The Price of Grooming Your Pet

January 15, 2015

On almost a daily basis I get asked why it costs so much to have a dog groomed. The truth is very simple, I’m going to try and put this in ‘human” terms at first for a better idea.

First off, your pet gets a shampoo, a blow dry, a pedicure, a brush out and/or a haircut. They are handled by at least three different staff members from the person at the front desk, to a bather and finally a groomer. If you were to go to a hair/nail salon to have all of these things done…just imagine how much you would be charged! Pretty good deal in my opinion.

Big box retailers will upsell most of these procedures adding $5 here and $5 there. Or will offer some sort of  special treatments that do absolutely nothing just to bring in a few more dollars. I’ve heard of people being charged $65 for the same thing we do for $45-$50! The groomer never sees any of this money, it goes right to profit. We don’t do that. Everything is inclusive except for nail dremeling. The groomer is paid for this since they do the work.

Some pets take upwards of 3-5 hours to just complete the entire process. It all depends on the size and condition of the dog. Just think of a Chow Chow who hasn’t been to a groomer for at least a year. The coat is in terrible condition. Matted, greasy and usually full of most of your yard! $90-$120 is a decent price to pay to have the dog looking and feeling like brand new. Then if you think of a beautiful Standard Poodle. Just to start off the dog has to be roughed out. This means shaving the feet, the face and brushing out the entire coat even before the bath. Then after a bath and blow dry, the Poodle is literally sculpted into a work of art. I can tell you from experience that sitting back and admiring your final product is rewarding. I wish most pet owners understood this. Some do…but a lot don’t. They just look at the price, not how much it takes to get that end result.

Then, you have the pets who are extremely difficult to work with. Some will bite for no reason or will bite unpredictably. We work with these dogs on a daily basis. Most places will turn them away. We feel that a little caution and moving slowly, all while trying to figure out why the dog is so bad, will let us win in the end. Just NOT letting the dog know it’s getting to you can work wonders. Some of these pets have been traumatized by grooming, bathing or a trip to the vet. Some just come that way and so it goes. You just never know sometimes. Some dogs will spin around to avoid any contact what so ever. Think of how long that must take to finish. Not to mention you have razor sharp instruments in your hands and HAVE to avoid poking an eye out or cutting the dog as it passes by.

Next, is the dog owner who comes in with a matted dog that has to be taken short. Not even a miracle can fix it…and believe me, I’ve pulled off some miracles! These people swear that they brush the dog on a daily basis. They probably do, but only the surface coat. The undercoat is pelted to the skin. It’s inhumane to even attempt to brush it out. Brushing and dematting something like this can cause serious skin problems, including brush burning…this is where you actually brush so much it irritates the skin and can cause bleeding and/or infections. It can also cause bruising of the skin. Dematting ears on a dog, whether you shave or brush can also cause hemotomas.  This is where the blood rushes through the small vessels in the ear to the very bottom causing either swelling or actual bleeding from the bottom tip of the ear. Even shaving matted ears can sometimes result in this problem. The bottom of the ear has NOT been cut in any manner. It just happens if the dog shakes their head uncontrollably. The dog comes in in horrible condition…then it’s our fault for uncovering these problems. Go figure!

I’ve found things under mats that you wouldn’t even believe! Fish hooks, wire wrapped around the leg, maggots from infection, gum, tar, hard candies left over from xmas, one time a sewing needle imbedded into the flesh of the dog. Nails that are so overgrown that they are growing into the pads of the feet. You just never know what may be under there.

The worst complaints I hear are about taking matted dogs short. People just will not believe you no matter what. I feel that a healthy, happy dog is a better outcome than a bruised ego from having to have your pet shaved. The hair will grow back, but a painful and/or health problem from dematting can last for quite a while. Please think of this the next time you take your pet in and the groomer says that they MUST take it short. It’s not because it’s easier for us…it’s better for the dog! We want the dog to go home looking just the way you want it. Sometimes, it’s just not going to happen.

Grooming/bathing are very labor intensive jobs. Most of us have carpal tunnel, bad elbows, bad shoulders and backs. We still do it…not to make a fortune, but because we genuinely love working with the dogs. It can be very rewarding and frankly, sometimes frustrating, but we keep doing it and making your pets clean and beautiful. Please remember these things the next time you question the price of having your pet groomed.

