Innova Introduces Dry Food Alternative

Natura Pet Products introduced a new dry food alternative to their Innova family of products called Farmhouse Stews, each of which features two animal proteins, plus farm-grown fruits and vegetables in a savory, natural gravy.

Farmhouse Stews allows pet owners to feed it as a topper, treat or 100 percent complete and balanced meal for adult dogs. The stew comes in re-sealable, recyclable, BPA-free, transparent tubs that allows customers to see the chunks of real meat, fruits and vegetables, even before purchasing the product.

They contain no gluten, corn, soy, wheat or fillers, and are made with with no white potatoes. Two of the four formulas are also  grain free.

Farmhouse Stews are available in the following recipes: Turkey and Duck Recipe with Lentils, Apples and Mangos (grain free); Chicken and Salmon Recipe with Sweet Potatoes, Peas and Carrots (grain free); Chicken and Venison Recipe with Brown Rice, Peas and Papaya and Beef and Bison Recipe with Barley and Bell Peppers.

Not only are the new stews complete and balanced, meeting the AAFCO requirements with all the nutrients adult dogs need for maintenance, but they are also appealing to owners.

“You can see the pieces of fruit and vegetables, and see the whole food ingredients,” Dr. Nathaniel Cook, DVM, with Natura, said. “It’s like you were eating stew yourself.”

Cook explained that as the way people are treating their pets more like family has evolved, so has the way they feed them.

“A lot of times you are sharing mealtime with your pet,” he said. “So, it’s important that your pet is eating a food that is also appealing to you.”




Top Achievements In Grooming

The Cardinal Crystal Awards, sponsored by Cardinal Pet Care,  celebrated the best and  brightest in the competitive pet grooming industry with awards in eight different categories,  during a ceremony in July at SuperZoo.

This year’s Competitive Groomer of the Year Award was won by Lindsey Dicken, a National Certified Professional Groomer from Altamonte Springs, Fla. and last year’s Cardinal Crystal American Groomer of the Year.

Best known for grooming Bichon Frises, Lindsey has won numerous grooming awards in the past, including World Champion Poodle Groomer, Intergroom’s American Groomer of the Year and the Lynn Carver Memorial Award for Best All Around Pet Stylist in 2008 and 2010.

Lisa Correia, Mary Oquendo and Sue Pratt, were this year’s recipients of the David G. Salzberg Award, presented annually to the individual or organization who makes outstanding contributions to competitive grooming and groomers in general.  Correia, Oquendo and Pratt tirelessly helped other groomers worse off than them during Hurricane Sandy. Each of them helped in their own way, including volunteering at shelters, offering free grooming to those affected and providing pet supplies to people and businesses throughout the area.

Other 2012 Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Award Winners included:

  • Sue Zecco, Grooming Contest Judge of the Year
  • Jodi Murphy, Mobile Groomer of the Year
  • Best Friends Pet Care Centers, Retail Grooming Salon of the Year 5+ Units
  • Yankee Clipper, Retail Grooming Salon of the Year 5 Units or Less
  • Irina Pinkusevich, Congeniality Award
  • Jackie Boulton, International Groomer of the Year

“The Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards have become an institution in the grooming industry, showcasing the achievements of groomers who have done so much to raise the levels of professionalism in the trade,” Tony de Vos, president of Cardinal Pet Care, said.  “The winners of this year’s awards are exceptional individuals who have demonstrated outstanding expertise, creativity and social responsibility, benefiting the grooming industry and the pet-owning public alike.  We are honored to present the winners with the Awards and we congratulate them.”

The Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards were founded in 1988 by Cardinal Pet Care President Tony de Vos and Shirlee Kalstone, then owner of the International Intergroom trade show for competitive grooming, for the purpose of establishing standards of grooming excellence and recognizing professional skills in the competitive grooming industry.

