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Is This Really My Dog?

Your Dog’s Got a Personality. Get Used to It!

You know how some parents want their kids to grow up to be doctors and they end up with musicians? The same kind of thing can happen with dog owners and their beloved pets. We sometimes hold our puppies to expectations that they can’t fulfill, nor should they. They, like children, manage best with acceptance. So do we.

 

Ringo is my first dog. I adopted him a year and a half ago, and he gives me tremendous joy. Through him, I’ve been given sense of loving purpose with which I’m sure many of you other packpeople out there have long been familiar, but to me, it’s still something new.

Once in a while, so is his behavior.

I can’t lie: when I adopted him, with his sweet little face and quiet disposition, I imagined he would change the world, one melted heart at a time. He seemed a perfect candidate for therapy dog training, and after he aced his first obedience course, he earned his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification at the local dog club. He was on his way, I thought, to a career of healing, visiting local hospitals to spread his warm, magical fuzziness wherever it was needed.

Then he started growling.

About six months into our relationship, Ringo got comfortable enough to reveal his true self. He’s not that “into” people. He trusts only a few, shows affection to even fewer, ignores many and downright dislikes the rest (“grrrrr…”)

Sure, I was disappointed, but I’ve come to accept that he’s a living, thinking being, full of his own opinions and tastes. His behaviors I can train (treats have proved helpful in meeting new people), but his personality is his own. He’s “aloof.”

“That’s okay,” said one of his trainers. “He doesn’t have to like everybody; he’s just not that kind of dog.”

When he likes someone, however, he really shows it. That’s the kind of dog he is. He’s also the kind of dog who sits on command, leaves my things alone and never makes messes in the house. He may not be therapy dog material but in other ways, he’s a dream.

Nobody’s perfect, and the same goes for dogs. The best that we can do is encourage their best assets, despite the expectations we place on them.

If you’re new to dog ownership, take it from me. More likely than not, your dog’s behavior will change in some way during your first year together. That’s not necessarily bad, but character-building, for both of you. You’ll need to practice acceptance, discipline and the diligence to research the most effective ways to deal with negative behaviors. In doing so, you’ll see that your pet’s brightest traits and talents will truly shine.

Ringo may never be a therapy dog, but that’s okay. He may never be a doctor, either, but if he decides to take up a musical instrument, I’ll pay for lessons. What matters is that I encourage him to be the best Ringo he can be.

Good, Ringo! Good boy!

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Adoption Articles Get informed and Educated Get informed and educated Health Pet Care Pet Care

Getting a Pet Can Improve Aging in place

In partnership with aginginplace.org, we would like to publish this great article today. You can find the original post on http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/

Are you wondering how you are going to care for your pet as you age in place? Are you wondering if you should adopt a pet as you age in place? This guide will help you decide on the best choice for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can be physically and mentally beneficial for people of all ages. In the case of senior citizens, “just 15 minutes bonding with an animal sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone, cortisol, and increasing production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. The result: heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels immediately drop. Over the long term, pet and human interactions can lower cholesterol levels, fight depression and may even help protect against heart disease and stroke” (Byrne, 2015).

If you are mostly immobile, a cat may be the best option because you don’t have to walk them. A small dog that uses pee pads or a caged animal may also be a good option. Senior dogs and cats are better for the elderly because they are more calm, quiet, and less maintenance. Be sure to have the pet checked out by a veterinarian. A pre-existing illness or disease could drain your bank account or make you sick. For those seniors who want a dog, there are many reasons to be wary of jumping into pet adoption too quickly. The lack of mobility and inability to drive to and from the vet, groomer, or pet store worries them. The initial costs are usually high. They also worry that if and when there comes a point when they can no longer care for the dog, that the dog might be taken to a shelter and eventually euthanized. Many seniors feel like their worsening health condition is a burden, and a pet might possibly add to that.

PETS_infographic_aginginPlace

Top 6 Reasons Seniors Should Adopt a Pet

There are numerous reasons for adopting a pet. From companionship to security, pets can provide seniors a better quality of life and improve aging in place. Finding the right pet for you or your family member is easy, and the benefits can be far-reaching

Matching Older Dogs with the Elderly

Pets for Seniors in Illinois created an adoption program that matches senior dogs and senior cats with senior citizens. They worked out solutions to the issues that seniors have with pet adoption, and the program is very successful. The program pays for most of the adoption fee, chooses calm and housebroken older dogs, and provides support every step of the way. If the animal is not a good fit, the organization will take back the pet and refund any fees. Other humane shelters around the nation are trying to replicate this model.

