50 ways to Reuse your old Yoga Mat


I love this link – I practice hot yoga regularly and I really love it. But with all that sweating, I felt like I needed to replace my yoga mat. I put it in the closet, as I’m so loathe to throw things away if they can be reused, and I thought I must be able to find something useful to do with it. Check out this link, that shares 50 great ideas for ways to reuse your old yoga mat. A couple of good pet suggestions are to line your crate with it when transporting animals to the vet, so that they don’t slip all around. They also suggest using pieces of it under water and food bowls. I think it might also be great to put under crates at home to protect the hardwoods from being scratched. My favorite pet use is to give traction on slippery floors for elderly dogs. There are many other interesting ideas here for kids and home uses. Brilliant!

Electronic Waste – if it has a plug, don’t throw it away!

Photo provided by Oregon E-Cycles Monster in Your Closet Implementation Plan

I’m typing this on my new laptop computer while Mike works on the store’s main computer, the ipod is shuffling away through the stereo, and my cell phone is charging in the next room. All of these gadgets have improved our lives in ways we never could have imagined, and now we can’t live without them. Unfortunately, the life spans of these devices are fairly short, as new and better versions become available all the time. This leads to an incredible disposal problem, and not just because of the amount of space that all of this electronic refuse consumes (according to the recycling company E-Waste Solutions, individuals and organizations worldwide will replace more than 400 million computers in the next 3 years). Did you know that as much as 25% of a monitor’s weight is lead?<! — more — > Some older monitors and TVs can contain up to 8 pounds of lead! Electronic equipment also contains loads of other metals and chemicals, like mercury, cadmium and fire retardants. When disposed of improperly, these toxic metals and chemicals leach into our soil and water supply. In fact, 70% of heavy metals in landfills come from discarded electronic equipment. The other ugly secret is that 50-80% of electronic waste that has been collected by “recyclers” has been exported to developing countries, where laws about the disposal of toxic materials are more lax. This poses quite a danger to the people and to the environment of these countries. To read more about this exporting issue, visit this link

The good news is that there are many good recycling operations, and a lot of the materials that make up electronic materials (glass, steel, gold, etc) can actually be recycled, and the toxic materials can be captured and reused or properly disposed of. Also, many computer companies are now taking back old computers when you buy a new one.

Some of the recyclers will take any item with a plug. This is good news for me, as I know I have a few old cordless phones that I haven’t wanted to throw away because of the batteries inside, and scads of telephone and stereo cables clogging up my junk drawers and tool boxes.

A quick Google search for electronic waste recycling in your state should make it easy to find a place to bring your stuff. Here are a few links to help as well:

Anyone can take seven or fewer computers (desktops, laptops and tablets), monitors, TVs and printers at a time to participating Oregon E-Cycles collection sites for free recycling. Computer peripherals (keyboards and mice) are also accepted free of charge.

Apple takes back computers, as do other brands.

Free Geek can be a great resource

Wikipedia’s article on e-waste has lots of great links

Eating Organic is better for you


Photo by Christine Mallar, Property of Green Dog Pet Supply

Our local farmer’s markets are in full swing right now, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Living in Portland has really made us feel so much more connected to our local farmers – maybe because there are so many things grown here. It’s made us much more aware of not only how much more delicious fresh organic foods are than those that have ridden in a truck or boat or train (or all of the above) to get to my supermarket, (moments from wilting), but also what a challenge it is for small, locally owned organic farmers to compete with giant agro-business.

I’m sure most of you know that organic farming is good for both you and the environment, as it reduces overall exposure to toxic chemicals. Synthetic pesticides and other chemicals can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and not only are they pollutants but they could be associated health consequences, from asthma to cancer. But did you know that organically grown foods can actually be better for you (and your pets) nutritionally than their traditionally grown counterparts? Just a few of the examples I found:
A study was presented at the Soil Association (UK’s largest soil conservation, organic farming, and environmental protection NGO) Annual Conference that came down solidly on the side of Organic milk. According to the research, cows farmed organically produced milk which was, on average, 50% higher in Vitamin E, 75% higher in beta carotene, two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine, and richer in Omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced milk. A group of scientists from Europe have shown that organic food is healthier, for rats. The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and the Danish Research Center for Organic Farming found that by feeding rats only organic food they had a stronger immune systems, slept better, and stored less fat. In a study by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, organic ketchup was shown to contain 57% higher levels of the antioxidant lycopene.

So get on out there to the Farmer’s Markets while they’re still in full swing, or seek out markets in your area that carry locally grown produce. When food is locally grown, it hasn’t traveled as far to get here as stuff in the supermarket — this uses far less fossil fuel and produces fewer emissions to transport it. It’s also fresher, so it tastes better and lasts longer. Support our local organic farmers!


Fireworks — Fun for some people, but a nightmare for some dogs and their owners.

