Category Archives: Pet

Pet Sitter Decisions

One of our most treasured possessions is our pets. We love them and they love us. We do our best to care for them, love them, and attend to there needs each and every day. But what about when we are gone, whether it is for an extended day, or longer, like a business trip or vacation? How can we make the best decision to be sure their needs are met while we are gone? The love we feel for our pets can’t be replaced, but we can make sure they are well cared for.

You first have to decide if you want your dog or cat cared for in your home. Are you comfortable with a stranger coming into your home? Which option is the least stressful for your pet; someone coming into your home, or taking them some place else to be cared for?

The cost of all of your options also needs to be part of your decision. You need to find someone or some place that is reputable, reliable, and who is pet friendly.

Boarding Your Pet

If you decide you want to board your dog or cat, you should visit several facilities to see which one you feel is best for your pet. You can ask family members, friends, and/or your vet for recommendations. You can also go online to find a local pet sitter, or look in your yellow pages. Look for a reputable place that is professional, dog and cat friendly, and preferably one that is near you. Then begin your interview process. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. What may be good for their pet may not be the best for your pet. For instance, some boarding facilities may be better for dogs, and not for cats.

Create a list of questions you want to have answered before you make your decision. Call your prospective boarding facilities and ask them as many questions as you want. Have them ask you any questions they need answered, and to list any requirements they have, such as vaccinations, etc. A phone call can easily narrow down your prospective facilities.

Some questions you might want answered are:

1. Are the dogs and cats always caged?

2. Do they get exercised? How often?

3. Are cats and dogs in separate boarding areas?

4. What requirements do they have regarding vaccinations, etc?

5. What are the pets fed? Canned and/or dry foods? How often are they fed? Can you bring your pet’s favorite foods?

6. What is their price schedule? Are there any additional charges that you could incur?

7. Ask if you can bring your pet for a visit. You will want to also inspect the facility. Watch how your cat or dog reacts to the environment. Remember, they may act or react differently when you leave.

8. Also consider that any negative reaction your pet may have, or you have, will make you realize that a pet sitter coming to your home would be the best avenue to pursue.

Pet Sitters at Home

Once again, formulate some questions to have answered. You can also find a pet sitter the same way as you could find a pet boarding facility; ask family, friends, online or yellow pages.

Knowing your pet’s personality is the key to making your decision. Your options for a pet sitter are:

• Someone who comes into your home once, twice or 3 times a day, depending on the needs of your cat or dog. The availability of your pet sitter may or may not meet your pet’s needs if it is more than twice a day.

• Someone who stays in your home to both pet sit and house sit. House sitting may include some light chores such as bringing in the mail and papers, play with your kitten, water indoor and outdoor plants and yard, clean the yard of dog waste, walk your dog daily, etc. This person may also have a full time job, so they would not be there 24/7.

• Take your pet to someone who pet sits at their home. This could possibly be a 24/7 position because they are full time pet sitters. Or they may work full time also, caring for one or two pets at a time.

• Take your pet to a family member or friend’s home just because you don’t want to leave your pet alone all day, they know the dog or cat. You may have someone express an interest to take care of your dog or cat.

Either of the last two options would be because you don’t want someone coming into your home.

The cost of services is definitely a major criteria in making a decision. Prices vary in different parts of the States. When comparing the prices be sure to compare ‘apples with apples’ and not ‘apples to oranges’. Find out if they have defined services with their charges not just that they come to your home for ½ hour twice a day. Ask what they would do during that ½ hour. If you take your pet to another home, find out if they will have other pets at the home. Your pet may not get along too well with another pet they don’t know.

When you are hiring a professional pet sitter to come to your home daily, look for a person that is detail oriented.

• See if the prospective sitter is taking notes regarding what you want from them, like a schedule of feeding times, what to feed your pet, etc.
• Ask if they will be bringing anyone else with them, such as their children.
• How will they communicate with you in your absence?
• Do they have a back up plan if they can’t be there – illness, car trouble, etc?
• Will they be the same person to come each day?
• Do they have references? Always call and check out the references.
• Are they bonded? Liability/theft insured?
• Discuss a plan should your pet have an emergency.
• What would they do if they saw something unusual at your home, like a burglary?
• Do they have a formal contract?
• How long have they been a pet sitter?
• Are they trained and licensed?

These are just some of the questions you could ask in an interview. Also know that they will have questions of you.

Don’t wait until the last minute to find a pet sitter, especially around holidays. Good sitters do get booked in advance. Don’t wait until just before you leave to have your pet’s vaccinations become current.

Be considerate of your pet sitter as you want them to be to you and your pet. Always have an interview with them, preferably in your home, and be sure they meet your pet. Leave plenty of dog food and cat food and pet toys for them. You may be unavoidably detained because of weather or illness.

As you can see, deciding on care for your dog or cat should not be left until the last minute. Once you have established a good relationship with a pet sitter, the next time you need them will be much easier. Always check on the rates and services before you sign a contract to make sure they are what you are expecting.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.

Lori Kniff loves cats and dogs. She has had a cat most of her life and several dogs. She is concerned with the health and welfare of our pets. Please visit [http://www.pawsitivepamperings.com] for items, such as dog toys, dog chews, or cat toys that will help you show your love for your cat or dog while you are away.

Tips for Coping With the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a pet can be a devastating event for anyone. To many Americans, a pet is a best friend, or at least a beloved family member. Many children grow up with pets, and learn their first lessons about death through those pets, as most pets have shorter life spans than humans.

The average lifespan of a dog can be anywhere from 7-15 years, depending upon the breed. Dogs are loyal animals who offer unconditional love to their owners. They provide companionship and, often, protection. Cats, on the other hand, can live quite a bit longer, but offer the same love and devotion to a dedicated owner. Pets can also include birds and reptiles. No matter what the species, a pet is an important member of any household or family, and the grief that is felt at the end of a pet’s life can be profound.

While pets usually show signs of decline in their health toward the end of their lives, it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly when is an appropriate time for euthanasia. It is usually advised to notice when the pet’s quality of life has become significantly compromised. For example, dogs and cats often become incontinent, or their legs fail to support their body weight. Another example might be visible signs of discomfort or pain. No one wants to see a pet suffer, and any loving pet owner would rather protect a beloved pet from suffering.

This is often a difficult decision, and one that no one enjoys making. Today’s animal care is comprehensive and offers quite a few options, such as hospice care, acupuncture, and other holistic medicines that provide comfort to a pet with a serious illness. While that can alleviate some symptoms and discomforts, there is still a deep sense of grief for the owner when the pet eventually passes.

As with grief for any death, it’s important to find support systems to help with the emotional pain. There are online support groups and articles. Many communities offer in-person support groups and/or counseling. Memorializing a pet can help with the grief process. Time is, of course, the ultimate healer, and during the passing of time, it’s often helpful to reflect upon your life with the animal. Looking at photographs is a wonderful way to remember your pet. Favorite stories about your pet can be remembered through writing poems and short stories, or even drawing pictures.

Your pet can be buried in a pet cemetery, or even on your property, if local laws are permitting. There are plenty of ways in which a pet grave can be marked with a plaque, stone, or other grave marker. This can be a special tribute that honors your pet forever.

Alternatively, pet cremation is becoming more and more popular. A unique or personalized pet urn can serve as a constant reminder of your love for your pet. There are plenty of choices in today’s pet memorials market. A pet urn can be made that reflects the spirit of your pet, or even resembles the physical traits of your pet.

As with all grief, it is common to feel anger, sadness, denial, or depression. It is important to seek support and know that this is normal. Time softens the anguish of this grief, and support can help the emotional state while that time is passing.