Dog facts

November 9, 2014

I know, I know, it’s been forever since I have had the time to post on our blog. I’ll do my best to get back into posting as often as I can.

Dog eyesight:  Dogs have better low light vision than humans, all thanks to a special mirror like lens that reflects light onto the retina. It’s known as the “tapetum”. This is why dogs eyes seem to glow in photos. Color vision in dogs is less discriminatory than in humans…well, most of them at least. They have color blindness to red and green,

Dogs have wide vision compared to their human counterparts due to the fact that that their eye diameter is larger compared to their size, and a special horizontal line of light sensitive cells that adds detail to peripheral vision. The eyes on some dogs are set into the skull to give them better 180 degree visual range. This is especially true of the “sight hound” breeds such as Afghans and Salukis. The dogs use eyesight rather than scent and hearing for hunting at great distances.

Hearing: Geez…dogs are amazing! Not only can they hear things better that we can, but the tones that we would never pick up on are such greater that us humans. They can pick up and pinpoint sounds 4 times the the distance that humans can. The directional sense of their hearing is due to the placement of the ears and the fact that they can turn their ears using a combination of at least 18 different muscles. Unfortunately, just like us their hearing decreases with age. One on the most fascinating things is that absolute silence makes them nervous.

It costs HOW much?

October 22, 2014

I am always asked why it costs so much to have your pet groomed. There is a fantastic and funny list published on many grooming sites. Whoever came up with this was spot on.

  1. Your hairdresser doesn’t give you a bath
  2. Your hairdresser doesn’t give you a manicure and pedicure
  3. You don’t try to bite or scratch your hairdresser
  4. You don’t wiggle, spin or try to jump out of the hairdresser’s chair
  5. Your hairdresser only cuts the top of your head, not your whole body
  6. You don’t try to hump the hairdresser
  7. Your hairdresser doesn’t wipe boogies from your eyes
  8. Your hairdresser doesn’t pluck and clean your ears
  9. Your hairdresser doesn’t squeeze your anal glands
  10. You don’t poop or pee while you are getting your hair cut
  11. Your hairdresser does not remove fleas or ticks
  12. You don’t go 6 weeks (or more) without brushing or washing your hair
  13. Your hairdresser doesn’t brush your teeth
  14. You don’t try to bite the clippers. scissors, brush, nail clippers or dryer
  15. It doesn’t take 3 people to trim your nails
  16. Your hairdresser doesn’t have to de-matt your hair
  17. Your hairdresser would never wash your butt
  18. Your hairdresser doesn’t give you a “sanitary trim”
  19. Drying your hair doesn’t blow hair all around and cover everything
  20. You don’t howl or bark while having all this done!

Why Do Dogs Do That?

June 5, 2013

Dogs are such complicated beings. They do things that just confound people. Hopefully, I can answer a few questions about certain issues.

Scooting across your nice clean carpet just minutes before guests arrive: This is usually associated with an anal gland problem. The glands are located at 4 and 8 a clock on the anus. Sometimes they get irritated and new to be expressed. Your groomer or vet can do this in just a few minutes. DO NOT attempt to do this if you are not experienced with expressing them. Not only can you rupture the sac, but let me tell you from experience….you don’t want that nasty smelling stuff ending up on your hands, hair or face. It’s most unpleasant! The other reasons for scooting are worms. If you happen to see little rice shaped things in your dog’s stool. Take a sample to the vet to make sure they to do not have tapeworms. These are usually associated with fleas.

Rolling in Smelly Stuff: This behavior is left over from dogs ancestors. Wolves roll is foul smelling things to cover their scent while hunting. Some dogs roll in funk to get rid of the smell of shampoos and colognes. We may love a sweet smelling dog, but it wreaks havoc their sensitive noses. ( our shop DOES NOT put cologne on the grooming dogs and try and use a clean smelling, but not overpowering smelling shampoo. Many people, including myself suffer from chemical sensitivity. I can only imagine how this effects the dogs noses!)