Photo property of Green Dog Pet Supply

We couldn’t believe it when we moved to Portland and saw/heard how many fireworks go off here on the 4th of July. We’ve never lived anywhere with legal fireworks, and had no idea that it would be such a constant barrage of explosions for hours on end. This can be a very frightening thing for pets in our homes who can’t possibly understand what is happening, and can drive some dogs into a panic. I thought I’d put together some tips for how to get ready and how to deal with the 4th when it comes.

If this is your first 4th of July with your new puppy, this is your chance to set the tone for the future. This exercise can also help older dogs that are already frightened of fireworks noises. <! — more — >

       In the next week, try to desensitize the noise of random fireworks and turn them into a signal that something great is going to happen for the dog. People are always impatient for the 4th to come, and they end up setting a few off ahead of time. These can be very useful opportunities for you to work on getting your puppy happy with the noises instead of being frightened. First, get some sort of outrageous treat ready — something that will really blow your dog’s mind that they doesn’t usually get. Hotdog slices come to mind, or pieces of real meat. Cut them up and put them in a Tupperware in the front of the fridge, ready to grab. Any time you hear a bang outside, start your “puppy party”. React like something really exciting and fabulous has happened — “Lucky puppy!! Oooh Boy!” Bounce your way to the fridge and grab your goodies. Sounds silly, but if you’re lucky enough to get some repetitions, your dog will soon associate the sound of the fireworks with an opportunity for a hotdog puppy party, instead of making up their own interpretation of what this big noise could possibly mean. Dogs are incredibly good at associations, and this sort of classical conditioning works well with anything that a dog has previously found unnerving. They will quickly come to associate a noise (even a scary one) with big fun if that’s what you seem to be saying it means. An industrious puppy owner could even come up with ways of getting some more repetitions under their belt in ways they can control and predict. Maybe you can get a hold of some of those little tiny ones that you throw on the ground and they make a “snap!” sound. Then list the help of a friend or family member to set them off when you’re inside with your pup and your helper is outdoors. Cell phones make this an easier exercise. Get your treats ready not too far away, and tell your helper to set one off — just a little pop. “Lucky puppy”! It makes you happily jump up from the couch and get him a hotdog slice. Then you settle down again. When you’re ready, maybe a few more pops, and a few more hotdog slices and maybe a little game of tug, or a new toy and end the exercise. Just a few repetitions a night can lead to some good associations for your dog. If your dog has an extreme case of fireworks phobia, consider occasionally working on this exercise throughout the coming year, sometimes with very small fireworks that aren’t very obnoxious. (You especially don’t want your pet owning neighbors hate you!) and next year will be easy sailing for your dog. You might also be able to find a fireworks noises tape or CD, or use you tube to find something. In the cases of extreme fear, you want to start as small as possible — very low volume on the DVD. The key is to wait to increase the intensity until you get a good response at the level you’re at. It may seem like a pain, but it’s so worth it in the end to help spare them from such a stressful experience. You can also use this “Lucky Puppy!” response to help work on other noises for the noise sensitive dog. The other reason this works is that dogs play off of your energy. You might be inadvertently reinforcing the trembling terrors by being tense about fireworks yourself, whereas if you appear to think a noise is OK, or even fun, they might believe you (especially a puppy).

        – Next, consider picking up a product to help ease the fear of a nervous dog. Our favorite products for calming are CBDs, available in treat or tincture form. Cats can also benefit from CBDs during these scary times. Animals Apawthecary makes an herbal blend for dogs and cats called Tranquility Blend to relax an animal, and Ark Naturals makes an herbal blend for dogs called Happy Traveler that might help to take the edge off. (We carry all three in the store, if you’re in the neighborhood). It is safe to combine CBDs with these other herbal products with animals that are truly terrorized by noises.

         – On the day, make sure that you exercise your pets really well (wand toys for cats help a lot). A tired dog is much less likely to be stressed about the noises. Keep your pets inside, as more animals are lost on this night than almost any other trying to flee from the noise. If you’re not going to be home, find a secure place in the house and draw the blinds (if your dog is crate trained and feels safe in it, this would be a perfect time to use it).

        – Some folks have told us that drowning out the noises sometimes helps. One woman said she puts her dog in the laundry room with a meaty bone or a stuffed Kong and puts sneakers in the dryer, and it works well for her dog. You’d have to decide though whether that would add stress to your noise sensitive dog, or whether it might help. Of course it depends on your dog. Perhaps more “normal” noises like the TV or radio would work better for some.

        – Other people have had good luck with the T-Touch method of wrapping a dog in fabric to give it a greater sense of security. The easiest way to try this is to get a tight t-shirt, put it on the dog and tie the bottom in a knot to keep it snug around the dog’s body. (If it smells like you, even better.) We also carry Thundershirts, a product that helps you wrap them up in a jacket-type way.

