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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

The statistics are staggering: Between 25%-35% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. And this epidemic is more than just a cosmetic issue. Cats are more likely to suffer from arthritis, respiratory disease, and diabetes, among the conditions. These ailments lead to a worsening quality of life, shorter life span, and more expensive medical bills. As the adage goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pond of cure’, so is true in providing the proper nutrition to your cat. But, with so many options available, choosing the right food for weight management or loss can be daunting enough.

This article, however, will not focus on what is the best food to feed. Creating an ideal feeding plan might be more important than the food choice itself. Consider some of these ‘cat-raptions’:

 

  • A measuring cup can be the simplest tool available to help guide your cat on the pathway to weight loss and takes the ‘guesstimate’ work out on how much to feed. Filling the bowl to the brim and approximating with a ‘handful’ are not acceptable options!  You may be surprised by how much you are really overfeeding your cat. 
  • An automatic feeder can be your best friend, especially if you are not home for hours at a time, or if your cat is an early-riser who pesters you for breakfast. Instead of filling the bowl with a copious supply of kibble, precise amounts of food can be released at various intervals making sure your can does not go hungry. Placing the feeder in an empty bedroom or extra bathroom will make you feel less guilty as your cat ‘pesters’ the automatic feeder rather than you for food.
  • A variety of commercial ‘food puzzles’ (even homemade ones) may be used to not only provide your cat with physical stimulation during feeding, but also contribute to their emotional well being. These puzzles are essentially an object that releases small amounts of food when your cat interacts with them. Cats are natural predators in the wild and will eat multiple small meals per day. Allowing your cat to express their natural instincts at the same time they are ‘foraging’ for food might be as beneficial to their welfare as it is for weight loss.
  • Having multiple cats should not be a roadblock to weight loss! Consider these options: meal feeding, feeding in separate rooms or at different heights, or using a NekoFeeder. This neat device provides ideal weight cats consistent access to their food while keeping those ‘dieting’ cats away. Only cats that wear an electronic key collar are allowed access to the feeder. For more information visit www.nekofeeder.com.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your cat’s veterinarian for advice, an often underutilized resource in feline dietary management! Your veterinarian is also a trusted source to determine the best diet as he/she has received formal training in nutrition as part of their medical education.

Wheatland Animal Hospital is located at 24041 W. 103rd St., Naperville, IL 60564. They can be reached at (630) 904-2020 or visit their website at www.wheatlandanimalhospital.com.

 

 

 

A common concern I receive from parents is their dog ignores their small child (from toddler through grade school, even high school). Whether it is the dog pulling on sleeves and pants or jumping on the children, the bottom line is the dog isn’t listening to anything the child is saying.

Most kids only know how to be kids. Kids are loud, fast, darty, bouncy, goofy, and confusing. All of this is interpreted by the dog in a million different ways. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see kids making:

Run Away. Of course a kid isn’t standing there while his dog jumps, nips or chases. The child is going to do what his DNA says to do. Run Away! However, this speaks as more fun for the dog! Instead, we teach children to Be A Tree, while calling or counting loudly. A cue to a parent to intervene quickly. Stop, look at your feet, fold your hands. Start calling loudly to parent. Dogs don’t chase trees. Be A Tree.

Yelling. I frequently hear kids yelling. First they are yelling just because kids can be naturally loud. But that turns into yelling cues to the dog or yelling at the dog to stop the unwanted. Or yelling louder because the dog is ignoring them, but the dog has tuned out the yelling.

Rapid Fire Cues. I hear parents faulty of this but I hear nearly 100% of kids rapid fire at their dog. “Fido! Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit. Fido! Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit!” Usually including a finger point or sometimes a sharp finger to the dog’s shoulder. The dog tunes out the rapid fire cues, I would tune you out too, if you said, “have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch.”

What a dog trainer’s kid does: I started guiding my Little on proper training and interactions around 18 months old with our Hadley, our Yellow Labrador. Up until this point, there was non-stop management and re-direction to keep both kid and dog safe.

