‘Tis the Season For Fleas!

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

  • Vacuum 1x per week: Give the house a regular deep vacuuming, concentrating on cracks between floor boards and between baseboards and flooring, and move slowly over carpets to ensure a deeper clean. Dispose of your bag/empty your canister or suck up some diatomaceous earth or boric acid to kill live fleas inside the vacuum.  An occasional steam clean might even be helpful.
  • Boric acid: After vacuuming, move pets out of the room and sprinkle a boric acid flea powder over carpets and use a broom to sweep the powder into the fibers and leave it there for a week. Less toxic than table salt (but it’s not to be used directly on the pet), Boric Acid will help to kill fleas as they hatch by desiccating them (they can’t build up a resistance). Make sure you put it in dark places like the bottom of closets, under beds and under couches, etc. You can use boric acid powder to protect hard floors (in the cracks and crevices) by dissolving 1/4 cup of powder in 2 cups hot water. Shake well to make sure fully dissolved, spray, and leave for 5 days before any mopping/cleaning of floors. Here’s a good article that discusses Boric Acid more completely.  Diatomaceous Earth could be used in similar ways, but it takes more effort to work it into carpets with a broom, and you want to make sure you protect yourself and others from breathing it too much – it can be an irritant as you sprinkle it around.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding: Use hot soapy water (and an unscented laundry detergent is best for your pets) at least once per week during flea season.

Protect Your Pet

  • Use a repellent on animals that go outdoors: Check out Mad About Organics products for cats or dogs (the spray is a great mosquito repellent for humans as well!) or Wondercide spray to keep fleas and ticks away from your dogs. (Wondercide says that it’s safe for cats, but we’ve had a few reports from customers that make us feel like it is not)
  • Use a flea comb to check your pets regularly: (especially after field trips to natural areas) to screen for fleas or flea dirt, so you can spring into action and prevent a full-blown infestation. Flea dirt looks like little black specks. Sometimes you see them in a flea comb even if you don’t find a flea, and they mean fleas are in fact present! When in doubt, put the specks onto a wet paper towel and see if they turn reddish – flea dirt is dried blood). Pro tip for using a flea comb: if your pet has fleas, put a few drops of dish soap into a little bowl of water and put the fleas into it as you remove them. Trying to kill them between your fingernails is difficult, and the soap makes sure they drown instead of hopping away.
  • Bathe pets more frequently: Natural flea shampoos kill fleas and often have herbal smells to help repel fleas after bathing. (Check out Mad About Organics gentle flea shampoos – there’s even one for cats, if your cats are cool with bathing). Truly, any pet shampoo will kill fleas as long as you let it sit. Pro tip for letting it sit when you have an impatient dog: smear peanut butter along the inside edge of the tub (not where it can get soapy) and let them lick it off to keep them busy. Ignore advice to use Dawn or other dishwashing soap – it can really strip the oils from the coat and create an itchy dry situation for the skin.
  • Protect pets internally with a product like Earth Animals’ Internal Flea Powder – By simply adding the Internal Powder to your animal’s daily diet, the combination of nutrients, vitamins & minerals helps change your dog or cat’s odor so that fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and insects do not like the scent or taste of the blood.
  • Take a Look at the Diet You Feed: One of the most important parts of the puzzle may be your pet’s diet. The better a pet’s nutrition is, the healthier their skin and coat will be and also the stronger their immune system will be. Fleas are parasites, and parasites prey on the weak. Pets that seem to be guaranteed to get fleas every year no matter what may be showing you their diet needs improvement. Here’s a link to help you evaluate the ingredients in your pet’s food and see if you can get rid of some of the ingredients that might be working against the health of your pet. Even better, transition your dog to a fresh, whole food diet and watch your pets become healthier and more flea resistant before your eyes! There are good safe commercially made raw, cooked,  dehydrated and freeze dried diets out there – check with your local independent retailer for alternatives to dry, processed kibble diets.

Happy Spring!

Green Tip – Why You Should Avoid Farmed Salmon

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.

The process of farming salmon encloses large numbers of fish in small pens, polluting the water with fecal matter and chemical waste. According to Scotland’s World Wildlife Fund, salmon farms there produce nitrogen wastes equal to a human population of more than nine million people.
Even industry insiders concede that a typical 200,000-fish salmon farm releases:
– nitrogen equal to 20,000 humans
– phosphorus equal to 25,000 humans, and
– fecal matter roughly equivalent to a city of 65,000 people.
(Hardy, 2000b).”–Goldburg, R. et al. (2001) Marine aquaculture in the United States: Environmental Impacts and Policy Options. Pew Ocean Commission, p.13).

Sea Lice, a dangerous parasite can be easily transferred to wild salmon as they swim by a salmon farm.

