Pets Gone Healthy: Meeting the needs of pets and their people

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By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer

Sandie Wheeler, who owns Pets Gone Healthy with her husband, Ken. Photo/Nancy Brumback

Marlborough – Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Don's forget to put your pets on the list.

Pets Gone Healthy, on Route 20 at the Marlborough-Northborough town line, features an array of toys, accessories and gift items for pets and their people. You'sl find the perfect gift for Fluffy or Fido and for friends who are passionate about their animals.

Sandie Wheeler and her husband, Ken, started the business about six years ago, focusing on natural and organic pet foods and treats, and herbal remedies and supplements, inspired by their own golden retrievers.

“Many people are concerned about what their pet eats. That's why I's here,” Sandie said. “We'se a health food store for pets, and people shop here for the same reason they go to a natural foods store or to Whole Foods for themselves.”

Pet owners will find a huge array of natural treats to tuck into a stocking, including bakery products that look very much like cookies for humans, such as bone-shaped dog biscuits with icing, made only from whole wheat flour, corn meal, carob powder and vegetable oil. Or, from a baker on Cape Cod, bulk dog biscuits with no additives or preservatives, just ingredients suitable for human baked goods.

But the holidays are also for toys, and Sandie pointed out some favorites human Santas might want to consider.

For cat owners, she suggested “interactive” toys that owners can use to provide exercise for their cat and a play experience good for both cat and person. Purrfect Cat Toys offers a plastic wand with replaceable feathers or stuffed toys on the end of a cord that, she said, are always a hit with cats. A similar toy from Cat Dancer features a yard-long colorful fleece streamer. She also recommended fleece mice attached to a pull string. Yeoww! catnip toys from Ducky World are also popular with her feline customers.

Brand new in the store is a line of all-natural toys and catnip by From the Field. The wand toy, Freddy's Feather Wand, is made from feathers and cork with a wooden wand, and hemp mice are stuffed with organic catnip. Organic catnip and catnip buds – which Sandie said are the most potent part of the plant – are also available in this line. From the Field also offers hemp ropes for dogs, a great alternative to cotton rope toys.

Dog owners have a choice of Christmas-themed stuffed toys from Huggle Hounds, including stuffed candy canes, reindeer and gingerbread men. Like all the dog toys she sells, Sandie promised these are “tougher toys” that can take a lot of play. One customer was so taken with a line of organic stuffed toys by Simply Fido that she bought them for her small grandchildren.

For multi-dog households, she suggested a Criss, Cross & Toss fleece toy shaped like an X from Schnoodleware that's great for a game of tug-of-war between the dogs, or between dog and owner.

Collars and leads made of all-natural hemp from Earth Dog also make a good gift, she said. They are both soft and strong, and come in a wide variety of solid colors and patterns. And the store's selection of pet coats and sweaters is just in time for the cold weather.

If you have animal lovers on your shopping list, Pets Gone Healthy has a nice selection of picture frames, pet-themed jewelry, pet food bowls, and pet-odorizing candles. Or, Sandie suggested, consider a gift certificate.

In addition to the toys, gift items and the variety of foods, including frozen raw food diet products, Pets Gone Healthy stocks all-natural remedies for pet health, including flea and tick treatments, vitamins and even pet sunscreen for dogs with pink noses.

“Dogs with black noses don's need it, but dogs with light noses do. You just spray it on your fingers and wipe it on the dog's nose,” she said.

“We are different from the chain pet stores because we are clearly knowledgeable about our products and pet health care. I love my customers – and their caregivers, and listen to them a lot.”

Pets Gone Healthy, located at 505 Boston Post Road West in Marlborough in the TwinBoro Crossing Shopping Center, is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It's closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, call 508-485-3881 or visit the website at www.petsgonehealthy.com.