Height helps. I used a 2 level step stool. The height helps the kid have some confidence and keeps safe distances from dog to eliminate silly kid reactions if the dog does something unexpected. She would run through our dog’s behaviors with my guidance. Kids love to help with training sessions because they think its magnificent when the dog listens to them. The height also helps the dog learn high value kid treats are tossed to the floor so dog will learn to keep space from kid and turn focus to floor once kid is on the floor.

Delivering cues. She uses both hand cues and verbal cues together. Then she would use only hand and then only verbal. Then she would squeal when Hadley would respond. Ha!

Ask/Wait. My Little learned on the first training session from her stop stool, We ask Hadley ONCE then count to 5 before we ask again. We never rapid fire cues.

Kiss A Hip. My Little always offers our pup love in the morning when she wakes and in the evening before bed, but she will always kiss/hug Hadley’s hip. Never Hadley’s face or mouth. Never her nose or feet. She shows respect to our dog by kissing the least offensive or intimidating part of the dog. The back end!

Stranger Dogs. My daughter would never run up to any dog. She knows to ask permission from the owner before touching. She know to let the dog approach her because not all dogs want to be pet. She knows to pet on the shoulders or hips.

As soon as your child is old enough to understand what you are communicating to them in life, teach them to properly communicate to a dog!

You can contact Amber Walker at (630) 53-PUPPY, amber@aitrainers.com or visit her website www.aitrainers.com.

It’s pretty amazing how often we at Two Bostons hear about dogs with digestive issues. From pickiness and anal gland problems to vomiting and diarrhea, almost every dog is bothered by at least one of these problems at some stage of their lives.

If your dog has digestive issues, or if you are looking to be proactive in preventing them, a quality diet is a great place to start. Talk to any Team Member at Two Bostons and find out why the foods we carry, from kibble to dehydrated and raw, are some of the best available. Plus, our Free Food Faster™ program can save you money on pet food!

In addition to feeding your dog a high-quality diet, consider adding a new supplement with some pretty astonishing digestive benefits. Introducing Flora4 100% Raw Organic Sprouted Seeds! Sounds like crunchy granola, right? But just wait till you hear about what this stuff can do!

  • First, Flora4 contains NO synthetic enzymes or probiotics. All enzymes and probiotic strains are food-based and occur naturally. So, you’ll see a very short and pronounceable ingredient list on the bag, which we always like!
  • If you serve your dog plain raw meat or meat you’ve cooked yourself, adding Flora4 will complete the vitamin and mineral profile dogs require.
  • It can help with scooting, constipation and diarrhea, because of its combination of soluble fiber and intense levels of LIVE probiotics.
  • Flora4 can help with skin and coat conditions due to therapeutic levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • If your dog has recently had surgery or has gone off solid food, Flora4 can be added to goat’s milk or bone broth to help restore balance of good gut bacteria. It’s also very effective in re-establishing healthy gut bacteria levels after an antibiotic treatment.
  • If your dog is diabetic or has yeast issues, Flora4 is a great alternative to pumpkin for a digestive aid, since it’s a low glycemic and low sugar product.
  • Flora4 can also help reduce hairballs in cats with its enzymes and fiber.

This product is suitable for grain-free diets, and you can try it out in a 1.5 oz packet or an 18 oz bag. The small packets are great for travel, and Flora4 itself is a ground, powder-like product that’s easy to sprinkle onto pet’s food. Come try it soon and see what it can do to keep your pet’s digestive system running smoothly! It’s Maple-approved, too!

national_pet_fire_safety_dayFIRE.

No one wants to think about it, but you really should take the time today. Our pets are so important to our lives; however, they are the most helpless in a fire.

Did you know that pets can actually be the cause of many fires?

