happy smiling pug in backyard

How Can I Keep My Backyard Clean and Smelling Fresh?

I know that it’s summertime at my house: the sun is shining, the days are long, and I’m frequently refilling pet water bowls because it’s hot outside! Being a dog-sitter, this is my busy season. People are going on vacation and they want their dogs to stay at my safe and fun home while they are away. With so many dogs in and out of my house, I’m spending much of my time this summer keeping my backyard clean and poop-free!

For those of us who have multiple pets, keeping our yard clean can be a big issue, especially in the heat of summer. Hot poop starts to smell quickly and attracts lots of flies. No one wants a stinky or fly-infested yard, so I thought I’d pass along the tips and techniques I use to keep my yard clean.

Scoop Every Day

Keeping my yard poop-free each and every day is super important. I use a small plastic bathroom-sized trash can lined with a plastic grocery bag and a Petmate-Clean Response Claw Scoop to keep poop out of my yard. I scoop once or twice a day depending on how many dogs are at my house. I prefer to scoop after doggy breakfast and dinner, right after everyone has gone outside to do their business.

Scooping the poop right away every day has a couple of benefits. First, flies don’t have a chance to land on the poop and lay eggs. And second, dogs like to run around and play with each other right after they poop, and I don’t want them to step in the fresh pile they just dropped!

After scooping the yard, I end up with a bag full of poop. It is then important to double-bag this poop before putting it in my big outside garbage can. I love using my Petmate Scoop because I get to keep my hands clean and far away from all of the poop. I simply rinse out my garbage can and rinse off my pooper scooper with the backyard hose after I scoop, and then clean them with bleach every few weeks.

Perfume for My Yard


About once a week, after I scoop my yard, I also like to give it an extra fresh smell. NaturVet Yard Odor Eliminator is awesome. It has a nice scent, not a really strong or chemically smell. I simply mix the clean-smelling concentrated solution with my gallon water spray bottle and hook up directly to my water hose, and then I spray it over my entire yard, even on my fences and lawn furniture. It also works on gravel and concrete! It’s fast, easy and not messy in the least. My yard smells nice afterward…not like I’m trying to cover up a bad smell, but just fresh. I think it’s a great product!

Trap Those Pesky Flies

>No matter how quickly I scoop my yard, there are flies around. This may be a bigger issue for some people than for others. If you have a big yard and your dog poops by the back fence, you may not have a big fly issue. If you only have one dog, you may not have a fly issue. Certain pet foods (therefore certain poop) may attract flies more than other foods.

fly trap

My backyard is on the smaller side, and I have lots of dogs eating lots of different foods coming and going all of the time. My big garbage can fills with bags of poop over the course of the week. There’s no way to prevent flies from coming to my house. But what I can do is trap them once they get here to keep them from crawling on the rim of my beer or bothering my husband (and our food) when he’s cooking out!

My wonderful husband is responsible for fly-trapping at my house. It’s pretty easy (and a little gross). We found some amazing fly traps, called Rescue Fly Trap. They have a powder inside, that when mixed with water, flies love. He simply fills the bag with some water to mix with the powder, and then hangs the bag near our garbage can. Flies flock to it, crawl down inside the bag to get to the solution, and then they cannot get back out. They are trapped and then they die without laying any more eggs in my yard and without pestering us anymore. When the bag is full, my husband cuts it down into a plastic bag, then double-bags it, and it goes in the trash can to await garbage pick-up. Then a new trap is hung. I have never found a more effective solution for ridding an area of flies.

Ever Tried Lime?

I haven’t personally used lime for pet odors, but I have been looking into it as an option. The first thing we should know is that there are two common kinds of lime. One is dangerous for pets and people and can cause burns. The other is safe.

