Oct 2016

Pets: Treating ourselves like we treat them

What would happen if we treated ourselves the way we treated our pets?

This line of questioning can create a LARGE spectrum of answers and opinions.

On one end, we have pet parents who feed their pets homemade food, organic, natural, or other high-end foods, while the person still eats processed, unhealthy foods. That pet parent will spend fortunes on veterinary care and check-ups for the fur-baby, foregoing an annual check up for themselves. These pet parents love without hesitation and give more than they can, in many ways.

a young woman and her German Shepherd dog are laying outside in the grass, and she is lovingly hugging and kissing him. VIntage style color.

At the other end of the spectrum, some pet owners chain their pets outside, in the rain, cold, and heat. Sometimes they remember to feed their dog. Sometimes they remember to give him fresh water. Sometimes they don’t.

Throughout history and still today, there have been those who regard animals as sub-creatures and those that elevate them, even to the point of worship, as did the Egyptians.


One of my favorite quotes is from Mathatma Ghandi, who said,  ‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

The Bible says in Proverbs 12:10, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”

Buddhist will be familiar with this verse from Dhammapada 129, “All living things fear being beaten with clubs. All living things fear being put to death. Putting oneself in the place of the other, Let no one kill nor cause another to kill.”

One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, an advocate for equality and change, said, ““I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”


Our wold-views, moral beliefs, and religious beliefs shape how we view others and ourselves.


Where do you fall on the spectrum? I recommend taking Lincoln’s advice – taking a holistic approach to animal care and yourself.

Make sure you are caring for your animals as you care for yourself. Ask yourself these questions.

Do you care for your pets more than you care for yourself?

Do you care for them less than you care for yourself?

How do your worldviews shape how you care for your animals?

If you cared for yourself as you care for your animals, would you be healthier? Happier?

Would you be miserable? Would you fall somewhere in-between?

Analyzing yourself, your personal relationships, your world view, can help you treat yourself better, or treat your pets better.


Apr 2016

Pawedin.com – Pet Professionals in Your Backyard

It’s like LinkedIn – For Your Dog!

I recently ran across a developing website that could be REALLY beneficial to pet owners – PawedIn.com! It’s basically a working directory of pet professionals in your area. You can even create an account for your pet and “link”them to your the pet professionals you personally love (vets, pet stores, groomers, and more!). There are also some really educational and fun pet blog articles!

Take a minute and check it out and let me know what you think. PawedIn.com.



Dee Ivins
Nature’s Select of the Carolinas


Mar 2016

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth Could Extend His Life. (Easy Oral Care Tips)

Is it just bad breath? Or the start of a deadly disease?

What would you say if I told you that a single act, performed 1 minute a day, could increase your pet’s lifespan by 3 years or more?

If you have been anywhere near our Facebook page in the last 30 days, you’ve seen infographics, photos, quotes, data bites, anything to help raise awareness for February’s Dental Health Month. Why? Because so many pet parents still don’t know that routine dental care can add YEARS to their best buddy’s life span.

“When a client asks me how long their puppy will live, I usually respond 15-17 years if you brush their teeth daily … 11-13 years if you don’t,” Dr. Jan Bellows

Peridontal Disease Grade 2

Cleaning your pet’s teeth can be easy and fun!

There are numerous products on the market now to help you take care of your pet’s oral hygiene. From three-sided toothbrushes, to Salmon flavored toothpaste, to water additives and specially-shaped dental chews, there’s no lack of products and support, to help get you started. For those new to the game, here are my 6 simple tips to a EASY oral care.

Diet plays a large role in dental health.

DIET – Veterinarians will tell you that kibble is great for scraping and cleaning the teeth, while RAW food enthusiasts swear by the nutritional supremacy of homemade diets. Canned food feeders love the convenience and “real food” taste. Here’s the takeaway. Whatever you’re feeding, make sure it is a healthy food. If you feed a dry food/kibble, you can look up your pet’s food here. If you prefer a kibble-based diet, I recommend going 4 stars or higher (like Nature’s Select Premium Pet Foods), but if you’re on a tight budget, moving from a 1 or 2-star ranked food to a 3-star ranked food, will do wonders for your pet’s health. Remember – you can also supplement your pet’s processed foods with whole foods for increased health!