It’s true. They are curious and can accidentally start a fire. Simple changes can make huge differences such as:

  • Pets can knock over cooking equipment and stove knobs can be bumped and turned on. Remove stove knobs or protect with stove knob covers.
  • Consider having flameless or battery-operated candles.
  • Some pets (especially puppies) are chewers, watch to make sure they don’t chew through electrical cords and securing loose wires is another great preventative measure.
  • Keep pets away from a chimney’s outside vents.  Have a “pet-free zone” of at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.  Glass doors and screens can stay dangerously hot for several hours after the fire goes out.  Consider using metal or heat-tempered glass screen on a fireplace and keep it in place.
  • Beware of water bowls on wooden decks.  Don’t leave a glass water blow for your pet on a wooden deck.  The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it.  Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

FACT: Pets and wild animals have a part in starting about 700 home fires per year.  Roughly three-quarters of these fires were started by cooking equipment, fireplaces or chimneys, lighting, or candles.

fire-logoHaving an escape route is an excellent idea for your family and pets. Keeping collars and leashes near exit points is also a good idea. Not only will it help you find them quickly should you need to escape, it is also a great help to firefighters should they need to rescue your pet.

We have stickers available at our store that you should consider affixing to your windows to alert firefighters about your pets.  Since they cannot escape on their own, it is just one more measure you can take to help them in the event of a fire.

Hopefully you will never have to worry about a fire in your home; however, with these hot days recently, it is always better to be prepared.

 

Forget about Christmas, this is the actual best time of the year. The smell of fresh cut grass, the beautiful colors in our gardens, the warm weather, the list goes on and on for us.

For our pets, mainly dogs, this time of the year is great too! Longer walks, more time at the dog park, all the squirrels running around and OH WAIT, WHAT WAS THAT? FIREWORKS?!?!?! To us loud unexpected noises are little more than a nuisance, but to our furry family members they can be extremely scary. Many try to run and hide in a dark corner of the house, jump on their owners lap for protection or even scarier – run out of their own yard because they are so disoriented.

My Moe, at the first sign of a thunderstorm or fireworks, will get up from wherever he is and hide under the desk in our spare room if I forget to give him Happy Traveler beforehand. I give it to him about an hour before the storm hits or before I know fireworks will be starting. Since it helps keep him calm for 4-6 hours, I usually only have to give him one dose. If there is a storm all day I give him a dose every 5 hours. Happy Traveler calms my guy down without making him groggy or out-of-it. L-Tryptophan, Valerian root, chamomile and St. John’s Wort are the natural calming ingredients that are safe for cats and dogs 12 weeks and older. On stormy days Happy Traveler naturally helps my Moe stay calm and confident.

For stronger storms I give him a little extra Happy Traveler to keep him calm and make sure his favorite penguin toy is nearby for added comfort. That’s what is so awesome about his product! Since it’s all natural you can adjust the dose as needed after an hour if the recommended dose isn’t quite enough for your pet.

Happy Traveler is such a versatile product because it can help in situations that you might not have thought of. I give my Daphne Happy Traveler before nail trims to keep her calm. Nail trims still aren’t her favorite, but the process is quicker because she isn’t as scared of the situation. If you avoid car rides with your pet because they get sick, Happy Traveler can help with their motion sickness. Your pet’s anxiety of being left alone while you’re at work can also be relieved by Happy Traveler. That means your pet could be a good boy or girl and not chew on your furniture while you’re gone because they don’t know how to relieve their anxiety any other way.

If you’ve noticed situational anxiety in your pet, Happy Traveler is a great product to try out. Many team members here at Two Bostons use it for our own pets and we would be happy to share our experiences with you! We hope you and your pets have a great anxiety-free summer!

 

 

 

Hello and happy Summer! We all hope that the new season brings you sunshine and long walks with your dog! Speaking of walks, we have our weekly walks at Downtown Naperville and Burr Ridge stores. Just meet us with your dog on a standard leash at 6:30 pm every Thursday for a walk with fellow dog lovers.

Whether it’s a Two Bostons weekly walk with other pups or just a stroll with me, after I get back from a walk with my Maple, she immediately leads me to her treat tin for some Bocce’s Belly Aid treats, Bare Bites, or Honest Kitchen Proper Toppers (all of which she highly recommends!). Then, since she’s a senior citizen, she typically goes right to her bed for some rest.

