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10 Local Dog-Friendly Stores

When we go out – to eat, shopping, with friends, whatever –  we leave our dogs at home. The casually accepted rule is that dogs are not allowed into public establishments, be it because they are considered unruly, loud, smelly or a myriad of other possible reasons.

In a society like that, finding a dog-friendly store or shop is like finding a needle in a haystack, to borrow from the popular cliche. Take heart, though! They do, in fact, exist, and some of them on this list might surprise you. This is a list of my favorite 10 Omaha-Area Dog Friendly Stores and Restaurants!

10. Half Priced Books (bookstore) – 120th and West Center; allowed inside

9. Thirst-Tea (cafe) – Midtown Crossing; allowed inside

8. Blue Sushi (sushi and sake bar) – Old Market; patio seating

7. Urban Abbey (coffeehouse, bookstore) – Old Market; allowed inside

6. Dundee Cork & Bottle (bar) – 50th and Underwood; patio seating

5. Caffeine Dreams (coffeehouse) – 46th and Dodge

4. Flying Worm Vintage (retail clothing store) – Old Market; allowed inside

3. La Buvette (fine wine and cheese parlor) – Old Market; patio seating

2. The Bookworm (bookstore) – 90th and Center; allowed inside

1. Amsterdam Falafel & Kabob (restaurant) – 50th and Underwood; patio seating

Just a few handy tips to utilize when you and your dog are visiting these places (or any other dog-friendly establishment, in fact) – Always call ahead to confirm their dog policy. Not only do policies of this nature change often, but this will show that you are courteous and respectful, painting dog-owners in that much of a brighter light. Also, know your dog! If he doesn’t do well around other dogs or people, it probably is not a very good idea to bring him into a public establishment with you. Keep him on a short leash at all times, making sure that he doesn’t cause any problems for the people around you. If you’re people-conscious and polite, there is nothing to prohibit you and your dog from enjoying any of these business’ services. If you have any questions regarding dog-friendly establishments, or proper dog outing etiquette, please email me at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com!

 

 

Eric Face

 

Eric Nault 

 

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Mind Your Manners! Proper Dog Outing Etiquette

When you bring your dog out with you, you want him to act properly, right? There’s almost nothing worse than an embarrassing display by dogs you are responsible for, especially when you are surrounded by other dogs and dog owners. So, in order to help you avoid any unnecessary fiasco, we have compiled a list of proper etiquette practices to observe when taking your dog out on the town.

1. Know your pet

Before taking your dog out with you, there are several things you need to know about him. How does he react to other people and dogs? How is he around children? Is he good on a leash? Is he potty trained? Does he obey you? Essentially, you need to make sure that your dog is properly trained before you take him out in public. If not, it could prove disastrous for both of you. Keep in mind that young puppies have an excess of energy and, since the concept of training is fairly new to them, it might be a lot harder to keep them in check when they are in new surroundings. If you think your dog might be a handful, it’s better to leave him at home. Better safe than sorry, right?

2. Know the area

Do your research on the place you’re planning on taking your dog. Is it a place where dogs are generally welcomed? Will there be a lot of new people there? Is there a place where he can go to unobtrusively do his business? There are a lot of things you need to find out before you’ll be able to know what kind of environment it will be for your dog. New places are often stressful and making sure it is a place where he can easily relax will make the whole experience a lot more fun for you both.

3. Know the expectations

There are certain things that people always expect dog owners to do when their dogs are out with them, like keeping him on a leash close by you, cleaning up his messes, and not letting him jump all over passersby. You’ll be expected to have a plentiful supply of doggie bags, as well as easy access to water on hot days. A proper leash will be needed to keep excitable dogs from tugging you off your feet, and an adequate stash of treats is encouraged to reward good behavior. Being fully equipped is tantamount to a good time, and also to being courteous to the people around you.

Sometimes, though, things happen regardless of our preparations. In the event that your dog ends up causing a scene anyway, be polite about it. Don’t make excuses for your dog’s behavior, simply apologize and then take extra precautions. Some people don’t like dogs, and pardoning your pet’s inconsiderate actions is a surefire way to make these people angry. Please be respectful if you are planning on taking your dog anywhere.

Proper pet outing etiquette is often simply a matter of common sense and following the Golden Rule. When a mom lets her kid run amok through the grocery store, you get upset, right? So do the people who see an untrained dog wreaking havoc in a dog park. Employing these practices will ensure an enjoyable outing for you, your dog, and everyone else around you. If you need help finding any products I mentioned, or have any questions about finding doggie events, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com, or call one of our store locations.

 

Eric Face

 

Eric Nault

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A (Relatively) Brief Guide To Worldwide Food Safety Standards

You’d think that the definition of “safe to eat” would be a fairly accepted standard for everyone, right? Sadly, that isn’t the case. Where the food safety regulations in one country might say that a food is fine to eat as long as it is cheap and filling, other countries would say that it is poisonous garbage, never to be consumed under any circumstance. Some regulations are strict when it comes to labeling and advertising, where others are very lax, almost non-existent.

