Dog Care in Extreme Winter Weather

Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter if it can be avoided, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.  However, a healthy grooming is still necessary and will help to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Massaging paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage if your pet will wear them and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.
  • Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

Safety of Baked Pork Skin Chews

We offer NO rawhides at Wholesome Pet Essentials!   We do offer a safe alternative chew of baked pork skin.    Should you be concerned about the safety of baked pork skin?    For those looking for a simple answer….THEY ARE SAFE!    They are digested.     There are no chemicals used in the processing of baked pork skin like that which are used to process rawhide.     For those interested in some data please keep reading this from the University of Illinois study:


Chews are an important part of the pet product industry, with many having potential to decrease plaque or calculus formation. However, their digestion characteristics and gut transit time are virtually unknown. Two experiments were conducted to determine in vitro DM digestibility of expanded pork skin chews and rawhide chews, and apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD), gastrointestinal transit time, and blood metabolite measurements in healthy adult dogs fed a weight-control commercial diet and expanded pork skin chews. In Exp.1, an in vitro method that simulated gastric and small intestinal digestion was used to determine DM digestibility of expanded pork skin chews and rawhide chews. In Exp. 2, after a 22-d baseline phase, 10 purposebred, intact female dogs (5 to 5.5 yr of age; 18.9 to 23.1 kg BW) were fed the diet plus an expanded pork skin chew (~45 g) each day for 22 d. In vitro gastric digestibility of expanded pork skin chews increased with time, with chews being 54.7%, 58.6%, 76.4%, and 86.4% digestible after 6, 12, 18, and 24 h of gastric digestion, respectively. By contrast, gastric digestibility of rawhide chews was 7.6% at 6 h, slowly increased over time, and reached a maximum of 41.6% at 18 h. In vitro gastric plus small intestinal digestibility results indicated near complete digestibility of expanded pork skin chews at all times, whereas rawhide chews were 50 to 85% digestible. In vivo ATTD of DM, OM, and N were greater (P < 0.05) when dogs were fed expanded pork skin chews along with the basal diet, compared with the basal diet alone. However, chew intake did not change transit time measured with a wireless motility device. By contrast, motility index and contraction pattern of the colon were altered (P < 0.05) during chew feeding relative to control. Blood urea N concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in dogs fed expanded pork skin chews, compared with baseline; this was not surprising, given the increased N intake and absorption from the chews. Intake of expanded pork skin chews resulted in reduced blood cholesterol concentrations (P < 0.05) and tended to decrease blood triglyceride concentrations (P < 0.10). Expanded pork skin had a greater DM digestibility than rawhide chews. In addition, expanded pork skin decreased blood cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, which may justify further research in this area.




Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the active constituents of the cannabis plant, has profound healing and balancing effects on all mammals. Pet owners have used it for a broad spectrum of medical and behavioral issues — cancer pain, arthritis, muscle spasms, seizures, neurological and digestive disorders, anxieties, obsessions, past traumas, withdrawal, mood, and memory. During recovery from illness or surgery, CBD can stimulate the appetite and speed healing. At the end of life, it can ease the pain and fear your pet may be experiencing. CBD does all this by stimulating the endocannabinoid system.


Named after the plant that led to its discovery, the endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors located throughout the body. Short-lived natural endocannabinoid substances are synthesized on demand by the body to maintain homeostasis, a stable internal environment. When these internal mechanisms lag behind the body’s needs, supplementing with extra CBD can help. Research also suggests that supplementing can coax the body to build more receptors so natural cannabinoids will work more effectively.

Two types of receptors have been identified: CB1 receptors, predominantly in the brain, nervous system, glands and organs; and CB2 receptors, found mainly in the regulatory cells of the immune system. Many tissues contain both receptors, each linked to a different action. A key role of the endocannabinoid system is controlling inflammation by up-regulating or down-regulating the immune response. An overactive response can lead to allergies and auto-immune problems; an underactive one can leave the body susceptible to infections and the unchecked proliferation of cancer cells.


