Some of Our Favorite Nutrition Resources

I wrote this up a while back for a nutrition lecture I was giving, and I thought it might be useful to post it somewhere for more people to use. These are some of our favorite resources for people to use when trying to educate themselves about their pets.
– Christine


Watch the documentary “Pet Fooled” on Netflix! Tremendous opportunity for learning and spreading knowledge to others in your life who might not realize that what they’re feeding can hurt their beloved pets.

Excellent Link for Dog Nutrition (though cat folks can definitely glean some knowledge here too:
The woman who compiles this site has encyclopedic knowledge about diet and nutrition for dogs and writes a lot of the food articles in The Whole Dog Journal.
Key links on her site that might be useful to you:
Lots of links to common health problems in dogs
including a ton of info on kidney disease and diet, specifically a lot about protein and its relationship to kidney disease:

there are a lot of good articles that she wrote for Whole Dog Journal on home cooking:

Sites online specifically for cats: – written by a vet, this is a comprehensive site that covers the basics of feline nutrition, with excellent discussions of common health issues such as diabetes, UTIs, and hyperthyroidism. She also has great info on Making Cat Food with good tips about transitioning a picky cat’s diet
Holisticat (includes an email list) feeding cats for health
How to Prepare Fresh Cat Food (technical but very complete)
The Feline Future Cat Food Company (Instincts TC) – a mix to which you add your own meat. I don’t carry it but it seems great. Good answers to peoples’ questions on this site about raw foods.
Feline Instincts – a mix to which you add your own meat. They also have a kidney diet

3 New Studies show the Benefits of Fish Oils in Dog Diets

Photo from Nordic Naturals Website

There are a few things that I wish I could convince more customers to try adding to their dog’s diet, and fish oil is certainly one of them. (the other one is digestive enzymes, and I’ll be writing about those soon).  They have many benefits, including reduction of joint pain and help with itchy skin, and now three studies have come out demonstrating this benefit in dogs with arthritis pain.

In humans it is well known that infants need DHA (one of the Omega 3 fatty acids) to aid in proper retinal and brain development, as well as support and maintenance of the central nervous system. In adults one of the best documented effects is the benefit to the heart (lowering of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, etc), but it is also showing good results in reducing inflammation (countless chronic diseases are linked to inflammation in the tissues and organs). It helps to reduce the chance of blood clots, to elevate mood, to slow down degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, as well as having significant effects on kidney function. Deficiencies have been linked to low birth weight and hyperactivity when pregnant mothers don’t get enough Omega 3s. (increasing your intake of low mercury fish oils through supplementation, and switching to grass-fed meats are two ways of getting more Omega 3s in your diet. Cutting down on your Omega 6s (vegetable oils found in processed foods) helps your body a great deal as well to reduce inflammation.

In Dogs and Cats these same benefits of course occur.  One of the effects that is most easy to observe is the almost immediate benefit to the skin and coat. Animals with chronic skin problems should almost always be taking fish oils. (more…)

Hummingbird Hatchlings! (with updates)


Tiny babies. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

The babies hatched March 5th and 6th, respectively, and are about the size of honey bees. The top one is the older one – slightly bigger already and has fuzz, the newer one below is more naked looking. You can see the remnants of eggshells under them (it’s funny – last year she chucked them out of the nest right away – see the photo of the size of the eggshells here).
In this photo you can really see the spider webs she used to strap the nest onto the bamboo.

One other little observation that seems interesting to me, (and maybe not to anyone else, as it’s a certified bird nerd moment here) is how different her posture is in the nest after they hatched. While she was incubating, she was just sitting, presumably just thinking little birdy thoughts, passing time. As soon as one hatched she became so alert, her eyes constantly searching the bamboo for insects. Her bill points up, her neck is all stretched up, her head moving around a lot. It’s a tough job to feed these little guys – they grow so amazingly quickly and eat so often. Best to be on the alert for an easy meal. I just knew from looking at her that the first chick had hatched – she looked so different.

