Pet theme continues; dog food, breeders, and breeds – HaliPawz

Picking the right food for your new fur baby can be daunting.  There are so many things to consider.  Over the last few years of having multiple dogs, multiple breeds in my home, I have learned a lot and wanted to share.  Some of the information I discovered, I wish would have all been in one spot. Since it wasn’t, I’m doing it.  Another thing I discovered is, for every thing I found positive about something, I could also often find something negative.  My best advice, consider the source.

I say consider the source often.  Even as you read this, consider the source (me) as not being an expert.  I do not have a degree in animal nutrition. I’m just someone who likes to investigate things until I am able to draw my best conclusion.

As I mentioned, there are factors that go into picking the best food for your fur babies.  These are in no particular order.

Price. For some, price is a HUGE factor, for others, they want the best no matter what the cost.  I, personally, am more on the latter, I would rather spend more on healthy food for my pets but I also recognized the most expensive does not mean the best for every breed! Do the research before dropping a lot of money.

If price is a factor, then determine how much you can budget before you pick the food.  You may also want to consider the pet you are purchasing.  For example, a Great Dane can go through a 30lb bag of food in two weeks, a Jack Russell may take two months on a 15lb bag.  You may want to scale down and get a medium size dog over a large dog if you are not going to be able to feed them properly.  Remember, dogs are a 7-14+ year commitment and the food bill grows as they grow.  It’s easy to feed a puppy, think about adult size, senior, special diet, etc.

Ingredients.  Look at the ingredients! If the dog food has a lot of dye in it, stay away from it! Yes, I know it makes it look pretty and you feel bad about giving your baby bland dog food, but if you go back and research, almost every recalled dog food has some sort of dye (usually red) listed in the ingredients.  When I saw the most recent recall, Beneful Recall, I was saddened.  First, because I know a lot of people feed it. Second, because it is a Purina brand and, even though I don’t feed their dog food, I do use their horse feed and I believe they are a good company overall for pet food products.  They are a large company manufacturing a variety of pet food products the consumers want.  The last reason I was bothered by it is the red dye in it.  It just solidified my belief about red dye being a problem.

Full disclaimer…I don’t stay away from red dye completely….my dogs do, on occasion, get treats which have red dye in them, such a Beggin Strips, but I am very aware of it and minimize how much; unless Zipper, my JRT, gets into the bag while I’m gone and eats half of it at once! Not saying that happened or anything! (My tweet about it). Of course, I actually try to stay away from red dye in foods myself.  I don’t know why but I remember reading something years ago about it and just stay away. Except red velvet cake. Hey, my dogs get their Beggin Strips, I get my Red Velvet cupcakes.  Moderation!

Continuing with ingredients, as most people know, the first three ingredients are the most prominent items in the dog food.  The more natural the ingredients, the healthier for your pet.  The first three should be a real meat source, not a by-product.  Do not be fooled by the name! There are tricks to confuse you.  If the name clearly states a meat, such as beef, make sure there is no descriptive words with it, such as dinner or meal.  Those are code words for different percentages.  For example, if it says “Beef” and nothing else, then beef has to make up 95% of the main ingredients, if it says “beef dinner or beef meal” then beef only has to make up 25%.  Huge difference! Always look at the ingredients.  It is also important to look at the ingredients because they sometimes use different meats to make up the protein and your pet may be allergic to one and not the other.  I have learned my JRT will eat anything but seems to appreciate red meat more than lamb.  My mastiff has a pickier stomach and was on lamb and did ok, but seems to prefer poultry or red meat as well.

Crude analysis is another important factor.  I used to think the higher protein is always better.  Over time & extensive research, I have learned this is not true.  KNOW YOUR BREED! Understand their needs.  Understand their activity and growth.  I’m going to start with Zipper.  His name says it all.  He flies everywhere.  I’m not sure there is a slow speed on him.  Even walking across the room he does a little prance instead of a slow walk. He is high energy and, at 18lbs, considered a medium size dog.  He goes between Orijen and Acana Ranchland.  Orijen owns Acana, it is just slightly cheaper. His primary food is Acana Ranchlands.  It is 31% protein and 17% crude fat.  The ingredients are a long list of protein rich foods.  He does great on it.

