Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Don't Brush This Off: the importance of proper brush cleaning and maintenance

Many brushes wear out over time because of a buildup of styling product, debris and oil which degrades the rubber pad causing pins to loosen and repostition. Cleaning your brush after each use will protect the investment of these essential grooming tools.

Here are a few easy steps for proper brush cleaning:
  • Begin cleaning by using your fingers to gently remove as many of the woven strands of hair from your brush as you can.
  • Once most of the hair has been removed from the brush, draw a dry bristle brush cleaner several times across the pin brush from end to end to remove any remaining hair and debris from the brush. We like to recommend the Chris Christensen Brush Cleaner packed with 37mm nylon bristles.
  • Next, apply a bit of waterless bath to the bristles of the brush cleaner. We recommend Chris Christensen OC Magic Foam. This waterless bath makes a fantastic brush cleaner. This "magic" foam breaks away build-up and gives easier control of the application. The foam also greatly reduces the amount of moisture your brush is exposed to. Excess moisture will degrade the rubber pad of your brush over time. It is important to apply the foam to the brush cleaner and not directly to your bristle, pin or slicker brush. Draw the brush cleaner (with the foam) gently over the pins of your brush from end to end to loosen and remove any remaining debris.
  • Shake your brush to remove any excess moisture and set the brush face down to dry completely, so that any remaining moisture will dry and drain away from the pad.
  • Shake your brush cleaner and set it to dry face down as well.
We hope that by following these steps you will enjoy your grooming brushes for years to come. By the way, you can use these exact steps to extend the life of the brushes you use on your own hair as well!

The Importance of Interactive Play with Cats

Caitlin, our Bedminster Store Manager and her feline friend Gadget, have written an article on the importance of cat play.

There is a common misconception that cats are low maintenance pets needing little attention, play or exercise. All you have to do is feed a cat and clean the litter box, right? Wrong! This is the kind of misguided information that can lead pet parents in the wrong direction and encourages cats to be the common stereotype of unfriendly, aloof and even nasty in some cases. Cats are actually very complex animals and need just as much tender love and care as other pets do. You already know that they need to be fed and cleaned, but one important cat care factor which is often left out, is interactive play.

Cats are naturally curious creatures
Cats are easily bored if there is nothing to challenge them on a daily basis. Boredom leads to depression and bad behavior such as marking and unwanted scratching. To avoid these behaviors, interactive play is key. One great and simple way to instigate interactive play is to purchase a cat teaser toy with a lot of feathers or ribbons and dangle it around for your feline friend. Catnip infused teasers are also great if you have a cat that is resistant to play.

Cats need exercise too 
Cats are natural hunters. In the wild they have plenty of time to burn off their last meal by hunting the next one. Our domestic furry friends, however, don't always have that opportunity, aside from the occasional bug. Playing with your cat and getting them to run and jump is essential to keeping them healthy. Cat towers, scratchers and tunnels are good furniture to purchase that will encourage climbing and jumping. You can bring that teaser back into play as well by having your cat chase it up the tower and through the tunnel.

Cats get anxiety
Maybe you just moved, got a new pet, work long hours or even recently had a baby. All of these things can stress your cat. Interactive play is especially important during these times to release anxiety and reduce stress. Playing with your cat for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night can help keep them happy. It can even use up some of their extra energy so they spend their down-time sleeping instead of scratching on your new sofa.

Cats are part of our family.
What better reason to play with your cat than to create a lasting special bond? Interactive play creates special bonds between us and our furry feline friends leading to a happier you and a happier kitty.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Supplementing your Pet's Diet: Omega Fatty Acids

How to Choose an Omega Supplement for your Pet

Though pet nutrition has advanced and there are many holistic options available, there has been an influx of information over the past few years about the need to add supplements to our pets' food in order to meet their "specific" nutrition and health needs. Your pet will greatly benefit from added supplements, like omega fatty acid. Pets, like us, require omega fatty acids to help ensure good health, and they aren't necessarily getting the correct amounts or ratios from their pet food. Follow these three steps and you will be able to choose the appropriate supplement for your pet.

Step 1:  Evaluate your pet's health
Is the food you feed your pet rich in the essential omega fatty acids?

