Have a question? See if it has been answered in our FAQ.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, the food in pet specialty stores have higher quality ingredients, with fewer
colours, flavorings, and fillers. They also use natural non-toxic preservatives and get their protein source
from meat instead of grains. What does that mean
for your pet? Well, they will generally need to eat less of it to feel full and is less likely to gain weight
and experience health problems. It is basically the difference between eating fast food every meal or
eating balanced home cooked meals.
This is partly due to the history of the pet food industry and partly due to the low standards
of the AAFCO regulations. There is more information
on what these regulations are on their website and in the following video. The good news is that their regulations
require the listing of ingredients on pet food. This allows informed consumers be more discriminatory than the
industry requires. For more information about how to use ingredient lists to find a good pet food,
You may be surprised at how little it will cost you. Depending on how much your pet eats and which food
you pick, one manufacturor estimates the cost at between $0.58 and $3.36 per day (with cats on the small end and
giant dogs on the other). Overall, the cost increase from cheap food is usually under $20 per month. However,
this $20 can save you from $1600 surgery to remove crystals in your cat’s urinary tract
caused by food with unbalanced pH or tumors, kidney and heart disease.
1. Take stock of the nutritional needs of your pet. Are they overweight? underweight? active? indoor? How old are they?
Do they have allergies? Are they picky eaters? Does their breed have special nutritional needs?
2. Decide whether you would prefer a veterinarian style or holistic style food.
3. Come in and talk to us and we will show you all the options, and you can decide between them. Or attempt to look up
different foods on the internet, remembering that you do not have to have any credentials or knowledge to contribute
to internet discussions.
There isn’t really a “healthiest” dog food. How healthy a food is for your dog totally depends on the needs of your
dog. Ideally, a food should use a variety of protein sources (since this provides a balanced amino acid split)
and an easily digestible complex carbohydrate (like brown rice, potato, or sweet potato). However, if your dog has
an allergy or a senitive stomach, the healthiest food for them may be a limited ingredient diet, drawing from only
one protein and carbohydrate source, or a diet with simple carbohydrates, to ease digestion.
There isn’t really a “healthiest” cat food. How healthy a food is for your cat totally depends on the needs of your
cat. Ideally, a food should use a variety of protein sources (since this provides a balanced amino acid split)
and a low amount of easily digestible complex carbohydrate (like brown rice, potato, or sweet potato). A cat food also
has to be low in magnesium and be pH balance to stop the formation of struvite crystals in the bladder.
The main difference is in how the food is originally created or formulated.
A veterinarian style food is formulated from what knowledge we have on the nutritional needs of animals. It is
then produced and tested on a group of animals for a period of time. During this time, the animals are checked to make
sure they do not develop any severe medical symtoms and that their bodies are functioning normally. Once the food
has passed these tests, it is produced and put on shelves. This is known as “veterinarian style” food as it is the kind
that is sold at most veterinarians. They also tend to prefer it as it is “tried and tested”.
A holistic style food is formulated from what we know about the nutritional needs of animals, with special
consideration for where the ingredients are coming from and to be as close as possible naturally to the “ideal” pet
food diet. In these foods, you will find more variety in protein sources, complex carbohydrates, and more vegetables.
These foods also tend to be the ones that use higher quality ingredients. The idea is that if we make the food out of
good ingredients, we will get a good food. The food is then produced and put on shelves, without testing it on animals.
At the moment, there aren’t any completely organic foods available. Most that claim they are organic contain only
a few ingredients that are organic, and these do not comprise majority of the ingredients. This is mostly due to a
lack of available ingredients or high prices of ingredients that are available.
Meal is defined as the “meat” of the animal, dried and ground up. In other words, anything in the meat department
at the grocery store that is boneless and skinless. This is generally considered one of the premium
ingredients for use in pet food, as it is comprised of the most nutritious part of the animal and it takes 4-5 lbs of
meat to make 1 lb of meal. So, if meal is the first ingredient on your pet food, that is a good thing, provided it
specifies what type of meal it is, like “chicken meal” or “lamb meal”. If the ingredient list doesn’t specify which animal
it is coming from, it could be anything. For more information on ingredients, click here.
By-products are any part of the animal that is not considered “meat”, and is also supposed to exclude feathers and
fur. By-products are not necessarily bad. They do provide nutrients that are not available in the muscle tissue.
However, it is a problem if they are being used as the main source of animal protein being provided for a food, as they
have a very low protein content, which is then usually bumped up using grains. They are also problematic if the food
does not specify which animal the by-product is coming from. For more information on ingredients, click here.
The idea with raw food is to feed dogs what they would have eaten thousands of years ago before they were domesticated,
or a diet that is more suited to what their bodies are built to digest. A properly balanced raw food diet should
consist of the same ingredients as a kibble, only uncooked. A raw food diet should include meat, organs, bone, vegetables,
grain, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. These also need to be served in the right proportion to each other.
Subsequently, it is a lot of work to maintain a proper healthy raw diet; as well, if you are considering a raw diet, you
need to consider what you will do when you are on holidays, as your sitter may not be up to feeding your pet raw food.