I felt bad not feeding Bella, my mastiff, Acana, but I just couldn’t afford it.  After doing research, I learned Zipper’s food is a little too high in protein for her.  I was feeding her Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast and she did well on it, but I would notice she would be stiff at night after playing at the dog park.  I almost switched her to a different food based on a friend’s suggestion of breeder recommended, which I will discuss in a minute.   I did not switch her brand, just her type.  I switched her to Earthborn Holistic Large Breed and I am happy I did!  It is 26% protein, which is 1% higher than recommended for her breed but she is extremely athletic, so the 1% will not affect her at all and 13% crude fat. Well within the recommended percentage.  In addition, it has Glucosomine & Chondroitin in it!  Within two weeks of the switch, I saw a huge difference in her stiffness! The friend I mentioned earlier? He has switched to it as well. I still give her a supplement of Glucosomine & Chondroitin as well, but she gets the majority from her food.

If you have a giant breed or large breed, there is a lot of information floating around the Internet.  People get passionate about their way being the best way.  This is where I say to use some common sense as well.  In my opinion, when I read WHY Great Dane puppies should not have as much protein because of how fast they grow, it MADE SENSE to me.  At the same time, you have to be aware of when to switch them from puppy food to adult food.  Some Great Danes grow until 3 years, that doesn’t mean they should be on puppy food for 3 years.  Do your research.  Read a few REPUTABLE articles.  Consider the source.  Are they getting a kickback? Do they have a vested interest in a particular product.  Also consider their activity level.  As I mentioned, my mastiff is more active than a typical mastiff.  She will play for hours at the dog park with male dogs half her age.  She will go to the barn and run around.  She is ACTIVE so more protein is good for her.  She even gets a half cup of Zipper’s food mixed in with hers from time to time.  She loves it.

Now I want to talk about breeder recommendations.  Breeders are in a business, especially large breeders.  When their reputation goes up, they become a target.  They will be approached by companies to promote their product, in return, they usually get the product for free or at cost.  Think about it; you’re feeding a lot of dogs for FREE and you are selling the puppies for profit? Of COURSE you’ll consider it.  Most of the time, the product is good, it would be considered upper middle of the road.  Affordable for most people.  It happens in every industry.   I’m not saying the product is bad, but just keep in mind, there is usually some sort of kickback.

***I do want to put my plug-in here for ADOPT over breeders.  You can get purebred dogs / puppies from shelters and rescues.  Unless you need a breed for a specific reason, job, or you plan to show them, please consider adoption from a local rescue or shelter. ***

There are great tools available to help you sort through the details.  One great resource is where it rates the different brands. Please note, they can only rate one or two types per brand, so I would also suggest looking at the company website if your flavor is not reviewed.  It is important to also read the review, not just the visible rating.  You will see key areas of concern or items they were not able to evaluate because the company didn’t make it available.  That could be important.  If the company won’t disclose key nutrient information then you may not want to feed it! There is the flip side as well, sometimes the product may be better than 5 stars, but they only rate on a 5 star tier so all 5 stars are not equal.

So, now for some money-saving tips.

If you decide to feed a premium dog food, most of them participate in a rewards program.  Both Acana and Earthborn do.  For every 12 bags I purchase, I get the 13th free.  All I have to do is save the UPC. Ask your local pet store if they participate.  Three locations in Kansas City sell Bella’s food, K9 Closet, Brookside Barkery & Bath, and Blue Parkway Bait & Pet Supplies.  Blue Parkway does not sell Zipper’s food.  All three locations participate in the 12 bags / 1 free program.  Usually big box pet stores, like PetSmart and Petco do not sell the brands that participate.