Pet Therapy for Seniors

Those who work caring for the elderly say that pets pull withdrawn seniors out of their shell, provide mild activity and cardio through walking and grooming the pet, and offer a way to feel needed and connect with the world. Pet therapy can also help with Alzheimer’s Sundowners Syndrome. Nighttime can be very confusing and disorienting for folks with Alzheimer’s disease. This is when some Alzheimer’s patients try to run away or leave their home. A pet can prevent this issue by keeping those with Alzheimer’s connected and occupied.

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets”

“Animals’ non-verbal communication and profound acceptance can be soothing for those with difficulty using language; some may even connect with memories of their own treasured pets” (Byrne, 2015). Pet therapy has shown to improve appetite, social interaction, brain stimulation, and tactile activity. The unconditional love of a dog brings healing and meaning to a sometimes lonely stage in life. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or social worker about any pet therapy programs in your community. Just because you give away a pet or choose not to take one into your home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit with other family pets or receive pet therapy. There are pet therapy home visit services all over the country. Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Therapy Dogs International are volunteer-run organizations with outposts all over the world. A local volunteer will come to your home and bring a trained service dog that is very well-behaved. The dog can play, cuddle, and perform commands during a half-hour or one-hour session.

Service Dogs for Seniors

For seniors with disabilities, a service dog might be the best option. “The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2011 defines service dogs as those trained to do work directly related to a person’s disability.  Emotional support animals and dogs used as crime deterrents are excluded from this definition.  A service dog is expected to accompany a person with a disability at all times” (Wang, 2013). Service dogs go through extensive training to remain calm and help their owner with mobility issues.

Service dog skills include: opening doors with a strap, pushing doors closed, helping their handler dress and undress, helping those in wheelchairs sit up straight & place feet and arms on footrests and armrests, preventing falls, and retrieving wheelchairs and walkers. It’s amazing the tasks these dogs can do! In an emergency situation, service dogs are trained to perform life-saving tasks, like retrieving medication, calling 911, opening the door for EMT and first responders, running to get help or barking for help after identifying an emergency and laying down on their handler’s chest to help them a cough or breath better. For hearing impaired owners, service dogs are trained in alerting their handlers to the presence of other people or particular sounds, retrieving dropped objects, carrying messages, and warning that an unseen vehicle is approaching. For visually impaired owners, service dogs are trained in avoiding obstacles like moving vehicles, signaling a change in elevation, locating objects on command, and retrieving dropped objects.

Find the right service dog for you. Pets often increase the amount of exercise pet owners get versus non-pet owners. More exercise isn’t always a good thing for older people with injuries and susceptibility to falls. There are also some nonprofits in existence that will help elderly folks care for their pets when walking their dog multiple times a day or cleaning out the litter box is too burdensome. Look to see if there is one in your area.

If you want to learn more about 

  • The cost of Pet Ownership
  • The Risks and
  • How to Care for Your Pet While Aging in Place

Please visit http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/ and let us know what you think about this article. Thank you. 

 

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Collar vs. Harness

The Competition Runs Neck-and-Neck.

So I’m talking with fellow packpeople David and Yurda about pertinent blog topics and the age-old issue of leashing dogs with collars vs. harnesses comes up. Naturally, there is no easy way to answer this – there are arguments for both and I’ll get into that in just a bit – but the funny thing is that no sooner had we discussed the topic than I discovered that Ringo (my 15 lb. mix of corgi, dachshund and possibly seal) needed a new harness. My neighbor Connie, who takes care of Ringo when I work late, had noticed redness on his chest, and the subsequent discovery of frayed, protruding stitching on his harness’ chest strap sent Ringo and I straight to the pet store.

Why does Ringo wear a harness? It’s this simple: when I adopted him, he was wearing one. He always wears a collar for ID as well as decorative purposes, but for leashing he and I are accustomed to the harness. I like the security of its hold over his torso, and as he’s a smallish dog, I’m more at ease knowing I won’t inadvertently hurt his somewhat delicate neck. Looking over the vast selection of collars and harnesses at our neighborhood pet supply store, however, it’s clear to see that there are countless options available, in styles ranging from eco-friendly hemp fiber to breathable nylon mesh to bright, bold and bejeweled.

Collars vs. harnesses. Everyone’s got an opinion, and you’re best to form one of your own, with expert guidance from your veterinarian. Here are some thoughts, though, that seem to recur in many dog care forums on the subject:

Basic collars, when fitted properly, are a comfortable choice for dogs without “pulling” tendencies. Some collars can be useful for training, with choke chains and prong collars providing methods of correction (and in these cases, it’s highly important that humans are trained for their safe and sensible use). Collars are also easy: easy on, easy off, and even if you opt for leashing your dog with a harness, the addition of a collar is more likely to accommodate pet ID tags with a characteristic metal D ring.

