Dog Facts

Close up of dog eating kibble


As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to meet your dog’s basic needs. In addition to walking him and taking him to the veterinarian, you also need to provide him with healthy food. Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t understand even the basics of canine nutrition, so they end up shopping for dog food based on what’s cheap. This is a big mistake and it could end up costing your dog for the rest of his life.
 

Part One – The Basics

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If you want to give your dog the best chance at a long and healthy life, it all starts with quality nutrition – and this is no different with humans. Paws ‘N’ Pups has put together this ultimate guide to help you learn more about why nutrition is so important for your dog and understand what your dog’s nutritional needs are. You’ll also learn about the different types of dog food available, how to read a dog food label, and how to pick a high-quality product for your pooch. In addition, you’ll also receive recommendations for the seven best dog food brands available today. So, keep reading and be sure to share this with other dog owners if you truly care about dogs!


Why is Nutrition So Important?

After a few days following an unhealthy diet, how did you feel?

Think back to a time when you were particularly indulgent regarding your diet. Perhaps you had a weekend vacation where you ate too many rich foods and sweets. Or, maybe there was a time when you were too busy to cook and ate a lot of fast food. After a few days following an unhealthy diet, how did you feel? Did you find it difficult to muster up the energy to get through your day? Did you have a hard time concentrating on things? The foods you eat and the beverages you drink have a direct impact on how you feel and, in the long-term, on your health and wellbeing. The same goes for your dog!

Dietary Requirements

If you want your dog to enjoy a long and healthy life, you need to provide his body with the nutrients required to remain strong. Your dog’s dietary requirements are very different from your own, however – a factor that many dog owners overlook. If you feed your dog nothing but cheap dog food and table scraps, you shouldn’t be surprised if he becomes overweight or if his health starts to deteriorate. The longer your dog remains on a low-quality diet, the more compromised his health will be. You might save money by purchasing cheap dog food now, but you could end up paying the price for expensive veterinary bills and treatments in the future. Not to mention, your dog may not be as active or as happy as he could be if his meals were adequately nutritious.

You probably think of your dog as more than just a pet – he is a member of the family! So, doesn’t he deserve the same respect that you give to your spouse and your children? You care about their wellbeing, so you do what it takes to make sure they stay healthy. Why aren’t you doing the same thing for your dog? Feeding your dog a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, either. There are plenty of quality dog food brands that are affordable and easy to find – you just have to know where to look and what to look for. Upcoming in this guide, you’ll receive a wealth of information about canine nutrition as well as tips to help you choose the best dog food for your dog.



 



 

Foods That Are Harmful to Dogs

Before we get into the details of what you should be feeding your dog, first we will take some time to go over some of the foods you should NOT be feeding your dog. Dogs love to eat, and they will scarf down anything that hits the floor. Unfortunately, there are many “people foods” out there that can be harmful or even toxic to your dog. Your dog doesn’t automatically know what’s not good for him, however, so it’s your job to protect him from these potentially harmful foods. Below is a list of foods that may be dangerous for your dog to consume.

Dangerous Foods for Dogs:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Avocado
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Coffee
  • Cooked bones
  • Dairy products
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Persimmons
  • Plums
  • Raisins
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fish
  • Raw meat
  • Salt
  • Salty foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Tea
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast dough

The ASPCA shares more details about some of these harmful foods here. The best way to prevent your dog from eating something that could be harmful is to keep all of your food properly stored in tight-lidded containers. Don’t leave anything out on the counter, even if you think there’s no way your dog could get to it. If your dog consumes something that could be harmful, you should call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435, or your regional animal services center, immediately. Have the food package on hand so you can tell the control center operator what your dog ate and how much. They will be able to tell you what steps to take next. Depending what and how much your dog ate, you may have to take him to the nearest emergency veterinarian. To be proactive, it is beneficial to research this information beforehand, when you first bring your dog home. This way, in the event of any emergency at all, food related or not, you know where you can take your pup for attention.

 

Understanding the Basics of Canine Nutrition

Dog food is dog food – isn’t it? What’s the difference?

While a bowl full of kibble might not look like the kind of food you serve your family, it contains the same basic nutrients. Knowing what these nutrients are and how much your dog needs of each one is the key to understanding canine nutrition. When it comes to your dog’s nutrition, there are seven primary elements to focus on: protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. Your dog needs each of these nutrients in specific ratios to ensure complete and lasting health. Let’s review each of these nutrients in greater detail.
 

