Author: Tail_Blazers_Pets (page 1 of 2)

Private Label Pet Food: Why Tail Blazers Does Not Have Any

We frequently get asked why we do not create our own, “in store” or “private label” brand of dry or raw pet food. Private labeling is becoming more commonplace in pet food stores/chains. Private labeling is the process by which a pet food store or chain contracts a pet food or accessories manufacturer to formulate and manufacture an exclusive line of products – food, treats, toys, etc. for that store or chain. These brands are sold exclusively in that store or chain of stores.

Tail Blazers has made the decision to never private label for the following reasons:

Since 2000 we have developed close and important relationships with our suppliers and manufacturers. Those that have the same goals and stringent requirements that we do, which is creating and maintaining superior health for your pets! These relationships are extremely important to us. We have grown together in what was a VERY new concept in those early years, in creating a “health food store for pets.”

Tail Blazers is known for sourcing, researching and supplying only the highest quality raw, freeze-dried, dehydrated, canned and kibble brands. Every single ingredient is investigated for quality and source.

Pets have such varied needs. We see pets daily with so many health concerns. Our goal is to find the perfect food for your pets. We do this by knowing our foods and options and can present the perfect option based on that, not on a favorite company or a private label brand. The companies that we source from are the experts in their formulations. This allows us to customize a nutritional plan for your pet. Private labeling only allows limited customization.

It is our opinion that pet food stores with private label brand foods are less likely to consult with you. Their focus will always lean toward the private label brand and higher margins.

If your store recommends a food, ask them two things:
1. Ask if the food is their private label brand or their exclusive brand
2. Ask why they have recommended the food that they have recommended

Does the recommended food meet your pet’s health needs? This is the most important question.

This industry has been growing, changing and expanding rapidly and exponentially. As a result, many are looking for ways to make more profit and to get the “upper hand”, so to speak. Private labeling allows stores to make higher profits, as they are the direct licensee of the brand. They do not have to purchase through a distributor or compete against other resellers.

At Tail Blazers, we put your pet’s unique needs first and foremost, and we always will!

By Andrew Outinen (co-owner of Tail Blazers Etobicoke and Tail Blazers Heartland) and Tamara Low (co-founder of Tail Blazers)

Leaky Gut Part 3 – Diet and Lifestyle Approaches

-Diet is an integral part of any leaky gut protocol!
-Eliminate processed foods, grains, starches and sugars.
-Eat a species appropriate diet (raw being the best choice). Beyond being species appropriate, raw food diets are full of enzymes and are easily digested. They don’t contain processed ingredients, help improve overall health and aid to heal the gut. The next best choice would be freeze-dried or dehydrated foods.

-Try to avoid pesticide-based flea products
-Reduce routine vaccinations by opting for titre testing instead
-Find natural alternatives to anti-inflammatory drugs
-Identify and reduce your pet’s stress
-Avoid antibiotics when possible, but if antibiotic use is a must, rebuild the gut flora with probiotics

Leaky Gut Symptoms – Part 2

As a result of Leaky gut syndrome (for more information on WHAT leaky gut is, read Part 1 on our blog), CJ Puotinen explains, “the liver and kidneys, the body’s main filters, become overwhelmed, and toxins spill over into the bloodstream, which carries bacteria, toxins, and partially digested food particles to muscles and connective tissue throughout the body”…..this makes for a serious state of ill health and disease in the body. From this perspective, and with this knowledge, it is easy to see how so many varying and vast amounts of ailments and conditions can be the result.

Leaky Gut Syndrome has been referred to as the “great mimicker” appearing in the form of MANY chronic diseases/illnesses. In addition to gas, bloating and diarrhea; skin diseases, allergies, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic cystitis (kidney/urinary), arthritis, liver, gall bladder and pancreas diseases, diabetes, behavior problems, including aggression, obsessive compulsive disorder and self mutilation. Over the years we have seen many dogs that chronically harm themselves self by obsessively biting, scratching, and licking themselves. It is my feeling that knowledge about Leaky Gut and what is going on in the body as a result, sheds some light on this previous mystery (of course emotional factors can be a cause too).