Since the beginning, the Cardinal Crystal Grooming Achievement Awards have been considered one of the highest honors in the pet grooming industry, annually presenting awards for outstanding achievements.

A complete description of the criteria for the awards can be found at


U.S. Pet Spending Passes $60B Mark

Consumer spending in the U.S. pet market will reach $62 billion in 2013, up 4.7 percent over 2012, according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2013-2014, a recently released study from market research firm Packaged Facts.

Veterinary services and pet food make up the bulk of the market, with over $21 billion each in sales projected for 2013.

However, non-medical pet services, a smaller category that includes grooming, boarding, training, and pet sitting/walking services, is growing at the fastest rate, at 6.0 percent annually.  While dogs account for two-thirds of sales in the overall pet products and services market, they are showered with 90 percent of the spending in this non-medical services category.

Although the country has not yet completely emerged from its economic funk, the pet industry continues to perform. Pet product shoppers were not immune to the Great Recession’s effects, but the most recent Packaged Facts Pet Owners Survey shows that they are becoming less price sensitive than in years past, a trend borne out in the sales data.  Sales in mass channels such as grocery stores have been relatively flat, but pet owners have continued to migrate to pet specialty channels, which focus more on the high-end market.

Part of the trend in the continuing momentum for natural pet food products, as seen in the embrace of natural products by industry heavy hitters ranging from Purina to Hill’s Science Diet, as well as in merger and acquisition activity such as Merrick’s acquisition of Castor & Pollux and Del Monte’s acquisition of Natural Balance.

Across the pet products and services market, pet health has proven to be a particularly successful sales driver.  As the pet population has aged, the interest by big players such as Bayer and Perrigo has increased.  In addition, Pfizer’s spinoff of its animal health division, now renamed Zoetis, received considerable attention from investors.

The industry has undertaken a number of initiatives to spur growth in pet ownership, and these efforts are beginning to pay dividends.  These programs include the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative and the Pets in the Classroom initiative, which is introducing pet ownership to youth to encourage future ownership.

Notably, pet ownership among younger adults has jumped to its highest level in years.

“Half of the adults in their 20s have a dog in the household, up from only a third a decade ago,” David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said.

The humanization of pets continues as a strong trend, with manufacturers and retailers introducing everything from human-style food to temporary tattoos for pets.  And the media is feeding the frenzy, and highlighting the extravagant end of the pet market spending spectrum.

For more information, visit or

Halo Continues Its “Do Good” Campaign at SuperZoo

Halo, Purely for Pets, continued its “Do Good” for pets campaign at SuperZoo booth 824.

The booth is designed for retailers to learn more about Halo, its philanthropy programs and have the chance to give back to the community. Each day at SuperZoo retailers can stop by the booth to play games and win prizes. Each day participants will be entered into a drawing for a 5,000 meal donation of Halo Spot’s Stew from, winners will be presented at the booth.

“Our philanthropy booth exemplifies a key component of what makes Halo different, ” David Yaskulka, vice president of marketing and communications, said. “Our core philosophy is “Be Good, Do Good”. “Be Good” has to be with the quality of ingredients in  the formulas. The “Do Good” is something very special. We are Halo, Purely for Pets. We are for our consumers pets and we are for all pets. But our consumers are too. They care about their own pets and they care about all pets. They adopt one pet from a shelter they wish they could adopt them all. But when they buy Halo they know they are making a difference for a wide number for pets who don’t have the same advantages that their pets have.

“So here at SuperZoo we are showing how we partner with retailers to make a difference for pets in their own community. One of the best examples is a kibble drop where we take at least a five thousand meal donation, sometimes more, deliver it to a retail location and we have shelters in the community to pick it up. It’s an exciting community building event, it’s makings a difference for pets and it’s showing the community this is a retailer who really cares. It’s something the supermarkets are not doing, it’s something the discount stores are not doing, it’s something that exemplifies some of the best of what independent pet retailers are about.”

