Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane

Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas thrivepetfoodmarket@shaw.ca or visit www.thrivepetfoodmarket.com

Recent articles of Jeff McFarlane

When looking for a pet — adopt don’t shop

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When looking for a pet — adopt don’t shop

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

I overheard someone the other day saying that he almost brought home two Rottweiler-cross pups.

“The guy only wanted $50 each for them, I thought that was a great deal,” he said.

Turns out, the puppies didn’t even have their eyes open yet. Thank goodness he decided not to buy them.

Post-pandemic, we seem to have a new dynamic in acquiring pets. For the longest time, the credo “adopt, don’t shop” was a strong influence. After experiencing the boredom and idle time of lockdown, people seem to have turned back to the shopping idea.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

Dreamstime

The best way of adding a pet to your family is adoption. There are plenty of animals looking for homes, and you should be able to find one that fits your needs.

The simply joy of local dog parks

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The simply joy of local dog parks

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

It was a glorious fall day on the last Saturday of October, perfect weather for a dog park membership drive, barbecue and fundraiser.

Every off-leash dog park has an association that represents the dog owners who use the facilities, and which helps guide the development of the areas and raise funds to help pay for those developments.

These groups are run by volunteers, and ‘voluntolds’ (kind-hearted people drafted into positions by friends or loved ones, who then step up and do a wonderful job they never asked for). It’s mostly thankless work, except at these occasional get-togethers where you can meet the people working to make your pets off-leash time so much better and give them a nod or pat on the back.

Our local dog park is Maple Grove Park (100 Frobisher Rd.), just off St. Mary’s Road and the perimeter. We’ve been visiting this park since we moved here in 1999, and the changes over those years have been remarkable.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

Photo by Jeff McFarlane

The Maple Grove Dog Park Owners’ Association held its first post-pandemic gathering on the last weekend of October.

Natural foods can supplement vet treatment

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Natural foods can supplement vet treatment

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

One of our worst fears in life is cancer — for us, our loved ones, or even our pets. It is an insidious enemy that steals lives away.

Modern society has always looked to the pharmaceutical industry for answers, and it has made huge strides forward, extending lives with new treatments and therapies.

Many people are now looking for natural alternatives, either to replace or complement the current therapies. Many ancient herbal preparations are being looked at again, as well as many ‘wholistic’ concepts.

Wholistic means taking in the whole of the and looking beyond just the problem and treatment. Support for the whole system can make support for the affected part easier and more effective.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Dreamstime

Giving compromised animals natural nutritional support just makes sense.

Feeding pets the logical way

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Preview

Feeding pets the logical way

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022

There’s more than one way to cook an egg. (I’m not going to use the skinning cats euphemism here: always hated that one). Literally, though, there are many ways of arriving at the same outcome, and what works and is comfortable for one may not work for another, nor seem to be a logical way to do the job.

I just had a customer in the store who paused when leaving and suggested we start taking people’s emails, and sending them out bulletins of information like the session she had just had with me. We didn’t discuss anything I haven’t been saying for a decade but, for most people, it can be a new perspective on how to feed our pet, and how to address the issues they may develop, or prevent them from developing.

My journey through pet nutrition has led to many different paths to success and, while I wish there was one answer for all questions, that’s just not the way of the world.

With pets, as with people, when we look at diet, it can be easy to distinguish between what is healthy and what probably isn’t healthy. Conventional wisdom is that if you cannot pronounce it, why is it on a label? I agree with that in principle, but many good things, such as probiotics and nutritional boosters, can have long Latin names that are unpronounceable. But chemical compounds, for sure, should not be necessary if real food is used.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022

Choosing what to feed your pets is often a matter of common sense.

The joy of pet industry trade shows

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The joy of pet industry trade shows

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022

Every industry will have trade shows, where manufacturers, distributors and customers are able to share information about what’s new in the business. The pet industry is no different, and I was fortunate to recently attend my first trade show since the spring of 2020, when we went to Florida a few weeks before the world shut down.

For two days last week, I was able to wander the show floor, taking in what the industry has to offer today.

I got to talk with many of the companies I presently deal with, finding out what’s new and exciting, what is changing, and re-affirming the reasons we chose to do business in the first place. These old friends are always happy to see long-time customers and hear how their products are being received by our clients and looking for feedback on how they can serve us better going forward.