Important Nutrients

  • Protein – Protein is the most prevalent substance in your dog’s body besides water, and it forms the building blocks for tissues, muscles, cartilage, tendons, skin, hair, and nails. Protein is also essential for various bodily functions such as digestion and hormone production. There are two different categories or proteins – complete and incomplete. It all has to do with amino acids – the building blocks of protein. There are twenty-two different amino acids that your dog needs and his body is able to synthesize twelve of them. The remaining ten must come from your dog’s diet which is why they are called “essential” amino acids. Complete proteins are proteins that contain all ten essential amino acids and they come from animal products like poultry, meat, fish, and eggs. Plant proteins are incomplete proteins because they may contain a few essential amino acids, but not all ten.
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  • Fat – Though you may think of fat as the enemy for your own diet, it is a crucial nutrient for your dog. Your dog needs plenty of fat to sustain healthy growth and to support his skin, coat, and kidney function. As is true for your own diet, there are fats that are both good and bad for dogs. Healthy fats are those that come from quality animal-based sources – things like salmon oil or chicken fat. Plant-based fats and oils are not necessarily dangerous for your dog, but they are less biologically valuable – that means that your dog’s body will have a harder time deriving nutrition from these sources.
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  • Carbohydrate – The typical human diet is very carbohydrate-heavy because carbs contain the most easily digestible form of energy – glucose. A dog’s body is different than a human’s, however, in that it is designed to derive nutrition more efficiently from animal products. Even so, your dog can absorb some energy (in the form of glucose) from plant foods as long as they are easily digestible. Your dog doesn’t have specific requirements for how much carbohydrate he needs, though as little as 5% of the dog’s total diet is usually sufficient. We’ll go into greater detail later regarding what kind of carbohydrates are good for your dog and which ones aren’t.
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  • Fiber – Dietary fiber goes hand-in-hand with carbohydrates because it comes from plant-based sources. Fiber is the part of the plant that cannot be digested – it helps to give stools their bulk so they can be passed through the digestive system and it absorbs water to keep the body hydrated. Too much fiber in your dog’s diet can have a detrimental effect, causing various digestive issues and interfering with the absorption of certain nutrients.
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  • Vitamins – Like all living things, your dog needs an assortment of vitamins in his diet. Vitamins are organic substances that can be found naturally in plants and animals – they work together with enzymes in your dog’s body to support a variety of essential functions. Your dog needs a mix of fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins in his diet. Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E, and K while water-soluble vitamins include Vitamins B and C.
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  • Minerals – Minerals are inorganic substances that occur naturally in certain foods – they can also be found in your dog’s bones, teeth, blood, muscles, and nerves. As is true for vitamins, minerals work with enzymes in your dog’s body to support healthy function. Some of the minerals your dog needs include the following: calcium, chloride, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc.
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  • Water – You may not think of water as a nutrient, but it is, in fact, the most essential nutrient for all life. Your dog’s body is comprised of about two-thirds water, so water is very important! Water plays a role in all of your dog’s essential bodily functions including respiration, digestion, metabolism, and more. Water is what keeps every part of your dog’s body in proper balance. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water every day. Pay particular attention to ensure that he has fresh water to drink during hot weather and periods of exercise.

 
Now that you understand the seven nutrients every dog needs and what role they play in maintaining his health and wellness, you might be curious to know how these nutrients make their way into your dog’s food. Before we get into the details of what makes a good dog food good, let’s talk a bit about the specific amounts of each nutrient your dog needs and how those needs might change as he ages. PetMD has a lot of advice to share about dog nutrition as well.
 



 

How Do Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs Change with Age?

Difference between Obligate Carnivore and Scavenging Carnivore

You might think of your dog as a carnivore, but that isn’t strictly true. Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they have a biological necessity for meat – that’s what “obligate” means. The term obligate carnivore is sometimes used interchangeably with the word “true” carnivore. While dogs are more carnivorous than herbivorous, they do have a limited ability to digest and absorb nutrition from plant products – this makes them scavenging carnivores. Dogs need to have most of their nutrition come from animal-based foods, but they may eat other foods like fruits, grains, and vegetables in limited amounts. Just look to wild wolves as an example – when meat is scarce, they will eat other foods to survive. Learn more about the difference here.
 

Protein Requirement

Now that you know that your dog is a scavenging carnivore, you can see how both protein and carbohydrate play a role in his nutrition. Again, most of your dog’s diet needs to come from animal-based sources, but carbohydrates do play a role in ensuring nutritional balance. As you learned in the previous section, protein provides your dog with the building blocks for healthy muscle and tissue, so it is the most important nutrient for canine nutrition. If you want to get into the specifics, dogs require a minimum of 22% protein in a balanced diet for puppies and at least 18% protein in an adult diet. The word “minimum” is important to remember here – the more protein in your dog’s diet, the better.
 

Fat Requirement

The next critical nutrient is fat. It provides essential fatty acids which help your dog to absorb and utilize certain vitamins, and it also plays a role in supporting healthy bodily function. Another important fact about fats is that they are the most highly concentrated source of energy available to dogs. Protein and carbohydrate contain four calories (a unit of energy) per gram while fats contain nine calories per gram. Ideally, most of the fat in your dog’s diet should come from animal sources, and he needs a minimum of 8% fat as a puppy and 5% as an adult in a balanced diet. Again, less is more when it comes to this nutrient, but only to a certain point. Puppies and small-breed dogs have higher needs for fat than adult dogs and large breed because the fat provides extra calories to sustain their growth and metabolism. Too much fat, on the other hand, can lead to being overweight and obesity.

Other Nutrients

 
As carnivorous animals, dogs do not have any specific requirements for carbohydrate in their diet. Plant-based foods do provide your dog with carbohydrate energy as well as essential vitamins and minerals. But you must remember that your dog is biologically adapted to digesting animal products more than plant products, so his carbohydrate intake should be limited. Carbohydrates also provide your dog with dietary fiber to support his digestion, but too much fiber could actually cause digestive problems. As a general rule, you shouldn’t feed your dog any dog food product that contains more than 5% crude fiber, or you run the risk for digestive issues. And any carbohydrates in your dog’s diet need to come from highly digestible sources like cooked whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
 

Life Stage Formulas

If you take a stroll down the dog food aisle at your local pet store, you’ll find that some formulas are marketed for puppies and others for adult dogs – there may even be senior dog formulas. Dog food recipes that are targeted toward a specific age group are called life-stage formulas. Though dogs of all ages have the same basic nutritional requirements, the ratios may change a little bit with age. For example, puppies may need more joint and bone supporting nutrients and protein to support their rapid growth and development. Adult dogs need a balance of protein and fat to sustain lean muscle mass and energy without tipping the scales toward excess calorie consumption. Older dogs still require plenty of protein but may need lower levels of fat as their metabolisms slow down – they may also benefit from vitamins and minerals that promote healthy bones and joints, regular digestion, and eye health.
 



