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Pet FAQ

What exactly is there to research about pet food? learn more…

Questions we commonly answer

My dog keeps slipping out of his collar.

Collars are like jeans and are sometimes hard to fit. We recommend that you bring your dog into the store to be fitted or, if that’s not an option, email us your dogs neck measurement 1 inch behind the ears and the type of collar you’re using and we’ll try to help you out with the fitting of your current collar. If, however, Howldini is just that good at getting out we can recommend a fitted Martingale, harness, or backup system based on your pets individual needs. Don’t forget that fear and anxiety is actually often indicative of a health concern such as insufficient diet or vaccinosis. If your pet is slipping his or her collar out of fear we highly recommend a consultation to make sure your don’t need to rule out a bigger issue.

The no-pull harness I have doesn’t seem to work. What can I try?

Most no-pull harnesses that are currently on the market have a tendency to loosen in their adjustments as you use them. You can tighten up your harness adjustments every 15 minutes or so, or try a different method of no-pull harness, or we can recommend some trainers. Hero’s Pets does not recommend no-pull face harnesses unless your pet is already well behaved on their leash as they are likely to do damage the cervical vertebrae. We also feel that choke collars, prong collars, shock collars, and even citronella collars are like power steering in a car. If you don’t know how to drive a car with power steering you’re probably going to wreck it and end up with an even bigger mess than you started with. YOU are the one that needs training if your pet is pulling on the leash. Your pet, believe us, is an easy fix. The problem stems from poor communication. Just as you can’t communicate to people in Russia unless YOU learned to speak Russian, you probably can’t effectively communicate with your pet if you didn’t learn to speak dog. Trainers are teacher of pet language and while the upfront fee may be a little much it’s far cheaper than destruction to all your possessions, vet bills from your pet slipping his collar and running in traffic, vet bills from a damaged neck from pulling, etc. And it’s a much better alternative than the pound if you end up giving up on your beloved furry friend. Check our Resources Page for Trainer contacts.

The brush I have doesn’t seem to work for my dog’s fur. How do I know which one to use?

All dog hair is different. There are single coats, double coats, undercoats, long coats, short coats and everything in between. There’s the pet that’s had brushing maintained and those that haven’t been brushed in years. That’s why there are so many brushes on the market. Please click our consultation for a brief consultation about which brush is the best option for you. What we can tell you without asking about your pet is we never recommend the Furminator. It basically shaves your pet slowly from the top down, leaving the bulky, shedding undercoat. Don’t forget that poor quality, heavily shedding coat (even in short haired pups) is indicative of a potential health problem. Most commonly pets that shed a lot are getting too much processed food, which is an easy fix. However, thyroid, autoimmune disorders, vaccinosis and other health concerns can also be the cause of hair loss. Even a healthy double coated, long haired border collie should shed a very minimal amount twice a year if fed the proper diet. Please click on our consultation button to rule out any potential health concerns and get dietary recommendations.

My dog’s skin is flaky and itchy. What do I do?

Environmental or food allergies are the most common cause of this. The first thing you need to do is isolate the most likely culprit for your pet based on what you’ve been feeding, what their environment is like, and their vaccination/heartworm medication/flea and tick treatment history. Second, you need to assess if they’ve developed secondary issues such as candidiasis, staph or infection as a result of the allergy (actually the reverse is commonly true but either way the treatment is the same). Third, you need to identify a plan of action for how to deal with and reverse the existing issues. Please click on our consultation button so we can help you overcome the root of issues safely and effectively.

My dog is licking and chewing his paws. What do I do?

Food allergies create a gout-like condition in pets which causes discomfort in their feet. Generally they attempt to soothe the discomfort through chewing and licking. Removing the allergen from the diet is the most likely solution for this issue. On occasion environmental allergies, foreign bodies, infection, or warts can cause discomfort too. Please click on our consultation button so we can help you figure out and overcome the problem.

My dog keeps chewing the base of his tail. What’s wrong?

Food allergies, thyroid problems, mange, mites and more can cause this problem. Please click on our consultation button so we can help you figure out what the problem is and the appropriate plan of action.

My dog has red stuff staining his eyes. Is there a way to fix that?

There are many enzyme-based products on the market that can help with this, our favorite is Naturally Tear Free Canine, made in Colorado. There are also topical creams, wipes and gels for this. However, ultimately red tear stains are the result of a gunked up digestive system. There are several types of white blood cells in the body, each responsible for different functions. Each enzyme also produces a different color when excreted from the system (i.e. green nasal discharge indicates a sinus infection). Red tear stains are telling you that your pets body is not functioning properly. Often times they are also dehydrated. We recommend a raw or dehydrated diet to prevent tear stains (never feed grocery store meat raw). Raw and dehyrated foods contain natural, raw enzymes that support digestion and thus all other body functions. Dry Kibble diets are dehydrating and even the best quality cereal can’t support health the way raw foods can. Please click on our consultation for recommendations on diets and supplements for your pet.

