Archive for February, 2017

These cats are at the shop or in foster homes near the shop and available for adoption.

Posted on: February 13th, 2017 by Lori

Raw Food Challenge — Win a Year’s Supply of Pet Food!

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by PetMAC


“Raw Pet Food 30-Day Challenge”

PetMAC – the Marketplace and Adoption Center at Lake Anne in Reston is participating a national Raw Pet Food 30-Day Challenge. The challenge asks contestants to ditch their usual kibble or canned foods and feed a raw diet for 30 days as their pet’s main source of nutrition. No grains, kibble, or any food products that are highly processed or contain any chemical preservatives.

At the end of the 30 day period, contestants will have the opportunity to submit a video sharing how the raw diet affected their pet during the challenge. One winner will be chosen at random from all the videos submitted to receive a FREE year’s supply of Answers Pet Food, up to a $2000 value.

RAW dog w meat 2

All contestants will receive a 25% discount off Answers Pet Food, Raw Goat’s Milk and Fish Stock at PetMAC Lake Anne for the duration of the contest. Contestants will also be given access to a private Facebook group to discuss questions about feeding a raw diet with other contestants and the moderators. The goal of this contest is to educate pet owners about the health benefits of a raw diet, and to increase the health and lifespan of their pets.

PetMAC at Lake Anne is an all-natural & holistic pet nutrition center which offers customers healthy, species-appropriate diets and other supplies for dogs and cats. PetMAC sells only quality pet foods and treats that contribute to better teeth, stronger bones, healthy joints and a longer lifespan in dogs and cats. Additionally, PetMAC hosts regular adoption events on weekends to help find homes for animals in need.

“Processed foods have created an obesity crisis for our pets.” explains PetMAC owner Cindy Williams. “By getting our pets ‘back to basics”, and feeding them what they are naturally designed to eat, we hope to reverse the damage caused by highly-processed, inferior-quality foods prevalent in the pet food industry.”

There are many benefits to feeding a raw diet, including:
• Improved digestion
• Healthier skin and coat (less shedding!)
• Reduced allergy symptoms
• Stronger immune system
• Better weight control
• Smaller, firmer stools & less cleanup!
• Ensures proper hydration (especially in Cats!)
• Reduced or no doggy “odor”
• Increased mobility in older animals
• Easier to digest than kibble
• Mimics your pet’s natural diet
• Most Importantly: Raw diets promote a longer, more healthy life for your pets


“The goal of the challenge is to not only show people the difference a raw diet can make in the lives of their pets, but to raise awareness about better nutrition overall.” Williams says. “We are so happy to be working with AnswersTM Pet Foods as they have led the way on raw feeding for years. We’re participating in the 30 Day Challenge in the hopes that the deep discount on their foods will encourage people to try an alternative diet for their pets.”

Answers Pet Food is based in Pennsylvania. Each formula has been created by food scientists to provide not only nutritious meals for pets of high value and quality, but also with safety in mind when it comes to manufacturing and packaging. All meat is antibiotic and growth hormone free with no synthetic vitamins. Their mission is to change the way dog and cat owners feed their pets and think about the principles behind it. Their foods are fermented to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present in the raw foods, with the added benefit of adding helpful bacteria as a result.

Contestants must register and transition their pet to Answers by August 7th to be included in the challenge. The winning video will be randomly selected by Answers.

For more information on the contest or how to get started, please contact PetMAC at 571-325-2099.

Clean Eating For Pets and Biologically Appropriate Diets

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by PetMAC

Below is an excerpt from an excellent article about feeding a species appropriate, raw diet to your pet.  Credit and original link at bottom.


First let’s review a little background on kibble foods.

Kibble pet food originated in the late 1800’s as a matter of convenience; prior to this most dogs were fed a diet made by owners or composed simply of table scraps and whatever they could scrounge up on their own. This usually included different types of meat, bones, bread, veggies and so forth. Once kibble was created and companies started to boom, others saw the profit that was to be made in the market and the pet food business exploded.

