Five Signs of Heart Disease in Dogs

20150322_115538-1-1As a dog owner, you should be aware of the signs of heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference.

#1 Coughing is a common symptom of many illnesses. A minor cough will last a few days. After three days, seek veterinary care.

#2 Changes in breathing that are related to heart disease may include shortness of breath, labored breathing or rapid breathing.

#3 Changes in behavior such as tiring more easily, being less playful, withdrawal from people and activities can all be signs of heart disease.

#4 Loss of appetite is always a symptom of something but it could be a strong indicator of heart disease.

#5 Edema is swelling of body tissues. In regards to heart disease, your dog may show swelling in the abdomen and extremities.


Losing a Pet

MemorialWhen you lose a beloved pet, it’s important to have a plan in place for handling the remains. It’s the last thing you want to think about while dealing with your grief.

Pet Cremation reduces the remains to ashes and tiny bone fragments. Most veterinary offices have a relationship with one or more pet crematories and can help you make these arrangements. You may elect a private/individual cremation and have your pet’s ashes returned to you. Make sure to select a reputable company to ensure that you’re receiving you pet’s and only your pet’s ashes. The basic cost of private pet cremation averages for $150 to $300 depending on the size of your pet.

Pet crematories will typically return the cremains to you in a plastic bag that’s inside a box or tin. No doubt they will offer a selection of urns and ornamental boxes at an additional cost. You may also select a memorial box elsewhere.

If you don’t wish to receive your pet’s ashes back, you can select a community cremation.. This means your pet will be cremated along with other animals. The cost for this is based on weight and ranges from $50 to $150.

Pet Burial is an option if you would prefer a grave site you can visit. Home burial on your own property can be done if local laws allow it. Be sure to remove the body from non-biodegradable materials. The grave should be at least 3 feet deep and in a location not likely to be dug up or erode. You can mark the site with a special headstone or plant a tree or bush in that spot.

Many companies offer pet burial in a pet cemetery. Pet burial services offer a selection of headstones and other decorative touches for your pet’s grave. Prices vary from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand.

There are a number of companies that offer special ways to memorialize your pet. These memorials include decorative stones, paperweights, ornaments and jewelry using a lock of fur or a small amount of the cremains.

Yearly Vet Exam

20150126_122750-1 What should take place at the yearly Vet exam?

Recently I took my dog to the Vets for his yearly exam. Normally, this is something I do with little thought; it’s a date I put on my new calendar every year. While I knew some basics would be covered, I took time to make a list of items to consider when going to the yearly Vet exam.

Is your dog or cat at a healthy weight? Many pets in the US are overweight which impacts their overall health.

Is my dog getting the proper nutrition? Evaluate the proper diet for your pet’s lifestyle, life stage and any health conditions.

Make sure the proper shots are administered. Your pet needs to be up-to-date on all their vaccinations and immunizations.

Is there any odd behavior you need to discuss? An annual wellness exam is the best time to discuss any pecularities you’ve noticed over the past year.

Does my pet need a dentistry? Periodontal disease is common after animals reach 3 years old. It’s best to perform a teeth cleaning early to maintain good dental health and prevent disease.

Discuss flea, tick and heartworm medication. There are many options so ask your Vet what they recommend.

Does my pet need a blood test? Blood tests screen for a variety of issues including liver and kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and heartworm.


Purrfurred Pet Sitting is a fully insured pet sitting business that puts the safety and well-being of your pet first. For more information:

Litterbox Problems and Solutions

20150118_154146Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where all cats were toilet-trained? Unfortunately, until that magical day arrives, we and our cats are stuck with litterboxes, and the complications that can accompany them. That’s why we asked several pet experts to answer the five most common complaints they encounter.

1. How do I get my cat to stop eliminating outside of the litterbox?
One of the most common complaints veterinarians hear from pet owners is that their cats won’t use the litterbox. This problem is known as inappropriate elimination and can be a complex quandary. Your first step in solving this problem is to have your vet examine your cats to make sure there are no medical reasons for their behavior. If your cat is healthy, you can start to look at environmental factors causing your cats’ accidents. As with real estate, litterbox location matters to your cats. “The single biggest problem I find, at least with my clients, is that they often have an inappropriate location [for the litterbox],” says John Wright, a certified animal behaviorist and professor of psychology at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
Litterboxes must be in a quiet, private and safe place, Wright says. Places such as laundry rooms where washers and dryers rumble or basements where furnace heaters thump and hiss are not recommended, he says.