Drinking from the toilet: To you and me this sounds gross, but to your furry pal there, it’s a cool fresh bowl of water every time! They don’t have no idea what we do with the thing. Porcelain keeps the water tasting fresh as well as keeps it cooler than in a regular dog bowl. Put down the lid…it’s that simple. Keep a fresh supply of water on hand. Clean and fill the water bowl everyday. In the summer toss a few ice cubes in there. They enjoy a cold drink on a hot day just as we do. Or invest in a pet fountain that keeps the water flowing constantly. This is a quandary for me since most, if not all of these devices are made out of plastic. There is an earlier blog post about the dangers of plastic food and water bowls.

Eating feces: Geez, this is something that most dogs do on a regular basis…you’re just not catching them doing it! No one knows the real reason behind this. It may stem from the fact that mother dogs eat their pups stool to keep the area clean. Some people say it’s a lack of something in the pet’s diet. Out in the woods, dogs regularly eat the stool from deer, birds, you name it. The real problem…besides getting a kiss on the mouth from them right after it happens….is that they can contract parasites and viruses very easily. Especially, giardia which can really make your dog sick. My advise is to discourage this behavior right away and clean up any lying around the yard immediately. Keep a close eye out when you have your dog at dog parks and when hiking.

I will continue this discussion in my next post.


To Pluck or Not to Pluck? That is the Question.

January 21, 2013

The plucking of a dog’s ears has become a topic of some controversy as of late. While it used to be and still is, to an extent, a common dog grooming practice, in more recent years the practice has lost some of its following due to questions regarding whether or not it really helps a dog maintain the health of his ears. Let’s take a closer look.

Ear plucking is the practice of using fingers, hemostats or other tools to remove excessive amounts of hair from a dog’s ear canal. Drop-eared and/or very hairy breeds like the poodle, schnauzer, maltese and bichon frise, among others, are prone to hair buildup in the ear canal, which can prevent air flow and trap moisture in the skin folds, leading to increased growth of bacteria or fungi and causing irritation and infection. Removing the hair little by little, rather than in large chunks which can further irritate the delicate skin of the ear canal, and following up with a good ear cleaning can help prevent the buildup of “gunk” in the ear canal and keep the dog’s ears healthier. Untreated and/or chronic ear infections in dogs can lead to conditions like aural hematomas or even neurological issues, so in breeds and individual dogs prone to ear problems, keeping the ears clean is vital.

Lately, however, some veterinarians and groomers have been speaking out against ear plucking on the grounds that it can further irritate an ear canal already prone to irritation and lead to ear problems that may not have occurred otherwise. They point out that plucking the hair from a dog’s ear canal leaves minute openings–essentially, tiny wounds–in the skin where bacteria can simply settle more easily. Additionally, because (a) dogs generally don’t like the feeling of hair being plucked out of their ears and (b) plucking can leave the skin irritated, a dog may be more likely to scratch and worry at his ears, which will only make any ear problem worse.

The solution, the anti-ear-plucking camp says, is to keep the hair under the ear flap and on the side of the head trimmed a little more closely, to continue with thorough ear cleanings AND dryings, and to make sure to keep your dog’s ear flaps clean and dry as much as you can at home, since wet ear flaps will make it easier for moisture and bacteria to settle into the ear canal itself.

Some dogs do just fine with ear plucking, particularly if they are started young to allow them lots of time to get used to the sensation, and it continues regularly throughout their lives so the hair never has a chance to build up enough to cause problems. Other dogs, however, have ears too sensitive to withstand regular pluckings, and may suffer chronic ear problems as the result of plucking, instead of the plucking being a benefit. Additionally, a dog with already-irritated or -infected ears should not undergo a plucking except under direct supervision of a veterinarian, as it could worsen the condition of the dog’s ears.

Bottom line? Ear plucking may work very well for your dog. If it does, and does not cause your dog much discomfort, then perhaps you have no reason to seek alternative ear maintenance methods. But if your dog undergoes regular ear pluckings and still suffers from chronic ear problems, then it could be time to explore other options. Don’t hesitate to discuss ear plucking and its alternatives with your vet and your friendly Muttley Crew groomer!

