Welcome to Tails!

Established in 2007, we are a retail pet store in the East York neighbourhood of Toronto. We have won awards with Blog T.O, Toronto Life, Yelp and Google Reviews. We sell pet food and supplies and offer professional grooming of dogs, cats and even small animals! Come visit us and see what all the fuss is about!

Why the FDA report on DCM in dogs has more bark than bite

14 Jul

The thought that dog foods could be causing heart conditions is a terrible thing to consider.

Recently, the media has been reporting on the fact that the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients.

I’d like to ease your mind about this.

When I read the FDA report, I found that most of what we’re seeing in the media is either a simplistic interpretation or just outright wrong.

Most critically, the FDA report does not say there is a direct link between any food and a dog developing DCM.  It’s simply one possibility that they are looking at, along with genetics and other environmental factors.  Exploring whether there is causality is not the same as there being causality.

Second, the reports in the media make it seem like there are an awful lot of dogs developing this issue, when the percentage of dogs in the US that have been reported to have it is actually 0.00065%, which includes dogs that are already predisposed due to breed and age.  Let’s put that in numbers.  There are estimated to be about 5.9 million dogs in Canada.  That means that of our 5.9 million dogs, if we saw the same percentages as in the States, we would see 38 dogs develop this issue.

Finally, the reports in the media seem to indicate this is becoming a very rapidly growing problem.  Again, if you look at the FDA report, we see that isn’t the case.  In fact, the rapid increase in cases being reported is not due to increased number of dogs with DCM, but an increase in reporting as a result of this issue being released to the public.  The “cases” themselves are varied and include not only legitimate, thorough reports from vets and owners, but also those that think their dog or cat may have or have had DCM with no data provided (such as food source, breed, age or other vital information) to make their report valid or useful.

Let’s recap.

  1. The FDA report is looking into if there is causality between grain-free dog food and heart conditions.  It hasn’t determined if there is a direct link as of yet.
  2. This is being portrayed as impacting lots of dogs, whereas the percentage is actually quite low, something like 1 in every 153,000 dogs.
  3. Media reports that stress how this is becoming a very quickly growing problem are confusing increased reporting of potential cases with an increase in actual cases.

It is certainly important to monitor your dog for any signs of distress, heart-related or otherwise, but I urge you to not jump to a conclusion that what you are feeding is causing any issues you’re experiencing with your pet.  It’s worth considering and discussing of course, but it is heart-breaking to see caring, diligent dog owners who have been doing what they think is best for their pets, suddenly feel like they have in fact been causing health problems.

My advice, as it has always been, is to feed as varied a diet as possible.  Change up the proteins, carbohydrates and fat sources.  Feed a brand of food that has a history of open communication, rigorous product testing and healthy results and keep your dog active and happy.  Just like in our own lives, if we have a varied diet, stay active, and minimize chemical contact, the odds are in our favour to live happy and healthy lives.

Help us do some Spring Cleaning & save up to 50%!

13 Apr

We’re trying to make room for some fresh, new & exciting products, so we’re asking you to help us and save money at the same time!  We have a huge assortment of items on sale, including dog apparel, toys, crates, collars & leads, beds, and many other items!  All red tag items are great deals, and as always, if you are a member of our loyalty program, you can get even greater discounts on any green tag item…  This sale is on until the end of April!

Doggy teeth cleaning at Tails!

21 Mar

Tails is proud to announce that one Sunday every 6 to 8 weeks, we are hosting Happy Hounds cosmetic teeth cleaning!

A one-hour session results in sparkly teeth for your dog with no sedation… only gentle and natural methods are used! Some dogs are so relaxed during the session that they fall asleep!

Call Tails today for an appointment! 647-436-2529

We love St. Patrick’s Day, and so will your pet!

13 Mar

Every year, in the week leading up to that magical day, March 17th, we have a fun sale!  After you make a purchase in the store, you are invited to randomly draw a poker chip out of a festive hat… and depending on the colour of the chip, you get a discount of up to 30% off your next purchase!  No expiry!

So bring your lucky charm, and come earn a discount on your pet’s favourite item!

What can I do to help my dog lose weight?

02 Mar

First off, if your dog is severely overweight, you need to check with your vet and see if there are any complications that will alter how we approach losing weight.  These guidelines are for an otherwise healthy animal, and will help your dog lose some weight and prevent the ideal dog from gaining.

Feed an appropriate amount of food

This seems obvious, but the feeding guide on your bag of dog food is designed for an average dog with an average metabolism.  In other words, it’s just a starting point.  Feed according to the weight your dog SHOULD BE, and cut back a little to accommodate for any treats you give throughout the day.  Check periodically your dog’s weight and tweak the amount fed based on your dog’s needs.

Let your dog fast if it wants to

A healthy dog should only want to eat as it’s energy reserves dictate.  It fits nicely into our routine to feed our dogs twice a day, but they don’t need the same amount all the time.  My suggestion is to put out a serving, and if it’s not eaten in 10 minutes, put it away for the next meal.  Likewise, if your dog is at a good weight and wants more, that’s ok too.  Some dogs shift their eating cycle to once a day, and that works for them.  As long as their weight is maintained at a good level, there is no need to stress out about the timing or exact amount of food given.

Many owners make the mistake of thinking that if their dog isn’t interested in eating it’s food, that it doesn’t like it.  So they dress it up with different toppings, trying to make it more appealing.  In order to explain how silly this is if the dog just isn’t hungry, I offer this analogy:

Imagine that twice a day you were given a bowl of spaghetti, your favourite, but on this one occasion you just didn’t feel like eating it.  Maybe you had a lazy day and just don’t feel like eating right now.  So I add some freshly ground parmesan cheese to the spaghetti.  Will you eat it now?  You’re still not hungry, although the gesture is appreciated.  Maybe you take a second look and a sniff, but still, you’re just not hungry.  Now I’m upset, and think you MUST eat your dinner!  What if I add some meatballs on top?  Will you eat it now?

No matter what is loaded onto that plate, it doesn’t change whether you are hungry.  Same goes for your dog.  It’s healthy to fast for a day, and don’t forget that dogs are clever.  You dress up the food once, and you will get those puppy eyes every time you offer the food with no toppings.  Stay firm.  You’re in charge.

Feed a food that has a proper balance of fats, carbs and protein

Be wary of foods that emphasize only one of these aspects.  If all they talk about is how high the protein level is, then they may not be looking at the whole picture in terms of a nutritional balance.  If there are all sorts of pictures of fruits and veggies on the bag, but they are actually listed at the bottom of the ingredient panel in amongst the vitamins and minerals, then that’s just a marketing ploy.  Likewise, don’t feed just raw chicken breast and think that’s a complete and balanced diet.

Just like us, it’s difficult for a dog to lose or avoid gaining weight if the food is heavy on the carbs.  Diets for us have shifted from the “low fat is healthy” mantra, to emphasizing healthy proteins, healthy fats, and lower glycemic carbs.  Unfortunately the pet industry hasn’t caught up completely.  There are still “lite” or “weight management” formulas out there that are low in protein and carb-heavy.

Come by the store, and we’ll help you sort through the differences in formulas and find a perfect diet for your dog!