All posts by Dolce Bandita

Chelsea Says: Grooming Tip #1 “Canine Ear Health”

Chelsea is one of our expert groomers here at Barks 5th Avenue.  Every month, she posts tips about your dog’s grooming lifestyle!

Question from Irene N.
“Chelsea, my dog’s ears have a nasty smell to them.  What is that?”

Good Question!  Caring for your dog’s ears is an EXTREMELY important part of their overall health, comfort, and happiness.

A dog’s ears have a very twisty canal area for the inner ear, and if you add some dirt, dead skin, and moisture to this environment and you have the perfect cocktail for an infection.

Many dog breeds also have hair in their ears; during grooming, we will remove that hair, as it adds to the risk for infection, as well as providing a thriving environment for ear mites; small insects that can infest a dog’s ears and incubate serious infections.

Keeping your dog’s ears dry is also an important factor for ear health; dampness invites infection; couple this with allergies or a poor diet, and you can almost expect to see yeast infections pop up in many breeds.

Bringing your pooch in regularly (every 4-6 weeks) for a grooming session allows us to keep their ear health manageable, but that doesn’t mean pet parents shouldn’t be regularly cleaning their best friend’s ears!

The next time you stop in to Barks 5th Avenue, grab me (or anyone from the grooming department) and we will be more than happy to show you how to properly clean your dog’s ears in a safe and effective manner.

See you next time!

Product Review: Wild Calling! Whitefish Recipe Kibble Dog Food

Product Review: Wild Calling! Whitefish Recipe Kibble Dog Food
by Joe Spencer
Barks 5th Avenue

Before we discuss this product, I’d like to give you a little background on my dog, Prince.

poo2     Prince is my best friend.  He is almost 14 years old, and has been with me since I was stationed at Point Loma Submarine Base shortly before September 11, 2001.  He has been my constant companion, and I love him dearly.

Prince has always had itchy skin, and I’ve been told hundreds of times by half a dozen veterinarians that it is ‘just how he is’ and we needed to just manage his ‘allergies’.  About 4 years ago, my vet swapped him over to Royal Canin Venison kibble, because he was getting frequent ear infections.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “it is just his breed.  Tight ear canals.  This is normal.  This venison-based dog food will help control it.  In the meantime, use this special ear medicine (cha-ching! $150.00/month).”  Oh, and the Royal Canin’s monthly supply was another $100.00, on top of that.

Last year, my little buddy went deaf.  The ear infections were recurring, almost monthly, and his itchy nature just wouldn’t go away.  I felt bad for my little boy.  He was miserable.  I was at wit’s end.

Then, I started working as the media/business development manager for Barks 5th Avenue here in Houston, TX.  The first time I told Pennie, the owner, about Prince’s condition, she shouted “GO GRAIN FREE!”  I did.  I am glad I did.  I also regret not learning about canine nutrition sooner.  I did what most pet owners do; took the advice of the family veterinarian as gospel.  Now, I am a bit more discerning about what I put in my pet’s body…whether it is food, treats, or medicine.

Recently, we began carrying Wild Calling! brand of dry (kibble) dog food.  We have carried their canned (wet) dog food for a while now, but I wasn’t using that for daily feeding (more as a once-in-a-while ‘treat’).   Honestly, I was a bit concerned with their protein sourcing (for dog food noobies, translates as ‘where the meat comes from’), since they outsource the canning of their wet dog food to another, albeit U.S.-based dog food company, and I wasn’t sold on their processes.

About a month ago, however, our food supply representative, Michelle (who is one of the great dog food gurus of our time), stopped by with Jeremy Petersen, the son of Wild Calling!’s founder.  He wanted to introduce his new product line, the dry dog food, to us.  I rapid-fired questions at him concerning quality, packaging, ingredients, and such.  He was not only able to answer my questions, but was able to assuage many concerns I had that I didn’t even realize (more on that, later).  For the dry dog food, THEY package the food at their own facility in Colorado; they do not outsource to any other companies.  The way he presented their ingredients and quality reminded me of Orijen, which is the standard by which I now measure all other dry dog foods.  That, and the packaging was amazing (by the way, Jeremy does all of the company’s artistic design.  He is quite a talented guy).  I was intrigued.

So, the retail team here at Barks talked, and we decided to move out an underperforming line of dog food, and replace it with Wild Calling!’s dry kibble.  We purchased a few bags to try on our own pets, to see how they’d respond (that’s how we do ‘quality testing’ here, hehe).  The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Due to Prince’s reactions to numerous proteins and vegetables (he cannot eat chicken, beef, grain, or white potato), I have to be very careful on what ingredients are in his food rotation; virtually everything out there has some kind of chicken/beef ‘byproduct’ in it.  The Whitefish Recipe solves that problem for me.  The main ingredient (first one listed on the package) is Whitefish.  There is some turkey fat listed in the ingredients, but Prince handles turkey well, so I was ok with that.


One of the big selling points for the Wild Calling! is their GlycoEdge system.  Their food is designed to provide our dogs with consistent energy and a low glycemic diet (this is important for Prince…as a senior dog, his chance of diabetes is very high).  They do this by combining Tapioca (quick sugar release), Sweet Potatoes (moderate release), and Lentils (slow release).  This helps limit glucose and insulin spikes, as well as aids in soft stool prevention.

If you are concerned with your dog’s sugar intake, diabetes risk, or weight, this process should be VERY appealing to you.  It sure was to me!

ALL US-SOURCED INGREDIENTS, 82% Digestible/77% Protein from Animal Ingredients!

If you have been watching the news, you know that ANY food material coming out of China is suspect.  Dog food has been especially targeted for danger, since there have been numerous cases of dogs dying from eating Chinese dog food.  Many ‘big box’ dog foods say “Made in the USA”, but their ingredients are not from here; they are just PACKED here.  Wild Calling!’s ingredients are all US Sourced, except in specifically-listed products, and those are still coming from reputable, controlled suppliers in trusted areas (no China!).

The fact that Wild Calling! is up front about where they obtain their ingredients is very important to me.  I hope it is to you, as well.

With a listed 82% digestible ingredients, 77% of which are from animal protein, that means efficient digestion, less waste!  Compare that with the overwhelming amount of filler in ‘big box’ dog food.  You do the math, it isn’t good for your pooch.

COST PER FEEDING: I feed once a day.  At MSRP, it costs me about $1.24/day
(Based on a  20lb dog eating 1.5cups/day per suggested amount on package)


IN CONCLUSION, I find the Wild Calling! Whitefish kibble to be an excellent addition to my food rotation.  It is grain-free, US-sourced ingredients that my dog loves.  The cost-per-feeding is awesome, the GlycoEdge helps control sugar intake, and the packaging looks amazing.  I’m finding that by feeding quality foods like Wild Calling! to my dogs, my vet bills are lower, my dogs are happier and healthier, and I have the peace of mind that I’m doing what I can to keep them strong .  I’m extremely happy with this product, and recommend adding it to your food rotation, as well!



Joe Spencer is the Business Development Manager at Barks 5th Avenue in Houston, TX.  He has 3 dogs at home: Prince, a 13yo Lhasa Apso; Duke, a 3yo Chaweenie; and Colbie, a 2.5yo Rhodesian Mix.  When he is not learning about amazing canine products, he can be found playing with his dogs at home…or picking the dog hair off of every piece of clothing in the house.

Product Review: Cocotherapy’s Coconut Chips

Product Review: Cocotherapy’s Coconut Chips
We have all been hearing about the coconut oil craze, and how fantastic it is for our hair and mouth health as well as used for internal health.  Have you also heard about giving coconut oil to your dogs & cats?  Lets talk a bit about why coconut oil is good for both humans and their pets, along with the products and brand we recommend.

Coconut oil is composed of a unique group of saturated fats.  Now, don’t freak out just yet!  Not all saturated fats are bad!  Saturated fats are broken down into two categories: long-chain fats, and short/medium chain fats.

Coconut oils made up of about 64% medium-chain fatty acids.  The most abundant with lauric acid is breast milk.  The medium chain fatty acid in breast milk is very similar to the one found in coconut oil.  Coconut aids in the absorption of nutrients as well as digestive function.  It also helps:
*Regulate blood sugar
*supports immune system health
*Acts as an antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic
*GREAT for skin and hair health!

Coconut oil has 0% cholesterol, and since it is a medium chain fatty, it is used for energy production (thus seldom ending up as body fat, when taken as directed).


The brand we highly recommend for pets is CocoTherapy, a family-owned business that grows, harvests, and manufactures their own coconuts.  Since the higher the quality of the coconut, the more effective it is, we feel that CocoTherapy produces the best on the market at this time.

There are 2 main factors that CocoTherapy recommends you look for when it comes to selecting your brand of coconut oil:

1. Coconut oil should have the highest LAURIC ACID content possible, using organic, non-GMO and non-hybrid coconuts.
2. Coconut oil should have the lowest possible moisture content.  The mehtod used to extract the coconut oil determines how low the moisture content is in the oil.

An experiment was done to compare CocoTherapy’s coconut chips with a brand found in big-box grocery stores.  When water was added to both sets of chips, the CocoTherapy chips started to break down within 30 seconds.  The other brand had NO CHANGE.  Within three minutes, the CocoTherapy chips absorbed all of the water, and had a smooth, soft texture.  There was STILL no change in the other brand!  Feeding your pet something that does not break down in water can cause digestive upset, not to mention the wasted money (since the store brand does not break down very fast, your pet is missing out on all of the health benefits of properly absorbing the nutrients in the coconut).

Aimee’s black lab suffers from chronic ear infections and has been using CocoTherapy coconut chips in her meals.  Her ear infection completely resolved in a month, and has not returned.  We now add CocoTherapy to ALL of our dogs’ food at least three times a week.

CocoTherapy has many great products that I highly suggest for your pet.  Please feel free to contact us at for more information on how this GREAT product will work for your pet!


Aimee is the Nutrition Specialist at Barks 5th Avenue in Houston, TX.  Aimee has a passion for canine nutrition, and loves helping families find the best food for their dogs!