A Home Away From Home for the Holidays

December 3, 2012

As a matter of opinion, I am firmly of the belief that if at all possible, our canine companions should be with us for the holidays, wherever we may be. But, sometimes that just is not at all possible, and we must find them alternative arrangements. It is my hope that this article can serve as a guide to choosing the perfect home away from home for your dog.

If you are considering taking your dog along with you for that holiday trip, or a vacation anytime, websites like and can be a real help with finding dog-friendly hotels, eateries, even beaches and other attractions. You can also look up business listings for doggy daycares in the area where you’ll be travelling to if you want to try an activity that isn’t necessarily dog-friendly, but you don’t want to leave Fido in your hotel room all day. 

Sometimes, though, we must make the difficult decision to leave our dogs at home while we travel. One option is to find a dogsitter who will either stay in your home with your dog or bring your dog to their home so that your dog at least has a residential space to relax in. If your dog has anxiety problems, having a dogsitter stay in your home can be a real lifesaver because the dog will probably feel most relaxed in his own environment. 

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of someone staying in your home, check your local doggy daycares as some of them are available for overnight stays as well as day camps. Most cities also have business that specializing in boarding and can even be as fancy as “pet resorts.” These pet hotels, provided that they are ethical and well-run, can be a truly wonderful experience for your dog because the staff are 100% dedicated to the boarding dogs and giving them the best, most relaxing and stimulating experience possible. 

Another option to consider is checking with your veterinarian to see if they offer boarding services. Many animal hospitals do, or sometimes some of the veterinary support staff will take on dogsitting jobs for clients. If your dog has serious medical problems, or a complicated medication regime, boarding with your veterinarian could be ideal because the staff are trained to give medications accurately and promptly, plus your vet will be close by in case of an emergency. What can be the fallback of boarding in an animal hospital, though, is that sometimes the staff are not as fully dedicated to the boarding dogs as the staff would be in a business that is purely a boarding kennel. Often the employees that look after boarding dogs are also vet techs who may be called away for medical tasks, leaving time for only the absolute necessary care of your dog–potty break, clean kennel, fresh food and water. If this is an option you want to explore, be sure to ask your vet if he or she has completely dedicated boarding staff, or if his veterinary staff multitasks. It could mean the difference between a passing experience and a stellar experience for your dog.

With all boarding facilities, be it your vet’s office or a doggy daycare, pet hotel or resort, be sure to ask for a tour. If the staff is hesitant to give you a tour or outright refuses, run! An upright, ethical business will be happy and proud to give you a tour, because they will keep their facility in ship shape and have nothing to hide. During the tour, look closely at the dogs who are currently boarding. Do they look comfortable, relaxed and happy or are they cowering in a corner? Are the facilities clean or can you see urine and fecal matter or stains? Are water containers full with fresh, clean water? Depending on your preference, is there an area for your dog to be walked or ways for your dog to take himself outside to do his business? What about the staff: are they comfortable and relaxed as well or are they harried, irritable or short-tempered? Is just one person in charge of a large kennel or is there an appropriate amount of staff, ensuring that each dog will get thorough, excellent care? It is absolutely okay to ask the facility for references or to see testimonials, as well.

If you’re travelling around any major holiday, bear in mind that any type of boarding facility, be it your vet’s office or a pet hotel, will be very busy. Be aware that your dog might not get as much attention as if he were boarding during the off-season, and make sure that both you and your dog will be okay with that for the short time that you will be away. And absolutely be sure to make your reservations well in advance! Just as with people hotels, dog boarding facilities fill up fast around any holiday.

Another important thing to remember when boarding your dog is that all boarding facilities should require your dog to be up to date on all major vaccines, and also up to date on the bordatella, or kennel cough vaccine. If he is not up to date, be sure to get him the necessary vaccines at least a week to ten days before he begins boarding, for maximum effect. (Sometimes people will have their dogs vaccinated directly before or during boarding, if they are being boarded in a veterinary facility. This is usually fine, but the vaccines do not take effect right away. They take a few days to get up to full speed in your dog’s system, so having it done several days prior to boarding will help your dog the most.) If your dog has a medical reason not to be up to date on any major vaccine, be sure to have a letter from your vet specifying that. 