DANGEROUS LIME: Hydrated Lime, also known as “burn lime”, “quicklime”, and “calcium oxide”

SAFE LIME: Agricultural Lime, also known as “aglime”, “biolime”, “dolomite”, “garden lime”, and “calcium carbonate”

Agricultural Lime is a soil additive and is made from pulverized limestone or chalk. The active ingredient is calcium carbonate (which I do use for my homemade dishwasher powder). We can sprinkle Agricultural Lime pellets wherever we are having an issue with pet odor, even in our flower beds, and then spray with water to wash it into the ground. Agricultural Lime helps with pet odors by creating a dry, arid and alkaline environment in which bacteria has trouble surviving and reproducing. It can also be an insect repellent!

It can be a bit of a chore to keep my yard clean, but I think it’s much worse to not enjoy my backyard in the summer because of flies and pet odor. Doing just a few minutes of work every day makes the whole summer better, in my opinion!

What have you used to keep your yard clean? Any tips or tricks to share? Let us know in the comment section below.

yellow lab eating kibble from silver bowl

What’s Important When Choosing My Dog’s Food?

When we are choosing a food for our dog, it can be rather intimidating! We want the best food for our dog that is within our budget-but what does that actually mean? Companies use TV ads with celebrity branding, doggy taste tests, fun music and charts and graphs to confuse consumers and to try to tell us theirs is the best food on the market. However, as the pet parent, we need to make sure that we look through all of the hype and get down to the facts about the brands we are considering.

We want to determine which foods are full of sugar and cheap fillers, and which are high quality, biologically appropriate diets. There are some special dietary requirements for giant breed dogs and for tiny toy breed dogs but the most important thing I would recommend for any dog is to feed a high quality formula or formulas that you can trust.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on your dog’s diet:

Rotation Diet

All dog foods, which carry the statement of “complete and balanced” must meet AAFCO requirements for nutritional adequacy. Unfortunately, the AAFCO requirements are very broad and haven’t been substantially updated in more than 20 years, despite numerous nutritional advances in pet care. So, you will find foods with wildly varying levels of calcium or protein, but which are all considered complete and balanced.

A great way to make sure your dog gets a variety of all of the nutrients he needs is to try a rotation diet. This is what I do in my home, as do many other experts and nutritionists. At home, my husband and I feed 5 different brands of food to our 3 dogs and 3 different brands to our 2 cats. Within these brands, there are a variety of formulas, each with different levels of nutrients such as calcium, protein, fat, phosphorous and fiber.

Many pet owners are concerned about feeding a rotation diet because their experience has been that you should never switch a dog’s food because it can make the dog sick. This can be true, but the logic is somewhat flawed. When a dog…or a person for that matter, eats the same thing day in and day out, the digestive enzymes which are each activated by specific nutrients will start to go dormant. Eventually, on the same diet, most of the enzymes become dormant and only the specific variety and quantity of enzymes to digest that specific food are active in the gut. By contrast, when a dog is accustom to a variety of foods, all of the available digestive enzymes and bacteria are active and engaged in the gut. This allows for better overall digestion and nutrient absorption of any food. If your dog is only used to one food, you’ll want to gradually introduce new foods and new ingredients slowly, but with increased frequency.

Food Brands

There are hundreds of dog food brands available on the market today. They’re manufactured by a variety of different types of companies. There are some with celebrity endorsements and that carry a celebrity namesake. There are some manufactured by major multi-national conglomerates and still others that are operated by large marketing firms. Unfortunately, many of these have the primary goal of profit over all else. Writing as the representative of a “for profit” organization, I completely understand that if a product isn’t profitable, it can’t continue to be produced. My concern, however, is that many of these companies are under increasing pressure from investors and shareholders to increase profit, which at a certain point means decreasing cost. In the food industry, there are only a few reliable ways to reduce cost, and most of them involve decreasing quality.

It’s for this reason, many of the brands in Hollywood Feed’s stores are brands of which most people may have never heard. Fromm, Orijen and Answers are some of these brands. (Read more about these brands here: Fromm  Orijen  Answers) These companies were each begun with extremely high standards and have adopted a customer base that demands those standards. They’re aware that a reduction in quality could make them more profitable in the short term. However, they also know that if they take this approach, their core customer base will abandon them for one of the other up and coming food brands.


