Episode 16: Uncovering What’s in Your Dog’s Bowl with Carly Paryluk

Corey McCusker  00:03
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™, Canine Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup, young or old, so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach, and today I’m thrilled to have with me Carly Patryluk, owner of House of Paws Boutique. Let me tell you about our guest today, Carly. Carly, for over 20 years, acted as a corporate facilitator in the telecommunication industry, where she spent 25 years of her life – as many entrepreneurs do – Carly determined that her passion was being stifled in the corporate world and she knew it was time to take the plunge and fulfill a lifelong dream of being her own boss. What she didn’t know was her dream would be fulfilled by owning her own pet store. In October of 2019, the doors of House of Paws opened and was immediately a different breed of pet store. House of Paws is on a mission to extend the life of pets through nutrition, and is focused on providing premium nutrition for cats and dogs as well as creating transparency in the pet food industry for pet parents. The House of Paws mission requires in-depth conversations with customers to educate them on what is actually in their bowl. In order to empower pet parents, the House of Paws team must always share up-to-date and relevant information. Prior to opening her store, Carly certified in pet nutrition and raw nutrition and now considers herself a bit of a pet nutrition junkie, as she spends a great deal of time researching, learning and sharing her knowledge with her team and customers. Pet Nutrition can truly be classified as the new politics. It can be a very polarizing topic in some circles. Carly believes when we know better, we can do better. We used to smoke on planes. We know better now and smoking on planes is part of the past. Pet nutrition is no different. We know so much more now than we once did. Carly regularly uses her skills as a former facilitator to help educate and empower pet parents on knowing what’s in their pet bowl, and gives them easy to implement tips on how they can improve their pets nutrition right in their very own kitchen. If you have an interest in doing the very best for your fur family and want to talk pet nutrition, Carly’s happy to share and she’s with us today to share her knowledge. So welcome, Carly.

Carly Patryluk  02:35
Thank you very much for having me. I’m so sorry about the long intro.

Corey McCusker  02:40
That’s okay, we needed to hear that. And I mean, like myself, I was a corporate person, and then, now I’m doing the pet business too. I love that you’re a pet nutrition junkie. And I get asked so often about food, and I am not a pet nutritionist – I am a dog trainer. So I’m really glad that you’re here today to share your knowledge. You and I actually met in our members group, Pet Boss, that supports pet services. I immediately was intrigued with what you did, but you’re also a Canadian -I’m a Canadian. So I was like,’Hey, yay, I’ve got another Canadian I can ask any questions’ – so I was really happy about that. Let’s talk about your story and how you ended up owning a pet store and just how you got into the nutrition, like just tell us a bit. I know I read a bit there – but let’s hear your story.

Carly Patryluk  03:32
Yeah, I have always been an animal lover, but for the Canadians that are listening, you guys know that the only thing Saskatchewan has is the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And when I would go to the football games, the only thing I cared about was Gainer the Gopher, which was our mascot, but it’s because he was an animal. And so I’ve always, always, had a love of animals. But I knew that I couldn’t be the guy that would poke them with the needle or operate on them at the vet clinic. And so I was always looking for different ways to help them. Prior to opening House of Paws, I started our association called, Feeding Fur Babes, where we actually proactively raised money and funds through a variety of fundraising initiatives to help animals when animals are in need. So that was kind of my introduction to the pet industry. And I loved everything about it more and more each day, every new pet business that I met. And so in September of 2018, I had a business meeting and I was early or the person was late, I don’t remember how it worked, but I was sitting there and I started Googling pet industry franchises in Regina, Saskatchewan. A few came back but one was a pet store I had never heard of. That was the path I started going down and that path kind of led me to House of Paws. House of Paws is independently owned by me. We are not a franchise. I’m very glad, nothing against franchises, but I’m probably not the guy that would do really well in a franchise because I don’t take direction really well. If I think I have a better idea… House of Paws was born, right. But then I had a lot to do. I had never ran a retail store before. I’d never opened up a retail store. I had to come up with a name. I had to figure out our brand. And I had to figure out what we were going to stand for. And that was all about me helping animals. And so I don’t have to poke them with a needle, I can guide pet parents to empower them to make the best choices possible when it comes to nutrition. Because our mission at House of Paws is to extend the lives of animals through nutrition. So we were bound and determined to know and share and just continually learn about pet nutrition so that we could always empower our community of pet parents. So that’s kind of how we are here today. 

Corey McCusker  06:02
Okay, and the nutrition, was there anything in particular, like did you have a dog that needed help, or did you personally experience something?