If they choose, visitors to the booth can make a donation to the Halo Pet Foundation and, in exchange, receive official Ellen Show merchandise and other gifts.

“Pet adoption is something I’m extremely passionate about. I believe that by working together, we can find good homes for the millions of homeless and abandoned pets out there,”  Ellen DeGeneres, co-owner of Halo, said.

The official kibble sponsor of, Halo donates 1.5 million meals to shelter pets each year. The company partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to donate 1 million meals to shelter pets in support of the Adopt a Shelter Pet stamp in 2010. Halo is also the sponsor of the first two episodes of the PBS special “Shelter Me,” in 2012 and 2013 (airing now), to inspire adoption of pets from shelters. Halo recently held a Pop-up shop, Halo City Tails – NYC to raise money for the Halo Pet Foundation and, in partnership with New York City retailers, give back to pets in need in the New York area.

SuperZoo Adds New Concept Store

The new SuperZoo Concept Store exhibit is designed to reflect the ‘gold standard’ retail experience, an inspirational environment where attendees can see merchandising best practices and new technologies in action.

“WPA is always looking for new ways to help educate retailers and the help them be more successful,” Doug Poindexter, president of World Pet Association, said. ” We thought there was no better way than to show them a fully merchandised store with some of the latest innovations in retailing.  It was really just an additional outreach of our educational program.”

The concept store features the newest trends in retail displays and cutting-edge innovations that include state-of-the-art point of sale system and unique merchandising techniques. Retailers also learn how to enhance their stores and boost business with strategies for store set up and design, category management, QR code development, SKU and inventory management.

Retailers are not the only  ones benefiting from the exhibit. Product company’s have their different products featured inside the SuperZoo Concept Store.

“It was a new idea, it’s the first time they are doing it but I think it was a draw,” Amanda Malone Bennie, co-owner of Clear Concious, said. “We made sure to place our booth near it as well so we could send people over there to show what our product line would look like within four walls. Sometimes it’s tricky with our things because we have different categories and I think it’s sometimes overwhelming to put it all together. So it’s real nice to be able to have people see what it would actually look like in their store.”

The store has also been able to get leads for manufactures.

“It’s definitely something that has been working for us,” Steve Shweky, president of Fetch … For Pets!, said. “We are getting a lot of traffic from that.”

Hi-Tek Rations Introduces New Formula

Hi-Tek Rations introduced a new dog food formula called Leonard Powell Signature., during a breakfast at SuperZoo.

The new food is expected to be available in independent retail stores in about 8 weeks, and includes the Signature Series Exotics, Signature Series Classics and Signature Series Baked.

The exotics line offers Grain Free Prairie Formula With Bison and Grain Free wetlands Formula With Duck, while the Classics over Sunday Dinner With Chicken and Center Chops with Pork. The Baked offers Oven-Baked Dinner With Chicken and Oven-Baked Dinner With Lamb.

“Our vision has always been about making a difference in peoples lives,” Powell said.

One of the things that makes his company different than others he said is that they offer profit margins for retailers.

“We want to help increase margins by 10 percent,” he said. “When people go out of business, it’s usually because they can’t make enough money.”


SuperZoo Setup

Pet industry companies and manufacturers set up for the annual SuperZoo trade show Monday at the Mandalay Bay convention center in Las Vegas.

For more photos, visit our full album on Facebook.






“National Wash Your Dog Day” by Dogtopia

Photo courtesy of Dogtopia

Dogtopia, a national dog daycare franchise, has declared July 21st “National Wash Your Dog Day,” and is asking Americans to help change the lives of veterans, one dirty dog at a time. Dogtopia will host its ninth annual Charity Dog Wash in 29 U.S. towns to benefit organizations that provide service dogs to veterans, enhancing their quality of life, helping with healing and recovery and often providing a new outlook on life.

