You get hungry, right? And odds are, depending on how determined your little four-legged friend can be, it won’t be long before you’re hearing the persisting whimpers of begging for a piece or two. While you’ll want to share, you should reconsider for a moment and remember that not all foods we humans can enjoy are able to be digested by our dogs. Some are downright toxic, chocolate being the most obvious. But as a quick reference for what may be deadly to your dog, The Humane Society has it covered:

Alcoholic beverages
Apple seeds
Apricot pits
Avocados
Cherry pits
Candy (particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans)
Garlic
Grapes
Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol)
Hops (used in home beer brewing)
Macadamia nuts
Moldy foods
Mushroom plants
Mustard seeds
Onions and onion powder
Peach pits
Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
Raisins
Rhubarb leaves
Salt
Tea (because it contains caffeine)
Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
Walnuts
Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets)
Yeast dough

For more information, the ASPCA has a substantially more extensive list. But the next time you reach to give Fido some food or a sip of your drink, please keep in mind that it doesn’t hurt to share, but certain things you share can hurt your furry friend. Bon apetite!

Cleaning our ears is about as much fun doing it for ourselves as it for our furry friends when they get it done. We all have about a million other things we’d rather be doing, yet it is one of the necessary chores of being a dog owner and being a dog. Ears get gunky, they need to be cleaned every so often – wash, rinse and repeat as necessary until Rex hears you when called. Unless he’s ignoring you, then that’s more a training issue than cleanliness.

All the same, ears don’t clean themselves, so it’s up to you valiant pet owner to limber up those fingers, squishy up some cotton balls and squirt the necessary ear cleaner to make things squeaky clean! For this, we’re going to reference everyone’s favorite, self-taught dog behaviorist Cesar Millan:

There are three important things that you need to know about dogs’ ears:
1. They’re sensitive, so they need regular maintenance to prevent infections.
2. Dogs don’t want their ears cleaned, so you’re going to have to work with them.
3. If you don’t do it the right way, you can cause serious damage.

Make it positive
Unless you want a squirmy pooch that makes the process a lot more difficult — and take a lot longer — it’s important to bring your dog along slowly and associate ear-cleaning with something positive. One tried-and-true method is to have a bag of treats ready to offer each time that your dog cooperates during the process.

Get the right tools
Just like with human ears, you never want to use cotton swabs because they can hurt your dog’s ears. Instead, have a bag of cotton balls ready, or wrap your finger in gauze and use it. You might want to use gloves for the cleaning, but it’s also okay to just wash your hands if no gloves are available. Perhaps the most important tool, though, is the ear rinse. You want one that’s completely safe for your dog but still able to get the job done. One product is Vetericyn Ear Rinse, which contains no antibiotics, steroids, alcohol, or toxic materials of any kind.

Put everything within reach
The last thing you want when trying to clean your dog’s ears is to discover halfway through the process that you forgot something and have to get up to find it. Do this and you’ll likely find yourself needing to wrangle your dog back into position and possibly even having to start the whole process over.

Follow the rules
To clean your dog’s ears without causing harm, you want to start on the outside and work your way in — but only until you start to feel resistance. If you try to push further in, you can damage your dog’s ear, so err on the side of caution. Wet a cotton ball with ear rinse and wipe the part of the ear that you can easily see, the outer flap. Then wet a new cotton ball to clean the inner ear. Ideally, you want to do this about once a week.

Following those few simple steps can make the process go all the smoother, which when you have your finger in such a sensitive area, is probably a good idea. Be gentle, calm and try to make it as great an experience as possible for your pet using the appropriate tools and the job gets done with minimal fuss and muss. After all, when your canine companion rests their head on you lap, where is the first place you reach to scratch?

See, clean ears benefit you too.

Coconut Oil isn’t necessarily a new thing when it comes to health benefits for us humans, however, there are a slew of reasons you may want to begin considering squeezing in a daily serving or two of it for your beloved pet.

An edible oil extracted from, surprise, a mature coconut from the coconut palm tree, there are several accepted cosmetic and dietary applications thanks to the high saturated fat content. On the plus side, it’s also resistant to going rancid thanks, due in part, to the fact that it is exceptionally slow to oxidize. Really, you could pick some up today and as long as you store it at around 75° F, it’ll keep for a good six months.

But why would you ever consider the benefits it might have for your pooch?

Coconut oil contains a really fantastic type of fat called medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs for short. It is one of those good fats that’s replete with benefits for dogs up to and including assisting metabolic functions that contribute to weight loss, support for their immune systems, helping with digestion, contributing to a healthy thyroid as well as healthy skin and coat.

Dogster, a great resource for dog lovers, has ten solid reasons as well:
1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
2. Incredibly emollient, coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health — whether you add it to her diet, her shampoo, or both!
3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor, and its pleasantly tropical aroma imparts a delightful scent to a dog’s skin and coat.
5. Coconut oil prevents and treats yeast infections, including candida. Its antiviral agents also help dogs recover quickly from kennel cough.
6. Digestion and nutrient absorption are improved by the addition of coconut oil to a dog’s diet. It can, however, cause stool to loosen; if that happens, just add a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet.
7. Coconut oil reduces — and sometimes eliminates — doggy breath. Some dog lovers even brush their pets’ teeth with the stuff! Which makes sense, as dogs love the taste of coconut oil, and that makes the chore less arduous for brusher and brushee.
8. Like cinnamon, coconut oil helps prevent diabetes by regulating and balancing insulin. It also promotes normal thyroid function, and helps prevent infection and heart disease.
9. Helping to reduce weight and increase energy, coconut oil also promotes mobility in dogs with arthritis and other joint issues.
10. Again like cinnamon, coconut oil is excellent for brain health; it’s being used to stave off dementia in humans, and it’s a must to keep senior dogs’ minds from becoming cloudy.

But how much should you be giving your pet? Well, as with anything, you should aim to start small. Remember, you can always give little Fido or Rex more!
When introducing small dogs or puppies, aim for about ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil per day.
For larger dogs, you can try for 1 teaspoon. But if your pet has a sensitive tummy, use your best judgement and limit it down to what you feel is appropriate.

As always, common sense is going to be the best way to go. If you notice your dog is having a negative reaction in the form of greasy stool or diarrhea, it’s probably a good bet to limit the amount of oil. Hopefully, your canine companion has a great reaction and is able to reap the benefits!

Dear Barkley,

I’m not sure if this is an issue I should talk to my vet about or not, but I have trouble keeping myself from licking metal. Doesn’t matter if it’s my tag, another dog’s tag, the bars of my kennel or the refrigerator door. Nothing makes me happier and I’m worried it could be the sign of something wrong medically or indicative of bigger trouble down the line. What do you think I should do?

Heavy into Metal,
Melrose Park Malamute

Dear Metal Obsessed Malamute,

Surely it isn’t as bad as you think it could possibly be. Though I would be careful that the behavior isn’t allowed to go on for too long without seeking outside help. I hope your human is aware of this. They’d have to be if you showed them that you have trouble with licking and teething on metal.

This is definitely something you shouldn’t have to struggle with alone.

Typically, in fellow canines, when we have a non-food related obsession with an object, regardless of a material, it can be indicative of compulsive behavior. Then again, it could also be as simple as enjoying the texture and sensation of the metal itself.

