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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

 

Welcome to Kefir: 101, the crash course about one of our favorite bowl boosters! See that cauliflower-ish stuff up there? That’s what is commonly known as the kefir “grain”, but actually, it’s not a grain at all. It’s a culture made of billions of helpful bacteria and yeast which work in combination to give your pets some amazing health benefits.

The kefir grain is typically not consumed on its own, but rather made by infusing it with a dairy product. For humans, this dairy base can range anywhere from traditional cow’s milk all the way to almond milk, however, we usually recommend that pets drink it as cow or goat’s milk. It’s a natural process with very few steps, meaning you won’t be left with additive-filled chemical goop. Essentially, the grain is left in the milk for a period of time to let it ferment. Once the required time is up, the milk gets strained and bottled while the kefir grain is recycled to make another batch.

But what happens when it goes from the bottle to your pet’s bowl, or more importantly, their stomach? The bacteria (remember, it’s healthy bacteria!) works to do things like regulate your pet’s digestive system, relieve allergy symptoms, and support their immune system. It’s also known to have antibiotic and anti-fungal properties, as well as extra skin, coat, and teeth support!

When you start your pet out, we suggest doing it gradually, just as you would with any new food. It’s easiest to use as a meal topper, but you could feed it on its own as well! Just mix a teaspoon – tablespoon’s worth (depending on your pet’s size) with their food a few times a week, and voilà! You’ve got yourself a yummy, natural supplement that also adds variety to your pet’s diet.

Whether you’re a first time user or an old pro, we always recommend Open Farm kefir as our go-to brand! The milk itself is 100% Certified Humane®, and only comes from cows that are pasture-raised, hormone-free, and antibiotic free. You’ll also find organic cinnamon and turmeric for some extra antibiotic and anti-inflammatory benefits!

You can take a closer look on our website here, however, we only sell it in-store to ensure proper refrigeration.

Have you caught the bowl boosting bug? Check back with us every Tuesday for easy and effective ways to add extra nutrients to your pet’s diet!

 

Taurine is one of those things you’ve probably seen mentioned all over the place lately but when you go to research, every article you find is written in medical gibberish. Fear not, pet parents, we’re here to break down exactly what it is and why your pet needs it–no dictionary required!

In a nutshell: Taurine is an amino acid that is exclusively found in animal-based proteins. It works to keep our pets’ bodies functioning properly, especially for normal vision, heart health, digestion, and reproduction.

Why it matters: While cats and dogs naturally can produce taurine, dogs just barely produce what they need and cats are physically incapable of producing enough to ensure healthy functions. While this might sound a little alarming, your furry friends can get more taurine through their diet!

Where does taurine come from: As mentioned above, taurine only naturally occurs in animal proteins, which is one of the many reasons it’s crucial for your pets to get as much meat as possible! Hearts are especially jam packed with it, but there are also supplements available. Most pet food brands are conscious about the amount of taurine in their recipes and add in additional taurine if necessary.

How to make sure your pet gets enough taurine: Feeding fresh is almost always the answer when it comes to boosting your pet’s health! Even if they only eat two fresh meals a week in addition to their current diet, you’ll see a world of difference in everything from your pet’s coat, energy levels, poop (it’ll become less smelly and smaller!), and, of course, taurine levels. Fresh food is the closest you can possibly get to what an animal would eat in the wild without actually releasing them in the woods to catch their own dinner–that means it has optimal nutritional benefits!

Another option is to start including fresh or freeze dried treats into your pet’s routine. Remember how we said that hearts are one of the best sources of taurine? You can actually feed freeze dried hearts as a yummy snack! Some of our personal favorites are the Freeze Dried Chicken Heart Bites by Fresh Is Best. It’s a single-ingredient snack that’s 100% American-made. They’re even so tasty that both dogs AND cats love them! You can check them out in our stores or order them online here.

You can also easily add daily supplements to your pet’s diet. There are quite a few good ones available but our go-to and most trusted is Herbsmith’s Taurine Boost powder. It’s as simple as adding a spoonful to your pet’s bowl and giving it a quick stir!

 

In conclusion: Taurine isn’t as complicated and scary as the internet makes it out to be!  Remember: if you still feel unsure, confused, or have questions, reach out to us. We aren’t kidding when we say we could talk about pet wellness all day!

Have you caught the Bowl Boosting Bug? Check back with us every Tuesday to learn more little ways to add big nutrients to your pets’ bowls!

It’s that dreaded time of year again: coyote season; when everyone has a horror story about their friend’s brother’s dog who got snatched up in the middle of the night. The thought of your own pet succumbing to such a fate can definitely stir up some anxiety, but we’re here to help ease your mind a bit with some easy tips and tricks to help prevent anything bad happening to your loved ones.