A dog’s bed is a special place for her. It’s a sanctuary, a safe place, and a relaxing retreat. And one thing that makes a dog feel extra secure is a reminder that her pack (or family) is nearby. Cue the Molly Mutt pet bed!

This fun new product at Two Bostons combines style with earth-friendliness! Here’s how the Molly Mutt bed works. It comes in two parts, the stuff sack and the duvet. You dig out some old clothes, towels, pillows, or blankets, and pack them into the stuff sack. Then just zip the duvet around the stuff sack and your dog has a cute bed that smells like one of their favorite things: YOU!

Molly Mutt duvets are machine washable. There’s an optional moisture barrier that keeps the contents of the stuff sack dry in case your dog has an accident or something gets spilled on the duvet. The duvet comes in several cute patterns that you can change with the seasons or whenever you feel like redecorating. Another bonus: when you fill the stuff sack, you’re re-purposing old clothing AND you get to decide how firm or squishy you want your dog’s bed to be! You get a lot of control with the Molly Mutt bed, and the best part is you can always change your mind! No one knows your dog better than you do, so make the bed as personal as you’d like. If we don’t have the duvet style in the size you’re looking for, we’d be happy to special order it for you. That’s what we do here at Two Bostons, we make pets happy!

Watch this cute video of the Molly Mutt bed being assembled, then come see us at any Two Bostons store and we can talk about beds! Or we can talk about grooming products, treats, chews, toys, or our new Free Food Faster program! Have a wonderful week.

 

Wow it has been HOT, especially for the beginning of Summer…and I am sure that it will continue to be hot throughout the summer. I thought that this would be a great time to remind you about the very real dangers of Heat Stroke to our four-legged friends. Could you imagine wearing your winter coat right now? That is what it is like for them during the summer.

 

What is Heat Stroke? 

Heat stroke is a term used for hypothermia or elevated body temperature. If your pet’s body temperature is at 103°F or above that is considered abnormal or hypothermic. When the body temperature reaches 106­°F without previous signs of illness and is most commonly associated with exposure to excessive heat that is often referred to as heat stroke.

What Causes Heat Stoke? 

Many people believe that heat stroke is limited to when a dog is confined in a small or enclosed place during high temperatures, such as a car. Yes, this can be the most common cause but there are also many others. Your dog can be affected by moving from cool places (like the A/C in the house or car) to outside. Extreme exercise and outdoor play can induce heat stroke as well.

What are the Symptoms of Heat Stroke?

  • Unexplained Restlessness
  • Excessive Panting
  • Fluctuating Panting
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Foaming at the Mouth
  • Dry or Tacky Gums
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Agitation, Whining, Anxiety

If you notice any of the signs listed above, work quickly to cool your dog and get in touch with your Vet as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke?

The number one way to prevent heat stroke is PLENTY of WATER! Shade is also a must if you are outside in the heat for extended periods of time. It is also important to limit your walks and play outside to the early morning and late evening hours. Having a Gulpy Water Dispenser by Kyjen is a easy way to keep your pup hydrated while out on hot days!

Remember dogs don’t release heat from their bodies as well as humans do. Heat stroke is a very real (and sometimes fatal) risk this time of year. By keeping your furry friend cool, giving access to plenty of water, and taking care to limit large fluctuations in temperature, you will help avoid the dangers of heat stroke this (and every) summer.

 

Best Treats for Puzzle Toys

Treat-dispensing puzzle toys are all the rage – and for good reasons! If you don’t know why, we’ve written about the many benefits of treat-dispensing toys many times, including here, here, and here.

The configurable Orbee Link lets you change the challenge whenever you want

If you don’t have a treat toy and aren’t sure about the best kind to start your pet on, or if your dog has figured out the one puzzle toy you own, stop in to a Two Bostons store for a little show and tell. We’ll listen, show you your best options, and help you pick out the best one for your particular pet.