Carly Patryluk  06:12
Well, okay, so I have a little five-pounder right now, who he’s a little Yorkie, who has a Rottweiler complex. And I can say that because I used to have Rottweilers, and I used to have German Shepherds. And I realized, I made every mistake I could have made with my big dogs. And I made those same mistakes when I first got Zaner, my little five-pounder, because I didn’t know any better. And when I wanted to open the store, my fear was, I didn’t want pet food sales people coming into my store telling me that they have the best food under the sun, because I wouldn’t know any different. And I didn’t want to get my, I say with air quotes, training, from my manufacturers or from the food salesguys, because of course, it’s biased. So then my training would be biased. I wanted to have unbiased knowledge about pet nutrition. So I certified in pet nutrition, and I certified in raw nutrition. And it really started to open my eyes, what I call the big pet food manufacturer, ‘Marketing Wizards’. They’re out there and they’re telling us that feeding a dried up kibble is the best thing that we can do for our pets. And we’ve got a TikTok coming on this – that’s one of the biggest scams out there that we’ve been led to believe as consumers that kibble is dog food. And so when I was certifying, I kind of started thinking to myself, why, why was I always on the hunt for the best kibble out there? Why did I think this was the food they should be eating? There’s a long history associated with kibble, but a lot of it comes down to the war in the 40s. So for 80 plus years, we have been led to believe by those big pet food manufacturers that kibble is dog food. In the 40s there was a ration on meat and on metal, meat for the soldiers, metal for bullets. And pet food back in the day was all wet. But when this happened, when the ration happened with metal and meat, the pet food manufacturers of the day went, ‘Holy crap, how do we put wet food in a bag?’ And you can’t – so kibble was born. So 80 plus years, right, we’ve been made to believe that this is what they eat, but it’s not their ancestral diet, right? They weren’t meant – before man came along and wolves were not eating kibble. I can guarantee that. So, and, go on, sorry. 

Corey McCusker  08:47
No, no, I’m just going to say, so let’s actually discuss, because if we look at most dog’s food bowl, and I’m talking about my own, too, but I know since we’ve had some communication I’ve changed. Now you said about 80 years ago, but  80% of owners feed their dog kibble. And it could be a lifestyle choice, or could it be you just don’t know any better. And like, is it good? Is it healthy? So what should we know about kibble?

Carly Patryluk  09:13
Well, so kibble . . . The first thing that we need to know about kibble as a pet parent and as a retailer, is kibble is the most processed meal that we can feed our animals. The way that I kind of explain that when I’m speaking with my customers in store is kibble is equivalent to you and I eating nothing but fast food all the time. So when we’re looking for a kibble, and I should say most traditional kibbles fall under that category of fast food, like us eating that greasy burger and fries every day. When we’re looking for kibble, we want to ensure that we’re looking for a premium kibble. And the way that we can identify premium kibbles is that they are protein-rich, that they are nutrient-dense, meaning that we feed less. Because a lot of people go, ‘Oh, premium kibble, that’s going to cost me so much more’. It actually ends up costing you less, because you’re not feeding as much. Because the third component is that we’re looking for a low-carb kibble. No manufacturer out there is ever going to tell us how many carbs are in that bag. Because if they put the amount of carbs on the bag, nobody would buy kibble. Traditional kibble is about 50 to 70% carbs. And we know in our world, they’re always telling us, you know, less carbs, more fresh whole, get your proteins, like all the things right? With our dogs and cats, the big, big difference between them and us – though there are some similarities in how we can eat – where there’s a big difference is our dogs and cats have no biological requirement for carbs. When they eat carbs, their bodies turn those carbs into sugars. And sugar is what feeds disease. So the more we can eliminate or reduce carbs in the diet for our dogs and cats, the better it is. So that’s why I say when we’re looking for a premium kibble we’re looking for that protein-rich, it starts with meat. Not a meal, not a grain, not a vegetable. It starts with meat. It’s salmon. It’s beef. It’s lamb. That’s the first ingredient we’re going to look for. And we want to see that it’s nutrient dense. If it’s protein-rich and low-carb, it becomes nutrient dense, and that means that we feed less. And I’ll just explain that quickly. If we’re feeding a kibble that is 50% carbs, let’s just say, and my dog needs to eat two cups of food a day, when I put those two cups of traditional kibble in his bowl, one of those cups his body isn’t even using. That’s why I have to feed two cups, because he’s not even using half that food and it comes out in your backyard that you’re picking up. So you’re going through a bag quicker, and you’re picking up a lot more waste. And we’re feeding them half the bowl of sugar. So when we feed a premium food that is protein-rich, low-carb, nutrient dense, that same dog that eats two cups of a traditional kibble is probably going to eat one cup of a premium kibble because their body uses all of the food. And then the waste is less, we’re reducing the carbs, and you’re feeding less so a bag lasts longer. 