Dog owners are invited to bring their dogs to an event location for a summertime bath, given by Dogtopia’s trained team members and volunteers, for a $15 donation pet dog wash. Events will feature give-aways, food, photo booths and games. For more information go to or on their Facebook or Twitter pages.

According to a recent report, nearly 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD and more than 624,000 of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans have filed disability claims. Public support and awareness is vital to helping organizations like America’s VetDogs and Veterans Moving Forward, two of the beneficiaries of the Charity Dog Wash, continue to train service dogs to assist veterans across a full spectrum of needs.

All funds raised will benefit service dogs for veterans.

Christmas in July

Christmas in July is real. Many editors are already working on their holiday gift guides, which are keeping us busy at the agency. Here are some things to keep in mind if your pitching program is DIY:

  • Think about the timing of your pitch. Different media outlets have different lead-times, so think about the timing of your distributions. A print magazine takes more time to produce, and hit the store shelves compared to an online media outlet.
  • Don’t pitch media until you’re ready. Before you click send- double check that your pitch is perfectly packaged, and you’ve anticipated and addressed any questions that may be asked during follow up. Make it as conscience and easy as possible for the reporter to review.
  • Meet deadlines. A reporter’s deadline needs to be your deadline too. If they need a high-res image, or product sample- make sure it’s scheduled to arrive on or before the requested date.
  • Follow up, but don’t inundate anyone.
  • Include “holiday gift guide” in your subject line, but add something interesting that is unique to your product or category such as celebrity fan, eco-friendly, etc.

If you have any questions about holiday gift guide pitching or media relations in general, just shoot me an email directly at



Creating a Clean Environment

Take a walk down the aquarium aisles of any pet store and you will see that the choices for filtration have never been more numerous, or more bewildering.

It is critical for pet retailers to both offer a wide variety of filters and pumps and to be able to help their customers choose the option that will work best for their particular needs.

What are aquarists looking for when it comes to these devices?

Scott Cross, an employee at Tropiquarium aquatic pet specialty store in Ocean, N.J., says that most customers purchase filters that are simple and inexpensive.

“It’s about price and simplicity,” he said.

Availability is also a concern. Aquarium hobbyists want to make sure that the filter media and other necessary parts are available.

Sean Raines, director of marketing innovation at United Pet Group, agrees with Cross but adds, “[Hobbyists] want to know that what they are buying is reliable, quiet and powerful.”

Popular Choices

Given these concerns, it is no surprise that “hang-on-the-back” filters, more properly called external power filters, are the best-selling type of filters. These filters are very simple to set up and run. The filter media is an easily replaceable cartridge that slides into the filter. External power filters are relatively inexpensive and fairly durable. They can also last for quite some time before they need replacement.

Canister filters are another popular filtration method. Cross likes to steer customers toward these filters because they are “more efficient and have the best quality.” This can be a hard sell because many customers perceive canister filters as too confusing.

However, Raines said, “Canister filtration has made some serious strides toward becoming easier to use.”

Another factor that can make some customers shy away from canister filters is the price. They are more expensive than external power filters.

Canister filters are usually purchased by more experienced hobbyists who own large, and often multiple, tanks. These hobbyists appreciate the ability to customize the filter media, allowing them to select the materials best suited to the fish they keep or the conditions they are trying to create.

According to Raines, this type of filtration is the “most customizable option,” and is ideal for keepers “who want more control over their aquatic environment.”

Another plus for canister filters is that they are easy to hide from view. Because they sit below the tank, you can conceal the filter within the tank stand. This helps preserve the aesthetics of the aquarium.

Chemipure, by Boyd Enterprises, is a simple-to-use filter media suitable for all types of freshwater and saltwater environments. Chemipure is a nylon filter bag filled with a high grade blend of activated carbons and ion exchange resins.

Since it comes in a filter bag, it can be used in power filters, canister filters, box filters and sumps. The activated carbons filter excess waste nutrients dissolved in aquarium water, which prevents the unwanted bacteria build up that would normally occur if these nutrients were left in the water.