Adrienne Crowther is the owner and founder of Shine On Brightly, the premier online resource for artist made pet urns and pet memorials, as well as support articles and resources for the loss of a pet. The company offers an alternative to the many mass-produced, impersonal pet memorials that dominate today’s market. All pet memorials at Shine On Brightly are hand-crafted by artists within the US.

Pet Sitting Business is Thriving

The Pet Sitting business is booming internationally. In the United States alone there are upwards of 63.2 million individuals who own a pet, or two. Reports tell us that in America there are roughly 64 million dogs and 76 million cats in households. These numbers support why the Pet Sitting Business is on an upward swing. It is fast becoming one of the best small business ventures that an individual can undertake. The Pet Sitting business has been ear marked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor as a small business industry that will thrive with the coming years, with Pet Sitting services located throughout the states.

Pet owners world wide are breathing a sigh of relief that they have this option for their pet when they travel. In the past when an individual would travel for business, or a family would vacation, they would rely on grandparents or relatives to see to the needs of their pets. This is no longer an option for many people. Family’s don’t always remain in the same community. Statistics show that it is common for parents and siblings to live hundreds of miles apart. Once the family option for pet sitting evaporated, people turned to their neighbors. This was soon found to be a bad option for both the neighbor and pet owner. Neighbors felt used, and the traveller felt as if they were putting the neighbor out by asking the favor.

Some individuals tried to travel with their pets. They assumed that it would be best for their pet to not be separated from them. These good intentioned pet owners soon realized the folly of their ideals when they discovered that drinking water in some areas weren’t up to par, leash laws were different in each area, and the chances of finding a lost pet in a strange area were minimal. Extended car travel is not good for a pet, either. Animals can quickly become dehydrated and agitated when left in a locked car while the family is inside a restaurant, or mall. The chances that a pet could possibly get hit by an automobile rise every time a pet is taken into a public area, such as parking lots or the city. Pets do not like being kept in a crate in a hotel. They do not like being muzzled for barking or for snipping at strangers. Pets just generally do not like being away from home.

Air travel is not pleasant for a pet, either. The cargo holds on airplanes have erratic temperatures. There is no heat, and there is no air conditioning. The sounds in these cargo areas also frighten animals and make them skittish and nervous. Some pets even require medication prior to flight. Taking your pet on a plane should only be considered under extreme circumstances.

Pet owners soon realized that while they were comforted by the presence of their pet on a trip, the pet was out of its comfort zone and did not behave like its usual self. The route of kenneling a pet was soon taken and though it saved the day in a tight pinch, pet owners tended to know from the start that this was not a good option for their pet. Their pets were kept in small quarters. They were only allowed out a couple of times a day for a few minutes to do their business. Being crowded in an area with other barking and whining animals would leave a pet out of sorts for days after their owner came home.

Options were limited for a traveling pet owner. Some people gave up and simply refused to have an animal if they were going to have to be away all the time. That was until the Pet Sitting business made its arrival into the small business industry.

True animal lovers were the first to recognize the need for the Petting Sitting business. They were the ones who took it the hardest when they were forced to see what their pets went through when they were forced to travel with their owners, or how they behaved after being picked up from a kennel after a week or more away from home. Truthfully, these individuals could not enjoy their trips for worry. These were individuals who hung a stocking for their pet at Christmas, and made them a birthday cake on the pets special day each year. These people saw the need and they stepped out on a limb. They started a Pet Sitting service. Word spread like wildfire and pet owners world wide started seeking these services in their own area.

The rapid growth and success of a Pet Sitting business come when the business owner realizes that it is a business. A love for animals is the foundation, but smart business sense is what will keep you operating. There is only a minimal amount of cost in starting up a Pet Sitting service. That is a major plus for anyone thinking seriously about going into this animal care business. A budget should be laid out to meet the costs of the outgoing business. Do not ever under estimate these expenses. It is better to over estimate than to cut yourself short. Set goals for six months, one year, three years and five years. Try to stick to your plan to achieve these goals.

You should research other Pet Sitting services in your area. Find out what their strengths and their weaknesses may be. Learn what the going rate for Pet Sitting is in your area. Be competitive in your rates. Just because you may be doing what you love is no reason to do it for pennies. On the other hand, no one is going to pay your Pet Sitting business a small fortune, either.

You have to be a people person. The reason you get into the Pet Sitting business may stem from being an animal lover, but if you are not warm and friendly with people you can forget about your Pet Sitting business getting off the ground. Pet owners are particular about whom they let care for their pets. If they sense that you are uncomfortable around them, they will be wary of you. Try to develop your people skills if you lack self-confidence in that area. You don’t want your shyness to keep you from doing what you love. You don’t want to come off as a phoney, but maintaining eye contact and being able to carry a conversation with the pet owner without looking at your shoes will go a long way.

You should go out to the home and get acquainted with each pet and design a list of duties that the client is wanting you to perform while they are gone. The pet owner will familiarize you as to the habits, character and personality of each pet. You should know what they like to play with and what special nicknames they have. You should also ask the pet owner for clues about their pet, or signs you should watch for in case of illness. Some dogs may lay around and sleep all day. Others may not settle for a moment. You should know what to expect from each pet in the home. If they are not doing their usual activities that should throw up a red flag to you. You should make sure that the client gives you all the information on the pets in the home. You will need history of illnesses, vaccination records, veterinary information, as well as a place to contact the pet owner if needed. It is important that you are given a key by the client and that you are not expected to retrieve it from a hiding place. A possible thief could be watching the home and may see you getting it and replacing it. That is a disaster waiting to happen.

Besides walking the dog, feeding the bird, tending to the cat, and playing with the pets, a client sometimes will want a Pet Sitting service to do other things. The Pet Sitting business can offer many services for the traveler, besides pet care. The first one being home security. You can pick up the mail, newspaper, water the potted plants, and do a thorough walk through of the home to make sure that everything is as it should be for your client. Simply opening the curtains on one visit and closing them on the next will give the home a lived in look. These services are in addition to pet sitting. The possibilities are endless as to what a Pet Sitting service can offer the client.

Traveling With Your Pet

You’ve decided to take your pet along on vacation. It will be more fun, and you won’t have to worry about leaving a member of your family behind in an unfamiliar kennel. With some extra planning and forethought, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip with your pet.

Taking a Road Trip

If you’re driving with your pet, you’ll need to find a comfortable and safe way for your pet to travel. You can place your pet in a carrier and secure it in the car. Alternatively, you can purchase a seatbelt-like harness for your pet that will allow him to be out of the carrier but still safely restrained. It isn’t safe to allow your pet to roam freely in the car. He can be seriously hurt in the event of even a minor accident, and he is much more likely to escape and become lost when you make stops.

Don’t leave your pet alone in the car, especially in hot weather. The heat can quickly become life-threatening. If your pet becomes carsick easily, you may want to ask your veterinarian for motion-sickness medicine before the trip.

Carry some of your pet’s food along with you, and feed your pet only small amounts of food at a time. If your trip is short, you may want to have your pet wait and eat when you arrive to avoid carsickness. You should also carry some of your pet’s water along, or purchase bottled water. Local tap water may contain different minerals or sulphur, which might upset your pet’s stomach.

Flying with your pet

Many pet owners do not like to fly with their pets because it can be traumatic for them, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Unless your pet is very small, he will fly as cargo and not in the cabin with you. Check with your airline to determine what type of carrier is acceptable and what rules apply to flying with a pet. Also ask what safety precautions are in place, what conditions the pet will fly in, etc. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is well enough to fly or if there are any special precautions you should take.

International Travel

Taking your pet out of the country requires careful planning. Check the regulations for the country you are traveling to and verify that your pet has the required vaccinations. In some cases, you’ll need to have the vaccines administred weeks before your departure date.