Many times, with a change of diet, we have seen many of the above symptoms disappear, and then appear again. Julie Ann Lee says, “a recurring ear infection may clear up then the dog suffers from disorders like hot spots, full blown allergies or hypothyroidism.” The reason for this is that the root of the illness needs to be healed before the body can be completely healed.

The bacteria in the intestinal tract need to be rebalanced/re-populated and inflammation needs to be reduced. The environment needs to be cleaned up. The root cause needs to be repaired. Leakage, damage, and inflammation all need to be eliminated so that the body can heal and rebalance.

Julie Ann Lee says, “your dog’s gut is responsible for more than 70% of their immune system and is directly responsible for digesting all of that amazing food that you are feeding. With an unhealthy gut no amount of raw food or nutrients will support her health and longevity, let alone heal something like an allergy.”

Though leaky gut can be difficult to pinpoint due to its many possible symptoms, it is possible to help! Stay tuned for more on supplements and foods to support and address Leaky Gut Syndrome in part 3 in our next newsletter.

Lee, Julie Anne. Leaky Gut Syndrome. Dogs Naturally Magazine. P 14-17.
Puotinen, CJ. Canine Allergies and Your Dogs Health. Whole Dog Journal. May 2007.

What is Leaky Gut? Part 1

Part 1 of 3

Julie Anne Lee, Homeopath, has written a wonderfully informative article on Leaky Gut Syndrome in dogs. She explains more about how the intestinal lining works, the absolute importance of it being strong and intact, and what happens in the body when it looses its integrity. In addition she discusses the many ways in which this damage can and does happen in the first place (to name only a few: poor diet, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, stress and over-vaccination). She refers to “the delicate intestinal mucosa that lines the gut and allows tiny digested nutrients to pass through to the blood stream” as being like a “cheesecloth or a tea strainer”. Essential nutrients are absorbed into the body in this way. This mucosal lining “can also act as an incredibly important barrier to keep out toxins, pathogens, and undigested food particles”.

With Leaky gut syndrome, she explains, “the mucosa becomes traumatized and inflamed, causing the junctions (the spaces in the cheese cloth) to become stretched and damaged to the point where they’re no longer able to filter out larger food particles, bacteria and toxins. These substances can now pass through the intestinal wall and make their way into the blood stream and lymphatics. “

When food enters the blood stream, where it is not intended to be, this triggers your dog’s immune system “to fight the intruders”. This is a large burden and very confusing for the body to handle. When it “becomes overwhelmed”, particles are then absorbed into the bodies tissues, which causes inflammation. Something even more serious can take place here due to this inflammation “the immune system can attack these intruders, which can lead to autoimmune diseases. The body starts to perceive food as its enemy- the reason that we see so many dogs that are allergic or reactive to almost every protein and many vegetables and grains.” This is absolutely huge, a very large eye opening discovery and revelation, as on a daily basis we see dogs that are in this very serious state of ill health, which can be very puzzling and extremely frustrating and disheartening. Gas, bloating and diarrhea are common outward symptoms. Leaky Gut Syndrome has been referred to as the “great mimicker” appearing in the form of MANY chronic diseases/illnesses such as skin diseases, allergies, thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic cystitis (kidney/urinary), arthritis, liver, gall bladder and pancreas diseases, diabetes, behaviour problems, including aggression, obsessive compulsive disorder and self-mutilation. We have all seen that dog that chronically harms itself by biting, scratching, and licking, now we may be able to have an idea about what is going on in the body and why they are doing this (of course emotional factors can be a cause too). 

The damage and inflammation needs to be addressed for the dog to regain its health and vitality. There are many things that can be done to repair the damaged mucosal lining and reduce inflammation. Julie Anne has created a supplement protocol to do just that.

 Supplements recommended to assist with gut healing are:

Protocol consists of: * Anti-Vaccinosis (Initial 2 Day Regime) 15 ml liquid * Liver Tonic (Support/Detoxifier) 60 ml liquid * Healthy Gut (Digestive Enzyme/Pre &Probiotic) 83 g powder * Gut Soothe (Anti-inflammatory) 153 g powder * Gut Seal (Strengthener) 30 ml liquid

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 on Leaky Gut!