Overcrowded conditions lead to unhealthy conditions and outbreaks of contagious disease leading to massive antibiotic use – Fish farmers dose their fish to combat these outbreaks, (Chilean salmon farmers used nearly 850,000 pounds of antibiotics in 2007, according to http://na.oceana.org/) as well as large quantities of pesticides.  These pesticides and dewormers also poison the water around them and kill important organisms on the ocean floor below. The result is a no-oxygen “dead zone” that can extend up to 500 feet. (–Goldburg, R. et al. (2001). Marine aquaculture in the United States: Environmental Impacts and Policy Options. Pew Ocean Commission, p. 13.)This excessive antibiotic use is also harmful to humans – “The use of antibiotics, however, is arguably a health risk for people and farmed fish, since it promotes the spread of antibiotic-resistance in both human and fish pathogens. At least a few types of bacteria associated with fish, such as Streptococcus, can be pathogenic to humans (Weinstein et al., 1997). If strains of these bacteria develop higher levels of resistance to antibiotics, infections by these bacteria may be difficult to treat. More generally, resistance can potentially spread to other types of bacteria, including human pathogens, through gene transfer mechanisms special to bacteria (Dixon, 2000)…. A U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) literature review indicates that certain antibiotic resistance genes in Salmonella-bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning in people-might have emerged following antibiotic use in Asian aquaculture (Angulo, 1999).”
(–Goldburg, R. et al. (2001). Marine aquaculture in the United States: Environmental Impacts and Policy Options. Pew Ocean Commission, p. 16-17..)

This practice is seriously harmful to wild fish. The 2002 collapse of the pink salmon run on the central B.C. coast is blamed on parasites known as sea lice, contracted from the area’s numerous salmon farms. 
Much of the salmon farmed in the Pacific Ocean is, in fact, Atlantic salmon — an exotic species. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Atlantic salmon have been found in over 81 BC rivers and streams. It is worth noting that only a small portion of BC rivers have been surveyed so far; meaning non-native Atlantic salmon could be inhabiting many more. Atlantic salmon have also been found in rivers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. These fish ultimately compete with and displace precarious native stocks.

Most importantly, it’s unhealthy to eat regularly, as the fish are fed food contaminated with dioxins, resulting in high levels of PCBs in the flesh of the fish. Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for farmed salmon due to high levels of PCBs recommending that adults only consume one to two meals of farmed salmon per month. The groundbreaking study, A Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed vs. Wild Salmon: Geographical Differences and Health Risks was released January 2004 in the respected journal Science. The study, which is being considered the most thorough analysis of farmed and wild salmon to date, found in most cases that consuming more than one serving of farmed salmon per month could pose unacceptable cancer risks, according to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for determining safe fish consumption levels. Farmed salmon were found to have up to 10 times higher levels of PCBs and dioxins than wild salmon. Chemical dyes are used to make the flesh resemble the natural coloration of wild salmon – One of the dyes, canthaxanthin, has been linked to retinal problems in humans. Pesticide residues are not tested for by the FDA.

Remember, our pets are smaller than we are, and most of them consume the same food every day, for every meal, day in and day out. This is one of the main reasons we are big proponents of rotation of food for our pets. Nutritional variety and fresh whole foods are important for all of us, ensuring a broader range of nutrients and enzymes, as well as the minimization of these sorts of potential contaminants found in our food supply. If one serving per month of farmed salmon poses unacceptable cancer risk for humans, think of what it could be for a much smaller animal, every meal of every day.
If you see salmon listed on a product label, make sure to ask that company whether the fish is wild or farmed. Let them know you won’t feed this product if it contains farmed salmon. In fact, we wish that pet food companies would find more sustainable sources of fish, as many populations of wild salmon are under great pressure, and the volume needed to sustain the giant pet food demand is significant. We do carry some wild salmon products in the store, but we encourage pet food companies to consider sourcing more sustainable species of fish for their treats and foods. Most of it is a marketing challenge, as a fish like Pollock isn’t as readily recognized by the public and perhaps doesn’t sound as delicious.


Bone Broth – Part Two in Our Toppers Are Important Series

Bone Broth

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:

Hydration – even soaking kibble in plain water before feeding it can add valuable moisture that helps a body function properly, improving function of the brain, heart, and kidneys; aiding the circulation of the blood; flushing bacteria from the bladder; keeping the digestive system moving in a healthy way; helping cells complete important enzymatic functions that contribute to the restoration of bodily functions, maintaining energy and contributing to better sleep.  Bone broths create electrolytes which help to hydrate better than plain water.  This can make broth an incredibly helpful tool when pets have been vomiting or having diarrhea.  A bowl of bone broth can be the best thing to use to replace a meal and give pets’ systems a rest after experiencing these symptoms, while providing nutrients and hydration.