Every show, I get to make new friends and I learn a lot. Talking directly with the people who formulate products, the people who source, make, and package the items we are considering putting on our shelves is so much better than looking at a brochure or website. When you can look someone in the eye, it’s hard for them to spin the sales pitch. Being able to ask questions directly (and using a lifetime of experience to know what questions to ask) affects your decision to bring in a product or pass on it right then and there. And when you can talk to someone and feel their passion for making our pets lives better, rather than it being a way to make a buck — well, those are the companies I love to deal with. Every show, I get to meet at least a few who share that passion.

Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022

The opportunity to meet suppliers and other pet store owners is the best part of a pet-industry trade show.

The SAFE way to feed our pets

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The SAFE way to feed our pets

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

For the past 50 years or more, there have been underground groups and individuals who choose to bypass the commercial pet food industry and embrace cleaner, fresher foods. Until the past decade or so, most were afraid to announce what they feed their pets to friends, neighbours or even their veterinarians, for fear of rebuke, disdain or sparking the whole ‘raw vs. processed’ debate.

In the past few years, we have seen people come forward proudly, bragging that their happy, healthy, long-lived pets have benefitted from a species-appropriate fresh food diet. They still get pushback, but the results are clearly evident in their pets, and society as a whole has become a lot more accepting, even in the face of the disapproval of veterinary clinics, veterinary schools, and veterinary societies.

Still, even starting the conversation about such diets can be a problem. You can start with the idea of feeding raw meat to your pet, which can immediately bring to mind a lot of negative pictures of blood all over the pet or the kitchen. Another option is to use one of the commonly accepted acronyms, such as BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods), or SAD (species appropriate diets) or even RMB (raw meaty bones). But none of these acronyms ever created a positive start to a conversation. So, we are usually starting off on the wrong foot.

We needed a new acronym, one that puts a positive spin on probably the most important decision you can make about your pets’ health. Then it came to me, as often things do, while I was in the shower — “SAFE”, as in species appropriate feeding experience.

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

A commercially made, properly balanced raw diet provides the same level of nutritional balance formulated by the same trained nutritionists as with dry or canned foods.

Choosing the best raw foods for your pets

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Choosing the best raw foods for your pets

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

For over a decade, I’ve been a strong advocate of feeding balanced raw diets. From a nutrition standpoint, for anyone or any animal, cleaner, fresher foods just make sense. How we got to the point that we accept hyper processed, synthetically supplemented carb rich and chemically preserved kibble as an appropriate ‘feed’ for our pets I’ll never know. I guess cost and convenience, like the trap we fell into in the ’50s and ’60s with all the processed, canned, and boxed foods that big corporations convinced us were good for our kids —things we wince at today.

Slowly, it seems, more and more people are starting to look at pet foods with the same cringe factor with which we look at things like canned spaghetti. Wondering why there are so many chemicals, preservatives, and rendered ingredients used; so many items that we cannot pronounce, nor do we understand the reason for their inclusion.

So, we look at the alternatives. Do we make our own pet food? Many people have been making their own baby food so they can control the source of the ingredients, and can be sure of how fresh and safe they are. Are balanced pet foods as easy to make as baby food? You’d like to think it would be even easier, but it is not.

Making your own raw dog food means trying to balance meat, fat, bone, and organs into a nutritionally complete meal. It can be done if you have the time, money, and expertise. There are plenty of calculators and apps for designing and auditing your recipe to make sure it is complete, but these can drive you crazy, trying to balance your bone content to optimize your phosphorous to calcium ratio, etc. There are completers and vitamin/mineral mixes, but most of them use artificial ingredients, so we’re back to chemicals and synthetics.

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

A miniature wire-haired dachshund eats a meal of raw pet food.

Proper food handling keeps your pets safe

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Proper food handling keeps your pets safe

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

There have been a few advisories issued in the pet industry recently, regarding reptile-keeping and salmonella. Apparently there have been issues with some contaminated, frozen feeder rodents; people have handled the feeders and subsequently the reptiles being infected with the bacteria.

Which brings up the discussion, how do we safely buy food for and feed our animals?

This example illustrates that questionably sourced food, handled unsafely, is dangerous. It does not say that all reptiles are salmonella dangers, nor that anyone keeping reptiles who feed live or frozen thawed rodents will catch salmonella. I have kept and bred reptiles for decades, and never had an issue with salmonella.