Ruling psychology out of the mix, there could be a medical reasoning behind it as well. Fellow dogs with a love for metal could point to instances of intestinal disease, nausea, iron deficiency or acid reflux. As I said before, you shouldn’t have to face this alone, especially if it persists for as long as you’ve mentioned.

If you and your owner are able to rule out the possibility of a medical disorder, then it is simply a matter of working to correct the behavior. This is something your human will have to work out with you – rewarding good, redirected behavior and helping you through the moments when you can’t resist that sweet, sweet metal.

As always, if you and your owner are able to get the matter addressed, it should be smooth sailing and, metal or not, that’s music to my ears!

Paws and Kisses,
Barkley

Treats are an excellent solution when we want to reward our pets or simply show them that we love them more than anything else in the whole wide world. The dog sits, lies down, or follows any other command they happen to be given, that is definitely worth their fair share of praise. However, when you reach for the treats one too many times, there’s a chance that your dog can feel the negative effects.

First and foremost is monitoring treat intake so as to prevent unparalleled weight gain. It’s all too easy, especially for smaller dogs that may not be as mobile or have the ability to be outside that much to pack on the pounds.
licking

One minute your cute, svelte Muffins is well within her medically prescribed weight as far as the veterinarian is concerned. Yet one treat too many and next thing you know you’re heading to the ER for a hernia from trying to give Muffins a cuddle after a long day at work.

Yes, we don’t want to make a stink for you or Muffins, but too many treats is bad news. They need to be balanced out with an appropriate amount of physical exertion so your furry friend is burning as much, if not more, calories than you – in all your wisdom as a responsible owner – is giving them. Reward when you like, but there is a difference between a simple treat and a buffet of desserts.

Celebrate your dog without stuffing them.

Because let’s be honest, not all dogs have ironclad stomachs like we’d like to believe they do. Sure, you’ve seen the movie where the dog is chewing on the chicken bones or license plate – and these make for great fiction – but too many treats can ruin your day, and carpet, faster than you can say, “the runs.”

While this certainly isn’t the case for all dogs – you as the owner will be the best judge and your mileage may definitely vary – though more often than not, one too many treats is all that it takes to turn even the most steadfast pup into an unbridled pooping machine.

And as an owner currently training two puppies using treats, it’s easy to attest that preventing over-utilization is difficult, yet best kept in mind. That is, unless you have a pumpkin patch out back or don’t mind boiling up chicken and rice alongside your own dinner.

So the next time you reach for that bag of treats, of any variety, remember if you’ve given, or will be giving, your dog a fair amount of exercise that day. If so, then bone appetite. If not, then it doesn’t hurt to put them through their paces. It’s okay for them to earn that treat. It’ll keep them from getting stuck in the agility tunnel, help them maintain a healthy weight and prevent unpleasant dietary surprises from erupting at the most inopportune times.

As much as we love to get our furry little friends outdoors to play, run and romp to their heart’s content, sometimes that isn’t always an available option. While the Postal Service might do their best to overcome the rain, sleet and snow – our canine company may not be up for that, willing or not. Paws can get frostbitten or rain can chill past the protection of fur, so there will definitely be times when it’ll be best to stay indoors.

Even though outside may not be an option, that doesn’t mean your dog (and you) still can’t have a good time and get a little exercise in the process. Be it a toy or otherwise, there are definitely plenty of exercises and activities that’ll allow your dog to burn some calories and get worn out in the process without risking extended time in the elements:

iFetch

Sure, you could throw the ball back and forth with your furbaby, but you may not necessarily be able to keep it up for the amount of time they want to play. Perhaps you have a shoulder injury. That’s where the iFetch comes into the picture. Working with standard miniature size tennis balls (about 1.5” in diameter), there’s no reason why Fido can’t fetch until the cows come home. It’s basically like a mini tennis ball launcher and while it won’t propel your dog to Wimbleton, it’ll definite win their attention to retrieve a ball or two.

Treadmill Walk

It may sound odd at first, though if you can pull it off, your pet could get away with putting a pedometer on their collar. Yes, while the rain may pour and snow may fall, you can still get your dog some much needed time moving their legs along a treadmill bound path. Sure, there aren’t any interesting smells or sights for them, but it is definitely better than nothing. Remember, they’re lapping every single dog that’s catching zzz’s on the couch.

Stair Climbing

There are few things that’ll get the blood flowing like a few trips up and down the stairs at home. I bet you’ll get winded after less than 5 trips and Rex will be more than happy to be chasing you the entire time. He may even go on without you after some huffing, puffing and catching your breath!

Laser Pointer

No, it isn’t just for cats! Depending on the size, demeanor and attention span of your canine companion, a laser pointer might be exactly what you need to get your buddy on the move. Having done this with our Chorky, Monty, it doesn’t only mess with your dog’s mind, but will definitely get them riled up and running.

Social Outing

Weather doesn’t mean you’re confined to the house. On more than one occasion, we’ve taken pets with on errands so they get outside the house and have the opportunity for some socialization. Be it a pet store or otherwise, there is always a chance to get your furry friend out, even if they’re just riding shotgun. Doesn’t matter if it’s a leash, stroller or papoose – pets need as much socialization as person, maybe more so – so if you can, bring them along!

These are only a few things that can be done to get your dog on the move indoors when the weather isn’t exactly warm, balmy and sunny. But remember, like humans, dogs can get bored and have their own cabin fever if cooped up for too long. Keep your dog’s mind stimulated, their body fit and they’ll be ready to be back outside once the sun returns.

We all love the littlest furry friends amongst the sea of pets out there. Yet their size, while one of their cutest qualities, also poses the greatest danger to them outside the confines of the house thanks to various wild animals.

Unfortunately, through carelessness, routine or just not being aware of those threats, your pet could be placed in a situation that ultimately endangers them. But being aware of the wildlife that prey around your home and what preventative measures can be taken, may very well save their life one day.

Years ago, I had let our now oldest dog Mia outside to go to the bathroom one last time for the night. Leaving the sliding glass door open to the house, I went about my business. Moments went by when Mia flew into the house crying at the top of her lungs, a trail of blood leading her up to the bedroom where she’d gone to hide. I had discovered puncture wounds on her back where a bird of prey had attempted to carry the dog off.

People, pet owners and otherwise, often forget about birds of prey and their ability to attack their beloved canines. Regardless of your pet’s size, there is always a chance they can become the target of an owl, hawk or otherwise flying stalker. Unfortunately, there is no cut-off for a pet weight that’ll guarantee their safety and it’s recommended that you supervise all outside activity of your pet.

Here are some birding tips from Melissa Mayntz that pet owners should keep in mind:

Supervise Pets: Stay outside with your pet at all times. A hunting raptor is less likely to attack a small animal when a much larger one (its owner) is nearby.

Keep Pets Contained: Provide a caged run or other enclosure with a roof for pets that are left outside unsupervised. This gives the pet freedom to be outdoors but protects it from aerial attacks. Runs without roofs are not effective at deterring bird attacks.

Provide Cover: If a sheltered run is not available but a pet must be left outdoors, leash the pet in an area where trees and shrubs provide natural cover to conceal the pet from the air. This also provides shade and better comfort for outdoor pets.

Exercise Pets Together: If you have more than one pet, exercise them outdoors together. A raptor is much less likely to attack when other animals are present because the bird will be concerned about extra animals defending their companion or stealing the kill.