Corey McCusker  12:31
That’s great. And I know you’ve created some tools to help owners figure out the grade of kibble. So how do they figure out the grade of kibble? I mean, talk about your tools that you’ve developed, or the questions they should, or what they should look for.

Carly Patryluk  12:46
Yeah, well, there’s a couple of things that we want to look at. And I touched on it a little bit with meat being the first ingredient. We want to look for that protein-rich food. So the tool that we developed allows you as a pet parent to sit down with your current bag of food or any bag of food you’re considering and kind of assess it, give it a grade. And we always say we only want to feed a Grade A kibble. The B’s and C’s might have cut it in high school for history class, but they do not cut it when it comes to our best nutrition. 

Corey McCusker  13:18

Carly Patryluk  13:20
So we, a couple of things that we would look at when we go through that bag is what is the first ingredient – we want to see that it’s a named protein. And I say named because many pet food manufacturers out there… Canada is a little bit like the Wild West when it comes to pet food regulation. We’re not regulated. So pet food manufacturers in Canada, though they typically adhere to AAFCO standards, which is the governing body in the States, they don’t have to. There is no regulating body in Canada to say you must do this. So there are some big pet food manufacturers out there who use some very questionable ingredients in their pet food. When we see unnamed proteins like animal fat or animal meal or meat meal, we don’t know what that animal is. We don’t know what the source protein is. And as disturbing as it is, that means that it could be any carcass and any carcass could be… they’re referred to as 4D meats: dead, diseased, dying or disabled. So that means roadkill. That means dead zoo animals. That means dead farm animals. That means any carcass. So we always want to see a named protein source. Beef, pork, lamb, salmon, and that needs to be our first ingredient. Secondly, we want to look for, it’s called the salt divider. We want to see where salt is on our pet food label. There has to be salt in the bag. But salt in traditional pet foods can only make up 1% of the bag. The reason we want to find salt is on the front of the bag, and let me say, believe no lies, when you look at the front of the bags, they make it look beautiful with big cuts of fresh meat and beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables. And we think that we’re feeding this. But when we flip that bag over and we find the salt, we definitely want to see where are the fruits and vegetables listed in relation to the salt. Ingredients on the back of the bag are listed in order of size from largest to smallest. So when we find salt on the bag, we know that it can only be 1%. So if the fruits and veggies that the manufacturer has told us are in the bag, come after the salt on the ingredient panel, that means there’s less than 1%. So if they say there’s blueberries in there, but they’re listed after the salt, we’d be lucky if there’s one whole blueberry in that bag of food. So we definitely want to see our fruits and vegetables before the salt. And let me just throw in this caveat, potatoes and corn do not count as vegetables in a pet food. That is starch. So we’re looking for cranberries, blueberries, carrots, you know the good healthy vegetables, spinach, those kinds of things, and we want to see them before the salt. The next thing we want to look for is we want to make sure there’s no dyes in the food. And you’ll see those by blue dye number five, yellow dye number four, red dye number whatever, it doesn’t matter. If you see any type of dyes get rid of it. Those dyes are actual paint. Paint that we would paint a wall or paint a fence with. There is no need for color to be added to our pet’s food. The big pet food manufacturers know that for us, that makes it look more like food. Again, I use my air quotes. The animal does not care what color their food is. So that is done for our viewing pleasure, not the animals, and they are literally using paint to color the food. So if you ever see dyes, in treats or food, get rid of it. You want to see how it’s preserved. You want to see that it’s naturally preserved. So that means that you’re going to see things like vitamin E, vitamin C, rosemary extract. You want to see it’s naturally preserved. We don’t want to see synthetic preservatives like BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin. These are toxic synthetic preservatives that are still allowed in dog food. They’ve been removed . . . They’re not allowed in cat food anymore, or cat treats, but they are still allowed in dog food. But synthetic preservatives like BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, those are used in products like lipstick to prevent it from drying out. They’re used in embalming fluid to prevent it from drying out. They’re used in jet fuel so that it doesn’t dry out. Like these are things that when consumed on a regular basis – and if it’s preserving our food, we’re eating it on a regular basis – are known to cause organ damage. So they are very toxic chemicals, and they’re still allowed in pet food. So we want to make sure our food is preserved naturally, not synthetically. And finally, the last thing we want to look at is what is the carb count? Because again, remember, the manufacturers are not going to tell us this. So we want to determine what are the carbs. And there’s a very simple calculation that we cover in our grading tool that allows you to figure out what are the carbs of your food and you want them to be as low as possible. Once you’ve kind of gone through the tool, you will assign yourself a number for each of those sections that you’re looking at on your bag, and then that will give you an overall score, which will give you a grade for your kibble. And again, we only ever want to see Grade A kibbles if we’re feeding kibble. 