Ion exchange resins help remove nitrogen build up which is harmful to fish.  This combination makes Chemipure a popular choice for keeping aquarium water clear. It keeps pH stable, removes dissolved organic waste, filters copper and other harmful metals, odors and phenols, and promotes proper ion balance.

Chemipure Elite adds ferric oxide to the original Chemipure formula to remove phosphates and silicates, the major causes of algae blooms in aquariums.

The Perfect Match

When selling filters to customers, it’s important to match the right filter to the customer’s tank. Failing to do this will not only create a dissatisfied customer, but could also make a new fish keeper turn away from the hobby completely in frustration with cloudy tanks and dead fish.

“Tank size and the customer’s budget are the most important things,” Cross said.

Raines stresses the importance of listening to the customer.

“Always talk to your customer and understand their needs,” he said. “How much time do they dedicate to the maintenance of their aquarium? How large is their aquarium? What type of aquarium and fish?All of these questions will help you paint a picture and better understand their needs. Then you can match up their needs with best option.”

Cross sees a big difference between saltwater and freshwater hobbyists.

“Saltwater customers mostly build their own pumps and filters,” Cross said. “We sell pumping kits and premade pumps to help them build what they want.”

The freshwater hobbyists are much more likely to buy off-the-shelf products.

Water pumps are often optional pieces of equipment for aquaria. This does depend on the type of aquarium and the fish living within. A pump may be needed in an aquarium to help circulate the water, power the filter, or both.

Two types of pumps can be used to power a filter: submersible (sometimes called internal) and in-line. Submersible pumps—as the name suggests—is completely submerged, usually inside a sump. In-line pumps are completely external to the aquarium. Submersible pumps are cooled by the water flow, so they add heat to the aquarium, which may be a problem for the fish. In-line pumps do not have this issue.

Additionally, they are more powerful than submersible pumps, but they are much louder too.

Pumps are commonly used in saltwater aquaria to circulate the water through the filter, sump, refugium and possibly additional devices (such as an ultraviolet sterilizer or protein skimmer). These may also be used in some freshwater setups, although this is less common.

Powerheads, a type of submersible pump, are often used to power undergravel filters and to create a current in the water. These are among the least expensive options for pumps.

Reef aquaria require pumps to provide corals and other invertebrates with the high level circulation they need. Many reef hobbyists use wavemakers or oscillating powerheads to create turbulent water circulation, matching the natural conditions of their animals.

As with filtration, the size of the tank is a key factor in determining the size and type of pump a customer needs, or if they need a pump at all. In small to medium aquaria, the filter may provide enough water circulation without the use of an additional pump.

In larger aquaria, a pump may be needed to provide additional circulation. Larger aquaria require the use of more powerful pumps. A stronger pump is also needed if aquarium inhabitants require a strong current or turbulence.

Raines provides what may be the best advice for the pet retailer: Carry a wide variety of filtration to address all of your customers’ needs.

Animal Supply Acquires Pet Food Wholesale

Animal Supply Company announced it has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of California-based Pet Food Wholesale.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Bob Johnson, Ken Bacon and the entire Pet Food Wholesale team will continue in their current roles serving the Southern California and surrounding markets.

Over the next 6 months the two companies will combine as one operating unit into a new, state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot distribution facility. Pet Food Wholesale and Animal Supply’s current Southern California businesses will operate separately until the move to the new warehouse is complete.

“We are very excited to add the Pet Food Wholesale business to our burgeoning Southern California operations,” Jeff Sutherland, president of Animal Supply, said. “The combination of our national reach and resources with Pet Food Wholesale’s high quality brands, best-in-class employees and unmatched reputation for service excellence will make Animal Supply the leader in the highly attractive Southern California independent pet retail market.”

