Truth About Pets: Keeping your trusty companion healthy

13News Now Ashley Smith has the inside scoop on just how to keep your furry friend healthy.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) --  We think of our pets as family.

And like family, we want them around as long as possible. "A healthy dog, just like a healthy human, is not gonna be found in the hospital. It's not gonna be found in the doctor's office all the time," says Cheryl McKee. 

She owns a place in Virginia Beach called "Doggstuff" which she describes as a health food store for pets. "We don't carry the chemical preservatives in our food. We don't do the bi-products in our food," she says. And according to her, the all-natural approach is working for her four rottweiler rescues. "I have a breed of dogs that the expectancy is eight years... they live to be about fifteen," Cheryl says.

Cheryl got into the pet health food and product business when her own dogs' digestive systems seemed out of whack: "Ears going crazy, dogs itching and chewing, licking their feet. They get that corn chip smell," she says.

She soon learned that like many other dogs, they had developed a yeast infection on their skin. But before she called the vet, Cheryl researched and learned that her furry friends may just be allergic to common pet food ingredients-- like chicken or wheat. "They've had it for so many years, now their systems just can't handle it anymore," she says.

After some experimentation with her dogs' food ingredients, Cheryl now recommends trying to treat a pet's yeast infection by adjusting their food ingredients to include "unique" meats: "Things like rabbit, we're talking about squid... kangaroo," she says. All of these meats are found in pet foods at Doggstuff.

Your pet may be itching for another reason: fleas. They're pests commonly controlled with pills or topical treatments prescribed by your vet. But Cheryl says the chemicals could cause harm to your pet over time. "Month after month, they tell you to put the stuff on their neck, and what are we doing to these poor guys?" she says.

Cheryl suggests products made with natural ingredients, like TropiClean or NaturVet. Both product lines are also sold at Doggstuff. "It's amazing how much better it works than the chemicals that absorb into the skin," she says.

There are even ways to naturally treat your pet's anxiety. "You know you have a thunderstorm coming," says Cheryl, "so you medicate your dog all day? Or, the thunderstorm's started... throw [a] thunder jacket on." Products like ThunderShirts, according to http://www.thundershirt.com/faq, are designed to apply a gentle, constant pressure to your pet's torso that provides an effect similar to swaddling an infant. "It's hugging, it's caressing, it's calming and soothing," Cheryl says.

From psychiatric disorders to health issues, Cheryl believes an all-natural remedy can treat your pet's issue and help them feel better faster. "My dogs see my vet on a regular basis, but that's because she comes in here and says, 'Hey! How [are] you doing?" Cheryl says.

If problems persist with your furry friend, seek professional help. However, first trying the all-natural products found at pet stores like Doggstuff could solve your their issues for a fraction of the price. To learn more about Doggstuff, visit http://www.doggstuff.com/

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