Lee, Julie Anne. Leaky Gut Syndrome. Dogs Naturally Magazine. P 14-17.

Domestication vs Evolution

Hello everyone!

I am Andrew one of the owners of the Tail Blazers Etobicoke store. I want to address a topic that has recently come up within the environment of our health food store for pets.  That topic is Domestication vs. Evolution.  As a society, we have domesticated our companion animals over 10000 years  (but even more recent data shows it was 32000 years ago).  That is a fact (except for maybe the thousands of feral dogs and cats living in every city in the world…would we call them “domesticated”?).  However, that domestication has not at all led to any evolutionary changes – which takes approximately a MILLION YEARS – in the way that our companion animals should be nourished in order for them to survive and thrive.


I come from a 20 year career in the human health care field.  Combined with my formal, post-high school education, I have spent more than half of my life studying, researching and promoting many of our amazing advancements in research, science and medicine.  I have a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology.  I have a Master of Science in Medical Sciences.  I am a published researcher.  I have been a basic researcher, clinical researcher, and heavily involved in the sales and promotion of some of the most important medical devices we as humans have ever invented.  Products used to save lives… every single day, all around the world.

I am a 100% believer in the research, scientific and medical breakthroughs we as a society have made to improve and extend our lives.

I am also a 100% believer in the advancements in food science and nutrition – especially ones that have provided clean water, and improved crop and livestock yields required to feed more and more people on our little planet.

The medical and scientific advancements have run along in parallel with nutrition for some time.  We do live longer lives.  No doubt about that.  However, while we have been making these advancements in medicine and nutrition, we also created a society of fast food and convenience.  That society created packaged foods laden with preservatives, salts, and other man made “nutrients”. That societal need or want has made its way to the nutrition of our companion animals in the forms of kibbles, canned foods etc.  Although we have domesticated our companions for thousands of years, these convenience foods have only been around for about 100.  What were our furry friends eating before this?  What should they be eating?

These questions can easily be answered by looking at science – anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.

We can learn about what WE should eat as humans to nourish and thrive as well.

I agree 100% that the medical research community has helped us live much longer lives.  Humans can now live 80, 90, even 100+ years in some cases because of our advancements.  However,  when should we ideally be taking advantage of the medical advancements that we have created?  Should we stay healthy until 60? 70?  How should we ideally stay as healthy as possible in those years?   Our fitness and medical industries have really focused us on PROPER healthy nutrition.  What does that mean for us as humans?  Let’s look at anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.

I am going to be quite quick and simple on this. It really should not be that difficult.  Start with the mouth.  Our teeth tell us what we are designed to eat and what we have evolved to eat.  We don’t really have canine teeth anymore.  Sure some people have longer ones than others.  My dentist actually shaved mine down years ago for aesthetic reasons – so maybe I should be more carnivorous!  But joking aside, we do have sharper teeth that chew, to some extent, meat based foods.  We also have plenty of flat molars designed to grind up plant matter.  Enzymatically, we also have plenty of an enzyme called amylase in our saliva.  That enzyme is designed to start the digestion of starches.  So, right from the beginning of our digestive tracts we see that we are designed for some, probably smaller amounts of animal proteins, and more plant matter including starchy grains.

Depositphotos_44531361_original-sm-blogIf you quickly look at the mouths of our companion animals what do you see?  Do we see flattened grazing animal-like teeth designed to grind up plant materials and grains?  Do we see large chomper type teeth required to crop grasses.  No.  We see very large canines designed to rip flesh and other very sharp teeth designed to begin the chewing and digestion of animal flesh, fat, organs and yes, bones.  Enzymatically you find very little, almost no, amylase.  Dogs mouths contain very little, and those of cats contain none.  They don’t have the tools to digest starches right from the start of their digestive systems the way we do.