When discussing quality, there is a lot to consider. Organic, grass fed and grass finished beef is typically going to be of higher quality than factory beef. However, if you want to get a 30lb bag of dog food with all organic ingredients and an appropriate amount of meat, you would have to spend hundreds of dollars per bag. On the other side of that coin, you can find some 50lb bags of dog food for about $16-but when your bag of dog food costs less than a bag of fertilizer, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s not going to be nutritionally sound.

Additionally, most of the ingredients on a bag of food must be specifically defined by AAFCO and those definitions are potentially misleading. For example, there are big differences between chicken, chicken meal and chicken by-product meal, but none of these ingredients are necessarily better or worse than the other 2, just based on their name. Suppliers can buy chicken by-product meal with various ratings, and the by-product meal could potentially be of higher quality than chicken meal. Also, when you consider that plain chicken is approximately 70% moisture, the volume and weight of that chicken product is reduced greatly when the food is cooked and/or dried.

Ingredients are listed on the back of the bag in descending order by their weight prior to cooking. If chicken is the first ingredient and rice is second, then after cooking chicken will lose about 70% of its weight but the rice will only lose 8 to 10% of its weight. So, looking at the food on a dry matter basis, it’s easy to see that there is actually more rice than chicken in that formula. This is why I prefer foods that have a mix of a whole muscle meat as well as a meat meal (the dried form of the same, previously mentioned muscle meat). There are some foods which contain high-quality chicken by-product meal, but most brands have abandoned that ingredient due to customer perception.

Raw Diets

Perhaps the best foods available to our dogs is a high-quality raw diet. Many people are concerned by raw diets due to potential pathogen contamination. While this is possible, it’s much more of a risk for people than it is for our pets. The digestive tracts of dogs are naturally equipped to digest raw meat without regard to things such as e-coli or salmonella.

The veterinary and pet industries are divided on the benefits of raw diets, but I can personally attest to their benefits and safety. My 11 year old Lab/Golden mix was having some mobility issues, so I put him on a raw goat’s milk fast for a month. His blood levels were tested before and after the goat’s milk fast and every single value was improved after the fast. Additionally, he has started eating an all-raw diet since the goat’s milk fast ended, and his health has continued to improve. Read more about Skeeter’s health problems and goat’s milk fast here.

The primary reason some veterinarians are against a raw diet is because they say there haven’t been enough studies done to warrant the benefits. However, it’s only been in the past 8 years that large companies have begun to look into raw diets. It’s these large companies that can afford the expensive feeding trials and clinical studies, and most of them produce kibble so it’s not necessarily in their best interest to research or promote a raw diet. History, on the other hand, has proven that dogs, wolves, foxes and other canine species have, can and will thrive on a biologically appropriate raw diet.

I know this is a lot to consider, and a lot of information to process, but remember: the associates at your local Hollywood Feed attend 60+ hours of training classes each year so that they can become experts on nutrition and different brands of food. Please ask them your questions and to help you pick out the right food next time you are shopping!

itchy dog biting leg, thinning hair

What are Food Allergies and How Do I Stop Them?

When our pets have food allergies, it can be very frustrating for pet parents and for our dogs and cats. We don’t want our pets to lose hair, itch, and develop hot spots from excessive licking, and neither do they. But, where to start? There are so many foods on the market, so many ingredients to consider, and there are always conflicting opinions. There is also a lot of confusing information and marketing about what we should be feeding to our dogs and cats. I’m going to break down food allergies and solutions for you right here!

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is an inflammatory response to food, grass, dust, pollen, flea bites, etc. that causes an allergic reaction, or symptoms, that drive humans and pets crazy. Common allergic reactions are expressed through inflammation of the skin, which leads to itching, redness and hair loss.