The problem with kibble is essentially in the fact that it is an artificially created diet.  There are varying degrees of quality on the market ranging from wonderfully sourced human-grade ingredients, to the equivalent of feeding your dog a bag of sawdust and old boots. Whatever the quality however, the end result of making the kibble remains the same.

The process of high pressure and high heat required for cooking kibble kills and denatures most of the enzymes, probiotics, vitamins, and oils that naturally occur in the raw ingredients before they are processed; the entire chemical and nutritional composition of the ingredients is altered. As a result, kibble manufacturers have to add these vitamin packs after the fact, along with probiotics, fish oils, preservatives, etc. They also will often spray a coating of fat on the outside to make it more palatable. And while these additions after processing of enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients is good, as soon as that bag of kibble is opened and exposed to light and oxygen, those additions instantly die off. Because of this we find that many pets have digestive upsets with kibble such as gas, bloating, loose stools, constipation and vomiting. As a result they need to be provided with additional supplements to adequately digest their food and gain nutrients from them.


Furthermore, years ago (and it is still true today) most pets that were fed kibble were fed the same brand and same protein most of their lives. We came to believe that changing up their food would lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and other awful side effects that made rotating through different foods unappealing and possibly dangerous. What we failed to realize, unfortunately, is that feeding the same food can ultimately lead to nutritional deficits for your pet.

Take a moment and consider this: how healthy would we feel after eating chicken and potatoes for 5 years? Probably not very considering we would constantly be getting the exact same amino acids, fats, and starches in our system. Chicken for example, has a completely different nutritional profile than beef; as does brown rice versus oatmeal. Again, think about our diets. Some days we eat blueberries which provide us with antioxidants. Other days we eat kale and increase our calcium intake. Still other days we eat fish and take in some of those amazing Omega 3’s. If we only eat chicken and potatoes we are depriving our body of the benefits of all these other wonderful nutrients.

After some time on the exact same diet, it’s possible that our bodies and our pet’s bodies cannot use these foods as beneficially as they once did. Furthermore, this increases the chance that an allergy or intolerance to a food will develop. Fortunately most high-end kibble companies these days advocate rotational diets. They create formulas that can easily be swapped through with little to no transition necessary. In this manner we are exposing our pets to a variety of foods and nutrients.

Recently there has been a greater push to take this new-found interest in optimal pet nutrition even one step further: raw food.


The underlying argument backing the benefits and appropriateness of raw food comes back to examining the basic design of dogs. Despite their domestication, the anatomy and physiology of a dog is still very much the same as that of a wolf. Both their teeth and their short and acidic digestive tract are indicative of an animal that is meant to hunt and kill prey, scavenge, and consume raw meat with few starches and carbohydrates.  Now I know a lot of owners will think to themselves, “domesticated dogs have been around for thousands of years, there is no way they are still like wild dogs or wolves”.  The truth is that although we have changed their appearance over thousands of years, evolution often takes HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of years to truly change an organism, and therefore a dogs dietary needs really are like that of a wolf’s.

Essentially, what this means is that dogs are best suited with a diet of meat, bones, organs, and the occasional fruit and veggies. Fruits and veggies are often gleaned from the stomach content of their prey, as dogs do not have the ability to digest the cellulose wall of many plants and thus need it predigested or juiced in order to be able to assimilate it and gain nutrients.


The same is true of cats, but to a greater degree, as cats are biologically obligate carnivores:  “Cats evolved to meet their nutritional needs through the consumption of animal tissue rather than plant-based proteins such as grains, which make up the majority of ingredients found in commercial cat foods today.” This means that cats have zero nutritional need for grains, and very little if any of veggies and fruit.


Carnivora, one of my favorite Canadian raw pet food companies explains it best:

“When wolves or wild cats catch their dinner, they eat the soft tissue first, the lungs, spleen, heart, kidneys, and intestines. During follow-up meals at the kill site, they will continue eating the animal’s muscles, hide and bones. The stools from these meals contain mostly hair wrapped bone fragments. By the end of the feast there will be few leftovers, maybe a jawbone or hoof.