Leashing on a harness minimizes the risk of injury to a dog’s neck and back, particularly in smaller breeds. Simple nylon harnesses can be purchased, as well as specialty harnesses designed to provide the same corrective effectiveness as traditional training collars. Harnesses are also available which provide transportation safety, with designs that are compatible with automobile safety belts.

After about 30 minutes of walking back and forth and trying things on in the collar and harness aisle, Ringo and I settled on something new (for us, that is). Typically, he’s been wearing a simple nylon-strap harness, but this time we opted for a breathable mesh harness that covers more of his chest than his previous gear, allowing pressure to be more evenly distributed across his chest. It’s a Comfort Control Harness made by Four Paws Products, and we chose a fetching shade of royal blue because that’s all the store had left in the appropriate size, and also, we’re fancy. We walked around a bit in the store parking lot to “test drive” the item, and the change in attire suited us both. I felt no loss of control in guiding Ringo at my side and he seemed perfectly comfortable.

So I urge you to consider all your needs when choosing not only between a collar or harness but also which collar or harness. There are thousands of them out there. You might even choose more than one, for different applications. Take a look at fit, finish, materials and construction involved as well – Ringo’s reddened, irritated chest taught us both, the hard way, to examine details like stitching and seams for durability and comfort.

Then, adequately equipped, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and greater control over a safe and secure dog.

This way, Ringo. RINGO. THIS WAY. Good boy!

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To Treat or Not To Treat?

Treats for dogs

The dish on giving your dog “people food”

Our dogs can be so darned cute that it’s tempting to lavish them with the finest things possible… but remember: they’re dogs. What may be our idea of a delicious treat may not always be the healthiest option for our little friends… and the way we give it to them can affect their behavior more deeply than we might expect. Finally, before you give your pet a special treat, ask yourself exactly who you’re rewarding: your dog, or you?

“People foods” warrant really careful consideration. Know that certain foods, even in tiny amounts, can be toxic, even fatal, to dogs. Raisins, for instance, may cause kidney failure, and only a few macadamia nuts can cause muscular tremors or paralysis — a huge price to pay for a seemingly innocent snack. Before you decide to give your dog any food that isn’t expressly prepared for dogs, be sure you’ve done your homework and investigated a few educated opinions on the subject, by asking veterinary experts or studying online.

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Tag your dog!

Importance of micro chipping and identifying your pet with a tag!

Every year a few hundred thousand dogs get lost under different circumstances in the U.S.  1 in 3 pets will get lost during their lifetime; 10 million pets get lost every year. Losing a household pet is losing a member of the family. Tragically, few are reunited with their owners. Many strays are lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification in the U.S. or lost dogs end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized. It is relevant that your dog has identification at all times. It’s so important to start to microchip and tag your dog today if he or she is not already.

Every day I look at dog’s collars and harnesses and I’m always astonished how many dogs are running around without a name tag. If I ask handlers and owners, I always receive the same answers: “My dog is always with me” “I take care of my dog” “My dog doesn’t run away” ” I think the sound of the tag is annoying for my dog”. “I live around the corner”.  Here are two important things you really need to do.

Implant a microchip: A microchip is a transponder in the size of a rice grain. It can save your dog’s life and your dog can be identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office. Microchips are implanted by veterinarians between the dog’s shoulder blades under the skin and most dogs do not feel anything being implanted. Several brands are available. Every single chip has a unique numeric code, which can be detected by a hand held device. Do not forget to register your dog with the microchip company, otherwise your dog can not be traced back to you if found, and always update your contact information promptly when you move or get a new phone number. A microchip is effective in reuniting a lost pet with his owner only when the owner’s contact information in the microchip database is accurate.

Create a name tag: Keep current identification tags on your dog at all times, people can directly connect with you without taking the dog to a vet. The dog’s name and your current phone number and your address are a must on the tag. You can find tag machines at every pet store or on the internet.

Most dogs from animal shelters are already micro chipped and come with a name tag. Please be a responsible dog owner, protect your dog and cat and tag your pet, it is not expensive or complicated and can safe your pet’s life!

You can find more information about micro chipping here. Also, feel free to check Home Again‘s website.

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Street dogs of Philippines – Help needed!

The Dog is supposed to be Man’s Best Friend, if the dog gets a good person to look after him then life is good but unfortunately this is not the case for most of the dogs in the world.

I have seen all kinds of dogs living in many different kinds of conditions. Some are so well pampered that they do not really know that they are still dogs, others are looked after very well and are a very important part of the family. Some are only useful to the owner as long as he can make money from them and some are just living on their own as nobody really wants them. All around the world, many dogs get lucky and are really treated well, they get the best food, regular medical checks and inoculations, their own bed to sleep on and even clothing to match that of the owner.