Remember, it’s always better to have a few different puzzle toys and alternate them. Variety is the spice of life and with puzzle toys it’s also a good way to keep the interest high for a long time.

Choosing the Best Treats for Puzzle Toys

We’re often surprised how many pet parents make good, informed, healthy decisions about the kind of food they feed their pet, but turn around and buy unhealthy, highly processed, and chemical-filled treats to give their pets or fill their puzzle toys.

Buy healthy treats for your pet and for your pet’s treat-dispensing toys. No junk food. Good food only – that tastes good and is good. Our philosophy for buying treats is similar to what we look for in the foods we buy – as few ingredients possible, and we know the ingredients listed.

Take our Vita-Essentials line of treats that are a perfect choice for puzzle toys. We offer six varieties – Rabbit, Beef Nibs, Beef Tripe, Turkey, and Chicken Breast.  The ingredient list on the Chicken Breast reads:  “Boneless, skinless chicken breast.” That’s it. For the turkey: “Turkey heart, turkey liver.” You can’t beat that…just freeze-dried healthy protein that tastes as good as it smells.

We also like Wild Meadows Minis for treat toys, especially since there are a variety of flavors. The best thing you can do to keep your dog engaged is to put different flavored treats in your treat ball. Duck for one reward, then Bison, then Beef…I gotta keep playing with this to get another one of those Bison treats!

Tricky Trainers are another good treat with a shape and size that make them perfect for a wide variety of treat toys. Plus they come in a lot of fun, interesting flavors, like cheddar, and salmon, and liver, so you can mix it up and keep your dog stimulated for hours.

Speaking of liver…

Of all the treat flavors or types available, the one treat that has almost universal appeal to dogs is liver. Dogs love liver. They love the smell, they love the taste, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get at it. We’ve got lots of great live treat options so stop in and let us find the right one for the toy you have.

There are options galore for puzzle and other treat-dispensing toys – even a bully stick works with some toys to make the bully stick last a lot longer. The best option is the one your pet loves the most – as long as it’s healthy. The second best treat is the other one you put in that toy because that one makes this game really interesting.

 

 

For puppies and dogs that like to snuggle, soft plush toys provide a sense of security and help relieve stress.

Choosing starts with observing
Dog toys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and types. Choosing the right one for your pet depends on your particular pet and what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you going for exercise? Mental stimulation? Something to chew on to occupy their time? Or just to snuggle with?

If you’ve ever been in a Two Bostons store, you know of our impressive variety and wide selection of dog toys. Because we’ve been where you are, we know that looking at an expansive wall of colorful and diverse toys that you know little or nothing about can be overwhelming.

Relax. We know toys. We did the research, tried and tested thousands of toys over the years, and have the knowledge, training, and experience to help you find the very best toy for your best friend.

Rubber toys relieve anxiety and boredom and can help prevent destructive behavior.

Quality is king when it comes to toys because safety is paramount. We carry the top toy brands in the industry – Kong, Planet Pet, West Paw Design, Tuffy’s, and many others – who have established strong reputations for using quality materials in products that are well designed and made well.

Avoid cheap toys. First, they won’t last. More importantly, in an industry that has minimal regulatory oversight – especially in developing countries overseas – cheap toys are often unsafe toys. The most common hazards are choking and stomach obstruction, but the risk doesn’t end there. Too often we read about recalls of imported toys due to toxic chemicals or hard metals used in the production process or found in the components of the toys themselves.

Tug toys mean playing with you, which is what your pet really wants most of all.

The best tip we can give you when you’re thinking about buying a new toy is to observe how your dog plays now with his toys and what kinds of toys he gravitates toward. Does he choose hard or rubber toys to chew on? Or soft plush toys to toss or carry around. Is he an aggressive chewer? Does he enjoy tugging games with you or is fetch more his style? Does he like the challenge of treat toys or puzzle toys? Or perhaps prefer the squeak and texture of squishy vinyl toys.

