Should dog wear a basket muzzle?


Our vet recommends a basket muzzle for our little schnoodle, who likes to eat awful stuff off the ground and then gets sick. Do you carry basket muzzles in various sizes?


Hi, Nancy!

While you’re working on a solid “leave it!” command, a basket muzzle can truly be a lifesaver. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if your issues are in the yard, making sure you’re picking up regularly is also a worthy exercise! If the “awful stuff” you speak of is coming from your dog, we do carry supplements to deter coprophagia. The trick with these is making sure that the animal whose feces is being eaten is the one getting the supplement, so if she snacking on deer or goose poop, the muzzle is going to be your best bet.

Baskerville brand muzzles come in a variety of sizes, are comfortable, make it easy to give your dog treats, allow them to drink water once they’re used to wearing them, but have enough of a barrier to prevent them from reaching objects on the ground. We don’t stock them in our stores but can certainly order one for you! Muzzles should always be worn with supervision and require “muzzle training” – making it enjoyable to wear rather than a punishment – with the use of treats and plenty of praise.

Stop in to your local Chuck & Don’s and chat with an associate about ordering a Baskerville for your dog! If you find that it works well but you don’t like the look of it for daily wear/walks, you can always “upgrade” to a custom-made, leather one (there are several companies online that do custom leather muzzles). Also ask about the supplements and training treats if you need either!

What foods will help an itchy dog?


Can you recommend a dry dog food for my adult Golden Retriever. He’s having issues with allergies and seems to be scratching a lot. I am currently feeding him IAMS, but someone suggested a grain free.

He was on meds for this but I am wondering if we need to change foods since it as come back.


Hi, Verna!

Allergies, sensitivities, and general itchiness can be tough to solve for. I’m not sure what medications he was on to help with this, so I’m going to make some broad generalizations and hope something sounds workable for you and your pup.

If his scratching is caused by a seasonal irritant (grasses, trees, etc.) you can expect them to get better as we get more freezing temperatures. The mild winter so far hasn’t done our allergy-suffering friends any favors! That said, we can still help them improve with medicines and, possibly, removing things from their diet that can exacerbate an inflammatory response.

Many people will recommend a grain free food, not just because grains can be common sensitivities, but because gluten can cause an inflammatory response. Even if your dog isn’t allergic or sensitive to grain, removing them from the diet can help decrease allergies. Many dogs are prescribed anti-inflammatories (steroids) rather than anti-histamines for their allergies and reducing inflammation in other ways can sometimes help them get to a lower dosage, only require them during peak allergy season, or eliminate the need for the steroids entirely. If you don’t think the cause is environmental, you may also want to eliminate proteins from his diet that are common allergies/sensitivities (chicken and beef).

Pop on in to your local Chuck & Don’s and chat with a team member about what you’re looking for in a dog food. We can help find a food to fit almost any dietary requirement or budget.

How to trim a guinea pig's nails


Are you supposed to go somewhere to clip your guinea pig’s nails? If so, where?


Hi, Jolene!

Trimming guinea pig nails is just like trimming any other animals’ nails. I usually recommend a human toenail clipper for the job if you are unfamiliar with pet clippers as most people are familiar and comfortable using and maneuvering them. Once you get comfortable with the nail clipping, you may want to get a pair of pet clippers. Make sure you have some styptic powder or, better yet, Super Clot gel on hand and that all of your supplies are handy before you start.

Guinea pigs, parakeets, dogs, cats, chickens, rats – any pet with claws or talons – has a nail with a vein running through the inside called the “quick.” The goal in trimming the nails is to keep the animal comfortable and healthy and prevent the quick from growing out too far. If you’ve never trimmed the nails, the quick can be quite long. It will recede over time with regular nail clipping (once a week). Once you have them where you want them, monthly trimming is usually sufficient.

If your piggy is comfortable in you lap, just place them there, make sure you’re both settled, and gently pick up a foot. If they aren’t as comfortable with being handled, you can wrap them in a hand towel like a little burrito to help keep them still with their feet accessible. Cut off just the tip of the nail unless you can clearly see where the quick ends. You want to leave about 2-3mm of nail beyond the quick. There are lots of instructional images and videos online and your vet should also be willing to trim the nails for you (for a fee) and may show you how to do it in person if you’d like a hands-on tutorial. May Chuck & Don’s locations also host nail trims once a month or more, so feel free to call and ask if they’d be willing to trim up your guinea pig!

Gluten-free food for dogs


Can you recommend a vegetarian, gluten free food for two dogs, ages 4 & 5. They exercise very hard four days/week. The black lab, age 4, had loose stools with the Blue brand of food. The other dog is 5, a golden retriever.
Thank you,


Hi, Barbara!