Don’t Leave Food Out

  • Bring in all of your pet’s food and water dishes.
  • Thoroughly clean your grill after every use. Predators can smell the hamburgers you cooked at the family BBQ even after you’ve eaten them all!
  • Be cautious with compost. Avoid adding meat, bones, and any whole foods to your compost piles. Many predators–like coyotes–are opportunistic eaters.
  • Clean up any fruit dropped on the ground from trees. Yes, coyotes will even go after those crab apples! This will also help get rid of smaller pests like flies.
  • Be sure that all trash bins are completely covered and minimize the time they are left outside.

Always Supervise Pets

  • Like many predators, coyotes are nocturnal, so keep an especially close eye on pets from dusk until dawn.
  • Cats are more at risk than dogs because they are more likely to roam around outside, unsupervised, and their size makes them ideal prey for coyotes. The safest lifestyle for a cat is to be kept indoors at all times, however, at the very least be sure your cats are inside at night. 
  • Keep bathroom breaks as brief as possible.
  • ALWAYS have your dog on a leash–preferably a shorter one so you have more control if they try to run. We suggest the Flat Out Dog Leash by Ruffwear. It’s 6 ft in length, which is plenty of space for your dog to wander, but not enough so that you wouldn’t be able to control them if the situation called for it. It’s also super strong, so you know it won’t snap if they run.
  • Try to avoid evening walks, or stay in well-lit, highly populated areas.
  • Don’t let your guard down just because you have a fence. Coyotes have been known to jump fences that are 6 feet tall. Many experts suggest installing rollers on the top and regularly checking to make sure there are no weak spots or holes.

Hazing 

One of the best preventative measures you can take is by hazing coyotes whenever you see them–and no, that doesn’t mean telling them to do a keg stand. “Hazing” is essentially the process of keeping predators from getting comfortable in your backyard. If you were looking at a new house but saw that the neighbors were loud and obnoxious, would you want to move there? Definitely not!

HAZING DOES NOT MEAN HURTING ANIMALS

Hazing is the act of safely scaring an animal away. Unless your life is being threatened and there are no other options, there is absolutely no reason to attack or injure an animal.

  • Always keep a safe distance, and never approach a coyote or other wild animal.
  • Never turn your back or try to outrun a coyote. They have the ability to run 40 MPH (Humans average around 15 MPH).
  • Make yourself seem BIG! Stand up straight, raise your arms and wave them, hold a coat about your head, etc.
  • Create a simple “Safety Shaker” by putting pebbles, pennies, or bolts into a soda can and sealing it with duct tape.
  • Keep your home and yard well-lit–especially during nighttime bathroom breaks with your dog.
  • If you see a coyote and you’re inside, open a window and yell, clap, or make any sort of loud noise to scare it away. Remember: you don’t want them to feel comfortable.
  • Tell your neighbors you’ve seen coyotes in the area, and encourage them to haze them, as well. Team work is always effective!

It’s scary to see any sort of threat to your furry family members. Just remember that as long as you stay cautious, smart, and calm, you’ll be able to keep your pet safe from harm.

 

Guest Blog ImageIn my Guest Blog: Keeping Your Dogs Feet Healthy, I mentioned that if you keep your pets’ nails and pad hair trimmed short this will aid in the prevention of premature arthritis.

Today, I want to share the warning signs that your pet might be suffering from arthritis or an injury in their feet.

  • Limping: You may see your pet limping or favoring one or more of his legs, depending on which legs and which joints are arthritic.  In some cases, the limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and becomes less noticeable as your pet “warms up” by moving around.
  • thDifficulty Moving: Your pet may also become reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish.  For instance, your dog may find it difficult to get in and out of the car or may have difficulty going up and down stairs that were previously easily manageable.  Arthritic cats, on the other hand, may stop jumping onto counter-tops, perches and other high areas because of the pain and discomfort.

 

  • Spinal Issues: Arthritic changes can occur not only in the legs but also in the various parts of the spine.  These changes may result in a sore neck, an abnormal posture with a “hunch” in the back, or lameness of one or both hind legs.
  • Tiredness: Your pet may tire more easily,  For dogs, this may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your pet. You pet may spend more time sleeping and/or resting.
  • Irritability: Arthritic animals may become irritable.  They may snap and/or bite when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.Dog_licking_foot
  • Muscle Atrophy: Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy or dying off of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles.  A pet with atrophied muscles in their legs will have a leg which looks thinner than a normal leg.
  • Licking, Chewing and/or Biting: Pets affected with arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful.  This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.

We never want to see your four-legged loved ones in pain.  So, help to prevent it by keeping their feet healthy!!

