Caring for Your Canine

We know the best ways to keep our bodies healthy are nutrition, exercise, and rest. The same goes for our pets. Yet, with so many different products saturating the market today, it can be overwhelming for pet owners to narrow down food, treat, and toy choices. Dorris Stalker, Pet Department Manager at Kings Ace Hardware on Zimmerman, shared some considerations consumers should take into account as they care for their furry friends.

Just as humans’ size, health, activity levels, and appetites can vary, so can our pets. Dorris explains, “When considering buying dog food, there are a few things to keep in mind: age, breed, and the size of the dog. Some foods are formulated for puppies, while others are for young adult or senior dogs.” These specialized foods are a wise choice because they contain various calories, minerals, and formulas needed for different stages of life. For example, “Puppies have certain formulas for them to get the right nutrition to grow properly, while, as a dog gets older, its metabolism will slow down leading to a decreased appetite and inability to burn off calories.” Dorris continued, “How active your dog is can also determine if you need a higher protein content in their food.” Probiotics greatly help with your pet's digestion (much like your own!). “A healthy digestive system allows your animal to process nutrients more effectively and keeps the animal healthy and active. , antioxidants assist in boosting your animal's immune system, helping them fight off colds and other ailments. You can add Omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s food to help ease inflammation…and to treat conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis and high cholesterol.”

 Even as an experienced dog owner, I still run into the issue of my pup’s tiring of certain foods, or, in recent years, developing an adverse reaction to grain. Dorris shares, “The most common allergy for dogs in their food are grains like corn, soy, wheat, and rice. Allergic reactions can vary, but the most common signs are in your pet's skin or gastrointestinal tract. When the skin is affected, it can be very red, swollen, and form welts. This reaction can involve your pet constantly biting his/her skin, paws, or legs.” When in doubt, and especially if you suspect a food allergy, it is always a good idea to confer with your veterinarian about your pet's food intake, habits, and diet.

Kings Ace Hardware carries a wide variety of dog (and cat!) foods, including many grain free foods such as Taste of the Wild, Science Diet, Natural Balance, Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Nature's Recipe, Northwest Naturals…the list goes on. When switching food brands, Dorris recommends gradually transitioning to the new food by mixing some of it with the former food to ease your pet into it. Also, keep in mind “the size of the kibble.” My four-pound Pomeranian needs small bite food, while you may have a larger breed that can handle bigger pieces.

 Beyond nutrition, your pet’s hygiene is critical to their overall health- such as their dental and skin care. “There are a variety of shampoos available. Some have oatmeal for sensitive skin or are formulated to discourage fleas and ticks. Chew toys and treats are an easy way for your pet to maintain their own dental hygiene,” Dorris explains. Other benefits to having multiple chew toys for your pet is the activity and stimulation that it brings. It can alleviate boredom and be a great option for activity throughout the day. Safety is an important factor though, according to Dorris. “Some toys can present a choking hazard.” Make sure you test its durability because some breeds are more destructive than others with their toys.

 Besides nutrition and hygiene, pet owners will also need collars, leashes, ID tags, brushes, food and water bowls, beds, and crates. There are many factors to consider when caring for our fur babies. "Pet-friendly stores such as Kings Ace Hardware on Zimmerman will allow your pet to help make many of these decisions for you." We are grateful for Dorris, and the knowledgeable staff at Kings Ace Hardware. Stop in for your next pet care purchase.

featured photo by Jana Graham Photography

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s November 2018 issue.

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