Train Pets: Teach pets not to molest birds of any size. A dog that chases birds, for example, is much less likely to be wary of an approaching raptor.

Avoid Ground Feeding Birds: Avoid feeding doves, quail and other birds that eat on the ground or low feeders. These types of birds are most likely to attract larger hawks, and a hunting hawk is just as likely to target a pet as a wild feeding bird.

Feed Pets Indoors: A pet that is gulping a meal will not be aware of a hunting predator, and untended pet food will attract other animals such as mice, rats, raccoons and squirrels that will themselves attract hunting raptors. Once a raptor defines an area as a productive hunting ground, it will continue to return to that food source, potentially endangering pet

It also never hurts to be aware of any falcons, hawks or owls that may be nesting or otherwise migrating through the area where your pets walk or reside. The birds may not be able to distinguish your pet from their common prey, so it is up to the owners to remain vigilant.

Keeping the above recommendations in mind will be a great first step, and go a long way, to helping your furry little friends stay safe and prevent a visitor swooping on them from the friendly (or unfriendly) skies.

Dear Barkley,

My owners have a distinct love for chocolate. Every single day, I see them having it in one form or another. Chocolate Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, chocolate milk, some Cadbury chocolate for an afternoon snack or even a cake, layered thick and heavy with chocolate frosting that would make Dorie Greenspan drool a bit. Suffice to say, there is no short supply of that wonderfully sinful confection in the house.

Yet, the last time my owner was cooking, he happenedto spill some on the floor during the process of preparing a cake. Being my normal, exuberant self I opted it was the best possible opportunity to finally get to try some. Well, my owner had other ideas and tackled me before pushing me away and cleaning it up quickly.

What gives? Why couldn’t I have some chocolate and get to see what the big deal was about?

Confused as Ever,
Chocolate Lab in Chicago

Dear Chocolate,

I’ve heard fabled whispers of my owners as well discussing the mythically delicious sweetness of the forbidden sugary stuff, but alas, I too have been shushed away from sampling it as well. Though it isn’t without good reason.

Chocolate, whether milk, white, dark, or cocoa, all have a stimulant in it called theobromine. It’s sort of similar to the caffeine you’d find in your master’s coffee, with the strong distinction of course being that is viciously poisonous to us canines. Literal death by chocolate.

So, it isn’t without good reason that your owner has demonstrated such gratuitous concern for you in this case, even if it was somewhat haphazard. He’s only taking your best interests to heart because he wants to see you make it to a ripe old age.

After all, according to Vets Now, the symptoms for consuming chocolate alone should be discouragement enough:

Vomiting (may include blood)
Diarrhea
Restlessness and hyperactivity
Rapid breathing
Muscle tension, incoordination
Increased heart rate
Seizures

Sounds terrible, right? And all it takes is 100-150 milligrams to prove severe, but your body weight obviously plays a factor. Keep in mind, if your owner would have seen you lapping up any amount of the chocolate, they most likely would’ve erred on the side of caution and gotten you to the people in the white lab coats and scrubs as soon as possible. Probably would’ve ruined your day pretty quick.

Regardless of whether or not you end up at the vet, you’ll most likely be persuaded one way or another to get the chocolate up and out of your stomach as fast as possible. It isn’t going to be pretty in the least. If you end up at the vet, which is worse than obedience school, they’ll need to know how much chocolate you got into and when. But, besides vomiting, you’ll probably get a heaping helping of activated charcoal to try and absorb as much of the theobromine out of your system as possible.

Beyond that, it’ll be about as fun as an evening in the Crate of Shame. An IV for intravenous fluids and medication to control any possible heart rate, blood pressure or seizure complications. But hopefully, after reading this, there won’t be a chance it would ever come to that, right?

Stay chocolatey, my labrador friend,
Barkley

Dear Barkley,

I was hanging out at the kennel after my dad dropped me off for a day of playing. I think he had errands to run and I wasn’t looking to frolick too much or play too hard since I’d been saving my energy to chase down this squirrel that keeps lounging around in my backyard. He’s really getting on my nerves.

Anyway, while I was minding my own business, I suddenly feel a noticeable nudge on my tush only to turn around and see this beagle giving the hindquarters about my nether regions more than a few good long sniffs. If you catch my meaning, it more than felt like my space was being invaded with each passing second.

Afterwards, the beagle sort of wanted to start playing with me, but I wasn’t in the mood. Was I wrong, or was he getting a bit fresh with me? What gives with the sniffing of my backside and why did this beagle do it with such intent that you’d think it was his mission in life to do it?

Sniffling,
Butt Pug in Bartlett

Greeting my little Puggy friend!

You’d think that beagle couldn’t have possibly controlled himself, no doubt, but this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s in our nature as canines to introduce ourselves in this way similar to how you might see your dad shaking the mailman’s hand instead of chasing him down barking like he should be doing!

What’s actually happening when that beagle was giving your backdoor a once over with a few sniffs is a wonderful processing of chemicals that allows dogs to speak to each other quicker than barks ever could. It’s the equivalent of getting a quick glance at everything on your obedience school diploma, FaceBark, MyPaw, and InstaWoof all at once.

Unlike humans, our noble noses can, as the wonderful folks at the American Chemical Society put it, “detect scents up to 10,000 to 100,000 times better thanks to our large olfactory membrane.” What that means is, we have this bit of mucousy, membraney tissue about the size of a napkin tucked way up in our noses that allow us to pick up smells with about 225 million olfactory receptors. By comparison, your human dad only has about 5 million receptors.

In a way, it will always pay dividends to stop and smell the roses on a walk!

Thanks to these scent pheromones and molecules tucked into sacs near our tushies, these glands give you, me, and every other dog with a inquisitive schnoz the ability to proffer just enough about ourselves to a curious canine companion to get the Reader’s Digest of who we are. Feeling slightly under the weather after getting into the garbage last night and upset about it? A fellow sniffing dog would be able to find that out about you pretty fast.

If you have a chance, check out this video on YouChew for more about just how much sniffing power that nose of yours really has so next time a furry friend sneaks up behind you, you’ll feel comfortable knowing they’re just trying to get to know you.

Pugs and kisses,
Barkley

It’s been said that a rose by any other name would just as sweet. While there’s some truth to that, you wouldn’t be in such a rush to pick them. So it should come as common sense that picking a dog’s name is just as an important as the initial decision of adding a new furry member to your family.

Many of us have decided on a name before we have even brought the dog home. There have been those who named their dogs after famous celebrities, Transformers, family members, noteworthy historical figures, Norse/Roman/Greek or other gods. Well, you get the picture.

Then there have been those who have no idea what to name their dogs. These are typically the animals who end up with oddly obscure titles or names that fit into some kitschy convention, like having them all start with a certain letter of the alphabet. Not that I’m pointing fingers in any particular direction.

A helpful suggestion would to spend a few days with your pet to get to know their personality. Pick a name that is one or two syllables and easy recognizable for your dog. After all, they’ll associate that sound with themselves and you don’t want something too difficult to verbally belt out in a pinch.

The name Milo may be easier to shout across the room than Maxamillion. Kiki may be easier than Queenie Camille the Fourth. And Odin is way easier to callout than most names, because let’s be honest, the name Odin is – and I say this as a completely unbiased figure in the discussion – awesome.

Oh and for those of you with a new puppy unsure of what to name them up until now, you’re welcome.