All pets can greatly benefit from an omega supplement as not all foods provide omega fatty acids, and not all foods provide the optimal ratio of them. There are some definite tell tale signs that your pet is experiencing a deficiency in omega fatty acids. You will typically notice the following:

  • Dull coat color, lacking a radiant sheen
  • Dry, flaky, cracked skin
  • Suffers from allergies
  • Experiences joint stiffness and joint pain

 Many people only supplement omega fatty acids for skin and coat health, but the benefits are far reaching. Omega fatty acids are critical to proper brain function, retina function, a reduction of harmful inflammation throughout the body, and the daily maintenance and production of cell walls.

Step 2: Learn the difference between Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s

One of the most important things you need to know is that omega-3’s produce an anti-inflammatory response within the body, while omega-6’s produce an inflammatory response within the body. This is why the ratio between them is so important, and should be taken into consideration when choosing a product to supplement.  Many pets (and humans) suffer from an omega-3 deficiency. This leads to inflammation within the body, which can increase the prevalence of disease throughout the body.

How can you tell which fatty acids are omega-3’s and which are omega-6’s? The majority of manufacturers list them on the packaging, and you will see them under their appropriate abbreviations. EPA, DHA, and ALA are all omega-3 fatty acids.

LA, AA, and GLA are the most commonly listed omega-6 fatty acids. The most important omega-3 fatty acids to pets are EPA, DHA, and ALA. All of these are essential for life, but they come from different sources. The omega-3 fatty acid ALA comes from the ingestion of seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. The health benefits of flaxseed oil are largely credited to the ALA that is naturally occurring within the seed.

However, the beneficial ALA that is obtained from flaxseed oil must be converted into either EPA or DHA, and pets are not efficient in the conversion process. This means that some of the benefits are never realized. This is the primary reason fish oils have surpassed flaxseed oil as the most commonly used omega supplement for pets.

Now knowing that pets are most often deficient in omega-3’s, you want the product to contain as much of these fatty acids as possible, while minimizing the amount of omega-6’s. There isn’t an exact ratio to seek out, but you should look for products that contain a ratio of 8:1 or more. By doing so you ensure that you increase the omega-3’s while decreasing the amount of omega-6’s to achieve balance within the body. Omega-6’s are still essential for healthy living, because of the helpful inflammatory responses to injury, sickness, and disease.

Step 3: Choose your source of Omega Fatty Acids

Now that you know what the omega fatty acids are, and where they come from, you can select which supplement you need, and how you want to administer it to your pet. Below is a list of the six most commonly used omega supplements, and their benefits.

  1. Flaxseed Oil:  Rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, flaxseed oil is a good skin and coat supplement. The anti-inflammatory properties helps regulate skin conditions such as allergies, while also benefiting dogs that suffer from joint problems. This is a good supplement to rotate into your pet’s diet, but because ALA must be converted, you will need to supplement other products that contain EPA and DHA.

  2. Soybean Oil: Soybean oil contains the omega-3 ALA, as well as the omega-6 LA. Linolenic acid helps optimizes skin permeability to fight off bacteria and infections. It will also have the same anti-inflammatory properties as flaxseed oil. You should note that if your pet is allergic to soy, they are also likely to be allergic to soybean oil.

  3. Cod Liver Oil: This is one of the newer oils on the market for pets today. Cod Liver Oil contains high quantities of the omega-3’s DHA and EPA. This concentrated source of omega-3’s helps relieve joint stiffness, improved cardiovascular health, and helping with wound repair with the skin and coat. While not as popular as salmon oil, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, creator of the BARF diet, recommends that you give this over any other omega supplement.

  1. Pollock Oil: This oil contains both omega-3’s and omega-6’s, but the ratio between them is around 13 or 14: 1, which is amongst the highest ratios in all natural fish oils. The benefits of pollock oil are numerous. It is the best oil to supplement for improved skin and coat health. It also helps maintain cardiovascular health, the nervous system, eyes, and a high fertility status.

