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Indie Pet Stores Respond to Latest FDA Update on Grain-Free Food and DCM

Many are educating customers via Facebook.




In the latest update on its investigation into reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in pets eating certain commercial foods, the FDA included a list of “Dog Food Brands Named Most Frequently to DCM Cases Reported to FDA.” Among them are many favorites of independent pet stores.

Since the update June 27, indies have taken to Facebook to provide necessary context on the investigation for their customers and to help guide them toward making the best food choices for their pets.

Dog Krazy, VA

This lengthy post from Dog Krazy’s Nancy Guinn shares the FDA update but puts it in perspective for her customers, and also shares that she feeds one of the brands on the list: “Now here’s a more comforting fact. Millions of dogs and cats are eating the foods listed and are 100% healthy. My own Bulldog is eating Zignature Kangaroo and I am not changing his diet. Both myself and my numerous vets (he has several vets and specialists) all know that this is the best diet for his allergies. After starting him on Zignature Kangaroo his allergies cleared up, his IBD is under control and he no longer has constant diarrhea. And as much as I hate bringing this up, I lost my first Bulldog to heart issues. And she was eating grain in food for most of her life, not grain free.”

The Green Spot, Omaha, NE

Jessica Ellis and Whitney Kamish also went long, telling customers in their post on the topic, “This is LONG because it’s important. Please take the time to read through to the end, especially if you are concerned about your pet’s diet.”

The heartfelt message addresses the news and encourages customers to read beyond misleading headlines. “While our hearts go out to anyone who has lost a dog to DCM, please know that IT IS EXTREMELY RARE. … do your own research and don’t rely solely on headlines to tell you the whole story. You are your pets’ BEST advocate!”


Furry Friends, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO

This store shared a blog post on its website that puts the update into perspective and also delves further into the issue of taurine deficiency.

Treats on a Leash, Ames, IA

GRAIN-FREE FOOD/DCM UPDATE! Please let us know if you have questions or if we can help you with anything..

Posted by Treats On A Leash LLC on Saturday, June 29, 2019

Barb Morris went live with her “GRAIN-FREE FOOD/DCM UPDATE!” and said, “Please let us know if you have questions or if we can help you with anything.” She also included a bit about the history of kibble and how highly processed food affects both pets and people.  

All for the Pet, Severna Park, MD

Lee, Mark, Olivia and Alex of All For the Pet made it clear in their post to customers that, “There is no recall. The FDA simply listed some of the foods dogs were eating.” The post includes a long list of food alternatives and makes a pitch for raw as the best diet to prevent health problems.

Brown Dog Bakery, Ankeny, IA

This store shared the article “Please Don’t Panic About the Grain-Free Thing” from respected publication Whole Dog Journal, and used the comments to further explain that the article takes an unbiased approach to the topic. 

Flying M Feed Co., Houston, TX

The Triple AAA solution to the DCM dog food debate…

Posted by The Flying M Feed Co. on Monday, July 1, 2019

Trace Menchaca went live in personable videos to advise customers, but also to give tips to fellow retailers on turning this news to their advantage. “I come from the Container Store world of retail,” she says. “Accommodate your customers. Astound your customers!”

Loyal Biscuit Co., ME

Heidi Neal shared with her informative post a link to Primal Pet Food’s statement on the topic, and she also included a collage of photos featuring Loyal Biscuit Col staff and their pets.

Happy Dog Barkery, Downers Grove, IL

From Beth Staley, another lengthy post that provides information, context and support, with additional links in the comments.

Abby’s Road Veterinary Care, IA

Dr. Abby Strobbe weighed in from an integrative vet’s perspective.

Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA

Shane Sommerville went live on the topic.

Wags to Whiskers, Plainfield, IL

Janelle Peters Pitulla created a post that other retailers have used themselves, either in whole or part.

Felix & Oscar, Springfield, VA

This store not only provided context on the FDA update, but also encouraged customers to ask questions regarding ingredient sourcing, recalls and other important factors when choosing food.

If you would like to share your responses to customers and discuss this topic with your fellow indies, join the PETS+ Facebook community. We’ll add to this story as examples come in.

Michelle Lange writes about hamster food, bath scrubbers and bird toys — all the new pet products coming to market.



Pet Sustainability Coalition

Pet Sustainability Coalition Presents: Critical Sustainability Strategies for Retailers

This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Press Releases

Gang Bakery Unleashes First Ohio Store in Cleveland

Grand opening celebration will last through Dec. 21.




(PRESS RELEASE) Woof Gang Bakery will celebrate the opening of the company’s first Ohio store with a grand opening event through Dec 21.

The new Woof Gang Bakery location in Shaker Heights is a locally owned franchise, offering professional pet grooming and a wide selection of healthy pet foods, gourmet baked treats, toys, accessories and pet supplies.

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

The grand opening celebration is in full swing and will last through Dec. 21. Throughout the event, customers can enter to win “pawsome” raffle prizes including free pet food for a year, free dog treats for a year, stylish collar and leash sets, a gift basket filled with dog toys and more pet pampering products. Customers will also receive an upgrade on all pet grooming appointments booked during the grand opening period.

Ohio natives Natalee and Joe Gilk are the franchise owners of the new Woof Gang Bakery store. They are eager to provide customers and their pets with wholesome pet foods, quality products and full-service pet grooming in a welcoming, neighborhood setting.

With Joe’s 26 years of experience in the pet industry, the Gilks bring expertise and commitment to the well-being of their furry clientele.

