Understanding Raw Food Recalls

As raw food becomes a larger part of the pet food market, the problematic pet food regulation maze becomes more apparent.

We’ve all been warned about Salmonella contamination in our own food, like bagged spinach or peanut butter, and it is important to acknowledge that some strains of Salmonella can be dangerous – but that’s primarily a risk to humans. Healthy dogs and cats are well designed to accommodate naturally occurring levels of bacteria, and common safe handling habits should be done for ALL raw meats.

It’s also important to know that dry pet food is also easily contaminated, and that there is an expectation of contamination in meat destined for your grocery store. The fact is that raw pet food is being sought out for testing (they actually go to stores to buy it), while dry pet foods are not, a situation that ends up making raw food look like a dangerous option when it’s optics controlling your view of the whole picture.

We’ve opened our blog up to an expert who can speak from direct experience and provide the details that clarify the situation. Continue reading

The Truth Hurts But The Lies Can Kill

It has been challenging trying to navigate the murky division between fact and fiction in regards to the pentobarbital discovered in both the Evangers and Party Animal brands of canned pet food.

The scope of the Evangers tainted meat is painful, not only for the loss of pet’s lives and health, but the loss of trust we put in these companies. Because Evangers packages other pet food brands that Dexter’s Deli carries, this has hit extra close to home. So, when pentobarbital was confirmed, along with the discovery of horse meat, many companies who had their food packaged by Evangers abandoned ship immediately, with one glaring exception: Party Animal. So, it was not surprising when pentobarbital was discovered in Party Animal formulas as well.

We were a fan of the Party Animal line from the start, so the sting of ending our relationship with them hurts, as it was a favorite brand for many of our customers. Party Animal marketed their brand as certified organic, so people felt good about feeding this line and the price was easy on the pocket book. As we learn more, maybe it was cheap for a reason.

How did pentobarbital get into cans of Party Animal if all the ingredients are from certified organic sources and the handling of the ingredients complies with USDA National Organic Program procedures?

How is Party Animal able to produce an organic product so inexpensively, when other high quality brands are $2 to $3 more?

These questions and many more, are questions that consumers want answered. But, with our current government administration complicating the truth more with FDA deregulation on the horizon and current documents being hidden from public view (requiring a court order to see any damning FDA reports), how can consumers really trust that they are buying safe pet food that contains what it claims?

Most of the multi-billion-dollar pet food industry does not willingly answer consumer concerns regarding product efficacy, safety or sourcing. At Dexter’s Deli, we will continue to do our best to educate and inform pet owners and sometimes the truth is hurts, but the lies from the pet industry can also be deadly for our pets.

We encourage you to take some time and follow the links for more information.

Pentobarbital: How does this Euthanasia drug get into pet food?

Who regulates pet food?

If you have not yet seen the documentary Pet Fooled we highly recommend it. It’s now available on Netflix and other major platforms.

Seasonal Allergies – More Than Skin Deep

Itchy Skin, Hot Spots, Rashes, Runny Nose, Goopy Eyes, Ear Infections, Digestive Upset, Inflammation, “Just not right!”

If your pet suffers from any of these problems they will benefit from some specific supplements and diet improvements.

Come in to Dexter’s Deli for help!


The liver is arguably the most important organ of the body for maintaining basic health. It is responsible for metabolizing food and detoxifying the body, thus proper functioning of the liver is key to the body’s ability to absorb nutrition, maintain a healthy immune system, and deal with toxins entering the body.


A healthy liver produces an enzyme called histaminase, which acts as a natural antihistamine. When the liver is stressed it cannot produce enough of this enzyme, so the natural protection is gone and allergy symptoms appear.

Dogs have ten times more mast cells (where histamine is produced) in their skin the humans, so itching all over the body is a common way allergies show up. When this inflammation becomes chronic it can lead to disease.

If your pet is showing signs of serious health problems it’s important to see your veterinarian for tests to ensure that they are not suffering from serious liver disease. Our suggestions cannot take the place of proper veterinary care. We recommend coming in to Dexter’s for a bio-energetic sensitivity test by Glacier Peak Holistics to help you ascertain which food and environment issues are problematic.