  1. Coconut Oil: This oil lacks the essential omega-3’s, but contains a lot of omega-9’s and omega-6’s. Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, and contains antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal compounds. It is also the richest source of lauric acid, which naturally fights yeast infections and parasitic infections. This product can be consumed, or used topically directly on your pet to help heal wounds, and relieve itching.
  2. Salmon Oil:  Salmon oil is the most widely available omega supplement for pets. It contains a high ratio of omega-3’s to omega-6’s. Many people use this as a skin and coat supplement, but it is a better brain supplement. Fish is brain food for humans and pets. You want to seek out wild caught, cold water salmon oil from Alaska if possible. This will ensure that it isn’t contaminated, and the omega-3 levels will be much higher than farm raised salmon oil. 

 Final Thoughts

This is a great example of a dog with a healthy coat. 
 Your pet will greatly benefit from an omega fatty acid supplement, but like anything related to the health of your pet, please consult your veterinarian or nutritionist before doing so. Along with supplementing one or more of these oils, you should also look to include whole food sources that contain essential fatty acids where possible.

A healthy coat should have sheen, and the skin will not be dry, cracked, or brittle. One of the most obvious times to supplement more omega fatty acids is during winter. During winter your pet is often kept indoors, and the heating in your house will cause a dull coat and flaky skin. This is a time where you should be boosting the amount given. As a general rule you should supplement between 20-55mg of omega fatty acids per pound of body weight for dogs and cats. While you may only supplement 30mg /lb for most of the year, your pet will benefit from a 15-20mg boost during winter.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shared Blog Post: 5 Anti-Raw Food Arguements- Dr. Becker

*By Dr. Becker
According to an article I ran across recently, veterinarians at the highly regarded Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital do not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. This is disappointing, but not surprising.
Many veterinary schools tend to gloss over the entire subject of nutrition, leaving it up to a handful of major pet food industry players to conduct seminars for students that are heavily slanted toward the products they sell.
The information (and misinformation) contained in the CSU article is typical and predictable, touching on five common arguments used by the anti-raw movement to discredit raw feeding and scare off pet owners.

Anti-Raw Tactic #1: Marginalize Raw Feeding as a Trend or a Fad

According to a CSU Pet Health column written by veterinarian Dr. Camille Torres-Henderson in June:
“We often hear about new trends in diet and exercise for people, so it may not be surprising to encounter dietary trends for pets. One gaining interest is the raw food diet.”
I first have to ask, how is it that raw food for pets is a “new dietary trend?” Feeding raw isn’t some new-wave movement; in fact, I call it a return to common sense. It’s about feeding animals food that contains natural ingredients with names you can pronounce, that aren’t rendered, and are minimally processed. Feeding pets a raw diet isn’t some quirky new trend, it’s what animals did before “pet food” came into existence. It’s feeding them in accordance with what medical doctors are now encouraging people to eat: real food.
Secondly, raw pet food diets aren’t just “gaining interest.” The natural/fresh/raw pet food market saw the biggest growth rate in the industry last year, posing a notable threat to the dry pet food industry.

Anti-Raw Tactic #2: Discredit Testimonials of Pet Owners, Holistic Vets

Torres-Henderson describes a typical raw pet food diet and says that advocates of raw feeding point to “shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, improved immunity and easier weight management” as proof of the value of the food. She says such “impassioned testimonials” often include anecdotal information that “might seem persuasive.” But, she says, there is no scientific evidence to support such claims.
It’s true that in today’s world, we are told not to believe our own eyes (especially when corporate profits are at stake), but to demand scientific evidence to prove one thing is better than another thing. I was asked to “prove” wolves were carnivores by a group of veterinarians three years ago… absurd, but true. The good news is that the holistic veterinary community is actively raising the tremendous amount of money it takes to fund unbiased nutrition research. This will ultimately allow us to hand skeptics and naysayers the scientific proof they demand so that they, too, can recommend nutrition for pets that pre-dates the low-quality, biologically inappropriate diets the pet food industry has produced since the 1920s.
The vast majority (90 percent) of pet foods on the market today are produced by just five giant pet food companies: Mars, Nestle Purina, Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s), Proctor & Gamble, and Del Monte (now Big Heart Brands). Those of us who have doubts about the quality of most commercially available pet foods have done our own research on the nutritional needs of the animals in our care.
And then there are those people with pets with health issues that require nutritional intervention, who have learned that by switching from processed to real food, they are able to dramatically improve their pet’s health. I have transitioned literally thousands of patients from poor-quality dry food diets to nutritionally balanced raw foods, and their owners can see with their own eyes the positive changes in their pet’s health. This is all the proof they require.