Keep in mind you want to pick a name that doesn’t sound too similar to other pets in the home to prevent any confusion. You may also want to be cautious of choosing a name that sounds like a command; Fay sounds similar to stay, Kit sounds familiar to sit, Ray to stay and so on. Though I like the name Ray for a dog, sounds like someone owes him money (or bones).

Bottom paw, when it comes to naming your newest fur-baby, exercise some common sense. You don’t have the be as stringent as you would be with, say, a human child. Yet, naming your Chihuahua Hansel, Lord of the Six Kingdoms and Devourer of Cheesecakes may be a bit verbose when Han might cover that particular base. Besides, with a name like Han, you’ll get plenty of jokes about who shot first and never being told the odds.

Happy naming!

It’s no coincidence that doggie daycare gives off that strikingly similar vibe to dropping the kids off with their babysitter or at school. You see them off before heading onward to work, the babies (furry or otherwise) play, socialize, enjoy snack time, rest at naptime and then before you know it, it’s time to get picked up by mom or dad. If they’re lucky, both!

We all need social interactions including our dogs – from the smallest pleasantries to the greater gatherings!

Leaving our pets at home can always be a difficult choice. We may feel guilty leaving our beloved furbabies home all alone with little to no interaction outside of a radio or TV left on. But, reruns of Family Feud can only fill in so much.

There are circumstances where dogs can develop separation anxiety should they be isolated for extended periods of time. Owners may fear circumstances that call for leaving their furry family members. Behavioral problems, destructive behavior or the sheer overwhelming feeling of love for your pet. While there’s rarely a need to harbor anxiety of your own, it’s perfectly understandable.

Bringing your dog to daycare is immensely beneficial to our dogs and pet parents. You can drop off your pet guilt free, supervised in a safe environment and confident in the knowledge you are actualizing your dog’s social, developmental and emotional needs. Having your dog in daycare allows them to progressively build social skills and canine confidence of their own when interacting with their four-legged friends.

It’s especially a place where their stress level can decrease because they don’t feel neglected while substantially decreasing the potential of harboring behavioral issues that can stunt their emotional and social growth. There’s stimulation all day long from the time they’re dropped off for a day of camp until mom or dad come and get them! The dogs are consistently getting that physical attention and activity they crave throughout the course of the day, which makes it all the easier for those parents who have worked a long day at the office and don’t have enough energy to exercise their dog in the evening.

It’s a win-win when everyone can put their feet (or paws) up to rest after a long, stimulating day!

When it comes to choosing dog shampoo, just like any other product there are countless options to choose from. An alternative option is to make your own because the ingredients can be gentler, natural and inexpensive.

It is important to keep in mind dogs and humans have different pH levels. Dog’s pH levels are typically higher with more alkalinity in their skin that’s based on the thickness of skin, breed, sex and size. Human skin has a lower pH level with more acidity. Using human shampoo on our dogs can potentially be harmful. An example is some of us may have used baby shampoo thinking it’s safe and gentle on your dog’s skin, but because our pH levels differ, this could be contributing to irritated, dry or flaky skin.

Recipe #1
Ingredients:
2 cups of warm water
½ cup of white vinegar
¼ cup of dish detergent

Recipe #2
Ingredients:
2 cups of warm water
1 cup of dish detergent
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 oz. glycerin
1-2 drops essential oil (optional)

Recipe #3
Ingredients:
½ cup water
1/3 cup pure castile soap
1 tsp olive oil
20 drops essential oil (optional)

Recipe #4
Ingredients:
1 Cup of oatmeal (ground up)
1 cup of baking soda
4 cups of warm water
1 tsp of dish detergent
10 drops essential oil (optional)

The nutritional benefits of our pets eating wheat grass are vast. Packed with vitamins and minerals, wheat grass has a high concentration of chlorophyll that promotes health. According to PetParent and PetGreens the following are benefits from feeding your pet wheat grass.

Nutritionally complete
Provides stamina and energy
Cures some illnesses
Fights free radicals and therefore risk of contracting cancer
Rejuvenates blood
Delays aging signs
Helps maintain optimal weight
Detoxifies the body
Repairs DNA
Cures skin conditions
Cleanses the blood
Improves circulation
Regenerates the liver
Deodorizes the body

This week is National Pet Identification Week which is a great reminder to all pet owners to ID their furry family members. Many of us use collars and tags as a form of canine identification, but these can easily be lost or removed. Microchipping is a permanent sense of security that increases the chance of a lost pet to be safely returned home.

What is a microchip?
A microchip is a non-removal form of identification that is the size of a grain of rice. It is coded with a distinct identification number, similar to a Social Security number.

Where is the microchip implanted?
The microchip is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades. Similar to a vaccination, the procedure is safe, easy and quick.

How are the owners traced?
Veterinary offices, shelters, or animal controlled facilities use a hand-held scanner to retrieve the identification number. The ID number is then entered into a national database to pull any contact information. Please understand that microchips are only effective if your information is registered and kept up-to-date with a phone number, address, or e-mail. If you do not register the microchip with a national database, the microchip serves no purpose.

Here’s a fun and simple recipe to make healthy and inexpensive dog treats at home. What could be easier than only using two ingredients? Flour and pureed baby food.

Dog Bone Cookie CutterHere’s what you’ll need:
2 jars (4 oz.) pureed meat or vegetable baby food (avoid artificial preservatives, onion/onion powder)
2 cups 100% organic whole wheat flour, spelt, wheat germ or rolled oats (or a mixture of them)

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350⁰.
2) Mix together to form a stiff dough. If necessary, add extra flour or water as needed.
3) On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shape or a pizza cutter to make cubes.
4) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, place treats about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in a paper bag (storing in an air-tight container will make them soft, but they’re still edible).

You could always take it a step further by adding peanut putter as the icing, grated carrots or sweet potatoes, or delicious blueberries.

We go above and beyond to give our dogs the best to promote their health and longevity. Imagine complete relaxation, eye’s closed and the gentle touch of human hands. There’s nothing better than getting a massage for the simple reason that it feels good!

Massage is great for dogs who are nervous, suffer from anxiety issues, behavior problems, and shyness or easily frightened. Not to mention, there are significant health benefits that come with massage. Here are just a few reasons to consider getting a massage for your furry friend:

Increases circulation and energy
Ease of tension relief, pain and discomfort
Reduce anxiety or stress
Improves flexibility and range of motion
Boosts immune system functionality
Aids in healing from injuries or surgery
Promotes social and emotional health
Strengthens human-animal bond
And much, much more! Click HERE for more details.

Whether you’re leaving your dog to board for vacation or daycare, you can simply call us to add this service to their visit. If you’re coming in for a grooming appointment or training session, squeezing a massage in could be the icing on the cake.

If you’d like to set up a consultation or make an appointment, please call Bark Avenue at (630)289-8470.

In my never-ending quest for the “perfect” dog food, I’ve come across some interesting information here and there. The following list of ingredients are things to avoid when comparing dog foods and their ingredients.