Get on an email list for both the food and the  store you end up purchasing from or join their social media page(s).  I receive a $3 coupon off Earthborn every 4-6 weeks.  I know it’s not a lot, but it helps.  If you are at a dog friendly event in town and they have a booth, ask the rep for coupons.  Let them know you currently feed and how much you love it.  You’ll be surprised.  I know this post is about dog food, but I can say I have received coupons for a whole bag of horse feed just by asking! I have also received free small bags of Orijen and Acana just because I asked.  The food is expensive! They know it!  I won’t say it works all the time, but it does sometimes.

If you’re staying in the mid range, visit your wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco.  Find out which brands they carry, then look them up on Dog Food Advisor.  I know at one time, Sam’s Club had a four star rated food for a great price! Not sure if they still do. Another location to look at for dog food is Tractor Supply.  They have started carrying grain free dog food at a reasonable price and many people do not think about them.

I hope this helps you in determine the right dog food for your baby.  Remember to consider each dog is different, each breed is different, and each need is different.  What’s right for YOU is what is important!

This article was written purely for information.  I received no kickback or request to write it. It all started because I posted something about red dye on the Beneful recall I saw on Facebook.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz or like me on Facebook HaliPawz

The Mice Battle Me vs. Them

I have mice. No one WANTS mice, it’s hard to admit it, yet here I am, battling mice. I want to say I have a mouse, because having one mouse sounds better than saying I have mice, but even I can’t convince myself of this anymore, since I saw two in my kitchen at the same time.

This battle has been going on for a couple of months now. I feel as if I am becoming a mouse expert with all of the research I have been doing. The one thing I have learned….there is no fool proof way to get rid of mice!

It all started a couple of months ago when I saw a mouse run along the wall of my living room. I started looking around and discovered they had found my open bag of dog food in my downstairs office. I had taken in a friend’s dog for a short time and I fed him in there. Never once thought about the bag of dog food being mouse heaven. I called a friend to ask for help. I hate killing living creatures so the thought was to catch & release like we had done one other time. This mouse was FAST and smart. He wasn’t having it.

I went out and bought a live trap from Wal-Mart. I was confident I was going to catch this mouse and all would be right in my world again.

I had caught the mouse! I was so happy. Seeing as how I freak out over the little creatures, I called on yet another friend to release it for me far, far away. I moved the dog food to a plastic bin. I had my house back! Yes!

Or so I thought. When my friend came back with the trap, it was in a couple of pieces (it had fallen apart as he was releasing them) and he said he had to was it. Wash it??? What??? He informed me I had caught two, not one and they had made a mess in the trap. My instant thought….NO WAY. The live trap has to go! I know it seems ridiculous but I did not want to have to keep cleaning this trap and putting it back together. I told him to just throw it away.

As I rounded the corner of my house, I screamed. It wasn’t a blood curdling, someone is trying to murder me scream, but it was a scream none the less. Sitting on TOP of my plastic dog food bin I had JUST put dog food in about an hour ago were three – four baby mice and one down on the floor! Since math WAS a strong subject, I could put it all together. Four or more baby mice plus two captured equals a big problem!

I scoured the Internet. I found out peppermint oil is supposed to repel mice. When I couldn’t find Peppermint Oil at the Wal-Mart I was at, a quick search helped me find a recipe of warm water, crushed Altoids, and dish detergent.

I loaded up on mousetraps. Not the live ones this time. When it was just a visitor passing through, I was ok with the catch & release. When they are so comfortable in my home they have a tea party, out in the open, they overstayed their welcome and need to be gone by any means necessary. Still being a squeamish baby about them, I bought the type you can’t see them in. I wanted to kill them, throw the trap away, and set out a new one. I did not want to have to see a dead mouse, I did not want to have to touch anything. I did not want the mice in my home anymore.

I chose those traps over the glue because I’m still humane, I didn’t want to have a mouse suffer a slow death. I didn’t want to SEE the mouse. Most importantly, I have two dogs of my own plus the additional one at that time, one of mine being a Jack Russell, I did not want the mouse to become a toy. Those were the reasons for not getting the poison bait. If they had to die, I wanted it to be in the most humane way possible.