An allergic threshold is the point at which we start to physically manifest symptoms. When allergens stay below that threshold, our body manages them well and symptoms are not expressed. Take a look at this chart:

The actual numbers on the chart are arbitrary and appear only to give scale. The yellow line would be the point at which these dogs begin to experience symptoms from the allergens listed in each column. As we can see, depending on how allergic our dogs are to each allergen, we can reduce the occurrences of allergic reactions by simply reducing the amount of contact our pets have with them. It is not necessary, or probable, to completely eliminate most allergens.

In addition, the more natural antihistamines, digestive enzymes and anti-inflammatories we introduce to our pets, the higher their allergic threshold will go and the less likely they’ll be to have symptoms manifest.

It is also important to remember that hypo-allergenic does not mean non-allergenic. Instead, hypo-allergenic means less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Advertisers love this word, so we should make sure we know the definition!

Questions To Consider When I Think My Pet Has an Allergy:

Have I tried an elimination diet with my pet to determine potential allergens?
To what ingredients do I suspect my pet is allergic?
What are the symptoms my pet experiences?

What is an Elimination Diet and Why is it Necessary?

An elimination diet is used to determine food ingredients which our pets can tolerate and isolate ingredients which we should avoid.

The most important thing to consider when feeding an elimination diet is that we must avoid ALL ingredients which are not part of that temporary diet. An elimination diet can take 12 weeks or even longer, but the results are very trustworthy and the cost is minimal compared to other less effective methods of determining allergens.

Before We Begin an Elimination Diet:

  • We need to isolate the primary ingredients in our pet’s food down to 2: one meat and one carbohydrate.
  • The selected protein and carbohydrate sources should be something which we can be relatively certain is not causing the problem.
  • I prefer to select protein sources with which our pet has had minimal contact. Some options include: pork, bison, turkey, duck and kangaroo.
  • Some great carbohydrate source options include: sweet potatoes, lentils, tapioca and garbanzo beans.
  • Other ingredients in the food should either be a healthy fat source, such as: fish oil, coconut oil or olive oil; or a simple vitamin or mineral supplement which should contain little to no allergic potential

Let’s Begin:

  • Now the diet we have carefully chosen should be fed as the sole diet for our pet. This includes any dog treats or table scraps we feed our dogs or cats. Absolutely nothing else!
  • We should observe our pets for an increase or decrease in symptoms. If symptoms begin to improve, then our pets should remain on that diet for up to 12 weeks or until the symptoms have completely subsided. If symptoms begin to worsen, it’s time to abandon one of the two primary ingredients and replace it with a different novel source.
  • It’s important that we only replace one ingredient at a time and then make note of the dates, ingredients, and any noticeable changes or benefits in our pet’s response.
  • We should continue to rotate through ingredients until we find a combination that drastically decreases or completely eliminates any symptoms.
  • At this point, we can start adding one ingredient at a time to your pet’s diet, in the form of treats or other similar pet food formulas, all the while taking note of your pet’s responses to each ingredient.
  • This is how we figure out, one by one, which ingredients our pets can tolerate.

Tell Me More about Ingredients

A true food allergy is caused by a protein. Almost all food items contain some form of protein, but many food items have a much higher percentage of protein than other food items. For example, a dog can be allergic to carrots. This is because their body recognizes the proteins found in carrots as a threat and will try to eliminate it from the body. This is why blood and skin tests done at veterinary offices will often return positive allergic responses for foods such as carrots, flax, potatoes or other produce. The problem with this classification of allergic reactions is that they typically fall well below the allergic threshold we discussed earlier, and probably do not need to be eliminated from our pets’ diets. When we are deciding on food for our dog or cat who is displaying allergy symptoms, we should avoid all foods containing beef, wheat, chicken and soy. These are the most common food allergens. Wheat and soy, while being grains and not meat, still contain a high percentage of high allergen proteins.

To replace those very common pet food ingredients, we should instead look for the novel ingredients we spoke about earlier: rabbit, duck, pheasant, kangaroo, and bison, all of which are commonly available in pet food. Again, good novel carbohydrate sources include sweet potato, tapioca, garbanzo beans, and lentils.