Most countries will require a Rabies Vaccination Certificate and a Health Certificate. Your veterinarian can help you obtain both of these. The country you are traveling to may require that you complete paperwork gaining permission to bring your pet into the country. Also, some countries have quarantine regulations that may require your pet to remain in a kennel for up to several months.

Pet Friendly Hotels

A quick search on the Internet can help you find hotels that are receptive to pets. Many travel sites also allow you to specify only pet-frienly accommodations. Check with the hotel to find their specific rules regarding staying with a pet.

If your pet requires walks, ask for a room that opens on the outside. This will be more convenient for those late night trips outdoors.

Many alternative lodging sites, such as resorts, cabins and bed and breakfasts are also open to receiving pets. Check ahead of time for availability where you’re traveling. Since many of these vacation spots offer outdoor activities, they can be great options for pet owners.

What Will your Pet do All day?

You know how you’ll travel, and you’ve found a hotel that will welcome your pet, so now what? What will your pet do all day when you’re out having fun?

An outdoor vacation is an ideal choice if you’re traveling with pets. Consider renting an RV and taking a camping vacation. Many RV rental agencies allow pets with an extra deposit. A trip to the beach is another good choice for pet owners. However, keep in mind that sand can be irritating to some pets, especially dogs with deep skin folds. Some animals are bothered by long sun exposure as well.

If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors, keep plenty of cold water on hand and watch your pet for signs of heat exhaustion.

Some restaurants now provide outdoor seating that is also pet friendly. Check ahead of time if any are available near where you are staying. If you’d like to spend mealtime with your pet and no pet-friendly restaurants are close by, you might consider takeout or even picnicing outdoors.

What if you’re taking a more traditional vacation? Many tourist attractions will not welcome your pet, and it isn’t a good idea to leave your pet alone in a strange hotel room all day. You may be able to place your pet in his carrier for shorter excursions, but for all day trips, consider researching pet daycare centers or kennels available in the area. You can leave your pet for a few hours in a safe environment but still enjoy his company on your trip.

What to Take Along

Bring your pet’s food along or plan to buy it as needed. This is not a good time to change your pet’s diet, and you should certainly avoid giving your pet any table scraps. Traveling can be stressful regardless of how careful you are, and you don’t need the added complication of stomach upset for your pet.

Don’t give your dog the local water, especially if you’re traveling internationally. It’s safer to give your pet only bottled water to avoid possible stomach upset.

Bring along any medicines your pet takes, including vitamins, flea medicines, heart worm prescriptions, etc. You should also bring some basic first-aid supplies in case of injury. Ask your veterinarian what should be included in your pet’s first aid kit. These might include medicines for stomach upset and a mild tranquilizer in case your pet becomes extremely agitated. You can purchase pre-stocked pet first aid kits at many pet supply stores.

To make your pet more comfortable, bring along a few items from home. Bring some of your pet’s bedding and a few of his favorite toys. Bring only treats your pet has eaten in the past with no stomach upset. Again, this isn’t the time to try any new foods. The carrier you bring should be large enough for your pet to remain comfortably inside for a few hours. He should be able to stand, lie down and turn around easily within it. Also, be sure your pet has fresh water available within the carrier.

A Pre-Trip Checklist

Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Have your pet examined and any vaccinations done that are needed. Ask if your pet is healthy enough to travel, and ask for advice concerning any of your pet’s health conditions. Remember that if you are traveling outside the country, you may need to plan weeks in advance.

Make sure your pet has current identification attached to his collar, and that it fits well and isn’t likely to slip off. You might want to consider having an identification chip implanted before your trip, but you’ll need to discuss with your veterinarian how soon your pet can travel after the procedure.

Gather phone numbers for veterinarians, pet emergency care facilities, kennels, etc. before you leave for each place where you’ll be staying. If an accident or illness does occur, you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to take the time to find someone to care for your pet.

Make a packing list for your pet based on his needs and what your veterinarian recommends. Double-check it as you pack his things. Take your veterinarian’s phone number along with you in case you need to call and ask a last minute question or have your pet’s records sent to another clinic.

Take time to get your pet used to his carrier, especially if it’s new. If you’re driving, take your pet in the car for practice trips before the big day so it won’t be so traumatic. Another benefit to this approach is that you’ll learn if your pet become motion sick easily.

If you’re traveling with your cat, bring a litterbox and litter along with you. It’s easier to purchase cheap plastic litterboxes and throw them away rather than try to clean and transport them. If traveling with a dog, be sure to bring baggies to clean up after your pet’s walks.

Embarrassing and Alarming Moments

Pets get stressed when traveling, so accidents can and will happen. Bring some disposable wipes and plastic baggies to clean up after your pet. Another good idea is bringing a small bottle of enzyme based cleaner. If your pet selects the hotel carpet as the perfect spot for his accident, this can remove the odor and stain before it has a change to set.

Never open your pet’s carrier unless you’re in an enclosed room. Pets can move much more quickly than you can, and nothing will ruin your vacation faster than losing your traveling companion.

Traveling with your pet can be challenging, but with some planning ahead, it can also be a fun and rewarding experience. Trying a short weekend trip before a longer vacation can also help your pet acclimate to travel, and you will learn how well your pet travels.

Pet Food Ingredient Game

About 25 years ago I began formulating pet foods at a time when the entire pet food industry seemed quagmire and focused on such things as protein and fat percentages without any real regard for ingredients. Since boot leather and soap could make a pet food with the “ideal” percentages, it was clear that analytical percentages do not end the story about pet food value. I was convinced then, as I am now, that a food can be no better than the ingredients of which it is composed. Since this ingredient idea has caught on in the pet food industry, it has taken on a commercial life that distorts and perverts the meaning of the underlying philosophy of food quality and proper feeding practices. Is health reducible to which ingredients a commercial product does or does not have? As contradictory as it may seem to what I have just said, no it is not. Here’s why.

(*Association of American Feed Control Officials, 1998 Official Publication)

Simultaneously, this same regulatory agency prohibits the use of many proven beneficial natural ingredients that one can find readily available for human consumption such as bee pollen, glucosamine, L-carnitine, spirulina and many other nutraceuticals. It would be easy to conclude that reason does not rule when it comes to what officially can or cannot be used in pet foods.

From the regulators’ standpoint, they operate from the simplistic nutritional idea that the value of food has to do with percentages and that there is no special merit to any particular ingredient. They deny the tens of thousands of scientific research articles proving that the kind of ingredient and its quality can make all the difference in terms of health. They also are silent about the damaging effect of food processing and the impact of time, light, heat, oxygen and packaging on nutritional and health value.

The 100% Complete Myth

Consumers are increasingly becoming alert to the value of more natural foods. Everyone intuitively knows that the closer the diet is to real, fresh, wholesome foods, the better the chance that good health will result. Unfortunately, people do not apply this same common sense to pet foods. Instead they purchase “100% complete” processed foods, perhaps even going the extra mile and selecting “super premium” or “natural” brands, thinking they are doing the best that can be done. They surrender their mind to a commercial ploy (100% completeness) and do to their pets what they would never do to themselves or their family – eat the same packaged product at every meal, day in and day out. No processed food can be “100% complete” because there is not a person on the planet who has 100% knowledge of nutrition. The claim on its face is absurd. Understanding this simple principle is more important than any pet food formulation regardless of the merits of its ingredients. Everything that follows will begin with that premise, i.e., no food should be fed exclusively on a continuous basis no matter what the claims of completeness or ingredient quality.