I promise to try and get a better photo of her feeding them – they’re always hard as the light changes so much out there and she’s right over them, but here’s the first try:


Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply









Filling up the nest. Photo property of Green Dog Pet Supply











March 13th, about 8 days old. Really starting to fill up the nest. The one on the left is head towards us, and the other one, a little obscured by leaves has his head pointed the other way. They’re fluffier now and mom is just about done sitting on them – she just constantly is gathering food and feeding them.

March 19th – 14 days old – hungry babies being fed:


Mom feeding. Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply.









The nest is really getting crowded:


Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply






They’re so big that you can see their little bills sticking out over the edge from below:




March 27th: We really don’t fit in this nest anymore:


Photo Property of Green Dog Pet Supply

They’re really ready to go any minute. They’re very restless, squirming and shoving, stretching up, really interested in looking all around, and one of them was doing some wing exercising – standing up on the edge of the nest and flapping (which looks like a blur already). I thought for sure that one would hop out by the end of the day, but at 6 p.m. they were both still in there. Next day for sure for one of them, and probably the day after for the second. They’ll stick around for a week or two in the bamboo getting fed by momma. One frustration – last year I learned that mom builds her next nest during the last few weeks of the babies growing in their nest, and lays her first egg in the new nest the day after they both fledge. However, I can’t seem to find where that next nest is, and I’m worried it’s not in the courtyard at all. I’ll keep looking.

big kids2 timetogosoon




















They hopped out of their nest and into the bamboo on the 29th and 30th of March, and she continued to feed them until about the 7th or 8th of April. Still don’t know where her current nest is, but a lucky customer of ours told us there’s a female with eggs right outside their window, in their bamboo! They only live a street or two away, so maybe it’s her. Here’s a photo of one of the babies, a few days after it left the nest.


Advantage Soon to be Sold Over the Counter

This week, Bayer announced that they will be making Advantage and Advantix available to retailers (read article here), meaning you won’t have to visit a vet to obtain them. Though the above news video is discussing the rise in dangerous side effects of other over the counter flea meds and not necessarily Advantage, we will still not be carrying any of these sorts of spot on treatments. Over and over we hear customers complaining of the some sort of side effects, even when using products like Advantage and Frontline. They say their animals become lethargic or sick after use, and sometimes come in looking for products to help them with the terrible sores they have developed at the application sites. Invariably, when I ask if they’ve reported these side effects to the company, or even to their vets, they say they have not. (if your pet shows side effects from these treatments, please report them, or the company will never know their products are causing trouble. Be sure to be ready to answer questions about the formula you used and how you applied it. These companies seem to want to place a lot of blame on the consumer for misapplication, so be ready to describe why you think that the symptoms you’ve observed were as a result of the product you used and not how you used it).

I’ve always maintained that there is a place sometimes for products like Advantage – when an animal has a serious flea allergy for example. Seeing animals in misery suffering from the discomfort of open sores from flea allergies makes me realize the value of the product in these certain situations.

I am glad that Advantage is going OTC, in that I do believe it is a safer alternative to typical grocery store brands like Hartz, and its presence in stores will hopefully edge out these more dangerous treatments. However, it’s also my opinion that application of any chemicals month after month to a healthy animal when it doesn’t have a flea problem can be excessive and taxing to an animal’s health in the long run. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and they work systemically, and have to be processed by organs like the liver whose job it is to filter chemicals from the body. Does this tax organs like the liver? I’m not sure – I’m certainly not a vet. But, not all animals show these sorts of dramatic outward signs of distress from the use of these chemicals, but enough do to make me not want to use them if they don’t have an existing flea problem.

