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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)

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.

Raw Pet Food Safety – Resources

The safety of raw food diets seems to be coming up a lot lately! We have complied a list of outside resources plus some FAQ that discuss safety of feeding a raw food diet.

Spring Meadows

Raw Pet Food (Spring Meadows)

 1. Dr Marty Goldstein, DVM
(Podcast) Dr Marty Goldsetin, DVM has many high profile customers, such as Oprah Winfrey. He discusses the safety of raw diets (and the benefits) used in his practice. A MUST see! They even mention Sudbury in this podcast!

View the podcast at: www.dogsnaturallymagazine/drmarty

2. Dr Karen Becker, DVM
Dr Karen Becker, DVM takes a natural approach to feeding pets and has many articles and videos on the subject. Here are two specific links to articles about safety and myths:

The Biggest Myths About Raw Food (And Why They Are Mostly Nonsense)
The Completely Healthy Pet Diet that Your Vet Probably Vilifies

3. Compiled Raw Food Myths Including Safety Questions

This page covers ALL the controversial points with researched answers. Visit:


Feeding Raw Resources


1. Carnivora – Extensive resource on feeding, safety and FAQ

2. Give Your Dog A Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, DVM (Book)
Written by one of the pioneers of commercial raw food diets for pets.

3. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Pitcairn and Pitcairn
A full resource for a healthy pet, the natural way. Why Many Vets Still Recommend Prescription Foods & Avoid Raw Diets

4. Dr Dobias, DVM Canadian holistic vet Dr Dobias discusses why some vets are afraid of raw and why they continue to recommend prescription vet foods.


Raw Food Questions and Answers

Q: Will I get sick from feeding my pet raw food?
A: We recommend washing hands, bowls and utensils after feeding ANY food, dry or raw. Treat raw food as you would any raw meat in your kitchen. There have been no known instances of people getting sick from raw pet food. There have been MANY cases of people getting sick from feeding DRY pet food and treats.

cat-eating-rawQ: Don’t all meats contain bacteria?
A: No, not all meats contain bacteria, but some do. Numerous raw pet food manufacturers have procedures in place to safely kill all bacteria . Ask us about which ones and the types of procedures they have in place if you have concerns.

Q: My vet is placing pressure on me to stop feeding raw. What can I do?
A: Your vet is entitled to their own opinion, however we suggest finding a “neutral” or raw friendly vet to work with. There are many out there!

Q: Will my pet get sick from eating raw food due to bacteria
A: Dogs and cats naturally have salmonella present in their digestive tract. Pets with normal immune systems have no issue with bacteria that MAY be found in some foods or in the environment.

Q: I have been told that dry food is “scientifically” formulated for my pet’s health. So why is raw healthier?
A: Most dry food is very processed and has added vitamins and minerals. Processing involves heating, which kills nutrients and enzymes needed for optimal health. To compare, it would be like humans eating dry breakfast cereal all the time. You would survive on it, but you would not thrive! In addition, raw food contains moisture, which is essential for health. Since the introduction of scientifically formulated pet food (kibble), the incidence of chronic illness in pets has drastically risen. Whole, real, minimally processed food is the healthiest!

Q: Are raw foods “incomplete” foods?
A: The terms complete and balanced are not regulated terms. Some sources use the term “incomplete” in reference to nutrients they feel are not present in the food. Some raw foods we consider to be “complete”, meaning nothing needs to be added to them. Other raw food companies make foods that require certain “add-ins” such as essential fatty acids or organ. Tail Blazers ALWAYS recommends that you use add-ins when required. Please ask us if your food requires add-ins. We also recommend rotating through the various protein sources, to get a varied mix of nutrients.

Note: Buying raw meat from the grocery store and feeding it “as is” to your pet is NOT pet food!

For a more complete discussion on this topic go to:

Q: Are raw bones dangerous?
A: No! Raw bones are EXCELLENT for cleaning teeth. They supply extra minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, they provide a great jaw workout and they help to release feel-good endorphins.

Q: Aren’t dry foods safer for me and my pet?
A: If you look up the list of pet food recalled due to bacteria as well as illness in humans from pet food…you will only find references to dry food. And the list is not short! So despite the fear-mongering from some veterinarians, dry food is not safer. We recommend to wash hands, surfaces, containers and utensils for all foods, dry or raw.

Q: What about scientific research on raw food?
A: Read here for an in depth discussion!

Q: Will my pet get parasites from raw meat?
A: It’s true there can be parasites in raw meat. Meat from the human food chain (all the foods Tail Blazers carries!) is less of an issue, but in the event there are parasites, many are killed by freezing. And in addition, pets can pick up parasites from many sources and a healthy pet will often get rid of the parasites before they get established. In addition, there are numerous safe and effective ways of getting rid of them if they did become established.
Read here for more information.

The Truth About Corn, Wheat and Soy in Pet Food

Did you know that Tail Blazers does not sell food that contains soy, corn, or wheat? There are actually several ingredients we don’t allow into our food choices, but do you know WHY?

No Corn, Wheat, Soy Pet FoodThe first, and most important reason, is that soy, corn, and wheat are not species appropriate and are not meant to be consumed by cats or dogs.

Soy is one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet. While their crops are covered in pesticides, everything dies, except for the soy. It is left to absorb all of those chemicals that were sprayed onto the crops. And, if it’s in the soy – it will go into your pet.

Soy also wreaks havoc with the endocrine system causing problems for thyroid function. Soy has been falsely advertised as a health food, but in our opinion, it is most definitely NOT.

Corn. It is very common to see corn at the top of many of the more inferior pet food’s ingredients panels. Corn is also more often than not, genetically modified and although many people call corn a vegetable, it is actually a grain. It also converts to sugar in the body, which has a negative affect on your pet. Sugar puts stress on the organs, and causes GI tract upset.

And finally, there is wheat. Wheat contains high amounts of gluten, which damages the small intestine, alters gut flora, and can lead to autoimmune disease. It can also cause inflammation leading to joint pain. There is little to no nutritional value in wheat, so we feel it has no place in your pet’s diet.

If your pet struggles with food sensitivities, allergies and/or digestive issues, it may be a good idea to try eliminating the following from their diet:

Soy, corn, wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, sugar in all forms, and peanuts which can contain trace amounts of a carcinogenic mold.

Although not all of our foods are gluten, egg, or dairy free, we have several selections that are, and in this case the raw food diet is an excellent option!

Your pet will always have the best shot at health and vitality the fewer species inappropriate ingredients that are in their diet. We are lucky to have MANY diet options to choose from that are soy, corn, and wheat free! At Tail Blazers, you can rest assured that you will not find these three “bad guys” in any of our foods.

For more information on pet food ingredients, please visit our website at and look for our ingredient dictionary. Or, if you have an iApple device, you can download the dictionary in a FREE app for your device!