Genetics Is The Key

Pets need the food they are biologically adapted to. It’s a matter of context. Just as a fish needs to be in water to stay healthy, a pet needs its natural food milieu to be healthy. All creatures must stay true to their design. What could be more obvious or simple? For a carnivore the correct genetic match is prey, carrion and incidental fresh plant material, and even some fur and feathers, as well as the occasional surprise of unmentionables found in decaying matter. It’s not a pretty picture to think that “FiFi” with her pink bow and polished toenails would stoop to such fare, but that is precisely the food she is designed to eat. Since that is her design, matching food to that design (minus the more disgusting and unnecessary elements) is also the key to her health.

The Disease Price

We may prefer to feed a packaged, sterile, steam- cleaned, dried, farinaceous chunk cleverly shaped like a pork chop, but let’s not kid ourselves, that is not the food a pet is designed for….regardless of the claims about ingredients on the label making one think it is five-star restaurant fare. Pets may tolerate such food for a time, but in the end nature calls to account. The price to be paid is lost health in the form of susceptibility to infections, dental disease, premature aging, obesity, heart and organ disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other cruel and painful chronic degenerative diseases. Because our pets are not out in the rigors of nature where they would quickly succumb to such conditions and end their misery, they languish in our protected homes and under veterinary care that does not usually cure but merely treats symptoms and extends the time of suffering. That suffering begins with the way in which we are feeding our pets, not the ingredients in a supposed 100% complete pet food.

The Perfect Food

What is the solution? It is simple and something I have been preaching for the past 25 years. Return pets to their environmental roots. They need – daily – interesting activity, fresh air, clean water, romps in nature, lots of love, and food as close to the form they would find in the wild as possible. Fresh, whole natural foods fit for a carnivore and fed in variety are as good as it can get. Anything less than that is a compromise. Compromise the least if health is the goal. (Same principle applies to you and your family.) To get a packaged food as close as possible to that goal requires the right starting philosophy of feeding (described above) and the expertise to design and manufacture such foods.

Enter The Profiteers

Elements of these principles (often distorted or misunderstood) have been taken up by an endless line of pet food entrepreneurs. The low fat craze led to low fat pet foods. The high fiber craze led to high fiber pet foods. The “no corn, wheat or soy” craze led to no corn, wheat or soy pet foods. The “omega- 3” craze led to pet foods with fish oil. The “variety” craze led to pet foods supposedly offering variety. The “four food groups” craze led to all four bundled into a package. The “raw” craze has led to raw frozen pet foods. The list is endless and the race for pet owner dollars is at a fever pitch.

One can only feel sympathy for a concerned pet owner as they stroll along the huge array of pet food options in pet food aisles. Unfortunately, armed with only sound bites and lore they may have heard from a friend, breeder, veterinarian or on a commercial, they make choices that not only do not serve the health of their pet but may directly contribute to weakened immunity and disease.

The first thing consumers should keep in mind is the ideal diet for pets as described above. No packaged product regardless of its wild claims is ever going to equal that. The next best thing is to home prepare fresh meals. (Contact Wysong for recipes and instruction.) If that is not always possible, then products should be selected that are as close to the ideal as possible. (More suggestions below.)

Raw Frozen Pet Food Dangers

At first glance, considering the perfect feeding model I have described – raw, natural, whole – the best food may seem to be one of the raw frozen pet foods now clamoring to capture the “raw” craze. I’m sorry to say that some of these purveyors even use my books and literature to convince pet owners that their frozen products are on track. They take bits and pieces of good information and distort it into something that pretty much misses the point and misleads consumers. Also, these exotic frozen mixtures of ingredients of unknown origin, manufacturing and freezing conditions are most certainly not economical nor the best choice. They may, because of the water content and raw state, be outright dangerous.

Human Grade

Then there are claims about “USDA approved” ingredients, “human grade” ingredients and ingredients purchased right out of the meat counter at the grocery store. Again, at first glance – and superficiality is what marketers like to deal with – it may seem that such foods would have merit over others. But such labels only create a perception of quality. People would not consider the food pets are designed for in the wild – whole, raw prey and carrion – “human grade” or “USDA approved.” Because something is not “human grade” does not mean it is not healthy or nutritious. For example, chicken viscera is not “human grade” but carries more nutritional value than a clean white chicken breast. Americans think that chicken feet would not be fit for human consumption but many far eastern countries relish them. On the other hand, “human grade” beef steaks fed to pets could cause serious nutritional imbalances and disease if fed exclusively. Pet foods that create the superficial perception of quality (USDA, human grade, etc.) with the intent of getting pet owners to feed a particular food exclusively is not what health is about.

Pet Nutrition Is Serious Health Science

Pet nutrition is not about marketing and who can make the most money quickly. Unfortunately an aspiring pet food mogul off the street can go to any number of private label manufacturers and have a new brand made. These manufacturers have many stock formulas that can be slightly modified to match the current market trend. Voilà! A new pet food wonder brand is created.

Pet foods are about pet nutrition, and nutrition is a serious health matter. There is an implied ethic in going to market with products that can so seriously impact health. But the ethic is by and large absent in the pet food industry. Starting with the 100% claim and on to all the fad driven brands that glut the shelves, health is not being served. Nobody other than our organization is teaching people the principles I am discussing here. Instead, companies headed by people with no real technical, nutritional, food processing or health skills put themselves out to the public as serious about health … because that is what the public wants to hear and what sells. Never mind whether producers really understand or can implement healthy principles. The façade sells and selling is the game. Ingredients are important, true, but not less important than the expertise and principles of the producer who is choosing them, preparing, storing, processing and packaging them. Consumers place a lot of trust that nondescript processed nuggets are what consumers are being led to believe they are. Many a slip can occur between the cup and the lip. There are many slips that can occur between the cup of commercial claims and what ends up in the lips of the pet food bowl.

Consumer Blame

The consumer is not without guilt in this unfortunate – steady diet of processed pet food – approach to pet feeding. They want everything easy and inexpensive. They don’t want to learn or have to expend too much effort, and they want something simple to base decisions on like: “corn, wheat and soy are evil,” or “USDA approved,” or “human grade” or “organic is good.” They also want something for nothing and think they can get it in a pet food. People want prime choice meats, organic and fresh foods all wrapped up tidy in an easy open, easy pour package, hopefully for 50 cents a pound. They may even pay $1 or a little more if the producer can convince them about how spectacular their product is or how much cancer their pet will get if they choose another brand.

Are By-Products Evil?

In the processing of human foods there are thousands of tons of by-products that cannot be readily sold to humans. Does that make them useless or even inferior? No. Such by-products could include trimmings, viscera, organs, bones, gristle and anything else that humans do not desire. Should these perfectly nutritious items be buried in a landfill? As I mentioned above, while Earth’s resources continue to decline and people starve around the globe, should we feed our pets only “human grade” foods and let perfectly edible – and sometimes even more nutritious – by-products go to waste? How is that conscionable or justifiable for either the consumer or the producer?

Road Kill and Euthanized Pets

This shift to “human grade” for pet foods is partly due to a variety of myths that have gotten much stronger legs than they deserve. Lore has spread in the marketplace that road kill and euthanized pets are used in pet foods. I have never seen the proof for this outrageous claim and after twenty years surveying ingredient suppliers I have never found a supplier of such. However, fantastic myths easily get life and the more fantastic they are the more life they have. It’s the intellectually lazy way and what lies at the root of so much misery. Sloppy superficial thinking is what leads to racism, sexism, religious persecution and wars. People would like to think the world is sharply divided into right-wrong, good-evil, black-white. Marketers capitalize on this by trying to create such sharp distinctions for consumers to easily grab on to: human grade = good/all others = evil; organic = right/all others = wrong; rice = white/corn and wheat = black. Such simplistic and naïve distinctions are quick and simple for advertisers and salespeople to use to sway public opinion. But nobody stepping back and using common sense would ever think that something as complex as health could ever come from what is or is not in a processed bag of food. Reality is not black or white; it is in shades of gray. Grayness requires some knowledge, judgment and discernment before making choices. It’s a little more work but is what we all must do if the world is ever to be a better place and people and pet health are to improve.