Raw Food Meal c/o canine.karma.training

Nature’s Select Grain Free Range Hearty Recipe

CARAMEL – Are you a huge RAW or BARF diet fan? How about canned foods? Love those for your pet? Great! Here are a few things to remember. Canned foods and other sticky foods (think what you serve your pet in their RAW diet) can stick to the gums and teeth, essentially, like caramel. This can accelerate periodontal disease, among others. While the pet will clean their teeth through pulling/scraping the meat off bones (especially with PREY feeding), a healthy brushing routine is definitely a bonus to help prevent oral disease.

What about my dog/cat? They won’t let me near their mouth!

Brushing with paste and gels.

TO BRUSH OR NOT TO BRUSH? Brush. If you can. Some pets detest it, while others don’t mind a bit. Have a puppy? Start them young. Fun flavored gels, like this Salmon gel, and a finger brush are all you need to get them started. They’ll love teething on the rubber finger glove also! Get your fingers or a toothbrush in their mouth with LOTS of positive reinforcement. This is also a great way to introduce an oral care routine to your adult or senior dog or cat. Some pets like to lick the gel off your finger as well! As they move the gel around their mouth with their tongue and saliva, the gel coats their teeth, helping get rid of tartar and plaque.

If your pet has signs of periodontal disease already, you may want to move right up to using a toothbrush. Special 3-sided toothbrushes make the work simple and quick and clean the teeth thoroughly, but a regular toothbrush works well also. Just remember to get all three sides of each tooth.

Natural alcohol-free gels and sprays like Denta-Sure can be easy to use.

Spray and Go Dental Sprays

DENTAL SPRAYS – Some companies even offer a dental spray that you can simply spritz in the pet’s mouth. My personal favorite! Simply pull your pet’s lip up and spray 1 – 2 times each side. You can (if your pet will let you) accelerate the benefits by wrapping some gauze around your finger and rubbing your pet’s teeth after application. Some pet dental sprays and gels contain alcohol, which is a controversial ingredient in the natural/holistic pet care realm.

I have used both a gel with alcohol (trace amounts to help kill bacteria on the gum line) and an alcohol-free oral care spray. I can tell you from personal experience that Avery minded the alcohol-free version less. With the alcohol-version, while it did work, I had to chase her through the house to apply it.

Water-Additives – Make sure to read the label and research the ingredients.

AGGRESSIVE PETS – Some pets just will not tolerate a toothbrush, no matter how much praise you offer or if you find steak-flavored toothpaste. This could be due to several factors, including existing oral pain. I recommend a trip to the veterinarian for a dental checkup to ensure there is no pain or tenderness in the mouth before proceeding.

Water additives like this one can be a great help. While not a substitute for regular dental care and cleaning, a water additive that helps reduce plaque and tartar is better than no treatment, or waiting to treat your pet until a tooth cleaning visit.

Tropiclean offers a water-additive, Fresh Breath, for oral health.

CAREFUL THOUGH. If you have a multi-pet home, read the label. Some additives are not safe for cats or other animals, and if your pets share a water source, you will want to be extra careful. UPDATE: Additionally, you may find after reading the ingredients, that many “natural” water additives still contain ingredients you may question.

Depending on how aggressive your pet is, you may be okay to allow them to ingest some artificial ingredients, weighing the effects of those ingredients against threats like oral disease, heart disease, and kidney disease. Some pet parents opt to bring in a trainer to help work with the dog, offering a positive rewards system in exchange for access to touch inside the pet’s mouth. Ultimately, you will have to decide what is right for you and your family.

What about chew toys for dental care?

CHEW TOYS, CHEW STICKS – Chews are a GREAT way to help your pet scrape off plaque and tartar while they play! Choose all-natural chews (NOT RAWHIDE/BEEF HIDE) that are fully digestible or fun rubber chews. I’m a big fan of all-natural bully-sticks! Dogs love these things!

As always, with any chew, never leave your pet unattended and be sure to take the treat or toy away when it becomes a choking hazard. (*Rawhide and similar products have been known to “gum up” in the intestinal tract, blocking the pet from passing waste. If not addressed with costly surgery quickly, the pet can die from waste toxins building up in their system.)

Bully sticks offer a great way to help clean your dog’s teeth!

Teeth-cleaning and regular vet visits…

REGULAR VET VISITS – Your pet should be seeing a vet at least once a year for an annual checkup. Checkups are a great way for your vet to help keep your pet up to date on vaccinations, check your pet over (including their teeth and gums!), as well as answer any questions you may have. If you’re up to snuff on keeping your pet’s teeth clean with routine brushing, you may never need to schedule a teeth cleaning appointment for your pet!

Teeth cleaning appointments can be necessary for some pets and some pets who have never benefited from proper oral care may even have to have teeth extracted. During teeth-cleaning appointments, most veterinarians place the pet under sedation while the pet’s teeth are cleaned. As with any procedure, even sedation carries risk. Some veterinarians do offer cleaning without sedation, but this also depends on how submissive and well-behaved your pet is. Take-away? Keep up with your pet’s oral care and make sure to schedule your pet’s annual checkup so the vet can see how well you’re doing!


Your pet’s oral care is IMPORTANT. Science is now linking poor oral care to diseases like heart disease and kidney failure. Your commitment to care for your pet an extra minute a day could help save them from terrible illness later. Have questions? Comments? Email them to me at NaturesSelect (at) petpeople (dot) us.

UPDATED: 6/27/2017


Jan 2016

Keeping Your Pet’s Food Fresh

Your Nature’s Select Natural Pet Food arrives to your door super fresh. Our dog foods and cat food are made-to-order, and we currently order about every 6-8 weeks. Meaning, when your pet food arrives at your door, it should never be more that 2 months old. Our pet foods are best enjoyed within 12 months of production, giving you and your pets 10-12 months to enjoy it. Purchasing larger bags are, of course, more economical, but this may not be the best solution for some dog owners.

Once a bag of pet food is opened, it is exposed to light, heat, oxygen and moisture. Once the process of oxidation begin, the pet food will begin to taste and smell stale after about 4-5 weeks. It is recommended that you purchase the amount of pet food needed to feed your dog or cat for 30 days, and store opened food in an airtight container at room temperature to maximize freshness, while minimizing elemental exposure.

Of course, no one wants to miss out on saving money. That’s why at Nature’s Select, we offer our Multi-Bag Discount Program.

With Nature’s Select, you can purchase two, three, or even four 30 lb dog food or 20 lb cat food bags at a time, even mixing the recipes, and get huge discounts, bringing your average cost per pound down. Purchasing your dog’s or cat’s food in bulk can make feeding a high-quality, four-star food very budget friendly, and of course, you still get the free home delivery!

To keep your pet’s food fresh, we recommend storing the food in a size appropriate airtight container, and only opening one bag at a time. If you purchased four bags, the one open bag you would be feeding, while keeping the remaining three bags unopened and fresh until you need them. Of course, when you are ready to refill your container, make sure to wash it thoroughly before filling it with the new food, or using a fresh bag liner in the container. Cut or tear off the lot production number and best by date from the opened bag, and tape it to the top of your food container, or store it somewhere safe. While we at Nature’s Select have never had a recall, it is important to always be aware and cautious. Having the lot number and best by date readily available will help you identify if your food was affected, should such a scenario ever occur.

When you place a bulk pet food order using our Multi-Bag Discount Program, make sure to let us know in the notes if you would like additional bag liners for your pet food storage container.

If you do not currently have a storage container, I recommend these by Pet Ness. They feature a rubber gasket for an excellent seal, a locking lid, and the larger units even come on wheels for portability. You can add one to your next order and get $2 off our popular 25/30lb bin with the coupon code: STORAGE.


Fits up to 30 lbs!

Fits up to 30 lbs!


Dec 2015

Could your “holiday treat” send your pet to the vet?

The dig on acute pancreatitis…

I get at least one of these calls every year.

“Hello. My dog was not feeling well and I just took him to the vet. Apparently he has acute pancreatitis. I didn’t know we couldn’t give him scraps at the holidays! The vet has him on a special “prescription” diet now. It’s so expensive! What can I do?”

Sadly, many people “treat” their pups to holiday leftovers. The result can be catastrophic. From a terrific, vet-reviewed article on pethealthnetwork.com:

“There are many suggested causes of acute pancreatitis including: obesity, high-fat diets, endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism, and various medications or toxins. Even if your dog doesn’t normally eat a high-fat diet, the introduction of a large amount of fatty food all at once can cause acute pancreatitis. Veterinarians see an increase in pancreatitis around the holidays, since many people think a nice way to celebrate is to share their holiday meals with their dog.”

The easiest way to avoid this holiday humbug? Don’t treat your pets to holiday scraps. Offer healthy treat alternatives instead, like new Cloudstar Holiday Gingerbread treats and Digestible Bully Stick Chews – on sale this month just in time for Christmas!


Nov 2015

How long does it take? A timeline for working with elimination diets and changes to your pet’s foods.

Poor Avery. My little 22 pound bundle of terrier mix can’t seem to catch a break. The itching, paw licking, patchy spots of fur on her thighs, small red bumps on her tummy, and my best guess is that this recent reaction is chicken-related.

Avery had to wear this awesome inflatable "cone" for a bit after scratching so bad during flea season she caused a small laceration behind her ear.

Avery had to wear this awesome inflatable “cone” for a bit after scratching so bad during flea season she caused a small laceration behind her ear.

When we adopted our little girl from the Humane Society, I spent a week transitioning her to our Classic (Chicken and Lamb) formula. She seemed to like it and did well eating everyday. But she was itchy. Boy was she itchy.

So, shortly after we switched her to our New Zealand Lamb formula – no chicken protein, but it does have chicken fat. I was trying to determine if chicken was the issue, as chicken and beef are two of the most common protein allergens for dogs. She seemed to improve a bit, but still itchy. Then, it hit. Flea and tick season. Poor Avery was undone. Even with treating the yard, using commercial flea/tick control, and natural prevention, she itched more than ever – to the point it kept her awake all night it seemed! She even started scratching at her ears. Avery had just turned three and seemed to have developed flea bite dermatitis. Enough was enough. I put her on a full on, chicken-free detox diet – our Cold Water formula.

I noticed improvement. Avery was doing well on the new formula. Still a bit itchy but less. I upped my game. We added cold-pressed organic coconut oil to the mix (one tsp in the morning, one tsp at night) to her food, as well as Grizzly Salmon Oil and NaturVet Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics. Each supplement to help reduce skin inflammation and/or boost her immune system to decrease symptoms. (You can watch my YouTube video here and learn the reasons behind my product selections.)

It took about eight weeks to see really good results, but the best results were around twelve weeks. When doing an elimination diet with your pet, that’s the timeline. When you switch your pet’s food, attempting to isolate the cause of irritation, they should be on the same food (preferably a single protein, single carbohydrate source food), for a minimum of eight to twelve weeks to see full results.

You may see some positive results in as little as week, but give it time to see full positive changes – unless, of course, the results you are seeing after a week are not positive but negative (increased itching/scratching, etc.). If you see negative results after switching your pet’s food, stop and call a knowledgeable kibble expert for re-evaluation of your pet’s personalized diet plan.

If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please contact our expert kibble staff for a free nutrition analysis and diet recommendation.

Reach a Kibble Expert now at 877-353-2858.


Oct 2015

Selenium Yeast vs. Sodium Selenite in Dog Food – What’s the big deal?

According to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), for a dog food to tout itself as “complete and balanced”, it must meet all of the criteria established by the AAFCO Canine Nutrition Expert Subcomittee.

One of the ingredients deemed necessary in the list of proteins, fats, and nutrients, is selenium.

According to an article on the website for Doctors Foster & Smith,

Selenium is an antioxidant which functions in conjunction with Vitamin E and certain enzymes to protect cells. Selenium deficiencies are extremely rare in dogs and basically unknown in cats. They are much more common in cattle and sheep who graze plants which grow in soil that is deficient in selenium. If a selenium deficiency would occur, we would see poor reproduction, puppy death, muscle weakness, and abnormalities of the heart muscle.


Selenium on the periodic table

Sodium selenite is the controversial version of selenium used by many pet food companies, even some rated as 4 and 5 stars on DogFoodAdvisor.com. According to the article by Doctors Foster and Smith, selenium acts as an anti-oxidant.So, what’s the big difference between selenium yeast (which is what we use here at Nature’s Select) and the sodium selenite used by many pet food companies?

According to the Federal Occupational Health Department (a division of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services),

“Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer.”

So, antioxidants are good, yes? According to Doctors Foster and Smith, selenium (in it’s natural state) is an antioxidant.

However, when used in the form of sodium selenite, this mineral begins to work like a pro-oxidant, aiding in DNA oxidation and damage. (US National Library of Medicine) In fact, this mineral (which is safe and effective in trace amounts but toxic in large doses) becomes more toxic in it’s chemical form than in it’s natural, organic state. (DogFoodAdvisor.com)

Whereas it’s counterpart, natural organic selenium yeast (used by Nature’s Select Pet Foods) is less toxic, serves as an antioxidant, and may help repair/restore brain functionality of pets affected with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

In summary, with so many questions surrounding the use of sodium selenite in dog foods, we decided to go with the safer, more beneficial, alternative.

To see our pet foods and learn more, get a custom pet food recommendation for your pet.


UPDATE: After completing a pet food competitor brand comparison to Nature’s Select for a potential customer, I thought it wise to copy/paste some of the information from the email.


“Sodium Selenite has been linked to cell oxidation, a pro-oxidant, in one study using rats, where the rats showed decreased mortality and increased tumors after being subjected to sodium selenite. (See below for a paragraph from the study, along with the link to the study.)
Organic selenium yeast, used by Nature’s Select, is an antioxidant, helping reduce risk of cancer and tumors, and shows other benefits as well, including studies increasing mental alertness in those experiencing dementia and Alzheimers by lowering MAO-B enzyme activity in the brain. (See link here, page 184)
Unfortunately, the majority of pet foods, even brands touting themselves to be “natural” use sodium selenite in their food as it is more cost-beneficial.”
“Schroeder and Mitchener (1971) studied the toxicity and carcinogenicity of sodium selenate and sodium selenite in weanling male and female Long-Evans rats. Groups of 50 male and 50 female rats were administered 0 or 2 ppm selenium as sodium selenate or selenite in the drinking water. After 1 year, the selenium level in the drinking water of 14 SODIUM SELENATE & SELENITE, NTP TOXICITY REPORT NUMBER 38 the sodium selenate group was increased to 3 ppm. During the first year, mortality reached 50% after 58 days of treatment for male rats and after 348 days for female rats receiving sodium selenite. In rats receiving sodium selenate, 50% mortality was reached in males after 962 days and in females after 1,014 days. Sodium selenite was more toxic than sodium selenate, as the latter did not adversely affect the life span of the animals. The overall tumor incidence was significantly increased in male and female rats receiving sodium selenate (0 ppm, 20/65; 2 to 3 ppm, 30/48). The authors did not tabulate the incidence of tumors by sex.” https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/st_rpts/tox038.pdf




Sep 2015

Coconut Oil for Dogs? You Betcha!

Do you have coconut oil in your pup’s first aid kit? How about your own first aid kit? I just found this great, short post from Care2.com about the health benefits of coconut oil and many of these are dog-friendly!

Here are four dog-friendly reasons to keep coconut oil around for your pet (and yourself).

  1. Digestion: The saturated fats in coconut oil have anti-bacterial properties that help control, parasites, and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around.

  2. Fitness: Coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, while increasing muscle. Because of this, coconut oil has shot to popularity by being the world’s only natural low-calorie fat.

  3. Skin Care: Wanna look like you just came back from an hour of yoga? Coconut oil works wonders as a moisturizer for all skin types, especially dry skin and aging skin, leaving you refreshed and looking wide-awake. No headstand required! The fat in the oil helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles without any irritation. Coconut oil can also help with skin problems like psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin conditions. In fact, the oil is frequently used in expensive skin care products.

  4. Healing: When applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. (Care2.com)
Four dog-friendly uses for coconut oil taken from article on Care2.com.
Read the full article here: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-healthy-uses-for-coconut-oil.html


Aug 2015

Crate Training Your Pup – The Do’s and Dont’s

Your dog’s crate is his personal space, his very own room. We have a rule at our house – when Avery is in her crate, no one touches her. Why? Because sometimes even dogs need a little “me” time. The crate is an especially great place for our Avery to “hide” from the kids when she needs a break. (I only wish I had the same option some days!) <wink>

Your pup’s crate should be the place he goes to feel comforted when he’s overwhelmed, or somewhere to rest when tired. Never make your pet’s crate his “time out” zone. If you do, he’ll never want to go in there. Would you?

Teaching your dog to use a crate will make life easier on you both. Crating can:

  • reduce potty accidents in the home
  • reduce destructive/chewing incidents (especially when your pup is teething)
  • make travel and vacations easier for you both! Many hotels and cabins will allow crate-trained dogs if you travel with your pup. If you choose to board your fur-baby, he will already be used to and feel more comfortable in small areas.
Why use a crate to house-train your pup? Easy. Dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep. By choose a crate just large enough for your pup to turn around in, he will notice there is no where for him to relieve himself without having to sit/lay in his own waste. A great solution for your growing puppy (but limited wallet) is a crate that grows with your dog. Some crates, like this one from Midwest, feature a divider panel that allows you section off the crate for a smaller puppy, but to make the accessible area larger as the dog grows.

Remember, that you do not want the dog to have access to an area larger than what he can turn around in. Giving the dog too much area will allow him to relieve himself in the back portion of the crate, while still having ample sleeping room.

The Humane Society of the United States has a great article on crate training tips and even a video. For detailed tips on crate training and how to establish your pup’s crate as his “safe place” check out their article here.


Aug 2015

Canine Influenza – What you need to know.

There were recently ten confirmed cases of canine influenza in one of our sister cities, Asheville, NC. The story was featured on WLOS Channel 13 and can be reviewed here.

So what is canine influenza and how does one recognize and treat it? The CDC page says: 
Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” Dog flu is a disease of dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus.”

According to the CDC, there are no records of dogs transmitting canine influenza to humans to date, however, influenza viruses are constantly changing. That considered, the threat to humans is noted as being “small”. 

What to look for if you think your dog has contracted canine influenza: 

Testing and Treatment Options: 

If your dog has developed a cough, schedule an appointment with your vet for an exam. Your vet can perform a test to check for influenza. Per the CDC, Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.”

Preventative Care:

There are two current known strains of canine influenza virus, strain H3N8 and H3N2. There is an approved vaccine for canine influenza A (H3N8), but it is unknown at this time if this vaccine will also protect against the H3N2 strain. (CDC)

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