Anti-Raw Tactic #3: Demand Non-Existent Scientific Research on the Benefits of Raw Diets for Pets

Next Torres-Henderson advises pet owners thinking about feeding raw to “look for references to research that has been both published and peer-reviewed,” as “this approach is built on scientific rigor and helps ensure valid data.”
This is rather disingenuous, as I’m sure this CSU veterinarian is well aware that almost no research exists on raw diets for pets. The reason is simply lack of funding, as scientific studies are enormously expensive. It’s also not surprising that virtually all the research “proving” the dead, inorganic, over-processed foods studied are the only safe options, is funded by the five richest pet food companies that monopolize the industry and can afford to complete research that validates the “benefits” of what they are selling.
The scientific research the major pet food companies and traditional veterinary community rely on is funded by the companies themselves or similarly motivated “independent” sponsors. Since pet food manufacturers are only interested in selling more processed pet food and are certainly not interested in studying the benefits of natural foods for pets, very little research has been conducted.

Anti-Raw Tactic #4: Overplay the Risks of Feeding Raw

Predictably, Dr. Torres-Henderson then moves on to a litany of the “risks” associated with raw feeding. The first item on her list is contamination with harmful bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. “These pathogens can cause dangerous illnesses in pets – and the people who handle raw pet food,” she says.
What she doesn’t say is that over 50 percent of the commercial raw pet foods on the market are sterile, and in fact, the cleanest foods available are high-pressure pasteurized (HPP) raw foods. There have been countless recalls of dry pet food for potentially pathogenic bacteria, and only a handful for raw foods. And if you choose to feed a non-HPP raw diet to your pet, it carries precisely the same risks as the raw ground beef you buy to prepare hamburgers for your family. In fact, most raw pet food is inspected twice, a higher standard than most human foods. The majority of raw pet food companies that choose not to sterilize, perform batch testing to ensure their products have not been contaminated.
Next Torres-Henderson points out that raw food diets have been shown to have nutritional imbalances. It’s absolutely true that poorly prepared homemade raw diets can be unbalanced – which is why pet owners must follow recipes when preparing homemade pet food, raw or cooked. I completely agree that an unbalanced diet (raw, cooked, canned, dehydrated or kibbled) does a complete disservice to our animal companions.
However, if Torres-Henderson is referring to commercial raw diets as well, she’s misinformed. All of the raw food diets sold in big box stores, upscale pet boutiques, and vet clinics require the same nutrient analysis testing that any other pet food undergoes in order to be AAFCO compliant. I don’t know of a single widely available raw pet food that doesn’t meet AAFCO standards. If the package of pet food (any type of pet food) you’re about to buy doesn’t state that it is nutritionally balanced, don’t buy it. And if you are preparing your pet’s food at home please, PLEASE don’t just assume the meals are nutritionally complete. Follow a recipe that has been analyzed so you know you’re nourishing your pet correctly.
Torres-Henderson also mentions that the bones in raw diets cause damage to a pet’s teeth and “intestinal trauma.” Again, if she’s referring to commercially available raw pet food, she’s misinformed. Commercial raw food diets use finely ground bone or bone meal, so there’s no risk of fractured teeth or an intestinal blockage.

Anti-Raw Tactic #5: Dogs Have Evolved to Eat Grains

Finally, Torres-Henderson makes the increasingly popular but misinformed claim that dogs, due to their close companionship with humans over thousands of years, have evolved with different nutritional needs than wild canines. This argument is usually given in an attempt to justify the heavy use of grains and other carbohydrates in pet food, especially dog food.
This argument is, in a word, baloney. Today’s dogs and cats have no more nutritional requirement for grains than their ancestors or wild counterparts, as is evident by the fact that their bodies are not designed to process grains. Dogs may be expressing genetic adaptations for a starch-rich diet after being fed starch-rich diets over many years (and thank goodness their bodies have that capacity), but this is not proof dogs are omnivores or moving towards vegetarianism.
And speaking of grains, they are not “harmless” fillers in pet food that provide “energy” (empty calories). One of the first things I do when I have a patient with any sort of digestive or allergic issue is insure the pet is eating (or is transitioned to) a grain-free, moisture rich (this means no dry food) diet. Very often, this one simple but powerful change clears up the problem completely and permanently.