How to Find Discount Pet Supplies

I love my pet, but I hate the high cost of pet supplies.

Can you relate to the constant drain on your wallet? Would you like to reduce the cost of your pet supplies?

If you too love your pet or pets and would like to benefit from some ways I save money on pet supplies then take just a few minutes and let me share some cost saving ideas that can really lighten the financial drain for those pets that we consider a integral part of our family.

One of the problems with the cost of pet supplies has become the increasing cost these past few years. It can add up fast. In my house we actually have a line item in our monthly budget because we actually have 3 pets (2 dogs and a cat). In this article I hope to help everyone who loves pets but would like to save money on pet supplies.

Most of us are genuine pet lovers. We love to keep animals as pets for our enjoyment and companionship. Over time, these pets become a regular part of the family. Our pets deserve the very best care just as anyone in the family would. Because of our love and commitment to care for our pets, We’re constantly looking for little nick knacks we can buy while shopping..

The pet supply and pet product industry has grown quite a bit over the past decade. Thus a large number of new pet stores have opened up all through out the country. There are many pet products and pet supplies outlets available in the market today including where you live or at least over the Internet. As a Pet lover, you can buy these products from discount pet stores or order online from the comfort of your home of office.

The goal is sorting through these new shopping options in search for the true values, the genuine best and Lowest discounted prices available. In terms of pet supply inventory, this too has increased dramatically over the past decade. Today there are virtually endless products and pet food options available. Most of the discount pet supply stores have a large assortment of these different products that offers a variety of sizes. In addition they carry a growing selection of pet supplies and pet gifts.

There are a wide variety of online and local discount pet stores for you to choose from. Both online and traditional discount pet supply stores offer a growing selection of items for the pets that you love. The online pet discount stores carries a wider range of product for your pet because their not limited to physical shelf space. These online discount pet stores are a great resource for checking out a discount pet supplies and price comparisons without the need to actually visit stores in your area. Online stores are easy to use as they are easier and more convenient to order from. When purchasing anything online including pet supplies or pet foods you can save money by not having to pay sales taxes in most cases. In addition, you can have many online pet supplies stores offer free shipping to first time buyers or in many cases for a specific period of time of if your order exceeds a certain dollar amount.

Most of the pet supply discount pet stores are pet friendly. They are designed to provide a nice comfortable place for the pet owner and your pet while your buying pet supplies. Some of these discount stores offer many additional benefits and services in addition to the normal services you’ve come to expect. Some of these extra services include pet grooming services, pet photography and veterinary services, Community services such as obedience classes, pet adoption clinics and seminars on pet care are also offered.

Well I hope this article has helped you and I hope it has shed some light on the challenge of saving money on your pets supplies regardless whether you use a local regular pet supply store or an online store. This may take a little research and price comparison on your part but the savings will be well worth it.

Pet Medicine to Keep Your Pet Strong and Healthy

Your pet is an important member of your family. Keeping him or her healthy will give them a longer life, and you and your family more time to enjoy their loyal companionship. Pets have health care needs that are in many ways much like that of humans. They are also vulnerable to diseases that only animals can be stricken with and preventative care is essential for helping them avoid these.

Most likely, you already know from taking your pets to the vet that they need yearly inoculations to protect them from rabies, distemper, and other common animal diseases They also need to be tested for heartworm once a year and to be placed on heartworm prevention medicine such as that made by Heartguard® and Interceptor®, for example. There are other tests your veterinarian may choose to give your pet to identify any potential health problems that exist. When health problems are found, your veterinarian can recommend certain pet medicines for treating your pet and restoring their health. Flea and tick medicines are commonly used by pet owners to help keep their pets and homes free from these disease-carrying pests. These are available in prescription and nonprescription formulas. For tested effectiveness and for the safety of your pet, however, it might be wiser to choose prescription flea and tick medicines to treat your pet with.

Many pet medicines can be used as preventatives to ward off the development of health problems in your pets. Boosting your pet’s immune system and helping body organs to function correctly will strengthen your pet’s health and prolong their life. Pets can fall prey to many human aliments like bladder infections, gastro-intestinal disturbances, kidney stones, liver deficiencies, allergies, lung and breathing disorders, muscle and joint weakness, osteoarthritis, and much more. Antibiotics, anti-fungals, and other prescription medicines are given to lessen symptoms for pets suffering from these health issues, and also as a way of preventing pets from getting sick in the first place.

Some pets have the nasty and seriously harmful habit of eating their own waste or the waste of other animals. Animal waste can harbor bacteria and diseases that are very harmful to your pets. Using a pet medicine such as Forbid® and similar products to discourage pets from eating waste will help keep them from engaging in this unhealthy activity. Other pets have a habit of licking themselves incessantly. Stress, anxiety, boredom, and learned behavior are some of the reasons pets do this. This can lead to loss of fur and skin irritations. A pet medicine that has an unpleasant taste or odor is often successful in teaching pets not to lick themselves excessively.

Nutrition is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Like humans, pets need to get proper neutrino for strong health. You might find it surprising to learn that the commercial food you are feeding your pet may not be giving them all the nutrition they need. The package says it provides complete nutrition for your pet; however, manufactured pet foods do not contain all of the nutrients your pet would get from a “wild” diet derived from plant and animal sources. The solution to helping your pet stay strong and healthy as a domesticated member of your family is to supplement their diet of pet foods with nutritional pet medicines. These are often called health or nutritional supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements such as fatty acids, omega3, vitamin E, and other nutritional supplements can bolster your pet’s diet, giving them the nutrients they need to maintain strong health.

Did you know that regularly bathing and grooming your pet is an important part of helping them to stay strong and healthy? Shampoos made especially for dogs and cats help wash bacteria, debris, and insects from your pet’s body. Regular washing of your pet may also reveal skin irritations that might otherwise remain hidden under a thick coat of fur. Pet medicated shampoos that also contain lotions, can help alleviate dry skin conditions on your pet and restore skin health for your pet. Brushing your pet’s fur keeps it from matting, which can trap dirt and pests in the fur and make your pet uncomfortable. There are brushes and combs made especially for use on dogs or cats. De-shedders keep both you and your pets happy. They like the pleasurable sensations caused by the brushing and you will like not having stray fur all over the place. Trimming your pet’s nails is also important for their health and not just for saving your floors and furniture from scratches. Untrimmed pet nails can grow inwards and penetrate your pet’s paws. This can be very painful, encourages the growth of bacteria, and can even limit your pet’s mobility. There are several popular pet nail trimmers that make trimming your pet’s nails easy on you and them.

The best way to keep your pet strong and healthy is vigilance on your part to make sure that you have provided them with all the veterinary, nutritional, and preventative health care possible. You love your pet; help them stay strong and healthy for a long, happy life as a member of your family.

Personalized Pet Blanket

Are you looking for a personalized pet blanket? Do you want a blanket with your dog’s name on it? Do you need a blanket with your cat’s name on it for a gift? Personalize that blanket with these tips.

People really don’t mind spending for their pets. At least, that’s what the pet lovers at the Animal Pet Products Manufacturing Association (APPMA) say. Pet product manufacturing is a $35 billion per year industry. Who would have ever thought that people could spend so much on pets?

Well, if you are a pet lover too, then you might understand the feeling. Pet owners typically spend $250 on their pets – for items that can be personalized. These items include blankets leashes, pet bowls, and others.