Boosts Immunity – Amino acids in bone broth, like arginine, glutamine, and cysteine, have been shown to boost immunity in humans and animals.  Not only that, amino acids like proline help to heal the the lining of the gut.  Just like in humans, 70% to 80% of your pet’s immune system is found in the lining of the gut tissue.  This lining is fragile and easily damaged, contributing especially to allergy symptoms and inflammation in the body, as well as creating challenges for the immune system.   Grandma was right – studies have shown that chicken soup does actually help the common cold

Fights Inflammation – Amino acids found in bone broths such as glycine, proline, L-glutamine and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects.  Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis (whole-body inflammation), and L-glutamine specifically reduces gut inflammation.  This makes it a very useful tool for dogs with chronic pain, skin problems, ear problems, etc.

Helps Joints, Ligaments, Teeth and Bones – as bones and connective tissues break down they release amino acids, collagen, and joint healing minerals (like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, protein, vitamin D, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper, boron, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the B vitamins) in forms the body can use easily, preventing bone loss and reducing joint pain.  Tendons and cartilage also release chondroitin and glucosamine (like in your joint supplements) in a very bioavailable form (meaning really easy for their bodies to access and utilize them).  A few of our customers have impressive testimonials about being able to manage pain for their dogs and even sometimes avoid surgery for damaged ligaments with the use of the Answers brand fermented fish bone broth that we carry, which is also rich in fatty acids and probiotics.  Amino acids proline and glycine, found in abundance in a bone broth, are the stars of collagen and cartilage production, critical for joint health.  Like Feeds Like!

Bonus Health Benefits that humans enjoy include stronger nails, anti-aging benefits for the skin, it promotes weight loss, helps build muscle, can improve symptoms of depression and hyperactivity (research the GAPS diet for more info), and can improve sleep. More here

We of course carry several bone broths in the store, which offer the benefits of bone broth with the convenience of not having to cook it.

Answers Fermented Fish Stock: Located in the same freezer as the Answers Goat Milk, Cow’s Milk Kefir and Answers raw foods, the fish broth comes frozen in pints and quarts. I’ll be honest – it’s fishy. Some humans find it nasty, but many pets think that what makes it so great.  Answers works with a human fish processing plant, and the heads, bones, tails and the meat that is still on the fish after the filets are removed makes a fantastic bone broth. They then add fermented anchovies to add probiotic benefit. It is rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs, like you’d find in your fish oil supplements). The biggest benefits are the fact that it really does act as an appetite stimulant when pets aren’t feeling well – they drink a little fish broth and they often feel like they might be interested in their food after all. Also, the fact that it has such great EFAs combines with the benefits of bone broth to really help joint pain and pain from ligament injuries. This broth is also extremely beneficial for animals with kidney problems. Good news – they have told us they are coming out with a turkey broth soon! (ask for a sample, while supplies last).

Caru Beef Bone Broth – This broth is simple and very convenient, as it’s in a great easy open, easy pour box. (Ingredients: Water Sufficient for Processing, Beef Bones (Source of Chondroitin Sulfate), Organic Carrots, Organic Celery, Organic Parsley, Apple Cider Vinegar, Black Peppercorns, Bay Leaves, Thyme.) We love how you can see the jiggle that shows that it’s been slow cooked and has those nice gelatin/collagen benefits. We like to put it on Otis the kitty’s food, so we freeze it in ice cube trays and break a handful of cubes out at a time and thaw them in a jar in the fridge. They’ve told us that they’re coming out with a chicken flavor soon.  Ask for a sample, while supplies last)

Honest Kitchen Beef Bone Broth – This is probably the most convenient form of broth – it comes in  powdered form that you can dissolve in warm water, so you can make a little or a lot. It’s shelf stable, so you can keep it in the cupboard and make it on demand. It has some bonus nutrients too – dehydrated beef, pumpkin, parsley and turmeric (ask us for a sample while supplies last)

Of course, you can always make bone broths at home.

The most important thing is that the bones used in any broth should come from organically raised, grass fed, or pastured animals. This is because when you break down bones, not only can you release minerals, etc you can release the impurities stored in the bones. Factory farmed meats are fed unnatural diets, and potentially a variety of veterinary drugs and growth promoters, and you don’t want any of these impurities in the broth.  The healthiest and best nourished animals will be far more nutritious to eat.

The best parts to use in any bone broth are those with lots of connective tissue, marrow, necks, knuckles and feet (yes, perhaps gross, but very nutritious. Ask your farmers at the market or your butcher if you can buy these parts, or at least use the bag of giblets that comes inside many turkeys and chickens). If you’re using beef, lamb, etc for a broth for people, roasting them first will help the flavor quite a bit – dissolve the brown bits at the bottom of the pan and include them in the broth. More tips here. You don’t have to load the broth with veggies, but a few will definitely add nutrients. Avoid onions for pets! Some carrots, celery, a few bay leaves or peppercorns are good additions. When using beef/lamb/pork a layer of fat may accumulate on top after your broth cools. You may remove this when cooled, especially before feeding to pets.