        Most importantly, don’t ever bring a dog with you to a fireworks display. Not only are they very crowded, but they are far too loud for your dog’s sensitive ears. While there are some dogs out there who might take an experience like a fireworks display in stride, it would be far too easy to traumatize a dog with this very extreme evening of smells, giant explosions overhead, the feeling of rumbling in the ground, and earsplitting noise. Once you’re packed into a crowd, it’s hard to make a quick exit if your dog isn’t handling the situation well, and the damage might already be done. Perhaps you could spend the puppy’s first 4th of July at home with him and make it a fun evening for him, so that future fireworks aren’t as scary.

Have any fireworks tips for others, or product recommendations? Please feel free to post a comment here and share your idea with others!


Photo licensed by Adobe Stock Photos

Earth Day is always a great time to take a look at little ways we can be more conscious of our actions and our consumer choices as they relate to the health of our environment. It can act as a New Year’s resolution of sorts. We like to make it easy for people to make good consumer choices when they shop with us, but we thought it might be appropriate to offer a few suggestions that might be helpful for the rest of you who don’t live nearby.

Buy Locally whenever you can. Not only does it support your local economy, items that travel to you from down the street use far fewer resources like fossil fuels than those items traveling to you from places like China.

Try to refrain from using chemicals and pesticides in your yards and when you clean your house. Pets and children can be especially vulnerable to the health affects of exposure to these chemicals, and they can have a detrimental affect on the other wildlife in your yard, as well as leaching into our drinking water. Check out beneficial insects as good ways to fight pests in your yard. Beneficial Nematodes are an especially great way to fight fleas on your property!

Natural cleaners work very well and keep pollutants out of our homes. Check out Seventh Generation website for tons of useful information about the benefits of natural home cleaners to us and to our environment. Remember, your pets are in closer contact with your grass and your floors than you are, and they will ingest chemicals that they groom off of their coats and feet. Chemical cleaners can also irritate their eyes, ears, throats and skin, can have negative affects on their central nervous system, and could contribute to certain cancers.

Switch from clay cat litter to a more sustainable material like corn, cassava, wheat, or pine. Clay cat litter must be mined from the earth creating habitat loss (did you know that 1.5 million tons of clay is strip-mined every year to make cat litter?) Once used, clay litter must be landfilled (one source says it’s about 50,000 lbs a week in the U.S.). Did you know that more clay litter is put into landfills than dirty diapers? Litters made from corn, etc are easy to use, they clump well and can be composted or flushed in some parts of the country. In Portland, they beg us to tell our customers not to ever flush any “flushable Litter” as our system is too old to handle it. Cat feces should never be composted or flushed as it can contaminate our water supply and rivers. In many states like California, they are discouraging flushing cat feces because sea otters are showing high levels of toxoplasmosis which is carried in cat feces.

Choose products with less packaging when you have the choice. Let companies know that you aren’t choosing their products because of their wasteful packaging. Recycling what you can is good, but buying products which create less waste to begin with is even better. We see quite a few unnecessarily wasteful products out there for pets, like disposable plastic food bowl liners. Just say no to needless landfill!

Check out other green tips on this blog – I try to post simple tips that all of us can use to make our daily lives have a little less impact on our environment. Thanks for reading!



Property of Green Dog Pet Supply, Photo by Christine Mallar

Given the events of the past few weeks (recalls due to pet foods tainted with Melamine from China) , I thought I might publish a few of my old newsletter articles on nutrition to the blog. We believe the best way to feed your pets is with a commercially prepared raw food diet. Our kitty eats a little canned food combined with prepared raw food, as well as pieces of whatever meats we might be preparing for ourselves as treats for her. I’ll tell you, I’ve always known that raw food is great, but she has really driven the point home for me. We got her at two years old,and she’s nearly 20 years old now. She looks far better then when she was 5. Or maybe ever. When she was 18 we thought she was nearing her end. She looked like a really old lady – she was bony and skinny, she’d lost most of the muscle mass in her back end and couldn’t jump up in the window very well any more. Her coat was dull and greasy looking, and her black was looking brown. Not now! She agreed finally to eat raw food, and she’s as glossy as a seal. Her coat is black again and thick and soft and her muscle mass is back, and she’s able to jump up in the window again – she’s gorgeous, and looks better than she did when she was half this age. She also had early stage kidney and liver disease and had a hard lump the size of a Canellini bean on her arm. The time table of changes went like this: within 2 weeks we noticed dramatic improvements in her coat quality. Within 2 months her muscle mass had improved greatly and she was more mobile. Her stiffness was definitely reduced as well. Less than a year later, the lump on her arm was gone, and her blood work showed significant improvement in both her kidney and liver values. She lived to be 22, and was the primary reason we started to be much more conscious of the benefits of raw food. It’s stunning to watch rapid changes happen like that right in front of your eyes! In her last year when she sometimes would refuse her raw food, we’d watch her start to waste away again, and in just the course of a week or two, she’d look very old again and lose weight, and her coat started to look pretty dull again, even though she was eating other things. As soon as she’d agree to eat the raw food again, she’d blossom again, and her coat was shinier and prettier within the week, and her weight would come back just as quickly as well. It’s a testament to the digestibility of the raw food – you could literally see her body better able to heal itself and make repairs. She ate well and looked gorgeous right up to the end, and we know that the Rad Cat raw food added those precious extra years to her life).