And of course, remember to bring your pup back a souvenir!

Choosing the Right Breed for You

November 14, 2012

Those of us who love dogs often have a soft spot in our hearts for a particular breed or group of dogs. For me, it’s corgis. A coworker of mine loves all brachycephalic breeds, or dogs with the “squashed nose” look. My best friend is a papillon aficionado. The thing we all have to realize, however, is that just because we may love a certain breed or type of dog, that dog may or may not be the best fit for our lives.

Bringing a dog into our lives and homes involves a lot more than finding the one with the right look or one with whom you really hit it off. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, but in order to have the most fulfilling experience for you and the dog, there are other things to consider as well. For example, how much time to you have to devote to exercising your dog? If you can go on daily walks or runs with your dog, or plan on doing agility or some other active event with them, then a higher energy breed would probably suit you just fine. If you live a more sedentary lifestyle, consider a “couch potato” breed like the mastiff or bulldog.

How much time and money to you have to spend keeping up on grooming? Perhaps your heart is set on a longer-furred dog like a Lhasa Apso or a poodle, but keep in mind that they, along with many other breeds of dog, require extensive (and often expensive!) grooming. Long-haired dogs like the Lhasa Apso, Yorkshire terrier, and golden retriever get matted very easily, and require at least daily brushings plus regular trims around the ears, face, paws and bathroom area. Curly-haired dogs like the poodle also require frequent grooming. Perhaps a shorter-haired, “wash and wear” dog is more to your taste. Fur length and type is also something to consider with regard to where you live. A breed bred for the snow like a husky doesn’t belong in a hot climate any more than a dog bred for hot climates like the Chihuahua belongs in the snow!

What about the age of you and your family members? Many smaller dog breeds are easily overwhelmed by active young children, while some herding breeds—like the border collie or Australian shepherd—may try to herd your children, even nipping at their heels as they would sheep or cattle. Conversely, if you are looking into a companion pet for your elderly parents, a larger breed will be difficult for them to physically control if needed, and a dog that requires a lot of grooming may be difficult for them to maintain if they have arthritis or other physical limitations.

Bear in mind how much time you’ll have to, well, entertain your dog. If you lead a busy life, a dog that requires much outside stimulation may not be your best fit. Working breeds like huskies and shepherds in particular need “jobs” or they go a little stir crazy, which could result in annoying or destructive behavior. And for training, some dogs like mastiffs, Rottweilers and Cocker spaniels can prove stubborn or difficult to motivate.

I know all of this sounds a little disheartening. You might be wondering if you should even get a dog at all. I can’t answer that for you, although if I had my way, I would see every loving, deserving home with at least one dog. I don’t want to dissuade you from looking into adopting a dog; however, I do want to see every potential dog owner do their research. A lot of sources would list almost any dog as the perfect “family dog,” but that isn’t necessarily the case. For example, I own a coffee mug that depicts and describes the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, touting it as an excellent family pet. Knowing that corgis can be stubborn, willful and are a herding breed (see above about herding breeds and young children), I would not necessarily label them as such, although there are always exceptions to every breed.

In doing your research, look at websites like, and, where shelters and rescues will often describe the personality of their dogs up for adoption and whether or not they will fit into a house with children, with cats, etc. Speak also with your veterinarian, with shelter and rescue workers, with trainers and even with your neighbor who has a dog breed you’re considering.

Most importantly, don’t limit yourself. You favorite dog breed may not be suitable for your lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a dog out there that is basically perfect for you. And don’t limit yourself to just one breed! Mutts are wonderful dogs too, often lacking the health problems of their more specifically-bred counterparts and often combining the best traits of both (or all) breeds they claim. Shelters across the nation are also brimful of mutts—and purebreds—needing good homes, and are often NOT in the shelter due to behavioral issues but due to other reasons, so there is no reason why a shelter dog wouldn’t make the perfect pet for your family.

Whatever you decide, choose wisely and choose well. It’s not just your livelihood and happiness at stake; it’s the dog’s too.