Even vegans can get extra nutrients from vegetable broths. Covering a variety of vegetables with water and simmering for 8 hours or so will release their nutrients into the broth. Saving veggie scraps in your freezer until you have a big pot-full is a great way to make your own vegetable broths.

Chicken Bone Broth:

For pets, cooking a whole chicken (or turkey) will give you some valuable meat too – boiled chicken is a great bland diet option if a pet is having digestive problems. You can freeze some meat for just such an occasion, or shred a bit of meat on top of their meals for a delicious addition, or mince it to use as training treats. For humans, save the chicken meat to make chicken soup with your stock after it’s done.

– One whole chicken, or the carcass of a chicken after you’ve eaten the meat
Gizzards/giblets from chicken, if you have them
2-4 chicken necks if possible
2-4 chicken feet if possible
filtered water to cover, leaving room to boil
2 Tbs vinegar (I like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar as it’s unfiltered and unpasteurized) This is an important ingredient as it helps to leech important minerals from the bones into the stock.
A few stalks of celery, a few carrots, perhaps a few garlic cloves. No onion for pets.
(one bunch parsley, added at the end).

In a large pot on the stove, or a crock pot (especially if you leaving it unattended), put the chicken or chicken carcass into the pot with other ingredients and cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Check your simmer occasionally to make sure it’s just at a low simmer. If using a whole chicken, remove the meat from the bones after two hours of cooking. Simmer for at least 6 hours, and up to 24. You can add a little water if your level has reduced). At the end add parsley and simmer for 10 minutes before turning off the heat. Cool with the lid on, strain the broth and compost the solids. Refrigerate or freeze portions. (handy tip for small animals: use ice cube trays). When thawed, if you want to warm it or make hot broth for yourself, heat it gently and do not boil. If it jiggles when it’s cooled you’ve certainly done it right.

Another great and very convenient way to get the benefits of bone broth is to purchase collagen supplements online – look for products that use grass fed animals, and that are designed to easily mix into cold water, as they have no flavor or stickiness. Here are 3 great sources:
Great Lakes Hydrolyzed Collagen

Sports Reasearch Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Some great links for further reading:
Dr Axe, Food is Medicine  – The Power of Bone Broth for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite

Gather at the Table – Whole Foods Nutrition for Bone Health and Density

Dr. Mercola – Bone Broth Benefits


Pet Friendly Ice Melting Products are Still Problematic

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.


Whole Food Toppers are Important

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 11.04.27 AMWe 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?

This is where whole food toppers come in handy. Most kibbles rely heavily on synthetic vitamins and minerals to make sure that valuable nutrients that are damaged by cooking are not missing. However, whole foods have valuable qualities that trump any single synthetic vitamin. For example, a carrot has valuable Vitamin A, but to quote http://www.whfoods.com, “carrots actually contain a fascinating combination of phytonutrients like betacarotene and other carotenoids (especially alpha-carotene and lutein); hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, coumaric, ferulic); anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots); and polyacetylenes (especially falcarinol and falcarindiol). Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). In addition, they are a very good source of biotin, vitamin K, dietary fiber, molybdenum, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They are a good source of manganese, niacin, vitamin B1, panthothenic acid, phosphorus, folate, copper, vitamin E and vitamin B2”. WOW! Just trying to isolate single vitamins makes you miss out on the incredible complexity of nutrients that were designed to work together.  So, we don’t recommend getting a supplement made from synthetic vitamins, we recommend rotating through a variety of Whole food toppers one at a time to help to cover all of their nutritional bases.

We’ve decided to create a tag called “Whole Food Toppers”, and to add a series of articles about our favorite whole food toppers for pets. Some will be things you can make or just add from your own fridge, and some will be our favorite ready-made commercially available toppers that you can look for at your favorite local pet supply store. Most will be for dogs, but we’ll point out what would be appropriate for cats of course.

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 11.05.10 AM

photo from www.greenjujukitchen.com

The most awesome thing would of course to switch entirely to a fresh, minimally processed diet. Over and over we see chronic illnesses and conditions solved by doing this. However, many people are not able to do this for themselves, let alone their pets. There’s a lot to be said for the convenience and price effectiveness of kibble. But as I always say, whole foods don’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Any amount of whole foods in our own diet is a good thing, and the same goes for our pets.