Pets are more like family members nowadays. There are even people who get offended when their pets are referred to as an ‘it’. They would rather that they be called a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. Each pet is unique and has an endearing personality that is his or hers alone.

This has led to an increase in the need for veterinarians, pet grooming stores, and other services (and who hasn’t heard of the pet hotels stars get to pets in). Given this, giving pets gifts has become extremely fad. And building on that thought, giving friends gifts intended for their pets has become a fad as well.

Blankets are a great choice for pets nowadays – especially ones that can be personalized. If you are looking to give a friend a gift for their pets, a personalized blanket can be the epitome of thoughtfulness and generosity.

1. Pet blankets are an intimate gift. Pet blankets make perfect gifts because they show the recipients that you have an intimate knowledge of their loves – in this case, the pet. Also, knowing the pet’s name, and having the name embroidered on the blanket shows your interest in the things the person loves.

You could also consider getting matching stuff for the pet and the owner. Such gifts are hard to ignore and aside from actually being useful, they gain a great deal of sentimental significance immediately.

2. Pet blankets bring a great measure of comfort to the pet. Loving your pet means giving him or her the best that money can buy. And no self-respecting pet owner would like to give anything to their pet that wasn’t unique. This is where pet blankets come in.

While most pets can basically live without blankets – their ancestors used to live out in the wild, remember – they make cold, drafty nights a lot more bearable. You wouldn’t want your pet to lay shivering in the cold.

Blankets can assure your pet a good nights rest uninterrupted by the weather. They sleep with a greater sense of comfort and security. That is more that what most pet owners could ask for.

You will find out that pets easily warm up to their blankets. They learn to use them instinctively, draping themselves when it gets too cold, and snuggling in them for warmth. And since it is personalized, no one else gets a crack at the blanket – it’s theirs.

In cold temperatures, the blanket would certainly make a great team with a pet bed warmer to help distribute body warmth better. Your pet’s bed is never complete without one.

3. Blankets can be tailor made for your pet. If your pet likes its blanket heavy-duty warm, then you can get them a blanket that does this. If your pet loves to laze on soft cushions and velvety smooth lambskin or chenille, then you can get them that too. There is so much choice on the pet supplies market that you will never be at a loss for choices for your pet.

4. Pet blankets are usually easy to clean. You could look for pet blankets that do not soil as easily. Unlike in the olden days, people are no longer restricted to plain cotton or wool. Technology has made great leaps and bounds towards creating materials that fit the specific needs of pets and pet owners.

These blankets are durable. They keep the pet warm. And they also are very easy to maintain and clean. What more could you ask for in a pet supply that is definitely a must in your home?

Alternative way to get your pet’s healing

So you’ve had your dog or cat for a while, and your life is changing, and now you think you need to get rid of your pet. But are you sure this is what you want to do? Getting rid of your pet is a very drastic measure. If you leave your pet at a shelter, you may think he will find a new home soon. But it is unlikely. Many high-kill shelters must euthanize animals each day in order to make room for new ones who have come in. Some animals are only at the shelter for four or five days before they run out of luck. Fifty-six percent of dogs and seventy-six percent of cats in shelters are euthanized… many of them healthy, well-behaved animals whose owners simply didn’t have time for them anymore. Even in a no-kill shelter, your pet may be doomed to live out the rest of his life in a small cage if he is not chosen for adoption.
If you are willing to try keeping your pet, there are many things you can do. Lets look at some of the most common reasons why people get rid of their pets, and how to get around them.

Reason 1: I’m moving.
Solution: Bring your pet with! A quick Google search for “pet-friendly housing” will show you many different directories of rental housing that allows pets. Here are just a few that I found: People With Pets, Pets Welcome, My New Place, Pets911, Home With Pets, and Dog House Properties. And pet-friendly housing is not just limited to those sites! Many apartment buildings and complexes will allow pets. You may have to pay an extra security deposit. But in the end, it will be worth it, to keep your pet with you!
Here is something else you should know. If things get really bad and you have no place to live, you still may not have to give up your pet. Pets Of The Homeless is a website that works to help homeless people to keep their pets, or find temporary homes for their pets until they get back on their feet.

Reason 2: I can no longer afford my pets.
Solution: Call your local animal shelter, or food pantry, and ask about pet food banks. They do exist, and are becoming more and more common! You can even make your own dog food, which may be cheaper in the long run. (Its not difficult! Dogs can eat much of the same things we eat!) Your local animal shelter, or your veterinarian, may also be able to tell you about free or low cost vet care for your pets.

Reason 3: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate doesn’t like pets.
Solution: Are you really going to sacrifice your pet on someone else’s whim? Are you sure you want to date someone or live with someone who doesn’t like pets? That’s a pretty big lifestyle change to make for someone else. If you’re sure you want to stick with this person, work out a compromise. Maybe your pet can be banned from certain areas of the house, like the bedroom or the kitchen.

Reason 4: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate is allergic to my pet.
Solution: As long as the person’s allergy isn’t life threatening, there are many things you can do to greatly reduce the allergens on your pet. Keeping your house clean is a giant step. Dust and vacuum frequently, and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if possible. You can buy an air filter for your home that sucks the allergens out of the air. A company called AllerPet makes a special liquid that you can wipe your pet down with regularly to get rid of the allergens on him. Sprinkling flax seeds in your pet’s food can also reduce the amount of dander he produces. The person may even be willing to take allergy medication! After all, many people have seasonal allergies and take medicine regularly. They don’t just get rid of the seasons!

Reason 5: We’re having a baby.
Solution: Pets and children are a great combination! Most pets are perfectly fine around children, although they may be a little confused by the new arrival at first. You should always supervise your pet around young children. When your child is an infant, he probably won’t be unsupervised anyways, right? As your child gets older, you will have to teach the child to be gentle with the pets. Do not allow your child to pull your pet’s tail, poke him, pick him up, etc. Many people feel that a pet should be obligated to put up with whatever your child deals out. But that is not good for anyone involved! Teaching your child, from a young age, to be calm and nurturing around pets, is a great learning experience for the child. If you have a dog, you may want to do some extra training with him before the baby comes, to teach him not to jump up on you when you’re holding the baby, etc. Other measures may include banning the pets from certain areas of the house, hiring someone to come walk your dogs or clean up after your pets when you don’t have time to, etc.

Reason 6: I have developed health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian, neighbors, friends, people at your place of worship, etc. You can probably find some volunteers to help you take care of your pet. Having a pet can be a source of comfort when you are ill. In fact, many studies have shown that people with pets have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and are generally more healthy, than those without pets. If your health problems are so severe that you must move into a nursing home, maybe you can find someone willing too foster your pet for you.

Reason 7: My pet has developed costly health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian about this. They may be able to guide you to low cost veterinary clinics, veterinary schools that offer low cost treatment, etc. Many veterinary offices now offer payment plans for treatment. They may be able to help you find creative ways of raising money to pay for your pet’s treatment, too!

These are just a few of the common reasons why people consider giving up their pets. But remember, every problem has a solution. So, before you give up on your pet, please take some time to remedy the problems!

7 Secrets To Choosing A Safe, Healthy Pet Food

Do you choose canned food or dry food? What brand? There are so many different brands, all shapes and sizes of pet food to choose from and pet owners are provided with very little information to base your decisions on (other than advertising) – it can get so confusing! Well, buckle your seatbelt depending on how much you know of the pet food industry, this could be a bumpy ride! You are about to learn seven secrets – well kept secrets – of pet food. Sit back, brace yourself, and keep reading.