 Finding a food that is both vegetarian and gluten free is a unique challenge! There are several vegetarian foods on the market now and there are some dogs who do quite nicely on them. Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan Recipe is available from and many of our stores carry the Natural Balance Vegetarian formula. Neither, however, are gluten-free.

 To make a vegetarian food and meet the protein requirements of any dog, much less an active one, glutenous grains like oats/oatmeal and barley are typically needed. If you are dealing with severe allergies or sensitivities and are looking to start from a “hypoallergenic” base before going through a food trial, there are several prescription foods you can talk to your vet about. Hill’s Science Diet z/d, Purina Veterinary Diet HA, and Royal Canin HP are all hydrolyzed diets (the meat has been hydrolyzed so there are no intact meat proteins, making them unrecognizable to the dog’s system and, therefore, safe for a dog with severe allergies to eat).

 Gluten free is easily achievable across many brands. Farmina, Natural Balance, and Zignature all have very unique protein options for dogs with sensitivities/allergies that are gluten free and can be rotated in an effort to prevent new sensitivities from developing. If your concern is more ethical than dietary requirement, Open Farm uses only Certified Humane sources. If your dogs don’t require a vegetarian diet for health reasons, please note that surviving on a food and thriving can be two different things. Over time, some plant-based proteins can take a toll on the liver and kidneys of an animal designed to digest meat so consider getting some baseline blood work done and re-check every 6-12 months as some damage can become quite severe before any outward symptoms show.

 Stop by your local Chuck & Don’s and have a team member show you the options we do have or can get for you. Also let us know your specific concerns so we can better direct you to a food that will work for both of your pups!


How much to feed a small Chihuahua


I have a 4 year old Chihuahua that is very overweight and the vet said she should be weighing about 7lbs and she is almost 11.5 lbs. She is a very picky eater and she’s been eating Stella’s Chews dehydrated food both Chicken & Beef mostly but then I was told by one of your staff that it was very high in fat but I haven’t found a food that she likes. Her babysitter has given her Fresh Pet rolls & she’ll eat them at his house but I’m not sure if the food is good for her. He also gives her the Fresh Pet turkey bacon treats. Do you have any suggestions on what food and treats to give her and how much?


Hi, Sue!

Stella & Chewy’s is a wonderful brand with so many fun flavors to try, but – you’re right! The chicken and the beef are both a smidge high in fat for such a tiny dog whose genetics tend to hand them cardiac and hepatic issues. However, fat = FLAVOR, so the finicky pups really do love it. Other brands do have freeze-dried formulas that are lower in fat (Primal’s pork or turkey & sardine, as well as Northwest Natural’s chicken & salmon come to mind). If you chose to go with frozen raw instead of freeze dried, I’d recommend looking at Raw Bistro’s bison and Primal’s venison and rabbit formulas for the lowest fat options (the venison is also one of the lowest in sodium).

As for portioning, feed her for how much she should weigh, rather than how much she currently weighs. You’d want to follow feeding formulas for a 7-pound dog, rather than a 10-pound dog which often requires some math. Many brands are happy to help you calculate proper feeding quantities. Primal’s web site, for instance, would have you feed her a total of 3 nuggets per day to achieve weight loss if you went with the turkey & sardine option. This doesn’t allow for treats, however, so you’d need to adjust additionally for that. Whatever calories she gets in treats for the day, she doesn’t get for dinner. There are lots of low-calorie treat options out there, the newest being the Leanlix brand (40 licks equals ONE calorie!), 2-calorie Zukes treats are size appropriate for her, Charlee Bear’s are only 3 calories a piece, and Fruitbles Skinny Minis are only 2.5 calories.

 Pop in to your local Chuck & Don’s to chat about these and other great, low-calories options for your pup! A diet doesn’t have to be miserable for her OR for you and we’re happy to be a part of her team.


How to transition from one dog food to another


Recently you stopped selling Wellness Tru Food which was baked and composed of chicken and chicken liver. I believe that the manufacturer stopped manufacturing this particular product. Our dog West Highland White Terrier) enjoys this food (she tends to be somewhat selective in her food choices-would exist on treats if she could) and this food didn’t bother her stomach. We do have a few bags left. Do you have a recommendation of a replacement food that would satisfy her fussiness and help negate any stomach issues?


Hello, John!

It’s hard to see food lines come and go when we know many of our customers are feeding something because it just plain works for their companion animal. Given your Westie’s propensity for tummy troubles, I’d start transitioning well before you run out of her current food. This way, you have the ability to do a long, slow transition and, if you get to a point where you just know what you’re transitioning to isn’t going to work, you can back up and try something else.

My first recommendation would be the Now Fresh! Small Breed Adult food. It isn’t baked, but it is extruded as a far lower temperature than most kibble. It is highly palatable and has high digestibility. It is also created with the “little white dog” in mind with added cranberries and blueberries to help with tear stains.