*Remember that any consumed food items can potentially trigger a reaction, not just our pets’ primary diet. We should be sure not to feed our allergic pets table scraps or treats which contain any of the most common allergens. Especially while we are doing an elimination diet to determine the source of our pets’ allergy. Most of the treats sold in grocery stores contain wheat, soy, beef or all three. Additionally, something as simple as the crust from a slice of white bread can set off a dog with severe allergies.*

What Are Some Brands to Consider?

Hollywood Feed carries many diets great for pets with allergies and for trying an elimination diet in all of our stores. The brands below have novel ingredients as well as high levels of natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatories. A few of my favorites are: Answers Pet Food, Orijen, Acana, Fromm, Holistic Select, and Natural Balance, which all have hypo-allergenic formulas. Also, the most common food allergens such as beef, wheat and soy are absent from the majority of the formulas and brands that we carry.

What Else Should I Know?

Finally, I should point out that food isn’t the only thing that can cause an allergic reaction, it’s simply the easiest to manage. Grass is another very common allergen, but because there’s virtually no way to escape it, we should minimize exposure. But we also need to be realistic about dogs being dogs. By eliminating as many other allergens from our pets’ lives as possible, we can most likely bring them under the allergic threshold to a point of comfort.

For an outline on skin/allergy disorders as well as some of the best nutrition available, watch and read: Dermatology and Our Pets, Cats, Dogs and DermatologyI Have an Itch that Needs Scratching and Solve 90% of Pet Health Problems through Answers Raw Nutrition .

happy shepherd mix with water bowl in background

What are the Benefits of Feeding Raw?

If you are curious about feeding your pet a raw or partially raw diet, then listen up! Primal Pet Foods is one of the amazing brands that Hollywood Feed carries to help meet every pet’s needs. They have frozen raw and freeze dried pet food formulas for both dogs and cats. Primal makes complete diets, formulas for mixing into other foods as a supplement, treats, bones, and fermented goat’s milk!

But, Raw Makes Me Nervous

I hear people say that they don’t believe a raw diet is safe for their pets and may make them sick. This is not true! Dogs and cats eat raw meat in the wild. As they became domesticated by humans, we fed them our raw leftovers until processing began relatively recently in the 1930s with the introduction of canned foods. In the 1950s, kibble became very popular. So, the way we currently feed our pets is pretty new to them and their bodies and it is taking its toll on our pets’ health. Issues like obesity and diabetes did not use to exist for our pets, but with the advent of processed foods in both the human and the pet food sectors, we have all started to see more medical issues arise.

The FDA requires that any foods sold for raw consumption test at 0% for salmonella, e. coli and listeria. Primal adheres to these guidelines and a random sampling of all of their foods, treats, and bones are submitted for 3rd party testing. The food being tested is held at Primal’s facility until the test results come back and only then sent to stores to be sold.

Primal prides itself on the fact that it only sources the healthiest animals with the most humane treatment for all of its products. Salmonella should not be found in healthy pigs, cows, lamb, and other four legged mammals. But healthy fowl all contain naturally occurring levels of salmonella. To kill that salmonella, Primal uses high-pressure processing (HPP). Instead of using heat, HPP uses thousands of pounds of pressure, which when applied to the food will burst single cell organisms like salmonella while leaving multi-cell beneficial organisms intact.

This means that your pet’s raw food is safe and quality checked every time! When handling any raw meat, even raw meat sold for human consumption, please use common sanitation practices including hand washing and washing of any bowls and utensils used.

Stomach Health

If your pet has a sensitive stomach, digestive issues, or regurgitation issues, then it is very likely that switching to a raw diet can help here as well.

Many people see problems when they feed their pets a food that is high starches. Our pets have trouble breaking up starches in the stomach because they are not meant to eat them. Starches actually lower stomach acidity-the acidity is what breaks down food! This is why your dog may vomit his food back up, which increases stomach acidity, and then eat the regurgitated food again with more success due to that increased stomach acidity. This is also why some pets frequently have upset stomachs.