 

Part Two – How to Choose a Food and Understand Ingredient Labels

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What are the Different Types of Dog Food?

Complete and Complementary Foods

When it comes to commercial dog food, there are many different types. Most types of dog food, however, can be grouped into two categories: complete and complementary. Complete dog foods are those that are considered nutritionally complete, providing all of the nutrients dogs need in the required amounts. Complementary foods are those that are not considered nutritionally complete. They may be used as treats, meal toppers, or supplementary foods but should not be your dog’s staple diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the governing body that decides which dog foods are complete and complementary. They have created detailed nutrient profiles for dogs in various life stages, and every commercial dog food must be tested and approved prior to sale. Complete dog foods come in many different forms, but the most common types are reviewed below.
 

Most Common Types of Dog Food

  • Dry Food – This is the most common type of commercial dog food, and it is generally the kind preferred by dog owners. Dry food is made by compiling and mixing raw ingredients, then cooking them while forcing the blended mixture through a device known as an extruder, which cuts the mixture into small bite-sized pieces known as kibbles. The quality of dry dog food varies greatly according to the ingredients used and the manufacturing process. Dry foods have the advantage of being very shelf-stable and convenient to feed.
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  • Wet Food – The second most common type of dog food, wet food usually comes in cans, trays, and pouches. Wet food is cooked at high temperatures, but it has higher moisture levels than dry food. It comes in many different forms including patés, gravy, chunks, shreds, and more. Again, quality varies widely according to the ingredients used and the manufacturing process.
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  • Semi-Moist Food – This type of dog food used to be more common, but it has largely been replaced by dry food and wet food. There are still some semi-moist foods, however, though they are mainly used as treats, meal toppers, and supplements. Semi-moist dog food usually consists of soft pellets that have a chewy texture, and they tend to be packaged in sachets rather than cans.
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  • Fresh/Raw Food – In recent years there has been a surge in the popularity of fresh and raw food diet for dogs. Many of these products are designed to mimic the natural diet of wild wolves through the inclusion of fresh meats as well as cartilage, muscle meat, organs, and raw bone. Many dog owners have also begun to make their own fresh or raw dog food at home. The benefit of this type of food is the quality of the ingredients and the exclusion of artificial ingredients like chemical preservatives. The difficulty is that they don’t last as long and need to be refrigerated. If raw foods are not handled carefully, they can easily spoil and cause your dog to become very ill.
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  • Frozen Raw Food – Frozen raw food is similar to fresh raw food, but it comes in frozen patties or loafs. The benefit of this type of food is that you can store it longer in the freezer than in the refrigerator and you can thaw only as much as you need. Freezing the food negates the need for artificial preservatives as well.
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  • Freeze-Dried/Dehydrated Food – Another popular alternative to fresh raw food is freeze-dried dog food. In most cases, this type of food is prepared fresh and then either freeze-dried or dehydrated to remove moisture. This preserves the natural nutrition content of the raw ingredients but renders the product shelf-stable for greater convenience. Freeze-dried foods can usually be fed as-is, but dehydrated foods may require reconstitution with water or broth.

 
While these are the main types of dog food you’ll find at your local pet store, there are other options that fall in between these main categories. Keep reading to learn more about how to read a dog food label to help you decide which type of dog food is the best option for your canine companion. Also, you may want to check out some tips from The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.

 

How to Read a Dog Food Label

Now that you know a little more about the different types of dog food and you have a deeper understanding of your dog’s nutritional needs, you have a background of knowledge on which to base your understanding of dog food labels. As previously mentioned, The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is responsible for overseeing the manufacture and sale of pet foods. There are certain requirements which a pet food label must meet, though regulations are much laxer for pet foods than they are for people food. Knowing how to extract relevant information from a pet food label is the key to making a smart and healthy choice for your dog. If you just want to get a general idea for the quality of a product, there are three main things to look for when reading the label:

  • AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy
  • Guaranteed analysis
  • Ingredients list

AAFCO

As you already know, AAFCO has established specific nutrient profiles for pets in different life stages. Before a dog food product can be put on pet store shelves, it must pass testing by AAFCO to ensure that it meets the requirements of their nutrient profiles. If the product is nutritionally complete, the package will carry a statement along the lines of the following, “[Product Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.” If you see this statement on a bag of dog food, you can rest easy knowing that it will provide for your dog’s nutritional needs. You need to keep in mind, however, that the presence of such a statement does not necessarily indicate that the product is of high quality.
 

Guaranteed Analysis

The next place to look on a dog food label is the guaranteed analysis. This is simply a breakdown by percentage of the food’s crude protein, fat, and fiber content as well as moisture content. You should take these percentages and compare them to what you’ve learned about your dog’s nutritional needs to ensure that the product will not just meet, but exceed his minimum requirements. Remember, puppies need a minimum crude protein content of 22%, and adult dogs need at least 18%. Puppies need at least 8% fat, adults need at least 5%, and there should be no more than 5% crude fiber.
 

Dry Matter Basis

You should be aware that you might need to make some adjustments to these values in order to make a direct comparison between two products – in particular between dry food and wet food. Dry dog food usually contains about 10% moisture while wet foods contain up to 82% moisture. The amount of moisture in the product affects the way the other nutrients are measured. To make a direct comparison, you have to convert the values you find in the guaranteed analysis to the same moisture content. This is referred to as converting the food to dry matter basis. Here is a formula to help you make these conversions: [ % Ingredient ÷ (100% – % Moisture) ] x 100 = Dry Matter Basis. Make sure when you input the percentage numbers, that you are using decimals correctly. For example, 10% should be 0.10, 100% should be 1, 5% should be 0.05, and so on. You can try out this dry matter basis calculator if you prefer.