With this article, I am not saying that the Philippines is worse than anywhere else for the poor treatment of dogs as there is terrible abuse of dogs happening in the developed countries, but a major difference is that in the developed world there are strict laws to protect the unfortunate animals – while here in the Philippines there are laws, but like many laws here, they are of a very low priority to the government agencies.

As you drive around the streets of Manila or anywhere in the Philippines, you would see many dogs roaming around looking for food. Most of these dogs belong to someone but unfortunately their owners doesn’t care about them, they had been abandoned because the owner got a new pure bred dog, sometimes a dog who belong to a poor family is luckier because they are given table scraps and their family are not abandoning them, everything is still on a case-by-case basis. I also know some rich families who adopt dogs from the street, so I guess social status is not the basis of being a responsible dog owner. If dogs are not fed at home, then it’s up to the poor dog to find food for himself; he can eat dead animals, and rotten food which has been thrown away by people.

Many of these dogs get very badly treated by people who throw sticks and stones to drive the dogs away. Many small or young dogs are forced by hunger to compete with the bigger street wise type of dog who gives no mercy regardless of size so many of this kind of small dog gets open wounds which can easily get infected because nobody will take care of the injuries or treat them. Its so sad to see a dog with a skin disease which has caused all the hair to fall out and in many cases the skin goes pink. These dogs are constantly scratching and open up wounds on their skin as the itching is totally uncomfortable. Because of infection these dogs usually do not survive and their dead bodies can become food for other starving animals so the infections can be passed on to others.

In some cities, there is animal control… who will take dogs if they are roaming in the streets, and if their owners will not get them, they will be destroyed in 48 hours. There are even speculations that, the said animal control or dog pound are selling the dogs to illegal dog meat traders, though it has not been confirmed yet. Some syndicates are getting stray dogs, so that they can sell their meat. It is illegal to eat dogs in the Philippines, but just like any other law, some people can get away with it. Luckily, we have Animal Kingdom Foundation, a UK funded animal shelter, who rescue dogs from illegal dog meat traders.

Before I end this article, I would also like my readers to know that even homeless people are capable of loving dogs, and it only proves that those who have less can give more.

Friends, I want you to meet Mang Rudy. He lives in a push cart with 16 dogs and 2 cats. For me, he is luckier than those who have big mansions, massive money on their bank account because Mang Rudy has best friends who will never abandon him no matter what.

Blog post by Kristine – http://thealphadogattitude.blogspot.com

If you want to support Indonesia’s rescue groups here are some links:

1. Animal Kingdom Foundation– it is an organization rescuing dogs that are supposed to be butchered.

Website: http://www.animalkingdomfoundation.org

2. Island Rescue Organization– it is based in Cebu and they are rescuing street dogs.

Website: http://islandrescue.org/

3. CARA – it is a no shelter facility group, who help street dogs and cats.

4. AARRC– it is located in Kalibo Aklan, founded by a Dutch National.

Website: http://animals.tukcedo.nl/

5. Philippine Animal Lover’s Society. —- It is a group of people, who work through networking using facebook to save street dogs.

Website: donation details here.

Facebook link: Philippine Animal Lovers Society

Related posts: Oscar – A Street dog of Istanbul – Romania’s Street Dogs

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Animal Stories Articles Health Pet Care Pet Care

Audrey, the Worms, and Drontal Plus

Meet Audrey, the latest canine member of our happy family. I think she’s the cutest little Pug puppy ever. Of course I may be just a wee bit prejudiced.

Before we adopted her, my wife and I agreed that this little cutie would receive nothing but the best. We went online and ordered top quality puppy food and other dog supplies well in advance of the big day when we brought her to her new “forever home”. After about a week we started to be a little concerned about Audrey’s health. Although we were feeding her the highest quality puppy food, she seemed to be losing, rather than gaining weight. She also seemed to be struggling with diarrhea more often than not.

So, we took Audrey to her first appointment with our family veterinarian, Dr. Laurel Shaw. It didn’t take long for the good doctor to diagnose Audrey’s condition: gastrointestinal parasitic worms. Yuck! We were horrified at the diagnosis! However, Dr. Shaw explained to us that we needn’t be alarmed. Parasitic infection is one of the most common problems that young puppies face. Fortunately, it is also a condition that can be easily remedied with the treatment that she prescribed – Drontal Plus deworming tablets.