Many sensitive tummy dogs also do really well on Holistic Select. Again, it isn’t baked but has good inclusion of pre- and probiotics for digestion paired with a slimmer ingredient profile than many kibbles have.

If you’d like to try another baked kibble, Lotus has been in the baked business for many years and has an excellent track record when it comes to digestibility. Stella & Chewy’s is new to baked kibble but, so far, our customers are really happy with its palatability.

She hasn’t been on a “limited ingredient” food, but going that route can be helpful with digestion. Look at Zignature, Pure Vita, and Natural Balance if the others don’t work for her.

I usually recommend transitioning in 25% ratios. Store the food separately and, using measured scoops (don’t “pre-mix”) start with 25% of the new food to 75% of her old food. Feed this for three to five days OR until her stools look “normal” before increasing to 50%/50%. Repeat the waiting period before increasing to 75% new/25% old. For dogs with major sensitivities, you may need to go even slower, increasing in 10% ratios instead of 25%. If she does well on a food at 50/50 but not at 75/25, it’s okay to back up to the 50/50 mark and increase more slowly if you feel she’s doing well on the food in other ways. As always, we guarantee our food: if one doesn’t work, bring it back and talk to a Chuck & Don’s Team Member so we can help you find something that does!


Should a cat graze on food?


I have a 2 year old long haired cat. Due to my hectic schedule with school and work, I leave her dry food down for her to eat all day. Also, she had an issue before where she wasn’t getting enough moist food in her diet and because she was long haired, she had trouble passing her stools. Because of that incident, I have been feeding her wet food everyday as well.

She definitely does not eat meals, as I watch her return to her dry food bowl at least every 1 hour to snack. I always leave her dry food out because I figure she is more of a snacker than a meal eater and I fear picking her food up and then when she returns to her bowl, she would have nothing to eat.

It is important to note that her wet food is not left out all day. I give her wet food around the same time every day, so she is already used to that.


What do you recommend? Is grazing bad for my cat? Should I get her accustomed to meals? If so, HOW?


Hi, Brittany!

Getting your cat on some sort of schedule is ideal. Since your schedule changes from day to day, figuring out some times you can stick to may be the hardest part of it. Feeding twice a day should be adequate, especially if you can keep those times close to 12 hours apart (10-14 hours is fine). I usually recommend feeding a little wet food twice a day (at least ¼ of a 5.5 oz can, ideally closer to ½ a can). Put out her daily allowance of dry food after the morning feeding of wet food. If you’re feeding ¼ can, offer up to ½ cup of dry, if you’re feeding ½ can, offer up to ¼ cup of dry. Obviously, keep an eye on her weight and adjust amounts accordingly, but that’s usually a good start for a healthy, average-sized cat. Keep in mind that cats are all about texture and wet food comes in pâtés, minces, morsels, stews, shreds, and flakes. Try them all to see if there’s a texture she prefers before deciding she isn’t motivated to eat a canned food! If you stick to the schedule, she will (eventually) adjust to it.

Making sure she has adequate play time before meals can inspire her to eat as well. “Hunt, eat, sleep” is the basic pattern of a cat’s natural cycle, so getting some good cardio in before meal times can help her get used to the new schedule. If you’re worried about her grazing, consider offering her dry food in a SlimCat Feeder Ball or a Doorway Dangli that dispenses kibble or treats as your cat plays with it. She can still “graze” but will have to work (hunt, catch, kill) for her food. If she isn’t toy motivated, you can also try placing small amounts of dry food in various areas around your home (on top of book shelves, window sills, etc.) so she has to at least hunt for her food. Enrichment, exercise and a healthy diet are huge parts of having a healthy cat and a healthy relationship with our cats. I hope these tips are helpful! If you ever find yourself near a Chuck & Don’s, stop on in to chat with an associate about the variety of food-dispensing and enrichment toys for cats!


What to feed dog with protein deficiency


My dog is 18 years old and vet said he has a protein deficiency. I need to increase his protein intake – first step find a grain-free dog food that has lots of protein. Please give me several brands that you recommend. Thank you.


Hi, Shirley!

WOW! 18 years old! First off: congratulations on reaching that milestone. Second: did you get a diagnosis as to what the cause of his protein deficiency is?

If we’re looking at:

  • gastrointestinal disease in which proteins are broken down and fail to be reabsorbed in the intestines,
  • kidneys that just aren’t keeping up like they used to, OR
  • lymphatic disease in which the proper enzymes to break down the protein just don’t exist in the system,

increasing protein intake will only give a slight assist to a deficiency. Increasing protein can help, but most of it will still be lost. In these cases, by all means, increase the protein in the food, but consider adding in a digestive enzyme that’s heavier on the protease (we’re less concerned with amylase and lipase in this case) to help break down the protein to a more absorbable form for your dog. Optigest prebiotics/digestive enzyme powder is the highest, Fidobiotics Good Guts coconut/peanut butter is the next highest and adds in probiotics.