Basically, you figure out how much dry matter there is and divide the percentage of each nutrient into that value to find the different dry matter contents. Once you have these values for both products, you can just make a direct comparison to see which one is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. You should also compare the fat contents, keeping in mind that puppies need extra fat to support their growth and small-breed dogs may need more fat to fuel their fast metabolisms. Again, however, remember that the values you see in the guaranteed analysis are not necessarily an indication of quality. A value of 35% protein is great, but if it comes primarily from plant-based sources, it might not be as good for your dog as a formula with less protein but all from meat-based sources.
 

Ingredient List

The best way to judge the quality of a dog food product after checking the AAFCO statement and the guaranteed analysis is to review the ingredients list. The list of ingredients is arranged in descending order by volume – this means that the foods at the top of the list are used in the highest volume. Typically, you’ll see various meats and meat meals in the first few slots, followed by carbohydrates and fats. After these main ingredients, you start getting into supplementary ingredients like sources of dietary fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables, oils, supplements, and additives. You want to read the entire list, if you can, so you can get a complete feel for the product. Don’t just look at the first five ingredients – you might miss something that appears lower on the list that could harm your dog.



 

How to Identify a Low-Quality Dog Food Brand

There are some ingredients that you never want to see in your dog’s food. Read the label!

Having a basic understanding of how to read a dog food label will help you to make the distinction between a low-quality and a high-quality brand of dog food. Before getting into the details about what you want to see in a quality product, we will take some time to talk about what you DON’T want to see in your pet’s food. In a way, it is easier to narrow down your options by eliminating as many choices as you can upfront based on their nutrient content and ingredients. Having a mental list of red flags to look for will really help you to narrow down your search quickly. Here are some of the red flags you should be looking for when shopping for dog food:
 

Red Flags

  • A high-quality source of animal protein is not the first ingredient on the list.
  • Corn, wheat, or soy ingredients are listed within the first five ingredients.
  • The ingredients list includes several plant proteins (like pea protein or potato protein).
  • The product seems to be a store brand or a bargain brand.
  • Sources of meat or fat are not explicitly named (“chicken meal” is better than “poultry meal”).
  • There are too many plant-based fats and oils, not enough animal-based fats.
  • The carbohydrates used are not highly digestible for dogs (this includes processed grains).
  • There are a number of ingredients with names that sound like chemicals and are hard to identify (excluding vitamin and mineral supplements).
  • The product contains artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
  • The ingredients list includes one or more by-products or by-product meals.
  • There are too many synthetic supplements, or the supplements are not a digestible form.
  • The ingredients list is very long and not packed with high-quality ingredients.
  • The package doesn’t state that the product is made in the United States.

One thing you need to remember about low-quality dog foods is that the manufacturer is probably doing everything he can to keep his own costs down. That means using more plant-based ingredients, especially grains like wheat and corn. But pet food manufacturers can be tricky sometimes, especially when it comes to the practice of ingredient splitting. As you already learned, ingredients lists for pet food are arranged in descending order by volume. Sometimes, to make a low-quality ingredient appear lower in the list (therefore giving the higher quality ingredients the top slots), manufacturers will “split” certain ingredients into separate ingredients.
 

Splitting Ingredients

For example, instead of simply listing corn as an ingredient, the manufacturer might break it down into separate ingredients like whole grain corn, corn flour, and corn gluten meal. By breaking the ingredients up, the volumes are reduced enough that higher quality ingredients can rise to the top of the list. Using this example, the first five ingredients on the list might read, “chicken meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, corn gluten meal, chicken fat”. If you didn’t split the corn ingredients, however, it might read, “corn, chicken meal, chicken fat” and so on. Do you see how it works now? Be on the lookout for evidence of ingredient splitting while evaluating pet food products.

 

Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Dog Food

Ingredient Sources

Now that you know what NOT to look for in a high-quality dog food, you will be able to better understand what goes into a good pet food product. First of all, you need to make sure that the product has been AAFCO tested and approved, then check the guaranteed analysis to see how much protein, fat, and fiber is in the product. As long as all of those things check out, you can then move on to the ingredients list. Though you should definitely read the entire list, you can get a pretty good feel for the quality of a dog food product by evaluating the first ten ingredients (sometimes even the top five). These are the ingredients used in the highest volume, so they will have the greatest effect on your dog.
 

Difference between Meat and Meat Meal

When perusing the top ten ingredients on the list, you want to see a high-quality of animal-based protein as the first ingredient. Protein is the most important nutrient for your dog so that only makes sense. High-quality sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and seafood, and it might be fresh meat or meat meal. The word “meal” here sometimes worries dog owners because they aren’t sure what it means. A meat meal is simply fresh meat that has been cooked to remove moisture, and that means that it is actually a more highly concentrated source of protein than fresh meat, since fresh meats contain up to 80% moisture by volume. When fresh meats are cooked, then, they lose a lot of that volume, and it might turn out then that other ingredients take a higher slot on the list (if the list was ordered by the volume of ingredients after cooking).
 

Animal and Plant Protein Sources

In the same way that you want to see a crude protein content above the bare minimum, it also doesn’t hurt to see several sources of protein at the beginning of the ingredients list. What you should look out for, however, is plant proteins. Things like pea protein and potato protein come from plants, as you can tell by the name, which means that they are less biologically valuable for your dog – he won’t derive the same quality of nutrition from those ingredients as he would from an animal protein source. Low-quality pet food manufacturers sometimes use plant proteins to increase the protein content of their product without actually adding more meat – fresh meat is much more expensive than plant proteins.
 