Although it’s a topic that we all would rather not think about, dog owners do need to know some simple facts about intestinal parasites. Puppies are often infected with parasites even while still in their mothers’ wombs. They can also accidentally ingest the parasites after they’ve been born. The most common symptoms are weight loss and diarrhea, as we had noted in Audrey’s case. If not treated early, puppies may also develop a pot belly, pale pink gums, and become easily tired. Parasites can take weeks or even months to develop from egg and larval stages into adults. Deworming medications usually only target worms in the adult or late immature stages. Since puppies can be exposed to these parasites numerous times, deworming medication must be administered at regular intervals.

Doctor Shaw explained that this approach is known as “strategic deworming”. Under this protocol, pups are dewormed at two week intervals beginning at two weeks, continuing through twelve weeks of age. In cases where the puppy is severely infected, treatment may continue on a monthly schedule until they are six months old. She also stressed that even if the puppy has received deworming treatment prior to adoption, one must not assume that the puppy is parasite free. The strategic deworming schedule should still be maintained, based on your pup’s age.

Well, we’re happy to report that our sweet Audrey is now growing like a weed. At 12 weeks she tested negative for parasites so we were able to discontinue treatment. Her body is finally catching up to her head size and her coordination is much improved. She’s simply a beautiful, bouncing, black bundle of unconditional love.

This is Binky, a Pug Mix waiting for a forever home at the East Valley Shelter in Van Nuys, California. His ID: #A1317465. He is in danger of euthanasia.

We hope that you will find room in your heart to adopt a homeless pet and, when you do, please be sure your new pet receives a thorough veterinary check-up, right away.

 This is an guest author entry by: Scott Cann

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Dog food review – ‘Verve’ The Honest Kitchen

I mentioned earlier in our interview with The Honest Kitchen that I was going to try out their dehydrated dog food for Lilly and Red. We ordered our first box of 10 lbs. of ‘Verve’ on March 31st. We ordered online from the  shop of the producers and food makers, The Honest Kitchen, located in San Diego, CA. With our discount coupon code we paid  $68.19 (including $10 for shipping). The ordering process was easy and the food arrived exactly 5 days later.

First of all, I have to say that the box Lucy and her team created is very nicely designed and appealing. The marketing department did a great job putting every valuable piece of information on the package to make it  very easy to understand. You get an overview of the ingredients, how to prepare the food and information on ‘how much to use”. I opened the robust box right away and found the food was packed in a bag with a zipper. It looked like my mom sent me some homemade cookies. You have the option to leave the food in the box (bag) or use your own container. I left it in the box and placed it on my kitchen counter to show everyone the beauty of the box, haha.

I opened the bag and the first thing I realized was the incredible good smell of the dog food. It smells and looks like instant soup to me. You can literally see the chopped little pieces of veggies, fruits and herbs. It’s the same experience you have after opening a bag of coffee (ahhhh, I love coffee!). Verve is made with USDA hormone-free beef and organic rye. Like all of The Honest Kitchen’s diets, it’s 100% human-grade, made in the USA, and does not contain corn, soy, rice, beet pulp or wheat. Here is the list of ingredients: dehydrated beef, organic oats, organic rye, organic flaxseed, potatoes, carrots, organic alfalfa, eggs, apples, parsley, cranberries, spinach, chicory, rosemary, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate.

'Verve' dehydrated food mixed with warm water.

Next step was to introduce the food to our dogs. I wanted make the transition slowly and added 1/4 of the indicated amount of the food as a topping on the regular food I’m feeding to Lilly and Red. Both were watching me very closely in the kitchen, thinking: “Hmmmm, what is she adding today? Looks like new food”. I also added my beloved and highly recommended fish oil and warm water to the food. I had some cooked potatoes left from dinner and through them in. The good smell of the dehydrated food turned into a neutral smell. I stirred a few times and waited 10 minutes (5 minutes are recommended), the dogs waited tense without hovering over me. After 10 minutes the food looked like a brown greenish mash for vegans :). My husband said: “We could sell this at Whole Foods as lentil purée”. 🙂

Easy and quick - that's how you prepare the food.

It was time to get the critical opinions of my dogs. Our French Bulldog is a little more picky than the American Staffordshire Mix but after I placed the bowls down  and I could hear them gobbling the food. It didn’t take long for them to finnish and I noticed them eating up to the last bites of each other’s bowls. The following week, I added a little more of the dehydrated food  every day and  finally replaced the dry kibbles after 2 weeks. The dogs love it!

That's Red's and Lilly's answer. They loved it!

I still have a quarter left of the all natural dehydrated food and will definitely order my next batch of “Verve” food in a few days. Try it out, it’s worth it  and here’s the coupon code: PCK12THK.  If you don’t want to buy a big box get a trial size first. If you want to learn more about the food, please read our interview with Lucy from, The Honest Kitchen. Also, have a look at what Lucy’s customers have to say about the food. They offer four completely gluten-free, grain-free diets and all their products are guaranteed 100% wheat free. Thumbs up for Lucy and her team!