My dog has bad breath. What’s up with that?

The digestive system goes from beginning to end and imbalances anywhere in between (stomach or gut) will affect the rest. Most often, bad breath is caused by poor digestive health which can be easily solved by switching to a less processed, more digestible diet with less “filler”. Occasionally, plaque or abscesses are the sole cause or are coupled with poor digestion. Feeding crunchy kibble foods to clean your pets teeth is about as effective as brushing your teeth with pretzels and peanut brittle. The starches and dead food feed bacteria and are difficult to process through the intestines. Feeding raw bones (not from the grocery store) and quality diet will solve most problems. Please use the form at the top left to contact us for a nutritional consultation.

My dog has stinky gas. How can I fix that?

Cats and dogs, as you can see by their teeth, are supposed to eat meat and lots of it. If you were to take a peek inside and compare their intestines to a human’s you’d also find that they don’t digest the same way we do. Feeding bulky fillers and starches (corn, soy, rice, yeast, potato and sometimes oats) can cause a fermentation and coating of the intestinal wall that leads to gas and malabsorption of other nutrients. Most often, flatulence is caused by poor digestive health which can be easily solved by switching to a less processed, more digestible diet with less “filler.” Please use the form at the top left to contact us for a nutritional consultation.

My dog has callouses on his elbows, a dry nose and cracked paw pads. What can I do?

In some cases a diet change can help this and in some cases this could be caused by a health concern such as thyroid imbalance, autoimmune diseases or adrenal issues. In some cases, supplementation with a product like Extra Virgin Coconut Oil or Kelp may help. Or sometimes topical treatments such as Snout Soother or Coconut Oil will help. Please contact us for a consultation so we can try to help you determine the root cause of your pets imbalance and assess whether or not you should consult a veterinarian.

My dog is old and starting to seem stiff and slow. How can I help?

If dogs were to eat a “Prey” diet, like wolves in the wild, they would be eating cartilage with every meal in the form of trachea, scapula, etc. Cartilage is a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin which should be supplemented from puppyhood if you are not feeding raw cartilagenous products. If your pet is old and getting stiff he or she may benefit from a glucosamine/chondroitin/msm product, or herbal anti-inflammatories, or cetyl myristoleate if they have arthritis, or natural pain killers. Please contact us for a consultation to determine which product will be the most effective for you pets specific conditions and concerns and which product (or combination) will work best for your budget.

I’m training a puppy, so I need small treats that I can carry. What do you have?

We have bite sized soft treats, hard treats, stinky treats, not stinky treats (for if you’re keeping them in your pocket) and everything in between. Most of them are very hypoallergenic and low calorie. Our online store is coming soon, but in the meantime, contact us for options.

My dog is tired of his food. What can I do?

It’s important to rotate your pets diet regularly. Not every meat contains enough, or even all, necessary amino acids for perfect health. Feeding only Chicken will increase your pets levels of Niacin and Phosphorus and Beef would increase their Iron and Vitamin B12. Rotation is important for balancing the bodies needs without synthetics, good for challenging the digestive and immune system the way nature would and good for preventing boredom. However, we see that often times pets have developed behavioral problems associated with eating and they aren’t being picky, they’re being manipulative. Please contact us for a consultation on how to deal with a manipulative pet.

What exactly is there to research about pet food?

Don’t let pictures of fresh, grocery store foods on pet food labels fool you. Most brand name pet foods are not using the pretty products they are advertising on the front of the bag. Foods cooked and processed into dry kibbles make for a quick and easy disposal of rotten, moldy scraps from the human food industry. Fruits and veggies that didn’t sell before rotting. Meats that didn’t sell before spoiling. Euthanized pets, dead, diseased, dying and disabled livestock that is not fit for human consumption, rats, cancerous tissue, etc. Even the junk swept up off the floor after meat processing to include plastic bags, sticks, tobacco, dirt and other grime. Yup, these are all allowed in your pets’ food. How do you know if your pets’ food is one of these? Below we list the 19 worst ingredients you can find in pet foods. If any of these are in your pets’ food, dump it!!!

We also list a few Q&A’s to help you get the dirt on your best friends’ meals.

Also… that’s why we’re here. We do the research for you. We don’t care if a company says it’s natural or not… and we don’t care if they list “apples” and “fresh fish” on their ingredients labels… we dig deep to find out when and where they are sourcing, what their quality control is, where they are making their food, and most of all… if they would eat it themselves!!!