Carbohydrate Sources

After making sure that the product lists an animal source of protein for the first ingredient (or maybe the first couple), carbohydrates are probably going to come next. Remember, you want a maximum crude fiber content of 5%, and any carbohydrates should come from highly digestible sources. Some of the best carbohydrates for dogs include whole grains (like oatmeal or brown rice), starchy vegetables (like sweet potatoes or potato), or beans and legumes. You should be aware that beans and legumes contain plant proteins as well, so double-check to make sure that there is plenty of animal protein on the list, just to be sure. If your dog is sensitive to grains, you may want to choose a grain-free option which will most likely be made with starchy vegetables, beans, or legumes.
 

Fat Sources

The next nutrient to look for on the ingredients list is fat. As was mentioned before, you might think of fat as unhealthy, but it actually provides your dog with a concentrated source of energy. Just like protein, you want to see animal-based sources of fat instead of plant-based sources to ensure maximum nutrient absorption. For example, salmon oil is preferable to canola oil. You also want to make sure that the ingredients come from named sources – chicken fat, not poultry fat. Many dog food recipes only include one primary source of fat, but some contain several. What really matters is the quality of the fat. You might also check to see if the ingredients listed provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
 

Read the Whole Ingredient List

For many dog food recipes, protein, carbohydrate, and fat will make up most, if not all, of the top ten ingredients. You should still take a quick look at the rest of the list, however, to make sure there aren’t any surprises. You’ve already learned about the red flags to look for, but there are certain beneficial ingredients you should keep an eye out for as well. Vitamin and mineral supplements are used in most commercial pet foods to help ensure nutritional balance. You should know, however, that synthetic supplements offer more limited bioavailability for dogs than natural sources for the same nutrients. For example, your dog’s body would better absorb vitamins from fresh fruit than from synthetic supplements. It is always good, however, to see chelated minerals on an ingredients list. These are minerals which have been bound to amino acids to increase absorption. It’s also good to see probiotics on the list, usually in the form of dried fermentation products.

 

What are the Best Dog Food Brands?

All of this information might feel overwhelming, but with the help of this guide, you will be able to get through the variety of choices with ease.

If you head to your local pet store and wander down the dog food aisle, you will come to find that there are dozens of different brands to choose from – and that’s just at one store. If you do an online search for dog food, you’ll find hundreds of results. All of this information might feel overwhelming. But you should know by now that not all dog foods are created equal – some brands simply aren’t worth feeding your dog because they are made from low-quality ingredients that are likely to do more harm than good. Which the knowledge you’ve been gaining from this guide, you will be able to work your way through the variety of choices with ease.

Now that you understand your dog’s nutritional needs and know how to read a pet food label, you are properly equipped to make a smart choice when it comes to your dog’s diet. If you still need some help deciding where to start your search for a quality dog food, however, here is an overview of the top seven dog food brands on the market today.
 

Blue Buffalo

One of the most recognizable brand names in the pet food industry, Blue Buffalo is known for producing high-quality, natural pet foods for dogs and cats. This brand started simply with just a recipe or two, but it has grown to encompass four individual product lines, plus a line of veterinary diets. Blue Buffalo uses only natural ingredients like high-quality protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats to ensure nutritional quality and balance in every recipe. Their recipes are also formulated with LifeSource Bits – a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help maximize your dog’s total-body health and wellness. In terms of their products, Blue Buffalo offers four main product lines. The Life Protection Formula features all-natural recipes for dogs in different life stages and breed sizes. The Freedom line features grain-free recipes and the Basics line features limited ingredient diets. The Wilderness line is meat-rich and loaded with quality proteins.

Canidae

This company follows the tagline, “Pet food made by pet people” which speaks to their passion and love for pets. The Canidae company is based in California, and they make it their goal to create the highest-quality, most nutritious products for pets. This company has been producing dog food since 1996, and they have won a variety of awards over the years. Not only are they family-owned, but they support other family-owned businesses and source their ingredients from local suppliers. Regarding their products, Canidae offers several different product lines. The Grain-Free PURE line features grain-free formulas made with meat-rich proteins. There is a Limited Ingredient Diet line which features simple recipes for dogs with sensitive stomachs, including several small-breed specific recipes. There is also the Under the Sun line of products which features grain-free recipes at an affordable price point. The Life Stages line includes recipes for dogs in different life stages and of various breed sizes.
 

Nature’s Variety

The name Nature’s Variety really suits this brand because they offer a wide variety of different products, all made with natural ingredients. Nature’s Variety is based out of St. Louis, Missouri, and they own their own manufacturing facilities. This brand is passionate about providing pets with the nutrition they need to live long, healthy lives – they are also dedicated to helping pet owners make the smartest choices for their pets. Nature’s Variety has two different brands – the Prairie brand of affordable natural dog foods and the Instinct brand of premium natural recipes. Nature’s Variety Instinct dog foods come in many shapes and forms including traditional dry food, wet food, freeze-dried food, and raw frozen food. Nature’s Variety also offers Instinct Raw Boost which consists of grain-free kibble infused with freeze-dried raw bites. There is also a line of high-protein formulas and a line of limited ingredient diets.

Orijen

The Oriijen brand is based in Canada, but their products are sold throughout the United States. This brand offers an assortment of dry dog food, freeze-dried dog food, and freeze-dried treats – they don’t currently offer any wet food products. Orijen is known for producing “biologically appropriate” diets for dogs and cats – formulas designed to nourish their bodies in accordance with their evolutionary adaptation to a diet that is rich in meat and protein. All of Orijen’s recipes feature premium proteins like free-run poultry, wild-caught fish, nest-laid eggs, and ranch-raised meats. For dry dog food, Orijen offers the eight recipes for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs – there is even a healthy weight formula. There are three freeze-dried dog food recipes to choose from, each of which offers the nutrition and flavor of raw food with the convenience of dry food.
 