To ensure cats feel safe, make sure they have plenty of vacating options from the litterbox. Because cats are natural predators, they also are natural prey, so they need escape routes available to them when going to the bathroom. Cats can feel trapped in covered litterboxes, Rockwell says. Similarly, if you have a multi-cat household, keep litterboxes spread throughout the house to prevent any one cat becoming territorial over a litterbox and bullying others away from it, she says.
The number of litterboxes is also important to halting inappropriate elimination issues. Rockwell recommends keeping one litterbox per cat and then one extra, so if you have three cats, you need four litterboxes.
Litterbox size plays another pivotal role. Larger cats require larger boxes.

2. I’ve followed all the proper steps, so why does my cat still refuse to use the litterbox?
Your cat may associate the litterbox with negative experiences, Wright says. He uses humans and going to the dentist as an example. If you’ve had only unpleasant experiences at the dentist, you may avoid going altogether. Cats can respond similarly. Cats suffering from urinary tract diseases, for example, may associate the litterbox with pain and discomfort and therefore avoid using it. In drastic cases such as these, Wright recommends changing as many of the environmental factors associated with the litterbox as possible, such as a new location, size, shape and the smells surrounding the litterbox. Continue to work with your veterinarian on different changes and consider consulting a behaviorist to devise a solution.
3. How do I get rid of litterbox odors?
Cleanliness is the primary force to banish litterbox odors. Scoop the box at least once a day and clean the litterbox with warm water and a mild dish soap at least once a week, Rockwell says. Avoid ammonia-type cleaners because cats dislike the ammonia scent. Next, try scented litters, but make sure your cat accepts them. Cats can develop aversions to foreign litters.
Rockwell also recommends scooping litter clumps whole instead of breaking them up. By breaking up clumps, you may miss some smaller pieces that can leave behind their smell. Odor-eliminating products are another option. These are sprinkled into the litter to bind to and absorb ammonia, but make sure your cat tolerates this.
4. How do I keep my floors litter-free?
Is it difficult to distinguish where the litterbox ends and your floors begin? Litter tracked around the area surrounding the litterbox is another frustrating complaint of cat owners. Besides regular vacuuming and/or sweeping, here are other alternatives.
“I know one thing that’s really helped in my household is the plastic mats you can put right in front of the litterbox,” Rockwell says.
Plastic or carpeted mats around the litterbox help catch the excess litter from your cat’s trip from the box. Plastic liners and litterbox lids can prevent litter confetti from covering your floor, but the petroleum smell or confinement can offend some cats, so make sure your cat agrees with these products.
5. How can I stop the dogs from snacking in the litterbox?
Many people who live in multi-pet homes are all too familiar with catching their dogs dining on the cat’s “leftovers.” While a freshly scooped box is the best defense against this, dogs sometimes beat owners to it. A baby gate can resolve this problem, Rockwell says. Place the gate on the floor to block dogs but allow cats to jump over, or position it about a foot off the ground to allow cats to crawl under and still restrict larger dogs.

How to Know if Your Pet Needs Gluten or Grain Free Dog Food

dog-food-shutterstock_180329309Choosing a diet for your dog is a task that should not be taken lightly. Grain free and gluten free pet diets have become extremely popular. This popularity has mirrored the appearance of similar products for people. These diets are particularly helpful for people that have celiac disease, intolerance to glutens in general, or allergies to wheat.

Many pet owners choose to mimic their own food choices when choosing a food for their pet. With the increase in the number of people choosing to consume a grain free or gluten free diet, pet food manufacturers have recognized that similar pet diets are attractive to pet owners. The popularity of these diets has led to an increase in the number of grain free and gluten free diets available for pets.

Are these diets the best choice for your dog? How do you know if your pet needs a grain free or gluten free dog food?

Grain Free Versus Gluten Free

Let’s start by discussing the difference between a grain free and a gluten free diet. Grain free dog foods are, as the name implies, diets that do not contain grain. Gluten free dog food, on the other hand, may or may not contain grain as an ingredient. Gluten is the protein that is found in specific types of grain, namely wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten free dog food is, of course, free of these proteins. However, not all grains contain gluten. Therefore, gluten free dog food may or may not be grain free, while grain free dog food will always be gluten free.

Does My Dog Need a Grain Free Diet?

Most dogs do not actually require a grain free or a gluten free diet. But how do you know if your dog does require one of these diets? To answer that question, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons pet owners choose to feed their dog a grain free or a gluten free diet.

Proponents of grain free diets claim that grains are an unnatural source of nutrition for our dogs. They argue that ancestors of our current-day dogs did not eat grains. While their ancestors may not have eaten grains, dogs have evolved to be able to digest grains and glutens pretty easily. Dogs possess several genes that have been modified through the course of their evolution to allow them to easily digest carbohydrates.1  That includes grains. So, while most dogs do very well eating a grain free diet, these diets are not required in terms of metabolization.