A few months ago a little pug named Edgar came in – he was so incredibly cute but clearly had some strange issues going on. He was thin and a little wobbly, and couldn’t take a treat easily as his tongue stuck way out of the side of his mouth making it very difficult for him to chew and swallow. His mom said that he had been to many vets to try and figure it out to no avail. She visited a holistic vet who put him on raw food. You should see him now – he zooms in to the store with incredible vibrancy (no more wobbles!), his coat is glossy and healthy, his eyes are clearer, and his tongue is back in his head where it belongs. It’s amazing.  

Just a week ago a regular customer came in understandably upset about her cute boxer, Jake. He has chronic food sensitivities, and has tried just about every kind of kibble, including prescription foods without relief from the terrible itching. We tried him on Duck and Potato most recently and he was doing pretty well on that one for a few months. But, like has happened to him before, eating the same thing every day creates a bad reaction for him. He started itching severely – the poor guy was clawing at his face nonstop. (it makes some sense that a dog with food sensitivities can easily become sensitized to any food – his body decides he’s had too much of that thing and reacts) We decided it was time to try raw food, as it very well may not be any specific protein or grain that he’s allergic to, it may simply be that Jake’s body can’t handle processed food, and he tends to not tolerate a lack of variety. (though he was in the typical catch-22 of not being able to have variety as everything made his skin react). Within 2 days of starting raw food, his skin calmed down and he was able to rest easier. I believe that he will be able to tolerate and benefit from variety, as long as we keep feeding him whole uncooked foods.
We are constantly amazed at the power of real food on the health of animals (and people! The more unprocessed whole foods that we can eat, the healthier we are too). Read more here about what’s happening inside a pet with food sensitivities and what else can help!
At any rate, here’s the raw food article from the newsletter. Please remember that the information in my articles are based on my opinions and are not to be treated as medical advice, or to replace a good one-on-one relationship with a holisitic veterinarian.

Some folks call it the BARF diet — which stands for “Bones and Raw Food”, or for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”. What’s it all about?

Of all of the creatures that roam the earth — the carnivores, the omnivores and the herbivores, we humans are the first and only animals to cook the food we eat. Over the past few decades, Americans are eating more and more processed food, and we’re seeing a corresponding rise in many health problems, including diabetes, cancer, etc. We know that whole foods are the most nutritionally complete and that a steady diet of fast food can make us unhealthy pretty quickly. So what about our pets? Do they do best on cooked, processed food? Aren’t they supposed to eat kibble to stay healthy?

Kibble diets are a relatively recent development (compared to how long cats and dogs have lived with humans, or the many thousands of years they’ve hunted for their own foods) and these dry diets were of course developed for convenience. There’s no doubt that the quality of kibble available is improving all the time, and there is also no doubt that a higher quality kibble (with higher quality meat proteins and fewer carbohydrates) results in a healthier dog that sheds less, smells better, and looks shinier than a dog on a grocery store brand. However, like humans in this society, the rate of chronic disease in our pets has risen dramatically. Many holistic vets and nutritionists attribute this to the amount of work the body has to go through to digest these highly processed foods, and the fact that many nutrients, (fragile amino acids like taurine that are very heat sensitive and critical for supporting their hearts, brains and muscle mass) and most if not all digestive enzymes are lost in the cooking process. When a dog comes through our doors that’s eaten raw food and bones their whole lives, we can tell right away. These dogs make you say “WOW”. The shine, the body condition, the gleaming white teeth — these dogs look fantastic.

Cats do especially well on raw food. It makes sense, as feral cats feed themselves quite well on whole rodents and birds. They crunch right through meat, bones and organs, perhaps eating trace amounts of greens/seeds in the stomach contents of their prey. Raw food mimics this perfectly for them. A natural cat diet wouldn’t really contain any carbohydrates at all, while most commercial dry cat foods are heavy with wheat, corn, peas, etc. Some brands have hardly any meat at all, just by-products (waste parts like heads, feet, and entrails – a very inconsistent ingredient due to varying proportions of the contents). Cats have not evolved any metabolic ability to turn carbohydrates into energy, so these carb-heavy diets just create a fat cat that is prone to inflammatory issues, bowel troubles, kidney disease and especially diabetes.

A recent study evaluated the effects of dietary carbohydrates on urine volume, struvite crystal formation, and calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium balance in clinically normal cats. It concluded that diets high in grains stimulate the formation of struvite crystals, and led to a net loss of body calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. 1

Our dogs and cats are very closely related to their wild cousins. Look at the structure of these teeth and compare with their wild counterparts. A house cat is nearly identical on the inside to a tiger or cougar, and our dogs are physiologically very similar to their wold ancestors.