The Benefits of Dog Daycare

September 30, 2012

While we humans may appreciate an idle day from time to time, nobody likes to be truly bored. We go a little stir crazy, wandering around looking some something—anything—to do. Sometimes what we decide to do is a little self-destructive, like eating when we’re not hungry, or taking on some project that only makes a huge mess.

Now imagine, if you will, that you are left at home alone for eight or more hours a day with very little or nothing to do. Sure, you could watch TV, or read a book, or nap, but doing those things over and over, day in and day out? Sounds a little crazy-making, doesn’t it?

Yet, we expect our dogs to stay at home alone while we are at our jobs all week, to entertain themselves with the toys left for them or to nap the day away—and we expect them to do it without misbehaving. Sure, many if not most dogs are perfectly able to do that. They are complete angels while we’re away: they hold their potty or use only a designated area, they don’t chew things up or become otherwise destructive, they don’t drive the neighbors crazy with incessant barking. They’re great dogs! But even though they might not be causing any trouble by being there, great dogs deserve to get out of the house too.

Insert doggy daycare.  A canine day care facility isn’t just for the “trouble children” who cannot be left at home alone; doggy daycare owners and attendants love to see your sweet angels too! And, assuming your dog likes other dogs, your fur-child will love to be there. Instead of sleeping or being otherwise sedentary all day, your dog can enjoy running around and socializing with other dogs and the human attendants present. They can play fetch, play tug-o-war or engage in a friendly wrestling match with another dog who’s just as happy to be there.

Doggy daycare can do so much more than that as well. Many, like the Muttley Crew, have grooming facilities attached where your dog can enjoy (HA!) a convenient bath while you’re at work or running errands. The attendants can also make sure your dog, if needed, sticks to a regular diet or feeding schedule, and receives any medications he or she might need. At the end of the day, your dog returns to you happily worn out and you don’t have to worry about how to handle a furry ball of energy when you would rather relax in the evening; neither do you have to worry about coming home to any disasters.

It is well-known that particularly in today’s economy, though it may be recovering, adding an extra expense may be cause for some hesitation. The benefits of doggy daycare, though, are more than worth the expense. A well-socialized and well-exercised dog is always, always, always a happier dog. They suffer from fewer nervous or destructive habits, are able to adjust more easily to any unexpected changes in their daily routines, are more physically fit and are far less likely to develop annoying or even potentially dangerous behavioral issues.

We all love our dogs very much and want to give them the best care possible, but it’s often very difficult for many of us to make time in our schedules for really working with our dogs to socialize and exercise them. This is why doggy daycare is such an excellent solution. It allows our dogs to vent excess energy, to maintain socialization with other dogs and with humans, which gives you a happier, healthier dog whose company you can truly enjoy during your off-time—a worthwhile investment, indeed.

No More Fleas Please!!

September 17, 2011

This year has been an especially bad year as far as flea infested dogs…and yards! We have had two very mild winters with no hard freezes to kill the little monsters. I know…it doesn’t seem like they’ve been mild!It seems like they’ve been long.

I have been recommending switching back and forth between different topical flea products. It seems as though the fleas are becoming immune to most topicals.

With all of our tampering with mother nature, I am afraid we have created super fleas.

Personally, I hate using any sort of pesticide on my own dogs and am very well aware that my hands are in contact with them every day when I groom dogs, but I also hate to see those poor animals being eaten alive by the pests. Not to mention some pets have such a severe flea allergy that they chew and chew until the develop secondary infections from the irritation.

There are so few natural products out there that are residual. Cedar oil sprays can be helpful, but most can’t be used on cats because they can cause respiratory problems.

There is an oral product, Capstar that seems to work well and the pesticide is supposed to leave the pets system within 24 hours. It is expensive, however and needs to be given every 3 days and there are no residual effects.

If anyone has any info on a good non-toxic way to get rid of the little pests, please comment.


















If anyone has any info on a non-toxic remedy that actually works, please comment!

So,What Are The Options?

April 26, 2011

Since we opened our new store in 2006 and began selling pet food, we decided to only carry grain free diets. At first there were only a limited number of foods that were on the market that were totally grain-free. In the past year or so it seems like more and more pet food companies are jumping on the band wagon. I, for one, am very glad that they are seeing the light. Dogs do not eat corn on the cob, rice or wheat as a natural part of their diet.

