Nooga Paws celebrates 10 years as Chattanooga's only locally owned pet store

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Invest in your pet, not the vet!

Amy is a staff member of Nooga Paws, the holistic pet market located in Chattanooga’s Northshore neighborhood. She owns three lab mixes and feeds The Honest Kitchen’s grain-free dehydrated raw food. Amy and her Pyrenees-Lab mix, Molly, are currently battling a chondrosarcoma. Chondorsarcoma is a malignant tumor that develops in cartilage and requires limb amputation and radiation treatment for long term survival. Chemotherapy is ineffective with this type of cancer.

Imagine a member of your family to whom you are closest is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Imagine this family member can’t speak or understand the language you speak. If she hurts or feels bad, this family member can’t tell you what hurts and where the hurt is located. And, when the doctor says, “She has six to eighteen months to live,” you are the only one who understands. This is what my dog Molly and I are faced with right now. Molly may not be human, but she is certainly a member of my family and quite possibly the best dog I have ever had. While I am living with and working to treat a dog with cancer, my purpose with this article is to talk to you about how your pet’s nutrition has long term effects. However, I need to tell you our story before we can get to that point. I hope reading this saves you from the same complicated and heartbreaking course it’s taken us to realize knowing what you’re feeding your pet could save its life.

I was given Molly when she was nine months old. She’s three now. As a single woman living by myself, I wanted a big black dog like the ones I had known in the past to be sweet and obedient but intimidating in appearance. She is indeed obedient and has been since the day I adopted her. She has never wanted to be anywhere but by my side, and in turn, I have never wanted to give her anything but the best (within a budget, of course). I know that many fellow pet owners feel the same way about their furry friends as I do, which is why things like Pets Best Health Insurance are so popular; nobody wants to not be able to give their pet the best care possible.

I found out the hard way that my big beautiful girl is allergic to peanut butter and corn and is prone to environmental allergies from seasonal changes. (Of course, she would have cancer, right?!) Following the vet’s instructions, I switched her to a grain-free kibble that I could purchase at my local farm feed store. Soon after the switch, Molly’s room-clearing gas and occasional diarrhea were gone. When this food was recalled for salmonella and pulled from the store’s shelves, (salmonella with dog food is a human handling issue not an animal consumption issue by the way) I discovered a cheaper, corn-free dog food at the big box store where I frequently shopped. I equated corn-free with grain-free and went on my merry way not knowing I was stuffing my dog with animal by-products (often from dead, decaying animals), soy and grain filler. I can’t necessarily blame this food for Molly’s cancer, but I can certainly say it probably didn’t help the situation as it progressed.

Fast forward a year later and still feeding the corn-free grocery store band, I found out about Nooga Paws from where else but Facebook. Coincidentally, store owners Bob and Courtney Poore gave a presentation to my Leadership Chattanooga class. Their compassion and convincing knowledge motivated me to check out the store. Upon my first visit to the store, I was delighted to see the grain-free food I had previously fed from the farm feed store was on their shelves, but I had questions about the recall. That’s when Bob educated me that these recalls we hear about are from humans mishandling the food, not washing their hands after serving the dog and general unclean handling of dog dishes. It makes sense: if I cook for my family and don’t clean up afterward and store the food improperly, my doctor won’t be surprised when I turn up with salmonella or food poisoning. If you feed your dog something you or someone else has mishandled, a dog’s short digestive system simply poops out the bad stuff (they may feel bad for a day or so). Unless you dispose of the bad stuff, contaminated poop included, you are still prone to contracting salmonella poisoning as a human. Armed with this brief but informative education after my first visit at Nooga Paws, I was so motivated about pet nutrition that I wanted to help the Poores educate others.

When I started working for Nooga Paws in February, Molly had begun to show signs of lameness in her back left leg. I attributed this to an injury from her jumping over the fence at my new house to lounge in her favorite spot on the front porch as I work in the yard-as I mentioned earlier, she requires that she be close to me at all times. After months of glucosamine injections, acupuncture and treatment with NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), Molly was sent to the state university’s animal hospital, a biopsy was conducted, and boom, we are dealing with cancer. During this time, I graduated from grain-free kibble to grain-free dehydrated raw food. After three weeks of feeding The Honest Kitchen to Molly, her fur was softer, her eyes were less bloodshot from allergies, and the paw chewing had decreased. Most importantly, she is eating and enjoying food with no cancer accelerating ingredients. While her appetite for her food is still strong, if not stronger with the presence of raw meat, she consumes her food slower. The poop is less, too!

We will continue on our course of feeding The Honest Kitchen, which I was glad to find is one of the best diets on which a dog with cancer should be. Not to mention its affordability. When I purchase a 10pound box of The Honest Kitchen from Nooga Paws, I will make up to 50 pounds of food for Molly once I add water.

Now that you know our story, I hope you will invest time in reading pet food nutrition labels and invest money in quality food. Have you ever wondered are blueberries safe for dogs? If you just buy regular dog food from the grocery store, you’ve probably never bothered. I can guarantee what is inside that bag of dog food from the grocery does not contain the colorful vegetables and healthy meat on the front of the package. When it comes to ensuring your pet leads a happy/healthier lifestyle, it is important for owners to find the best pet food on the market. It’s all about the nutrition that the food can provide, and does not necessarily mean the most expensive products.

I can also guarantee after some time of feeding that food, you are going to be at the vet’s office paying thousands of dollars in vet bills like I did to figure out that grocery store brand dog food will contribute to your dog’s cancer, diabetes or whatever expensive illness that the presence of animal by-products, grain, and unhealthy filler in its diet has caused your pet.

They say hindsight is 20/20. I wish I had invested in my dog’s nutrition, but now I’m investing in vets, six to be exact, to keep my dog healthy and pain-free until her time. If you’re looking for a solution to ensure your pet is covered in the event of an accident or injury, Pet Plan offer affordable pet insurance.