Ingredients to avoid
This is not a comprehensive list of dangerous and/or poor quality ingredients, but it names most of the ones that are used especially in lower-end foods and should be avoided. The list will change and possibly grow as my research progresses.
Additives
Glyceryl Monostearate
A lipophilic non-ionic surfactant with HLB of 3.6 – 4.2. It has effects of emulsification, dispersion, foaming, defoaming, starch anti-aging and fat agglomeration control, and is widely used in foodstuffs, cosmetic, medicine and plastic processing industries. It is an emulsifier used the most widely and in the largest quantities in the foodstuff industry.
A thickening, emulsifying, antisticking and antistalant agent. Can contain up to 200 ppm butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) as a preservative (see also BHT). Depending on method of manufacture, it can also contain glyceryl distearate (42-44%), glyceryl tristearate (20-23%), free glycerol (3-5%). Other impurities include mono-, di-, and triesters of related fatty acids as well as unreacted fatty acids. Due to the uncertainty of chemical additives, this ingredient should be avoided.

Phosphoric Acid
A clear colorless liquid, H3PO4, used in fertilizers, detergents, food flavoring, and pharmaceuticals.
A harmless but unnecessary ingredient, used in inexpensive, poor quality dog food as flavoring, emulsifier and discoloration inhibitor. Used for example as a flavoring for Coca Cola.

Propylene Glycol
A colorless viscous hygroscopic liquid, CH3CHOHCH2OH, used in antifreeze solutions, in hydraulic fluids, and as a solvent.
Used as humectant in semi-moist kibble to keep it from drying out. May be toxic if consumed in large amounts, and should definitely not be an ingredient in a food an animal will eat daily for weeks, months or even years of its life. In countries of the European Union, propylene glycol is not cleared as a general-purpose food grade product or direct food additive.

Binders

Corn Gluten
I have not been able to locate an official definition of this product, but since it is contained in only one formulation of one manufacturer (Excel Chunks/Mini Chunks), I assume it is the same as “Corn Gluten Meal”.  An inexpensive by-product of human food processing which offers very little nutritional value and serves mainly to bind food together. It is not a harmful ingredient but should be avoided simply for its poor nutritional value and quality.
Wheat Gluten
AAFCO: The tough, viscid nitrogenous substance remaining when wheat is washed to remove the starch.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing with almost no nutritional value left, serves mostly as a binder.

Carbohydrate Sources

Brewers Rice
Also appears in ingredient lists as ground Brewers Rice.
AAFCO: The small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice.  A processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice. Contrary to what many pet food companies want to make you believe, this is not a high quality ingredient, just much cheaper than whole grain rice.

Cereal Food Fines
AAFCO: Particles of breakfast cereals obtained as a byproduct of their processing.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing of unknown source, quality, possible chemical residue, sweeteners or other additives.

Feeding Oat Meal
AAFCO: Feeding oat meal is obtained in the manufacture of rolled oat groats or rolled oats and consists of broken oat groats, oat groat chips, and floury portions of the oat groats, with only such quantity of finely ground oat hulls as is unavoidable in the usual process of commericial milling.
A food-grade fractionated grain, byproduct from human food processing, that is not as nutritionally valuable as the product obtained from whole oats.

Grain Fermentation Solubles
AAFCO: The dried material resulting from drying the water soluble materials after separation of suspended solids from grain fermentation.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food and beverage production which adds little or no nutritional value to pet foods.
Maltodextrins & Fermentation Solubles
I have not been able to locate an official definition for this product so far.
A brewery byproduct much like “grain fermentation solubles”, with some maltodextrin from malted barley. Better suited for use in short term feeding like e.g. livestock than as an ingredient in pet food.

Potato Product
AAFCO: Potato pieces, peeling, culls, etc., obtained from the manufacture of processed potato products for human consumption.
A cheap byproduct of human food processing that has been stripped of much of the nutritional benefits that whole, fresh potatos offer.

Soy Flour
AAFCO: The finely powdered material resulting from the screened and graded product after removal of most of the oil from selected, sound, cleaned and dehulled soybeans by a mechanical or solvent extraction process.  Much of the nutritional value is lost already during processing of the grain to flour. May contain particles of hull, germ, and the offal from the tail of the mill.

Coloring Agents

Blue 2 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Blue No. 2 is principally the disodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-5-sulfo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)- 2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid with smaller amounts of the disodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-7-sulfo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)-2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid and the sodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)-2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid. Additionally, FD&C Blue No. 2 is obtained by heating indigo (or indigo paste) in the presence of sulfuric acid. The color additive is isolated and subjected to purification procedures. The indigo (or indigo paste) used above is manufactured by the fusion of N-phenylglycine (prepared from aniline and formaldehyde) in a molten mixture of sodamide and sodium and potassium hydroxides under ammonia pressure. The indigo is isolated and subjected to purification procedures prior to sulfonation.  The largest study suggested, but did not prove, that this dye caused brain tumors in male mice. The FDA concluded that there is “reasonable certainty of no harm”, but personally I’d rather avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution.
Red 40 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Red No. 40 is principally the disodium salt of 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid.  The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not “consistent” or “substantial.” Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods. Personally I’d rather avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution.
Titanium Dioxide
A white powder, TiO2, used as an exceptionally opaque white pigment and dough conditioner.
Non toxic but an unnecessary ingredient that could just as well be left out.

Yellow 5 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 5 is principally the trisodium salt of 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-4- [4-sulfophenyl-azo]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid (CAS Reg. No. 1934-21- 0). To manufacture the additive, 4-amino-benzenesulfonic acid is diazotized using hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite. The diazo compound is coupled with 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid or with the methyl ester, the ethyl ester, or a salt of this carboxylic acid. The resulting dye is purified and isolated as the sodium salt.
The second most widely used coloring can cause mild allergic reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons.

Yellow 6 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 6 is principally the disodium salt of 6-hydroxy-5-[(4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid (CAS Reg. No. 2783-94-0). The trisodium salt of 3-hydroxy-4-[(4- sulfophenyl)azo]-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid may be added in small amounts. The color additive is manufactured by diazotizing 4-aminobenzenesulfonic acid using hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite or sulfuric acid and sodium nitrite. The diazo compound is coupled with 6-hydroxy-2-naphthalene-sulfonic acid. The dye is isolated as the sodium salt and dried. The trisodium salt of 3-hydroxy-4-[(4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid which may be blended with the principal color is prepared in the same manner except the diazo benzenesulfonic acid is coupled with 3-hydroxy-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid.  Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. In addition, small amounts of several carcinogens contaminate Yellow 6. However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans. Yellow 6 may also cause occasional allergic reactions. Another ingredient I would rather avoid and err on the side of caution rather than risking my pet’s health.

Fat Sources

Animal Fat
AAFCO: Obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words “used as a preservative”.  Note that the animal source is not specified and is not required to originate from “slaughtered” animals. The rendered animals can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

Beef Tallow
AAFCO: Fat with titer above 40 degrees Celsius, obtained from the tissue of cattle in the commercial process of rendering. Also called Beef Fat.
Dogs and cats like the taste of this fat, so it is often used to make low-quality food more palatable. Beef tallow is very low in linoleic acid and much cheaper for the pet food industry to use than a good quality vegetable oil or nutritionally rich chicken fat.

Lard
AAFCO: The rendered fat of swine.
Very low in linoleic acid but very attractive to pets, used to make poor quality food more appealing. Few nutritional benefits.