Let’s look to the physiology of the human digestive system very quickly.  We start in a pretty acidic stomach.  Stomach acid helps to break down cell walls and to activate other enzymes called proteases used to help us digest proteins – mostly meat proteins.  Then our diet enters a very long  system – I am talking about 9 metres long, including about 7 metres of small intestine that is required to digest plant based material and absorb all of our nutrients.  It is literally a long and winding road that is required to do that.  This system is full of plenty of other enzymes and compounds to help digest all of the other components of your food – starches and plant cell walls included.  Our system is pretty well designed to eat the omnivorous diet that many people maintain, or the plant-based diet that much of the inhabits of our planet consume.Depositphotos_2522572_original-blogsm

Now, let’s look at what we have in our companion animals.  We do start with that highly acidic stomach -full of acids and enzymes designed to digest animal products.  But where do we go from there?  The digestive system of a dog is about 4.5 metres and that of a cat is about 2 metres.  The dogs’ system is better at breaking down plant materials – they have longer small intestine and more but limited enzymes to do so.  Dogs are still generally considered carnivores but they have capability to function and survive on the omnivorous side – but more with plants and fruits – not starchy produce like wheat, soy, corn and limited ability for rice and potato.  Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores.  Obligate – the root of OBLIGATION – to bind or compel, to restrict to a particular function.

Biochemically, dogs and cats function at a lower pH.  This includes their urine.  Lower pH means higher acidity.  And more acid is reached by consuming a diet high in animal based proteins.  You have probably heard something about “alkalizing” diets for humans – that humans should exist in a more alkaline or basic biochemical environment.  That comes from a diet higher in plant based foods.  That means we should have higher pH levels or more basic or alkaline bodies.  What should we be eating to help extend our lives and thrive?  We are told to eat from the outer rows of the grocery store – more fresh real food – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, in some cases lean meats.

Now, as much as I believe in the advancements in human medical science, I believe in the veterinary medical sciences – many of which have been developed as we have, fortunately or unfortunately, tested human medicines and medical products on animals.  But similarly to the question that I asked regarding at what age should humans begin take advantage of the medical advancements in our healthcare system, what age should dogs and cats enter the veterinary system.  Can we see dogs living 20 years?  Can we see cats living 25+ years?  It has happened.  So at what age is PROPER nutrition not enough?  Is it 14 years for a dog?  Is it 16, 17, 18 years for a cat?  Can we get them there with the PROPER diet that their bodies are designed for?

If we are being told to eat more whole, real fresh foods, should our companion animals also not eat the same?  Does that seem like too obvious a question?  What do the vast majority of dogs and cats eat?  You know the answer – processed, cooked, sometimes nutritionally void kibbles and canned foods, where nutrition must be added in the form of human made synthetic ingredients .  Now wait a second.  Doesn’t this sound just like the processed packaged fast foods that we, as humans, started to fall into in the 60s and 70s for convenience?  And where have we come?  Full circle back to unprocessed, whole real foods.  So, what does our discussion regarding dog and cat anatomy, physiology and biochemistry tell us they should be eating?  A few thousand years of domestication has not caused any evolutionary changes to the point where dogs and cats should eat anything other than – RAW animal flesh, fat, organs and bones.  And in the case of dogs – some limited plant materials – fruit, vegetables and botanicals (like grasses and maybe roots).  Why do we continue to feed them the highly processed, nutritionally void kibbles?  Is it “medicine” in a bag?  Is it for our convenience?  If we believe that eating healthy whole foods can help us stave off the healthcare system then should we not believe that we can do that for our animal companions as well?

The conclusion seems pretty clear…dogs and cats should eat what they have eaten for 10’s of thousands of years.  That includes a real, whole food diet – ideally in a raw format.  Think about it.  This is the truth being discussed.

Pets have added years to our lives, now it is time we add some to theirs!



by Andrew Outinen, Co-Owner of Tail Blazers in Etobicoke, Ontario

After a twenty year career in human healthcare, Andrew made the big decision to bring his knowledge and experience together with his love for furbabies and open this health food store for pets in Etobicoke. Jenny is currently staying with her healthcare job, but she definitely helps out in the back-office whenever she can. Their three cats – 15 year old Ozzy (ginger short hair) and 8 year old bonded “sisters” Jasmine (white and grey tabby) and Jasper (Russian Blue) have become much healthier on a diet of Tail Blazers’ exceptional kibble, pouched wet foods, and supplements. We and our team are here to consult with you and find the best combination of diet, treats and supplements to help ensure that you add more years to your pet’s life!



