Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 2nd 2014

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Beyond the Bowl

By Sarah McCartan

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Well, the same goes for animals. Allergies. Sensitivities. Weight issues. Even the potential to contract a foodborne illness, such as salmonella. These aren’t just human issues. These are issues that can pose very real health threats to your pets.

“Quality food makes the difference,” said Reggie Bruster, owner of local holistic pet food store, Your Dog’s Business.

From his years of experience training and working closely with dogs, including police canines, Bruster has seen firsthand how nutrition plays into a dog’s overall health and performance. When his dog battled a yeast allergy and was prescribed medicine, it was the food that made the difference.

“I changed to a food without corn or byproducts and as a result, his skin was better, his energy was better. He was a better, healthier dog,” said Bruster.

Inspired to provide access to health-conscious pet food and products, Bruster opened Your Dog’s Business just over a year ago, stocking food, treats and accessories for both dogs and cats. While quality remains key, Your Dog’s Business prides itself on offering prices comparable to larger commercial chains.

Bruster stocks U.S. companies producing pet foods that don’t have any whole corn or by-products and are rated well by independent sources. Bruster also recommends the “raw” option, for optimal pet health.

“For pets that have health issues, whether diabetes or any underlying skin problems, a raw diet lends itself well because you know what they’re eating,” said Bruster. “We recommend these quite a bit.”

For those who don’t have the time to dedicate, or who may not like the idea of handling raw ingredients, Bruster recommends brands such as Primal Pet Food and Blue Ridge Beef that come in patty or nugget form; along with brands like Sojos and Grandma Lucy’s that offer freeze-dried products, all of which are available at Your Dog’s Business.

While there is always the option of making your own food, it is something that should be well planned.

“There are a number of books on the market. It’s not as simple as cooking chicken and rice. There are a lot of vitamins that dogs get through their food. If you want to feed cooked food to your pet, you should make sure your dog (or cat) is getting all nutrients needed,” said Bruster.

Speaking of nutrients, there are a plethora of vitamins out there too. Bruster recommends Pet Kelp’s all natural supplements for dogs and cats. These kelp-based vitamins come in multiple varieties, including a basic wellness formula—a daily supplement containing 70 vitamins vital to your pet’s health.

When it comes to treats, Bruster encourages that much like with humans, a little cookie splurge never hurt anyone; however, ice cream everyday may not be the best thing. The same goes for dogs, and cats. In addition to the boxed and bagged treats they stock, Your Dog’s Business bakes freshly made treats for their monthly Saturday “Yappy Hour” event, and is looking to stock these in the store over time.

Your Dog’s Business
4771 Bayou Blvd.
466-3057
yourdogsbusiness.net
10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Saturday

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Research the Recalls

A little research goes a long way. The FDA’s website is a good first stop, not only to understand what regulations do and don’t exist for your pet’s food, but also to keep up with recalls and review buying, prepping and storage tips to cut-down on the risk of foodborne illness. Visit fda.gov/animalveterinary.

Just because a pet food isn’t on the recall list, yet, doesn’t mean you are out of the clear. Before serving up a full plate of dinner to your pet, or switching to a new food, it’s important to do a little investigating. If you have a regular vet, they can be a primary resource. So can the source itself. Call or email the company to see if they have conducted a food trial on real pets. If the company is serving food to your lifelong companion, they can at least throw down the bones it takes to do a trial.

Additional secondary resources worth consulting:
•Dogfoodadvisor.com: Recommended by Bruster as a go-to pet food resource including reviews and recalls.
•petMD.com: Just don’t spend as much time on here psychoanalyzing your pet’s health, as you do your own on WebMD.
•Moderndogmagazine.com: A great source for all things canine related, even DIY projects ranging from wall art to Pupsicles!