Healthy Diet –  Giving your pet the best food possible is the foundation of good health. Including fresh food provides naturally occurring nutrients for the body. Older animals in particular need highly digestible food in order for them to have a healthy immune system.

Herbs – Herbal supplements are an essential component for improving liver function, reducing allergy symptoms, and improving the immune system.

Essential Fatty Acids – Fish oil added to the food is the best source of Omega-3 EFAs. EFA’s reduce the body’s inflammatory response to invading allergens and improve skin integrity. Absorption of allergens through the skin is one of the primary routes.

Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics – These should be a part of every pet’s diet. They reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and improve the immune system. Enzymes improve the assimilation of EFAs by 71%.

Joint Supplements – Those containing MSM, Chondroitin, and herbs help inflammation throughout the body, not just in the joints.


Natural, whole-food supplements work best when given consistently over time. They allow the body to naturally and easily adjust to a healthier state. If your pet is unaccustomed to natural supplements, start slowly – spend a week getting the dose to the full amount, and wait 2 weeks between new supplement starts. If your pet is very ill, please use herbs under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.

Come in and talk to our staff! They can help you navigate the choices and get started on the path to better health for your pet.

Download a PDF of our Pet Health Guide on this topic.

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Spring Into Health

Addressing your pet’s health seasonally can work wonders in keeping their health in balance.

Have you seen your pet’s health change in the Spring? Some pets eat more grass, others get more itchy or have skin eruptions or ear infections appear. These can all be a sign of their body needing some extra seasonal help.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Spring is the season that governs the Liver. The liver in turn governs the body – you can’t live without it! It’s responsible for filtering just about everything the comes into the body, and in Spring it springs to life. If your pet’s liver isn’t functioning optimally this is the time of year you’re most likely to see overt symptoms.

What does the liver have to do with allergies?
A healthy liver produces an enzyme called histaminase which acts as a natural antihistamine. When the liver is stressed it cannot produce enough of this enzyme, so the natural protection is gone and allergy symptoms appear. Mast cells release histamine, and dogs have ten times more mast cells in their skin the humans, so itching all over the body is a common symptom.


Herbs – herbal supplements are an essential component for improving liver function, reducing allergy symptoms, and improving the immune system.

We love Pet Wellness Blends Detox/Liver Cleanse for dogs suffering from symptoms of spring allergies. It includes ingredients to help repair and invigorate the liver, draw out impurities through the digestive tract, chelate heavy metals, and support the adrenals.

We also love the Detox Blend and Liver Defense liquid formulas from Animal Essentials that provide gentle support for the liver.

Digestive Enzymes and Pre/Pro-biotics – these should be a part of every pet’s diet. They reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and improve the immune system. Enzymes improve the assimilation of EFAs by 71%.

Essential Fatty Acids – fish oil added to the food is the best source of Omega-3 EFAs. EFA’s reduce the body’s inflammatory response to invading allergens and improve skin integrity. Absorption of allergens through the skin is one of the primary routes.

Joint Supplements – those containing MSM, Chondroitin, and herbs help inflammation throughout the body, not just in the joints, so pets who have chronic symptoms of inflammation can benefit from these supplements.

Healthy Diet – it’s essential that your pet get the best food possible. Including fresh food is important for good functioning of the body. Older animals in particular need highly digestible food in order for them to have a healthy immune system.

Come in and talk to our staff about what will work best for your dog or cat this Spring, and help them have a comfortable and healthy season.

Our Favorite New Year’s Resolutions – For Our Pets!

Eat Clean in 2016

“Let food be your medicine” is as relevant today as it was in ancient Greece – and it applies to your pets too. Nothing is more important to your pet’s long term health than their diet, and including healthy fresh food should be a goal for every pet owner. This isn’t an all-or-nothing “call to raw” but a shift in habit to promote optimal health throughout your pet’s life.

2016.RawResolution_3x3_smDexter’s can help you navigate the change with suggestions that will fit any pet’s needs. Get started by trying Primal raw foods and take advantage of their Raw Resolution offer, come in to Dexter’s to pick up a coupon for a free Starter Pak or $3 off any one package of their Primal Formula diets.