Last but not least we’ll list the companies at the bottom whose products we have yet to touch with a 1,000 foot pole. We’ve spoken with these companies directly, we’ve checked their recall histories, we’ve checked their sourcing, we’ve almost checked their vital signs and we’ve determined that the bags they are stored in are more nutritious than the food that is in them!!! Not to worry though… we have alternative options for you that fit your needs… just ask.

19 worst ingredients in pet foods:

Meat by-product – non-descriptive “meat” products mean anything goes. Usually this means euthanized dogs, cats and horses, and/or road kill, and/or pus and cancerous tissues. Make companies specify what type of meat they’re using or don’t buy it!!! This link is a Google search that goes to numerous sites acknowledging the use of euthanized dogs, cats, and horses in foods that use “meat-by-products”. Even AAFCO and the FDA admit it!!! https://www.google.com/search?q=euthanized+pets+in+dog+food&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGLL_en You can also Youtube “What’s really in pet food” if you can stomach it.

… by-product – Any kind of “by-product” means the company doesn’t have to add what you would consider to be edible at the dinner table. They can use internal organs such as liver, digestive tract (doesn’t say they have to be cleaned out first), kidneys, etc.

Soybean meal – soybeans are usually genetically modified these days. Soybeans are inexpensive to grow and easy to come by but soy is the second most common allergen for dogs and cats. GMO soy is linked to sterility and birth defects.http://www.nationofchange.org/gmo-soy-repeatedly-linked-sterility-infant-mortality-birth-defects-1358006915

Corn gluten meal (corn of any kind) – corn is also usually genetically modified. Corn is the most common allergen for dogs and cats. It is the most likely ingredient to carry the liver destroying Aflotoxin that is responsible for many pet food recalls. Companies that use corn use it to raise protein levels when they don’t want to pay for meat products that your pet really needs. GMO corn is considered to be highly toxichttp://rt.com/usa/toxic-study-gmo-corn-900/

Wheat gluten meal (wheat of any kind) – wheat is also usually genetically modified. Wheat is the third most common allergen for dogs and cats. It is highly glutinous and increases the appetite, contributing to obesity and destructive behavioral issues and hyperactivity. http://www.infowars.com/doctor-says-genetically-modified-wheat-a-perfect-chronic-poison/

Brewers rice (or white rice or rice hulls) – rice is one of the 6 most common allergens for dogs and cats. White rice is filler with little nutritional value. However, it’s not as bad as brewers rice which is fragmented rice ‘trash’ usually processed through brewing companies. If this is in your pets food you might as well flush some cash straight down the toilet because that’s where its going… these ingredients have no nutritional value, cost the pet food company virtually nothing, fills/swells your pet up, and leads to bulky poo’s.

Salt – most good pet foods don’t need to add salt, and if they are doing it for a health reason they will usually list it as whole, unprocessed sea salt. Most companies that use salt do it because other ingredients in their food are known to cause kidney/bladder stones. Increased water consumption helps break stones up. Recent studies have shown that pets can’t read and don’t follow directions ( 😀 ) so companies add salt to force them to drink more so, hopefully, the stones never show up.

“Hydrolyzed” … – Hydrolyzed protein’s (fish, chicken, whatever) contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) which is addictive and may lead to vomiting, rapid breathing/panting, nausea, weakness, and obesity. The process of creating a hydrolyzed protein creates MSG so companies don’t have to officially list MSG on the label because they “didn’t add it”… but it’s still in there. http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html

Beet pulp – this is usually an inexpensive filler that companies claim is “a source of fiber”… it fills your pet up (swells) so they don’t act hungry even though they’re not getting a lot of nutrition from the rest of the ingredients in the food. Most pets don’t need extra fiber… and neither do you unless you just love cleaning up your yard or litter box.

Powdered cellulose – cellulose is plant fiber, plant fiber powdered down is sawdust. It is an insoluble fiber that is commonly used to help pets drop weight or regulate hairballs. I don’t’ know about you but I’d rather eat salad than sawdust to lose weight. I’d also rather stop feeding my cat the cause of their “hairballs” (usually starches) then add sawdust to their diet to bind them out. Again, you’re paying for it… might as well at least make it nutritious.

Animal digest Did they just sneak MSG, diseased animals, feces and chemicals into your pets’ food???? Yup. Yup they did!!! As defined by AAFCO “animal digest” is “material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and un-decomposed animal tissue. …A cooked-down broth made from specified or unspecifiedparts of 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, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on… Any poisoned animal matter is prohibited but not diseased, i.e., the bacteria or viruses become a digested part of the digest and no longer pose any threat.” http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/ResourcesforYou/UCM047113

Soybean (or peanut) “hulls” – soybeans and peanuts are potential allergens for cats and dogs. They are also of the most likely to contain high levels of chemicals or aflotoxins (which destroy the liver). “Hulls” means all your getting is the shells. Obviously this is inexpensive filler because it’s leftovers from processing of peanut and soy products.