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‘Human grade’ dehydrated pet food from The Honest Kitchen – Interview with Lucy

‘What are you feeding your dogs?’ is the 2nd most important question people ask me on PackPeople. I always recommend the food I’m feeding and recommend friends and interested dog owners to the shop where I buy my dog food. Pet food is a complex subject in the pet owners’ world and one of our most-discussed topics. I’ve experimented a lot, tried many foods… kibbles, canned, raw… and decided to feed them holistic food, also adding Omega 3 (Fish Oil), raw veggies (like a carrot or a piece of apple, bananas, potatoes). Sometimes I take the time to cook for my dogs – I want them to be happy and healthy. I’m pretty happy with the food I’m feeding (Blue Buffalo and Lotus), but still not 100% convinced about the ingredients.

I found “The Honest Kitchen” on the exhibitor list of the Vegas Pet Expo this year. Premium dehydrated whole food sounds great, right? The Honest Kitchen makes human grade pet foods from dehydrated whole food ingredients. After I explored their great and informative website I wanted to learn more about the food Lucy and her dedicated team has been producing for cats and dogs since 2002. I contacted The honest Kitchen and they promptly agreed to do an interview.

Dehydrated healthy food - LOVE (Grain-free diet for dogs of all life stages (puppies, pregnancy, nursing, active adult) of all breeds and sizes)

We had the great pleasure to send the president and founder of “The Honest kitchen” Lucy our questions and to receive expert knowledge about processing the food (actually it’s not processed – read why not), what dehydration means, she talks about the customer satisfaction and the benefits of feeding whole food to our pets. Lucy also shared her insights with us and explained why and how “The Honest Kitchen” has found success with their variety of foods, treats and supplements.

Start today and get 10% off by using the code Lucy mentions in the interview. Give this excellent food a try – it’s worth it!

It’s a pleasure interviewing “The Honest Kitchen” as one of our first pet food producers on PackPeople.

Where did you get the idea to start “The Honest Kitchen”? What is your personal background?

I’ve always had an interest in food and nutrition. We grew produce at our family home in England and I love to cook, too.

I think I’ve always had a strong understanding of the link between good food and good health – we were brought up eating whole foods not junk food – and I think it was a natural progression that I became interested in doing a homemade diet for my dog.

I began making his homemade meals from scratch and while I loved the results and saw his ear infections clear right up, it became quite time consuming and messy. So I began trying to think of a way to still feed him whole foods, but in a more convenient format. I have a bachelor’s degree with honors in Equine and Business studies, from Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in England.

What was the first meal you prepared for your own dog?

I think it was a concoction of ground beef with spinach, carrots and oats – the very first prototype for what would eventually become The Honest Kitchen’s inaugural diet, Verve.

Raw ingredients - Human-Grade or Food-Grade refers to the quality of a finished product. The term applies to a product that is legally suitable and approved for consumption by a person (“edible”) www.thehonestkitchen.com

What are the benefits of raw ingredients?

High heat and high pressure can destroy the natural nutrients, enzymes and pigments in raw foods. When you keep the ingredients in a raw state, or prepare them very gently as we do with dehydration, more of the natural nutrition is maintained.

Your company uses a gentle dehydration process. What does this mean?

Dehydration is a slow, gentle process that removes only the moisture from fresh raw ingredients, and maintains most of the natural nutrition without the need for chemicals or irradiation.

You use raw fresh ingredients, “human-grade” and processed in a human food facility in the U.S. What does the processing progress look like?

Our facility is pristine – lots of stainless steel, everyone in white coats, gloves and hairnets. It’s a busy atmosphere but not noisy or chaotic. There’s a huge focus on quality control and testing too.

Our fresh raw vegetables and fruits are harvested at the peak of their ripeness, then washed and trimmed to size. The produce is then dehydrated below 104°F using warm air to gently blow away the moisture in a slow process that takes several hours. Our produce is still considered ‘raw’ after dehydration is complete.

Our fresh raw meats and white fish undergo gentle steaming at 140°F to 165°F, to eliminate pathogens without irradiation. We then carefully evaporate the moisture using dehydration, which leaves more nutrients intact than harsh cooking, canning or extrusion. The meats leave the dehydration process at about 125°F. The entire process (including steaming) takes about 45 minutes. Our salmon is freeze-dried in a flash process that removes the moisture under vacuum.