Although hemp and marijuana are both classified as cannabis, they are distinctly different varieties. Recreational marijuana is very high in euphoria-producing THC, while hemp plants contain virtually no THC but have high levels of beneficial CBD. Hemp-derived CBD is not psychoactive and won’t make an animal high. It has no unpleasant side effects, and hemp products containing less than .3% THC are legal for sale in all 50 states. CBD from hemp is not regulated as a drug, has no known toxic level, and it is impossible to overdose.


• lack of appetite
• separation anxiety
• excessive barking
• nausea from car rides
• lack of vitality and energy
• trips to the vet or groomer
• muscle spasms or seizures
• pain from cancer or arthritis
• recovery from surgery or illness
• pacing or inability to settle or relax
• fear of thunderstorms, fireworks or loud noises
• grumpiness or aggression toward another animal


• multi-cat households
• poor appetite
• constant hiding
• fear of the litter box
• eating inappropriate objects
• crying with no apparent cause
• trips to the vet or riding in the car
• distress from a change in the environment
• grumpiness or aggression with another animal


Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin - it’s everywhere!!! During the fall season everybody is crazy for pumpkin.

With October being National Pet Wellness Month, let’s look at the benefits of pumpkin for your pets.

PUMPKIN: Can help in calming your pet’s stomach by adding fiber. This helps in bulking up loose stools and it also can help with constipation. (For the safety and health of your pet, if loose stools persist please see your veterinarian…)


With the added fiber, your pets will also feel fuller and this may aid in weight loss. Substitute 1 Tablespoon of 100% Pure Pumpkin, Pumpkin Firm Up, or Frozen OC Raw Pumpkin Rox (available at WPE), for ¼ cup of food.


Pumpkin contains Vitamin A for vision, Vitamin C to boost immunity and joint health, slows aging, and Zinc to improve skin and coat.

Let’s not forget about the cats! Pumpkin aids in moving hairballs through the digestive system, and also adds vitamins and health benefits.

If your pets don’t take easily to pumpkin try making pumpkin meatballs. Take canned food from WPE and mix it with pumpkin blend, shape into meatballs and freeze. Thaw slightly and add to food.

Try a Pumpkin Latte: Primal Goat’s milk (available in WPE freezer section) mixed with pumpkin; add to our fun bone or paw print molds and freeze! Pop out and feed as a treat or on food.

So go ahead and feed that pumpkin, it’s super healthy and your pets will be happy!!


Acana Regionals Five Star Rating

Acana Regionals









Dog Food Advisor, the independent dog food recommendations website, has upgraded its rating of ACANA Regionals from 4.5 stars to the top rating of five stars.

The website is known for its detailed, objective analysis of ingredients and nutritional value, and its five-star rating is coveted among dog foods. With more than 4,500 reviews of dog food products, fewer than 90 dog foods have five stars.

The Dog Food Advisor review highlights the “significant amount of meat” in Regionals. It also celebrates Regionals’ exceptionally low carbohydrates.

“Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food,” reads the review. “Enthusiastically recommended.”

Brimming with 70 per cent meat, ACANA Regionals foods include Meadowland, Wild Atlantic, Grasslands and Appalachian Ranch. Made in our state-of-the-art DogStar® Kitchens in Kentucky, we always use Fresh Regional Ingredients from our trusted local suppliers, such as ranch-raised meats, free-run poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish and sun-ripened fruits and vegetables.

Dog Food Advisor also updated its description of giblets, which are found in healthy, natural diets, to better reflect their true nutritional value.

ACANA Heritage, ACANA Singles and ORIJEN dog food also enjoy five-star ratings from Dog Food Advisor.

The Truth About Catfish







Some people mistakenly call catfish a “bottom feeder” fish. You can find them on the bottom of lakes and rivers, but that’s often because of how they hunt, as they burrow in holes to wait for their prey.

Catfish are omnivores — they eat insects, plants, crustaceans and other fish, not “leftovers,” and their nutritional value proves it. They’re high in protein, Vitamin B12, thiamine, niacin, selenium and phosphorous, and are lean in fat, too. They naturally carry nutrients like EPA and DHA, essential Omega 3 fatty acids. And, unlike most fish featured in pet food, they’re wild-caught and delivered to us fresh and whole.

