Creative Marketing Does NOT Make a Healthy/Nutritious Pet Food!

The makers of Beneful have made some minor changes and launched a new marketing campaign:












Raw meat is allowed to be added to the ingredient panel in it’s wet weight.    So by weight it frequently can occupy the first place on the ingredient panel.   However, once included the product dries down in processing and falls way down the list.    Looks like the rest of the ingredients look pretty much like they used to:











So even though they now include a little bit of meat in the diet you will find  an ingredient list that includes whole corn, chicken by-product meal, whole grain wheat, corn gluten meal, beef tallow, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal and my favorite…..egg and chicken flavor.     So grain and grain by-products still constitute the majority of the dry product composition.

It’s all about marketing to these folks.



Tips for fall pet health!

 Excerpted from the Pet Health Network

#1. Watch out for ticks in fall
Just because fall is here doesn’t mean that ticks aren’t still lurking. In fact, according to the University of Rhode Island, many species of ticks are active even into the winter and can survive the first frost. Here are some tips to keep your pet tick-free this fall:

  • Don’t let ticks cozy up. Eliminate their favorite environments, such as leaf and garden litter, where ticks can sometimes survive even into winter.
  • Check for ticks frequently.
  • Continue using tick control and repellent products, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors with your pet enjoying activities like hiking, camping, or hunting.
  • #2. Beware rat poison and other rodenticides
    Fall is the time of year when mice, rats, and other rodents start to scurry for warmth.
  • Be careful when it comes to mouse traps and rodenticides like rat and mouse poison. Nobody wants an infestation of mice, but many poisons that are currently on the market can be very harmful to dogs and cats. Direct ingestion can be deadly.
  • Even if you don’t have a rodent problem or choose to deal with mice and rats humanely using live traps, you never know what methods your neighbors are using. The carcasses of rodents that have been killed by rodenticides can also be dangerous, so if you see the telltale tail dangling from your pet’s mouth, make sure he drops it and keep an eye on him, and if you think your pet has eaten any of the rodent, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • #3. There is a fungus amongus!
    In some regions of the country, fall is just as wet as spring. That means that more mushrooms dot backyards and forest floors. While most mushrooms are perfectly safe, there’s a small percentage that are highly toxic to our furry friends (and to us!).
  • #4. Feed your pet right
    It’s getting colder out there, and cool temperatures mean more energy is needed to stay warm. You’ll probably need to feed your pet a bit more food – food generates body heat, so pets who spend a lot of time exercising outdoors need to eat more than in the summer.
  • #5. Watch out for antifreeze toxicity
    In preparing for the winter months ahead, people tend to use fall to winterize their cars. This often involves changing fluids such as antifreeze, which can be deadly for pets. Consider this: one to two teaspoons of the stuff can kill a 10-pound dog! Less can kill a 10-pound cat.1
  • Part of the problem is ethylene glycol, a substance in antifreeze that has a sickly-sweet smell that entices pets to lap it up. That’s why it’s important to clean up spills immediately and make sure your pets steer clear of the garage while you’re working on your vehicle.
  • #6. Beware chocolate and hearty foods
    The fall and winter parallel our holiday seasons, when we ramp up our intake of hearty, heavy foods and sweets. It’s important to make sure your pets don’t get into any foods that can make them sick; for dogs, this means chocolate, grapes, and raisins are off limits because they are toxic.
  • Just because some foods aren’t technically considered toxic to pets doesn’t mean they’re safe. Rich, high-fat foods can cause stomach problems such as diarrhea andgastroenteritis and even more serious conditions like pancreatitis.
  • #7. Be careful with decorations
    Holidays mean decorations! But be careful about leaving irregularly shaped objects and trinkets around the house. While you might like to get into the seasonal spirit, dogs and cats do too – in the form of sampling, say, decorative gourds or other fall props. Eating strange objects can be dangerous and lead to foreign body obstruction.

Meet Andrea!

WPE EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT! Meet our groomer, Andrea!

“Growing up we always had dogs and cats, among other creatures. Around the neighborhood our house was known as “the neighborhood zoo”.

I had always known that I wanted to work with animals in some way, but didn’t always know exactly how. I started my work with animals volunteering at a shelter near Waterloo. I loved being able to give dogs and cats love when they most needed it. From there I worked for our family vet and that made me realize that I definitely want to be working one on one with the pets and making them feel good.

I started looking into a grooming career and found a job at PetSmart where I went through their grooming academy. From there I became the salon manager of the Waterloo PetSmart. After 4 years there, I moved to the Des Moines area with my boyfriend, Joe, for better job opportunities. Shortly after that, I found myself at Wholesome Pet Essentials.