Sleeping Dogs

The old saying; ‘let a sleeping dog lie’ typically refers to muzzling a bad conversation, but in the literal sense, there are many reasons why we should let a sleeping dog lie.

Different Ways of Sleeping

Dogs sleep in a far different matter from humans, which explains in part why dogs need more sleep than a human. A human follows a binary sleep pattern.

  • REM sleep. The REM sleep pattern yields the deepest sleep, allowing for the greatest rejuvenation of the body. A human will enter into REM sleep easier than a dog, and humans spend about 25% of their sleeping time in REM sleep. A dog only spends about 10% of its sleeping time in REM, which means the dog needs more hours of sleep for full rejuvenation of the body.
  • Active patterns. A human spends much of his/her awake time in an active pattern, either in physical or mental stimulation. A dog meanwhile may only spend about 20% of its day truly active. Another 30% of the day may be spent in a waking pattern, but the dog is inactive.

Different Sleeping Requirements

While the average human requires about eight hours of sleep per day, as shown in the infographic an average dog has a need for 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Different types of dogs will land outside of the average range of needed sleep though.

  • Puppies. A younger dog will need up to 18 hours of sleep per day. For the owner of a new puppy it may not feel like the young dog is sleeping that much, thanks to all of the late-night trips outside during housebreaking, but puppies do sleep more than an average adult dog.
  • Older dogs. Just as people tend to sleep more as they get older, dogs that are older will sleep more too. Some older dogs may sleep 16 hours or more per day.
  • Different breeds. A large breed dog will tend to sleep more than a smaller breed. Working dogs, such as service dogs, will tend to need less sleep than an average dog.

Avoiding Sleeping Problems

Some dogs may sleep more than you’d like during the day, leading the dog to be more active at night, which interrupts your sleep patterns. This can be especially true for a dog that’s left at home alone during the day while you’re at work. Dogs that aren’t receiving mental or physical stimulation will tend to sleep more, so you may want to try a few ideas to ensure the dog is stimulated during the day, whether it spends the majority of its time outdoors or indoors.

  • Outdoors. Leaving a dog in the backyard for hours at a time isn’t necessarily stimulating … and may result in a bored dog digging holes or barking constantly. Instead, make sure the dog has some toys while outside. Play ball with your dog, provide raw bones for chewing, or take them on walks to keep outdoor time interesting for the dog.
  • Indoors. Again, toys will help the dog stay awake during its time indoors, as toys can stimulate your dog both physically and mentally. Having another dog in the home can help too, as can using a dog day-care service. And consider training your dog as a volunteer, which will be enjoyable for both of you.

So although it’s important that your dog gets enough sleep on a daily basis, it’s also important that you make sure the dog’s awake time is spent well. And if you want to ensure healthy sleep patterns, especially at night, make sure your dog has a good daily routine, mixing exercise, playtime, and rest time. Additionally, be sure you know your dog’s health considerations, such as possible food allergies, in order to be sure he or she isn’t losing sleep over feeling unwell. Sticking as close as possible to that routine every day will allow the dog’s sleep pattern to more closely match your own!


Dogs Sleeping



Article is Guest contributed by: Amber Kingsley
Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.  She has spent most of her research writing about animals, food, health and training.

The Safety of Irradiation In Pet Food and Treats

At Tail Blazers we do not approve or carry any food or treats that have been irradiated, also called “ionizing radiation.” To irradiate something means to expose food to a high dose of energy ionizing radiation using Gamma rays, X-rays or electron beam radiation in the attempt to prevent food poisoning by reducing the level of parasites and harmful bacteria; to prevent spoilage by destroying bacteria, moulds and yeast, and to increase shelf life by slowing the ripening of fresh fruits and vegetables. (1) Another goal or irradiation is to kill bugs in product.

The governments of both Canada and the US claim that irradiation is very safe and that it does not change the physical characteristics of food or cause harm. There is A LOT of information out there, and concern, to the contrary, very scary and alarming info!