All photos licensed by Adobe Stock photos

What’s different about raw food?

Dogs only manufacture about 25% of the digestive enzymes needed to break down their food — the other 75% is supposed to come from the raw prey they eat. Unfortunately the cooking process destroys these enzymes and a large percentage of their nutrient value. A few of the better kibbles add digestive enzymes after they are cooked, but all dogs on kibble could benefit from the addition of digestive enzymes to their diet (check out this product for dogs and this product for cats). Raw foods have their nutrients and digestive enzymes in tact, meaning the body doesn’t have to work as hard to generate the enzymes needed to break down the food, or filter out the toxins created by the cooking process. In poor quality kibble, there is an added burden on organs like the liver to process the poor quality proteins and fats sources used, and acrylamide is a carcinogenic chemical produced when carbohydrates are heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. Add to this the presence of chemical preservatives, artificial colors, etc and it’s a lot for the body to handle over the course of a lifetime.We know that we humans who eat only highly processed foods for a lifetime are very prone to chronic health issues, and it’s the same for our pets.

Isn’t it dangerous to feed raw meat?

All meat should be handled carefully, and kept cold from farm to bowl. Dogs and cats do handle bacterial contamination better than we do — especially dogs, who are designed as scavengers as well as predators. (We regularly hear gross stories like the dog last week who ate the bloated decaying rat he found in the yard and was fine, aside from some bad breath.) Pets with immune system deficiencies or those going through chemo may be more susceptible to bacterial contamination, and they might be safer eating dehydrated raw food, as dehydration kills any pathogenic bacteria. (This is also a good tip for those families that have human toddlers in the house that might get into pet bowls).

We would agree with any veterinarian that says you shouldn’t buy raw meat at your grocery store to be fed to pets, as these meats can contain dangerous levels of salmonella, etc as they are meant to be cooked before eaten. However, companies that manufacture prepared raw pet food handle the meat knowing that it will be eaten raw and use extremely clean equipment and keep it even colder from slaughter to store. Most importantly, the FDA has a zero tolerance policy regarding salmonella, and companies know they can be shut down for salmonella contamination. We raw feeders have become comfortable with the concept of raw food diets, we just make sure that the meat is fresh, purchased from a reliable source using practices to prevent and eliminate salmonella, and handled properly. We make sure to keep raw meats refrigerated, we remove uneaten food after mealtime and use clean bowls each time we offer new food, and we also make sure that toddlers aren’t allowed access to food bowls while they are on the floor.

Raw food enthusiasts will tell you that the health risks of feeding processed food far outweigh the risks of feeding raw.

Check out this article, “Claiming Raw Foods Are Dangerous Isn’t Backed Up With Data”
and: Raw Foods Treated Unfairly (again) By The FDA

Photo property of Green Dog Pet Supply

Bones are another subject that gets people a bit worried. They are absolutely crucial to include in some form when feeding fresh meat(or at least some sort of calcium supplement should be given), due to nutritional requirements of carnivores (meat and organs alone have too much phosphorus if not balanced by calcium in the diet. This is also true if you’re home cooking meat for your pet – you still need some calcium to make your diet balanced. (see resources below for detailed information).

There are powdered calcium supplements, but Dogs are quite capable of consuming turkey necks, chicken backs and wings, etc. This is surprising to people, as we’ve been told all of our lives that chicken bones are dangerous. It is absolutely true that cooked chicken bones are very dangerous, as the cooking process turns them brittle and splintery. Raw bones are more pliable and safer to eat. (check out this blog post of ours about chicken necks for cats and dogs, with video of our cat crunching them up)
Many people choose to stick to ground bones — your butcher should be able to grind whole chickens for you, and the prepared raw diets we carry already contain ground bone. Pultry necks are absolutely some of the best teeth cleaners you can find, and can keep a dog occupied (Note — we carry raw beef and buffalo marrow bones in three sizes in our freezer for recreational chewing).

Isn’t it difficult to feed raw?

Making your own balanced, complete raw diets takes a bit of research in the beginning, and a bit of extra effort to shop for and prepare. Most folks say that they get the butcher to grind their meat and bones for them, and then spend about an hour or so adding fruits and veggies, portioning and freezing the diets that will last the whole month. Check out great tips here for making balanced meals at home.  Some people are still daunted by the project though, and it is very important that their meals are balanced. A homemade diet can be the very best thing you can do for your pet, and also could be the very worst thing you can do if the diet isn’t balanced properly.
The good news is that there are a number of really nice prepared raw foods on the market. We carry several brands in our freezer.