Most owners who feed raw will use a dried food (as opposed to cooked kibble) as a backup, supplimentary feeding, or for when
they are on holidays.
There are definate health benefits to feeding raw. Animals on raw food seem to have more energy and less health
problems. They also tend to love the taste of their food. The food also does not contain any added fillers, preservatives,
colouring, sugar, or salt. However, the raw food concept has not been around for a
full generation yet, so the results are still preliminary.
Problems seem to occur when pets, or their people,
are experiencing health problems. As the food has not been cooked, their are still many natural bacteria, like
salmonella and ecoli, in the food. Although a healthy pet is able to digest these, they cause problems for any pets
with health issues. The humans around the pet are also exposed to these bacteria, when preparing the food, cleaning up
the stool, and even touching their pet (as the spores will cling to their fur). Thus a raw diet is not ideal for a pet
that is in contact with humans with health issues, or is exposed to other pets or people whose health the owner is
Feeding raw food properly is also a lot of work. To prepare a meal, the owner needs to properly balance meat, organs,
bone, vegetables, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Although there are raw foods available in frozen form with the meat,
organs, bone, and vegetables mixed together, which makes this a little easier, they still need to be measured out, adjusted
for your pet, and topped up with probiotics and minerals (as these do not survive being frozen well). As well, once you
begin feeding it, you need to pay attention to your pets stool, drinking habits, skin, and coat to be sure it is the right
mix for your pet. In short, if you do not have 30-45 minutes a day to spend preparing your pets food, this is probably
not the healthiest food for your pet.
There is no fool proof method for determining if an animal or a human has allergies. Some indicators that your pet
might be having an allergic reaction, provided there are not other obvious reasons for the symptoms: constant
scratching, hot spots, losing fur, diarrhea, vomiting, chewing on their feet, dry fur or skin, excessive shedding.
Yes, there are many foods available for allergies that are cheaper. Our most expensive 30 lb bag is $70.
It all depends on what your pet is allergic to. If you know what it is, any food that does not contain that product
is fine. However, the most common allergins are chicken and wheat, which are in many foods that claim to by
hypoallergenic. If you are trying to determine if your pet has allergies, it is a good idea to try a limited ingredient
diet. These diets use only one protein and carbohydrate source, and thus narrow down irritants. Also, make sure the
fat being used is not an allergen; many foods that do not have chicken as a protein source will still use chicken as a
fat source. Also, remember to make your treats allergen free; if you are allergic to peanuts, you can’t have a peanut
butter sandwich or a Snickers bar.
This is probably a food deficiency or allergy. Foods that do not have enough good fats in them can lead to dry skin
and dandruff. Also, allergies to food are the most common cause of skin irritation. If your dog goes swimming in the
ocean a lot, try rinsing them off afterwards to see if that helps before changing their food.
This depends on your pet. The “healthiest” treat is one that matches their diet the closest. If your pet has allergies,
get them an allergy treat. If they eat a variety of meats in their food, you can probably feed them a variety of treats.
Just remember, a treat should be a treat. They are not formulated to comprise more then a small portion of what your pet consumes
in a day. If you like to feed lots of treats, try using kibble instead.
Good training treats are any treats that have a high meat content, are semi-moist or have lots of smell. These let
your dog know you have them and taste really good to motivate them to listen.
Estimates range between 10-25% of their calorie intake, which, again, means it totally depends on your pet. It is a
good idea though, to think of the treats as part of your pets calorie intake, as opposed to in addition to their food.
Do not ignore the calories in the treat. If you do a long training session and feed lots of treats, give them a little
less for dinner. If you are trying to get your pet to lose weight, try using their kibble as a treat.
Which of these labels a company can put on their food is regulated by AAFCO.
To be puppy, kitten, adult, or senior food, the food must meet the required amounts of crude protein,
crude fat, crude fibre, and supplement amounts AAFCO has set for that category of animal. If a food simply states “dog”
food or “cat” food, it must meet the minimum requirements of all lifestages. As kittens and puppies require higher
intake of supplements, this can result in your adult pet receiving a constant overdose of vitamins, some of which
can cause health problems long term. For more information on this, check out
The nutritional needs of a dog and a cat are very different. It is not recommended to feed your dog cat food on an
ongoing basis. (Cat food is also more expensive than dog food per pound, so it is good for you too to get him eating
his proper kibble.) To stop the dog from eating the cat food, try putting it in a location the dog can’t get to, like
on top of the fridge, on the cat scratching post, or on the bathroom counter.
Ideally, it is good to feed them out of their own bowls, as this allows you to monitor and change their diet as
needed. However, you could try feeding them a high-protein diet. This diet is supposed to be closer to what cats
“would have eaten in the wild”. This means that it helps overweight cats lose weight and helps underweight cats put on
The best cat litter for you depends on what you find the most important aspect of your litter. Is the most important
thing: price? odor? low-track? environmentally friendly? flushable? clumping? non-clumping? anti-bacterial?
Decide what the best litter would look like to you,
come in and we’ll find one that fits.
Yes, we have litters that are biodegradable, flushable, and made from recycled materials.