The deep concerns and questions that I, and many, have with this process are many, including is it safe for pets and people consume? Many studies point to no. There are no studies of the long-term effects of irradiation on the human body or on pet bodies. Irradiation is being tested on laboratory animals in high dose and they have found that lab animals that ate irradiated foods have been documented as having serious health problems including premature death, mutation, reproductive problems, tumours and suppressed immune function (3).

Only certain foods have been approved and are “permitted” to be irradiated in Canada, and those are: onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings.

There are others being evaluated for irradiation approval and those are fresh and frozen ground beef, fresh and frozen poultry, fresh and frozen shrimp, prawns and mangos.

Any imported irradiated food must also be approved for irradiation in Canada and must comply with all relevant regulations, including labelling requirements. Canadian government regulations require all foods processed by irradiation be labeled with an international symbol for irradiation with the words “treated by irradiation”, “treated with radiation” or “irradiated”. This is from the Canadian Produce Marketing Association website (

In Canada, pre-packaged foods which contain more than 10 per cent irradiated ingredients are required to bear this symbol, but those with less than 10 per cent irradiated ingredients don’t need to be labeled. Yikes!

Irradiation in Pet Food


In the United States the list of approved irradiated foods is longer than the Canadian list and includes:

Beef and pork, crustaceans (e.g., lobster, shrimp, and crab), fresh fruits and vegetables, lettuce and spinach, molluscan shellfish (e.g., oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops), poultry, seeds for sprouting (e.g., for alfalfa sprouts), shell Eggs, spices and seasonings

In the United States, irradiated foods must be labeled — except for “multi-ingredient” (read: packaged) foods. So if you’re purchasing spice mixes or other packaged foods which contain more than one ingredient, there’s no easy way to tell if it has been irradiated or not. Luckily, in both Canada and the United States irradiated food does not meet organic standards, so when you eat organic, you know you’re eating non-irradiated!

This is the American irradiation symbol- it looks very “green” and “eco-friendly” to me. Very misleading!

Irradiation in Pet Food and Treats

Irradiation does not kill all bacteria. It kills the majority of the bacteria that causes food borne illness but does not eradicate other waste that can contaminate meat due to unsanitary conditions in slaughterhouses and processing plants. It does not destroy the virus that causes mad cow disease (2). Many argue and wonder, myself included, that instead of jumping to irradiation as a “solution” that we should be cleaning up the way we do things- e.g. slaughterhouses. According to the Centre for Food Safety “Irradiation is an after-the-fact “solution” that does nothing to address the unsanitary conditions of factory farms, and actually creates a disincentive for producers and handlers to take preventative steps in production in handling (4)”.

Does irradiation kill or destroy the nutrients in food? There is concern about the nutritional content of the food being altered and compromised as “the gamma rays break up the molecular structure of the food (7).” Free radicals are produced and react with the food to form new chemical substances called “unique radiolytic products (such as formaldehyde and benzene- a known carcinogen) (7).” Irradiation destroys antioxidants that are necessary to fight free radicals. Radiation is a carcinogen.

According to John Hanselman “during irradiation, cell membranes and DNA strands with in microbes are broken. Chromosomes mutate when broken shards recombine (3).” This then becomes an entirely different product than what was originally intended to be consumed. All without our knowing or the knowing of the effects of this long term.

Along with killing bacteria, I found out that irradiation does nutrition, too. Vitamins A, B1, C, and E are highly sensitive to irradiation (3). I read an article called “Food Safety Concern” on the Centre for Food Safety website that says that irradiation can destroy between 2-95% of the vitamins and nutrients found in a variety of (foods including amino acids and fatty acids). For example, irradiation can destroy up to 80% of the vitamin A in eggs, up to 95% of the vitamin A and lutein in green beans, up to 50% of the vitamin A and lutein in broccoli, and 40% of the beta-carotene in orange juice. Irradiation also doubles the amount of trans fats in beef. Despite 50 years of research, food scientists still do not fully understand how these changes take place.  Much of the ongoing research, in fact, is focused on devising new ways to hide these changes, rather than addressing the cause of the changes themselves (4).