Photo by Answers Pet Food

For example, Answers brand raw foods – here’s the ingredient list for their detailed Beef dog food: Pasture raised and finished beef, beef heart, beef liver, beef kidney, ground beef bone, organic carrots, organic duck eggs, organic green squash, cod liver, organic broccoli, whey, butter, kefir (raw cow milk, dried Lactobacillus bulgaricus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Leuconostoc mesenteroides fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus lactis fermentation product), montmorillonite, organic parsley, salt, vitamin E supplement.Fabulous! We should all eat so well. The fermentation used in these diets also actively protects the food from pathogens like salmonella, allowing it to keep safe from contamination for up to 7 days thawed in the refrigerator.

To sum it up

Dog food companies have spent millions of dollars convincing us that commercial dog and cat food is the ONLY way to feed a pet and that you must feed the same exact kibble for the pet’s whole life. The evidence suggests that it might actually be detrimental to limit a diet so severely, causing deficiencies and food sensitivities. No matter how thoughtfully I created the most healthy meal, I couldn’t come up with a single recipe to feed myself every day of my lifetime without having some sort of nutritional deficiency or excess for me (which may be different for what your body needs). A recent study found that Irish Setters consuming a single food type were three times more likely to develop GDV (bloat) than Irish Setters fed a variety of food types. Inclusion of table foods in the diet of large-breed and giant-breed dogs was associated with a 59% decreased risk of bloat, while inclusion of canned foods was associated with a 28% decreased risk. 2 (meaning variety is important)

While “table foods” like Doritos and french fries are not appropriate foods for pets, the inclusion of fresh whole foods to a pet’s diet can be beneficial, even if you’re just supplementing your current diet with these foods. Many kibbles have chicken, lamb, brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, etc in them – why not feed things like this in their whole food form? Food is food, and we should think less (in my opinion) about “human food” vs “pet food” and start thinking of processed food vs whole food. (Note: when whole foods given as toppers equal more than 20% of the food given, it’s time to start doing your homework on how to balance your meals (see above link about making diets at home)

Pet owners who switch to raw food often see a reduction or elimination of chronic health problems. This is especially true of dogs with “food allergies” who can’t seem to find a kibble that works for them. Though some dogs may actually have allergies to some foods, or have become overly sensitized to a certain ingredient by having it every day for years, many dogs who appear to have allergies may actually be exhibiting sensitivities to the processed food — poor quality proteins and fats, toxins, and a lack of amino acids, vitamins and enzymes. I would encourage anyone whose pet has chronically itchy skin, ear infections, etc to try transitioning to a raw diet. Other benefits include:

·  – Teeth are whiter and gums are healthier. This is in part due to the digestive enzymes in the meat creating a healthy atmosphere in the mouth. Dogs who chew raw bones also have the physical scraping and cleaning action from chewing.

 – Arthritic conditions are often helped (the essential fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, and glucosamine, chondroitin, and collagen are natural components of raw meat, especially in something like poultry necks, as they are rich in these nutrients.)

·   – Large breed puppies have less chance of growing too quickly and developing joint problems

·   – Stool volume and odor is greatly reduced

·   – Shedding is reduced and the coat is shinier and smells better

Immune system becomes stronger, making the pet have better resistance to parasites like fleas.

t’I * It’s important to remember that any time you switch foods it’s important to transition slowly to avoid digestive upset. It takes different digestive flora to digest different types of food, so mixing it in gradually is recommended to allow your pet to adjust. Some cats love the meat right away, and some are really resistant to new things. Making sure it’s not too cold is helpful (you can put a little in a baggie and into a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Never microwave raw food as the bones can become brittle). Some cats (and picky dogs) do well with mixing the tiniest bit of raw food into canned food until they adjust to the taste, and some just need to see a little on a plate next to their food regularly until they get used to seeing it there and decide to try it. (though throw that bit away each day – don’t leave the same old crusty bit there). When introducing meaty bones to dogs, give one for 10 or 15 minutes a day over several days and refrigerate it in between. You may want to introduce additional digestive enzymes and probiotics to your diet during the transition as well (though probiotics are unnecessary to use if you’re feeding a fermented product like Answers.
Once your pet is eating raw food well, then you may choose to feed 100% raw (make sure you do some reading of the resources listed below if you’re making your own to be sure it’s balanced) or you may decide to feed a human grade kibble in the morning and raw food at night. Any amount of whole food in the diet is useful, so it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Even if you only use raw food as a supplement, it’s likely you’ll notice some benefit.


1. Funaba, M. et al., 2004. Evaluation of effects of dietary carbohydrate on formation of struvite crystals in urine and
macromineral balance in clinically normal cats. Amer J Vet Res 65(2):138-142.

2. M, Raghavan, et al., 2004. Diet related risk factors for gastric dilation-volvulus in dogs of high-risk breeds. JAAHA 40:192-203.

Related Reading:
Dogaware is our favorite site for reading about how to balance homemade diets. Here is their page on raw

Billinghurst, Ian, DVM, B.V.Sc (Hons), B.Sc.Agr., Dip.Ed., “Evolutionary Nutrition for Pets – Hearsay and Dangerous, or Hard Science and Healthy?” — Proceedings, 2002 Annual Conference of American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Eugene, Oregon.