The acquisition enables Animal Supply and Pet Food Wholesale to offer their customers and manufacturers an unmatched level of service, breadth of products and geographic reac, the company said in a press release.The combined business will have eight outside sales reps and 80 employees covering Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

The business will represent over 60 pet product manufacturers in the area and deliver to more than 600 local pet retail stores weekly.

Creatures of the Night

To ensure they get the creature comforts they crave, scaly critters that are active at night require resourceful retailers to be active in the daytime offering the kind of products patrons desire—including all-in-one starter kits with all the basics thrown in.

From bare bones setups to elaborate habitat packages bundled with fun accessories, smart pet retailers have learned to stock their shelves with competitively priced and value-added kits designed to simplify shopping for nocturnal reptile owners.

Most setups in this category are geared toward a handful of popular nocturnal reptile pets, including the crested, gargoyle, tokay, leopard, leaf-tailed, flying, and golden gecko, the ball python, and, to a lesser extent, the gray-banded kingsnake and various python and boa species.

“Generally speaking, there are still not a significant amount of reptile products geared toward nocturnal animals,” Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra division manager, Rolf C. Hagen Corp., said. “I believe the primary reason for this is their need to remain hidden in the wild to avoid predation.”

Additionally, Sotelo says most nocturnal reptiles are cryptic in coloration, “so the general emphasis on habitat design is natural.”

Up All Night

Most nocturnal reptile setup kits typically consist of only the minimal essentials, including an appropriately sized terrarium, fake plants and climbing branches, lighting hood, bedding, starter food and food and water dishes.

Packaged kits from some manufacturers, however, often boast extra bells and whistles designed to get consumers’ attention. Case in point, Exo Terra’s Desert Habitat Kit is ideal for leopard geckos and other desert reptiles, and provides an 18”x18”x18” glass terrarium; compact top with a compact fluorescent lighting fixture; hygromometer; thermometer; red sand; barrel cactus and saguaro cactus; rock background and outcrop; water dish; cave; and instruction manual. Features include dual front doors for escape-free easy access and simpler feeding and maintenance as well as better ventilation via the front window and top metal screen.

Zoo Med’s latest nocturnal reptile setup bundle is the Naturalistic Terrarium Crested Gecko Kit. Among its ingredients are a 12”x12”x18” vertically oriented enclosure; bush plants; a twisty vine climbing branch; substrate; food; food and water dishes; water conditioner; vitamin complex and calcium supplement; and a crested gecko care handbook.

“The enclosure is vertically oriented, making this kit much more appropriate for arboreal animals,” Ashley Rademacher, animal care and education coordinator for Zoo Med Labs, Inc., who adds that it’s also appropriate for many of the crested gecko’s cousins such as gargoyle, mossy, prehensile-tailed, New Caledonian chameleon, mourning, white-lined and skunk geckos, said. “With the front opening door, habitat access is easy and stress-free for both the keeper and the pet.”

Zilla offers a Deluxe Snake Kit, perfect for a baby ball python or other small sized nocturnal serpent. The product comes complete with a 32”x14”x14.9” terrarium topped with a screen cover that latches securely while easing air exchange, two dome light fixtures, temperature/humidity gauge, Douglas fir bedding (conducive to burrowing behavior), humidifying spray bottle, watering dish, snake shelter and setup/care booklet.

Customize the Packages

Sean Childers, manager at Chicago Reptile House in Orland Park, Ill., sells Exo Terra setups that have proved to be popular. However, his biggest hit with nocturnal reptile-minded customers has been offering customized starter kits that bundle various products from different manufacturers.

“Our in-store setups include a range from small (8”x8”x10”) to large (18”x36”x36”) terrarium, lighting element, plant, flexible jungle vine, high humidity substrate, water and food dishes, multivitamin supplement and a cave,” he said. “They retail for between $99 and $299. They’re pretty good sellers because we display them prominently and because they represent a better value than if the customer were to buy these products individually. They can save $40 or more by choosing one of our kits.”