Corey McCusker  18:58
Excellent, excellent. And we’re going to provide your document in the show notes. I know it can be found on your website, which I’ll provide and it’s called, What grade is my kibble? So that’s awesome – lots of information there, but very valuable. So Carly, you’re all about empowering pet parents so they’re educated in pet nutrition. You’ve just given us a really good overview of some of the things that we should take into consideration. So can you provide us – because I know 80% of people are still going to put that kibble in the bowl – so can you provide us with five ways to level up a dog’s bowl if they are feeding kibble?

Carly Patryluk  19:33
Yeah, 100%. And 80%, that number is shifting – because in 2017 it was 90%. 90% of pet parents were still feeding kibble and today 80%. So that fresh food movement is happening where people are going, Wait a second. I wouldn’t want to eat the same thing every day and I certainly wouldn’t want to eat greasy fast food every day, right? So the first thing we want to do or if we’re going to feed kibble is we do want to look for that premium kibble. We want to start with a really healthy base. Again, this is going to be beneficial for your animal. We’re going to reduce carbs. We’re going to reduce waste for you in the backyard. And we’re going to save you some money because again, there’s so many misconceptions that premium foods or really good quality foods cost more. In the long run, they cost a little bit less. We did that in a TikTok, and a reel on Instagram or maybe it was just on TikTok. It doesn’t matter. It’s on TikTok. We do a lot of education on TikTok, but we actually like compared to grocery store and prescription food and premium food and the premium food comes out feeding, costing less to feed. So don’t be scared of premium food that it will cost you more. So start with a premium base. All kibble regardless of whether it’s premium, or traditional kibble only has 10% moisture. Our dogs and cats need about 70% moisture. So the best thing that we can do if we’re feeding a dry diet is to include some sort of hydration. We recommend bone broth for all of the amazing health benefits that it provides our animals and bone broth is super easy. You can buy it at an independent pet store, you can make it yourself. If you make it yourself – I do not make my own bone broth because I struggle with toast – so I am not about to attempt bone broth. But my little guy gets bone broth on every meal. It’s very easy. I just pour it on his food to rehydrate the food. And it’s normally, they say about two tablespoons for every 10 pounds of dog weight, but you cannot overdose them on bone broth, and because of all of the amazing health benefits it has, it’s a fantastic addition. You can increase hydration with goat’s milk or wet food or even water and just putting the dish of water beside the food is fantastic but actually adding hydration to the bowl especially when we’re feeding dry is key. Adding fresh whole foods from your very own kitchen. Oh, bone broth, do not add onions. That’s the thing. Do not add onions. We can add carrots. We can add celery. We can add cinnamon, turmeric, garlic. We can add those things but we do not add onions. And so the fresh food from your kitchen, again, stay away from anything in the onion family. Stay away from grapes. But almost everything else goes. If you’ve got strawberries on your cereal in the morning, throw some in your dog’s food. When you’re making your salad that night and cutting off the ends of the cucumber or the carrots that you’re not going to use in your salad, put that in your dog’s dish. You’re making chili and you’re going to throw mushrooms in that chili, give some mushrooms for your dog. Mushrooms are an amazing immune booster for dogs. Fresh whole foods . You can make up to 20% of your dog’s meal fresh. So you’re going to remove 20% of the food that you’re feeding and replace that with fresh whole food: green veggies, orange veggies, yellow veggies, the fruits, the blueberries, the bananas, the strawberries, pineapple, fantastic additions to any bowl. 20% can be fresh. And the other thing that we can do is we can incorporate some less processed food into the bowl. And that’s, I mean, I’m talking about like less processed food that you may buy at the independent pet store. Because maybe it’s like, Oh my goodness, I’ve got a busy busy day. I don’t have time to be cutting fresh fruits and vegetables for myself, never mind my dog, but I want to make sure that he’s eating properly and healthily. So you can take his bowl, again with his premium kibble, add in some bone broth and you can throw in some less processed pet food, which is like a freeze dried or a dehydrated food or an air-baked food or a gently cooked food. All of those are less processed options than kibble. And again, we’re going to remove a portion of the kibble before we add additional because we don’t want to overfeed. Lean is best. So if we’ve got some little chubby flukes out there, we want to look at ways to get them back down to their ideal weight and keep them lean. It is much better for their health. And finally, the fifth way that we can improve our dog’s dish . . . There’s an old wives tale out there that you cannot mix raw pet food with dry pet food. And it is a myth. A little raw is better than no raw. Again, just keep that in your mind. When it comes to us. It applies to them. Less processed food, more whole fresh food. So anytime we can incorporate fresh whole food into the dish, it’s beneficial. And a lot of folks might say, I don’t have time. I don’t have the money to do this. You don’t have to do it every day. If you do it one or two or three times a week you are improving your animal’s health. The analogy I use is if I was eating at McDonald’s seven days a week, and I finally decided, okay, Sundays, I’m not going to eat at McDonald’s anymore, I’m going to make my own food at home. I have improved my diet, because one day out of seven, I’m no longer eating fast food. If I start doing that two days a week, I’ve improved my diet again. Three days a week, I’ve improved my diet again. So that’s where I’m saying, if there’s folks thinking, I just don’t have time for this, or I think I don’t have the money for it, believe me, it’s going to be a little bit cheaper and it’s going to be a lot cheaper in the long run when we’re reducing vet bills as we’re feeding healthy. But once, twice, three times a week, everyday, if you can, but anything that you can do is going to improve their nutrition.