To me, the possibility of nutritional deficiencies being created due to our food being tampered with is more scary and frightening than some bacteria, mould, yeast etc on/in my food. Irradiation can also change the flavour texture and odour of the food.

There is an example of the harmful effects on cats due to consuming an irradiated pet food. Before 2009, Australia required all imported foods to be irradiated coming into the country that include fresh meats or that have been cooked at low temperatures. Irradiated food from Champion Pet Food in Alberta, Canada was sent to Australia as per Australia’s food entry requirements. This caused 90 cats to get very ill and 30 died. No animals that were fed the exact same non-irradiated food in the US and Canada got sick (8). Champion Pet food conducted extensive testing and found that Vitamin A was depleted in the irradiated food up to 77%. This can cause neurological symptoms in cats. They then tested the food at varying levels of irradiation and found that more vitamins were depleted as the levels of irradiation increases. They were also concerned with the formation and release of free radicals. Scary stuff!! In 2009, Australia banned cat food irradiation.

Irradiation in Pet Food

I have also read that almost all of the chicken jerky treats imported from China are irradiated. There have been HUGE issues with chicken jerky treats from China causing many many pet deaths and very serious illnesses.

In addition to the questions about the safety of consuming irradiated foods, there is another public safely issue to take into consideration. The nuclear plants are very dangerous places and accidents and contamination/polluting of the environment do happen and will continue to happen. To me, this is WAY more harmful and frightening than some bacteria in my fruit and veggies! Irradiation kills 95% of the bacteria in food, but not all bacteria are harmful to your health! In a day and age where we are focused on conserving energy this process requires a lot of energy and so much toxicity! Author, Michelle Hancock says irradiation gives the nuclear industry a convenient method of toxic waste disposal (3).” Yikes, again, so scary!

A passion of mine (in addition to nutrition and nature/the environment) is gut health. Irradiation wipes out the good bacteria as well as the harmful ones that we need for great health/great immunity. These good bacteria curb the growth of dangerous bacteria and according to Nate Curtis (3) produce an odour that indicated food spoilage. Nature is so amazing- of course it has an amazing process to take care of itself/ourselves. With irradiation, this process is eradicated. I find it so scary and absurd that “the nuclear industry” needs to be called in to keep us “safe” when nature has a built in process to do this. In many places I read that there is a chance that bacteria can survive the irradiation process and can mutate and become radiation- resistant. Again, I marvel at the intelligence of nature!

As previously mentioned the human industry has laws in place to indicate to the consumer when a product has been irradiated. A very scary fact is that there are no laws that require pet food to be labeled as irradiated (9)!! This is why we ask manufacturers and will not approve, nor carry products in the stores that have been irradiated.

According to John Hanselman, other methods besides irradiation can be used to control bugs such as temperature treatments and stricter cleanliness standards. GSE, or Grapefruit seed extract is a natural product that some of the stores carry) and can be purchased in health food stores that can kill these “undesirables” in food with out harmful and toxic affects on the body and to the environment. Vegetables and fruit can be washed with a few drops of GSE and the same goes for meat. GSE can be used with meat as well.

Many might be surprised to know, that the worlds largest irradiating centre is right here in Canada! The company that owns it is a New Jersey company located in Whitby, Ontario.

I could go on and on and on, this is just scratching the surface on this issue, but I will leave my findings and concerns here for now. It is my feeling, as well as the feeling of others, that we are not getting the whole truth from those that are proponents of irradiation and that nature can take care of herself (with the assistance and support of the wonderful human beings that support her) if given the chance.


Written by Tamara Low
Co-founder of Tail Blazers


Sources include:
1. (Wendy Priesnitz)
2. (Nate Curtis)
3. (Michelle Hancock)
5. things-you- need- to know/
6. (John C. Hanselman)
7. (Excerpted from the Food & Water report “Meat Monopolies: Dirty Meat and the False Promises of Irradiation” by Susan Meeker-Lowry and Jennifer Ferrara)

Government Websites:


Puppy Socialization

This is a topic that gets a lot of attention and by now most people are aware of how important it is to socialize your puppy. Great! The message is getting out! Unfortunately, people seem to be pretty confused as to what exactly socialization is. We know that it means getting our dogs out and meeting new people and dogs, but there is a lot that is missing in that equation.

