Dr. Elliott: Shopping in a Pet Store

A closer look at what to expect and tips to help you make your visit a success.

There are various types of pet stores that rely on different avenues of revenue.

Small Boutiques

Generally, these stores carry a smaller selection of brands with an emphasis on healthy and quality ingredients. Employees have a general familiarity of health issues, good and bad ingredients, and nutrients. Most boutiques have access to alternative practitioners and various natural products, such as homeopathy, flower essences, etc.

Big Box Stores

These stores sell pet products - generally have a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Some very poor ingredients for pets can be found, including: dyes, by-products, preservatives, sugar, etc. Shoppers need to be aware that employees in these stores may not be as knowledgeable about ingredients used in pet foods and treats.

A knowledgeable shopper can find some good bargains in these type of stores. Big box stores are convenience locations offering a wide selection of products for the mass market in almost any price range. Do not be fooled by a company‚Äôs colorful packaging, TV ads, mass marketing, etc. Always read the labels, and stay well-informed.  Another advantage of "big box" stores is that they are able to carry a wide selection of accessories from clothes to leashes to cages and much more. 

Big box stores that carry items besides pet products - generally have low cost foods, low nutrition, and poor ingredients. Be aware that the sales staff is generally only slightly educated in pet care.

Retail Stores

The stores come in various sizes, and can carry a small to large spectrum of products. Some stores employ well educated sales staff, while other stores employees are familiar with what manufacturers tell them. Many owners of retail stores include themselves as part of the staff, and are usually friendly. A leading big box store chain has started opening up retail stores under a different name. Retail stores carry wide selection of items; some carry low end products with dyes, by-products, etc. Again, your own knowledge is beneficial. Be a smart shopper.

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Helpful Hints:

  • Dog Food - Ingredients are listed in order of most to least. Some manufacturers may advertise berries and/or fruits in their marketing and on their bags or cans. Make sure all ingredients are listed before the supplements. If items are listed below supplements they are using fruits and/or berries for marketing purposes by using a tiny morsel in the product. 

  • Treats - Price alone does not make a good treat; some manufacturers are using inferior ingredients.  Read carefully!

  • Leashes - Make sure the clasps are sturdy and not fragile. What may look sturdy and attractive, may fool you. Check these items closely.

For additional information- please contact pethealer@gmail.com

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