I have been delighted to spend this past year (and the future) at Wholesome Pet Essentials as a groomer. I really enjoy the one-on-one attention that I can give to the dogs and cats being groomed. It is a very relaxing environment for both the groomer and the pet. I love being able to really get to know the regular clients, both the pet and pet parent. In my 5 years of grooming, I can truly say this is the best place for grooming hands down just on environment alone.

As far as pets that we currently have in our little family we have: Wall-ee (a Persian cat), Professor Farnsworth (a Himalayan/Persian cat mix), Tiny Rick (a Chihuahua mix), and Phillipe (a bearded dragon).”

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Meet Carissa!


This week we are featuring Carissa. “I have been around dogs my entire life. Growing up we always had dogs and cats on my parent’s acreage. I have also had some parakeets, fish, turtles, and rabbits growing up. I have always had a passion for animals. I graduated from Iowa Central Community College in 2012 with an interest in pre-vet tech. After ICCC I went to Iowa State for a year taking animal science classes.

Currently my life is controlled by my two favorite fur kids; my 4 year old Rat Terrier mix Zoey and my 3 year old Black Labrador Retriever Copper. Zoey is my love bug – always wanting to cuddle, but she does have a wild side, she loves refereeing her brother when out in the yard playing fetch. She runs behind him barking and cheering him on. She also loves doing the “zoomies” around the house. Copper is my hard worker. My Boyfriend and Copper just recently received his AKC Junior Hunter Title and his NAHAR Started Retriever Title. They will be working for more titles in the future. This fall/winter we are going to be working towards his CGC title.

I volunteered at an Animal shelter while I attended college and loved every minute. I also worked at 3 Earl May Lawn and Garden stores extending over 5 years. Starting at the age of 16, where I worked with the animals there taking care of them and educating new owners. I worked at a doggie daycare for a year, where I fell in love with handling and working with each of the dogs on a day to day basis. I also enjoyed hearing stories from the passionate owners.

When I started at Wholesome Pet Essentials I found a whole new group of passionate pet owners and I absolutely love helping them and their dogs and finding healthy holistic options. I have been working at Wholesome Pet Essentials since they opened in March of 2015. It has been a great year and a half.”

Meet Carol!


Carol joined us at WPE in November of 2015. She came to us with 22 years experience, both personal and professional including: animal care & husbandry, assistant vet tech work, some grooming, and essential oils. She really enjoys learning new natural approaches to animal care.

Carol has had a variety of pets from dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and other small animals; along with longhorn cattle and poultry on the farm. She now has four rescued dogs-Brittany (age 18-Bassett/Collie Mix), Star (age 10-Greyhound), Zoey (age 10-Beagle) and Faith (age 10-Pomeranian). She has a rescued cat named Gracie and some reptiles.

Carol enjoys spending time with her animals, reading, gardening and staying involved with church activities. Carol and her husband (Kenny) have been married for 27 years and have been amazing parents to many fur kids with the hopes of rescuing and enjoying many more in the future!

Experienced Pet Stylist Needed

Wholesome Pet Essentials is growing fast and the demand for pet grooming is high! We are looking for an EXPERIENCED pet stylist with a positive attitude to add to our team. This can be a part-time position.

Minimum requirements : Ability to groom dogs of all sizes according to breed standards or customer request, Excellent scissor cutting skills, excellent customer service and neat appearance. Must have your own tools (clippers, blades, etc.), be self motivated with good work habits and have a love for dogs (cats are a bonus). Must be available to work two weekends a month. At least 2+ years experience is a must!

Candidates should be prepared to groom a dog as part of the interview process. Pay is negotiable.

Email Tracy at or call (515)289-2006 for more details.

Pets and Seasonal Allergies

(excepts from


Did you know your dog or cat can suffer from seasonal allergies just as you do?

According to a survey conducted by Novartis Animal Health, over half of pet owners aren’t aware their fuzzy family members can also spend the spring season feeling miserable thanks to pollens and other environmental allergens.

Two Categories of Pet Allergies

There are primarily two types of allergies: food allergies and environmental allergies. If your pet gets itchy during spring, summer or fall, she’s probably reacting to seasonal, environmental allergens. But if her symptoms continue year-round, it’s more likely her sensitivity is to something more constant in her environment, or to something in her diet.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, however. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a hard freeze in the winter, environmental allergens can build up and cause year-round issues for your pet. In addition, seasonal allergies can progress to year-round allergies, which I’ll discuss shortly.

Signs Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies

Unlike humans whose allergy symptoms usually involve the respiratory tract, allergies in dogs and cats more often take the form of skin irritation or inflammation – a condition called allergic dermatitis.