Schultze, Kymythy C.C.N., A.H.I., “Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats — The Ultimate Diet”. Hay House Inc, 1998. (Available at Green Dog)

MacDonald, Carina Beth, “Raw Dog Food — Make it easy for you and your dog!”. Dogwise Publishing, 2004. (available at Green Dog)

Kerns, Nancy. “Getting to the Meat of the Matter” Whole Dog Journal , January 1999

Many other raw food articles accessible through http:// www.whole-dog-journal.com

Pet Hair Everywhere! (and my pet won’t let me groom her!)

Photo licensed by Adobe Stock

Now that the weather’s getting warmer, we’re seeing dogs in the store who are “blowing their coat” – another term for seasonal shedding. Some of you might say, “Seasonal shedding?? But my pet sheds all the time!” While Seasonal shedding normally happens a few times a year, shedding all the time is a common complaint, and one that can often be cleared up with the addition of fatty acids to your pet’s diet, and especially by a change to raw foods. We have many great brands in the store, and you’ll be amazed at how either a switch to a better food, or the addition of a fatty acid supplement can improve your pet’s skin and coat. Fatty acids have been shown to help inflammation, to slow the growth of yeast infections, to help joint pain, and of course to lessen shedding! Dogs will smell better when their skin is healthier. Cats won’t have as many problems with hairballs when they’re ingesting less hair.

But even pets with healthy glossy coats still will lose hair as the weather gets warmer, and some breeds lose entire layers of their coats as the season changes. We certainly have a variety of tools in the store that can help get that shedding hair out, but what’s to be done if your pet won’t let you brush him or perform routine grooming tasks? Make sure that your pet likes to be groomed, so it’s not such a hassle when you need to do it. Grooming is necessary for all hair types (even short-haired dogs benefit from brushing, which gets rid of dead skin and hair and distributes the natural oils through the coat, and can either be a pleasant bonding experience or a nightmare. Toenail clipping is something some people don’t even attempt to do, but wouldn’t it be better if they weren’t scared by it when the groomer does it? If you have a puppy or kitten, start making grooming a fun experience right from the beginning. Play with your puppy in the bathtub a few times before you introduce water. Then just rinse him and dry him off to start with. Pair really super treats with brushing for both cats and dogs. Handle your animal’s feet as often as possible — especially with puppies and kittens — get them used to a foot massage right from the beginning. Make them like it. Even older animals can be taught to like grooming and handling, as long as you go slowly enough. Our old lady kitty, Zoe, hated the brushing until I worked on a minute or two of interaction with the brush every night followed by the best treat I could find. She now loves it and I no longer have to use the treats! Here’s how I did it:
Identify your motivator. What’s the best, most mind-blowing treat you can think of for that individual? You might have to try a few things they’ve never had before – real bits of chicken? Cheese? Once you find it, save it only for this task. For her it was a tablespoon of canned cat food. At the time she only ate kibble and the wet food rocked her world (now she eats raw food and canned cat food only).
Think about what you can get away with without this animal becoming nervous. If you can’t handle his feet, can you touch his legs? Can you brush her back but not her belly? For Zoe, she would rub her face on a metal flea comb, but if I moved it to her body she’d run away. At least I knew where I could start – rubbing her face on the flea comb was my starting point.
Set up a routine. Animals almost universally like a routine. Every night around the same time, I called Zoe into the living room and sat on the floor with my flea comb. I’d let her rub her face on the flea comb for a minute, then I’d hop up all excited and ask her if she wanted her soft food. We’d run into the kitchen together and I’d put her canned food on a plate. The next night, I called her in, she rubbed on the brush, and we ran into the kitchen to get her treat. By the third or fourth night, she was showing up for our appointment. She didn’t know I was up to anything, she just liked the idea of this new easy way to get her favorite thing.
Take it slow, and only move forward when the step you’re on is very easy. If your dog is very upset by having his feet touched but loves a back rub, just do the back rub for a while and then occasionally move down to the shoulders and right back up to the back. You certainly can have little yummy treats there with you as well that you slip him when you’ve strayed to the shoulders without a problem. Then when he no longer notices the shoulders, stray a little down the legs, reward, and move back up to the shoulders. When Zoe was really comfortable with the face rubbing, I’d push it along her cheek to the shoulder every once in a while. If I overstepped my bounds, she’d leave. Trick is, if she left, she wouldn’t get her treat, so she’d inevitably come back a few minutes later for a little more. I’d just do a few more moments, then I’d end the session on that good note. With dogs, watch for them to stiffen or freeze a little when you go too far for them too fast. Or, they may turn their heads towards the spot you’re touching, or maybe give you that whale-eyed warning look (where you can see the whites of their eyes). Cats will start to flick that tail, or their ears may flatten a little. Be sensitive to their signals and try to keep it all to what they currently find enjoyable, and just pushing the edge a little at a time.
Incorporate more steps than you think you’d need to if your pet is wary of the final goal. For example, for nail trims, you’d move from leg massage to foot touching, to foot massage, to foot massage with clippers on the floor nearby but never touched. Then to picking up the clippers, giving a treat, and putting the clippers right back down again. Once you can pick them up without the animal noticing, touch them to the paw without using them. Work up to tap tap tapping on the nails for treats. Then pretend to clip a nail (I even read somewhere of a trainer that clipped a wooden matchstick held under the nail to simulate the clip sound of the nail trimming. Clever!).
Always end on a positive note. When you get a tiny bit further than you usually do, jump up for the big finishing treat, or play a game they love. If you went too far, do something easier that you can then give this big reward.