Our potatoes and grains are flash heated (and rolled in the case of our grains) to help break down the cellulose, which aids in digestion. They are then gently dehydrated to remove the moisture.

Where do the ingredients come from?

Our ingredients are sourced primarily from the United States, but we buy differnet ingredients from around the world – for example our Quinoa is form Bolivia, our green beans are form France and our kelp is from Iceland. We do not use any food ingredients from China at all.

What are the benefits to buying your food instead of making it myself.

I think the convenience is a big factor. Home cooking for pets is a lot of fun but it can be time consuming and also challenging, to ensure that the meals are nutritionally balanced and complete.

I usually add water to my dog’s kibble and let it stay a little – and I’m always astonished at how much its volume increases. A half full bowl of dog food is completely full after the kibbles absorbed the water. Does this happen with your food as well?

Yes, our foods expand considerably when hydrated with warm water!

According to your survey, 41% of your customers have seen a reduction in their pets chewing at their feet, 72% enjoy improved digestion, 21% reduced or completely eliminated one or more of their pet’s medications since they started feeding them your food. Would you say that investing in high quality food means saving on vet bills and maintaining a happier, healthier pet?

Dogs are allowed in this kitchen - Lucy (Founder and President) in her "Honest Kitchen"

Absolutely, we have many testimonials from customers who have been able to reduce or eliminate their pets’ medications after starting on our foods and that represents a savings in vet bills over the long term (and immediately in many cases, where people have been spending a fortune on steroids, antibiotics and other drugs to try to overcome chronic health problems like ear infections, itching, GI upset and so on, which are directly related to the diet.

Many people still aren’t aware of the link but as time goes on consumers are becoming more and more education and understand the links between food and health. As a company we’re very dedicated to that education.

We talked about your product with friends and dog owners. Most of them think that, compared to standard foods, your product is somewhat pricey. How would you convince people to buy from The Honest Kitchen?

Our foods are indeed more costly than many other pet foods on the market. The price is a direct function of the cost to make our food; dehydration is a relatively more expensive method of making the food, compared with canning or extrusion. Additionally, our raw ingredients cost a lot more because they are human edible, not feed grade. Good quality food does cost more but it’s an investment that many people want to make in their pet’s long term health. We could make our foods much more cheaply by forgoing the human food production facility and making the diets in a plant that doesn’t also make human food under FDA inspection.

We could also use Chinese ingredients and save loads of money that way – but these are not compromises we’re willing to make. We’re really not trying to be the most affordable food – we’re focused on quality and integrity, with more of a ‘no expense spared’ approach. Of course I recognize this isn’t for everyone, but we have a really strong following of customers who do want the best for their pets and recognize good food as a true cornerstone of health for their beloved pets, so they’re willing to make the investment.

A 10 lbs. box of The Honest Kitchen’s dog food makes 40 lbs fresh food. You also offer trial sized and mini samples for people who want to get started. You have 8 different dog foods and 2 different cat foods, treats and supplements. What is your newest product and what made you decide to create it?

Love and Grace are our two newest foods. Love is a grain free beef formula for dogs and Grace is a grain free turkey formula for cats. We created both these in direct response to our customers’ requests!

I also saw teas on the website. What is the benefit of adding tea?

Stunning looking and healthy dogs - Beautiful Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Steeping herbs in hot water (making a ‘tea’) is a recognized way of helping to release the medicinal properties from the herbs.

We checked The Dog Food Advisor’s website were pleased to see that The Honest Kitchen is highly recommended, receiving 4 of 5 stars. The Honest Kitchen’s Zeal and Love foods received 5 stars. Are these your best sellers?

Our top sellers are actually Force and Keen!

Do you have a personal favorite?

I think Force is still my all-time favorite – I really love the way it smells when it’s hydrated. My Rhodesian Ridgebacks like all the recipes and my Pug (a senior from Pug rescue who’s also blind) likes Zeal the best

You produce 100.000 pounds of dog food in a month and ship your food worldwide. I can shop online on your website or search for a retailer in my area. I could also become a reseller. What are the requirements to sell your food?

Well, a resale license is the first prerequisite. For the most part (with a few exceptions) we’d also require a store front (a pet supply store or natural foods store for example) and a promise that the store is not in the business of selling puppies or kittens at retail. We are vehemently opposed to puppy mills but do support many pet rescues and also work with responsible breeders.

What advice would you give someone about to launch a new pet care or pet-related business?

I think the main thing is to have a clear purpose behing the business – a reason for being. Second only to that is a real sense of determination! Starting a business was a labor of love for me. There are setbacks and challenges and it can sometimes takes nerves of steel, and a strong instinct or intuition to forge ahead with the idea and make it work. I’m also a big fan of making lists to help stay organized!

