A Natural Pet Store is a retail establishment that places a greater focus on more natural, and often higher quality, products as opposed to your average pet store. Generally, the proprietor of such an establishment is going to have a more holistic philosophy and is going to realize the importance of healthy nutrition, quality supplementation and safe pet toys. Preferably, in a natural pet store a pet parent will be able to receive answers to nutrition questions and help with common health problems their animal may be experiencing. All of this can greatly benefit the current health of your animal companion and help to extend his life span while reducing unnecessary vet visits.
For consumers, their venture into a natural pet store generally begins with the search for a better diet for their dog, cat, bird or other pet. Generally they will find a wider array of what are considered to be natural pet foods, which might include raw, dehydrated, grain-free and premium canned and kibble diets. The staff should be able to explain the advantage to feeding various diets, provide knowledgeable information about ingredients and how each different type of diet may benefit any health concerns your pet may be having at the time.
The information obtained by the consumer should go above and beyond the information found in the pet food manufacturers brochure and instead focus on up-to-date research. You can tell when you are in a quality natural pet store because you won't just be told which food you should feed based on the proprietors opinion, but instead you will be informed as to which diet can best benefit your animal utilizing reasoning drawn from the currently available knowledge base.
Since a natural pet store generally has a more holistic outlook, a pet parent can expect to find a more extensive selection of natural pet remedies. These can include, herbs, in powder or tincture form, flower essences, glandulars, homeopathics and nutraceuticals (foods with medicinal value). A consumer can often receive knowledgeable assistance pertaining to how to select the best product for their animal and have questions answered about ingredients, the manufacturer, contraindications etc. It is fairly easy, especially after asking a few questions, to distinguish between a knowledgeable proprietor, or well-trained employee, and a business that is just stocking these products to cash in on a current trend.
A variety of healthy pet vitamins and supplements can generally also be found at a natural pet store. Since the proprietor is expected to be more knowledgeable in general, a pet parent can also anticipate a higher quality selection compared with a typical pet store. In keeping with the natural philosophy, the supplements will preferably have more natural ingredients, usually obtained from whole food sources such as herbs, fruits and vegetables, and be free of artificial additives such as synthetic vitamins, colorings, and sweeteners and other flavorings. You can distinguish a conscientious natural pet store from others by simply turning a bottle around and reading the ingredient panel on a particular supplement. If you just find a listing of inexpensive, isolated, synthetic vitamins and minerals and other synthetic additives such as colorings or flavorings, and the product selection is slim, move on and try to find a better store, because quality, healthy products are obviously not the focus of that establishment.
There will often be a wide variety of pet treats and dog chews in a natural pet store. The pet treats will generally be formulated with healthier, whole food ingredients as opposed to pet treats found in other establishments that are usually formulated primarily with inexpensive grain-fillers like wheat flour. The dedicated natural pet store will avoid products imported from China because of continuing illnesses being seen in products acquired from national retail chains that were manufactured in that country. In addition, the proprietor should be aware of the sourcing of the pet chews the store stocks and avoid those that are chemically processed like the majority of rawhide products or chemically preserved to extend shelf life. Don't be afraid to ask questions about sourcing, employees should have quick answers and appear passionate about the research they put into the products they offer their customers.
Other products found in a natural pet store commonly purchased by pet parents, such as pet toys and shampoo, will also have a focus placed on healthier materials and ingredients. Pet toys can be expected to be made with non-toxic materials, often from manufacturers right here in the USA, and pet shampoos will be free of ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens and artificial fragrances that can be so unhealthy for animals and damaging to their skin. If you see the typical vinyl pet toys found in big box stores, that have that horrible chemical smell (courtesy of phthalates), you are not in a true natural pet store, so look elsewhere because there are better, more dedicated stores that would appreciate your patronage.
So, Are All Natural Pet Stores Alike?
Not a chance! Unfortunately, a term like "natural" is one of the hot marketing terms of the day and one of the most popular of which more and more companies are taking advantage. Yet, don't despair, because using the information I provided above will help you to distinguish the real natural pet stores from the pretenders. Good luck!
by Philip Reich