By feeding a raw diet with Primal instead, you naturally have a high stomach acid because there is no starch to decrease it, and the raw meat has active enzymes that further contribute to successful digestion. Plus, it is way tastier than extruded kibble!

Dental Health

The food you feed your pet affects his entire body, from nose to toes, including dental health!

Raw marrow bones are a natural way to keep your dog’s teeth scraped free of tartar. Just think about it: while chewing on the raw bone, your dog scrapes his teeth repeatedly over it, like the friction of a toothbrush. This is how an undomesticated dog or a wolf in the wild keeps his teeth clean.

If we are feeding our pets a food high in starches (which turn into sugar), then it causes a lot more damage to our cats and dog’s teeth, gums and overall dental health because it is a completely different diet than what they would be eating if left to their own devices.

Dogs and cat’s bodies are meant to eat raw meat. Dogs have developed and changed over time to also eat fruits and vegetables to supplement their diet (cats, not so much). If you are feeding your pet a diet high in starch, using raw bones is a great way to help clean your dog’s teeth. This can end up saving you lots of money on dental cleanings at the vet, plus your pet will love you even more for the tasty treat! Learn more about how to safely feed raw bones here.

Better than using raw bones supplementary to clean teeth, switch your pet to a completely raw diet! This will prevent the tartar and plaque build-up from the beginning. Dental health is very important to your pet’s overall health-don’t take it lightly!

Other Benefits

Besides good dental and stomach health, feeding a raw diet will decrease the amount of stool your pet passes because he is actually using everything he eats. High starch diets contain ingredients that your pet simply poops right out without providing him any benefit. This means you are paying for food your pet isn’t using, and you have to scoop large, stinky piles of poop from your yard instead of small, not very stinky ones.

A raw diet can also increase your pet’s energy, reduce shedding, and give him a healthy and shiny coat. If you have a dog whose eyes tear a lot and leave stains, or ears that become infected and stinky-that is the result of toxins leaving the body. A raw diet can eliminate these eye and ear issues.

The Best Ingredients

Primal only uses the very best ingredients in their foods. This includes:

  • Whole Food Sources
  • Organic Fruits and Vegetables
  • Naturally Occurring Vitamins and Minerals (many companies choose to add synthetic vitamins and minerals to meet AAFCO standards)
  • Hormone and Antibiotic-Free Meat
  • Humanely Raised Animals


Primal also has sourcing transparency. Just visit their website to learn more.

Hollywood Feed carries only the healthiest pet foods with the best ingredients. They have a great selection of foods that can meet any pet’s health needs and any pet parent’s budget. Visit your local Hollywood Feed to talk with our highly knowledgeable staff about feeding your pet a raw diet today!

older yellow lab looking happy getting cuddles on the floor

The Power of Prayer…and Goat’s Milk

November 18th, 2014

Halie Snider knew exactly what she wanted for her 14th birthday. She wanted a puppy…a yellow lab mix, rescue puppy to be exact. The dog she would adopt would soon become the love of the entire family. A loyal companion, Zayda, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, loved to spend time doing anything with any of the Sniders. Life was good. Move forward six years to April 2014 and tragedy strikes the Snider family. Their beloved Zayda was in danger and not expected to live much longer.

Dogs Have A Way of Finding The People That Need Them…

Excited about finding a furry best friend, Halie scanned the Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Shelter’s available dogs online. That’s where she spotted six month old Zayda.

“She found Zayda’s picture and fell in love,” said Halie’s mother, Vanessa. “The next Saturday, which was her birthday, we went to the shelter and found Zayda. There were so many cute dogs, and we encouraged her to look around. We even got several others out of their enclosures and took them out to play with them. But she would not be swayed! We ended up adopting Zayda!”

Zayda quickly became a steadfast member of the family and everyone’s favorite playmate. Games of fetch and tug were a mainstay around the house, and car rides were a MUST. The Snider girls had to spell out the words to keep Zayda from getting too excited about an R-I-D-E, but they took her regularly. She even befriended the neighbors and began a routine of running next door to visit them to snag an extra treat every now and then.