Beneful says it’s ‘Premium Dog Food for a Happy, Healthy Dog’ and sells for around $18.00 for a 31 lb. bag, Science Diet “promises” ‘precisely balanced nutrition through continuous research and the highest quality food backed by your Vets endorsement’ and sells for around $21.00 for only a 20 lb bag. Then there are numerous pet foods that make the very same statements – ‘Premium Dog Food, Highest Quality’ – that sell for $30.00 or more for a 20 lb bag. And the same holds true for cat owners…Do you choose Whiskas that states ‘Everything we do is about making cats happy!’ or do you choose one of those high end cat foods that make the very same claim of a happy, healthy cat but cost 3 times as much?

Now with the on-going pet food recall pet owners have questions such as ‘Has this food been recalled?’ or ‘Is this food the next one to be recalled?’…’Is my pet safe?’ Wow this is confusing! And scary too! What exactly is a pet owner to do? How about learning a few secrets! Equipped with the knowledge of a few secrets of pet food, it’s not nearly as confusing.

Secret #1…

All pet foods use descriptive words like choice and premium, though few of them actually use premium or choice ingredients in their food. The ‘secret’ is that per the rules of the pet food industry, no pet food can make any claims or references on their label or advertising as to the quality or grade of ingredients. You see, the word ‘premium’ when it’s related to pet food DOES NOT mean that the ingredients in the food are premium. With pet foods, premium does not (can not) describe the food nor does it (can it) describe the quality of the food. It is a marketing term and that is all. Per the pet food industries own rules and regulations, “There are no references to ingredient quality or grade” (regulation PF5 d 3). So, words like premium, or choice, or quality are just marketing or sales terms. They should not be interpreted as terms describing the quality of the food.

Now why wouldn’t a pet food label be allowed to tell a prospective customer the quality of their ingredients? Doesn’t a pet owner deserve to know what they are buying? This leads me to the next secret…

Secret#2…

If I can compare ‘people’ food to pet food for just a second, we all know there are different qualities of people food. There is White Castle (I’m guilty here, I love the little guys!) and there is Outback Steak House (another favorite). Both restaurants serve meat and potatoes. At White Castle for under $3.00 you can get a couple of hamburgers and an order of fries. While at Outback you can get a steak and baked potato for around $16.00. Both serve beef and potato – yet you already realize that there are huge nutritional differences between a fast food hamburger and a steak…right?

The problem in the pet food industry – is that most pet owners don’t think in the same terms when it comes to pet food. They don’t think in terms that there are fast food types of pet foods and there are sit down restaurant more nutritious types of pet foods. In fact, several years ago a young man tried this very experiment with his own diet – eating nothing but fast food for 30 days. In just one month of eating fast food three meals a day, he gained a great deal of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels sky-rocketed. Now, imagine your pet eating this type of food its’ entire lifetime.

OK, so back to our two meals…if a chemical analysis of your meal at White Castle was compared to a chemical analysis of your meal at Outback – both would analyze with a percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Regardless whether you consider a steak at Outback a higher quality of protein than the burger – it would still analyze as protein. The analysis doesn’t measure quality of protein.

So here is the secret…All pet foods come with a Guaranteed Analysis stating the percentage of protein, fat, fiber and moisture in the food. The REAL secret lies in the quality of the percentages of protein, fat, and so on.

In a chemical analysis of a pet food – chicken feet would analyze as protein, although granted it provides very little nutrition. And as well, a cow that was euthanized (put to sleep) because of a disease that made it unfit for human consumption – would analyze as protein although that could be considered dangerous for consumption. Both of those things – chicken feet and a euthanized cow – are allowable ingredients and commonly used in pet food. You see the secret within the pet food industry is manufacturers have a WIDE OPEN door to where they obtain their ingredients. The only strict rule they must follow is an adult dog food must analyze with 18% protein and an adult cat food must analyze with 26% protein. Sources to acquire those particular percentages range from a ‘human grade’ meat, to chicken feet, to euthanized animals, to grain proteins, to even man made chemical proteins and many variations in between.

Pet food labels do not have to tell – are not allowed to tell – the sources they use to obtain that required 18% or 26% protein. And to make matters worse…quality minded pet food manufacturers – the companies that use 100% human grade ingredients – are not allowed to tell customers or potential customers that their products are quality, human grade ingredients.

So how can you know if your pet’s food uses chicken feet or euthanized cows or if it contains human grade ingredients?

Secret #3…

If the words premium and choice mean basically nothing with regards to the quality of pet food, and if some pet foods use chicken feet and euthanized animals in their food – how can a pet owner know what they are getting in their pets’ food?

This big secret is found in ingredient definitions. Unlike ‘people’ food where you can pretty much look at the food to determine the quality, pet food is far different. All ‘people’ food must meet particular USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines. The same is not true for pet food. Chicken feet and euthanized cows are NOT allowed in people food for obvious reasons – they have no nutritional value or they could be dangerous to consume. The same is NOT true for pet food. The only way to know if those chicken feet or euthanized cows are in your pet’s food is to know what ingredients they can be used in.

The common pet food ingredient ‘Meat and Bone Meal’ is basically a combination of many different discarded left-overs from the human food industry. Components of ‘meat and bone meal’ can be anything from cow heads, stomachs, and intestines, to (horrifying but true) euthanized animals including cows, horses and dogs and cats from veterinarian offices, animal shelters, and farms. And along with those euthanized animals the pet foodalso contains the drug pentabarbitol that was used to euthanize the animal. ‘Meat and bone meal’ can also contain left-over restaurant grease, and diseased (including cancerous) meat tissues cut away from slaughtered animals. In other words, this commonly used ingredient is a mix of highly inferior and potentially dangerous left-overs from the human food industry.

The pet food ingredient ‘Meat By-Product’ or ‘Meat By-Product Meal’ is pretty much the same thing as ‘meat and bone meal’. It is a highly inferior pet food ingredient containing literally who-knows-what.

Another similar ingredient to the above is ‘Animal Digest’.

As to the chicken feet I mentioned earlier – this item can be found in the ingredients ‘Chicken By-Product’ or ‘Poultry By-Product’ or ‘Chicken By-Product Meal’ or ‘Poultry By-Product Meal’. Any left-overs in the chicken or poultry division – including but not limited to chicken feet, skin including some feathers, chicken or poultry heads, and intestines are found in these ingredients. It does NOT matter as to the health of the bird – sick, healthy, dead, dying…all is included in these ingredients.

So here is what you need to do…BEFORE you purchase any pet food, flip the bag over and closely examine the list of ingredients. The above mentioned ingredients would be listed within the first five or ten ingredients. If you see ANY of those ingredients – it is my suggestion to NOT purchase that food. Remember – chicken feet and euthanized animals do analyze as protein. That is all that is required in pet food – just the correct analysis.

Another little trick some pet food manufacturers use in this category is using grains and chemical additives to grain products to boost the protein percentages. Which is exactly the cause of the pet food recall that began in March 2007 – chemical proteins. Two different chemical additives – that have NO nutritional value to pets, but that analyzed as protein – were added to a grain product (wheat gluten, corn gluten, or rice gluten) solely to provide a cheap protein. Thousands of pets died and countless others became ill because no one counted on the problem of the combination of these two chemicals would cause kidney and urinary blockage. Again, their secret is the product has to analyze as having a particular amount of protein – no one is required to provide a quality meat protein.

While you are looking at the ingredient listing – you should also take note of how many grains (corn, wheat, rice) and/or how many grain products (corn gluten, whole corn, ground corn, whole wheat, ground wheat, wheat gluten, rice, brown rice, brewers rice, soy, and on and on) are listed within the first five or so ingredients. If you find more than one grain listed in the first five ingredients – that is telling you this pet food is acquiring some of its protein from grains.