For my animals, I would prefer that they not have to deal with the assault of additional chemicals to their bodies on a regular basis. Feeding a quality diet that contains natural whole foods can create such a strong immune system and such healthy skin that the animal is naturally more immune to flea infestation, and the regular use of a good flea comb will alert you to the presence of fleas so you can catch them before they become a problem. Add that to the presence of lots of excellent natural deterrents that are on the market (the consumer should still do some good research, as “natural plant-based” repellents can still be toxic to our pets), and good internal supplements (like Mad About Organics oral care which has excellent powers for preventing fleas, and Earth Animals Internal Powder) I feel like my customers and I can manage and prevent flea infestations without the use of Advantage or front line. Check your flea meds to avoid ingredients that may be a seizure risk – they list the potential risks in their product info.

Note: If your animal attracts fleas easily and you’re constantly having to resort to topical flea products, please consult with a naturopathic vet about alternatives. Chances are you can turn your pet’s health around through changes to their diet that can save you from the cost and worry of using topical chemical treatments (as well as extend the life of your pet through better nutrition!) Talk to us about better diets that help your pet be more resistant to skin issues and flea problems. Fleas are attracted to unhealthy skin.

Joy! Hummingbirds are back at Green Dog


Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

Forgive the lack of posts recently – we’ve been in almost over our heads recently with many back of the house issues to contend with and gladly, we’re very busy in the front of the house, thanks to all of you! But I wanted to let you know that spring has sprung for us in our little courtyard, as we officially have our first hummingbird nest of the season. There’s a tag for hummingbird posts in the category list for this blog – we got some good photos last year of the two nests that successfully fledged 2 chicks each, so you should check out some of those posts for photos if you’d like to see them. If we’re lucky this year, we might see three nests of babies, as Anna’s Hummingbirds usually can pull off 3 nests per season.

Here’s something unusual though – this is the second nest in the courtyard this year – the first one was either a false start, or this is a new female building this current nest. <! — more — >Here’s what happened: In early January we started to see an Anna’s female flying in and out of the bamboo numerous times per day. She’d forage for insects as she went, but mostly she seemed to be auditioning different spots in the bamboo for a nest. She’d fly over here and sit for a minute, then fly over there and sit there for a minute, etc. After about 2 weeks of this, she picked what I thought was a poor location for a nest (but who am I to judge what makes a good one?) and started building. It was pretty low down and way out on the edge of the foliage, making her more vulnerable to human activity, and on a dead stalk that seemed weak to me. She wasn’t fazed at all with us watching her, so I’m inclined to think it was the same female from last year. Soon enough (about a week) she had enough of a nest built to lay her eggs, and she laid one on Jan 20th and one on the 21st. However, after about a week, she disappeared.
Several days later, we were all pretty depressed, as we knew it would be very unusual for a female to abandon newly laid eggs. We’ve lost other hummers in the neighborhood to windows and one to a neighbor’s cat, so we felt sure that she had fallen victim to something like this.

But lo and behold – I spotted a female cruising the bamboo for a few days, even looking fairly closely at the abandoned nest but not interacting with it, and she started a new nest in the bamboo planter that’s closest to the stairs! It’s a pretty one, with lots of moss and lichen:hummer'10










As of now it looks ready for the first egg (it’s started to be lined with feathers as of Saturday and Sunday – she even scored a big grey feather that had been shed by another bird) We’re off today (monday) but I expect to see a Jelly Belly sized egg in there when I arrive Tues. Here’s the feather-lined nest (we can see it from the balcony above):


New fethered nest. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply











Next time you’re in, ask Christine or Mike to show you where it is. Luckily it’s in a good place for photos this time around!
Funny thing is, I’m not quite sure if this is the same female. I’ve seen the nest growing, but rarely have caught a glimpse of the hummer. I figure that if she’s upset at me looking at her when she’s incubating, it’s a new female. If she gives an “Oh, it’s you” look  then I think it’s our resident female.

Update: Yep, on Tues there was first egg in there, and the next day, two. We should be looking for a hatch on or around March 5th

yep, egg

Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply


2 eggs. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

Happy Halloween! Fun Stuff and Tips

Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

Happy Halloween!
Fun Stuff
check out this link to cute dog breed stencils for your pumpkin carving.
The “real” link is here, but I can’t figure out where the stencils are for that one. Maybe you can.