If we’re looking at a heart condition that’s causing the deficiency, increasing protein while sticking with a lower fat and low sodium can be of benefit. In a dry kibble, one of the best for this is Nature’s Logic Sardine (36% protein and only 8% fat!). Orijen Senior is another great option as is Wellness Core Reduced Fat.

Any of the above foods would be of possible benefit for the GI/kidney/lymphatic issues, but not without a good digestive enzyme. The digestive enzyme could also help if the cause is cardiac.

For GI issues specifically, consider also adding bone broth (The Honest Kitchen makes a dehydrated one you just add water to if you don’t want to spend a day or two making it) or Primal Raw Frozen Goat’s Milk (with turmeric and ginger) to help the intestinal tract bounce back a bit. Stop in to your local Chuck & Don’s to look at some of the wonderful herbal options for tummy soothing and balance.

I hope this is helpful and that you have many more good times ahead with your dog. Senior dogs are the best!

Kibble for a picky eater


I have a mini dachshund who has become a picky eater as of late. I’ve had him on Acana regionals for the last several years and he’s decided that he doesn’t care much for it anymore. To get him to eat, I am having to add toppers to his kibble, and I would rather not have to do this. Can your recommend some grain-free kibbles that are similarly high in quality to what he’s been eating? Specifically, any that you’ve found to be favored by picky eaters!


Hi, Macy!

Dogs occasionally begin to show less interest in their food over the years because their sense of smell dulls a bit with age and, since smell is the number one factor a dog uses when determining whether or not they’ll put something in their mouth, they occasionally require an increase or change in the smell of their food. Dogs that have had an upset tummy or anything that caused queasiness (this can be anything from getting into the garbage to stress or a medical illness or procedure) can associate the feeling of nausea with the smell of whatever they were eating at the time.

 Unless the cause is medical, smell is a great place to start looking for a solution for most picky dogs. Also know that he’s got you pretty well trained and is probably aware that if he waits long enough, you’ll “fix” his supper the way he wants it. It’s going to take real fortitude to not give in to those precious dachshund eyes asking you for those special toppers!

 Since you’ve been feeding the Acana Regionals, you’re already feeding a pretty “stinky” food. If you’ve been sticking with one particular formula for a while, switch! If he was on the Wild Atlantic, he may be avoiding ALL fish after a GI upset so you’d be looking for a blend without fish. You can also try other foods in the Acana/Orijen family that have a more specific protein (their singles are slightly lower protein, but single-source so their Lamb & Apple smells stronger than the Grasslands, the Duck & Pear smells stronger than the Meadowlands, etc.).

 If you’d like to try switching brands, we’ve been hearing rave reviews about Farmina N&D and Stella & Chewy’s new kibble. Both are highly palatable and very digestible. Nature’s Variety is an older brand but they just went through a brand refresh and their newer formulae are really exciting!

 Of course, you can always skip the kibble entirely and try raw. There’s many brands out there with premade raw diets in a “morsel” or quick-thaw formula that can make feeding raw as simple as feeding a dry kibble. Nature’s Variety, Northwest Naturals, OC Raw, Primal, and Stella & Chewy’s all have balanced, raw food diets in tiny, bite-sized pieces.

 Stop in your local Chuck & Don’s and ask an associate to show you around the freezer section or go over the benefits of any of the other foods you may be interested. Bring your dog if he’d like to come – there’s nothing more fun than a visit from a dachshund!


Food for diabetic cat


My diabetic cat has been eating Purina prescription dry DM cat food. What brand do you carry that is closest in nutrition that would compare to the expensive prescription food? Thank you!


Hi, OJ!

Wet food is often the most beneficial to a diabetic cat and it’s far easier to find high protein/low carbohydrate offerings in canned foods than it is in dry kibble (to make a kibble requires binders which, in most cases, means carbs). Getting them as much moisture as possible along with limiting carbohydrates (sugar) can be very helpful in diabetic treatment.

Most dry foods we carry are going to differ in protein content from a prescription food as they contain more protein from meat, but ultimately, less protein than the prescription. The most similar as far as percentage of protein, is going to be Evo’s Chicken & Turkey with 50% protein (as opposed to the prescription’s 51%). Farmina, Tiki Cat, and Orijen also have foods in the “40% protein and above” level with low carb formulae.

I would encourage you to talk to your vet about what specific aspects of the prescription food they find most important and then stop by your local Chuck & Don’s to discuss options more closely tailored to your pet’s specific needs. Best of luck!