Coming home, I set the traps with peanut butter and went to work making my Altoids / water / dish soap mixture. I sprayed EVERYWHERE. At every door, around my pantry, anyplace I could think of. My goal was to keep the mice confined to the two rooms I had seen them in and kill them. I’ll admit, a small part of me hoped they would be so repelled by the peppermint oil they would run fleeing from my home, never to return. We all know THAT didn’t happen. Surprisingly, the peppermint spray appeared to be working for a short time. I sprayed almost daily under the doors of the rooms I was trying to keep them in. I even saw one mouse start to run under the door, stop half way, and acted almost like he was having a seizure of some kind. A SMART person would have used that opportunity to capture it, a freaked out person like myself swatted at him with a broom and ended up pushing him back through the door where he scampered off, leading me to believe the peppermint spray was working in some aspects. The traps were also working slowly. I was throwing one away daily (I had three set in the room). With the help of a friend not scared of the mice, we found their dog food stash (mice can move quite a bit of product) and vacuumed it all up.

With their food supply gone and the spray forcing them to stay in those two rooms, I honestly believe I could have gotten a handle on them….but….I went out of town for a week. No daily sprays meant they were able to venture out. Sure enough, I came home to discover they were in my kitchen. My heart sank. It made me nauseous to think they were in my kitchen. I mean that literally. Whenever I would see a trace of them, I would get physically ill.

Phone call to the same friend (Thank GOD for great friends) and she came over to help me clean my pantry and look for the mouse. We took everything out, wiped down everything with Clorox wipes, threw away everything even remotely having the appearance of a mouse being near it, placed Altoids on the shelves, and put it back in order. I have since switched everything to Oxo canisters so they are air tight. I set a trap on the floor of the pantry and then sprayed the doorway with my spray. I figured, if the spray kept them away, GREAT, if one breached, the trap would catch them before they made it up to the shelves. The trap didn’t go off for over 6 weeks and no signs of any mice on the shelves, so it has worked somewhat.

Now we are up to today. I was out of town for Christmas and sadly, I came home to mice taking up residence in my stove. Yes, my stove! Another phone call (she really should start charging me) and we begin the process of Operation Stove Removal only to discover I have a weird stove and we can not access the area between the stove top and the oven. We googled

****Funny story interjection****
As I was writing this, I kept hearing a noise in my kitchen. I would get up, turn the light on, and would see a scurry back into the stove opening. This happened three times. The fourth time I heard something, I had my eye focused directly in the area it was coming from and I see the mouse briefly on my microwave. I take a couple deep breaths to avoid freaking out and go investigate. Apparently I had received a sample of dog food, the kind in the tubes, and put it up on my microwave. I have no idea how long it had been there (it was in a decorative glass) but the mouse found it. There was a good chunk of it gone. It is thrown away, microwave cleaned off, disinfected, and the dishes on it have been washed. Back to my writing! ***********

As I was saying, we even Googled how to tear the stove apart. No luck. The stove is mounted into my counter top. The space between the stove top and the oven has a couple small holes. Through those holes, we can see insulation, but no way to access it easily. I made the decision to NOT tear it out. I decided to try other measures first. FYI, if you are thinking, hey, just turn the stove on, it didn’t work. Research says they just run somewhere else and return when it’s cooled down again.

After messing with the stove, I did kill one more mouse but it appears they are getting smarter or more adventurous. Back to the Internet for more research.

I found a product called Fresh Cab. It is supposed to be a rodent repellant. Another “natural” product. The reviews were pretty favorable except in situations where the rodents already exist. Upon doing more research, I discovered some possible reasons why that might me, and decided to try it. Amazon had it cheaper but Tractor Supply had it in stock, so off to TSC I went. I bought 2 boxes equalling 8 pouches. I opened them, read the instructions, dated them, and then set out strategically placing them around the house. It was very clear in the instructions NOT to place them near traps. I’m not a fan of the pine scent, but if they work, I’ll live with it.