It’s important to know who you’re getting your food from, so let me give you a quick rundown of the big distributing and manufacturing countries’ safety standards, starting with the loosest and ending with the tightest.

China

It’s no surprise that the first country on this list is China. In all my research for this post, the only thing I could find regarding Chinese pet food safety regulations was that the Chinese have no pet food safety regulations. Through the years, they have received a somewhat dubious reputation in regards to food safety, so recently they have begun enforcing several new regulations regarding human food, but have yet to do so with pet food. This means that a Chinese pet food, or an ingredient that is sourced from China, could have anything at all in it, from ground up roadkill to plastic.

United States

The regulatory system in the USA is governed by two establishments called the FDA and AAFCO, with most of the actual standards being set up by AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) and the enforcement being handled almost entirely by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) since AAFCO is not actually an official governmental body. This, as you might imagine, makes finding out exactly what the standards are an extremely arduous task.

At first glance, it would appear that that the USA has very very loose standards for pet food. Most people are under the assumption that the FDA controls everything, so when they read on the official website that there is, in fact, no requirement for foods to have FDA approval to be sold, they are taken aback. The only thing that the FDA actually does specific to pet food is review health benefit claims. Their website states that the CVM (College of Veterinary Medicine) and manufacturers themselves hold primary authority for providing safe pet food. Compared to the strict laws in place in other countries, this seems really weak.

However, the people actually making the regulations, AAFCO, have set up a dizzyingly specific set of standards and definitions that pet food suppliers are encouraged to adhere to. While they too say that the manufacturer ultimately holds responsibility for the safety of their food, they also encourage the buyer to be aware of what they are spending their money on, charging pet parents with a certain measure of responsibility. AAFCO sends all complaints, cautions, and recalls towards the FDA to deal with. A full list of requirements is on their website under the “AAFCO Talks Pet Food” column.

Ultimately, in the United States, it is up to you to know what you are feeding your pet. Both FDA law and AAFCO recommendation enforce a tight labelling policy so that you know exactly who makes your food and can easily find out exactly what is in it. In essence, the standards are only as high as you want them to be.    

Canada

While their hyped-up reputation would suggest that they are some sort of pet food safety pioneers, the Canadians are actually fairly run-of-the-mill. Their enhanced animal health safeguards that were implemented in 2007 make it illegal for specified risk materials to be included in pet food, and Industry Canada developed two acts, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Competition Act, as labelling and advertising regulations, making sure that customers know exactly what they are getting for their money. All pet food packages are required to show a list of ingredients, feeding instructions, and a guaranteed analysis (which is a fancy term for the minimum and maximum nutritional quantities of the ingredients). All ingredients are required to be listed by their common name. In other words, Canada is in the same boat as the United States, where you have the opportunity to get quality food, but there really isn’t any law requiring all food to be quality.

Also similar to the US, where we have AAFCO, Canada has PFAC, the Pet Food Association of Canada, a non-governmental organization dedicated to producing quality pet food. Most Canadian manufacturers are members, which makes the process of finding a safe Canadian food that much easier. At the end of the day, however, it is up to the buyer to know what they are buying.

Japan

The Japanese aren’t playing around with your pet’s food. The Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment worked together with the Agricultural Material Council and the Central Environment Council to develop laws against making, selling, and importing/exporting food that is not made according to their guidelines. Governmental Ministers can prevent the sale or production of any food that might be harmful to pets, and they can also order a recall if they have to. Random inspections are conducted and the performing officials are granted the power to seize any resources that aren’t up to code. Results of these inspections are made public, and jail time and steep fines await those who are caught making subpar food or using improper ingredients. As far as actual laws go, very few are doing more than the Japanese.

United Kingdom

The European Union (the EU) manages pet food safety in the UK, and with their Animal Feed Regulations being passed in 2010, they are doing a stellar job. Their regulations cover everything from labeling, nutritional claims, and authorized additives to the enforcement measures that are to be taken if a manufacturer does not comply. All businesses must be registered with and approved by the EU, a mandate which applies to all points in the process, from the farmers growing the ingredients to the store selling the finished product. They prohibit the distribution of “unsafe” food, which is defined as food that is contaminated by foreign objects, food that is decomposing or rotting, and food that contains unapproved additives. Traceability measures are in place, meaning that if they find an ingredient in the food that isn’t supposed to be there, they will be able to tell at exactly what stage in the process it was added in. Enforcement officials are allowed to use their discretion as well. Just because a food “technically” complies with regulations doesn’t mean that the manufacturer is untouchable. This creates a system with no loopholes that makes United Kingdom standards the highest in the world.