Important Tips:

– Introduce all new things slowly. If your dog is tiny (and of course this goes for cats), start very small and build up to the suggested serving size. It’s a good rule of thumb for all foods and supplements. What if your pet had an allergy you didn’t know about and you heaped on something new? You can’t “un-give” it if they’ve started to show a reaction to it. What if your pet’s digestion is affected by something new? No one likes a blowout.
– Use something for a few weeks to get a sense of its long term benefits, and then rotate into something new. Or if it’s a fish oil, try a new kind of fish for your next bottle. (Been on salmon oil for a while? Try anchovy or sardine.)
– Always try one new thing at a time, so you can see whether it does or doesn’t agree with your pets- Watch your portions. If more than 20% of their meals are something you’re adding, you may need to consider if it’s balanced. Variety does help to create balance over time, but regularly adding even a little whole food to your kibble will create benefits. Sprinkle stuff on. If you normally add a few spoonfuls of canned food for variety and flavor, that’s great. Maybe try to introduce other things in the same amount to your dog’s kibble. Added perk: they’ll almost always be less expensive than canned foods.


Featured Topper!!
Here’s a great product that we love. We sell a ton of Answers brand raw goat’s milk from our freezers, but these have added nutritious benefits and travel well when you’re on the road with your dogs


Group-with-BottleThese are supercharged with Mother Nature’s most powerful superfoods! 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 knowledgable 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 like these (or the Green Juju we featured in the last newsletter) are a great to help to round out their meals, especially if you rotate through different ones!
Each freeze dried goat milk enhancement made by Steve’s Pet Food is packed full of carefully chosen superfoods that are designed to alleviate specific health issues. They package it in a reusable glass milk bottle, so all you need to do is fill it with water, shake, and pour over your pet’s food, or give it to them as treat or bedtime snack. When you run out, you can buy their 8 oz. refill containers and reuse the milk bottle to make another batch of your favorite enhance product. Here is a description of the three amazing flavors:
CannaGurt is a raw cannabis product that takes raw goat milk yogurt and infuses it with high-quality hemp oil. With 2.9 mg of CBDs per oz, CannaGurt is designed to help to dogs (or cats) with seizures, anxiety, pain, cancer, cognitive disorders and a suppressed appetite. CannaGurt has three simple ingredients that pack a big nutritional punch. First, the goat milk, which is incredibly nutritious and healthy for pets. They have added hemp protein which is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is also high in fiber, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes and maintains energy. The bonus is that hemp is a sustainable crop that thrives without pesticides, and purifies and enriches the soil around it. The third ingredient in our powerhouse CannaGurt is Hemp Oil. Hemp  oil contains Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not alter the mind but safely contains incredible medicinal benefits.
DogNog is a recipe that takes raw goat milk and boosts it’s health properties by infusing it with whole, freeze dried eggs. They then add turmeric and yucca to heighten the anti-inflammatory powers, making it ideal for pets with mobility issues, allergies, or pets with inflammatory diseases such as IBD. It supports the urinary tract by providing high levels of Vitamin C coming from both Yucca and Cranberries. Cranberries also contain flavonoids comprised of a complex profile of anthocyanins and pronthocyanidins.  They perfect the enhancement by adding bromelain, a protein extract derived from the stems of pineapple, which acts as a binder to help with the absorption of the turmeric & yucca and also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
CarnaForage is a super green smoothie that is perfect for dogs with digestive issues. It is packed with a wide variety of  greens that provide high levels of L-glutamine, a conditionally essential amino acid that the body uses in large amounts. L-glutamine is primarily responsible for digestive health and can ease symptoms of IBD, diarrhea and leaky gut. We compliment the tummy soothing raw goat milk with liver supportive dandelion, known for its high levels of Lecithin and Vitamin A. We finish this digestive enhancement with milk thistle, cilantro, and spirulina to strengthen and protect the liver from toxins, making it perfect for those pets with a sensitive stomach, chronic indigestion, pancreatitis, or GI tract inflammation.
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Green Tips for Portland Holiday Recycling

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 Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 3.45.12 PM 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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 4.11.32 PMFor example, lids are almost always made of a different plastic than the bottle or tub they’re sold with. It’s too work-intensive for workers to remove them (too few people, too much recycling to pick through quickly, and everything still needs to get washed and processed or packed up to be processed elsewhere) and the plastic in the lid is a very different plastic, with a higher melting point than bottles and processed an entirely different way. Things like plastic bags and caps can also jam machinery when they get into the mix accidentally, so can cause damage and make them more likely to toss “contaminated” recycling instead of sorting it. A light bulb might be made of glass, but their different melting points and chemical compositions will ruin new glass bottles. If a buyer of glass sees a light bulb at the top of a load of glass, the entire load could be rejected for recycling. This kinds of hopeful recycling often means that all of our good intentions are foiled. When in doubt, leave it out!