DogStar® catfish arrives daily from Kentucky’s pristine lakes and our trusted supplier featured in the photo above, Kentucky Freshwater Fisheries.



10 Food Ingredients to Avoid For Your Dog’s Sake

(From: dog Food guide)

If you spoke to five different veterinarians or animal nutritionists, you would get five different answers in regard to the dog food ingredients that are most important to avoid. This speaks to a major problem within the pet food industry – that there are so many low-quality ingredients used by pet food manufacturers, that they can’t all be included in one list. But why exactly do pet food manufacturers use low-quality ingredients in their products? The main reason is money – the lower the quality of an ingredient, the lower the price. That means that the manufacturer can cut their own costs for production while still charging pet owners like you the same price.

So what are the top ten worst dog food ingredients you should be on the lookout for? The list could go on forever, but here are our top choices for ingredients you should avoid in your dog’s food:

  1. Corn – There is a great deal of debate regarding the value of corn as an ingredient in dog food. Some say that it is a valuable source of digestible fiber and protein, but others say that it little more than a filler ingredient and a common allergen. We believe that corn doesn’t have a place in high-quality dog foods, especially if it is used as one of the main ingredients.
  2. Wheat – Wheat products, particularly whole-grain wheat, are considered healthy and nutritionally valuable for humans but not for dogs. While some whole grains can be good sources of digestible carbohydrate and dietary fiber for dogs, wheat contains a protein called gluten that can cause serious allergic reactions in dogs. Wheat is also much more difficult for dogs to digest than other grains like brown rice or oatmeal.
  3. Soy – Soy is one of the top most common food allergens for dogs but many pet food manufacturers use it in their products because it is an inexpensive source of protein. Not only can soy trigger food allergies in dogs, but it also contains chemicals called phytoestrogens that mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen which can cause a variety of health problems in dogs. Soy also contains goitrogens, substances that may inhibit proper thyroid function.
  4. Fillers – As a general rule, you should avoid any dog food that uses a lot of ingredients which do not provide significant nutritional value – this is the case with fillers. Common fillers used in pet foods include things like rice bran, corn bran, soybean hulls, wheat mill run, modified cornstarch, oat hulls, and the like. These ingredients provide very little in the way of nutrients but they add bulk to the product which is why they are so valuable to pet food manufacturers – they can make more of their product at a lower price point.
  5. By-Products – The word “by-product” on a pet food ingredients list should immediately send up a red flag. While not all by-products are inherently dangerous, the quality of different by-products varies significantly so you can never really tell what you are getting. Animal by-products (like chicken by-product meal or poultry by-products) usually consist of the leftovers after the parts of a slaughtered animal that are fit for human consumption are removed. This may include things like feet, undeveloped eggs, bones, and organs (excluding giblets like liver, hearts, and necks).
  6. Plant Proteins – Dogs are carnivorous by nature which means that their bodies are biologically adapted to deriving nutrition more efficiently from animal products than plant products. Plant proteins like pea protein, potato protein, and the natural protein content of beans and legumes are not necessarily bad for your dog, but they are less biologically valuable than animal proteins. You also have to consider that many low-quality pet food manufacturers use plant proteins in their products to increase the protein content without adding more expensive meat.
  7. Coloring Agents – There is simply no good reason to include coloring agents in dog food – the only purpose is to make the product look more appealing to humans. Coloring agents you may see in low-quality dog foods include dyes like Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5 as well as titanium dioxide, a white powder often used as a dough conditioner.
  8. Artificial Flavors – In the same way that you won’t find artificial colors in high-quality dog foods, neither will you find artificial flavors. Flavoring agents are only necessary when a product is not palatable enough on its own – many low-quality dog foods rely on artificial flavors to make the product more appealing to dogs. Artificial flavors may include things like animal digest, glandular meal, and anything that precedes the word “flavor”, except for natural flavors.
  9. Artificial Preservatives – Preservatives in dog food are used to extend the shelf-life of a product so that products can last longer before being sold and so they won’t go bad immediately after the bag is opened. Unfortunately, most of the preservatives used in low-quality pet foods are artificial and made from potentially dangerous chemicals. For example, BHA and BHT are known to have a carcinogenic effect on animals and have also been linked to organ damage. Ethoxyquin is another artificial preservative and it has been made illegal for use in human food but continues to be used in pet food.
  10. Sweeteners – Similar to artificial flavors, sweeteners play no nutritional role in dog food – they are simply used to make a product more palatable and appealing to dogs. Some common sweeteners used in dog foods include corn syrup, fructose, and sugar. These ingredients can add unnecessary calories (thereby increasing a dog’s risk for obesity) and may also increase the risk for dental problems.

