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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

Every year we make a new years resolution and most of the time it has something to do with getting in shape, or making healthier choices. What about doing the same for your pets? Here are 6 simple ways to improve your pets health and wellness this year!

1. Feed a Healthy Diet ~ Wanting our dogs to live a long healthy life is an obvious thing, but in order to do that they need to have the healthiest and most nutritious diet…this means a diet that closely resembles what a dog would eat in the wild. If you ask any of our Team Members we would say that the BEST is a raw diet, but for most this is not doable.  The most important thing to remember when choosing a diet for your dog is that it is GRAIN FREE.

2. Regular Wellness Checks ~ Your dog or cat cannot tell you if something is hurting or if they feel sick. You can do at-home checks on your pets between taking them to the veterinarian.  Most times pet’s are not taken to a veterinarian until an illness has already progressed past the point of stopping or reversing it, so by checking your pets at home you will be able to notice changes that may need to be treated or checked out.  Having a wellness check with a veterinarian twice a year is ideal for healthy pets.

3. Healthy Weight ~ 45% off all dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, while 55% of all cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese…this is crazy to me! This usually starts with feeding too much or not the right food. To also maintain a healthy weight see #4! An unhealthy weight can lead to many health issues.

4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! ~ We need to do it, so why wouldn’t our pets need to, too? Exercise to our pets means taking regular walks, running, chasing, and anything that gets their heart pumping!

5. Be Social ~ I know you don’t sit in your house all day, every day, never going out, talking to people and being social. Again, your pets don’t want to do that either. Let your dogs get out, make friends and be social. Check out some dog parks or bring them to the Breed Socials at Two Bostons!

6. Play, Play, Play ~ Is your dog bored with his toys and getting into more trouble or chewing on things he shouldn’t? Go through your dog’s toys and weed through the ones that are worn, broken, or simply are not played with. Get a new puzzle toy to stimulate your dog’s brain. Or maybe one that you can play together. We have several different toys to choose from, we will help you find the right size and durability for your pup!

We hope that these 6 tips will help you and your pets be even happy and healthier in 2018! Stop in anytime and we can help get you on the right track with food, treats, toys, supplements, leashes, and more!

 

I’ve been a vegetarian for maybe 12 years. Just a personal preference, but in some ways a health decision too. So there have been times I’ve wondered about my pets. Would vegetarianism also be a good option for dogs and cats?

One day I asked a friend of mine who’s a Vet Med professor at the University of Illinois (my alma mater, GO ILLINI). He explained that, for many reasons, dogs and cats are really designed to be meat-eating carnivores. When I gave him my best “skeptical salad-eater” look, he described a whole bunch of physical clues that back this up.

Let’s take teeth. Humans are omnivores, meaning we can eat a range of foods. Our saliva is designed to break down carbohydrates and simple sugars before they go through our digestive tract; and our teeth include squared, flat molars that are good for crushing (think about a flat potato masher creaming parsley and steamed potatoes). But my friend said that dog saliva is actually formulated to break down proteins — and showed me how a dog’s teeth are very sharp and pointy, all the way back. These teeth are designed to tear and slice (think about a wolf taking down and devouring prey). He also told me that scientists now realize dogs are only .02% genetically different from their direct ancestors, wolves. So a dog’s body is actually optimized to process and thrive on the amino acids, fatty acids, and enzymes found in meat-based proteins – and a cat needs many of these compounds just to survive.

 

Humans are omnivores, and our flat molars (left) are optimized to crush and mash. Dog and cat teeth (right) are all sharp and pointed -- designed for tearing meat proteins.

Humans are omnivores, and our flat molars (left) are optimized to crush and mash. Dog and cat teeth (right) are all sharp and pointed — designed for tearing meat proteins.

It made sense, and we started feeding our dogs a raw diet of Stella & Chewy’s. This company stood out because it places such a strong emphasis on holistic pet nutrition. Stella & Chewy’s has been in business for ten years, and their formulations are minimally processed. They’re made with organic produce; raw, free-range, USDA-inspected meats; wild-caught fish; plus added vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

I spent years nursing multiple rescue dogs through a series of health and allergy woes. I finally started checking labels, and realized that commercial pet food is some of the most hyper-processed stuff on the planet. Heating food above 117 degrees Fahrenheit breaks down much of its nutritional value. Stella & Chewy’s natural dinners and treats are made in the company’s own Wisconsin plant, but they aren’t cooked like most commercial pet foods. They’re either frozen raw, or freeze-dried using Hydrostatic High Pressure (HHP) processing. This is a heat-free method used with many human-grade meats and cheeses. It kills bacteria that can cause spoilage and food-borne disease, while preserving natural flavor and nutrients.

Not to sound too overjoyed, but feeding freeze-dried has made pet parenting WAY easier. Stella & Chewy’s freeze-dried patties are great as a food-topper for picky eaters (even mine). They come in a lightweight bag that’s super-easy to take along on trips, and you can serve them dry or add water for a complete, balanced meal. I’ll admit that early on, I was still unsure about food safety – I’d see the word “raw” and picture scary microscopic squiggly things, like E. coli and salmonella.