Taste of the Wild

This brand understands that dogs are descended from wild wolves and that their bodies are still adapted to that kind of wild diet. All of Taste of the Wild’s products are grain-free and made with premium-quality ingredients in meat-rich, nutritionally balanced recipes. This brand is dedicated to ensuring nutritional integrity for all of their ingredients and they use healthy supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics to ensure nutritional balance and easy digestibility. Taste of the Wild dog foods come in both dry food and wet food form, using premium-quality meats like roasted bison, roasted venison, and smoked salmon. They offer an assortment of adult dog foods as well as a few options for puppy food. All Taste of the Wild products are guaranteed to not just meet but exceed your dog’s nutritional requirements.

Wellness

The Wellness brand of dog food is owned by WellPet, the same company that produces Holistic Select and Eagle Pack pet foods. Wellness follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, using only the freshest natural ingredients in formulas designed to nourish your dog’s whole body from the inside out. This brand offers their customers the “Wellness Difference” which promises wholesome, natural ingredients with a boost of super nutrients and probiotics. They don’t use any artificial additives and their recipes are full of natural flavor. When it comes to their products, Wellness offers several different product lines. The Complete Health line of products features life stages and breed-size recipes formulated with healthy, natural ingredients. Products belonging to the CORE line are naturally grain-free, and the Simple line features limited ingredient diets. Wellness also offers a line of baked dog foods and plenty of different options for treats and meal toppers.
 

The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen is a California-based dog-food company that produces and manufactures all of their own products. This brand is unique because they offer minimally processed foods for dogs and cats. Their products are dehydrated, not cooked at high temperatures, so more of the natural nutrient content of the raw ingredients is preserved. In fact, many of The Honest Kitchen’s recipes contain fewer than a dozen main ingredients. In addition to providing high-quality dog foods, The Honest Kitchen also offers their customers the “Honest Difference” which promises 100% human-grade ingredients, whole foods, and a variety of health benefits. If you are looking for a high-quality diet for your dog, but you don’t want to give him ordinary kibble, consider The Honest Kitchen.

 



 

Part Three – Tips and Advice

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Feeding Tips for Puppies and Adult Dogs

One thing many dog owners do not realize is that small-breed dogs actually need more calories than large-breed dogs, but there is an important distinction to make here. Large dogs may need a higher number of total calories, but small dogs need more calories per pound of bodyweight. Take for example a 110-pound Mastiff and an 11-pound Boston Terrier. Dogs need an average of 30 calories per pound of bodyweight, so the Mastiff might need more than 3,000 calories per day while the Boston Terrier only needs about 330. If you do the math, you’ll find that the Mastiff needs just 27 calories per pound of bodyweight while the Boston Terrier needs closer to 30 – or more. Small-breed dogs need up to 40 calories per pound of bodyweight on average while large-breed dogs may only need 20. It depends on their size, age, breed, and activity level.

If you notice that your dog is starting to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, you might need to cut back on his food.

So how do you know how much to feed your dog? First of all, you should consider feeding your dog a recipe formulated for dogs of his size – that means a small-breed formula for small dogs and a large-breed formula for large dogs. Then, simply follow the feeding recommendations on the pet food label according to your dog’s age and weight. Keep in mind that your dog’s calorie needs may vary so you should keep track of your dog’s weight and body condition for a few weeks while following those recommendations. If you notice that your dog is starting to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, you might need to cut back on his food a little bit. On the other hand, if he loses weight or starts to become lethargic, he may need a little bit more to eat.
 

Age and Weight

Not only do you need to think about how much you are feeding your dog, but you should also think about how many meals to give him and when. Puppies need to eat more frequently than adult dogs in order to sustain their growth. Many dog owners choose to feed their puppies freely – keeping a bowl of food available at all times. This ensures that your puppy gets the food he needs, but if he starts to grow too quickly, you might need to switch to rationing his meals. This applies in particular for large-breed puppies. You might be able to go back to free-feeding your dog when he reaches his adult size as long as he is able to regulate himself. If he starts to overeat again, however, you might need to switch back.
 

Make a Feeding Schedule

Dogs thrive on routine, so you should try to establish and stick to a daily schedule for your dog’s meals. If you have a small-breed dog, you should probably give him three meals a day to sustain his metabolism and energy levels throughout the day. For larger dogs, however, two meals are usually sufficient. You can adjust your dog’s meal schedule to fit with your own schedule, but most dog owners prefer to give their dogs a morning and an evening meal. You may also find it helpful to schedule your dog’s dinner at the same time as your own. This can help to cut down on begging behavior at the table if your dog is busy eating his own meal. It will also help you to remember to feed your dog, though most dogs never let their owners forget a meal!
 

Switching to Adult Food

In addition to knowing how much and when to feed your puppy, you also need to know when it is time to make the switch to an adult dog food. Puppy foods are formulated with higher levels of protein and fat than adult foods because puppies need extra protein and energy to grow. You want to make sure, however, that your puppy doesn’t grow too fast – this is where small-breed and large-breed puppy foods come into play. Small-breed puppy foods are actually higher in calories and fat than large-breed puppy foods because it is dangerous for large-breed puppies to grow too quickly. Large-breed puppies have a longer way to go toward their adult size, and if they grow too quickly, there may be an additional strain on their bones and joints that will predispose them toward musculoskeletal issues as an adult.

So how do you know when to switch your puppy to an adult dog food? The right time to make the switch will be different for each dog. What it comes down to, however, is your dog’s expected adult size. You should be tracking your puppy’s growth to make sure that he is growing at a healthy but not excessive rate – you should also have an estimate of where you expect your puppy’s growth to top out. This will be based on his breed and the adult size of his parents. As you track your puppy’s growth, calculate the point at which he will reach 80% of his expected adult size – that is when you should make the switch to an adult food. And remember, if you are feeding your puppy a small-breed puppy food, feed him a small-breed adult food as well.



 

Tips for Helping a Dog Lose Weight

Is My Dog Obese?

When you see a dog with a round belly, your first thought might be that he looks cute. What you may not realize, however, is that obesity is extremely dangerous for dogs. Think about it this way – you probably eat somewhere around 2,000 calories per day, but your dog might only need a fraction of that, depending on his size. When you eat a snack for an extra fifty calories, it might not make much difference for you, but an additional fifty calories could be very significant for your dog. A gain of even a few pounds can be considerable, and once your dog gains the weight, it can be tough for him to put it off. Extra weight means that it’ll be harder for him to exercise and, let’s be honest, dogs love their food – he won’t like going on a diet.
 

Obesity in Dogs

If you think that your dog needs to lose a few pounds, it would be a good idea to check with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help you determine whether his weight gain is due to overfeeding or if it might be due to some kind of health problem. If it’s a health issue, your dog might need a special diet or medication to resolve the issue. If it’s simply a matter of overfeeding, that’s relatively easy to correct, but you will have to be consistent about not giving your dog too many treats and about making sure that he gets enough exercise every day. It’s a fine line to walk because you don’t want to give your dog too little food either. Otherwise, that could lead to unhealthy weight loss.
 

Weight Loss for Dogs

To help your dog lose weight, you need to start by determining his ideal weight. Talking to your vet and researching the average weight for dogs of your dog’s breed are good places to start. Once you know your dog’s ideal weight, you can calculate his daily calorie needs. There are calculators online that you can plug in your dog’s age, weight, and activity level to determine his calorie needs. Many calculators include an option for weight loss, so find one that does to determine your dog’s ideal daily calorie range. Then, all you have to do is find a healthy weight formula dog food and use it to meet your dog’s daily calories needs by referring to the feeding instructions on the package.
 

Healthy Weight Dog Formulas

If you are trying to help your dog lose weight, you need to be careful about the type of dog food you choose. Don’t just go to the pet store and pick out any healthy weight formula – you still need to read the label to determine whether it is a high-quality product for your dog. Many low-quality healthy weight formulas are overloaded with fiber and too low in protein. The best way to support your dog’s healthy weight loss is to find a recipe that contains plenty of protein to maintain your dog’s lean muscle mass with limited fat content to control calories. Your dog still needs plenty of protein and healthy nutrients in his diet, no matter whether he is growing, maintaining, or losing weight.

 

How to Transition Your Dog onto a New Food

How to Change Foods

Dogs are notorious for having sensitive stomachs, and there is nothing worse than a sick dog. If you are considering switching your dog to a different dog food, do yourself and your dog a favor by making the transition slowly instead of all at once. Your dog’s digestive system is delicate, and a sudden change in diet could throw things out of whack. Not only will that make your dog miserable, but you’ll find yourself cleaning up everything from vomit to diarrhea. It simply isn’t worth it to skip the important step of transitioning your dog onto the new dry dog food. Before making any changes, you should consult your vet for their advice.
 

Switching Dry Food Recipes

Generally, if you do it right, transitioning your dog from one recipe to another should only take 5 to 7 days. Some dogs are a little more sensitive than others, however, so pay attention to how your dog is progressing and make adjustments to the timetable if needed. You’ll want to start by mixing about 25% of your dog’s new food in with his old food. Maintain that ratio for two days while keeping an eye on your dog’s reaction. If you don’t notice any digestive problems or other adverse reactions, mix 50% of each recipe for another day or two. If your dog is still adjusting well, move on to 75% of the new food and 25% of the old food for days 5 and 6, then make the 100% switch on day 7. If at any point in the process your dog develops digestive problems, go back to the previous level for a few days until symptoms disappear. If symptoms continue, consult your vet.
 

Dry Food to Wet Food

Switching your dog from one dry food recipe to another is one thing, but making the switch from dry food to wet food can sometimes be tricky. Dry dog food has the added benefit of helping to scrape your dog’s teeth clean of plaque and tartar, but some dogs need more moisture in their diet or a softer food. In many cases, dogs make the switch from dry to wet food very easily, but you still need to take time with the transition, because wet food may be too rich for your dog’s stomach to adjust to quickly. This transition process may take longer than the switch from one dry food recipe to another.

Start by mixing a little of the wet food in with your dog’s dry food for a week until he adjusts. Then, gradually increase the amount of wet food every few days until you’ve made the switch. Keep in mind that wet food is more calorie-dense than dry food, so your dog might not need as much of it to meet his daily calorie needs. To determine how much wet food to feed your dog, follow the feeding recommendations on the can according to your dog’s age and weight. Keep an eye on his weight and activity level over the next few weeks to see if any adjustments are needed. You might need to scale back if your dog gains too much weight. On the other hand, if he loses weight or energy, you might need to feed him a little more. Just remember that a little wet food goes a long way.

 

Advice About Using Dog Treats

Should I Use Treats?

Another aspect of your dog’s diet that needs to be controlled is his consumption of treats. Treats are an important tool for training and for those times when you want to give your dog a bit of indulgence. But many dog owners make the mistake of over-using treats, much to their dog’s detriment. It is important to realize that dogs have a much lower need for daily calories than humans and even a small excess of calories can lead to unhealthy weight gain fairly quickly. Once your dog gains the weight, it may be difficult for him to lose it, so it is best to avoid this problem in the first place by being proactive.
 