The key point here is that there are safe ways to care for animals, and there are unsafe ways. The safe way takes thought, planning and equipment. These should not be considered extra effort — rather they should be considered the appropriate effort. Sure, you can buy cheap feed, handle and/or defrost it improperly, and feed it in the animal’s enclosure. That’s the lazy way to do things, and also the dangerous way. It’s how you and your animals end up sick.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

There are safe ways to care for animals, and there are unsafe ways. The safe way takes thought, planning and care.

What to when dog attacks dog

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What to when dog attacks dog

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

I have seen far too many reports of dog-on-dog attacks recently in my feeds. Even more disturbing is the number which involve a dog being attacked, and the attacking dog’s owner either being unaware or seeing the attack but then leaving without addressing it.

Under the local Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw, Sec 4 (1)(i) states that owners must “ensure that the dog does not bite, wound, or otherwise injure any individual or animal.”. This includes at off-leash parks, or when the dog is on leash as well. While the bylaw outlines penalties for most infractions, it does not seem to address this one. I have heard of many cases that end up with police involved and/or small claims court lawsuits for damages.

Off-leash parks are there for dogs to enjoy some freedom, but they are not areas for uncontrolled animals, aggressive animals or dangerous animals to be allowed to roam freely. They are meant for the safe enjoyment of all. Unfortunately, some people think “off-leash” means “no rules’, which is far from the truth. Off-leash areas have posted rules and limitations that users must observe and obey.

If you see an unruly dog or actions that worry or alarm you, it is best to recall your animal and put it back on its leash. If you’re still worried, leave and return at a different time, when the threat has passed. The best way to prevent an incident is to not be there for it to happen.

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

Off-leash dog parks are mostly carefree fun-and-games for all involved but dog attacks can happen, so it’s important to know what you can and should do in such situations.

Keep your pets happy on vacation

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Keep your pets happy on vacation

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

Summertime is vacation time, and when we take our pets on the road, one of the most important things we can do to make sure they have a nice trip is keep their tummies happy.

With all the other changes putting stress on them, the last thing we want to do is change their diet routines so much that they have a reaction and issues with their digestion.

If you are going to change you pet’s diet, the last thing you should ever do is make the change right when or just before you go on a trip. Make the changes ahead of your trip.

Taking food across borders can sometimes be an issue. Some ingredients in some foods are restricted at the U.S. border, and many border agents will not allow open bags of pet food to cross the border, even if those foods were made in the U.S. If you want to take your pet’s food with you, checking with border services before you go is a good idea.

Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

Be sure to have a plan for feeding your pets when you travel.

More summertime pet tips

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More summertime pet tips

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

My last column was about summertime and pets. Something I missed was the implementation of the new changes to the city’s responsible pet bylaw, which come into effect on July 1.

Under the updated bylaw, 22 C becomes a new number to remember. Dogs cannot be left in cars, by law, in temperatures exceeding 22 C (or below 10 c). This does not include cars running with working air-conditioning or heat, but as I mentioned last column, do not rely on your remote starter to provide that operation.

A new twist is the addition of the “no cycling with your dog at 22 C”. This provision is to again prevent harm to the dogs through heat exhaustion and even the potential for burnt paw pads.

There are also many new regulations for dog daycares and breeders inside city limits. Space and staff allotments for daycares should not pose too much of a problem, as most are apparently already easily within compliance. The breeding regulations are a little different. New licensing requirements for intact animals, and restrictions on the number and frequency of litters any female dog is permitted. I applaud the intent of this, and I truly hope that they can find the money to monitor and enforce this, and the public will to report offenders. For a bylaw that was touted as “revenue neutral,” it seems there may be a large cost to properly investigate and monitor these issues.

Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

Many people want to include their pets in their summer travels. If you do, remember that not all pets or people travel well, so you may want to try shorter excursions first.

Keep your pets cool this summer

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Keep your pets cool this summer

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Keeping your cool in the summer is always difficult but we have fingers to turn up the air conditioning, and the ability to sweat. Our pets can’t reach the thermostat or turn on the hose, and they have a very limited ability to cool themselves by sweating, so they need our help.

The first and biggest summertime concern is leaving a pet unattended in a car when it’s warm. Yet we hear about such tragedies every year. Some people don’t realize that remote starters turn off after a period of. A car may run cold for a while but if you are detained or delayed and can’t get back before it shuts off, things can go bad very quickly. A car can become uncomfortably hot in just a few minutes, and deadly a few minutes after that. Leaving windows cracked open can help but even then, if there is no wind, disaster awaits.