Poultry Fat
AAFCO: Obtained from the tissue of poultry in the commercial process of rendering or extracting. It shall contain only the fatty matter natural to the product produced under good manufacturing practices and shall contain no added free fatty acids or other materials obtained from fat. It must contain not less than 90 percent total fatty acids and not more than 3 percent of unsaponifiables and impurities. It shall have a minimum titer of 33 degrees Celsius. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the word “preservative(s)”.
Note how in this product the source is not defined as “slaughtered poultry”. The rendered fowl can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), turkey, chicken, geese, buzzard, seagulls, misc. roadkill, birds euthanized at shelters and so on.

Vegetable Oil
AAFCO: The product of vegetable origin obtained by extracting the oil from seeds or fruits which are processed for edible purposes.
The source vegetables for this oil (and therefore the nutrient properties or lack thereof) are unknown. Wouldn’t you like to know just what exactly you are feeding your pet?

Fiber Sources

Cellulose
AAFCO: Purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant materials.
Dried wood is the most common source for cellulose (I’m not kidding.). It is cleaned, processed into a fine powder and used to add bulk and consistency to cheap pet foods. I would consider this ingredient appropriate for termites, but certainly not for dogs or cats.

Corn Bran
AAFCO: The outer coating of the corn kernel.
An inexpensive source of fiber that serves as a filler ingredient to add bulk to poor quality pet food.

Corn Cellulose
AAFCO: A product obtained from the cell walls of corn.
Obtained by use of a chemical process, it is used to add bulk and consistency to cheap pet foods and has no nutritional value.

Oat Hulls
I have not been able to locate an official definition for this product so far.
Most likely what is left over from dehulling the whole oat kernels after harvesting, comparable to peanut hulls. It is not the same as oat bran (the hull that protects the grain itself), which is a quality source of dietary fiber and removed prior to rolling and/or flaking. Thumbs down for this filler ingredient.

Peanut Hulls
AAFCO: The outer hull of the peanut shell.
No nutritional value whatsoever, and are used exclusively as a cheap filler ingredient. Possibility of pesticide residues being present.

Rice Hulls
AAFCO: The outer covering of rice.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, serving as a source of fiber that is considered a filler ingredient.

Soybean Mill Run
AAFCO: Composed of soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which results from normal milling operations in the production of dehulled soybean meal.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, commonly referred to as ‘floor sweepings’. An inexpensive filler with no real nutritional value.

Wheat Mill Run
May also appear as “Wheat Middlings”.
AAFCO: Coarse and fine particles of wheat bran and fine particles of wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour and offal from the “tail of the mill”.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing, commonly referred to as ‘floor sweepings’. An inexpensive filler with no real nutritional value.

Flavoring Agents

Animal Digest
AAFCO: A material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind or flavor(s), it must correspond thereto.
A cooked-down broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

Digest
May also appear as dried, or spray dried. Sometimes the type and part of animals used is specified, such as in “Chicken Digest”, “Lamb Digest” or “Poultry Liver Digest”
AAFCO: Material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue. The animal tissues used shall be exclusive of hair, horns, teeth, hooves and feathers, except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice and shall be suitable for animal feed.  A cooked-down broth made from specified, or worse, unspecified parts of specified or unspecified animals (depending on the type of digest used). If the source is unspecified (e.g. “Animal” or “Poultry”, the animals used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.

Flavor
A substance, such as an extract or spice, that add flavor to a product.
The manufacturer may or may not give more detailed information about what is used for flavoring and whether it is made from a natural or chemical substance.

Glandular Meal
I have not been able to locate an official definition for this product so far.
Since it is used as a “source of liver flavor” in poor quality foods, it is safe to assume that it is a meal obtained from the livers and other glands of various, unspecified animals. As with all generic, unspecified ingredients, it is wise to avoid.

Fruits & Vegetables

Apple Pomace
AAFCO: The mixture of apple skins, pulp, and crushed seeds.
An inexpensive byproduct of human food processing. Does not contain the whole complement of nutrients as whole fresh or dried apples.

Citrus Pulp
Citrus Pulp is the dried residue of peel, pulp and seeds of oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit.
This inexpensive byproduct is mainly used as a bulk carbohydrate concentrate in cattle feed but also added as a source of fiber in dog food. Since the peel and some twigs and leaves are also included, there is a possibility of residues from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Grape Pomace
AAFCO: The mixture of grape skins, pulp, and crushed seeds.
An inexpensive byproduct left over from pressing grapes for juice or wine. The product contributes some fiber but otherwise has little to no nutritinal value. Grapes have also shown to contain a substance that is toxic to dogs, so they should not be fed at all.

Preservatives
BHA
Butylated Hydroxysanisole – a white, waxy phenolic antioxidant, C11H16O2, used to preserve fats and oils, especially in foods.
Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the US. Possible human carcinogen, apparently carcinogenic in animal experiments. The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity.

BHT
Butylated Hydroxytoluene – a crystalline phenolic antioxidant, C15H24O, used to preserve fats and oils, especially in foods.
Banned from human use in many countries but still permitted in the US. Possible human carcinogen, apparently carcinogenic in animal experiments. The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity.

Ethoxyquin
6-ethoxy-1,2-dihydro-2,2,4-trimethylquinoline. Antioxidant; also a post-harvest dip to prevent scald on apples and pears.  Originally developed by Monsanto as a stabilizer for rubber, Ethoxyquin has also been used as a pesticide for fruit and a color preservative for spices, and later for animal feed. The original FDA permit for use as stabilizer in animal feed limited use to two years and did not include pet food, but it falls under the same legal category. It has never been proven to be safe for the lifespan of a companion animal.It has been linked to thyroid, kidney, reproductive and immune related illnesses as well as cancer, but so far no conclusive, reliable research results either for the safety of this product or against it have not been obtained. Monsanto conducted research years ago, but results were so inconclusive due to unprofessional conduct and documentation that the FDA demanded another study. There are currently several studies underway to determine whether Ethoxyquin is safe or not, and until those studies are completed, pet food suppliers may continue to use Ethoxyquin. This is how things stand after about 6 years, and no new details have emerged so far.

Propyl Gallate
Also known as Gallic Acid or Propyl Ester. It is made from natural Gallic Acid, which is obtained by the hydrolysis of tannins from Tara Pods.  Used as an antioxidant to stabilize cosmetics, food packaging materials, and foods containing fats. I have not found conclusive evidence either for or against the safety of this product, but it is suspected of causing liver diseases and cancer, so once again personally I prefer to err on the side of caution. Mixed tocopherols, citric acid and rosemary extract are effective, all-natural alternatives – just more expensive.

Protein Sources

Beef & Bone Meal
AAFCO: The rendered product from beef tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  A byproduct made from beef parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire cow, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed. This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

Blood Meal
AAFCO: Blood Meal is produced from clean, fresh animal blood, exclusive of all extraneous material such as hair, stomach belchings and urine except as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing process. A large portion of the moisture is usually removed by a mechanical dewatering process or by condensing by cooking to a semi-solid state. The semi-solid blood mass is then transferred to a rapid drying facility where the more tightly bound water is rapidly removed. The minimum biological activity of lysine shall be 80%.  An inexpensive protein booster. You have no way of knowing what type of animal the blood came from or what residues of hormones, medications or other substances are in this product. It has a better use as fertilizer than as a dog food ingredient.

Chicken Byproduct Meal
AAFCO: Consists of the dry, ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines — exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.  Chicken byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than the chicken muscle meat.The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent. Don’t forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat. If there is any use for any part of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as “byproduct”, rest assured it will appear in such a product rather than in the “byproduct” dumpster.