I hope this post provided you with a lantern to get you through the fog of laws and legal terms associated with pet food safety. Now you know where the best foods come from, and you know where to have caution. Keep in mind, though, that just because a food is based out of a country doesn’t mean that the manufacturer uses their standard. For example, a country might be based in the USA and use the United Kingdom standards in order to go above and beyond. I know this can be confusing, so if you have any questions, please call either store location, or send me an email at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com.  

Eric Face

 

Eric Nault

 

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3 Ways To Keep Your Dog Calm On The 4th of July

As the 4th of July steadily approaches, an important question has gained increasing popularity: How to I keep my dog from becoming a stress-ridden mess of anxiety amid the booming cannons, crackling sparklers, and countless strangers? This post will outline the top 3 methods for keeping your dog calm on the 4th of July.

  1. Thundershirts

They look kind of like a fitted life jacket for dogs. The idea is to apply firm, yet gentle, pressure to various sweet spots on the torso, providing a constant reassurance. Make sure to get one that fits perfectly though, as the technology requires it to be very snug. Thundershirts are not a complete fix, and your dog will still exhibit anxious behavior, but they won’t be as prone to completely losing it.

  1. Calming Chews

These all-natural chew treats are designed to reduce stress-related behavior problems without causing any adverse side effects to your pet’s personality or overall health. They use L-Thiamine, an amino acid that is not produced by the body, but found naturally occurring in green tea  and casein, a milk protein, to bring down stress levels in a natural, healthy way by enticing the brain to produce other calming amino acids like Dopamine and Tryptophan. Studies have shown no adverse side effects or drowsiness, just a happier, calmer dog. Give one to your pet a half-hour before you want it to take effect.  

  1. Exercise

Hardly anything out there is going to calm your dog down as much as a good chunk of time every day devoted to exhausting exercise. Before you start your 4th of July festivities, take your dog on a long walk, or put him on the treadmill for a bit. After vigorous exercise, keep him in a relatively quiet, dimly-lit room with a favorite toy and clothing that smells like you. He will likely be too tired to tear around like a maniac every time a firework goes off, and the comforting setting will keep him calm. Couple this method with either of the items mentioned above, and 4th of July will be a breeze.

Every year, dogs across the nation collectively freak out because suddenly, their sensitive ears are bombarded with huge blasts that even our weak human ears consider deafening. Imagine if someone randomly shouted in your ear without warning or explanation, and then imagine that it was about five times louder than any human can shout. You’d be going crazy too. This 4th of July, please give your dog some much needed comfort and respite by investing in the items mentioned in this post. Thundershirts, calming chews, and lots and lots of exercise. Be sure, also, to take extra precautions if you want to have your dog outside. Put out sparklers and other items in a bucket of cold water, and make sure to dispose of any dangerous trash. Keep his collar and ID tag on at all times, just in case he bolts.  If you have any questions regarding these products and practices, please email me at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com, or call either store location. Happy 4th, to you and your dog!

Eric FaceEric Nault

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Should I Supplement? When and Why You’d Need The Additives

If your mom is at all like my mom, you probably grew up taking mandatory daily vitamins, or “supplements”. These can be in the form of a multivitamin or a need-specific medicine, such as something to specifically help your blood pressure.

Humans take these supplements all the time. Our diets fluctuate so often and so sporadically (one day you eat a salad with carrot sticks on the side, the next you eat nothing but delicious pastries) that we need the multivitamins in order to make sure that we are getting the proper nutrients every day.

What about dogs, though? Many people will give their pet a little added something with their regular food, but is that really necessary? And if it is, what should you add?

Well, according to dog experts like Cesar Millan, your dog probably doesn’t need any supplements after all, as long as the food you are feeding them is an adequate source of nutrients. High-quality pet foods are geared towards meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs, and many of them are even breed specific. If your dog is healthy and you’re feeding him a proper food, adding a supplement could not only be unnecessary, it could actually be harmful, like when you take an unprescribed mixture of pills and they end up making you more sick. Too many vitamins are just as bad as not enough.

There are, however a few that you can’t really have too much of. Glucosamine, for example, is great for large breeds that tend to have joint trouble and not very many foods include it. Fish oils and coconut oils are good for the coat and the shaggier breeds are probably going to need the extra boost of a supplement in order to work it through all their fur. Natural supplements, like pumpkin and goat’s milk, are going to provide a huge boost in nutrition no matter what you’re feeding.

If your food isn’t cutting it and your dog is still having problems, have your vet recommend something to you. There are supplements for just about anything out there, from arthritis to a protein deficiency, so they should be able to tell you what you need. Once your vet has recommended a particular supplement, we’d be happy to help you find it! Just stop by one of our stores or call ahead to keep it on hold. If you have any other questions regarding supplements, feel free to email us at eric.nault@longdogfatcat.com.

Eric Face Eric Nault