Here’s a list of some common things that are mistakenly added to recycling, but could in fact be recycled elsewhere:

  • – Soft plastic bags can’t go into curbside,  but can be recycled at both Whole Foods and New Seasons (just not hard and crinkly bags like chip bags – those go in the trash).
  • – Plastic “clamshell” containers like spinach or to-go boxes can’t be recycled curbside, but can be recycled at both New Seasons and Whole Foods, as well as plastic things like yogurt/deli lids and coffee lids. (The coffee cups go in the garbage, because they contain waterproofing additives).
  • – Any paper made to contain frozen foods or takeout containers must go in the garbage. It also contains additives to make them waterproof and these additives make it non-recyclable.
  • – Any paper with decorative foil has to go in the garbage (though all other wrapping paper, tissue paperScreen Shot 2016-12-05 at 1.17.09 PM, cards and envelopes can go in, minus the ribbons).  Set up two collection bags ahead of time when it’s time to unwrap gifts. One for wrapping paper, tissue and cards, and the other for ribbons and foil. It can be fun for kids to be in charge of things, so make one little elf in charge of bringing presents to people to unwrap, and another little elf that can be in charge of grabbing that wrapping paper and getting it into the right bag. You’ll be amazed at how much tidier the livingroom looks after present opening! Don’t forget: Those foil covered papers and ribbons are great for kids’ craft projects.
  • – Packaging peanuts and styrofoam
 cannot go in curbside, but other places will reuse them. Places like the UPS store and Fedex are often happy to take your clean bagged styrofoam peanuts – call your local store and ask. Excess cardboard boxes and packing peanuts can be posted on Craig’s List or Next Door. People who are moving might appreciate them or small businesses in the neighborhood might use these for shipping and come take them off your hands.
  • – Styrofoam blocks are a challenge at the time of this writing. Check out this link for your options http://www.oregonmetro.gov/tools-living/garbage-and-recycling/find-a-recycler
Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 3.46.41 PM
  • – When you take a toy out of a formed plastic insert, bring them to Whole Foods. They have a bin labeled “non-curbside plastic” which is good for caps, lids and other misc hard plastics (when you take a toy out of a formed plastic insert, for example).

– Corks can’t go in curbside, but they recycle them at Whole Foods.


Interesting things from your Holiday dinners that you can include in the compost bin:

  • – meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, bones
- coffee filters, coffee grounds, tea bags
- paper towels, paper   napkinsScreen Shot 2016-12-04 at 3.34.14 PM
  • -pizza delivery boxes
  • – pumpkins
  • – greens from wreaths and even your tree, cut down into 3ft. lengths and free of wire, tinsel, etc. (you might have to break it up over a few pickups as it can’t be sticking up out of the bin, but it’s a good way to have it picked up for free)
  • Stuff That Can’t Be in Compost:
  • – Cat litter, even the plant based ones we sell cannot be added to curbside compost (the fact that it clumps makes it so it can clog up machinery that’s used to process it)
  • Ashes from the fireplace can’t be composted curbside
  • – To-go boxes, parchment paper, or plastic bags and cups that say “compostable” are generally not allowed in our compost. Bummer, but true. Here are a few brands of approved compost bags you can use to collect food waste that have been proven to break down quickly in their facilities: BioBag  “Certified Compostable”, EcNow Tech  “Compost Me”, EcoSafe “6400 Line”, Glad “Compostable Kitchen”, Natur-Tec “Natur-Bag Compostable”. Everything else that says compostable must go into the garbage.
  • Note: You may not put pet waste in compost, even if it’s in one of the bags mentioned above. Compost is meant to be appropriate for food crops, and fecal bacteria could pose a risk.



Don’t forget – The greenest ways to handle waste are to choose products that come with less packaging, fix broken things when possible, and reuse items instead of recycling or tossing them into landfill.

Think about it like this:

  • When you buy a poop bag, resources and energy were both spent in creating and shipping that bag
    Check out this pretty mosaic made from soda bottle lids! Kids and adults alike can have fun turning waste into art!

    Check out this pretty mosaic made from soda bottle lids! Kids and adults alike can have fun turning waste into art!

    to the distributor who then ships it to the store (possibly traveling around the globe in the process). Reusing a bag that already exists, like the plastic bag your sliced bread came in, the Oregonian plastic wrapper, or the produce bag that you got from the grocery store, takes no energy or new resources at all. (Far be it for us to discourage you from buying poop bags from us though. It’s still more important to scoop the poop that contaminates our rivers when it washes down the storm drains than to boycott poop bags!)