Childers says he tries to discourage shoppers from building a starter kit themselves, “which usually ends in bad results that they later regret. They’ll either end up spending a lot more or getting worse quality products. We encourage our customers to choose quality products. Being honest with them about what they’re paying for goes a long way with customers.”

Whatever kit you bundle together and stock, Sotelo says it’s important to offer and suggest the right kind of lighting accessory for nocturnal species.

“In most cases, the obvious choice for care-related products would be to begin with lighting,” Sotelo said. “Reptiles’ eyes are not sensitive to the same red and black lights that we are, so to view nocturnal reptiles and their natural behavior the environment must focus on nocturnal lighting.”

Zoo Med recently introduced the Moonlite Reptile Bulb for viewing and heating nocturnal reptiles and amphibians, designed to not interfere with the animal’s sleeping patterns. Composed of an unpainted/uncoated deep blue glass for better heat transfer, this bulb provides beneficial UVA rays for the reptile.

Rademacher says showcasing the right in-store displays of setups can lead to more register rings.

“Having a kit set up (in your store) and, better yet, in use is highly recommended,” Rademacher said. “When all of the components are being used together, customers can see how the products are meant to be used and feel confident in setting the kit up at home.”

Additionally, knowing the kit’s components and understanding the needs of the intended pet occupant “allows the retailer to make good recommendations for customers,” adds Rademacher.

Childers agrees, noting that a well-educated retailer makes all the difference.

“The best thing you can do is understand the animal first, which is where a lot of pet stores fail,” Childers said. “They often hire high school kids who don’t really know what they’re selling or what to recommend.”

Whether it’s nocturnal reptiles or any other pets, “you should have a good knowledge of the animal so you can answer customers’ questions.”

Chomping Away

Ever heard the phrase, “long in the tooth?” It’s not just another unflattering idiom that compares people to rodents. It can be a serious issue for small-pet owners.

“When rodents gnaw on things, it keeps the teeth from overgrowing and creating problems,” Ron Reid, Vitakraft Sunseed’s zoologist and nutritionist, said. “Sometimes you’ll see the lower teeth growing up and wearing down the upper, possibly causing severe damage to the animal.”

Just like their wild ancestors’ impressive chompers, small pets’ incisors grow constantly, so small-animal owners must offer their captive pets the opportunity to chew.

“The types of food they eat in the wild allow them to keep their teeth in proper shape, but when they’re in captivity they don’t have the opportunity to forage,” Reid said. “That makes it more difficult to maintain their teeth.”

Living World Colorful Cardboard Chew-Nels can be connected to make long, chewable tunnels. They are filled with bedding material so small animals can play, chew and burrow happily.

Chew Time

All types of pocket pets including rabbits, degus, chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters, rats and mice need to chew, though they chew for varying reasons.

Rodents like hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice need to gnaw. Reid likens gnawing to the way a dog scratches an itch, using just its front teeth.

“Chew sticks like Vitakraft Sunseed’s Crunch Stick line are designed not only for nutritional value and vitamin fortification; it gives them an opportunity to chew things that are hard,” Reid said. “Also, these animals need psychological props: toys, wheels and things to chew on all satisfy psychological needs.”

Vitakraft Sunseed’s Yogurt Glazed Crunch Sticks are designed to last, with a natural wood stick in the center. They come in packages of two that include a cage clip. Their All Small Animals Chew Treats come in several forms including Tooth Sticks, Denta Blocks and Chew Twigs.

Marshall Pet Products offers 3-packs of natural pine cones that bear the tag line, “Nature’s Tooth Brush.” Pine cones help satisfy rabbits’ urge to gnaw.

Rabbits, degus and chinchillas don’t gnaw as much as the rodents, but it’s also important for them to have things to chew on to keep their teeth in good shape. When they chew, or masticate, their food, their mouths move from side to side, so they also need to work their molars.