So I did a little more checking. Did you know that Stella & Chewy’s is the only national pet food brand that has never had a recall? Their dedicated cleaning crew comes in for 8-10 hour shifts to dismantle and disinfect ALL of their equipment EVERY DAY. You can read more about their strict food safety protocols here . This patent-pending process made me feel a lot better – and Stella & Chewy’s makes my pets feel a lot better.

 

The small freeze-dried patties are easy to break or crumble, so they're even great as treats or food-toppers.

The small freeze-dried patties are easy to break or crumble, so they’re even great as treats or food-toppers — and they’re lightweight, because liquid has been removed.

Want to see for yourself? Stop by any Two Bostons store and ask a Team Member about their favorites, plus handy single-serve packs (we might even sneak you a sample or two)! Take it from this vegetarian – when it comes to doing what’s best for your best furry friends, it’s never too late to turn over a new “leaf.”

 

 

Our pets depend on us to make the right food choices for them!

Our pets depend on us to make the right food choices for them!

As pet parents, we have SO many options when it comes to feeding our furry friends! Package labels can be vague, confusing – and in some cases, downright misleading. But in the case of Nature’s Variety, the product name means exactly what it says! This natural pet food company is heartland-based in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s staffed with proud pet parents (just like us, just like YOU!) who are passionate about providing a wide range of balanced and whole-food-based dog and cat nutrition options – which, by the way, our pets find totally delectable.

Nature’s Variety Instinct raw foods are made with pure, simple, raw meats and vegetables – the kind many of us would chop up and mix ourselves, if we could spare the extra time — either frozen, or in convenient freeze-dried form. They provide all the nutrients and benefits of a natural whole-food diet, in convenient shapes and formulations that are quick and easy to serve. You can choose from frozen miniature medallions or patties that make meal preparation a snap; or bite-size frozen nuggets that thaw within minutes and offer the speed and convenience of kibble. The freeze-dried Meal and Mixer formulas can be stored at room temperature, so they’re super-easy to take on trips or use on-the-go. All varieties are totally grain-free and gluten free, and are offered in specific formulas for both dogs and cats.

Since we’re pet parents too, we totally get it: Life can get crazy, and some people like the convenience of picking up their pet food where they buy their own groceries. The thing is, dogs and cats are natural carnivores — their instinctive nature is to eat a much higher proportion of meat, poultry, or fish protein in relation to grain. Grocery store cans and kibbles contain a lot of filler to keep them price-competitive – but that also means a whole lot of grain. Nature’s Variety Instinct raw foods are minimally-processed and uncooked, so every bite is extra-appetizing and packed with whole-food energy.

This week, we did a quick, unrehearsed comparison between a box of Milk Bones, a box of Beneful Baked Delights, and a package of Instinct Raw Bites. Here’s how the first five ingredients stacked up:

MILK BONES:
Wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat meal, bone meal, poultry by-products (we couldn’t pronounce most of the stuff that came after these)
Okay, some food for thought: Wheat is a grain, and a common allergen in dogs and cats. Wheat gluten, difficult for many humans to digest, is extremely challenging for your pooch’s system to process – causing everything from gastro-intestinal irritation to blockages. Plus, do you know what animal by-products are? They’re what’s left after the parts that are approved for human consumption are removed. They often include diseased tissue, parts that have been left unrefrigerated, and other elements declared unfit for human intake. And you’ll find them used extensively in most store-bought pet foods – just look on the label.

BENEFUL BAKED DELIGHTS:
Wheat flour, ground corn, glycerin, sugar, corn gluten
A couple more notes: Wheat and corn are two of the top allergens for dogs and cats. They can cause itchy skin, dry coat, eye discharge, ear and digestion problems, plus a range of other issues. Glycerin adds no nutritional value. Sugar is added because it’s tasty to your dog, but it can be as damaging to your pets as it is to your kids. The ingredients that come after these first five include chicken by-products and artificial food dyes.

INSTINCT RAW BITES:
Chicken, turkey, turkey liver, turkey heart, pumpkin seed
Notes: These are natural whole foods and high-protein organ meats. No irritating grains, no by-products. Pumpkin is great for an animal’s coat and digestive tract. We should also mention that the rest of the ingredient list is comprised of apples, carrots, butternut squash, flax-seed, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, dried kelp, vinegar, parsley, salmon oil, citric acid, rosemary, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables. That’s it, plain and simple – and it can make a world of difference to the well-being of your pet.

Want to give Nature’s Variety Instinct raw foods a try? Or perhaps you already know that your best furry friend adores them? Either way, stop by today – we can help you pick the flavor and ingredient mix that’s just right for your pet! (Psssst … and don’t forget: Through the end of September, you can SAVE $4 on a 4-pound bag of Instinct Raw Bites at any Two Bostons store.)