  • Throwing away a small appliance creates landfill, recycling it uses energy and manpower to disassemble the recyclable components and ship them to their new purpose (perhaps to the other side of the world). The same elements come into play for every material then needed to build your new appliance and ship it to the store’s distributor, then to the store, and then to your house. Check out a free fix-it fair! Fix-it Fairs are free events where you can learn simple ways to save money and stay healthy at home this winter. Workshops are available in English and Spanish. led bu local experts about water and energy savings, home and personal health, food and nutrition, community resources, recycling and yard care, lead testing and more. There’s a free repair cafe at each fair for simple sewing and small appliance repair, staffed by Repair PDX volunteers (check that Repair PDX link for upcoming repair opportunities!)

At Green Dog, our mission statement can be boiled down to this: We believe that living sustainably does not have to mean making drastic changes in our lives. Simply considering where things come from and where they go when we’re finished with them can be a big step towards living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Check out this video showing what happens after your recycling is picked up! https://vimeo.com/159995475

Safety First – A Reminder When it Comes to Pet Food

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:

Bring it back and let us know about it. It really might not be the food causing the problem, but why take a risk? Also, if your pet supply store starts to hear the same problems from multiple customers, it lets them see a pattern they might not be able to notice otherwise. There are of course many reasons pets might not want to eat or have sudden GI problems, but what if others are seeing the same thing? We’d like to alert the company and ask them if they’ve been hearing any reports of issues.

If your pet is ill, take them to the vet. More importantly, If your vet strongly suspects a problem with the food, ask them to report it!

Whenever you start a new bag of food, hang on to the bag for a little bit. Many people use storage containers and immediately discard the bag, but there is no way for a company to respond to a problem if they don’t know which batch to test.

Report it! The internet is overflowing with people saying they’ve had problems/illnesses associated with all sorts of pet foods and medications, but when you ask the companies they often have had no reports, or even when you look up FDA reports of illness there is very little reported. Message boards and comment section complaints are not a good way to make sure problems are addressed. Here’s a new effort to encourage reporting of pet food problems: Please read it and share this link widely! http://truthaboutpetfood.com/report-it-please/

Here’s the quick link to the safety reporting portal of the FDA

Safety Alert! Xylitol is deadly for dogs


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

Be Ready for Emergencies and Disasters – A Few Tips

(* = 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 helpthe-buddy-system-519x180-500x173 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).

pPETNA-5193963_main_t300x300Containment: 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.

Drinking Water: Make sure you and your pets are prepared at home with 5 days of water for each of you. Humans should have 1 to 1 1/2 gallons per person, plus more to cook with. A gallon should last a petwater-images-clip-art-clipart about 3 days. Keep an extra gallon to rinse pets that might have become exposed to flood waters or other contaminates. Buy water in sealed containers, or wash and disinfect your own. To prepare other containers appropriate for holding water (such as 2 liter soda bottles, or check New Seasons for 1 gallon and 5 gallon BPA free water bottles. Do not use milk jugs), wash the inside and outside of each container with soap and hot water. Next, sanitize containers with a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented household bleach per quart of water. Finally, rinse thoroughly with plain clean water and fill. Store in cool dark place away from chemicals. A water filter used for camping is also a very useful purchase. You can also use the bleach to purify drinking water: 8 drops of bleach for clear water – 16 drops for cloudy per gallon, let sit for 30 min. Iodine tablets can also be purchased to help purify water for drinking.

Honest-Kitchen-Revel-ChickenPet Food*: Store enough pet food for 5 days. Check expiration dates of foods before you buy. Cans traditionally have the longest expiration dates. Other products for dogs include Honest Kitchen* and Sojo’s* (for both brands, a 10lb bag makes 40lbs of food). These options are much more portable than kibble, and would be suitable for feeding dogs on a raw diet. If you’re storing kibble, make sure the bags remain unopened and in a waterproof container until use. No matter what you choose, make a calendar reminder for yourself to use and replace food that is in storage before it expires.

I.D. Tags: Make sure your contact info is always up to date on your pet’s01-PP-DB_01 i.d. tags. If your indoor cats don’t wear a collar, keep a collar* and tag* handy for emergencies. Emergency i.d. tags could also include a number for a friend or relative outside of the immediate area. Take a photo of you with each of your pets and put it with your emergency supplies in case they are lost, and to prove that they are yours once you find them. Consider microchipping your pets. You may want to keep medical records with proof of any vaccinations and any critical medications in a waterproof container (again, make a calendar reminder for yourself to use the meds before their expiration and restock them). Write up a list of their dietary, medical and behavioral needs, your veterinarian’s contact info, and friend or family contact info in case they suddenly have to be left in foster care or boarding.