Play Your Way to Better Behavior

Training your pet doesn’t have to be tough or hard, it can be playful and enjoyable. Find an educated positive reinforcement trainer to teach you how to teach your dog. A well behaved dog is welcome in more place, which means more time with your furry companion (which is what you know THEY want more of for the New Year).

brittatrainingDexter’s is partnering with Britta Wilson to bring classes to you on our lovely Del Mar patio. Take time for five Saturday mornings to enhance your relationship with your pet while learning to teach them good manners. Whether you have a new puppy, a teenage renegade, or an adult adoptee, there’s a session for you. Sign up at our store or directly with Britta’s Animal Training.

Ask Questions: Be Your Pet’s Advocate

There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Never be afraid to ask, it’s how you learn, and (to paraphrase Maya Angelou) when you learn better you do better for your pets. For the 20th anniversary of Dexter’s Deli we want you to ask questions.

squarepuptextMake it a habit to ask your vet questions. If you don’t understand why they’ve recommended something, ask them to explain it again. If they want to revaccinate your adult pet, ask them why. Ask them if they’ve read the current science, or even the current professional guidelines on core vs. non-core vaccines. If they want to give your pet an even more “comprehensive” flea-killing treatment ask them what kind of safety testing this product has undergone, and whether any animals have been made ill or have died from it. If they want you to feed your sick dog a “prescription” processed food ask them for a fresher alternative (or a referral to a practitioner who can) that can help your pet thrive, not just survive.

Listen & Learn

Make it a goal to learn your pet’s culture listen to them with an open heart to begin to see the world through their eyes. Leave your phone at home when you take your dog for a walk so you can walk with them and use the time to enliven your partnership. What does your cat notice at the window? Perhaps it’s time to “catify” your home to give your feline more ways to “act cat.”

bordercollieeventsquareiconA unique way to learn about what your pet is thinking is through the assistance of a professional animal communicator. Our well-regarded Talk To The Animals fundraiser event will happening on February 6th where you can dip your toes into the process of working with an animal communicator while also supporting a local animal charity.


Our pets are the experts at teaching us love and compassion. May we learn the lessons and bring that love and compassion into all of our actions on this planet.



Does your pet have the Autumn Itchies?

It’s November and for the past month we’ve had lots of folks asking for help for their itchy pets, so let’s talk about what some of the causes might be and what you can do about to help your dog or cat feel better.

Here in California we can almost consider Autumn our “Other Spring.” We get another round of plants blooming, which can trigger environmental allergy symptoms. Our pets will most likely show this as itchy skin because they have ten times the number of mast cells in their skin that we do – that’s why what gives us sinus problems gives them skin problems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Autumn is also associated with the skin. The Element for the season is Metal, and the Meridians associated with this time of year are the Lungs and Large Intestine. So dryness, skin and hair, immune system – all of these come together at this time of year.

No wonder we’re feeling, dry, itchy, and susceptible. If our overall health is out of balance you will see this indications come to the front. They are symptoms telling you to take good care of the inside of the body.


Be sure your pet is getting enough healthy fats in their diet with Fish Oil and Coconut Oil
Fish oil is a must. We also recommend coconut oil, especially for older animals that may be having a harder time fatty foods, or for younger dogs who are too thin or feeling dry. Coconut oil also has benefits for the immune and endocrine systems. Your pet’s fur should become more in just a few weeks.

Bone broth provides many benefits
We have both frozen and freeze-dried beef broth available, but we also encourage you to make your own. It provides collagen which nourishes dry cells, and it’s a tasty way to ensure your pet is getting enough moisture in their diet.

Medicinal mushrooms provide deep sustenance to the immune system
Medicinal mushroom powders (we carry locally produced Mushroom Matrix) are easy to add to the diet, making an especially good combination with warm bone broth. Reishi mushroom is nourishing to the lungs, adrenals, and kidneys, as well as increasing the immune cells in the blood which help prevent disease. Combination formulas provide a well-rounded balance of benefits for all animals.

