The best dog food is made from human-grade ingredients with high-quality animal proteins, whole grains, vegetables and is naturally preserved, according to Michelle Smith, owner of Natural Pet Center of Fargo since 2005.
Natural Pet Center of Fargo does not sell dog food brands that include by-products, corn, fillers or chemical preservatives, according to its web site.
If Michelle can provide the tools for people to help their pets live longer, healthier and happier lives, she said it is all worth it.
Her goal is to provide the community with premium pet food and supplies.
“Our pets are a part of our families, and we want to keep them around as long as we can,” she said.
Healthy dog food
Natural Pet Center carries natural dog and cat food, including raw, refrigerated and dehydrated food.
Some of the natural brands sold at Natural Pet Center include Solid Gold, Nutrisource, Spot’s Stew, California Natural, Nature’s Variety, Wellness, Sojourner Farms, Canidae, Felidae, Innova, Flint River Ranch, Primal, Weruva, Before Grain, Taste of the Wild, Best Feline Friend, Mulligan Stew and Tiki Cat.
No matter what brand or diet you decide to feed your pet, Michelle is right there to answer your questions.
“I always have some people that apologize for asking too many questions. You can never ask too many questions!” Michelle said. “If we don’t have an answer for you, we will call manufacturers and do the research for you to help you out.”
Choosing the right dog food
Michelle offered some suggestions for selecting a healthy dog food. Look for dog food ingredients with:
1. High-quality animal proteins
The first two or more ingredients should be high-quality animal proteins (no by-products!). Stay away from general terms such as “meat meal” or “poultry meal” because it could be just about anything.
Choose a food that is grain-free or contains high-quality grains such as brown rice or oatmeal. Avoid corn and wheat.
3. Good-quality vegetables.
The food should have good-quality vegetables, fruits, supplements, vitamins and natural preservatives.
Benefits of natural dog food
Many customers tell Michelle their dogs have healthier skin and coats and their dogs have smaller or less frequent stools after switching to a natural diet.
“As you change to a better quality food you will also see that your pet will eat less because there is more usable nutrition in their diet,” Michelle said. “They will stay at a healthy weight and less active, and older pets will get a little ‘pep’ in their step.”
Michelle said she feeds her yellow lab and Bernese mountain dog (pictured, as puppies) a variety of food in order to keep it balanced.
“Our dogs are probably two of the most spoiled dogs when it comes to food, treats and toys!” she said. “Their parents own a pet supply store for heaven’s sake!”
Some of her dogs’ favorites include Innova mixed with canned food, dehydrated food or some healthy veggies and table scraps.
“We like to mix it up, so their diet does change from day to day,” Michelle said.
Raw dog food
Natural Pet Center offers options for those interested in feeding their pets a raw diet. The simplest approach is to feed the complete raw diet offered in the store, Michelle said. A more hands-on option is to use base mixes.
For those who want to get serious and make up a complete raw diet, Michelle recommends pet owners do their research.
“Unfortunately, you can’t get away with mixing hamburger, rice and beans together and calling it a complete diet,” she said.
For more information, Natural Pet Center offers brochures and samples in the store and includes links to all the pet food companies from its web site.
Michelle also suggested the following resources:
- Food Pets Die For – Shocking Facts About Pet Food by Ann N. Martin
- The Whole Dog Journal (monthly publication)
- Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn
- Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog by Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown
- The Natural Cat by Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn
“If you have any questions along the way or are needing more information about the foods we carry, always feel open to calling, emailing or stopping in to chat about food,” Michelle said.
Save money on dog food
Natural dog food typically costs more than regular brands. When people are trying to cut back, expensive dog food might be the first on the list.
“With the current state of the economy, everyone is trying to save money. But that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on your pet’s food,” Michelle said.
For a great food at a great price, she recommends Canidae. This dog food is meant for dogs of all ages and provides all the nutrition they need.
“Although it has a lower price then some of our other foods, it contains high-quality proteins, grains, vitamins and minerals and extra oils to keep their skin and coat healthy,” Michelle said.
For more savings, Natural Pet Center offers different specials each month. Additional specials are offered in Larry’s online newsletter. Larry (pictured) is the cat who lives in the store.
Pet supplies Fargo Moorhead
Natural Pet Center has a wide selection of healthy treats, unique toys, pet supplies and even people clothing and gift items.
Michelle said she is constantly on the lookout for new and unique products. If the store does not carry an item you are looking for, she will put in a special order with multiple items at no extra cost.
Grooming services at Natural Pet Center
Natural Pet Center offers full grooming for all breeds of dogs and cats. Grooming services include breed-specific styling, shaves, hand scissoring, bath and brush, nails, ear cleaning, anal glands, face trims and paw trims.
Cats for adoption
Several cats are up for adoption at Natural Pet Center.
If you are considering adopting a cat, stop by and check out some of the homeless cats.