If your pet has allergies, her skill will become very itchy. She’ll start scratching excessively, and might bite or chew at certain areas of her body. She may rub herself against vertical surfaces like furniture, or she may rub her face against the carpet. She’s trying to relieve the miserable itchiness by any means possible.

As the itch-scratch cycle continues, her skin will become inflamed and tender to the touch. Other signs of allergic dermatitis include areas of hair loss, open sores on the skin, and scabbing.

Hot spots can develop as well in dogs (hot spots are rarely seen in cats). A hot spot is inflamed, infected skin that occurs when your dog’s natural bacteria overwhelms an area of his skin. Typically the skin will be very red, and often there is bleeding and hair loss.

Other Signs to Watch For

Pets with allergies also often have problems with their ears – especially dogs. The ear canals may be itchy and inflamed as part of a generalized allergic response, or they may grow infected with yeast or bacteria.

Signs your pet’s ears are giving him problems include scratching at the ears, head shaking, and hair loss around the ears. If infection is present there will often be odor and a discharge from the ears.

While respiratory symptoms aren’t common in pets with allergies, they do occur. A running nose, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing are typical allergic symptoms in both two- and four-legged allergy sufferers.

Typically pets with seasonal allergies to ragweed, grasses, pollens, molds and trees, also develop sensitivity to other allergens inhaled through the nose and mouth. Animals with weaknesses in their lung fields can develop sinusitis and bronchitis, just as people do.

Another sign to watch for if you suspect your pet has allergies is generalized redness. Allergic pets often have puffy red eyes, red oral tissue, a red chin, red paws and even a red anus.

How Seasonal Allergies Can Turn Into Year-Round Allergies

Allergic reactions are produced by your pet’s immune system, and the way his immune system functions is a result of both nature (his genetics) and nurture (his environment).

I often see the following history with allergic pets who visit my practice:

  • A young pup or kitten, maybe 4 to 6 months old, begins with a little red tummy, itchy ears, and maybe a mild infection in one ear. His regular vet treats the pup symptomatically to provide him some relief.
  • The following year as soon as the weather warms up, the pet is brought back to his regular vet with very itchy feet, another ear infection, and a hotspot or two. Again, the vet treats the symptoms (hopefully not with steroids) until the weather turns cold and the symptoms disappear.
  • Year three, the same pet suffers from May through September with red, inflamed skin, maybe some hair loss, more hotspots, frequent ear and skin infections, and a tendency to chew his paws or scratch until he bleeds.
  • By year five, all the symptoms have grown significantly worse and the animal’s suffering is now year-round.

This is what usually happens with seasonal environmental allergies. The more your pet is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes.

With my regular patients (those who start out life as patients of my practice), I begin addressing potential root causes at the first sign of an allergic response, which is usually around six months of age. I do this to reduce the risk of an escalating response year after year.

Helping a Pet with Seasonal Allergies

Since the allergen load your environmentally sensitive pet is most susceptible to is much heavier outdoors, two essential steps in managing her condition are regular foot soaks and baths during the warmer months when all those triggers are in bloom.

Dermatologists recommend this common sense approach for human allergy sufferers. If you have hypersensitivities, your doctor will tell you to shower at night and in the morning to remove allergens from the surface of your body. I recommend you do the same for your dog or cat.

  • Frequent baths give complete, immediate relief to an itchy pet and wash away the allergens on the coat and skin. Make sure to use a grain free (oatmeal free) shampoo.
  • Foot soaks are also a great way to reduce the amount of allergens your pet tracks into the house and spreads all over her indoor environment.
  • Keep the areas of your home where your pet spends most of her time as allergen-free as possible. Vacuum and clean floors and pet bedding frequently using simple, non-toxic cleaning agents rather than household cleaners containing chemicals.
  • Because allergies are an immune system response, it’s important to keep your pet’s immune function optimal. This means avoiding unnecessary vaccinations and drugs. And I do not recommend you vaccinate your pet during a systemic inflammatory response. Vaccines stimulate the immune system, which is the last thing your pet with seasonal environmental allergies needs. Talk to your holistic vet about titers to measure your pet’s immunity to core diseases as an alternative to automatically vaccinating.
  • If you haven’t already, move your pet to an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods that create or worsen inflammation are high in carbohydrates. Your allergic pet’s diet should be very low in grain content.
  • Research has shown that ‘leaky gut,’ or dysbiosis, is a root cause of immune system overreactions, so addressing this issue with a holistic vet is an important aspect of reducing allergic reactions over time.