Another reason that many dog owners choose to feed grain free or gluten free dog foods is a mistaken belief that these diets are the best choice for dogs that have food allergies. While food allergies do occur in pets, corn and other grains are not among the most common allergens found in foods. In fact, according to some of the available research, corn is actually one of the least likely sources of food allergy. In one literature review, 278 dogs with food allergy were evaluated and the problem ingredient was clearly identified for each dog. Beef was the most common allergen, being responsible for 95 of the cases reported. Dairy was responsible for 55 cases, making it the second most frequent cause. Corn was identified as the offender in only 7 cases.

For dogs that truly do have allergies to grains, a grain free diet would be an appropriate choice. The following are symptoms that would be expected in dogs that have food allergies (or other types of allergies):

  • Itchiness
  • Excessive hair loss
  • Bald patches
  • Inflamed skin
  • Sore and scabs
  • “Hot spots”

A food trial with a grain free food would be necessary to determine whether the food is beneficial for your dog.

Does My Dog Need a Gluten Free Diet?

Unlike in people, celiac disease is uncommon in dogs. As a result, most dogs do not require a gluten free diet. The exception to this is the Irish Setter. A small number of Irish Setters have been documented to suffer from a congenital disease that results in an intolerance to gluten. This has only been reported in certain Irish Setters and only in the Irish Setter in the U.K. These dogs, however, will benefit from a gluten free diet.


6 Signs it’s Time to Change Your Dog’s Food

DogWithBowlOfFoodCroppedChoosing a dog food can be a painstaking process — so much so that some of us stick with buying the same pet food for our dog’s entire life. “The truth is,” says Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, “we now know our pet’s dietary needs can and do change over time due to factors like their life stage, their overall health, and their activity level.”

What Age Should I Change My Dog’s Food?
When it comes to nutrition, there are three life stages which experts believe are important times in your dog’s life to discuss with your veterinarian. The first is the puppy life stage. During this period a dog food rated for “growth” is needed because it is specifically designed for puppies and kittens according to the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials, which sets standards for pet foods in the United States). “Puppies and kittens that are growing require pet foods with a higher protein level and a higher calorie count…to meet their growth requirements,” says Dr. Lorie Huston. “If these nutritional demands are not met, your pet’s growth may be stunted and/or your pet may become ill.” Pet foods rated for “reproduction” or “gestation/lactation” are also a benefit for pregnant or lactating females.

The second life stage for which you should consult your veterinarian about dietary changes is the adult life stage. “Obesity is the most common nutritional disease seen in both dogs and cats today,” says Dr. Huston. “One reason for this is improper life stage feeding. For example, [an adult] dog or cat — especially one that leads a sedentary lifestyle — may become overweight or even obese if fed pet food meant for puppies or kittens.” Pet food labeled as “all life stage” can also deliver excessive fat and nutrients your adult pet does not require, as it is formulated for kittens and puppies. Instead you should be looking for dog food rated “adult maintenance” by the AAFCO.

The third life stage to be mindful of is the senior life stage. Senior pets often have medical issues that may benefit from dietary changes. For example, a veterinarian may recommend a pet food that contains glucosamine and/or fatty acids such as DHA and EPA for senior dogs with mobility issues. According to Dr. Huston, feeding the appropriate pet food can also sometimes be an effective method to manage diseases like chronic kidney disease and heart disease. The AAFCO does not have a senior life stage, so look for a pet food with an adult maintenance statement for your senior dog.
What are other Signs it’s Time to Change My Dog’s Food?
In addition to consulting with your veterinarian about nutrition as your dog undergoes changes in life stage and lifestyle, it’s vital to watch out for certain visible signs a change in diet is needed. Here are six common signs you’ll want to be wary of..
1. Dull, Flaky Coat
Diets rich in essential fatty acids are a key component in keeping a dog’s skin healthy, and therefore his or her coat, in tip-top shape. Many dog foods are designed with skin and coat improvement in mind. Look for a diet containing both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to make your dog’s coat shiny and bright in no time.

2. Lethargy/Weakness
If your dog had recently undergone a stressful event, illness, or surgery, he may understandably be a little worn out. Diets with high levels of antioxidants can help boost the immune response to accelerate your dog’s recovery and get them back on their feet in no time. Remember: a dog who is suddenly acting lethargic and weak should be evaluated by a veterinarian before making dietary changes.
3. ‘Senioritis’
Depending on the size of the animal, pets are considered middle-aged to senior around 5-7 years. And as our dogs age, their nutrient requirements change too. Senior diets, for example, are generally lower in calories but higher in fiber, and often have supplements specific to this life stage such as joint support and antioxidants. Forgo “all life stage” pet food for senior pets, says Dr. Vogelsang. It is formulated with kittens and puppies in mind and will deliver excessive “fat and nutrients your senior pet does not require”.