If you do see a pet in a car, remember that it is illegal to break into a car. Call 911 or the Humane Society’s animal distress line at 204-982-2020. Follow the operator’s instructions.

If you are travelling with your pets, bring them with you when you leave the car. Most places will understand if you bring your pet in, especially when you explain that you don’t want to cook them in your vehicle. Let shopkeepers know you will be careful with your pet and that, if they have an accident or chew on anything, you will accept responsibility.

Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Always ensure your pets have plenty of water available when outside on a hot day

Musings on responsible pet ownership

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Musings on responsible pet ownership

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

For a number of years, pet owners in Winnipeg have argued with the City of Winnipeg’s responsible pet ownership bylaw. I have written about the bylaw many times in my column, and for the most part, it seems that pet ownership in our city has been protected by concerned pet owners. The bylaw was raised again last summer, when the city began a public consultaton on possible changes.

The result has been many online discussions, plenty of letters to the editor in the Winnipeg Free Press and many discussions at city hall committees.

Attempts to restrict exotic pets further than they already are have been shelved for the moment by the city, and for good reason. The present system is working, and while it may be overly restrictive in some areas, pet owners have found they can live with it. It is often said that any agreement between two parties that leaves neither happy is usually a fair deal. This seems to be the case here.

Two other proposed changes to the RPO bylaw were ultimately not approved by city council.

Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

A proposed pilot program to introduce a limited number of permits for backyard chicken coops was not approved by city council, owing to the emergence of avian flu.

Pet-food inflation and how to deal with it

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Pet-food inflation and how to deal with it

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, May. 11, 2022

Inflation affects everything. The price increases we have been seeing in recent months don’t just affect the price of gasoline and people-food – pet foods are also affected, in some cases even moreso, given how much of the cost of pet foods is energy related.

Pet foods and litter are heavy, so they can cost a lot more to ship. Shipping costs are even higher for pet food ingredients that require refrigerated transport. Making pet food is both energy and labour-intensive, and the costs of both factors have increased quite a bit recently.

For the pet fopod retailer, foods that require refrigeration also carry higher costs. Most of these costs are not factored into what a brand may set as its MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), and that makes margins on those foods even tighter, so even though you may be paying more at the cash register, your pet food store may be making less.

When people see a price increase in a brand of pet food, their first reaction is often that someone else is making more money. But I can assure you that, in most cases, stores and manufacturers are not making more money through price increases. In many instances, profits and margins are actually decreasing, with manufacturers and retailers hoping that costs will come back into line.

Wednesday, May. 11, 2022

If inflation has you wondering about where to cut costs in your budget, cheaper pet food may not be the best bet.

When to worry about regurgitation

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When to worry about regurgitation

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2022

One of my favourite memes depicts a dog 911 operator answering a call and saying: “OK, so you just threw up. Did you try eating it again real quick before someone could clean it up?”

Dogs can have digestive upset, just like we do. Considering what they try to eat, the surprising thing isn’t that they do vomit but how infrequently they do. In most cases, it’s not something we need to worry about. But there are times we should make sure everything is OK.

My best advice is always: “If you think it needs a vet visit, go to the vet.”

No dog was ever hurt by owners being overly cautious and seeking vet care proactively.

Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2022

Many pets have sensitive stomachs but you can aid their digestion by making adjustments to what, when and how they eat.

Living and learning with each new day

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Living and learning with each new day

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

For me, every day is a learning da and every day is a teaching day. Some days I learn more than I teach, and those are good days.

I have grown up in the pet industry. My first retail job was in a pet store and all through my adult life I have consistently been drawn back to working with pets. My 22 years here in Winnipeg serving the fine people of St. Vital and beyond have been a pleasure and when I look back, I cannot believe the changes that have happened, both in the industry and in my own life.

Two decades ago, pet nutrition was just becoming a thing. I remember a company coming to me with a “holistic” kibble, touting it as both the first of its kind, and the first $50 bag of dog food. Yes, those groundbreaking advances happened barely 20 years ago. Sure, there may have been other “natural” foods, and even some that were more than $50 per bag, but this was a major mainstream company introducing this new concept.

In the time since, pet foods and pet food companies have evolved rapidly, whole market sectors, such as ‘grain free’ have exploded, and the amount we spend on pet foods has risen dramatically, with industry monitors saying the U.S. has eclipsed $100 billion per year.

Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

After more than 20 years of doing business, columnist Jeff McFarlane reflects on how much more care and thought people give to making pet food choices.

Keep things fresh for your beloved pets

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Keep things fresh for your beloved pets

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2022

There has been a lot of chatter in social media lately about the best way to extend the lives of our pets. I love it! People are always saying how much their pets mean to them, and now we’re supporting that love with real ways to make our pets lives longer and happier.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid raw feeder. It took a while to get me past decades of training that ‘dog food’ is little brown pebbles. I love the results I have seen in my pets and thoseof my clients, and it just makes sense to eat cleaner, fresher foods.

But raw is not for everyone, I know that.That doesn’t mean you have to limit your pet to one type of kibble — and only kibble — for its entire life.

Studies are coming out which show that adding small amounts of fresh foods to your pets’ diets can make a tremendous difference in pet health. Some foods are more effective than others, and many have very specific benefits, which I will try to share here.

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2022

Yes, even your pets will benefit from eating a few veggies.

Mixed messaging on grains in pet food

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Mixed messaging on grains in pet food

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Over a year ago, I wrote about stories in the media about grain-free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart condition. I was distressed by the misinterpretation of both the source of the concern, and the framing of how to “fix” the issue.

The concern stems from a 2018 investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration into an increased number of DCM case. In that year, 320 cases were reported, a staggering increase from the one or two per year reported in previous years. But it’s still only 320 cases out of 70 million dogs.

So, with mass media picking up the story with headlines like “New FDA warning cautions against grainfree dog food” (The Atlantic) all grain-free foods came under suspicion. It went further and we got headlines such as “FDA names 16 brands of dog food linked to canine heart disease” (NBC News).Many people started questioning those brands.

My concern then was that there was little actual information accompanying the articles, just a warning against “grain-free” foods, and specifically, 16 brands. The fact that the FDA had advised pet owners to not change foods unless instructed to by their vets seems to have been ignored, as was the fact that, while an investigation was ongoing, no definitive connection had been made (and still hasn’t).More recently, I have seen the message changing. The issue was always a question of whether legumes or potatoes were causing a problem. Most “grain-free” foods replace grains with legumes and potatoes. It isn’t that there is something vital in grains that pets need, but rather that there might be something questionable in the ingredients used to replace grains.

Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Dreamstime.com
Columnist Jeff McFarlane has been puzzled by customers asking how they can add grain to their pets' diets.

Are your pets prepared for spring?

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Are your pets prepared for spring?

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

Last week we got an oh-so-brief glimpse of the spring we are all so eagerly anticipating, and it was a reminder that there are a lot of seasonal preparations we need to make before we return to the great outdoors with our pets.

Many people think boots are for winter, and they would be right. Boots are necessary for many pets in winter but they can also make our lives easier in spring.  

There are many brands of non-insulated boots that keep dog paws clean and dry.  Yup, galoshes for pets. The most popular are the balloon-stylee boots. They’re easy to put on, easy to remove, and they keep the feet clean and dry.

If boots are not in your wheelhouse, then there are a number of options for cleaning a dog’s paws upon coming in from a muddy walk. Some people use a small pail or pan and a towel. Simple, effective. For those more gadget-oriented, there are “paw washers” on the market.

Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

Dreamstime.com
Yes, folks, dog galoshes are now “a thing” as we prepare for spring.

Donate to shelters on your pet’s adoption day

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Donate to shelters on your pet’s adoption day

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

There are moments when our attention is brought to issues that exist all the time. Whether it’s wearing pink or growing a moustache for cancer awareness, or wearing an orange shirt to remember Every Child Matters, these reminders can make a huge difference to these causes.

Betty White’s recent passing brought her passion for animals to the forefront, and many rescues and charities got a huge and badly needed fundraising bump as a result.  

Fundraising is a thankless job, and one most groups have a hard time finding volunteers to do. There is a never-ending line of people who want to pet puppies and thankfully a fair number who will provide short-term foster homes for emergency cases, but finding a volunteer to go out and get people to part with cash so that bills can be paid is nigh on impossible for most groups.  

Sure, bake sales, raffles  and auctions are fairly easy to run and will generate some funds, and most small rescues have volunteers who will stage these events. Some rescues have “angels” who can be called upon when things get dire. Many retail stores and manufacturers of pet products also donate money, products or help raise awareness, all of which help save many animals lives. And, most rescues have a veterinarian or veterinary clinic that provides services at a discount and allows them to run a tab, sometimes to a very generous amount.

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

Photo by Jeff McFarlane
Columnist Jeff McFarlane suggests that pet owners can keep the momentum going by making donations to their favourite shelters on the days their pets were adopted. His own Leia (pictured) came home from Jenn’s Furry Friends on April 25.

Choosing the right chew for your dog

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Choosing the right chew for your dog

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

When you have two dogs and you want to give them both something to chew, why can’t they just be nice and focus on the thing you’ve given them? Why does every dog think you’ve given the other dog something better?

Rey and Leia need different chews. Rey can and will eat anything but Leia has a sensitive stomach and is limited in what proteins she tolerates. Of course, these items are more expensive, so we don’t want to give the gluttonous Rey the expensive chews.

This means we have to watch like a hawk to ensure that Rey doesn’t sneak over and take Leia’s treat (Leia is such a gentle soul that she would never protest). We also have to watch that Leia doesn’t get hold of a treat Rey may have left behind (an infrequent event but... still).

Finding the chew that both satisfies your pet and your pocketbook isn’t always the easiest thing but there are many options that can do both.  

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Photo by Jeff McFarlane
Rey, at left, is often jealous of the chew treats that smaller, more sensitive Leia gets to enjoy.

Handle your pet food with care

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Handle your pet food with care

Jeff McFarlane 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

Handling pet food is something we need to be concerned about, as we should all store and serve our pets’ foods with as much care as we give our own food.

Food safety courses are offered for those who work in restaurants or grocery stores, but there are none for pet food. In fact, many there are some accepted habits with handling pet food that we would not tolerate with our own food.

Just because our dogs can tolerate more bacteria than we can doesn’t excuse us from trying to reduce their exposure. The US Food and Drug Administration has “handling guidelines for dry pet food and treats” on its website that emphasizes this, warning pet owners to wash bowls and scoops after each use, to wash pet food bins between bags (or, better yet, place the bag in the bin and close it tightly after each use), and to wash their hands after handling any pet food or treats.   These are more for your protection than your pets, but they area good ideas in any case.

In 2007, and again in 2012, multi-state outbreaks of salmonella were tracked by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were directly linked to dry pet foods. Dry pet foods and treats are recalled all the time because of salmonella.

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

Dreamstime.com
Handling their food carefully will help ensure your pets remain healthy and vital.

The ins and outs of… doggie diapers

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The ins and outs of… doggie diapers

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

I’ve written many columns about the troubles of sizing apparel for dogs. Unlike people, who are generally the same shape and layout, but vary in size, dogs are all over the map in shape and size, making finding things that fit a real challenge.  

Recently, I’ve found a new piece of apparel that is challenging to size — the doggie diaper.  

These are needed for a variety of issues, from spotting during heat to behavioural issues with territory marking, to “doggie Depends” for incontinence.  

These garments are not as variable as, say, coats or boots, as the area they cover is fairly consistent in its shape, but we are still dealing with animals which range from five to 200 pounds, so finding the appropriate size is not always a simple task. Many people can get it right on the first try, as most garments have a weight-dependent size range and more often than not, they do fit.

Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

Photo by Jeff McFarlane
Columnist Jeff McFarlane’s dog, Rey, is wearing a doggie diaper as she goes through her first heat before being spayed.

Be aware of pet hazards at holiday parties

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Be aware of pet hazards at holiday parties

Jeff McFarlane 3 minute read Monday, Dec. 6, 2021

As we slowly emerge from the restrictions of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many pet owners are facing new and interesting challenges.

Many of our pets are “COVID pets” — those we bought or rescued because we had extra time and love to give during the darkest days of the pandemic. These pets have generally been acclimated to the world in a fairly isolated fashion, and we have to be careful integrating them into our holiday celebrations, especially if they are not used to company.

Socializing with pets in large groups can be a challenge at the best of times, but if you are having a larger than normal gathering and have pets who aren’t used to such things, please make sure you take their needs into consideration.

The sensory overload of new smells, sounds and movement will make even the best-trained dog forget its manners. People wandering around with small plates of food are easy targets for intentional or unintentional hunting. If this is a concern, an easy fix is to restrict food to a certain area that you can make off limits to the dog.  

Monday, Dec. 6, 2021

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If you’re planning holiday gatherings this year, remember that most pets won’t have experienced large groups of people in their homes for over 21 months.