Allergy-Fighting Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diet of all pets — particularly pets struggling with seasonal environmental allergies – is very beneficial. The best sources of omega 3s are krill oil, salmon oil, tuna oil, anchovy oil and other fish body oils.

Coconut oil. I also recommend coconut oil for allergic pets. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps decrease the production of yeast. Using a fish body oil with coconut oil before inflammation flares up in your pet’s body can help moderate or even suppress the inflammatory response.


Reasons to ONLY Purchase Your Pet Food from An Independent Pet Food Store


Reasons To ONLY Purchase Your Pet Food From An Independent Pet Food Store

Do you want an expert to personally monitor how your pet is doing with a particular pet food? Sort of like your own personal pet food dietician? Shop ONLY at an Independent Pet Food Store.

Petco has recently announced a new campaign – “What we feed them matters”. Petco’s press release states they are providing “nutrition education” in-store and online. On the Petco Food Matters webpage it states things like “There’s a difference in what we offer. Because some ingredients, like preservatives, can be harmful to pets, we carefully select the brands offered on our shelves.”

It sounds good, but…walk into any Big Box pet food store or message an online pet food store and ask these questions:“Which pet food sold here is made with USDA inspected and approved human edible ingredients?” and/or “Which pet food sold here is made with no ingredients from China?” and/or “Who manufactures this pet food?” I’ve done this – many times. Each time I’ve gotten the deer in the headlights look (or the standard non-response email that all our pet foods are quality). They don’t have a clue about what they are selling.

Now here is what happens in many Independent Pet Food Stores…

You walk in – and the store is tiny compared to the Big Box store. You look around and there might only be 15 different brands of pet food in the store (by the way – that’s a good sign! – more below). You ask the same three questions…

“Which pet food sold here is made with USDA inspected and approved human edible ingredients?” “Which pet food sold here is made with no ingredients from China?” “Who manufactures this pet food?”

In most (not all) Independent Pet Food Stores – 100% of the pet foods sold are made with human edible ingredients (food ingredients not feed ingredients). Many will not carry a feed grade ingredient pet food – if they wouldn’t feed it to their own pet, they won’t sell it to you.

At the risk of losing customers – many Independent Pet Food Stores will not carry one pet food that contains any ingredient sourced from China. I know several store owners that are completely China free – food, treats, toys, beds. This isn’t easy – and it isn’t cheap. Most are not interested in selling cheap products – they want to sell quality products.

And Independent Pet Food Stores that I am familiar with, know exactly who manufactures (and where) each food they carry – in most cases store owners have had lengthy conversations with the pet food owners (not sales reps – owners) before a new food is even brought into their store. You have a question about a pet food they don’t know the answer to – they will call the pet food owner and ask for you.

And why are the Independent Pet Food Stores only selling a few different brands? If you ask them why, you’ll probably learn it has nothing to do with shelf space. It has everything to do with quality – most will ONLY sell real food from companies their experience tells them are quality and safe. Most want to carry more brands – but they won’t sell their souls or risk your pet’s health for sales of iffy pet foods. I consider it a good thing (a great thing) to walk into a pet store and not be bombarded by hundreds of brands and varieties.

(Most) Independent Pet Food Stores…

  • Provide ongoing monitoring of your pet’s nutritional health for no additional fee.
  • Are the front line of defense against problems with an ingredient change of a food that could affect your pet.
  • Are constantly gathering feedback from other customers on each brand they sell. Very beneficial to each of their customers.
  • Know the quality of ingredients, country of origin of ingredients, where and by who the pet food was manufactured by, and recall history of every product they sell.
  • If they don’t have answers, they will get answers for you directly from the manufacturer.

But here is what I consider to be the best benefit of shopping only at a Independent Pet Food Store…

Personal attention. Not just someone to answer your questions, but personal attention to how your cat or dog is doing a particular pet food. With each return visit, most Independent Pet Food Store owners ask how your cat or dog is doing on the food, and if things aren’t just right – they will steer you towards a brand that might be better suited for your pet. A slight change of ingredients or perhaps even a different ingredient supplier in another brand might be the best your your individual pet. (Most of) These people have the experience with their brands and know how to direct you. It’s like having your own personal pet food dietician for no extra charge.

I have lost count of the conversations I’ve had with Independent Pet Food Store owners where a pet food consumer came in with a sick pet. Sick to where everyone else had given up hope the animal could be healthy again. The store owners knowledge and experience of what bad nutrition can cause and what good nutrition can cure – has guided countless sick pets back to health through good food.

Small miracles happen everyday in these little stores. Please support these people – buy your pet food from them. I know so many of these folks, believe in what they do, and learn from them. I hope all of you get to know your local Independent Pet Food Store too.


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible