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A Guide to Pet Parenting

Jul 17, 2023Jul 17, 2023

For this road map to fur-lovin' fun, we tapped local experts for the best ways to care for—and spoil!—your furry friend.

by Natalie Larsen

August 2, 2023

12:00 AM

This feature was written by Studio MSP writers. While some of our advertisers were sourced, no advertiser paid to be included.

Photo courtesy of Cassi and Amadeus

Local Insta-famous Frenchie Amadeus (@amadeus.the.frenchbulldog) enjoying a patio with his mom

Our pets aren't just any furry friends—they’re family. And, let’s face it, they’re too cute not to spoil! From deciphering the plethora of food options and grooming guidelines to separation anxiety and training tips, local paw pros share their wisdom. Plus, read on for editor’s picks for doggy dates, staycation spots, and shops.

The plethora of food options for Fido— from kibble and canned to prepackaged raw food and meal prepping your own—is staggering. Is there a right answer? Turns out, just like humans’ varied tastes, diet largely depends on the dog. Feeding based on a total calorie count, which a veterinarian can provide, is most important to avoid obesity, says Dr. Katheryn Nielsen, veterinarian at Mission Animal Hospital in Eden Prairie.

“A raw diet can be incredibly nutritious for your pet, if done right,” says Shanna Haugland of Animal Humane Society. “But it’s important to balance the benefits with the risks.”

“Although heartworm primarily causes diseases in dogs, cats who go outdoors should also have protection against this [mosquito-spread] parasite.” —Shanna Haugland, Animal Humane Society

Before we go crazy in the meat market, Nielsen says: “As a veterinary community, we do not recommend raw-based diets or grain-free diets for dogs or cats. Raw-based diets are not well balanced to meet all the nutritional requirements; they also have a high risk of transmitting salmonella and E. coli to both pets and people.”

She notes that some research indicates that grain-free diets can increase the risk for heart disease.

From the pros: healthy and safe alternatives to bagged bacon-flavored biscuits.

From at-home care to tackling those touchy nail trims, a local groomer untangles the mess to keep your dog looking and feeling their best.

Photo by To the Moon Media

Reservation rescue Falon (Instagram @fallingfor.falon) takes to trails around the state.

“It all starts with a good bath,” says Ralph Bernstein, owner of Dog’s Day Out grooming and Downtown Dogs boarding and day care. A good bath, he notes, uses conditioner and finishes with a thorough blow-dry. “A lot of dead hair is removed through this process.” After their bath, your pup should be brushed and combed.

If anyone’s dog bellies up for nail trims, we want your secret! For the 99 percent who snatch their paws away at the first inkling of clippers, Bernstein says: “Don’t avoid them. The longer a dog’s nails get, the more uncomfortable they become, and then dogs get more anxious about someone touching them.” For trimming at home, take it slow. If your dog gets stressed, stop trimming and give them a long break before starting again. “Honestly, there aren’t many dogs who like having their nails trimmed, and it’s always better to have a professional do it,” he says.

“There are no non-shedding breeds. They all shed to a greater or lesser extent. It all starts with a good bath, using conditioner, and thoroughly blow-drying the coat. A lot of dead hair is removed through this process.” —Ralph Bernstein, Dog's Day Out

If your pet was brought home during the pandemic, chances are they’ve spent a lot of their life warming your feet or lap as you click away on a keyboard in your home office. But as we rev up to the fast-paced plans of our previous lives, pets can be launched into a new routine, including more alone time, which can bring out separation anxiety and other issues.

“A lot of these issues stem from lack of socialization during COVID,” Bernstein says. “The sooner parents can work on socializing their dog, the happier the dog will be.” Start with a short trip to a dog park or a one-on-one puppy playdate. “Short trips to dog-friendly businesses are also good, but choose places that can feel less crowded to the dog, like large hardware stores or dog-friendly restaurant patios.”

It’s often said in the fur-parent realms of the internet that a tired dog is a good dog. But that doesn’t mean you need to take Olympian-length walks every morning (!!). A predictable routine—meals, exercise, play, and alone time—helps your pet know what’s coming next and tires them out.

“Keep your departures and arrivals uneventful,” Haugland says. The less hype that accompanies leaving or coming home, the less your dog will react in those moments.

If your pet will be left alone for long periods of time, look into a doggy day care, Nielsen says. “That way your dog can be socialized and exercised to prevent behavioral problems.”

A dog may have to hear and practice the same command 40 or 50 times before it becomes second nature to them.

Model dog citizens (behaviorally, not beauty pageant champs) are a labor of love. “Training takes time,” says Jess Kittredge, owner of The Canine Coach.

Bernstein agrees, saying, “It’s all about repetition, consistency, and patience, which are often the hardest things for dog parents to put into action.”

Kittredge warns against “moving too fast with distractions or expectations in training.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, y’all—neither is your pup. “Go slow to go fast. If you put in the time to create a foundation that is fun and effective for your dog, you’ll be able to master harder skills in the long run,” she says.

Just like in any good relationship, Kittredge suggests starting with their name. “So many other behaviors stem from the ability to connect with your dog [and] call them off distractions,” she says.

Who needs a significant other when you can post up at these pet-loving places? Table for two, please.

Photo courtesy of Toast

Mini golden doodle Toast (Instagram @toastrdoodle) upgrades her pup cup at MN Nice Cream in Northeast.

The OG, Unleashed Hounds and Hops knew long ago that humans need a space to get food and drinks and hang with their BFF (best furry friend, that is!). The indoor-outdoor dog-park-plus-bar routinely hosts breed- and size-specific nights and Yappy Hours. Mpls., 612-439- 5060, unleashedhoundsandhops.com

Brew Park is like a PlayPlace for your pup: turf, Park Rangers supervising, and a separate area for pet parents to grab food and drinks with windows looking out on the park. Plymouth, brewparkplymouth.com

Dedicated to smol dogs—under 30 pounds—Indoor Zoomies opened this year and provides toys, ramps, and space to run for the little lickers in our lives. Minnetonka, indoorzoomiestonka.com

The Dog Tank wants you to test the water. With a 45-foot pool and dock, this cool spot centers on dock diving for dogs, with swimming lessons and open pool time. Mendota Heights, thedogtank.com

ISO a new friend? The Cafe Meow serves up coffee with a side of adoptable cats. Minnesota’s first cat café now operates in two metro locations. Mpls., New Hope, thecafemeow.com (Editor's Note: Announced mid-July, The Cafe Meow's Minneapolis storefront relocates to Roseville at the end of August.)

Any fur parent worth their treats knows that you can never have too many toys, bandanas, or tasty nibbles. Here’s a sampling of local lovelies to pamper your pet.

Photo by Natalie Larsen

Beagle-Australian shepherd Coco at Four Seasons Minneapolis

Giving a new meaning to stay-cations: local pet-friendly hotels for your next sleepover—because pooch pillow talk is the best kind.

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Copilot Dog Outfitters, Mpls., copilotdogoutfitters.com

Downtown Dogs, Mpls., dtdogs.com

Dog’s Day Out, Mpls., dogsdaympls.com

Oneka Pet Resort, Hugo, onekapetresort.com

Natalie Larsen is the associate editor for Studio MSP.

August 2, 2023

12:00 AM

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The Raw TruthSmart SnacksFrom the pros: healthy and safe alternatives to bagged bacon-flavored biscuits.For cats and dogs: For cats only: For dogs only: Squeaky Clean From at-home care to tackling those touchy nail trims, a local groomer untangles the mess to keep your dog looking and feeling their best.“There are no non-shedding breeds.Say Goodbye to Separation AnxietyAgain, Again!Sit, StayDoggy DatesUnleashed Hounds and HopsBrew ParkIndoor ZoomiesThe Dog TankThe Cafe MeowEditor's Note:Warning: Spoilers AheadCopilot Dog Outfitters |Urban Tails Pet Supply | Jack and the Pack |Get a RoomFour Seasons Minneapolis | Hewing Hotel | Hotel Emery | The Hotel Landing | Print AdvertisersCopilot Dog OutfittersDowntown DogsDog’s Day OutOneka Pet Resort