4. Hefty Midsection
It doesn’t take much for a pet to wind up with some extra weight on their frame — and this is particularly noticeable with small dogs. “If your pet needs to lose a few inches,” says Dr. Vogelsang, “a diet specifically designated for weight loss will ensure that they still have the proper amount of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while ingesting fewer calories.” These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management to ensure your dog is on their way to a healthier weight in no time! If your dog is extremely overweight or obese, however, it’s best that you consult with your veterinarian for a therapeutic nutritional solution.

5. GI Disturbances
“Chronic flatulence, loose stool, or rumbly stomachs can be the result of food intolerance or the low quality of food that you’re feeding your pet,” says Dr. Vogelsang. GI upset is an inconvenience to owners as well as being uncomfortable for your pet. Consult with your veterinarian as the solution may be as easy as switching to premium dog food or a sensitive stomach diet that’s right for your pet.

6. Itchy Dog
Allergies are common in pets, and food is just one of several possible causes. Regardless of the cause, though, allergic pets may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens they are exposed to. Your veterinarian can recommend either a prescription diet or an over the counter sensitive skin diet, depending on your pet’s particular needs.
Plan for Success
Choosing the proper diet is one of the most important ways to ensure your dog’s long-term health, but it’s no substitute for medical care. If you suspect your dog may benefit from a new diet, consult a veterinarian! Good food and good choices lead to a long, healthy, happy life.

It’s Adopt-A-Dog-Month

86536922Dog adoption is a wonderful thing. There are millions of pets in shelters and rescues waiting for forever homes. By adopting a dog, you can help homeless pets and set a great example for others. Dog adoption is not right for everyone, and it is not something you should enter into lightly. Getting a dog is major decision that will affect your life for many years. If you have decided that dog adoption is for you, great news! Bringing an adopted dog into your home should be a rewarding experience for you and your family. Before you look for your future best friend, arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate the world of dog adoption and make the best decision possible.

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What Kind of Dog?

If you have decided on dog adoption, you may have your heart set on one specific breed. It is possible to adopt purebred dogs from shelters and rescues if you plan ahead. However, if you are not set on a certain breed, you should still have an idea of the type of dog you want. Consider age, size, grooming needs, health issues and activity level. Have your desires in mind before you go looking. Better yet, make a list of dog features broken down into three areas: what you absolutely need in a dog, what you’d like in a dog (but can live without), and what is not acceptable. This way, when you get out there and see all those cute faces, you will know where to begin.

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Where to Adopt

You can adopt a dog from an animal shelter, a general rescue group, or a breed-specific rescue group. The internet is a great way to find dogs for adoption in your area, but be careful to visit reliable sites. Go to the official websites of shelters and rescues or search a reputable site like , where many rescue groups and shelters list their available dogs. If you want to go out and meet some dogs, contact groups in advance to find out if they hold special adoption days. Learn their hours of operation so you can allow yourself time to spend with the dogs and talk to staff.Research shelters and rescues before visiting. The organization should have a good reputation and ideally be not-for-profit. The adoption fee should be reasonable ($100-$200 give or take), and it should go to benefit the organization and pay for the expenses of that dog. Very high fees (over $300) are suspicious. The facility should be clean and safe, and the dogs well cared for. Adults should be spayed or neutered. You should be able to tour the facility, see all dogs, and talk with staff or volunteers.

Unfortunately, some irresponsible groups operate under the guise of shelter or rescue, but are actually unethical or illegal businesses. Make sure you do not end up “adopting” from a puppy mill or similar operation. If something does not feel right, ask about it. If you still feel suspicious or uneasy, you should leave. As much as you may want to “rescue” a dog from poor conditions, purchasing the dog will only support them. Instead, contact your local authorities if you suspect abuse, neglect or other inhumane conditions.

Purchasing a dog from a pet store is not adoption, and it is not recommended. Sadly, these dogs may come from puppy mills, something you do not want to support. If you want a purebred dog and do not wish to go through a breed rescue group, you should find an experienced breeder.