I love those pet food commercials where the corn and grains come cascading down making it seem like a good thing to put in the food. Cats, especially, don’t eat grains. They are true carnivores. If they had their choice…it would be MEAT.MEAT.and MEAT.

If you have read our philosophy on grain-free feeding on our web site then you know how I feel about it. If not, please read it and you’ll see why.

In this blog I don’t just want to sell someone food, but give the options on diet and what to look for.

First there is price. Pet food that is mainly meat sourced is going to be more expensive. This is one of the reasons that many pet food companies pump their foods full of things not so good for your pet. It costs them less and they can sell it at a lower price than premium food. Sometimes, though, a food will have a higher price but is really low quality. Most foods sold at vet offices are very expensive, but offer little nutritional benefit. They just have a vet label on them and people assume that they must be good. Price , though can be paid in different ways. If you buy a better quality of food, chances are you’ll be spending less in vet bills later. Skin problems, ear infections, weight gain, diabetes are all usually direct problems from feeding a lower quality of food.

Ingredients: They first ingredient of any pet food should be a named meat protein. Look for beef or chicken or whatever protein is the main source. Just the word meat is not good enough. It can be beef or chicken meal….not meat meal. That could mean just about anything. Usually if a food just says meat, it means it is rendered and can be things such as skin and connective tissue.  There should be several sources of protein at the top of the ingredient list. Ingredients go by weight, so the more protein base the better.

Be sure that you are not feeding a food that has meat grown in China. Even though some companies will say that the chicken or beef is completely safe. You can never be too sure about what is really being fed to the animal that is used in your pet’s food. More and more pet food companies are getting their ingredients from China. They will tell you it is very safe to feed it to your pet…but do you really want to feed your pet something that has not been grown in the United States or Canada where there are guidelines as to what can be called meat?

Whole vegetables and fruits: These are important and  should also be included in the diet. They add a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. I would even go as far as to say that some whole grains can be of benefit to some pets who can not handle a completely protein based diet, but the grain should be very far down the list of ingredients. Oatmeal and quinoa  can both be descent additions without adding too much sugar in the form of carbohydrate to the diet.

A best by date: that should be at least 3 months away from the date you purchase. Pet foods with synthetic preservatives may have a date two years away!

Things to watch for: Meat by-products. These can be in the form of any meat or poultry. Some foods only have “meat flavoring”. You can find this on some of the so called veterinary pet foods. What the heck is meat flavoring, anyway? Many of these by-products are over processed and can be rancid by the time it is added to the food. Many companies will spray on a flavor enhancer to hide the smell and taste.

Added sweeteners. Dogs, like humans have a sweet tooth and many pet food manufactures add sweeteners to enhance flavor or to hide rancidity. Look carefully. some companies come right out and say on the label…corn syrup, but do some research and look for other names that are used as well. There are lots of corn glutens and other corn derivatives that are added to make the food palatable.

Artificial colors: These are those little green and orange things found in some foods that make it look like carrots and peas. They are just dyed to look that way to you…the dog doesn’t know what peas and carrots look like. These are chemicals that your pet does not need to ingest!

Artificial preservatives: BHT,BHA and Ethoxyquin are the three main culprits. All of these are known carcinogens with ethoxyquin being the worst. It is used mainly in fish and have been outlawed for human consumption. You truly do not want your beloved pet to ingest these things. Some pet food companies, years back, went as far as to say that BHA and BHT can prevent cancer in pets. Nothing can be further from the truth.

I hope this post is helpful and you do some checking up on the food that your pet is eating. Don’t just listen to the person at some big box retailer. They are there to sell food!  No matter what the ad on T.V. says…these people are not experts on pet food! Again…don’t be fooled by a food that you can buy at the vet’s office. They make a huge profit on food from those companies to push their brand of pet food. Go online and research the product. Get feed back from other consumers and from breeders. There are some good websites that are not owned by pet food companies that have good info on what is in your pet’s food and what isn’t. is a good one that I happen to like. There are many others…good luck and good feeding. Your pet will love you all the more for it!


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