What This Means for You and Your Pet

The only way processed pet food manufacturers and their advocates can respond to the growing demand for healthier, natural pet foods is to develop a competing product, buy one from another company (for example, Proctor & Gamble bought Nature’s Variety), or try to discredit raw food diets, as Dr. Torres-Henderson has done in her article.
I encourage you, if you’re already feeding raw successfully, to believe your own eyes when it comes to the health and well being of your pet. This is especially true if you’ve transitioned to raw to solve a health issue.
If you’re thinking about switching to a raw diet for your pet, it’s important to put all the anti-raw hype aside, do your own research, and get guidance from a holistic or integrative veterinarian or animal nutritionist who is well-versed in raw feeding.

* This blog was written by Dr. Becker and was shared from: 5 Anti-Raw Food Arguments by Dr. Becker (original source)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dog 101: Crate Training

How to Crate Train your Dog in 3 Steps

Crate training makes housebreaking simpler, and will be the foundation for obedience training that follows. Without crate training it is possible for your pet to develop destructive behaviors such as chewing household objects. By following these 3 steps, your pet will become confident, outgoing, and obedient. Crates represent a den environment which is instinctively comforting to dogs.

Step 1: Buy the crate

Clearly, these two would require slightly different sized crates.
It is important when selecting the crate to purchase the proper size of your fully grown dog. Crates come with dividers that allow you to increase the available space inside of the crate as your puppy grows. You should also purchase the crate well in advance of bringing your puppy or dog home for the first time. Introducing a pet into your home can be chaotic; having a plan simplifies the process. Many people choose metal wire crates. Wire crates offer the most visibility and are the easiest to clean. If you need to clean the crate bottom, the crate pan slides out.

Plastic kennels are also used to crate train dogs. Vari Kennels are the only type of crate approved for airline travel. If you will be travelling via car or plane, consider this type of crate. Vari Kennels best resemble the dens dogs slept in while in the wild.

Tip#1 Send your breeder a small blanket to use with your puppy and its littermates. When you pick up your puppy, use the blanket inside of the crate. Your puppy is less likely to cry at night with the familiar smells of home.

Tip #2 If you buy a wire crate and want to create a better den like structure, you can buy crate covers. These are cloth covers that drape over the crate to darken the inside.

Step 2: Accessorize the crate

A comfortable crate mat can make all the difference!
A plain crate is unappealing for a dog. When shopping for your crate, pick up accessories that will make the crate more comfortable. The first thing you should buy is a crate mat. A crate mat is for dogs, as mattresses are for humans. Crate mats are available in numerous sizes and colors, and are machine washable.

Beyond the crate mat, don’t forget to furnish the crate with toys and chews. No one would enjoy sleeping in an empty room with just a mattress. Your pet can’t have your iPad, but should have plenty of durable toys and chews. The brands Kong and Nylabone both offer toys appropriate for all sizes of dogs, and all levels of chewing.

Step 3 “Kennel Up”

Before your pet ever enters the crate, decide on the command you will use to begin the process. A typical term is “Kennel” or “Kennel Up”. Set up the crate in a common room then allow your pet to investigate. Rather than forcing your pet into the crate, allow your pet’s curiosity to explore the new crate. Strive to develop a positive association with the crate by hiding treats and toys inside.

To begin formal crate training, give the command “kennel” and open the crate door. When your pet enters the crate, treat or praise your pet. Keep your pet inside for only a few seconds at first, then give a release command such as “here”. The universal truth of obedience training is consistency. Always use the same commands or you will confuse your dog.

Once your pet is comfortable in the crate, gradually increase the length of time inside of the crate. Do not expect your pet to withstand 6+ hours inside of the crate. If you work and no one can walk your dog during the day, purchase an Exercise Pen that attaches to the crate. An Ex Pen allows your pet an additional 4’x4’ space to stretch and lie down during the day.