Reduce troublesome allergy symptoms naturally
Even with the benefits of nourishing foods, some pets need more direct help at reducing the symptoms of allergies. Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Support contains the most well-regarded natural antihistamines (like stinging nettle leaf and quercetin), and can help reduce bothersome symptoms without burdening the body with the side-effects of pharmaceuticals.

Stimulate the skin without drying it
Gentle grooming is a wonderful way to stimulate blood flow to the skin. Our favorite tool for this is the Zoom Groom because the rubber “teeth” are pleasant for the pets and easy to use no matter how long or short the hair. It can also be used (softly) on the legs and feet, areas that usually don’t get much in the way of rubbing. You might be tempted to wash your pet when their itchy, but be mindful of using the most gentle options to rinse off allergens without stripping the natural oils of the skin. Look for “non-soap” options or those containing nourishing oils.

Safe & Happy Holidays for your Pets

Halloween…. Thanksgiving…. Christmas, New Year’s Eve….. holidays are out of the ordinary for pets but problems are easy to avoid with a little bit of forethought.


It goes without saying that dogs and cats shouldn’t be able to get access to Halloween candy. If you are passing it out be sure you’ve got it safely up and out of reach while waiting for the next trick-or-treaters.

Decorations can seem like novel playthings to cats and dogs, so keep an eye out for anything that may attract the wrong kind of attention from animals. Fake cobweb material in particular could be problematic if your pet grabs it and gets it in their teeth or even swallows it.

Costumed visitors can be scary for pets. Some dogs may bark and growl from the anxiety, while others may hide. The best thing you can do for your pets is to let them hang out in a quiet part of the house away from the front door. Putting some calming music on can be really helpful. Give them a calming supplement like Sleepytime Tonic or Dr. Becker’s Calming Solutions treats and let them relax.


It’s sadly common for pets to end up at the vet for pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) because their family thought it was a good idea to share the scraps from their Thanksgiving turkey dinner. The amount of cooked fat in poultry skin, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and pan drippings can send their body into a tailspin that some dogs never fully recover from. If you want to share the meal give them plain meat and a little bit of plain sweet potato on top of their usual food. If your dog is already a raw food eater you can offer the raw neck and giblets before you start the cooking.

The crowds that can fill a happy holiday house can be overwhelming for dogs and cats. Be sure they have a quiet place to retreat to, and ensure that kids understand that they need to ask permission before petting and not intrude on the chosen quiet space. Calming aids like those mentioned above can be helpful. It can also be a good time to have your foraging toys ready to go so when you sit down to dinner your dog can sit down to a stuffed Kong in another room.


Christmas has many of the same potential trouble spots as Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you’re expecting a crowd for Christmas use the earlier holidays to try out different calming aids and contingency plans so that when the big day comes around you’re well prepared.

Presents under the tree can prove irresistible to pets. It’s usually a good idea to supervise them when they’re around those temptations, and avoid risky decorations like tinsel and glass ornamentsDecorated trees can really confuse them sometimes because it’s bringing the outdoors in. It can seem perfectly normal to a cat to climb a tree and for a dog to urinate on it – but think of it from their point of view and resist punishing them – preventing an accident is a much more thoughtful way to manage the scene.

New Year’s Eve

Fireworks are the biggest risk to pet’s on New Year’s Eve. If you know that your dog or cat is sensitive to noises like that you can help them the most by planning ahead. Start using flower essence formulas like Pet Essences Fear & Anxiety two weeks before the big day. Once the evening starts use that same formula frequently, or use Five Flower Formula from Healing Herbs several times an hour. In addition some pets may need more direct calming aids like Sleepytime Tonic, Happy Traveler, Dr. Becker’s Calming Solutions Treats, and others available at Dexter’s Deli. Having the TV on or using music designed to have a calming influence on pets can provide an additional buffer to the loud noises at midnight. Many animals also benefit from the safe feeling of a Thundershirt. If you think your dog might panic it’s best to stay home – many pets go missing annually because they try to escape the mysterious sounds from the sky and go through windows and over fences. No party is worth losing your pet.