Once you have a good feel for what he enjoys and how he interacts with his toys, come in and tell one of our team members what you observed in his play and what kind of “personality” your dog has. With your insight into your dog, and our team members’ training and knowledge of toy types and brands (and dogs!), we’ll help you find the perfect toy for your pet’s individual preferences and needs.

What’s the Difference?

 

As more pet owners choose to incorporate raw food into their pet’s diet – or switch completely to a raw diet – many of our customers are asking if there are alternatives to frozen raw food that still provide the high nutritional value of a raw diet.

After informing them that convenient options do exist – dehydrated food and freeze dried food – the next question they ask is, “What’s the difference?”

Well, here’s what is similar and what is different between the two…

 

Similarities between Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Raw Food

Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried foods are customer favorites

Both dehydrated and freeze dried foods have a higher nutrient value than kibble diets because of the ingredient quality and the manufacturing process. Both are dry, have a long and stable shelf life, and are lightweight because almost all the water is removed. Both options usually contain a limited ingredient list consisting of mainly fresh, whole foods, and neither option requires freezer space or  refrigeration until after they are rehydrated.

Freeze dried and dehydrated dog foods dramatically simplify serving raw foods at home. You simply measure the proper portion from the package, add the right amount of water, stir, and serve it to your dog. Freeze dried food can also be fed directly from the package, or is often crumbled and used as a topper on kibble or canned food.

Dehydrated foods – just add water, wait a few minutes, and serve! Easy AND convenient.

Both options come in small bags/packages that make a surprisingly large quantity of fresh food. Don’t be fooled by the compact packaging – one pound of either food can rehydrate to between 3-5 pounds of fresh food, so they are actually significantly more economical than they appear when considering overall cost.

Most importantly, pets on either option are less likely to experience allergic reactions, and will have healthier, shiny coats, more energy, and cleaner teeth. What draws many people to these options is how convenient they are to feed – at home and especially when traveling.

 

Differences between Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Food

The differences between dehydrated pet food and freeze dried lie primarily in how they are processed and the result of their processing methods.

With freeze dried, food is flash frozen and then placed in a vacuum chamber where temperatures remain below freezing during the entire process. Increasing pressure within the chamber causes the ice crystals (moisture) to vaporize, rather than evaporate, preventing moisture from ever reaching a liquified state before it is removed.

Dehydration, on the other hand, uses low heat to remove moisture through evaporation. A few foods are “air dried” using warm ambient air to remove moisture instead of heat.

Because heat is generally used in dehydration, some people claim that “technically” it is no longer raw because the heat partially cooks the ingredients. However, because the nutrient value remains so high, most people consider dehydrated food a raw food choice.

From a nutritional standpoint, both are excellent choices, though freeze dried food does provide higher nutritional value. According to a food science professor at UC-Davis, because no heat is used in the process, freeze dried food retains 100% of the nutrients in their original form, compared to dehydrated food which retains up to 75% of its raw nutrient value.  As a result, freeze dried food keeps its natural scents, original texture, and flavor, so while both foods taste great, freeze dried generally tastes better to dogs.

Freeze dried food can be served as is, rehydrated, or crumbled and sprinkled on other food

The freeze drying process removes 98 – 99% of the moisture, while dehydrated clocks in at 85-95% moisture removal, giving freeze dried an extended shelf life (20 years compared to 1-8 years). Freeze dried foods also have no additives, while some dehydrated brands of pet food may contain a small amount of added salt, sugar, or other preservatives.

Either way you go, both options are excellent choices if you want to feed the best, most nutritious food for your pet’s good health in a convenient, easy-to-feed meal. Many people who want to feed a raw diet often dip their toes in either a freeze dried or dehydrated food first before deciding if the freezing, thawing, and conscientious cleanup required for a raw diet fits with their lifestyle.

Remember, you are still dealing with raw meat when serving freeze dried or dehydrated food so proper handling and cleanup is still important.

If you have any questions about raw diets, freeze dried, or dehydrated pet foods, feel free to stop in to any Two Boston store and ask one of our knowledgeable team members. They’ll be happy to find the best food for your pet that is also right for your lifestyle.