The Most Common Pet Questions We Hear

dog

We’re so grateful to have met so many of you and your pets! What brings you in to see us is as varied as you can imagine. For some, it’s a simple and quick transaction, for others, an exploratory mission to learn about products. For others, we are a lending ear for support when times are difficult for a pet of yours. We often find ourselves straddling the different worlds of scientist, nutritionist, customer service representative, motivator, researcher and liaison-maker. We go home every night knowing we’ve listened, hopefully helping you navigate the responsibility of having a pet under your care.

We know that your pets are your family, that they hold a special place in your lives and it’s our place as your local pet supply store to provide you with products and suggestions that enhance this in a positive way. It’s our responsibility to research trends, deciphering facts from fiction, and present to you in our best ways, products and knowledge to better your lives. 

Here are some of the most common questions and concerns that we hear from pet owners:

1). What is the best food to feed my pet? There is not one best food! We recommend and help you become an expert label reader, understanding WHAT is actually in food and how to make awesome decisions. We also recommend rotating types (dry, canned, freeze dried, air dried, lightly cooked and raw) and brands. We will always steer you away from foods with by-products or poor sources of protein, fillers and artificial ingredients. We will do our best to make you aware of changes to the foods we carry, be the changes positive or negative so that you can make decisions for your pets.

2). My pet is itchy, what do you have for that?Most veterinarians and pet supply stores agree, this is one of the biggest health concerns for pet owners, so you’re not alone! Understanding the root of the cause will help up help you. Simply putting a remedy on your pet won’t get to the real reason for the itch. Often times it’s environmental, such as fleas or pollens. Other times, it can be symptomatic of a food sensitivity (which is different from a food allergy and a lot more common that an allergy). For some pets, it’s a way to self-soothe through anxiety. What do you sense it is for your pet?

3). My cat or dog is a picky eater. What do I do?Aaahhh, picky eaters are so frustrating for you! When food=life and we see our pets not eating, we get scared! Rightfully so! However, think about what could be causing the picky eating. Is your pet normally a good eater and then all of the sudden not eating well? This may be a very valid reason to see your veterinarian. Think back about timing…did it seem gradual or sudden? If it’s sudden, watch for their behavior and if they seem otherwise normal, just give them a day to get back to balance. If your pet wants to eat but seems disinterested and seems to feel fine otherwise, they may simply be bored with their food (read #4 below).  If it’s sudden and they just don’t seem like themselves, see your vet. If it is gradual, it’s another reason to make an appointment. Assuming poor eating is due to pickiness may have you missing something more serious.

4). I’ve ruled out illness, my pet is just being picky, what do I do? Dogs and cats eating a dry (kibble) based diet is equivalent to us eating breakfast cereal for every meal of our lives. Although quite tasty at first, and fortified with all the fats, proteins, fibers, vitamins and minerals to sustain life, it’s quite easy to imagine that boredom is bound to set in. In addition, there is nothing alive with this food. Without fresh, unprocessed proteins, fruits and vegetables, their bodies will begin to crave and need something else. Please remove that tape playing that says “Do not change their food, it’s better to keep them on the same food. Dry food is good for their teeth”. This is now known non-sense. This myth is what we try to de-bunk every single day. Your pets are not “spoiled” for needing fresh, your pets require fresh to live long, healthy lives.

5). I’m looking for (pick one) a veterinarian, groomer, dog daycare, dog trainer, etc. Who do you suggest? Yes, we can help you with that! We get to know our professional animal community and would love to connect you.

6). I have a new puppy….H.E.L.P! I don’t know where to start! We empathize with the excitement and nervousness what comes with being a new puppy owner! We’ll break it down with you, going over products you might need, help you pick foods, training treats and connect you with training gear such as harnesses, leashes, collars and crates.

7). My dog has a lot of anxiety, I don’t know what to do, what do you have? A lot of dogs show behaviors that we label as “anxious” that are actually normal canine behavior. Think about what you’re noticing and try to think about it from their perspective. Does your dog bark at strangers entering the home? Does your dog get nervous when left alone?  Does your dog seem antisocial at the dog park? These types of behavior are actually quite normal. Dogs are pack animals and their genetics requires them to need to keep their pack safe. It’s quite distressing to a dog to have a stranger enter their home, have their people leave for the day, or have to keep their person safe at the dog park while sniffing the surroundings for who has been there. Of course, there will be variances within the breeds, but generally speaking, dogs are happiest and at their best when their people are together with them at home.

This is not to confuse normal behavior with true anxiety. Just like with people, there are many reasons for anxiety. Trauma, such as having to get a new home, can lead to some anxiety especially at first. Dogs are such pack animals, having their pack taken away and a new pack is a big responsibility and confusing. It’s very important to instill calmness and consistency in their day and routine. It’s amazing, really, how well they manage this type of stress. If it’s been several months and your new dog is experiencing what you feel is more than normal stress, it’s likely time to get some help. A good, positive-reinforcement dog trainer who can help with confidence building. Find a trainer who only uses positive reinforcement. We don’t believe in trainers recommending citronella, shock or prong-collars in their training, as it can set your pup back and reinforce fear. Many pet owners tell us they feel their dog does better on these types of products, however, we believe they have raised a very compliant dog who isn’t able to express themselves properly, which then can create other types of anxiety.

8). I need help finding a food for a specific health condition. What do you have? These requests are our forte, however, please know we’ll never want to take the role of your veterinarian. If, however, we believe we can work within the guidelines of what your veterinarian is requesting, we are happy and generally able to do so!

9). My cat is having litter box issues. Why? There are many reasons for this. First, it’s important to rule out a urinary tract infection. If this has been ruled out, here are other factors to consider:

a) New litter or new litter box can cause stress to the cat. If you are using a new litter, change it out gradually by mixing with the old litter over the course of several days.

b) Placement of the litter box can cause stress. Is it near a high traffic area? Consider moving it to a more secluded space.

c) Did something stressful happen, such a loud noise, even once, while your cat was in the litter box? Sometimes cats will associate that stress with what they were doing at that time and then become scared.

d) Do you have a cat that has a hard time getting into the box or to where the box is due to injury or old age? You might need to move the box to an easier location or get a box that is easier to get in to.

When all else fails, there are products that can help attract your cat to their box and/or products that can help with stress.

I hope that you have found some value in this article if you are experiencing any of these concerns with your pet. Feel free to email me at laura@tfspets.com with any questions or concerns and I am always willing to do my best to help!