While chew sticks help them shape their front teeth properly, they also need crunchy foods like pellets, and grasses like hay, alfalfa and timothy. These varying textures help maintain healthy tooth structure.

Toy Time

Marshall Pet Products offers several toys made from timothy hay with no dyes, colors or preservatives. The Woven Grass Play Ball and Bunny Chew Ring are healthy, interactive toys that encourage chewing. The Hay Tumbler is a completely edible cardboard toy filled with timothy hay.

Living World Alfalfa Chew-Nels are durable tubes made from alfalfa or cornhusks. They provide interactive play, long-lasting chewing and hiding places for treats.

Many small-animal chews are fortified with vitamins and minerals, so they also contribute to pets’ nutritional needs. Hartz Salt and Mineral Wheels attach to the cage with an included hanger and provide needed nutrition while actively engaging pets.

Hartz Nibble Sticks for gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and mice come in packages of twelve.

Chewing and gnawing products also contribute to small animals’ psychological well being.

“All small pets need stimulation: things to chew on, toys to play with,” Reid said. “That’s a very important part of their development, so the more things you can do to stimulate them in that environment, the more beneficial it’ll be to the animal.”

Without appropriate chew toys, animals may chew their fur or cage bars.

Marshall’s all-natural Chew Toy With Apple combines psychological enrichment and chewing. Rabbits can roll the wooden toy around their habitat as they chew.

The Living World Teach N Treat Toy is an interactive toy that challenges pets to observe, listen and learn and can be configured for three varying levels of difficulty.

Drs. Foster and Smith offers many interactive chewing toys for small pets.

Carousel Chew Toys are wooden cages shaped like a carrot or an apple. Inside are pieces of colorful, natural loofah. The toys roll while pets attempt to get to the chewy bits. The Knot Nibbler is a colorful tangle of wooden dowels tied around a wooden ball. The brand is committed to providing healthy, affordable pet products.

-Kristen Ryan

Stella & Chewy’s Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

It all started 10 years ago in a New York City apartment that was packed with freezers and boxes of freeze-dried food.

“I started selling to one store, then two, then three,” Marie Moody, the founder and president of Stella & Chewy’s, said. “It slowly kept growing.”

Now, Stella & Chewy’s has grown into a large business with 170 employees, and a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin.

“It’s been really fun and exciting,” Moody said. “I feel like we made some tough decisions in the beginning that were expensive, such as controlling our own manufacturing. I feel like … these hard decisions are the ones that have really set us apart.”

Eventually as the company started gaining steam, Moody outsourced the manufacturing to a production facility. Though, when using a production facility, Moody wasn’t able to control her product as much as she wanted.

“After four years the business was sort of at a point where it was just beef and chicken and I wanted to use more organic ingredients,” Moody said. “I wanted to have control of the manufacturing process before going national. So I opened a plant in Wisconsin in 2007.”

In 2010, the business turned a corner by doing something a lot of companies don’t, she said.

“We took our first price increase on the freeze dried food,” Moody said. “It is a common mistake that people make, they don’t charge enough and are afraid to make the price jump. It really did make a big difference.”

Since then, the company has become a leader in the freeze–dried and frozen food space.

“We want to continue to be the leader in freeze dried food,” Moody said.

Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash

Photo by Sean P. Walkinshaw/

The Aquaphor New York City Triathalon will house the 6th annual Animal Medical Center 5-Mile Doggy Dash at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 14, in Central Park.

The race will start in Central Park, just off the 72nd Street Transverse, west of Cherry Hill and will finish on Dead Road, west of the Bandshell, just off the 72nd Street Transverse.

During the race, 34 dogs and their owners will race to be the first to cross the finish line and win the, “Red Fire Hyrdant” trophy. The 5-mile course includes a mandatory vet check provided by veterinarians and trained technicians from The Animal Media Center for each dog prior to the race, in the middle and once more at the end of the race to help ensure each animal begins and remains healthy throughout the course.



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