Even though dogs and cats are domesticated, we must respect the fact that they are still carnivores with strong carnivorous instincts, and a palate that is suited to eating primarily flesh. Beneath the purring and wagging tails lives a wolf and a wildcat, and although domestic companions may not have the survival instincts of their wild equivalents, they still have the dietary needs of a predator and scavenger.”

Based on this principle, raw food naturally advocates rotational feeding as hunters and scavengers would be exposed to a variety of different foods based on what they could hunt or find. In this way the variety leads to a balanced diet. Additionally, because raw food is by definition uncooked, all the wonderful nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, oils and so on are naturally intact and available to your pet in pure form. A proper raw food requires little to no supplementation or addition of nutrients after the fact.

I can personally vouch for the wonderfulness that is raw food. I’ve fed a raw diet to my two cats since I brought them home at 8 weeks old. They are happy, healthy, and fit. Their coats are shiny, their weight is perfect (a lot of cats actually gain weight due to all the carbs in kibble diets) and their litter box has zero smell. Their litter box is actually one of the reasons that I LOVE feeding raw. As soon as I switch to a kibble when my husband and I go away for a weekend and leave them with their automated feeder, we get back to a stinky litter box with a large amount of waste. In two days their litter box goes from unnoticeable in our small condo, to smelling up the entire place! Because there are so many fillers in kibble, often to hold it together, and many of the ingredients are indigestible, waste volume and smell increases on any kibble diet. As soon as we return from our weekend away, I switch them back to their raw and the smell subsides in about a day.

And really when you think about it, this all makes perfect sense. How do we feel after a diet full of frozen microwaveable dinner, fast food, and over-processed junk? Lethargic, sluggish, and generally unhealthy. It’s amazing the difference a good diet can make in terms of our vibrancy and health – and the same is true for our pets!

There is SO much more I could write about as there is so much literature, information, and debate about pet food diets. I think I have provided a good framework for those that are interested in learning about biologically appropriate diets for their pet, and hopefully I have enlightened some about the potential problems with kibble diets. In the future I will write some posts on some more specific issues such as the importance of feeding raw bones, the incidence and prevention of certain ailments, and so on.

For those interested in raw dog or cat food here are a few links. Some people do put together their own combinations with help from a local butcher, as it’s often a bit cheaper than buying from a pet specialty store. Just make sure to do your reading first as your pet needs meat, bone, and organ (and perhaps some veggies and fruit if you are feeding a dog), and in certain percentages in order for it to be balanced. A good rule of thumb is to think about the anatomy of a chicken carcass. There you find probably about 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organs. Too much bone can cause constipation, while too much organ can lead to loose stool!


– Veronica



What’s the Big Deal About Cat Litter?

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by PetMAC

Cat Litter is Cat Litter – What’s the Big Deal?


Sodium Bentonite and Crystalline Silica Dust – that’s the big deal!

Clumping cat litters hold great appeal for cat-lovers because they are so convenient. However many pet-owners don’t realize these two ingredients in most clumping cat litters have been implicated in diseases and even deaths in animals and humans.

Sodium bentonite is often added as a clumping agent to traditional cat litters to create “scoopable” clay litters like Tidy Cats. Sodium bentonite acts like an expandable cement, which is why these litters should not be flushed – they swell to 15 to 18 times their dry size. It is also used in grouting, sealing, and plugging materials.

Cats often lick themselves after using the litter box, ingesting pieces of the litter, which expands just as it does in the plumbing.  Also, the dust from such litters can coat cats’ lungs, leading to respiratory problems. The HennepinCenter for Poison Control in Minnesota has reported instances of poisoning in humans from chronic ingestion of sodium bentonite, so just imagine what effect it can have on our kitties who breathe it multiple times a day!

Crystalline silica dust, the other ingredient in most clumping litters, is a known carcinogen for both humans and household pets when inhaled.  According to, “Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal.  The silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.”

Clumping clay kitty litters may be related to a wide variety of seemingly unrelated cat health problems, included diarrhea, frothy yellow vomiting, mega-bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney problems, respiratory problems, general failure to thrive, anemia, lethargy, and even death.