 Last Thoughts

Crates should never be confused with cages.  You should NEVER punish your pet by locking it inside of their crate. You should NEVER force a dog into the crate.  Cages are prisons. Crates mimic dens that dogs naturally seek out and sleep in.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Raw Diet: The Perfect Pet Food That Helps Break Down Your Pet’s Tartar

By Dr. Becker
Many pets today have significant tartar build-up on their teeth. Fortunately, a growing number of pet parents are becoming aware of the problem and want to know how to maintain their furry family member’s teeth in good condition.

Tartar is plaque that has hardened. It irritates the gums, which become inflamed, causing a condition known as gingivitis.

Tartar can also build up under the gums, eventually causing them to pull away from the teeth. This creates small pockets in gum tissue that attract bacteria. The result is irreversible periodontal disease that is painful for the animal and can result in abscesses, infections, loose teeth and bone loss.

Clearly, the best approach to preserving your pet’s oral health is to proactively manage the plaque and tartar that accumulates on his teeth.

Controlling Tartar Build-up

Diet can play a significant role in the development of tartar on your pet’s teeth. Wild dogs have strong, healthy teeth partly because they eat raw meaty bones.

Raw diets – even prepared, ground raw diets – help control tartar. Raw ground bone is a gentle dental abrasive, acting like fine sandpaper when chewed, which helps remove debris stuck on teeth. The meat contains natural enzymes, and in addition, raw food doesn’t stick to teeth, unlike starchy kibble. Dry pet food is promoted as helping to keep teeth clean, but it’s a myth. Kibble is no better for your pet’s teeth than crunchy human food is for your teeth. It would never occur to you to eat a handful of peanut brittle to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. The idea that dry food keeps your pet’s teeth clean is just as silly!

For dogs and cats, chewing also plays an important role in removing plaque and tartar from teeth. Even though there are plenty of toys and food products on the market that can be of some help (providing your pet will chew them), raw bones are really the best option, and few dogs will turn them down.

It’s important the bones are raw, because cooked bones can splinter and do serious damage to your pet’s GI tract. The size depends on the size of your pet and whether she’s such an eager chewer that she risks injuring herself or even breaking teeth. Your dog should always be supervised when she’s working on a bone to minimize the risk of choking or tooth damage, and raw bones should be refrigerated between chewing sessions.

Certain Pets Are Predisposed to Excessive Tartar Build-up

Some raw fed pets that also chew raw bones still accumulate tartar on their teeth. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) and toy breeds are often predisposed because their teeth don’t have normal alignment, and in the case of tiny dogs, there’s often a crowding problem. No matter how vigorously these dogs chew, it doesn’t remove all the plaque and tartar from their teeth.

Pets with chronic health conditions also seem to collect more tartar on their teeth. This could be due to less vigorous chewing, or it could be the result of changes in saliva quantity, gum health, the pH in the mouth, or other causes.

Many cats are also predisposed to have more tartar on their teeth, and kitties can present a special challenge because they don’t typically gnaw on bones like dogs do. Offering a skinless chicken neck may entice your cat to chew more, and provide enough mechanical abrasion to keep her teeth free from plaque build up.

Daily Tooth Brushing Is the Best Way to Insure Your Pet's Oral Health

With a gentle hand, patience and persistence, most pet owners can teach their dog or cat to submit to daily tooth brushing, which is the ideal way to insure tartar doesn’t form on your pet’s teeth.

One of the secrets to successful tooth brushing is to progress slowly and gently, allowing your pet to adapt at his own pace. Start with your finger rather than a toothbrush and get your pet familiar with having your finger in his mouth. Gently rub the top front teeth and all the way to the back teeth. Then do the same on the lower teeth. Praise your pet often and keep these sessions short.

Once your pet is accepting of the presence of your finger in his mouth, wrap a very thin damp cloth or piece of gauze around your fingertip and rub the teeth. You’ll probably be stunned by the amount of gunk you wipe off with just a piece of gauze.
The next step is to use a safe, natural dental cleaning product designed for pets and apply a small amount to the gauze before you rub your pet’s teeth. Once your pet gets used to this, you can progress to either a finger brush or a soft toothbrush the right size for your dog’s or cat’s mouth.