“Because we adore animals and know that pets are a part of our families, it’s our goal to provide our customers with personalized service, meet their individual needs and provide them with the best products and grooming services to keep their pets healthy and happy,” said Natalee Gilk.

Natalee and Joe share a customer-focused business approach and enjoy meeting neighbors and their pets. The couple is committed to being a positive force in the local community and animal rescue. Their own family includes a rescued miniature Dachshund named Cloe.

Woof Gang Bakery is a specialty retailer of pet food, pet supplies and professional pet grooming in North America, with more than 130 locations open or under development in the U.S.

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Top Dog and Cat Names of 2019 Revealed

Pop culture and celebrity news figured prominently.




(PRESS RELEASE) SEATTLE –, a network of pet sitters and dog walkers, unveiled its seventh annual report of the year’s most popular dog names with a new twist — the addition of the year’s most popular cat names. This year’s data shows that regardless of species or breed, pet names are a reflection of what owners care about most, from the foods they eat to the celebrities they love.

This year’s data reflected pet parents’ appetite for pop culture and what’s trending in the celebrity news scene. Names inspired by star-studded musicians like newcomer Lizzo (up 100 percent) and beloved Beyoncé (up 78 percent) made huge gains, and Taylor Swift’s reputation is on track with a 400 percent increase. Binge-worthy TV shows were also one of the top sources of inspiration for pet parents. The name Maisel of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel rose 1000 percent and Westeros-savior Arya Stark increased by 150 percent.

“The names we give our pets provide a peek into our passions, aspirations, happy places, and guilty pleasures, reinforcing what we at Rover know to be true: our pets are as unique as the names we lovingly bestow upon them,” said Kate Jaffe, trend expert for Rover. “That’s why we’re so honored that hundreds of thousands of pet parents trust us with their furry family members.”

The humanization of pets was another trend for 2019, a survey by Rover revealed. The majority of pet parents (55 percent) said their pet either has a human name or they would consider giving their pet a human name. Pet parents (25 percent) also would consider giving their pet a name they had considered for their child. Trending baby names that inspired pet names included Dorothy, Elaine, and Dennis.

What’s in a name, exactly? Rover examined this year’s data to learn where today’s pet parents are drawing inspiration.

Walk of Fame

2019 data continues to tell the story of what’s trending for dog names with celebrities and pop culture.

  • Who deserves the royal crown? Meghan — up by 42 percent — wins with dog owners compared to other royals of her generation, but nobody beats Diana or Queen Elizabeth. Both are up by 200 and 150 percent, respectively.
  • Celebrity baby names are also popular, with Chip and Joanna Gaines-inspired Crew up 411 percent, Kylie Jenner’s Stormi up 364 percent and Kim and Kanye’s Saint up 96 percent this year.

You are what you … name your pet? 

Whether we aspire to healthier habits or crave comfort foods, our pets reveal the quickest way to pet parent hearts.

  • Dog parents love pink wine and sweets. Rosé is up 183 percent and dessert-related names such as Cake, Croissant, and Cupcake increased.
  • For cat parents, it’s all about caffeine and cocktails. Cats are more likely to be given alcohol-inspired names than dogs, and 8 out of 10 drink-themed cat names were coffee-related such as Mocha, Kona and Latte.
  • It’s not all indulgences though; healthy habits are also on the rise for both cats and dogs. Dogs named Kale (up 70 percent) and Keto (up 57 percent) increased, while cats named Chia and Boba are also trending up.

Cannabis Craze

Marijuana-inspired products and services are surfacing at every turn as legalization grows in the U.S.—even in pet names.

  • Marijuana-inspired names like Budder, Dank, Doobie, Blaze and Kush are on the rise for dogs and Kush, Doobie, and Blaze are trending for cats.

2019 Top Names for Dogs and Cats

  • New for 2019 Favorite Felines: Luna, Bella and Kitty came in as the top three names for cats in 2019, a new data set for this year.
  • Top dogs stay on top: Bella, Luna, Lucy and Daisy kept the top spots for female dogs, with Max, Charlie, Cooper, and Buddy also keeping their top ranks for male dogs in 2019.

To celebrate this year’s launch of services for cats, Rover included trending cat names in its annual report for the first time. The report highlights top trends in the U.S. and in 25 key cities, as well as a new addition of top names in Canada and Europe. For more trends and top names, visit


The Top Pet Names 2019 report was developed by Rover between September and October 2019. Results are based on analysis of millions of user-submitted pet names provided by owners on Secondary data was collected by a Rover survey conducted via Pollfish among 1,500 U.S. adult pet owners in October 2019.

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Press Releases Holiday Dog Shelter Food Drive Tops 1.3M Meals

The goal had been 500,000 meals in four days.




(PRESS RELEASE) Online retailer and pet media sensation announced the results of its fundraiser from Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping on iHeartDogs.

“We launched an ambitious goal to raise 500,000 meals in just four days which had never been done before and our community responded in ways that completely blew our minds. Together we raised 1,300,000+ meals for shelter dogs in need. It was a Christmas Miracle,” said Justin Palmer CEO.

The team then launched its Christmas Miracle event a few days later — with partners GreaterGood and ZestyPaws — surprising 10 rescues with much needed meals, supplies and beds to get as much of the donations out as possible for the holiday season. Rescues were surprised with neatly wrapped pallets of food, a social media corner to showcase dogs that need a home and surprises for the pups.

The entire event was made possible by the what the iHeartDogs team calls their true Heroes — customers who choose to shop on and make a difference in the lives of shelter dogs everywhere.

“We are so thankful for all the heroes who join us at to do incredible things in the world — we couldn’t do this without them” said Marshall Morris, president.

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