Again, these are just a few of the many low-quality ingredients that sub-par pet food manufacturers try to sneak into their products. For the most part, if an ingredient sounds like a chemical (like propylene glycol) or has a number in it (like Red 40), it probably isn’t good for your dog. The exception to this rule, of course, is for synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements which can sometimes have strange names. Just remember that the ingredients at the top of the list are used in the highest volume, so those ingredients should all be of high quality and sound nutritional value for your dog.

Truth About “Grain Free” Label

Are all grain-free pet foods alike?    Of course not.    That would be like saying that all cars with leather seats are of the same quality.    So while the big box stores and grocery stores are many times offering  a “grain free” pet food it may still be kind of junkie as far as your dog or cat is concerned.    Of course the first question is whether your pet needs a “grain” free food.     At Wholesome Pet Essentials we have no foods with corn or wheat or cheap by-products of the grain processing industry.   Many of our kibble(s) do contain brown rice and/or oatmeal.   These are gluten free grains and are used to provide some carbohydrate for your pet as well as helping to make the kibble ‘stick’ together.    Carbohydrates are a necessary part of your pet’s diet and these sources also provide fiber and other essential nutrients.    However, the main protein component in any of our foods is from MEAT and Meat meals.   None of our foods use corn and wheat or by-products to provide a protein component to the diet.   Many pets will do exceptionally well on these foods as they are formulated with high quality ingredients!   Fromm, Holistic Select, NutriSource, Lotus, and Earthborn Holistic all have formulations made utilizing some rice for example.   But the quality of these foods would be far superior to most grocery store ‘grain free’ formulations.

A true grain-free food contains no grains, whole grains or otherwise.   However, the recipe is still not entirely free of carbohydrates.   There are plenty of highly digestible carbohydrates that don’t come from grains.    The main benefit of a true grain-free food for your pet is that it may be easier from some pets to digest and it provides a lower risk of triggering food allergies and sensitivities.    Some of these more “pet friendly” carbohydrates  would be:

Beans, Chickpeas, green peas, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca

But for the typical pet exhibiting intolerances or allergic reaction to their food there’s a very good chance it’s a meat based reaction rather than a reaction to rice or oatmeal.  (Unless they’ve been fed one of the products using corn, wheat or grain processing by-products) Allergic reactions are commonly reactions to proteins and thus we have many single source meat proteins to choose from! And thus another reason we need to use high quality ingredients.   Foods made with high-quality ingredients are going to be more expensive than foods made with low-quality ingredients regardless of whether they are labeled ‘grain free’.

Here’s an example of a very high quality food we carry….this one uses pearled barley, oatmeal and brown rice as a carbohydrate source:

Fromm Chicken








Because these are high quality ingredients this product although not labeled ‘grain free’ remains a much higher quality product than this ‘grain free’ Iams product:

Iams Grain Free



Note that there is more pea and pea starch in this diet than chicken meal.   Yes, it leads off with Chicken but that is on a wet matter basis just like the Fromm food.  When dried in a kibble that will fall far down the list.





Here is a ‘comparable’ Fromm Grain Free Food:

Fromm Chicken Grain Free




Notice that there is more chicken meal in this food than starch products!

Either of these Fromm products would be far preferable than the IAMS “Grain Free” Diet!  So simply being labeled “grain free” doesn’t assure you of anything.