Corey McCusker  25:41
Carly, that is fantastic. You’ve given us some great tips and those five ways. So you talked about always feed the premium kibble which we’ve got a tool that they can figure out their own. And if they’re not feeding the premium kibble, they can go to your website and look at what you’re offering. Because I know you’re very particular about what you carry in your store. That hydration, getting that hydration on their food, adding those fresh whole foods, putting in those less processed options, and then a little bit of raw if you can. So there’s so much more that we could learn from nutrition, and I probably we’ll have you back to talk about something because we didn’t even touch on raw or anything we just talked about it a little bit. But I think this is a great podcast that we’ve been able to share some valuable information, just on the history of kibble but then also what’s going in their bowl. So I really, really appreciate this. And I definitely, and I even from when we talked before, I’ve learned a thing or two and I’ve already changed my dog’s food bowl or I’ve levelled it up, let’s just say. Is there anything you can leave us with before we bring this to a close? 

Carly Patryluk  26:44
No, I think you know what, I know that every pet parent out there just wants the best, genuinely wants the best for their pet. We have made all of the mistakes that we try to educate folks on. We have made those mistakes. And I say “we”, I mean my team and I. 

Corey McCusker  26:59

Carly Patryluk  27:00
And you don’t know what you don’t know. So when we didn’t know we were making mistakes, that we just don’t want other folks to make the same mistakes we did, which is why we’re so passionate about helping to empower pet parents and educate them. I referenced TikTok. We educate a ton on TikTok. We do do some of the funny little dancing videos.

Corey McCusker  27:21
Yes, it inspires me.

Carly Patryluk  27:26
We try to entertain the masses but for the most part we do a lot, we do like to put out a lot of educational content on TikTok and the best thing about that is if you’re new to learning about pet nutrition, it’s bite-sized pieces so it becomes very easy to learn and pick up. So by all means find us on TikTok, we’re at House of Paws Boutique on TikTok. That’s all of our social handles, and you can come learn some more there.

Corey McCusker  27:51
Awesome. Thank you so much. I really wish you were in Ontario where we are. I know you’re in Regina and that’s where, you’re far away. But we can always reach out. We can always go to your website or your social media to learn more information. So again, thank you for sharing this time with us and your valuable knowledge for our pet parents. And if you do want more information about Carly and her House of Paws, you can find it in our show notes but her website is, www.houseofpawsboutique.com You can contact her if you have questions houseofpawsboutique@gmail.com But her website does have a lot of information. Her social media has a lot of information. And we just can’t thank you enough for sharing the knowledge and helping us be better pet parents and level up the bowl. So thanks so much. If you are interested in learning about our other podcasts, you can visit our website at www.muttzwithmannerz.com. If you have an idea on a podcast you’d like to hear and want to learn more information, you can email us at info@muttzwithmannerz.com. Thank you so much, Carly. Thank you for everyone listening and have a great day.


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