Keep Calm and Hug Your Dog

Things were great until April of this year when Vanessa had shoulder surgery and was home for the next four weeks for recovery and rehab.

“I began to notice that Zayda didn’t want to go out with our other dog, Zoe. She just wanted to lie on the ottoman next to my chair,” said Vanessa. “I thought she didn’t want to leave me. Although she is my daughter’s dog, she and I are very close and very attached to one another.”

Then, one night, she began vomiting. Zayda couldn’t keep anything down, and the Sniders decided to take her to the vet. The doctor feared she had pancreatitis and kept her overnight. The next day Zayda was doing much better and was allowed to go home with a few food and water instructions to help her further recover from the illness.  She did well that Saturday but soon started vomiting again Sunday evening.

“She refused food, and threw up even the little water she was drinking. She just lay in one spot and didn’t want to move,” explains Vanessa. “First thing on Monday, I called the vet and took her back.”

The veterinarian kept Zayda for further testing and called back that afternoon with results of an x-ray showing a mass in her abdomen. Not being able to tell much about where exactly it was, he wanted to keep her for another night and perform exploratory surgery the next day.

The Snider family had been anxiously awaiting the call, and when it came, the news was grim.

“He said he had bad news…there was a large tumor attached to her pancreas and it had metastasized to her liver,” Vanessa explained. “He said there was really nothing that he could do. He suggested that we take her home and ‘love on her as long as we could stand it.’ He thought she might live a week at the most.”

The Sniders didn’t want to lose their beloved Zayda, but they also didn’t want her to have to endure anymore pain. After talking with her husband and children, Vanessa decided to wait a day before making the decision. Kate, the oldest Snider daughter, was celebrating her 22nd birthday and Vanessa didn’t want her to remember it as the painful day they lost Zayda. Vanessa’s husband, Jimmy, called to tell the doctor the decision, and the doctor explained that Zayda was standing up and wagging her tail. She wasn’t in too much pain at the time. The Sniders knew if Zayda wasn’t in pain they had to bring her home. The decision wouldn’t be made until Zayda let them know the time was right. The vet sent her home with pain meds, and left the shunt in her leg to easily inject the medication to put her to sleep when the need arose.

“Because she really couldn’t eat or hold down much food, I wanted to try to find something I could give her that would give her the nutrition she needed, and ANYTHING that might help her condition,” said Vanessa. “I looked online for ‘holistic pet stores’ and Hollywood Feed is the only one that popped up. Although not far from my house, I didn’t know anything about it.”

All You Need Is Love…and Goat’s Milk

Vanessa drove to Hollywood Feed in Mountain Brook, Alabama, not knowing what she would find, if anything, to help her sweet Zayda.

Vanessa explained to the staff that she had a “sick dog – very sick – who couldn’t really eat.” She was hoping to find something to give Zayda that provided the vitamins and minerals that she needed. The Hollywood Feed employee immediately recommended goat’s milk and led Vanessa to the store’s freezer.

“She told me it was raw and had all the nutrients my dog would need, even if she couldn’t eat,” explained Vanessa. “She told me how much to give Zayda, and told me about grain-free food, and I left with several cans of food and two quarts of goat’s milk.”

Vanessa immediately started to mix the goat’s milk and food for Zayda (and even mixed some goat’s milk with Zoe’s food).

“I began to see immediate gradual improvement. At the end of the first week, the vet’s office called to check on Zayda (because I truly believe they thought we would have already brought her back). I told the vet’s assistant that she was doing better, eating and keeping her food down, and seemed to have more energy. She sounded a little skeptical, but told me to keep in touch.”

The same happened multiple times. The vet’s assistant would call to check on Zayda and Vanessa would explain that it seemed that every day and every week Zayda got a little better. “I also told her about the goat’s milk at that point. I could hear the skepticism and maybe a little doubt (like maybe I had gone crazy), but she said ‘well, just keep doing what you’re doing I guess.’