Within a very short time, you should see very good progress. It doesn’t have to be but a few minutes a day, and this fairly easy work will really pay off – imagine a lifetime of stress-free brushing or nail trimming for just a few minutes a day of interacting and rewarding your pet. Zoe now lets me brush her whole body, and the bonus is, she loves it. It was paired with so much love and so many treats over and over (classical conditioning at work) that she now finds a previously scary experience quite pleasurable. She was 15 when I started this — who says an old animal can’t be taught something new?).

Have a situation where you’re having too much trouble desensitizing them to something scary like nail trims or other handling? Never hesitate to bring in a positive reinforcement trainer to help set up a plan that will work for you and your pet.

Stuff your Kong!


Photo by Kong company

Winter is a tough time to have a busy dog. Granted, this winter has been much milder than most here in Portland, but what do you do for dogs that have lots of energy when it’s cold and rainy out? Keep their mouths busy – stuff a Kong! Many people know about stuffing Kongs – those durable red or black rubber toys are great to smear a bit of peanut butter in. However many people don’t get creative enough about their Kong stuffing, and may be wasting a good opportunity to keep a dog busy. <! — more — >The stuffing is only limited to your imagination. Peanut butter with no added sugar or salt is a good stuffing for sure. A bit of cream cheese is often fun. We don’t love the ingredients in the commercial stuffing pastes. However, when you start thinking outside the box, you can really make those Kongs interesting. The best way to really make the Kong work for you is to feed your dog out of it. When you put your dog’s food in a bowl it’s gone in a few moments, but if you stuff it into the Kong, breakfast can take a lot longer to get through. For the Kong novice dog you can just put their kibbles in there and let them roll it around and eat them as they fall out. As they get the hang of it, you can soak the kibbles in a bit of water to soften the kibbles, or mix canned dog food in there, and stuff that mixture into the Kong to create more work for them. You can create layers of soaked kibble (or ground raw meat if you feed raw), a cookie or two, some cooked rice, another layer of kibble, some cottage cheese, etc. If you need it to last even longer, you can freeze that mixture the night before. Freezing is actually a great way to even make treats last longer in the Kong. Yogurt and bananas are fun to freeze, or canned dog food, mashed potatos, cooked carrots, or how about plugging the little hole with cheese, standing the Kong up in a cup and filling it with chicken broth to freeze (ok, so maybe that’s a good summer outdoor treat). I have a friend that puts shredded cheese and kibble in her Kong and microwaves it to melt it and stick it all together, then freezes that! The nice thing about a Kong is you can also wash it on the top shelf of your dishwasher. Nifty! Do any of you have a creative idea about stuffing Kongs? Post them in a comment here and share them with others!

Snow Day!


Our winters are usually a little wetter than white, but we do get the occasional snow storm. This one’s a good one with lots of fluffy snow, and a lot of happy dogs and kids playing in it. We made it into work, as we’re New Englanders with a bit of experience with this situation, and we don’t live far from the store. We had lots of fun seeing our neighborhood regulars off from work and out playing in the snow. This is a beautiful photo of Abby and Cooper enjoying it, snug in their locally made winter jackets. Also check out this cute photo of one of our customers’ miniature horse, Bentley, playing in the snow. Yippee!


Green Tip – LED Christmas Lights

Now is a great time to pick up some LED Christmas lights on sale! If you were in our store between Thanksgiving and Christmas you might have noticed that we decorated with Christmas lights. These were actually strings of LED lights, which are an amazing innovation in Christmas lights – they’re incredibly durable (you can step on them and they don’t break), if one goes out it doesn’t affect the whole strand, and they stay cool to the touch when in use. Even better, they last about 25,000 hours (some even claim up to 200,000 hours) before burning out, and use 80-90% less electricity. If you’re getting rid of old strings of lights, make sure to find a place where you can recycle electrical waste instead of just throwing them away, as they often contain lead in the wiring/coating and shouldn’t be landfilled. LEDs are a bit more expensive but well worth it in the long run in energy savings and durability. Get some now while they’re on sale around town. Happy Holidays!