Why is protein obtained from grains important for you to know? Several reasons – first off science proves that cats and dogs alike require and thrive on a meat protein. If a pet food is obtaining protein from grain sources, the pet is not getting the meat that it needs to thrive. Second, if the grain products are a corn gluten, wheat gluten, or rice gluten you take the risk of chemicals such as melamime added to it used strictly to boost the protein analysis. By the way, melamime is one of the chemicals found to be the cause of the March 2007 pet food recall. And there is one more concern with grains – aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a deadly mold that is common to corn, wheat, and soy and it’s responsible for several other pet food recalls you probably never heard about. In December 2005, Diamond Pet Food contained moldy grains that killed over 100 pets before the product was recalled – all due to aflatoxin.

It is my recommendation to avoid any pet food that contains corn, wheat, or soy in ANY variation. The risk is simply too high.

Secret #4…

I’ve got more suggestions for you to look for in the ingredient listings…chemical preservatives. A very well kept secret of the pet food industry is their common use of chemical preservatives. BHA/BHT are very popular chemical preservatives used in pet food and science has linked them to tumors and cancer. Another common preservative is ethoxyquin which has known risks to cancer. Ethoxyquin is ONLY allowed in human food in some spices because of the very tiny proportions. However it is allowed in much higher proportions in pet food.

If you scan the ingredient listings, you will be looking for BHA/BHT and ethoxyquin listed anywhere. Commonly BHA/BHT is used to preserve the fat in the food which usually is found higher on the list. And also look for any of these chemicals towards the end of the ingredient listing. Personally, I wouldn’t touch a pet food that contained these chemical preservatives. You want a pet food that is preserved naturally – common natural preservatives are ‘natural mixed tocopherols’ or ‘vitamin E’.

Secret #5…

The very best food to provide to your pet is a well made food using human grade ingredients. That should be simple enough…How do you find that? You already know that pet food manufacturers are NOT allowed to make any statement as to quality or grade of ingredients, the only way you can find out the grade or quality of your pets’ food is to call the manufacturer and ask them.

Now, let’s say you call the ABC pet food company and ask the question “Is your Premium dog food and Premium cat food made using human grade ingredients?” It could be that you get the response yes, we use human grade ingredients – when actually only a couple of ingredients are human grade. Here’s the trick to asking…ask them if they are APHIS European certified.

Pet food manufacturers that are APHIS European certified assures you that ALL ingredients in their pet food are human grade. APHIS – Animal Plant Health Inspection Services – is a division of the USDA. APHIS European certification provides this pet food manufacturer with the opportunity to ship their foods/treats to Europe. When importing pet foods from the US, European countries demand that all ingredients are human grade and thus require this certification. Most pet food manufacturers that have APHIS European certification do not ship their products to Europe – they simply use this as a means to assure their customers to the higher quality of their ingredients.

Again, you WON’T see this listed on the label – it’s not allowed. You must call the manufacturer and ask. Often times the representative of the pet food won’t even know what you are talking about when you ask about APHIS certification – if that’s the case, you can assume they are not APHIS European certified. APHIS European certification is a bonus to pet owners – it is not required or even suggested that any pet food manufacturer go through the extra steps to obtain this. This is a special effort some pet foods go through to tell their customers they REALLY CARE about the quality of their products. Personally, I would NOT buy a pet food that doesn’t have it.

And by the way, if you can’t reach the pet food manufacturer, or they do not return your call within a short time frame, lose their number! Any company that does not place a priority on answering customers questions – doesn’t deserve your business!

Secret #6…

Minerals are a required ingredient in human diets as well as diets for our pets. Copper, Iron and Zinc are common minerals found in pet foods. Just as they are – copper, iron, and zinc are basically rocks, very difficult for anyone or any pet to utilize. Science has developed several ways to introduce minerals into the body (human and pet) for better absorption thus benefiting the individual far more. This scientific development is called chelating or proteinating and it’s been around for years. Through the chelating or proteinating process minerals are absorbed about 60% better than just the minerals alone.

This secret is spotting the minerals in your pet food to see if they are chelated or proteinated. Notice the minerals on your pet food label, way down on the list of ingredients. You are looking for minerals that read ‘copper proteinate’ or ‘chelated copper’. If you see just the mineral listed, your pet is sort of like Charlie Brown at Halloween saying ‘I got a rock’. If you want your pet to have the best, chelated or proteinated minerals are part of the best foods!

Secret #7…

This secret is called ‘friendly bacteria’. Although ‘friendly bacteria’ sounds a little scary, the reason for it lies in your pets’ intestinal system. A large portion of your pets’ immune system is found within the intestinal system. Keeping the immune system healthy helps to keep the animal itself healthy. This friendly bacteria is similar to what’s found in yogurt, however in pet food it is introduced in a fashion so that the cooking process doesn’t destroy it. Looking at the fine print on your pet food label, this time you are looking for lengthy, scientific words like Lactobacillus Acidophilus or Bifidobacterium Thermophilum. If you do NOT see these words or some very similar, that pet food is not addressing the care of your pets’ immune system. And again, if you want your pet to have the best, you want ‘friendly bacteria’ in their food.

There are your seven very secrets to help you find the absolute healthiest and best pet food for your four-legged friend. Armed with those secrets – you now have the knowledge to find your pet the best food possible! A pet food that can extend their life and prevent early aging and disease. If you don’t want to bother doing the homework involved, I urge you to subscribe to my monthly magazine Petsumer Report(TM). Through Petsumer Report(TM) I’ve done all the homework for you – each month I review and rate over 40 different pet foods, treats, toys, and various other pet supplies. It’s the ONLY publication of its’ kind providing pet owners with the information they need to know regarding their pet product purchases.

I want to share just a couple more things…

It’s best to feed an adult dog or adult cat two meals a day. The nutrition they consume with two meals is better utilized than with just one meal a day. If you are currently feeding your pet one meal a day, split that same amount into two meals and feed in the AM and PM.

You should know that all canned or moist pet foods are anywhere between 70% to 85% moisture. This means that 70% to 85% of that can or pouch of food is useless nutrition – its water. Granted our pets need water, cats especially tend not to drink enough water. But since all canned or moist foods are mostly water, they do not provide adequate nutrition to be fed strictly a canned or moist diet. Use a canned or moist product to supplement your pet’s diet – not as the only food.

The best pet foods are preserved naturally (secret #4) – but there is a concern with naturally preserved pet foods…freshness. Take notice of the expiration date on your pets food label – typically with naturally preserved dry pet foods (not as much of a concern with soft foods because of canning – very little need of preservatives) the expiration date is one year to 18 months from the date it was manufactured. Let’s say the pet food you are considering to purchase on July 1, 2007 has a ‘Best if Used by’ date of January 1, 2008. This would tell you that this particular bag of pet food is already 6 months old. While it is still ‘good’ a fresher food – a bag that is only 2 or 3 months old – is better. Naturally preserved pet foods lose nutritional potency with time. Always try to find a very fresh bag.

If you are considering changing your pets food, ALWAYS consult with your Veterinarian first. You should always keep your veterinarian advised of any changes you make with your pet. Don’t take chances. And if you do switch pet food, make the change over very slowly. I always recommend to pet owners ¼ new food to ¾ old food for 4 to 7 days, ½ to ½ for another 4 to 7 days, and so on. Switching food quickly can cause intestinal disorder! Its short term, but we don’t want intestinal disorder!!!

One last thing, as you are already aware dogs and cats have a far better sense of smell than humans. Their food bowl can be a wealth of smells – both good and bad. Some times a pet will refuse to eat simply because he or she smells a previous food in their bowl. Plastic food and water bowls retain odors the worst. And surprisingly so does stainless steel bowls. The best type of food and water bowl is a ceramic one. They retain odors the least.