Picking the One

Some say that when you find the right dog, you just know. This is not always the case. You may fall in love with more than one dog and be faced with a decision. Perhaps none of the dogs you met were for you. It’s alright – you do not have to choose that day. After all, this is your new best friend. You may be spending the next 12-15 years together. You want it to be right, so sleep on it. You can always go back another day. If the dog you wanted is not there, maybe it was meant to be. The serious commitment of dog ownership should not begin with uncertainty.

The Adoption Process

Congratulations! You have found your new dog. Now it’s time for the formalities. Most organizations require an application before you can adopt. This is to prevent pets from ending up in the wrong hands. While it may seem like an interrogation, these groups have policies in place for a reason. Fortunately, most people have no trouble getting approved. Some groups require a waiting period before taking your new dog home, possibly due to a medical procedure that was done. Some dogs can have a waiting list, so ask questions up front.Find out what the adoption fee includes (vaccines, spay/neuter, etc). Before signing the contract, learn what is expected of you and what the group will do to assist you. If the dog is too young to be spayed or neutered, the contract will require you to have this done in the future. Also find out what happens if you cannot keep the dog. Most organizations ask that you return the dog to them if you can no longer care for it (not give it away to someone else). Find out what is known about the dog’s history and what health issues, if any, were noted while the dog was in their care.

Coming Home

Great news! You have a new companion. What now? At the time of adoption, you may have received a kit or packet of some type that offers advice about caring for your new dog, so refer to this first. They may have provided a food sample and other supplies, but plan to go out and get some basic dog gear. Next, you should puppy-proof the house, even for an adult dog (in case he is extra curious). Find a veterinarian and bring your new dog in for a wellness exam as soon as possible. In the beginning, your dog will be adjusting to his new environment. Sights, sounds and smells will be unique and maybe even a bit scary. Depending on your dog’s background, the concept of life in a house may be completely foreign. Be patient and try to make your home a positive environment for your dog. You may need to separate him from other pets at first. As he adjusts, you can gradually begin to work on training, bonding and preparing for your life together.

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Top Ten Signs of Cancer in Pets

570x390x1_0.jpg.pagespeed.ic.0tlfMz17HoMany people do not realize that cancer is not just a human condition; it affects our pets as well. In fact, cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats. According to Dr. Lorie Huston, she tells her clients to be on the lookout for the following signs. While these symptoms are not purely indicative of cancer, if a pet begins to exhibit them you should visit your veterinarian immediately. Just like with people, the earlier cancer is caught the better.
#10 Lumps and Bumps
Not all lumps and bumps on or under your dog or cat’s skin will be cancerous, but there is no way to know for sure without getting your veterinarian involved – this is especially important if the lump is not resolving itself or is growing in size. A needle biopsy is commonly done and a veterinary pathologist can let you know if the cells are cancerous or not.
#9 Abnormal Odors
Offensive odors from your dog or cat’s mouth, ears, or any other part of your pet’s body, should be checked out. Oftentimes cancers of the mouth, nose, or anal regions can cause such foul odors.
#8 Abnormal Discharges
Blood, pus, vomiting, diarrhea, or any other abnormal substance being discharged from any part of your pet’s body should be checked out by your veterinarian. In addition to that, if your dog or cat’s abdomen becomes bloated or distended it could be a sign of an accumulation of abnormal discharge within the body.
#7 Non-Healing Wounds
If your pet has wounds or sores that are not healing, it could be a sign of infection, skin disease, or even cancer.
#6 Weight Loss
Cancer is among the list of diseases that can cause weight loss in a pet. If you notice sudden weight loss in your dog or cat (and it is not currently on a diet), along with other signs from this list, be sure to mention it to your veterinarian.
#5 Change in Appetite
Dogs and cats do not stop eating without a cause. While a lack of appetite does not automatically indicate cancer, it is still something to be discussed with your veterinarian. Oral tumors can also cause difficulty or pain when eating or swallowing.
#4 Coughing or Difficulty Breathing
Coughing or abnormal breathing can be caused by heart disease, lung disease, and also cancer. Cancer can metastasize through the lungs and cause these symptoms.
#3 Lethargy or Depression
If you notice your pet is not acting like itself – sleeping more, less playful, less willing to go on walks or to exercise – this can also be a sign of cancer. Once again, lethargy or depression is not a symptom confined to cancer, but an accumulation of any of these signs is reason enough to speak with your veterinarian.
#2 Changes in Bathroom Habits
Changes in your pet’s urinary or bowel habits – difficulty using the bathroom, frequent bathroom use, blood in urine or stool – these are all potential signs of cancer.
#1 Evidence of Pain
Limping or other evidence of pain while the pet is walking, running, or jumping is mostly associated with arthritic issues or joint or muscle diseases, but it can also be a sign of cancer (especially cancer of the bone).