Do you have pets of your own?

Yes I have three dogs, two horses and 4 hens! (as well as two children and a husband!)

Are there any specials, holiday or otherwise, you’d like to share with us?

Yes! We have a special just for PackPeople readers. They can enter coupon code PCK12THK on our web site to save 10% off any order over $5.00 at www.thehonestktichen.com

Which websites or pet-related links would you recommend to our PackPeople audience?

The Whole Dog Journal is still one of my favorites www.whole-dog-journal.com. I also love the Truth About Pet Food site www.truthaboutpetfood.com and The Dog Food Project www.dogfoodproject.com  for pet food info.

About the interviewee: Lucy Postins is the company co-founder, Mother Hen and CEO. Lucy started The Honest Kitchen in her own beach cottage kitchen in 2002. Lucy is guardian to Willow and Taro, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Jackson, a rescued senior Pug. In addition to the dogs, she also cares for two young daughters, a former racehorse, an elderly pony and a husband.

Web: www.thehonestkitchen.com

Twitter: @honestkitchen

Facebook: The Honest Kitchen

Google+: The Honest Kitchen

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Created for Rescues and Non-Profits Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on packpeople.com Pet Care

Good scents to help your dog – Interview with Vicki Rae Thorne from Earth Heart

Earth Heart was one of the sponsors of this years BarkWorld Expo in Atlanta where they  caught our attention. We want to introduce you to a set of awesome products by Earth Heart, Inc. which are made to help your dog with anxiety issues, with sensitive skin, to keep your dog calm when you travel and to protect your dog from bugs.

Earth Heart currently have 3 different aromatherapy products available that were specifically designed for dogs by Vicki Rae Thorne, a certified aromatherapist and master herbalist.  Nearly 12 years ago, Vicki was approached by a kennel owner who wanted help with calming her canine visitors. The dogs missed their families and felt anxious, agitated, angry or depressed. The formula now known as Canine Calm was developed to diffuse in the kennel, and it worked from day one!

We had the great pleasure to interview Vicki Rae Thorne, founded Earth Heart in 1996 to help others learn how to safely and effectively use herbs and essential oils. Dogs can definitely benefit from aromatherapy. Listen to our great interview and learn how you can keep your dog away from chemical remedies, which Earth Heart Product could help to improve your dog’s life and learn how to use natural / herbal remedies safely and effectively.

Vicki also talked about their new shelter program they are introducing in 2012 and gave very helpful tips for the holidays and winter season. Very valuable information for PackPeople who are planning to travel with their pets to colder regions or who live in areas where it gets cold. Earth Heart Inc. – Interview with Vicki Rae Thorne by PackPeople

Earth Heart’s mists are made in the USA, packaged in BPA free containers, easy to use, and can be sprayed directly onto cloth, skin or fur without staining or leaving a sticky residue.

Tested Guard Well Product

PackPeople received a bottle of Guard Well for review. Please read our review here – Order online via PayPal from each of the products pages. To find a retail store near you, visit the Stores pages of Earth Heart. 

Get a  jumpstart on your healthy holiday with Earth Heart. Order one or more Earth Heart products by December 18th, and in ‘special instructions’ or ‘note to seller’ at check out, enter ‘Pack Thanks 2011’ and be sure to include the product name you wish to receive FREE with your order.

Earth Heart Inc. 

Web: http://www.earthheartinc.com

Facebook: Earth Heart

Vicki recommended some great online resources: 

PupCulture – http://www.pupculture.com

Mission Pets – http://www.missionpets.com

DogTipper.com – http://www.dogtipper.com

Bark Buckle UP – http://barkbuckleup.com

Four Legged Life – http://fourleggedlife.com

Raise a Green Dog – http://raiseagreendog.com

Animal World USA – http://www.animalworldusa.org

Champion of My Heart – http://championofmyheart.com

Dogs Naturally Magazine – http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com

Animal Wellness Magazine – http://www.animalwellnessmagazine.com

FIDO Friendly Magazine – http://www.fidofriendly.com

Modern Dog Magazine – http://www.moderndogmagazine.com

Tails Pet Magazine – http://www.tailsinc.com

Canines in Action – http://www.caninesinaction.com

Wet Nose Guide – http://www.wetnoseguide.com

Life with Dogs – http://www.lifewithdogs.tv

Dog Channel – http://www.dogchannel.com

Pets Weekly – http://petsweekly.com

Books: 

Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

Dog Sense by John Bradshaw

Spreading the word can help save lives! If you liked the interview please share it with your community by clicking the Facebook and Twitter icons at the bottom of this article or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

iTunes News: Get PackPeople’s interviews as a Podcast!

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