Propylene glycol – this is the most common ingredient in antifreeze solutions (read the main ingredient in your windshield washer fluid!!!). It keeps products soft and pliable but is may contribute to kidney failure and is toxic in high doses. This is “generally recognized as safe” in small quantities but exposure to multiple sources in a day (such as floor cleaners, treats, chews, shampoo’s, etc) are not taken into consideration.

BHA/ BHT – butylated hydroxyanisole & butylated hydroxytoluene. These preservatives are known to cause cancer and are banned in most European countries.http://www.dulcettetech.com/docs/BHA%20FCC%20200410.pdf

Ethoxyquin – This registered pesticide is used as a preservative and is known to cause cancer. It is banned in most European countries. It has been linked to thyroid, kidney, reproductive and immune related illnesses as well. http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/0003fact.pdf

Food coloring of any kind (including caramel color) – Food coloring has been linked to cancer, ADHD (bye-bye new shoes), brain and kidney tumors, and neurobehavioral toxicity. Food is really pretty when it’s natural… we don’t need fake colors!

Xylitol – This is a natural sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs

Flaxseed – yeah we know it’s healthy but we don’t usually recommend it already supplemented in foods (unless well researched) for a couple reasons. 1) it’s a common allergen 2) it’s hard for pets to digest if it’s not ground 3) it goes rancid really quickly if it is ground. If you really want to give your pet flaxseed give them freshly cold-pressed flax oil.

Common thoughts and questions:

But I looked at my pet food company’s website and they said (insert ingredient here) was good for my pet. How can they say that if it’s not true?Did they say THEIR ingredients were healthy or did they just say what is healthy about the ingredient they’re listing? From what we’ve seen most brand name companies will tell you why apples are healthy but fail to tell you (hey! You didn’t ask) that they got them from the supermarket dumpster.

How do I know if my pet is allergic to their food? If your pet chews or licks their feet or legs, gets ear infections, smells funny, has fairly chronic diarrhea, has dark or black discharge from the ears or waxy dark buildup in the inguinal folds, or has really itchy skin he or she is probably allergic to something in their food. Lucky you it’s a quick easy fix to get that out!!! We can help.

What if I still think my pet food company wouldn’t make a bad product but they do use some of the ingredients you listed? Give them a call and ask them. We’ll call and ask for you if you’d like. We’re also happy to give you a list of questions to ask them that might help you get clearer answers that are harder for them to give vague information on.

Foods we’ve graded that failed!!!! …

Nestlé (Yup… the candy company… they own these) – Alpo, Come ‘N Get It, Mighty Dog, Chef’s Blend, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Kit ‘N Kaboodle, Deli-Cat, and Nestlé Purina products such as Dog Chow, Pro Plan, Beneful, and Purina One

* Colgate-Palmolive (Yup… the toothpaste company… they own this) – Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food

* Del Monte – 9-Lives, Kibbles `n Bits, Cycle, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Ol’ Roy and Reward

* Procter & Gamble (Yup, the other toothpaste company) – Eukanuba and Iams

* Mars (Yup, the other candy company owns these)- Pedigree, Advance, Cesar, Whiskas and Sheba

Royal Canin, Authority, Nutro, Nutromax, any prescription food (did you know there are no pharmaceuticals in those? Ask us for more literature), Sophisticat, Diamond, Kirkland, Nature’s Domain, Rachael Ray, 365 brand, Winn Dixie, Old Yeller, Safeway brand, Kumpi… just in case we missed something… we went through some grocery stores and the only food we could find that we didn’t think was toxic was Fresh Pet (refrigerated).

These ones we might touch with a 20 foot pole if there were nothing else to feed (and no grocery store within 50 miles where we could get food to cook for them) but we sure wouldn’t carry them in our store (either due to ingredients, sourcing, or quality control):

Taste of the Wild, Wellness, Halo, Life’s Abundance, Innova, Karma, Evo, Nature’s Variety/Prairie, Solid Gold, Merrick, Pet Pride, Blue Buffalo, Wysong, Avoderm,

Did you know?

AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way.

AAFCO establishes the nutritional standards for complete and balanced pet foods, and it is the pet food company’s responsibility to formulate their products according to the appropriate AAFCO standard.

It is the state feed control official’s responsibility in regulating pet food to ensure that the laws and rules established for the protection of companion animals and their custodians are complied with so that only unadulterated, correctly and uniformly labeled pet food products are distributed in the marketplace and a structure for orderly commerce.

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