“The same pattern continued for the next several months, with Zayda improving and either the vet’s office calling me, or me calling them to check in. At one point, the vet’s assistant told me, like she had to defend their diagnosis, ‘I was in surgery with him with Zayda, and I saw it – I saw the tumor!’ I told her I didn’t doubt them, and also couldn’t explain Zayda’s improvement. I told them, and pretty much everyone, that the only things I could attribute her recovery to were goat’s milk…and prayer!”

You’ll Never Walk Alone Because I’ll Always Be With You

Jimmy took Zayda back to the vet just two weeks ago for the first time in six months. It was time for her annual visit and rabies shots. After a physical exam, the veterinarian thought he could still feel something in her abdomen but was completely amazed at how well Zayda was doing. Jimmy answered lots of questions the doctor had and told him all about the goat’s milk. The vet excitedly said “it’s working so don’t change a thing!” and recommended they “keep doing EXACTLY what you’ve been doing!”

The family and doctor don’t know for sure if the cancer is still there or not. There’s no way of knowing without doing another surgery, and that’s something neither wants to do. “The disease could progress again at any point, but everyone is AMAZED she lived beyond a few days, much less almost seven months now. And she hasn’t just stayed alive, she is happy and appears healthy, she has a great appetite, and runs and plays with Zoe and the family.

“She’s just a joy to have around, and we are so thankful to have been given more time with her, and that she’s been happy and felt good,” Vanessa said. “She is such a sweet dog and loves each of us and I can’t imagine our family without her. But even if the illness returned today and she passed, we are still SOOOO thankful that the folks at Hollywood Feed cared enough to ask me what I needed and took the time to talk with me and show me the goat’s milk, and the other grain-free food. They have been so caring…always asking about Zayda when I go in every couple of weeks for milk.”

“The Journey of Life is Sweeter When Traveled with a Dog.” -Bridget Willoughby

As for now, things are back to normal for the Snider family. The only difference? Goat’s milk is now a staple in the Snider canine diet! Fetch, tug, visits to the neighbors, and car rides are again part of everyday life.

We can all learn a lesson from Zayda. When the going gets tough, hang your head out the car window, feel the breeze rushing through your hair, then lean back in the car and give your favorite human a big, slobbery, kiss to let them know how much you love them. Never take one minute for granted, and never stop putting one paw in front of the other and moving forward. With the help of God, family, and friends you can make it through anything.

A Note From Hollywood Feed About Our Beliefs on Health and Nutrition

At Hollywood Feed, we live for days like this – days when we get to hear remarkable stories about how nutrition has made a life-changing difference in a beloved pet’s life. We’re delighted to provide paramount nutrition for dogs and cats and offer a veterinarian-trained staff to help guide consumers to what’s right for their specific pet. When customers return to us with stories like Zayda’s the feeling is indescribable. The only way I can think to express it is the feeling a puppy experiences when they FINALLY catch their tail; relief that we helped make life better for an animal, excitement that we now have more successful information to provide to the next customer, and joy – pure joy – that one more cherished pet gets to spend more time with his treasured human family.

We work hard to stay up-to-date on the latest health and nutrition needs of dogs and cats (and lots of other animals, too). We discuss our own research and reading amongst ourselves at the office and the stores, speak with veterinarians about different issues, and listen to customers when they tell us what has worked and what hasn’t all in order to provide our clientele with the best advice possible. We, in no way, want to undermine a veterinarian’s recommendations, and we don’t suggest that you ever stop giving medication or prescription food without talking with your pet’s doctor first. We also know that many times holistic nutrition choices aren’t enough. Sometimes God is calling your pet home and nothing can change His plan. This breaks our hearts and pushes us to learn more and more about providing nutrition that paves the way for a long and healthy life for our pets. Many times, desperation sends pet owners our way and a change in nutrition makes a huge difference in the pet’s life. Other times, we aren’t so lucky. We are, in no way, trying to make anyone believe that goat’s milk is the answer to all problems, but it’s definitely worth a try! But obviously, nothing can replace excellent care and, of course, prayer!