Friendly Reminder: spring is Giardia season! It’s important to try and prevent dogs from drinking from puddles and slow moving water. Giardia and other diseases that can be transmitted through contact with animal feces are prevalent this time of year (snow and ice is melting, releasing accumulated deposits, and the rain rinses fecal matter down into streams and puddles). We’ve really noticed swampy spots at local dog parks like Fern Hill (lots of dog poop is being washed down the hills into the gullies!) and we see dogs playing in these little “ponds”. We also have a handful of customers who have recently reported their dogs have tested positive for Giardia.
Giardia is tricky to eliminate and is unfortunately also tricky to test for. Symptoms can take several months or more to begin because they are caused by gradual changes in the lining of the intestine. It’s possible to get a negative test result if the sample didn’t contain a spore, so multiple stool samples may need to be collected and tested. Symptoms can persist for some time after treatment, as the lining of the gut may need repair. Here are two tips:
We’re coming up on a time of the year when fleas start to become more active. Here are a few quick tips to stay ahead of fleas (and ticks) effectively without harmful chemicals:
Protect your yard
- Nematodes: When soil temperatures rise above 45 degrees for at least 2 to 3 weeks (spring, summer and fall in most areas), apply nematodes to your yard to minimize flea populations. Nematodes (microscopic worms) eat flea larvae and do not hurt beneficial insects. They can be found at many plant nurseries. (Portland Peeps: they stock them at Garden Fever right down the street from us).
- Diatomaceous earth – sprinkle in the yard where dogs spend the most time, especially if they have regular “resting spots”.
- Keep it Clean and Dry: Fleas like shady, sandy, and moist areas, so be sure to remove yard debris, and keep grass mowed short in shady spots.
Protect your House
Seafood Watch Guide to Salmon
When we are evaluating a pet food or treat to sell at the store, there is an (ever-expanding) list of ingredients that we will not carry, and farmed salmon is definitely one of them. Some items we don’t like because the ingredients are harmful to the environment, some because practices are inhumane or these animals are fed things that might remain in the meat, and some because they are harmful to the animals that consume them. Farmed salmon has the special distinction as being all of these things.
Farming salmon is factory farming at its worst – it’s devastating to the environment, large overcrowded pens require massive amounts of antibiotics and pesticide usage to combat health problems, contagious diseases and escaped fish are a big risk to wild populations of fish, and the resulting product is high in PCBs and other chemicals.
photo from https://www.canva.com/
This is the second segment in a series covering the benefits of whole food toppers. We try to source the very best dry pet foods on the market, but the truth is that all kibble diets are highly processed foods. Multiple heat processing steps during production damage valuable nutrients like amino acids, enzymes and vitamins, and can create chemicals like acrylamide . Adding small amounts of whole foods to your dry food as toppers can provide valuable nutrients that can help to support their health. It’s amazing how often adding whole foods to processed food diets can help to clear up nagging chronic health problems like itchy skin and other irritations. Don’t miss the introductory blog post in this series.
Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul: slow cooked bone broths of all kinds have legitimate healing properties for our own bodies and for our pets. These broths are staples in the traditional diets of all cultures throughout history and for good reason. Slow cooking bones in water takes the valuable parts that can’t be directly consumed and turns them into more food. They create an incredibly nutritious and very inexpensive elixir that can be eaten on its own or become the base for soups, stews, and sauces. For our pets, broths can be a handy mix to any diet for hydration and appetite stimulation, as well as helping a picky animal think their food is delicious! Many people use expensive canned foods to mix into their kibble, but broths have big advantages over this – broth is far less expensive than cans, and cans come with some downsides such as trace amounts of BPA or other hormone disrupting chemicals in their linings (regardless of what a company might claim ). It also takes a great deal of energy to create and then recycle these cans, as well as fossil fuels to transport them.
What is bone broth?
You can make broths with meat and water, but the real magic lies in the use of the bones. Combining bones with water and ideally some veggies (avoid onions for pets and people with chronic digestive issues), and a splash of cider vinegar. Let it all cook over low heat or in a crock pot for a long time–this extracts valuable minerals and other nutrients as well as breaking down connective tissues which releases collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and valuable amino acids that greatly improve the health of the joints, skin, and gut lining (where the immune system lives).
Check out some of the amazing benefits of bone broths:
This time of year in Portland we seem to be prone to ice storms, which are not only an inconvenience to everyone, they pose a risk to dogs when de-icing products are used on slippery sidewalks and roads. The trouble is, even the products that say eco-safe or pet friendly may not be entirely safe for your pets to interact with.
Here are some common ingredients and their concerns:
Salts (any ingredient that contains the word “Chloride”) are very important to avoid. Products like Earth Friendly brand of Ice Melt has magnesium chloride, a safer and less corrosive salt than the more common sodium chloride or potassium chloride, but any salts can be dangerous for pets to ingest, and can burn the skin on their paws, especially if it gets stuck in between their toes. Salt doesn’t just burn because it’s an irritant – it actually heats up when it comes in contact with moisture. You can check it out for yourself by putting a Tbs of salt and enough water to get it wet in a baggie – you’ll feel it heat up. It can get as hot as 170 degrees, and if that is salt that is wedged between their pads it can really burn. Then when they try to lick it off of their paws they’ll be ingesting it. Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal distress in small amounts and in larger amounts can cause hemorrhagic vomiting, diarrhea or death. Until recently, Portland hasn’t used salt on roads, but as of this winter, they have begun to use it on major roads here.