dc859oMgiAssemble a first aid kit:  
You can buy one for humans and add a few things for pets, buy a pre-made first aid kit for pets*, or assemble one yourself. Put it in a backpack or tote bag in order to be able to grab it and go. Include phone numbers of your veterinarian and for local emergency clinics (with directions). Here’s a list of first aid kit items compiled by the Humane Society: Gauze, Vet wrap* (self cling bandage), Muzzle* or strips of cloth to prevent biting (important if your dog is in pain, but don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing), Absorbent gauze pads, Adhesive tape, Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray*, a foil emergency blanket, Cotton balls or swabs, Gauze rolls, Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert), ice pack, Non-latex disposable gloves, k-y jelly (to lubricate the thermometer), Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F), Scissors (with blunt ends), Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages, Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies), Tweezers, Tick Twister*, Ear cleaning solution*, Benadryl (ask your vet about dosages ahead of time), Neosporin, Nail clippers*, Penlight/flashlight, Styptic powder*, Splints (paint stirrers, rulers, and tongue depressors are all ideas), Extra leash*. A pet first aid book* can be very useful. Talk to your vet about ideas for your pets’ specific medical conditions. Check these items once a year for expired products.  

Other useful items: towels, newspapers, plastic garbage bags, poop bags*, kitty litter* and clean litter pan* to take with you if you evacuate, potty pads*.

Keep them Safe: During an event that could damage your house or if your house is already damaged, do not allow your pets to roam loose – keep them leashed or crated.

Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.

Covering your bases and being prepared will give you peace of mind!

Pongo Fund Food Drive Update!

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 7.25.25 AMGreen Dog Pet Supply is gearing up to deliver the second half of our annual pet food drive to The Pongo Fund pet food bank. The Pongo Fund has called this donation “The BIGGEST single store, premium quality pet food drive in America”.

We do a pet food drive every December for the Pongo Fund. We offer a bag of dog food for customers to purchase (at our cost) for donation, and we’ve always matched each of them. Both our distributor (Animal Supply) and the food manufacturer (Nutrisource)  also matched one bag for each 12 sold. This resulted in a VERY large donation this year,  one we had to break into two deliveries to be able to afford to do it, which is why this update comes to you in July.

This delivery brings the total number of pounds of food donated to 15,550 (that’s more than 7 tons of food with a retail value of more than $21,000). Our food drives have always been impressive (last year’s was about 11,000 pounds) but this year, customers donated 183 bags!

We had to break it up into two parts, as this sort of donation isn’t easy. Green Dog is a local independently owned store. We believe in taking good care of our staff – we provide a living wage, and full time staff receive benefits. We have sacrificed most of our advertising budget to help support local pet rescues. The owners make the same salary as our senior employees. We exist to help people keep their precious pets in their lives as long as they can, and we work tirelessly to become the best resource for holistic pet care that we can possibly be. We donate over 200lbs of food a month plus additional supplies (many of which are donated by our fabulous customers) to local rescues and other causes, including Meals on Wheels (for seniors to feed their pets when they couldn’t otherwise afford it), Dignity Village via Safe Dogs by the River, Underdog Railroad Rescue, and Angel’s Eyes Dog Rescue (a small rescue operating on a shoestring), among others.  We think this donation is a very exciting event – we are honored to be able to help the Pongo Fund.

Many cities have a food bank for humans, but a pet food bank of this size and scope is a very unique thingThe_Pongo_Fund_Pet_Food_Bank_Grid7 in this country. There is quite a bit of conversation these days about the homeless situation in Portland, and the things that are and are not being done to help. This amazing service makes a big impact for families facing food uncertainty, both for themselves and their pets. Sharing your only meal with your pet is a sacrifice many people are willing to make. The stories told by Larry Chusid, the founder of The Pongo Fund are always touching, regularly posting stories in his blog of people who have found themselves in terrible situations yet stay hopeful due to the presence of the pets in their lives. His stories do a valuable service, humanizing the people who are homeless or food challenged and reminding us all that this problem is not faceless. The Pongo Fund is critical to help keep pets with their families and out of the animal shelters when their families are homeless or having a Homeless-FB-11-16-13-2-5-14-12-29-15-1175274_694978047197679_731477717_ndifficult time finding the money to feed their pets. People can visit the pet food bank in Portland, but the fund also delivers food to distribution points in other parts of Oregon. They also have an Emergency Veterinary Care fund, (read the great blog post about this fund in this link and a wonderful story about one dog that really needed it here ). He often calls us to help a pet owner with tricky health issues, and we and he both donate products and money to help people get the supplements, etc that they might need. The Pongo Fund also has an Emergency Pet Food Response Team, a Spay and Neuter program, and provides high quality and nutritious pet food directly to many other social service and emergency food organizations that in turn provide that food to their own clients.

We are proud that our customers helped us to make this delivery of what is likely to be the largest ever pet food donation by an independent pet supply store, and proud to support the Pongo Fund in the endless work they do to support homeless and low income pet owners.

Read the super nice article they wrote about us when the first half of the food was delivered!