” so while there may be probiotics in yogurt that are good for humans, they may not be beneficial to pets. Since probiotics are not drugs, labels are not regulated and therefore may not be accurate. If a product claims to have probiotics: the probiotic should be identified on the list of ingredients (lactobacillus acidophilus is a common name for canine probiotics): the bacterial species as well as the strain will be indicated on a good product. Always ask your vet before feeding your pet probiotics.
How should I keep up my pet’s DENTAL HEALTH?
Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and providing them with a healthy diet and good chew toys can go a long way towards keeping your pet’s mouth healthy.
- Get a toothbrush and toothpaste made especially for animals. Once you have your gear, get your pet used to the idea of having their teeth brushed by rubbing their lips with your finger in a circular motion for around 30 seconds once a day for a few weeks. Then move to the teeth and gums. When your pet gets comfortable with that, put a bit of the toothpaste on their lip to get them used to the taste. Then introduce the toothbrush. Now you should be able to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis!
- Make sure your pet’s food does not have added sugars! Many cheaper brands of pet food add sugars to their food in order to make the food more appealing (this is why pets sometimes prefer the cheaper brands to the higher-quality ones). Switch to a high-quality food that focuses on protein, fruits, and vegetables. Stay away from grains, especially corn and wheat! Finally, once you have your pet switched over to a good food, make sure that their treats do not have added sugars either.
- Chew toys help make your pet’s teeth strong. No matter if you have a dog or a cat, your pet needs and wants to chew. Plus, chewing reduces your pet’s stress level and prevents boredom! Some good, safe options for chewing are antlers, rubber balls, and various tough stuffed toys.
How do I choose the RIGHT TYPE OF BRUSH for my pet?
Different types of dogs require different brushes. If you use the correct brush for your pet, grooming them will be a much better experience. Always remember to brush with the grain for the best results. There are four types of brushes: slicker brushes, rakes, bristle, and pin brushes.
- Slicker Brushes: These brushes have fine, short wires that are close together on a flat surface. They are best used for medium, long, or curly haired pets to remove mats. Remember to be gentle when grooming, as the wires on a slicker brush can cause your pet discomfort when too much pressure is applied.
- Rakes: Rakes are good for getting deep into thick coats to remove tangles and dead undercoat. They look like shaving razors and have one or two rows of tightly-spaced pins. Find one with pins that roughly match your pet’s hair length. Use them with minimal pressure on thick-coated dogs.
- Bristle Brushes: These brushes are good for short-haired, smooth-coated pets that shed a lot. They have clusters of tightly-packed, natural bristles that remove loose hair and stimulate the skin for growth!
- Pin Brushes: Pin brushes look like what humans use to brush their hair—they have flexible wires with pins on top. These brushes pick up loose hair before it is shed on to furniture and finish a well-brushed coat; however, they provide little benefits otherwise.