Calcium Salts (calcium carbonate, calcium chloride, and calcium magnesium acetate): are also very important to avoid. They cause similar problems to chlorides (above) – severe gastrointestinal distress is possible and local skin irritation.
We try to carry the best dry foods on the market, but it’s important to realize that even the best ones are still a heavily processed food. Some ingredients are put through multiple layers of processing, and the whole batch is baked or more often extruded, which can damage nutrients, enzymes, and valuable amino acids that have important jobs to do in the body.
Most pet owners find one kibble that works and just stick with it, but this really limits the number of nutrients available to your pet. Some pet food companies say you should never ever switch your dog’s food, but that doesn’t make much sense (they just don’t want you to feed someone else’s food!). Why should you sometimes switch your pet’s food? No matter what, even the best brands of kibble are highly processed foods that lack whole food nutrients and enzymes that can help their bodies thrive. Topping off their kibble diets can make a huge difference for their health! Even the nicest raw food diets can be lacking nutrient diversity – no matter how thoughtful and knowledgeable we are, we couldn’t make a single meal for ourselves that we could eat every single day of our lives and not have a deficiency or excess of something for our personal nutritional needs. We can certainly say the same for our pets! Variety over time creates nutritional balance. Adding whole food toppers are a great to help to round out their meals, especially if you rotate through different ones! Just like for people, a diet for pets made entirely of processed foods with no fresh whole food nutrients is a recipe for chronic illness. With the rapid rise in chronic illnesses like cancer, we should (in our opinion) be doing everything we can to boost the diets of our precious, short lived pets to try to take advantage of whole food nutrients. But what to give?
Holiday Recycling Tips & Why Some Items Can’t Go In:
Portland allows us to recycle a lot of things curbside, including plastic plant nursery pots, empty spray oil cans, motor oil (next to bins in a clear milk jug) and food waste. (In fact, in 5 years of curbside composting, we’ve been able to turn food waste into over 400,000 tons of finished compost, which is enough compost to cover 2,400 acres of farmland, (about 4 square miles). That alone is a lot of volume kept out of our landfills!
Unfortunately it’s easy to contaminate our curbside recycling bins with well-intentioned attempts to recycle things we wish they would take, or with little things that we don’t realize can ruin the ability to recycle the rest of the material.
We really try very hard to carry products that we trust from companies who have rigorous safety protocols for their manufacturing facilities and who source good ingredients. These pet food companies are pretty big companies though, providing a lot of product nationally to a great number of pets. Problems are fairly uncommon, though they are still possible. Remember, we can’t report problems to the company unless we have the date codes and lot numbers. If your pet’s food seems to have changed, or your pet suddenly doesn’t want to eat something they usually like, or you open a new bag and your pets suddenly start having issues, here are 4 things you should do:
We just wanted to remind everyone to be very careful with products with Xylitol around your dogs! It’s a sweetener used more and more in things like candies and gum. Though safe for humans, even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. We recently spoke to a customer whose little dog somehow ate a stick of gum with xylitol (they didn’t have any in their house, and they figure the dog hoovered it up on a walk and they didn’t see it). The owner saw his dog in the yard a short time after their walk and she was swaying and drooling. She was rushed to the emergency hospital where they were able to remove the gum (less than an hour from ingestion), which was lucky, as if it had been in her stomach longer, it could have been a fatal dose. They have a protocol where a dog has to be then boarded for 3 days so it can have its liver values tested regularly, as it’s common for dogs to continue to have a risk of crashing in that time period. This event also cost him $1600. Shortly after, one of our employees’ dog got into some gum in the house and they were also very lucky to find her quickly and discern the problem, but her little dog’s liver values were very seriously high. Please share this information, reminding your dog owning friends and family to be very vigilant about keeping your dog away from this very dangerous substance for dogs. More info here
(* = items we sell or can order for you)
Remember – if it’s not safe for you to stay in your home, it’s not safe for your pets. When in doubt, bring them with you. There is a chance that if conditions worsen, you may not be allowed to return to your home to retrieve them later.
Pro Tip: Use the buddy system. If you can, make arrangements with a nearby neighbor to try and help each other if the time comes to evacuate. Trade keys now and give instructions on where your pets and medications/supplies are. If you are out during an emergency event, your neighbor may be home and able to get your pets out when you cannot (and vice versa).
Containment: One of the most important things to own are crates*, (especially for cats). If your house is damaged, your pets might be very frightened and disoriented, and panicking pets are hard to keep safe. Crate them to protect and transport them. You may also have better chances to find shelter elsewhere if you have a means to contain your pet.