How does clumping litter affect our pets?

  • Cats inhale dust from clay litter, or ingest it while cleaning their feet. Kittens, being curious creatures, sometimes eat litter, as do dogs who like the little “treats” kitties leave for them.
  • When combined with natural and ingested liquids, the powerful clumping abilities of sodium bentonite cause the ingested clay dust and particles to form a solid mass in the intestine or stomach.
  • Inhaled particles could cause similar problems in the moist climate of the lungs.
  • The “clumping activity” in the intestines could draw fluid out of the body, causing dehydration, and possible eventual urinary tract problems.
  • The clumping substance coats the digestive tract, attracting the collection of old fecal material, increasing toxicity, bacteria growth and prohibiting proper assimilation of digested food. This can lead to stress on the immune system, leaving the animal susceptible to viral, bacterial, parasitic and yeast infections.
  • The problems can also extend to dogs who sometimes are inexplicably drawn to “litter box snacks.”

Oh, and if you care about the environment, read on…..  Clay is strip mined for use in cat litters.  This not only damages the environment in the same way any strip mining does, but clay is also not biodegradable.  Natural cat litters are made from materials such as wheat, corn, walnut shells, pine and recycled newspaper.  All are by-products of products we already use and are biodegradable.

Our advice:  switch your cat litter to one made from a plant-based material – it’s better for your pet, for you, and for the environment. Some options for all-natural, healthier cat litter products sold at PetMAC are listed below.  All are clumping and scoopable.


All-Natural Litters We Carry:

Blue Naturally Fresh smallNaturally Fresh by Blue – made from walnut shells (ask about their Frequent Buyer Program!)





Nature’s Miracle – made from corn cob

World’s Best Cat Litter – made from corn kernels (ask about their Frequent Buyer Program!)

Swheat Scoop – made from wheat

Feline Fresh – made from pine

Dr. Elsey’s Litter Attractant – the herbal ingredient in Cat Attract – can be used with other non or low-scented litters


Clumping Clay Litters We Carry:

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract – while it is a traditional clumping litter, it has been very beneficial for cats who have litterbox issues and is 99% dust free

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat – a traditional clay litter I brought in by request…. At least it has less silica dust than grocery store cat litters

What is Diatomaceous Earth and Why Should I Care?

Posted on: February 8th, 2017 by PetMAC

The Benefits Of Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic, safe substance made up from crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life. Crushed to a fine powder and observed through a microscope, the particles resemble bits of broken glass. Diatomacous Earth is deadly to any insect yet completely harmless to animals.

Diatomaceous Earth’s mode of action for insect and parasite control is strictly mechanical. The microscopically sharp edges contact the insect or parasite, and pierce their protective coating, so they soon dehydrate and die. The larvae is affected in the same way.

Internal parasites can be controlled by giving Diatomaceous Earth internally. It is very important to note that it must be food grade – the earth used in gardens and pool filters can damage your dog. Diatomaceous Earth can eliminate roundworms, whipworms, pinworms, and hookworms within seven days of being fed daily. To be most effective, Diatomaceous Earth should be fed for at least 30 days, to catch all newly hatching eggs or the cycling of the worms through the lungs and back to the stomach.

Another use for Diatomaceous Earth is the control of external parasites and flies. This is achieved by dusting your dog with Diatomacous Earth, along with his bedding area and surrounding carpeted areas.

Other Uses

Diatomaceous Earth has also been reported in scientific literature to absorb methyl mercury, e-coli, endotoxins, viruses, organophosphate pesticide residues, drug resides, and protein, perhaps even the proteinaceous toxins produced by some intestinal infections. Given this, Diatomaceous Earth is very useful as a detox solution, digestive aid and colon cleanser.


For dogs, use one tablespoon per day of food grade Diatomaceous Earth in his food for dogs over 55 lbs. and one teaspoon per day for small dogs and puppies. For external parasite control, simply rub the powder at full strength into the coat for fleas and sprinkle on bedding.

Reference:  Dogs Naturally Magazine

The Benefits Of Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs