Monday, September 23, 2013

The Six Words Pet Owners Fear The Most

Andrew Bussiere. Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies

“Your pet food has been recalled the six words pet owners fear the most! It’s okay! Take a deep breath, think, and ask yourself a few questions: How long have I had this tainted bag of food? Has my pet been eating it, and if so, for how long? Has my pet been sick anytime in the last week? What the heck is a SKU and where do I find the Lot Code?

Your next step should be to call your local pet store. Any pet store worth their weight in rawhide knew about the recall the day it happened. We can help you locate information both online and on the bag of food that will let you know whether or not your food has been affected. SKU’s, UPC’s, and Lot Codes will tell you everything you need to know… if you can find them! Pro Tip: Search every inch of the bag, write down any numbers you see. Here are some examples:

Salmonella seems to be the most prevalent reason behind recent pet food recalls. As small companies are purchased by conglomerates like P&G, Nestle, Colgate-Palmolive, and Del-Monte, recalls occur more often and affect not just a single brand but every line of food these companies produce. Whenever possible shop small and vary your pet’s diet. If you know of a few brands your dog likes (and you trust!) you'll never be in that desperate situation searching for the last unaffected bag of puppy chow!

For more information concerning your pet food, animal nutrition or industry recalls contact Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies at (617) 738-6682 or stop in and see us at 148 Harvard Street Brookline, MA.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Is This Food Good?

Andrew Bussiere Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies

It’s a simple question right? “Is this food good?”  After all if it’s sold at the store we expect it’s at the very least safe and nutritious, and if the commercials are funny…  Unfortunately the industry standards we rely on to protect and nourish our pets often lead weary consumers towards confusion. Knowledge, experience and simple clarification are some of Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies most prized commodities and we give them away for free! What’s Chicken Meal? What’s Pea-Protein? Differentiating BHT and BHA from DHA (which is actually an OFA) can be mentally exhausting. Add a dog, cat or both, whose life and wellness depend on you and it’s physically exhausting to boot.
               All pet food sold in America is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The AAFCO is a membership association of local, state and federal agencies that the FDA relies on to define ingredients and establish minimum nutrition levels. I’d like to stress the word minimum. The FDA is an agency of the U.S Health Department. Although the pet food industry is regulated many products and ingredients deemed safe such as “meat, poultry and grains.” Undergo no “pre-market approval” before they hit the shelves. A pre-market approval is the FDA’s scientific and regulatory review process. The FDA states clearly:
There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. However, FDA ensures that the ingredients used in pet food are safe and have an appropriate function in the pet food. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval.”
Canned pet foods are subject to the same laws and requirements as canned food sold for human consumption, so products must meet safe bacteria levels and be produced under sanitary manufacturing conditions. In order to put the words “complete and balanced” on a bag or can, the product must contain all the necessary nutrients that provide for a healthy diet. The FDA also regulates and reviews marketing terms and phrases such as “maintains urinary tract health,” “low magnesium,” “tartar control,” “hairball control,” and “improved digestibility.” Notice that the words “natural,” and “holistic” are not among the words listed. This is where your part as the informed and knowledgeable consumer comes in. Foods labeled “Organic” must meet the USDA’s National Organic Program standards. 
- Ingredients are listed by weight.
- Ingredients listed before the first fat or oil makes up a majority of the food.
- Vitamins listed are often sprayed on in a process similar to coating M&M’s in dry food.
- Salt and sugar are often used as flavorings to help attract animals to low quality food.
- Food Dyes like “Yellow 6” “Yellow 5” and “Red 40” are know to contain carcinogens.
- You should avoid generically named ingredients as they indicate cheap protein sources and commonly indicate “4-D” meats sources (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter.) Not good.

               You must read the labels on everything you buy for your pet. Period. Especially if you read them for the things you buy for yourself.  Ingredients are technically listed by weight, I say technically because while having whole meat, as the first ingredient is nice it’s not accurate. As food cooks water evaporates and meats shrink in size and weight, knocking them down the list of ingredients quite a bit.
In order to meet AAFCO nutrition levels, companies use meat and meat by-product meal, which if specifically named, are nutrient rich powders made by grinding up cooked meat. Specifically, there’s a big difference between “Beef” and “Meat” or “Chicken By-Product Meal” and “Poultry By-Product Meal” If you’re unsure about the quality of a bag of food, pick it up and read the ingredient list. Many times companies use vegetable based ingredients as cheap protein substitutes that still ensure AAFCO nutrition levels are met.
Raw Diet is relatively new in the commercial world of pet food, but it’s essentially the same thing dogs and cats would naturally eat. Cats are obligate carnivores that do not take in most of their water through drinking, although it’s still important they have access to fresh water. The moisture level of raw meat satisfies most of the natural requirements of a cat’s body and the grain and filler free nature of Raw Diet is extremely beneficial to their carnivore digestive systems.
Unlike traditional dry pet foods Raw Diet is flash frozen or freeze-dried instead of cooked. When you cook food you denature protein and kill living enzymes. By flash freezing instead cooking food you preserve some of those living enzymes, which help rejuvenate and restore muscles and the vital bodily functions that help maintain long-term health. The benefits of feeding Raw Diet alone or in conjunction with traditional diets are vast. First and foremost you’re introducing variety into the diet, which isn’t present in that same old bag of dry food. Variety is the simplest way to avoid the build up of allergens that lead to skin and health problems over a long period of time. Raw Diet promotes healthy teeth and gums because small particles of food do not stick in the mouth like they do with dry food. Because Raw Diet is easily digested and the nutrients are absorbed more efficiently, proper weight is easily maintained,  and 100% digestible food leads to less waste which mean bowel movements are smaller and less “fragrant.” Raw Diet can be feed as a stand-alone diet, used for supplemental feeding, or simply used as a natural, healthy, and low fat treat or training treat.
Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies stocks a wide variety of quality pet foods, wet, dry, and raw. Our experience and knowledge with pet nutrition, health problems and their solutions is unmatched in the Boston-area.
               If we only rely on the FDA and AAFCO for quality control we’re being lazy. It’s so important to look into the small companies and big corporations that make the things we feed our pets. Pets don’t have the luxury of picking their own food. Be an advocate for the health and well being of your pet and the long years you’ll spend together will more than make up for the extra time it takes to educate yourself on your way to becoming a knowledgeable consumer.
(Written by: Andrew Bussiere who has been an employee at Brookline Grooming and Pet supplies since March 2010. )

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

by: Andrew Bussiere

Q: I've heard that dogs have been getting sick from Chicken Jerky made in China. Do you carry any alternatives?

A: Yes! We carry a large selection of AMERICAN MADE Chicken, Turkey, Beef, and Duck Jerky from companies like Kona,SmokeHouse, Simply Natural and Pet Center. The Jerky treats are all sourced and manufactured in the United States and are a much safer alternative to Jerky treats from China. Please come in and check out all of the American Made treats and toys we carry!
Q: Can I get my pet supplies delivered?

A: We can send supplies to your house via taxi cab. You can call the store with your shopping list and pay over the phone with a credit card. We can then arrange for a taxi to bring it to your address. You can charge the taxi fare to your credit card, or pay the driver when the car arrives at your house! Don't live within range of a cab? We recently mailed a package to Louisiana!

Q: What's the best way to deal with Fleas?
A: The best way to deal with any parasite, be they ticks, fleas, or round and heart worms is prevention! The warm winter led to huge population levels of all bugs, fleas and ticks especially. While it may not be the height of flea and tick season anymore, we're not in the clear until that first frost of the year! We carry a wide variety of topical preventative products such as Frontline Plus, Sentry Natural Defense, and Diatomaceous Earth(for dogs and cats) and K9Advatnix. (for dogs only)
-If the preventative measures you took came up short we also have a wide variety of flea and tick shampoos, yard/kennel, and indoor sprays, as well as carpet/upholstery powders and flea collars. 

Most important of all: Stay on top of the problem by being as educated as you can. 

-A little info on fleasflea products and ticks.

Q: Are Grooming prices different for different breeds of dogs?

A:Yes, there can even be different prices for the same breed of dog. While we do have "standard" prices for dogs and cats a few things alter the price of a grooming. The first being the condition of their coat. Dogs and cats who are heavily matted require extra time and special attention as the skin under the mats is tender and often very irritated. In extreme cases heavily matted dogs needs to be shaved before we can even wash them and special shampoo to relive itchy, irritated skin, in these cases we charge $10 extra. The second being the pets temperament. Easy going dogs who are comfortable being handled and groomed take a lot less time and effort to groom, which is why we recommend you start grooming early and often! Our suggested appointment reminders are every 6 weeks for dogs and every 11 weeks for cats. Please feel free to call the store anytime to ask about prices and our grooming practices but please be aware that unless we see the dog it's very difficult to give you an exact price.  

Some generic figures to give you an idea:

-Dogs who just need a bath are around $50, Dogs who need grooming are $60 and up (always dependent upon the size, breed, temperament, and coat condition)

-Cats who just need a brush out (a brushing that removes most of the undercoat, where dander hangs out) is $52, a shave or more detailed haircut is between $62 and $72 and a full groom or brush out with a bath is $82. We charge $10 extra for heavily matted cats as well.

It's important to brush your dog and cat everyday, even it's only for five minutes! If your pet doesn't like being brushed, try giving them treats while you brush or simply try to brush them only after they've played and are tired. A tired cat or dog is not going to put up much of a fuse!   

Q: My cat is a picky eater, what can I do? 

A: The simplest way to break through your cat's (and/or dog's) frustrating eating habits is to have consistently structured meal times. That means feeding at roughly the same times everyday and especially important for cats: No Free Feeding! This seems obvious for dogs but is a common problem we encounter with cat owners. When you let a cat free feed you're letting the cat decide for itself when and when not to eat. This is okay for some cats but when you go to feed your picky cat "dinner" she may have already eaten her fill for the night and will likely refuse to eat, leaving you pulling your hair out and anxiously feeling your cats tummy and hips to see if her bones are protruding yet. Another way to break down the picky-eater-wall is to offer your pet A LOT of variety. Variety in types and brands of food as well as treats. The more variety they get, the less likely they will become bored with their food! Lastly, just as fasting for a day or night can be beneficial for the human body the same is true for our pets. So don't worry that Whiskers didn't eat her wet food tonight I can assure you that she'll eat whatever you put in her dish in the morning!

Q: Now that summer's over should I still treat my dog and cat with Frontline?
A: Yes! We recommend consistent use year round of Frontline, Advantix or any other preventative you feel comfortable using. During the winter months or after the years first frost, you can treat once every 3 months instead of once every month. It's extremely important to use a flea and tick preventative year round. Fleas and Ticks can carry diseases which can pass to animals, including humans so it's important to take care of our pets which in turn help to keep us and our homes safe, healthy, and parasite free!
Q: Where's the Orijen and Acana?

A: It's Back! In September an equipment malfunction damaged an oven at Champion Pet foods Morinville facility in Alberta Canada. Until their custom oven could be replaced, they were forced to temporarily halt the production of certain sizes and diets. Thankfully their oven is fixed and we're fully stocked with all your favorite Orjien and Acana dry dog and cat foods!

Q: My dog is peeing in the house, how can I stop it?

 Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult the best way to prevent accidents is to make sure they have a consistent schedule for walks or frequent access to an outdoor area. In most cases dogs with free access to water will have to go to the bathroom every few hours. Having a consistent daily schedule will let your dog empty it's bladder regularly and it will give them a chance to mark their territory outside instead of in; a natural and perfectly normal behavior for dogs.

If you don't know if your dog is peeing or just marking, a good rule of thumb is to go by the size of the puddle. If it's a small puddle chances are your pet is marking. If your dog is persistently marking inside your home you want to make sure you're properly cleaning the area to prevent a repeat performance. Products like Nature's Miracle and Eliminateclean the stain and break down the chemicals in your pets urine that brings your dog back to the same spot over and over again.

If you manage to catch your dog in the act and it continues to pee even after you grabbed it's collar and headed for the door chances are your dog is emptying it's bladder and not marking. This is normal for most puppies and is something every new dog owner must get used to dealing with. Consistent schedules and daily training will help your dog learn the differences between what behavior is allowed and what is not. Working with a trainer will give you the tools you need to potty train and obedience train your puppy. More importantly, it will give you the tools to raise a balanced and well behaved dog.

*If your adult dog seems to be peeing more frequently than normal you may need to consult your veterinarian as it could be a sign of more serious problems. Frequent urination that is not behavioral can be a sign of  a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or a more serious kidney problem.

Q: I was told by one of your employees that I had "loyalty dollars on my scan card." What does that mean and how can I use them?

 A few months back we changed our regular Brookline Grooming Scan Cards into a Loyalty Program for frequent customers. It's simple really, our scan cards still give you access to our great monthly specials and savings on Raw Diet and Raw Bones but now, for every dollar you spend on food, toys, and treats we give you a few cents back and put it on your scan card for you to use towards your next purchase, or save up and use it all at a later time. Your loyalty dollars never go away or expire and you can use them on any purchase!

*If you don't have a scan card, it's free and easy to sign up for one, just tell an employee the next time you stop by!

If you have any questions you might like us to answer email us at:  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

We have some new Summer programs for you to check out!

Monthly DIY Dog Wash Club:

Here at Brookline Grooming & Pet Supplies, we like to keep coming up with ways to help you and your pet live a happy life. With that in mind we are always thinking of ways to make your experience here more enjoyable and affordable. We have come up with a monthly do-it-yourself bathing plan that we think will make you very happy!

Now you can pay a flat rate at the beginning of the month and be able to bring your dog in as many times as you like for a do-it-yourself bath and a blow dry. We thought this would be an especially great service with the summer time here now and plenty of reason to go to the park and play hard without worrying about the clean up. So let your dog go hog wild and roll in the dirt, mud, goose poop and whatever other questionable smelly object they want to, cause the next stop will be with us for a good bath!  

Any questions regarding this new program feel free to call us at 617-738-6682.





Also New: