Tag Archives: black lab

Table Talk: How to Feed your Pet the Natural & Healthy Way

Guest Blogger:  Many of our pet parents are interested in feeding their furry friends a healthy & natural diet so we thought we’d check in with the experts over at Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital for some advice.  Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital is a full service veterinary hospital located in Boulder, CO.


If you take some time to think about the trends and changes in the food products you find at your grocery store, you’ll notice that things are very different than they were even 5 years ago.

With more consumers adopting health-conscious and environmentally-conscious eating habits, natural and organic options have sprung up everywhere! Similarly, many companies have introduced ‘healthier’ options such as natural and fortified foods for your pet. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know what foods are right for your pet and what’s just plain hype. Have no fear: in this post, your friends at Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital would like to help shed some light on the tricky subject of pet nutrition. We’ll discuss some things to look for as well as those to avoid and why, so you can be a savvy shopper and the best possible pet parent. Bon appetit!

Things to Look for

  • AAFCO Approved Foods: The motto of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is  “Feed Safety & Consumer Protection – Over a Century of Partnership & Progress”. This organization certifies pet foods that meet at least the minimum requirements for nutritional content. As such, seeking foods that are approved by the AAFCO is a good baseline. It’s also important to note that the AAFCO has not established official definition for the words ‘holistic’ and ‘organic’. So don’t be fooled by fancy language on the side of a bag.
  • Please Pass the Meat! Many people have made the choice to eliminate the consumption of meat from their diets. Some may also choose to feed their pet’s vegetarian fare. As a pet owner who places your companion’s well-being at the top of your list of priorities, it is imperative to note that dogs and cats are carnivores. Biologically, they need real meat and the proteins that come along with it to thrive. On the same note, Fido and Fluffy have not evolved to utilize grains as a source of nutrition. This means that rice, corn, and other carbohydrates are unhelpful at best and downright dangerous at worst. The only reason they are added to most pet foods is because they are less expensive and make the meal chunkier.
  • Watery Food: Though it may sound a little bit strange, the “waterier” your pet’s food the better. Dogs and cat’s alike need a large amount of water in their diets to stay hydrated. For their more wild relatives, a large amount of their daily water comes not just from drinking, but eating as well. This is because the bodies of prey animals are composed of up to 70% water! Compare that to your standard dry kibble and you might see a problem developing. If possible, feed your pet wet food at least a few times per week, but strive to make the mushy stuff a daily part of their diet if possible.

Things to Avoid

  • Enhanced, Fortified, Blah Blah Blah: If you put our ‘Things to Look for’ list into practice, you can forget all of the hype-filled claims that fortified foods come with. Remember that dogs and cats are biologically programmed to derive everything they need for optimal health from a natural diet. Additives can be harmful whether they present a short term danger or cause complications over time. In dog foods you should strictly avoid any brands that contain BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate, as they are known to be harmful and some are even carcinogens. For both dogs and cats, avoid foods that contain artificial preservatives in favor of those preserved with vitamins E and C.
  • By-products: The first ingredient in your pet’s food should be meat… and we’re talking REAL meat. Remember that your pet is a carnivore by nature and his body is fine-tuned to receive the maximum benefit by processing and using the nutrients from prey animals. Fillers and meat by-products sometimes contains additives that can be harmful to your animal companion. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if the meat isn’t human-grade, you shouldn’t feed it to your pet.
  • Overfeeding: This tip might be a bit different than the others that we’ve discussed so far, but we feel that it is just as important. America’s pets have a weight problem, just like many of our people. The key to a happy and healthy pet is feeding them the right things in the right amounts. Pets don’t have the mechanisms in their minds to turn town a delicious bowl full of food if it’s sitting on the floor in front of them all day. Make sure you feed your pet the proper amount of food for their particular size and breed and you’ll have a much happier camper on your hands.

We hope that you’ve found these tips to be helpful and informative. Some pet parents may decide that trying to navigate the complex world of pet food brands is too risky and preparing a home-cooked diet is the way to go. If you would like to explore the home-feeding option, schedule an appointment with one of the skilled veterinarians at Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital – just call 303-494-7877.

– The Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital Staff




Dog Emotions


Humans experience so many emotions.  I suspect if one catalogued every word ever uttered to try and describe a feeling from every language that has ever existed, as well as every significant grunt or groan, the result would still be far short of what any single person feels in a lifetime.  The full spectrum of a dog’s emotions, on the other hand, would probably fit nicely between the covers of a good children’s book.  Despite their relatively narrow emotional capacity and unexpressive faces, I swear I’ve seen dogs that look wistful, avaricious, truculent, and even slightly romantic.  Probably most dog lovers are guilty of projecting emotions in this way. It’s irresistibly easy to paint with our vast emotional spectrum on the simple canvas of a furry face.  Anyway, the dogs don’t seem to mind.  At least, no dog has ever looked especially piqued when I told them they seemed dogmatic.

Today I walked Max the giant Black Lab for the first time, and we were instant friends.  I liked him (he could tell), and he liked me (I could tell).  He did a little hoppy-wiggly dance to express his joy, and then when I squatted down on my haunches he gave me lots of little uppercuts in the chest with his nose.  This performance was emotionally intense, but all fit within the purview of the word “happy.”  Max even gave little whimpering cries which almost sounded sad or even elegiac, but no, still just “happy,” albeit perhaps pushing the boundaries of “too happy.”  I’ve seen a similar dance from my own Lab, Marty, on many occasions, and to an outsider unfamiliar with dogs, it must look like my walking in the door after a long absence causes the poor creature to experience excruciating seizures.  Marty makes a noise like a yelp-howl, falls violently to the floor where she writhes around for a moment, only to hop back up with the urgent need to try and nuzzle/burrow her way into my torso, then she steps back to spin in a few circles and then expands the circles into laps around the living room.  Then it’s repeated, from the top.  It’s all just Marty’s attempt to define “happy.”

Max wasn’t quite that overcome, but then we’d just met. Max’s parents were home taking care of the sick baby.  If you’re a human of the non-sociopath variety, the sight of the final two words of that last sentence probably made you feel something on some level, and might even be enough to make you feel lots of things on a very conscious level if you let them.  But not poor Max.  There were many primal as well as very subtle emotions floating about the house, and maybe Max could sense that something was going on but couldn’t really sympathize, as much as it is in his sweet nature to try. Like a toddler watching Hamlet, Max probably just wondered why everyone was so tense and worked up, and wished the world would be just plain old happy.  A nice brisk walk must have been a welcome relief for Max.

Yet the walk was emotionally intense too.  We walked by a house that had a small, very territorial dog fiercely yapping about our impudent proximity to his yard.  At least that’s what I heard.  Max probably heard “unhappy” and “angry” with every bark, and maybe even “righteously indignant,” though probably not.  Max casually strolled over near the fence and this little dog actually tired to bite Max’s nose through the slight crack in the gate.  I thought “what gall!” from this little thing half Max’s size, and was eager to forget it and move on. But no, suddenly Max’s ebullience turned to irascibility, and his hackles proclaimed his bellicosity.  Max wanted to fight. I’d put a treat in my pocket before I entered Max’s house just in case he needed winning over (ha!), and I decided that I’d give it to him once we got to the corner, and let the milkbone taste of solace eclipse his umbrage. When we got to the corner, I decided that he should probably have to sit first. I said the word and he did it (miraculous!  but more on that another time), and then I gave him the treat.  Then a pat on the head. Next thing I know Max was laying on his back right in front of me in the middle of the sidewalk.  I pet his belly and rubbed his chest, which is a great way to calm Labradors (perhaps because they are so nostalgic for the cosseted days of their puppyhood), but the look on Max’s face was one of the most curious I’ve seen on a dog in a long time.

Maybe the effrontery of the other dog had taken a greater emotional toll than I thought. Maybe the contrast between one pernicious moment and another pleasant, in rapid succession, overloaded Max’s intricate lattice of emotional circuitry, and he became impassive.  In any event, as he lay there having his belly rubbed, he looked at me out of the corner of his eye as if he expected something from me, like another treat, a hug, or even a touch of chastisement.  He looked like he was mollified by my rubbing his belly, and simultaneously circumspect at the great vulnerability of his position.  I kept trying to calm him, stroking his chest and telling him not to mind that little rapscallion back there, but he kept looking at me with one wide nervous eye, his mouth closed tight.  It was the face of a creature vexed by many intense emotions.  Not a face one would find in a children’s book.

We kept walking, and Max soon slipped back into plain old happy.  At least I think he did. Max tended to look like he was smiling, like most Labs and many other breeds.  Maybe inside he was lost in an emotional jungle, but outwardly he just wore a big goofy grin. And that, I think, is the dilemma: dogs may look like they’re always smiling, or always sad, and maybe it isn’t true.  Maybe it’s good we project so many complicated human feelings on our pets, because they feel much more than their simple pet masks reveal.  I don’t know if dogs can feel guilt or boredom or nostalgia or pride, but wagging/not wagging and grinning/not grinning are surely not sufficient markers for how they really feel.  I don’t know how many emotions dogs are capable of; maybe it’s 100, maybe it’s only 5 as some have suggested.  Maybe they feel things one at a time, or maybe they can feel everything at once, which is what puts my Marty so near insanity every time I see her.  You can combine 3 primary colors and make quite a spectrum.

Whatever they feel, they are very interested in how we feel. This, I think, is the greatest evidence that dogs aren’t simply happy/sad playful/angry automatons.  They study our faces intensely, trying to puzzle out what we’re feeling, and how they should feel in turn. In fact, studies have shown that dogs automatically look at one side of our asymmetrical faces, probably in an attempt to understand our thoughts and feelings as clearly as possible.  The only other species that is known to do this to us, is us.  So perhaps when Max was laying on the sidewalk staring at me with that funny expression, it was because I was wearing a pretty funny expression myself, and he was just trying to figure it out. We were chasing each other’s emotional tails.  And it’s not a chase either of us is ever likely to win.



Out-U-Go! staff meetings typically involve bagels, coffee, orders of business and staff members sharing  some of their experiences working at Out-U-Go!  It usually becomes clear that some of our Pet Parents’ homes produce more stories than others and at a recent meeting, one particular household of dogs proved to have A LOT of stories (mostly about poop).  Of those stories, one sticks out in particular…

To protect their anonymity, let’s refer to the dogs as Penny and Gretta G.  Now, Penny and Gretta share a special flare for life as well as anything and everything edible and not edible.  As such, it’s not uncommon for them to crap on the floor… but hey, even the best of us have the occasional accident.

Like most dogs, these two shed a lot so their owner purchased a Roomba to keep the hardwood floors clean while he’s at work.  If you don’t know, a Roomba is a Frisbee sized robot vacuum designed to roam the house cleaning the floor while you’re at work.  Between a mid day visit for the dogs from Out-U-Go! and a hard working Roomba, this Pet Parent had a lot to look forward to every time he opened his door after a hard day at work.

One day, like all days, Penny and Gretta’s owner kissed his two beautiful dogs goodbye, released the Roomba to do its thing and drove off to work.  A few hours later our walker arrived to find a house full of diarrhea and a hard working Roomba.

As it turns out, the standard Roomba is not equipped to clean a house full of diarhea, but not due to any lack of effort.  By following the parallel diarrhea tracks around the living room and noting the skid marks of partially-dry diarrhea with wheel tracks through them, our walker could clearly see the Roomba’s morning long effort to vacuum up diarrhea.  Because the Roomba has a sensor that determines whether an area is clean or whether it needs more vacuuming, it diligently attempted to clean several areas with back and forth motions until the sensor read clean.  Had the Roomba been mounted on a WWI tank it might have had a chance, but alas, the standard model uses plastic wheels and the sensor never read clean so back and forth it went.  Despite giving it the old college try, our walker wasn’t able to get the floor completely clean, just like the Roomba.

Upon hearing of this incident, our office staff picked up the phone and called this Pet Parent at work to inform him of what happened.  He responded with mostly curse words.  Penny and Gretta bounced back fairly quickly and were ready for their mid-day walk the very next day.  The Roomba, however, was never the same.


Doga Day for Charity is coming up fast on August 6th!!!

Out-U-Go! and Boulder’s Natural Animal hospital are teaming up again on an awesome event for charity!  Doga, otherwise known as Yoga for Doggies, will be featured.  On August 6th from 1pm – 4pm, we’ll all be hosting the Doga Day for Charity, a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.  For just $5 you and your pooch get:

  • A Doga lesson with Yoga instructor, Steph Schwartz, of the Bali Yoga Retreat
  • A massage for your dog by certified canine massage therapist, Lisa Simmerman, of Stella Earth
  • Fresh-baked dog treats from Paws Barkery
  • Grilled hot dogs, sodas, water, chips, and treats for the humans

What a deal, right?!  

This will be a great time for pups and people regardless of doga or yoga abilities and experience 🙂

When:  Saturday, August 6th from 1 PM to 4 PM

Where:  Outside of Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital at 685 S Broadway in the Table Mesa Shopping Center

Who:  Co-hosted by Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital (www.bouldersnaturalanimal.com) and Out-U-Go! Boulder (www.OUTUGO.com)

What:  A cooky, crazy canine event to raise funds for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley

The Highlands Street Fair was AWESOME!

The Highlands Street Fair 2011 was a blast!  This event gets better every year which is why we were so happy to help our friends down the road at Out-U-Go! Denver host an awesome booth.

Thousands of local residents toured 32nd Street in the Highlands to visit with a lot of the businesses from the area.  The Out-U-Go! booth was very popular- hundreds of people enter our raffle to win free dogs!

We’re already looking forward to next year!

Stay tuned for information about Out-U-Go!’s next awesome event- DOGA for Charity 🙂

The Highlands Street Fair!!!

The Out-U-Go! Booth

Out-U-Go! at the Highlands Street Fair

Out-U-Go! Boulder is thrilled to help our friends down the road at Out-U-Go! Denver host a booth at this year’s Highlands Street Fair!  Held annually in the heart of NW Denver, the Highlands Street Fair has booths from hundreds of local businesses as well as 3 stages for music, food, drinks, dogs and fun.  Stop by our tent to say hello, enter our raffle and let us pass out tasty treats to your pup(s).

We are looking forward to our second year in a row at this awesome event!

The Highlands Street Fair is taking place all day long on Saturday, June 18th.  The street fair will be up and down 32nd Street in the Highlands in NW Denver.  You can find out more about the entire event here http://www.highlands-square.com/StreetFair/index.htm.


Doga Anyone?

Out-U-Go! & Boulder’s Natural Animal are once again teaming up to host Boulder’s next awesome outdoor charity event!  Our last event, the Pampered Pooch Spaw Day for Charity, was such a huge success (we raised over $1200!) that we’ve already begun organizing Doga for Charity!  Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the exact date and time, but this awesomely fun and hilarious event will take place this summer outside Boulder’s Natural Animal hospital.

All funds raised will be donated to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

Plan on a day of fun in the sun, canine massage, food and drinks and…. DOGA!

Any pup can participate, no matter how long they are able (or not able) to stay in one place 🙂

The team at Out-U-Go! and Boulder’s Natural Animal are looking forward to keeping everyone posted as more details develop, but based on the level of success we had with the Pampered Pooch Spaw Day, we think you’re in for a treat!!!!

Awesome Fundraiser for Charity! “A Pampered Pooch Spaw Day”




We are thrilled to announce an AWESOME fundraiser for a great cause!  Out-U-Go! and Boulder’s Natural Animal are teaming up to co-host a fun, furry and hilarious event to help raise money for human and pet relief efforts in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

With the help of many other local Boulder businesses, Out-U-G0! and Boulder’s Natural Animal are organizing a Pampered Pooch Spaw Day on April 16th, 2011 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm.  This event will take place outside of Boulder’ Natural Animal in South Boulder.

Bring your best, furry friend and come join us for an afternoon of fun times, tasty treats (for humans and pets), doggy massages, doggy pedicures, doggy nail painting, ice cream, food from the grill, music, laughs and an all around dog gone good time.

A $5 entrance ticket gets you and your pooch full access to our doggy “spaw” and all proceeds will be donated equally to the Red Cross for human help and to World Vets to help the animals affected.  What’s more, Out-U-Go! and Boulder’s Natural Animal will be matching all donations dollar for dollar!!!

If you’re a human, mark your calendars for April 16th, 2011 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm, cruise by Boulder’s Natural Animal in South Boulder for the spectacle that is A Pampered Pooch Spaw Day!  If you’re a dog, just try to remember 🙂

Diary of a Dog Walker: The Tiger Attack

Just as Bailey and I stepped onto the street, we were attacked by a tiger.  It was, like most tiger attacks, entirely unexpected and very traumatic.  Actually Bailey didn’t seem especially traumatized, but at the time I was pretty upset and still remain a little miffed.  City living has its drawbacks, but one of the principle recommendations of an urban residence is a supposed reduction of ambient tigers.  Indeed, one can become so accustomed to a tiger-free life that one may not always check for tigers before stepping out onto a city street.  This was my mistake.

We had hardly gone ten steps before the massive beast emerged from the bushes across the street.  I think I noticed it before Bailey, and my reaction was to freeze.  Did you know the human brain reacts to a stubbed toe in 40 milliseconds, while processing new information can take up to ten-times longer?  In the instance of the tiger attack, I think I froze in about 2 milliseconds, and then had many dozens of milliseconds to carefully weight the respective merits of ‘fight-or-flight.’  By the hundredth millisecond I decided the best thing to do was to just keep right on freezing.

Bailey reacted differently.  She’s a black lab you see, and though she likes to wag with her whole body and sit on my feet and bury her head in my lap (like most labs), she is what I’d call a ‘Gamer.’  If we walk by a house and there is a dog at the window that feels the need to bark at us, Bailey will be growling and lunging for the other dog before she even sees it.  In other words, she doesn’t do ‘flight’ and is ready to take on all comers several hundred milliseconds before she knows who or what they are.  Even if they’re huge and orange and covered in black stripes and charging right for her.  Bark bark.

Generally speaking, a pelvis is very useful thing.  It connects lots of important body parts together, as well as housing some important functions of its own.  I long ago decided I would do whatever is necessary to keep my pelvis from between sets of gnashing teeth, and this is still a conviction I hold to.  I can’t really explain why I pulled Bailey behind me and pinned her poor head to my butt as I circled and circled, trying to separate the Tiger and the Gamer with my body.  Maybe the protective instinct of the dog walker in his natural environment is more powerful than the pelvis-preservation drive.

In any case, it worked.  The tiger turned out to be just a huge orange brindled Mastiff escaped from his yard, and after a few dozen orbits around me, decided to just go smell some nearby poop.

It took several minuets for Bailey’s hackles to go down, and much longer for my stomach to slide back out of my throat.  I called the Out-U-Go! office and asked if they happened to know the non-emergency number for the local police (they did) and even managed to sound cool and casual when I told every person Bailey and I happened to pass to be careful:  there’s a tiger on the loose.