Ironically, the mouse eating the tube of dog food I mentioned was found less than a foot from where I placed the first pouch of Fresh Cab. Had I not done my research, I would have thought it didn’t work and thrown them away and sent for my money (They have a money back guarantee) but I am not giving up on it yet because
1. I read it is not a repellant like Peppermint Oil is supposed to be. It is a detractor. It is supposed to mess with the mouse’s sense of smell, making them think there is no food available.
2. Mice have weird memories, that is why they say to keep putting traps in the same area. If they KNOW a path leads to food, they will keep following it. With that in mind, the mouse clearly had been chomping on this tube for a few days, so his sense of memory was more powerful than the Fresh Cab (in theory).

I placed the Fresh Cab in one area, the traps with the yummy peanut butter in another direction, so they would be compelled to head towards the trap.

Another thing I have done is throw one or two chopped pecan pieces around the trap. Knowing about their memory, I figured, if they have one or two easy ones to access, they will come back and get the “bait” next and the trap will kill them.

One interesting observation is the Altoids. My first tin I opened and used seemed to work great. I never saw a mouse near anything I had an Altoid sitting on or near. They didn’t seem to go near any areas I sprayed. This new tin I opened I cannot say the same. I even think the mice are carrying the Altoids pieces away! I don’t know if this second tin used less peppermint oil in the manufacturing or not, but I find it strange.

I have not tried the 100% peppermint oil that so many people mention. The Wal-Mart I went to did not have any in stock. I looked today and it appears the one I am heading to has some in stock. I am going to try an experiment with it and will post the results.

I have contacted a company about coming out and looking for the areas in my home the mice may be getting in. It is $159 but considering how much I have already spent on traps, Fresh Cab, Altoids, and soon Peppermint Oil, it might be worth it. Not to mention all the pantry items I had to throw away. At least my house is getting clean an organized!

After all this, the bottom line is mice are a pain in the butt! It is not a simple fix. It takes time and diligence.

If you can stand the sight of the dead mouse and you don’t mind reusing the trap, the wooden traps are the least expensive. If you are a big baby like myself, there are some affordable alternatives. One key is to make sure to have the opening right near the wall so they run in as they are running along the wall.

The cheapest one is D-Con No Touch No View Mousetrap. Less than $5 for a two pack at Wal-Mart


PROS: Inexpensive, Easy to use, easy to see the indicator

CONS: The indicator sometimes doesn’t work. (If it wasn’t clear & the
door was closed, I threw it away) Round (didn’t always fit in tighter areas) Slippery on hard floors so you had to take more care placing them.

Another trap I used and had a quick results is Victor Kill & Seal Mouse Trap About $10 for a 2 pack


PROS: Easy to use, easy to load bait, shape fits easily against wall, Blends in well against lighter colored baseboards

CONS: More Expensive. If bumped, a little difficult to reset

The third one I used is Ortho Home Defense Max Kill and Contain Mouse Trap. About $8 for a pack of 2


PROS: extremely narrow, will fit in tighter areas. Easy to load bait. Easy to set first time.

CONS: Haven’t caught a mouse in it yet. My dog seemed fascinated with it. Difficult to reset if it gets bumped. Messy if bumped (bait sorta falls everywhere, then out when you pick it up to reset).

I have caught the most mice with the first one, but to be fair, I have purchased them the most. My thought is, if they are the cheapest, no harder to use, and work, go with them.

As for bait, peanut butter seems to work well. I but the great value kind to give my dog his medicine with, so I’ve been using that. Chopped pecans also work. Ironically, Ole Roy dog food works well. My dogs eat Acana and Earthborn…using that as bait didn’t get the same results. I’m guessing it is because they are both grain free. Any type of seed, grain, or nut appear to yield the best results.

I hope I have helped the next person battling mice to not have to go digging around multiple days to get all the different information I was able to compile over time!

Good luck!