Corn Distillers Dried Grains With Solubles
Distillers Dried Grains with solubles (DDGS) is the product obtained by condensing and drying the stillage that remains after fermenting the starch in corn or milo in the production of ethyl alcohol.
An inexpensive byproduct used as protein filler in cheap dog foods. Its amino acids are poorly balanced, not very digestible, have a high fiber content and nutritional value can vary greatly from batch to batch. Better suited as cattle feed.

Corn Germ Meal
AAFCO: Ground corn germ which consists of corn germ with other parts of the corn kernel from which part of the oil has been removed and is obtained from either a wet or dry milling manufacturing process of corn meal, corn grits, hominy feed, or other corn products.
An inexpensive by-product of human food processing, rich in protein but sadly often used as a booster in poor quality foods. It is not a harmful ingredient but should not rank high in the ingredient list of a quality product.

Corn Gluten Meal
AAFCO: The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.  An inexpensive by-product of human food processing which contains some protein but serves mainly to bind food together. It is not a harmful ingredient but should not rank high in the ingredient list of a quality product.

Fish Meal
AAFCO: The clean, rendered, dried ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings, either or both, with or without the extraction of part of the oil.  Like with all other animal sources, if a type isn’t specified, you never know what type or quality of fish is used.  According to US Coast Guard regulations, all fish meal not destined for human consumption must be conserved with Ethoxyquin (unless the manufacturer has a special permit). This preservative is banned from use in foods for human consumption except for the use of very small quantities as a color preservative for spices. So unless the manufacturer either presents a permit or states “human grade” fish or fish meal is used, you can be pretty sure Ethoxyquin is present in the food even if it is not listed.

Liver Meal
AAFCO: The dried product of ground hepatic glands of mammals.
Whenever the word ‘meat’ or the name of an organ appear by themselves (without a species) on a pet food label, there is no way to know which kind of animal it came from. It could be horse liver, goat, duck, pig, or even skunk or other animals of questionable origin.

Meat & Bone Meal
AAFCO: The rendered product from mammal tissues, with or without bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on. It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

Meat Meal
AAFCO: The rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
The animal parts used can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), goats, pigs, horses, rats, misc. roadkill, animals euthanized at shelters and so on. It can also include pus, cancerous tissue, and decomposed (spoiled) tissue.

Pork & Bone Meal
AAFCO: The rendered product from pork tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, skin, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
A byproduct made from pork parts which are not suitable for human consumption. It can incorporate the entire pig, including the bones, but the quality cuts of meat are always removed. This is an inexpensive, low quality ingredient used to boost the protein percentage.

Poultry Byproduct Meal
AAFCO: Consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.
The parts used can be obtained from any slaughtered fowl, so there is no control over the quality and consistency of individual batches. Poultry byproducts are much less expensive and less digestible than chicken meat.The ingredients of each batch can vary drastically in ingredients (heads, feet, bones, organs etc.) as well as quality, thus the nutritional value is also not consistent. Don’t forget that byproducts consist of any parts of the animal OTHER than meat. If there is any use for any part of the animal that brings more profit than selling it as “byproduct”, rest assured it will appear in such a product rather than in the “byproduct” dumpster.

Poultry Meal
AAFCO: The clean combination of poultry flesh and skin with or without bone. Does not contain feathers, heads, feet or entrails. If from a particular source it may state so (i.e. chicken, turkey etc).
Note how in this product the source is not defined as “slaughtered poultry”.The manufacturer does not disclose the species (or the mix of species) of the poultry used. The fowl can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), turkey, chicken, geese, buzzard, seagulls, misc. roadkill, birds euthanized at shelters and so on.

Soybean Meal
AAFCO: The product obtained by grinding the flakes which remain after removal of most of the oil from soybeans by a solvent or mechanical extraction process.
A poor quality protein filler used to boost the protein content of low quality pet foods. Has a biologic value lof ess than 50% of chicken meal.

Supplements

Bone Phosphate
Bone Phosphate is the residue of bones that have been treated first in a caustic solution then in a hydrochloric acid solution, and thereafter precipitated with lime and dried.
A highly processed feed-grade supplement to balance the calcium and phosphorus content of a product.

Salt
Also listed as Sodium Chloride. A colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride, used extensively in ground or granulated form as a food seasoning and preservative. May also appear in ingredient list as “Iodized Salt” (iodine supplement added), “Sea Salt” (as opposed to salt mined from underground deposits) or “Sodium Chloride” (chemical expression).
While salt is a necessary mineral, it is also generally present in sufficient quantities in the ingredients pet foods include. Just like for humans, too much sodium intake is unhealthy for animals. In poor quality foods it is often used in large amounts to add flavor and make the food more interesting.

Mineral Oil
Any of various light hydrocarbon oils, especially a distillate of petroleum.
Mineral oil functions as a laxative and stool softener. I have not found any evidence of any other health benefits. Tells a lot about the product it is used in, doesn’t it?

Yeast Culture
AAFCO: The dried product composed of yeast and the media on which it is grown, dried in such a manner as to preserve the fermenting activity of the yeast.
An unnecessary, feed-grade ingredient in pet foods, added mainly as a flavoring to make inexpensive food more attractive. Lacks the nutritional value of higher quality yeast supplements. The media on which the yeast was grown is not identified. Also a potential allergen for some dogs.

Yeast Fermentation Solubles
AAFCO: The soluble portion of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and the media in which is produced.
A feed-grade ingredient in pet foods, added as a vitamin B supplement. It is harmless, but lacks the nutrients of higher quality yeast supplements. The media on which the yeast was grown is not identified. Also a potential allergen for some dogs.

Sweeteners

Cane Molasses
AAFCO: A by-product of the manufacture of sucrose from sugar cane. It must contain not less than 43% total sugars expressed as invert.
Sugar or sweetener is an absolutely unnecessary ingredient in pet foods, added to make the product more attractive. Continuous intake can promote hypoglycemia, obesity, nervousness, cataracts, tooth decay, arthritis and allergies. Pets also get addicted to foods that contain sugars, so it can be a tough piece of work to make them eat something healthier.

Corn Syrup
A syrup prepared from cornstarch, used in industry and in numerous food products as a sweetener.
Sugar or sweetener is an absolutely unnecessary ingredient in pet foods, added to make the product more attractive. Continuous intake can promote hypoglycemia, obesity, nervousness, cataracts, tooth decay, arthritis and allergies. Pets also get addicted to foods that contain sugars, so it can be a tough piece of work to make them eat something healthier.

Fructose
A very sweet sugar, C6H12O6, occurring in many fruits and honey and used as a preservative for food and as an intravenous nutrient.
A monosaccharide found naturally in fresh fruit and honey. It is obtained by the inversion of sucrose by means of the enzyme invertase. Used in small quantities it serves as a nutrient for probiotics, specifically bifidobacteria, which ferment it and produce beneficial enzymes.

Sorbitol
A white, sweetish, crystalline alcohol, C6H8(OH)6, found in various berries and fruits or prepared synthetically and used as a flavoring agent, a sugar substitute for people with diabetes, and a moisturizer in cosmetics and other products.
Sugar or sweetener is an absolutely unnecessary ingredient in pet foods, added to make the product more attractive. Continuous intake can promote hypoglycemia, obesity, nervousness, cataracts, tooth decay, arthritis and allergies. Pets also get addicted to foods that contain sugars, so it can be a tough piece of work to make them eat something healthier.

Sugar
Can include sucrose, cane sugar, caramel, corn syrup and others.
Sugar or sweetener is an absolutely unnecessary ingredient in pet foods, added to make the product more attractive. Continuous intake can promote hypoglycemia, obesity, nervousness, cataracts, tooth decay, arthritis and allergies. Pets also get addicted to foods that contain sugars, so it can be a tough piece of work to make them eat something healthier.

Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate
Synthetic vitamin E, also listed as Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate
Only about half as effective as natural vitamin E and not as readily available to the body.

Vitamins
Menadione Sodium Bisulfate
Vitamin K3, synthetic vitamin K.

Feed grade. Also listed as Menadione Dimethyl-Pyrimidinol Bisulfate, Menadione Dimethyl-Pyrimidinol Bisulfite, Menadione Sodium Bisulfate Complex, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite and Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex.

This synthetic version of vitamin K has not been specifically approved for long term use, such as in pet food. It has been linked to many serious health issues.

As the proud owner of a new puppy you are probably dealing with two very common “issues” that are typical of young dogs. The first issue that I hear questions on the most would be potty training, and the second would be nipping or “biting”. Housebreaking a puppy takes work, but with a little knowledge and some specific rules it can be much easier than anticipated.

When bringing a new puppy into the home it is important to know two facts. An eight week old dog cannot hold his bladder for a long period of time and he doesn’t know that he is expected to. When the puppy lived with mom, he was allowed to walk two feet from his bed and pee and then walk back and lay down. Now he is in a new environment where people get mad when he follows the rules that mom set up for him. We need to teach the dog a new set of rules, don’t go to the bathroom in the house and go to the bathroom outside in a timely manner. Keep in mind that to a dog the house is just a place, carpet and rugs are meaningless to him, you bedroom is not special, anywhere is free game to do his business. I take a young dog out about every thirty minutes to go outside when I first bring them home. Teach a word for going such as “go outside.” When he does go, immediately praise him, give him a treat, and repeat his command for going. Once that is in place I start expecting the dog to go every time I take him out. If the dog refuses to go after a reasonable amount of time because he wants to walk around and sniff I will take him inside and put him in a cage for fifteen minutes. This prevents the dog from coming inside and peeing on the floor immediately. After fifteen minutes I will take him outside and tell him “go outside” as we wander around until he goes and I will then praise him for going.

The dog should now know that we like when he goes outside, so we need to teach him that we don’t like when he goes inside. The key to this is NEVER letting him out of your sight until you trust him. Use gates, playpens, etc. or just follow him when he wanders off. If he goes and you don’t catch him, it is too late to correct and your potty

training will be set back. Every “accident” should be a learning experience for you and the dog. If I see him going I will say NO in a firm voice, rush him outside, and praise him if he finishes out in the yard. Keep in mind that every dog is different, you can change the loudness and harshness of your voice based on the dogs temperament. The goal is to get across the point that you aren’t happy, not to terrify the pup. This is a system that works very well, but a lack of consistency will undermine your efforts. The first month will not be fun, following you dog constantly and always watching, but it is very attainable to have a fully potty trained dog by four or five months of age.

Nipping is the second issue that I hear questions about frequently. Young dogs nip each other constantly throughout the day as the play, and they learn certain rules. They learn not to nip too hard, or the other dogs get mad and not to nip “mom” when she isn’t in the mood. We now want to teach the pup not to ever nip humans. A nip is one of two things, a dominant type of play or a correction, neither of which should be used on humans whether child or adult. When the dog is eight weeks old I gently correct the nips by pushing the dog away and saying “no” in a firm voice. Don’t yell the word, but it is equally important not to use baby talk as you tell him no. If the puppy is in a rambunctious mood I will find a toy and start playing with him. It is important that the dog doesn’t learn to nip so that we play with him, so I always correct and then take my time finding a toy to play with. If the dog gets worse the more you correct there are many different ways to address the issue. If a dog is extremely persistent, a leash and collar can be left on him so that he can be given a leash correction each time he crosses the line and the hand corrections don’t work. If neither of these two approaches works, chances are you have a dominant puppy and may need some professional advice on how to proceed.

As you progress in training your dog and teaching him manners it is very to keep in mind that dogs are pack animals and do not learn like humans. You cannot rationalize or negotiate with a dog and still maintain you position as the leader. When finding a trainer, be leery of anyone who goes to either extreme in methods of training. Some trainers want to give dogs treats for everything and never correct and others are extremely harsh and can break the spirit of the dog. Look for someone who understands dog behavior and maintains his leadership without resorting to food bribes or anger and aggression. If you have any questions or need assistance with your dog I would love to provide you with the knowledge to build the relationship that you want with your dog.

We all want to see our pets happily wagging their tails, playing to their heart’s content and being the best dogs they can possibly be. Well, with a bit of advice following these steps, it shouldn’t be too ruff to make that happen!

1. Manage That Energy: Just like us humans, each and every dog will have varying energy levels that they need to expend in a healthy and productive way throughout the course of the day. Whether it is as simple as a few rounds of fetch in the backyard, an early morning walk or an evening jog, being aware of your pet’s energy levels and ensuring they find a productive outlet for that energy each day will keep them fit and happy.

2. Dry Bed, Wet Bowl: Few things go such a long way to making a dog happy than a cushy place to rest their tails after a long day playing. Be sure their bedding is clean, soft and, given the sensitivity of some breeds to temperature, a way to wrap up or burrow in a blanket if need be. Also, while it’s easy to forget, be sure to check and double-check whether their water dish has been freshened recently. You’d send a drink back too if it was full of hair and dust, right?

3. Play Daily, Then Play Some More: Dogs are social animals that thrive in a pack environment. As such, they love interacting, socializing and playing with fellow members of their pack. That’s where you come in, fellow human. Fetch, tug of war or simply vigorous petting can be enough to scratch that playing itch for your pet, especially if they’ve been waiting for you to come home all day. Be sure to play often and then play some more, Fido will thank you!

4. Weighty Matters: While an extra pound or two on a beloved Husky or Great Dane may not seem like much, it can be a far slide for a Yorky or Chihuahua. Regardless of the breed, weight is something you always want to keep an eye on. Packing on that Winter weight can eventually lead to heart troubles, skeletal issues, diabetes and low energy. Half the battle is exercise, the other half is a proper, well-balanced diet.

5. Vetting the Vet: No one exactly gets excited to see the doctor, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid the vet. An annual visit at the very least will allow your pet to have a physical, get their teeth examined and ensure that any potential health concerns are addressed as early as possible. Your pet should be comfortable visiting the vet and be treated with patience and compassion. You should always keep an updated record of all vaccines as well as the phone number to the vet will all applicable emergency numbers.

Responsibility is a large part of being a pet owner, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun, enjoyable experience. Following a few simple steps will lead to a more rewarding experience for you, your family and your dog for many years to come.

Hours

Monday-Friday: 6:30am-7pm
Saturday: 9:00am-5pm
Sunday: 9:00am-2pm

Please note:  our daycare is staffed 365 days a year so your dog is sure to get plenty of playtime every day of the week.

Location

1540 Hecht Drive
Bartlett, IL  60103
Phone:  (630) 289-8470
Fax:  (630) 524-9078

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