Nail Clipping, Filing and Pad Trims are available as a Walk-in Service at The UpScale Tail during normal business hours.  Monday – Friday: 7:30 – 5:00 pm and Saturdays: 8:00 – 3:00 pm.  Feel free to call us if you have any questions (630) 632-8245, stop in or visit us online at www.theupscaletail.com.

Dr.ErinGuestBlogAnimal chiropractic is a natural and simple way to make a positive difference in your dog’s health and wellness.  It is a gentle, yet highly effective treatment modality that allows the animal to utilize their very own healing capabilities.

An animal chiropractor is a licensed chiropractor or veterinarian who has undergone specialized post-graduate animal chiropractic education and understand the complex biomechanic and neuromusculoskeletal systems animals.  They are certified by either the AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association) or IVCA (International  Veterinary Chiropractic Association). Animal chiropractors focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on health.

Some common conditions seen by an animal chiropractor are limping or other gait abnormalities, neurological conditions such as seizures or paralysis, signs of pain in the spine or a limb, muscle spasms, chronic ear infections, incontinence, allergies, arthritis, and more.

sheltieshow2The only definitive way to know if your dog needs to be adjusted is to have them examined by a certified chiropractor.  However, there are a few “home checks” you can do to see if they would benefit from chiropractic.

  1. Put your dog in a sit position, hold a treat in front of them.  Now bring the treat to their shoulder.  They should go directly nose to shoulder in a simple, easy motion.  If they scoot back, twist sideways, or do anything besides that simple lateral neck movement, they may have a problem in their neck.
  2. Another way you can check your dog is to feel along their spine.  Feel for heat, cool, swelling, or muscle twitching.  You can gently press along their spine and see if it causes them any discomfort anywhere.  If they jump, turn their head, if you feel muscle tension or twitching, or temperature changes, they may have a problem in that area.  The more you do this, the more sensitive you will become to subtle changes.
  3. You can also observe them…if they have difficulty executing certain movements, such as walking, running, going up or down stairs, jumping into the car or on a couch, getting up from laying down, squatting, or sitting, they may have a chiropractic problem that needs to be addressed.  Abnormal posture when standing or sitting, nail dragging, as well as side sitting can also be indications.

While chiropractic care helps a variety of conditions, prevention is the key.  All chiropractors, whether for people or animals, are proactive in health.  Meaning they want to maintain optimal wellness and prevent disease from happening in the first place.

Your pet should be examined periodically to ensure there are no abnormalities in movement and function, this covers areas such as range of motion, gait, posture, and muscle tone to ensure optimal wellness, help prevent disease, and to keep your dog’s health at their full potential.

parkerbIdeally, chiropractic care for dogs should begin at an early age and continue throughout their lifetime, but it’s never too late to start.  An animal chiropractor can evaluate your pups to ensure they are developing properly as well as help your adult dog stay active and healthy.  It can keep working and sporting dogs in top condition as well as keep senior dogs active and pain free.

Animal chiropractic is a great compliment to your dog’s regular veterinary care.  Plus, it’s not limited to only dogs, any animal with a spine can benefit!  A pet under chiropractic care functions and heals much more efficiently, leading to a whole new level of health!

 

For further information on animal chiropractic visit myvitalitychiropractic.com and click “animal chiropractic” or email Dr. Erin O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com

In today’s Guest Blog, AdreAnne, owner of Two Bostons Pet Boutique is sharing a new product to help in supporting your senior pet.

 

It’s always tough to see your pets age. Many times, I’ve felt helpless and I think we can all agree that isn’t a great feeling. As our pets age, it becomes even more apparent they need a little extra love and attention.

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As Daisy got a bit older, we noticed that although her body was healthy, she seemed to start developing some cognitive issues. She started getting up and wandering around in the middle of the night. She also seemed a bit confused at times. I think Andy was getting tired of me asking, “Do you think she’s alright?” as she was just sitting there. She would get a “far off” look and wasn’t focused. A few times, I observed her playing or walking in the yard and then she would suddenly stop and stare off in space. Now, I will be the first to admit that I had a very strong bond with Daisy, so my worry about her was certainly the cause of my first white hair! I just knew there was something extra I could be doing for her, but I didn’t know what.

As soon as I heard about Senior Dog Wisdom, a veterinarian developed, special formula for aging dogs to help support normal, healthy aging and cognitive brain function, I grabbed a container for Miss Daisy right away.

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The difference it made within a matter of a few weeks was incredible. No more random walks around the bedroom in the middle of the night and she seemed much more alert. I have to say that I absolutely love this product. This is a must have for anyone with a sweet senior to give them a little extra support to age healthier and stay sharp!

You can pick up Senior Dog Wisdom at any Two Bostons store or you can order it online.  If you have any questions, please stop in or call and one of our Team members can help you out today!

 

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.”