Choosing a Dog Food

dog-baker-DarrenBoucher-getty465645763When it comes to feeding your dog, there are several decisions a dog owner must make. Proper nutrition is one of your dog’s basic needs, and it’s about more than just the type of dog food. Here are the answers to some basic questions you may have about dog feeding:
What Type of Dog Food is Best for My Dog?
Because there are so many commercial dog food brands available, choosing a dog food can be overwhelming. All commercial diets with the AAFCO label are considered “complete and balanced” for dogs. This means that foods sustain life and meet dogs’ basic nutritional needs. However, not all food are created equal. Most experts agree that the quality of ingredients plays a major role in a dog’s health and well-being.

When you are choosing the type of food to feed your dog, first narrow down your priorities:
• Is finding the healthiest possible food for you dog the most important factor? If so, look into natural/holistic foods. Better yet, consider a home-prepared diet.
• How much does cost factor into your decision? Most natural/holistic diets are in the higher price range. However, economy
• How much time are you willing to spend preparing the food? If you want to save money and have the time, a home-prepared diet may be the healthiest option.
Then, consider your dog:
• Picky dogs might do best with canned food or home-cooked diets.
• Overweight dogs or those with health conditions may benefit from special veterinary diets or home-cooked diets.
Choosing Commercial Diets: To compare foods and determine which is best for your dog, visit When in doubt, ask your vet for advice.
Choosing Home-Prepared Diets: Rather than choosing a commercial diet, some owners opt to go for homemade diets. If you try this option, make sure you work with your veterinarian to create a complete and balanced diet that is customized for your dog’s needs. To begin developing a home-prepared diet for your dog, check out and/or
How Much Food Should I Feed My Dog?
The amount of food to feed your dog depends on a few factors:
• Your dog’s age (puppy vs. adult)
• Your dog’s body condition
• Your dog’s activity level
• The calorie and nutrient content of the diet
This dog food calculator can tell you approximately how many calories per day your dog needs. Talk to your vet about your dog’s body condition and ideal weight.
How Often Does My Dog Need to Eat?
Most experts agree that twice-daily feeding is best for most adult dogs. Once-a-day is a long time for a dog to go between meals! Puppies should be fed 3-6 times per day (small puppies need food more often to prevent blood sugar drops). Talk to your vet about an appropriate feeding schedule for your dog.
What Type of Dog Bowl Is Best?
Experts recommend avoiding plastic bowls for a dog’s food and water. This is because your dog can develop an allergic reaction or sensitivity, resulting in a rash or type of acne on the chin and face. Not only is the plastic a potential irritant, but the bowl may harbor bacteria or other microbes that affect your dog (plastic bowls are harder to keep clean). It’s best to use metal or ceramic bowls for dog food and water.
What About Treats?
There are plenty of options for yummy dog treats and dog chews. Make sure you choose safe options for your dog. Also, remember that treats and chews are supplements to your dog’s diet and should never make up more than about 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
What Foods Should I Avoid Feeding?
Most dogs love food and will eat just about anything they can find. Avoid the following harmful or even toxic foods for dogs:
• Chocolate
• Grapes/Raisins
• Macadamia nuts
• Pits and seeds from fruits/vegetables
• Alcoholic drinks or foods
• Caffeinated drinks or foods
• Xylitol (found in sugar-free or reduced-sugar gum and candy)
• Yeast dough
• Moldy or rotten food
• Fatty foods
• Bones, antlers and animal hooves