Golden Puppies

By the time you bring your puppy home at 7-8 week old (no less than that please), you have approximately 4-6 weeks before the period for optimal socialization closes. At around 16 weeks that initial imprinting period closes and it becomes harder for a puppy to habituate to new experiences.

Socialization is basically creating a good reference library for the rest of your dog’s life. It is introducing your new pup to new people of all different races, ages, body types, clothing, and disabilities. Dr. Ian Dunbar suggests your pup meet over 100 people a month to be properly socialized.

It is having your puppy play not only with healthy puppies their own age, but appropriate adult dogs of all different sizes, colours, and breeds. Its taking your puppy into new situations and experiences. I have a list of over 100 items your puppy needs to experience before 16 weeks of age.

Many great breeders will help you get a good head start on socialization and habituation. But here is the kicker…your pup has to have very good experiences and make positive associations with these things, and bringing you new puppy home can actually coincide with their first sensitive or fear period. It is easy to overwhelm or frighten a puppy, so make sure with each circumstance the puppy is happy and adjusting well. “Flooding” is exposing the dog or puppy to novel experiences when they are fearful and hoping they “just get over it”. Flooding should be avoided at all cost, as you can sensitize your puppy to those experiences, making them more fearful. It is a good idea to seek out a positive reinforcement trainer who can help guide you through those impressionable first weeks and set your puppy up for success.

The dog park is not an appropriate place for a puppy to be. There are many reasons for this.

  1. There are many dogs at dog parks that will not be appropriate with a puppy. If your pup happens to be in a sensitive period (developmental period where they are more fearful) any bad experiences can have lasting and scarring effects.
  2. There are many diseases and bacteria that are transmitted through feces (abundant at most dog parks unfortunately) and puddle water that can be very harmful to your puppy. I typically suggest waiting to visit dog parks until the pup is 10-12 months old.
  3. I suggest dogs have the all important rock solid recall before they venture into dog parks as well. Regardless of it being an off leash park, the by-laws state that your dogs still have to be under your control. If you can’t call your dog back, they should be training in a lower distraction environment until they can.

So, how can a pet guardian safely socialize their puppy without running the risk of disease and bad experiences? Here are some ideas:

Pug Puppy-A well run, positive socialization class is essential. Well run socialization classes are filled with treats, play and lots of impulse control and new experiences. Your pup can safely socialize under the guidance and watch of a qualified professional.

-Take your puppies (carried) to your local large retailer and stand outside the entrance with a pocket full of treats. You will find many people will come up to you to pet your adorable little addition and you can ask every one of them to help you with socializing your pup.

-Take them to a friends house where there will be appropriate older dogs for them to play with. Make sure the dogs are healthy and up to date on shots.

-Create a play group for puppies in your neighbourhood. Social media community pages are a good way to find them near you or post a note at your community centre.

-Take them to your local pet store. There is no reason you cannot carry your puppy in until they have had their second set of shots and let the staff oooh and ahhh over your puppy. I don’t know of any pet stores that don’t allow pets in and don’t have treats for just such an occasion.

-Make a point to handle your puppy everywhere, every day. Check ears, teeth, lift that tail, hold paws.

-Book an appointment at your groomers and just let them do the basics (bath, brush, teeth, nails, ears) while you feed treats. Your groomer will thank you.

-Lots of noises are very scary to puppies and translates to fear in older dogs. Storm phobias and noise sensitivity is very common. Get a recording (many apps can be found for phones or CD’s of recordings can be purchased) and start off at a low volume and progress to louder as the puppy is able. Your puppy should not be experiencing any fear before you progress. Play the sound, give a treat.

-Take your puppy for car rides and rides on transit. Here in Calgary it is totally free to take your pet on public transit, so why not take advantage? Many cities you will have to pay, but it is worth it to be able to take your pup everywhere.

Keep it fun, Keep it safe! Have any more ideas on safe socialization? Comment below! 🙂

Guest blog by April Lott
WiggleBums Training

Older posts