If your pet is highly resistant to having his teeth rubbed or brushed, there are products available that when applied to the teeth go to work to break down plaque and tartar without brushing. However, the more rubbing and brushing your pet will allow, the more quickly you’ll see results, and the easier it will be to maintain your pet’s oral health.

For Some Pets, Professional Dental Cleanings Are Unavoidable

If you’re vigilant about your pet’s dental home care and she doesn’t have any special situations that predispose her to tartar build-up or other dental issues, she may never need a professional cleaning by a veterinarian.

However, pets with extreme tartar build-up, badly inflamed gums, or oral infections need extra help. Digital dental x-rays can only be accomplished with sedated pets, and needless to say, tooth extractions must be done under anesthesia. Dental procedures performed on inflamed or infected teeth and gums are extremely painful for the animal, which is why anesthesia and pain management are necessary.

Despite the growing popularity of non-professional dental scaling (NPDS), it has limited application and the results can be misleading for pet owners who don’t understand that the most serious problems in a pet’s mouth usually occur below the gum line. In addition, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), as of November 1, 2013, requires all its accredited veterinary clinics to anesthetize and intubate patients for dental procedures.

With all that said, there are situations in which it may be entirely appropriate for a qualified technician to scale your pet’s teeth -- for example, if you practice good home care, you take your pet for regular veterinary wellness exams, and your dog or cat has only a mild amount of tartar accumulation. In my practice, I occasionally remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth without using anesthesia. I only do this with pets for which I have a dental history, and I don’t do it in lieu of a thorough dental exam. But if, for example, I have a patient with a large chunk of tartar causing irritation in his mouth, I’ll remove it without anesthesia if I can do it easily and without stressing the patient.

*Re-posted with permission from Dr. Becker. To see more of her blogs, find her at :

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why we continue to carry California Natural and other Natura Products:

Though we have reduced the number of varieties and the amount of shelf space in our stores for the Natura Brands, we have decided to continue to offer California Natural and make Innova and Evo available via special order for our customers who want to or need to feed one of the Natura Brands. We have taken several factors into consideration in making this decision:

·        California Natural is one of a small number of foods with a single source of protein. Foods with multiple proteins can be more taxing on a dog’s digestive system. Any dog with a sensitive digestive system, or dogs with food allergies require an easy to digest limited ingredient diet. California Natural was the original limited ingredient diet and in some cases it is the best choice for some pets who have struggled with other brands. In addition, California Natural recently introduced a number of grain free formulas, again with single sources of protein that have benefit for pets who have allergies to rice or potato. One of the grain free formulas is Kangaroo and Lentil. For pets with protein allergies looking for a novel protein, Kangaroo is a good choice. 

·        Prior to the Natura recalls, Natura introduced their “See Beyond the Bag” campaign. This was the first public initiative to highlight the sourcing for all the ingredients in their brands. “See Beyond The Bag” answers the first round of ingredient sourcing questions Cherrybrook asks all pet food companies. It was encouraging for us to see a pet food company respond to the questions about ingredient sourcing and make public where their ingredients come from. 

·        We have experienced several rounds pet food brand recalls as well as the response to the recalls from manufacturers, and have found that Natura handled their recall in the most professional and transparent manner. Natura quickly initiated a full recall of all brands, and did not prolong the process by adding to the list of foods recalled daily. In addition, they immediately communicated how they wanted the recalled product handled; they picked up every bag and took care of safely disposing of the product themselves.

·        Natura has also responded to the recall by enhancing their manufacturing and product testing procedures. They have detailed these changes on their website as part of the commitment to transparency. You can find details of how their manufacturing and testing has been improved by visiting .  We were encouraged by Natura’s response to the recalls by making significant changes to their physical plant, manufacturing and testing procedures.

Many of our customers have successfully switched from the Natura brands they were feeding before the recalls, and for most there is no need to switch back because their pets are happy and doing well on one of the many other all natural foods we carry at Cherrybrook. However for some of our customers who need a single source of protein diet or who have found that their pets do better when fed a Natura brand, we will continue to offer them the opportunity to purchase Natura products from Cherrybrook.