Proper nutrition is an essential part of your dog’s overall well-being. However, choosing the right diet for your dog can be an overwhelming task. In the wake of commercial dog food recalls, many owners have chosen to make their own dog food. Home-prepared dog food can save money and allow you to custom-design a diet that fits your dog’s needs. However, making your own dog food takes special effort and time on your part. Here’s what you need to know before you start feeding your dog a homemade diet.
Is Homemade Food Complete and Balanced?
One of the biggest mistakes owners make when they decide to feed home-prepared diets is not following the right recipes (or, not following a recipe at all). Like humans, dogs have specific calorics requirements and need certain vitamins and minerals to thrive. When you begin to develop a home-prepared diet for your dog, you must first make sure your dog gets everything she needs in her diet to keep her as healthy as possible. The best way to do this is to consult with your veterinarian. You might even want to ask for a referral to a veterinary nutritionist.
Working with a vet, you can design a diet that meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Your vet may have recipes for your use, or may guide you to a website like or These websites both have recipes developed by veterinary nutritionists. They can help you develop a diet that is complete and balanced but also meets other needs. In many cases, you can choose your preferred ingredients or find formulas designs for dogs with specific health issues (like allergies or kidney disease).
Making Time to Make Dog Food
There’s no denying that commercial dog food is just easier. It’s pretty convenient to just pour a scoop of kibble into a bowl or open up a can. When you choose to feed your dog home-prepared food, it takes a certain amount of commitment on your part. Many owners who feed home-prepared diets set up a schedule. Once every so many days or weeks, the food can be prepared in bulk and portioned into containers (one container per meal makes it extra-easy). You can keep meals frozen or refrigerated until ready to use. When the supply of pre-prepared meals runs low, it’s time to make a new batch. If you like to feed a variety of foods, you can make multiple batched and color code by ingredients, rotating out the different meals.
Cooked vs. Raw Diets for Dogs
There’s no doubt that home-cooked diets for dogs can be healthy when done correctly, but what about raw food? There is much controversy over raw food for dogs, but many vets have begun to realize the potential benefits of raw food for dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about feeding raw food to your dog. In the beginning, you might choose to offer a combination of cooked and raw foods to see how it works out. The biggest issue with raw diets is safety. Raw food can contain pathogens like bacteria that can pose more harm to humans than dogs. Note: raw diets should not be fed to dogs coming into contact with immune-compromised humans. In addition, raw diets are not recommended for dogs with immune system issues.
Everyone knows that proper nutrition is essential to a dog’s well-being. Choosing a dog food can be overwhelming, especially when we have to worry about commercial dog food recalls. In fact, many owners choose to feed home-prepared diets so they know exactly what is in the dog food. For some, this means home-cooked dog food. For others, it means a raw diet.
There is much controversy revolving around raw food diets for dogs. Those who support raw food diets have much to say about the health benefits for dogs: coats are shinier, teeth stay cleaner, obesity is prevented, allergies can be avoided or minimized, and overall health is better. While these claims tend to ring true, the opposition has valid concerns about the safety of raw food diets.
Are Raw Food Diets Safe?
It is important to know that feeding raw food to your dog can cause serious life-threatening infections for both dogs and humans. Raw food may contain pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Cooking food removes most of these pathogens, which is why we humans tend to cook our food. Dogs, on the other hand, may tolerate raw foods better than humans because they have shorter, more acidic digestive tracts. However, not all dogs can tolerate raw food. In addition, cross-contamination can expose you and other people in your home to pathogens. While it’s impossible to eliminate all risk, there are some ways to try to be safer when feeding a raw food diet to your dog:
• Prepare the dog food in a contained area of the home; clean and sanitize throughly when done (use a 1:32 bleach to water solution if possible)
• Wear gloves when handling raw meat
• Handle food frozen when possible
• Use meat ingredients from a reliable source
• Feed your dog outdoors
• Sanitize food bowls immediately after feeding (scrub clean, then use a 1:32 bleach to water solution, then rinse and dry bowls)
• Bathe your dog frequently
Bones are another safety concern when it comes to raw food diets. While raw bones are considered less dangerous than cooked bones (never, ever give your dog cooked bones), raw bones are not without risk. Raw bones can still cause complications such as gastrointestinal obstructions, oral injuries, airway obstruction and, if the bones are large enough, tooth fractures. Most of the vets who support raw diets actually recommend grinding up raw bones in the recipe to give your dog the calcium he needs without the risk of bone-related complications. Small and medium dogs tend to have greater risks for bone-related complications due to their size (but this does not mean large dogs are completely safe either). If you decide to assume these risks and feed your dog raw bones, be sure to always supervise your dog when he is eating.
Complete and Balanced Raw Food Diets
One of the greatest mistakes owners make when feeding raw food diets is not making sure the diet is complete and balanced. Many people just feed “all meat and bones” or a wide variety of meats without actually paying attention to the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and nutrients their dogs gets. One cannot assume a dog is getting everything needed for health by feeding that dog “as much meat as desired.”
Dogs are scientifically classified as carnivores but evolved as opportunistic scavengers and, in general, are now considered omnivores. Though most dogs can survive on vegetarian diets, they are less likely to thrive without meat. On the other side of the spectrum, dogs can benefit from diets made up of more than only meat (although meat-based protein should make up at least half of a home-prepared diet).
Bottom line: when developing a raw diet for your dog, consult with your veterinarian about recipes that offer complete and balanced nutrition for your dog. Know that many vets will not recommend raw diets due to the risks involved. If you feel strongly about trying a raw diet and your vet is not flexible at all about raw diets, seek out a veterinarian who is (or find a veterinary nutritionist). It is essential that you find an expert to help you develop a complete and balanced diet that will truly benefit your dog.
Note: If you are not willing/able to take the time to develop recipes and prepare raw food at home, you may wish to try one of the many commercial raw diets available (usually frozen or freeze dried). While these diets are not a replacement for a whole-food home-prepared diet, you may prefer them to commercial kibble or canned dog food. Learn more about raw commercial diets at Remember that safe-handling precautions should still be taken with these diets to prevent cross-contamination.
There’s no denying that one of the most basic needs of dogs is proper nutrition. It is also one of the best ways to keep your dog healthy. Thousands of food options exist for dogs, so choosing one for your own dog can be quite a struggle. Opinions about canine nutrition vary among vets, breeders, trainers and other dog owners. Bottom line: experts don’t always agree on the best type of dog foods because there is not just one answer.

Ultimately, you are the one who needs to decide what food best suits your dog. Do plenty of research so you can make an informed decision. Here are some things to do before you choose.
Get Educated About Nutrition Choices
There is a lot of information about nutrition available on the Web. Always use caution – not all the information you find will be reliable. Your vet is one of your best resources. If you still have questions, you may want to ask for a referral to a nutritionist.

In general, dog food choices boil down to the following categories:
• Holistic / Natural Commercial Diets
• Veterinary Prescription Diets
• Premium Dog Food
• Economy / Generic Dog Food
• Homemade / Raw Diets
Commercial diets are usually available in wet or dry. Decide which category best suits your dog, then start researching food companies. To compare foods, check out For information about homemade diets, try sites like and
Read Dog Food Labels
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has developed profiles for dog and puppy nutrition. These standards are reflected on the dog food label. This information will give you an idea of the food’s content, but beware: labels can be misleading. Just because a food meets AAFCO requirements, it does not mean that is the best food for your dog. Look for food companies that exceed AAFCO guidelines and use high-quality ingredients that are human-grade if possible. Choose foods with meat-based items listed as the first two to three ingredients. Avoid foods that contain chemical preservatives and fillers like wheat, corn and soy.
Ask Others About Dog Food
Once you have done your research and decided on a general food category, ask others for their opinions about specific brands or recipes. Your veterinarian is a great place to start. You can also talk to dog breeders, trainers and groomers for more opinions. Your local pet supply store may also be of assistance, especially if it is a smaller, independent shop that carries top-quality diets. Educated pet professionals can give you their recommendations, but remember that not all experts agree when it comes to canine nutrition, so be prepared to get conflicting advice. The same goes for talking to other pet owners. Keep in mind that different dogs can react differently to the same food. Use the information you gain to further narrow your options, but remember that opinions are not facts.
Feed Your Dog
Many dog food companies offer samples or money back guarantees, so let your dog try the food before you finalize your decision. Bring home a few varieties to see which is the most palatable.
When you have settled on a food, gradually change your dog’s diet, adding a little more new food to the old food each day over several days. Once your dog is exclusively eating the new diet, it may be 3-4 weeks before you see changes in your dog’s overall appearance and attitude. However, if your dog develops signs of illness, see your vet – you may need to change the diet again if it does not agree with your dog in some way.
Your Dog’s Diet Over Time
Many experts now recommend rotating diets every 2-6 months if you are feeding commercial dog food. This typically means changing to a new food company. Offering a variety of formulas within that company can benefit many dogs. When feeding homemade diets, a variety of foods should be offered. However, it is always important to use recipes for complete and balanced dog food. Feeding the same food all the time can not only be boring for your dog, it is also believed that this can lead to allergies and other diseases. Remember that the needs of individual dogs can vary. As always, consult your veterinarian about the best food choices for your dog.




Preventing Pet Obesity


1. Do not let your pets get fat in the first place. Starting in puppy hood, and continuing throughout their lives, limit treats table scraps and any other “extras” to only 10 percent of your dogs’ total caloric intake. The rest of their diet should consist of a well-balanced food made from healthy ingredients that takes care of all of their nutritional needs. Feed only the amount of food necessary to maintain a lean body condition and make sure your dogs are getting plenty of exercise.

2. If your pet is overweight, think of it as a chronic medical condition and not something that can be fixed with a short-term diet. Once you get him/her back to a healthy weight, you cannot go back to your old ways of feeding. Continue to limit the “extras” and focus on the quality as well as the quantity of the food that you are offering your dog. Since your dog will need to “watch the calories” for the rest of his/her life, make sure that the calories he/she does take in are not empty. Foods made from high-quality sources of protein, carbohydrates, fats/oils, vitamins and minerals are essential to healthy weight-maintenance and will ensure that your dog is getting all the nutrients needed.