Beware of Toxic Things on Halloween

Don’t forget to be on guard for dogs getting into that Halloween Candy stash! Chocolate isn’t the only thing that’s toxic to dogs; macadamia nuts, raisins, and the sweetener xylitol are all on the list of things that can be poisonous to dogs, but the wrappers and other decorations can also cause problems when ingested.

Behavioral Tips

Behaviorally, make sure that if your dog is stressed out by strangers, to have him in a secure area of the house where he won’t be plagued by constant scary monsters ringing the doorbell. Conversely, if you’re up for it this is a great time to work on door manners with a dog that isn’t frightened just excited:
Ultimately, doorbell rings, dog on leash sits, door opens, dog and costumed kid both get their own treats. Lots of repetitions available on Halloween equals lots of chances to practice how to act when people come to the door.

**Practice this a day or two beforehand with someone familiar that rings the doorbell, rehearsing the sit quietly while the door opens routine 8 or 10 times (first time is hard, then it gets easy as it’s the same person over and over. This lets the dog get better and better at the behavior because you’ve removed the novelty of someone at the door)
**work on a leash for control, but reward the sitting calmly without any yanking. If they know “watch me”, it can be a helpful place to use it. The familiar person can hang out on the step for a few minutes while you work on that.
** When the dog is sitting, give treats and open door for helper to give a treat as well.
**on Halloween, perhaps have two people work the door, one for kid treats and one for working with the dog with their own treats.
**When the doorbell rings, don’t jump up. Walk calmly to the door.

If you have a new puppy this can be a good socialization exercise – monsters = good treats for puppy! Encourage them to say hi to the funny monsters, but don’t force them into it – you want socialization exercises to be positive. If you feel like it’s safe, have the monsters offer the puppy yummy dog jerky or pieces of cheese. Soon the puppy will think people in costume are a good thing!

Nitrates in Food Should be Avoided

Photo by Cottonbro, Pexels Free photos

Did you know that a recent study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia??

Here’s a two part posting about the topic of nitrates in food. First, I was frustrated the other day when a customer I’ve never seen before came in looking for the Natural Balance Rolls of soft food/treat that people often use for training and Kong stuffing. I told him that we didn’t have that particular brand, as that one is preserved with Nitrates. He said “I’m a vet, and I’ve never heard of anything bad about nitrates”. As I told him about how it was a suspected carcinogen, he cut me off with “do you have sources you can site?” Well I did, but I had a store full of customers and he was in a huge rush. He left without those sources, and without leaving me his e-mail so I could send them later, and I’m sure he left thinking I was an overreacting silly person. However, I feel like if an ingredient is strongly suspected to be carcinogenic, and there are any studies showing evidence to that effect, then I would hope that A) vets might have heard of this before, and B) wouldn’t it be wise to avoid ingredients like these altogether, just in case? I know a lot of things can be carcinogenic, and some of them are out of our control. But food and treat ingredients can be controlled, and there are certainly lots of great alternatives.

There wasn’t time to change his opinion, but it made me think I should address it here on the blog. It also made me think of the fact that I never did write directly to Merrick Pet Foods about the use of nitrates in the treats that we wish we could sell except for the Nitrates (their sausage treats that correspond to the flavors of their great canned food line.) I was pretty disappointed with their response.Here’s my letter:

“Hello – we’ve told our reps before, but I’m not sure I’ve actually written directly to you about this. I’d just like to say how sad we were to find out that those sausages that you make that correspond with the can flavors are made with nitrates added. We were so excited to learn about them before they came out, and had placed a big ISO, but when we got the ingredient list, we cancelled it. We won’t stock anything in our store that has nitrates, as they combine with amines in meat during the cooking process to form carcinogenic compounds that have been associated with multiple forms of cancers in humans. I got stricter about them when recent studies showed the strong link between hotdogs with nitrates and leukemia in children.
This is from the cancer prevention coalition:
“Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.
Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.

Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.”

I really can’t bring these products into my store when I even have the smallest doubt about the safety of nitrate consumption. I know these products are going to be delicious, and that dogs will eat a lot of them! I hope that in the future you’ll consider reformulating these sausages to be naturally preserved, or shrink-wrapped in a way that
would not necessitate nitrate usage for preservation.

Thank you for your other great products”

This was the response that made me think that they didn’t even read my letter closely:

Hello Christine,

Thanks for taking the time to e-mail us and let us know about your concerns. Small amounts of the Sodium Nitrate are intentionally added to Sausages to prevent botulism.  It is in bacon and just about every sliced lunch meat out there along with hot dogs, bologna, etc for this very same reason. This is the only one of our products that contains Sodium Nitrate, and is required for this reason.

I am very sorry for and inconvenience this may have caused.
Merrick Pet Care”

If you like those sausages but are concerned about nitrates, go to and let them know.

If you like hotdogs and bacon but you don’t want to eat nitrates, , check out the delicious turkey hotdogs (and pork bacon) from Applegate Farms.

Wrapping up the Hummingbird posts

Thanks dog and cat folks for tuning in to our hummingbird news!

Looking very crowded on Saturday

Looking very crowded on Saturday. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

We wrapped up the season with a little drama. On August 1st we had our annual Fremont Fest celebration, which means the courtyard was crowded and noisy – live music seemed to make the babies even more restless than they had already been – one baby was already stretching up a bit, and looking antsy the day before. While the music was pumping, the chicks were really shifting around – I was nervous that they were going to make a break for it and wind up on the pavement. Well, the next day we came in to work and heard the distinct cheeping vocalization that the chicks only seem to make once they have left the nest. That little guy was really cheeping. I finally got a moment to break away and look for the fledgling, but it took me quite a bit of time to find it. One reason is that those contact calls are designed to be hard for predators to locate the source – everywhere you stand it seems to be coming from a different direction. The other reason was that the baby was on the edge of the planter- a foot above the ground, right over a big drain. Mom flew in and was obviously a bit distressed about the situation herself, but I didn’t want to interfere. We put our sandwich board in a spot that would block dogs/kids from coming too close, but then I started thinking about that drain… Pretty soon mom left to gather food, and I took the opportunity to scoop up the baby and run it upstairs, where I deposited it into a balcony planter that’s only a few feet from the nest. I’ve handled quite a few birds, and even a few hummingbirds in the past (I was a zookeeper and I’ve also been lucky enough to be part of a number of bird banding projects) but it was funny to hold that baby, even for a moment – there was hardly anything to him. Light as air. It stayed in the planter for 20 or so minutes before launching itself towards the bamboo where it pretty much crash landed into the branches and luckily stayed there. Then, an hour later, there it was again but this time right on the ground. So, I scooped it up again (when mom wasn’t looking) and ran it back upstairs. This time he flew into the bamboo and stayed there. Whew!

Then the 2nd baby really wanted out of there too.

standing on edge of nest

Standing on edge of nest. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

soon to go

soon to go. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff

Looks bigger than mom due to still having some fluff. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

maybe have a little something to eat before I go

Maybe mom has a little something for me to eat before I go. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply

By Monday they were both out and doing just fine.

Hot Little Hummingbirds

Portland’s having a really hot week – it’s 106 degrees right now, and it might even get a bit higher. Mom and both the babies are staying very still, open-mouthed breathing. I’d do anything to get them some water, but it doesn’t seem very possible. I’ll have to trust that they’ll do as well as the last batch did in that terrible lashing storm.


for anyone keeping track, they are 17 and 16 days old, respectively. They will fledge around day 23

hot babies have to open mouth breath

hot babies have to open mouth breathe. Photo Property Green Dog Pet Supply