Treats During Training

The time when you are likely to use dog treats most heavily is during training. When you are training a new puppy, you’ll probably be putting him through multiple daily training sessions – that’s a lot of treats! This is why it’s crucial that you choose your training treats wisely. Training treats should be nothing more than a very small bite for your dog – just a few calories. And you should only use the treats for as long as your dog needs to get the hang of a new training sequence. Once he understands the command and starts to respond consistently, you should scale back the treats but keep up with the praise to keep your dog motivated to perform.
 

Avoid Overusing Treats

Another trick you can try to avoid overusing treats during training is to schedule your training sessions to coincide with meal times. If you train your puppy at lunch time, you can use pieces of kibble as his food rewards – that way you aren’t feeding him any excess calories, but he still gets the food reward he wants. And don’t forget to be lavish with praise. Your dog wants to please you and praising him excitedly when he responds correctly tells him that he is doing just that. The more you praise your dog for doing well, the more eager he will be to repeat the behavior in the future. That’s the true key to positive reinforcement training for puppies.



 

What Should I Know About Veterinary Diets?

Are Veterinary Diets Healthy?

If your dog develops a health problem, you’ll probably take him to the vet for a checkup. In addition to providing whatever medical treatment your dog needs, your vet might also suggest that you switch him over to a veterinary diet formulated to support dogs with that particular problem. Pet food brands like Hill’s Science Diet and Purina offer prescription diets for dogs, and it is very common for veterinarians to sell them in their offices. What many dog owners do not realize, however, is that most of these products are very low in quality and they may not even address your dog’s dietary concerns. Veterinarian doctor Jodie Gruenstern shares her thoughts on prescription diets and why she no longer uses them in her practice.
 

Read the Label

Before you feed your dog a prescription diet, make sure you read the label and go through the process you’ve already learned to determine whether it is a good product or not. You may be surprised to find that many veterinary diets are loaded up with low-quality fillers like corn, wheat, and soy – they may not even contain any actual meat. Plant proteins are very common in prescription diets, and these recipes are often loaded up with fiber – more fiber than your dog really needs. Don’t fall for marketing schemes or assume that just because these products are expensive, that they are good for your dog.
 

High Quality Veterinary Diets

Though many prescription diets are not ideal for your dog, there are some high-quality dog food brands out there which also offer veterinary diets. For example, Blue Buffalo has a line of natural veterinary diets which can be used to support the health of dogs with a wide variety of medical problems or specific dietary needs. You’ll still need a prescription for these products but, if you’re going to feed your dog prescription dog food, it’s better to go with a quality brand. In the long run, feeding your dog a high-quality dog food is probably better for his health than any prescription diet.



 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Food and Nutrition

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By now you should have a much more thorough understanding of dog food, but you may still have some questions. Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about dog food as well as their answers.

Q: Which type of protein is best for my dog?

A: In general, animal-based proteins are better for dogs than plant-based proteins. This is true for a number of reasons. For one thing, your dog’s body is biologically adapted to deriving nutrition more efficiently from animal products than plant products. Also, meat and other animal proteins are complete proteins which means that they contain all ten essential amino acids that your dog needs. When it comes to specific proteins like chicken or turkey, however, there is no right or wrong. Some dogs develop allergies to common meats like chicken and beef, but not all dogs do. In general, lean proteins like game meat are better for some dogs, but it’s mostly about what your dog likes and what he can tolerate the best.

 

Q: Is it possible to feed my dog too much protein?

A: When you are shopping for dog food, you want to find a recipe that goes above and beyond your dog’s minimum needs for protein. But is there such a thing as too much protein in your dog’s diet? If your dog eats more protein than his body can use, some of the excess will be excreted in his urine, and the remainder will be burned for fuel (calories) or stored as fat. Extra protein is not usually a problem for a dog unless he suffers from kidney problems.

 

Q: What’s the difference between meat and meat meal?

A: When you see an ingredient like “chicken” on a dog food label, you can assume that it means fresh muscle meat. Fresh meats like chicken can contain as much as 80% water by volume, so, when the final product is cooked, a lot of that moisture cooks out – this could mean that the final volume of protein that chicken has to offer ends up being a lot lower. Meat meals, on the other hand, are simply meats with the water and fat removed. The dried meat is generally ground into a powder and used as a concentrated source of protein in dog foods.

 

Q: How do I know how much to feed my dog?

A: There is no simple answer to this question because each dog’s individual needs for energy and nutrients might be a little bit different. Your best bet is to choose a formula that is designed for your dog’s size, a small-breed or large-breed formula, as well as his life stage, puppy, adult, or senior. Then, follow the feeding recommendations on the package as a starting point. In most cases, these recommendations are based on age and weight, so you’ll need to know these things about your dog. Follow the recommendations closely for a few weeks without giving your dog too many extras like treats and table scraps. Watch his weight and body condition, then decide if you need to make changes. If your dog loses weight or has a reduction in energy, you might have to feed him a bit more. If he gains too much weight, however, you might need to cut back.

 

Q: Is it okay to mix dry food and wet food?

A: There are pros and cons for both wet food and dry food. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you want to feed your dog and up to him to decide whether to accept it. Dry food is usually the easiest and most convenient option, though wet food is sometimes more appealing to dogs. If you want to give your dog the benefits of both, you could feed him a staple diet of dry food and supplement it with a small amount of wet food mixed in. That way your dog will get the benefits of wet food without compromising the benefits he gets from his dry food.

 

Q: Can I give my dog table scraps from time to time?

A: Some people foods are safe for dogs, but many that aren’t. If you’re going to give your dog table scraps, make sure it isn’t any food from the harmful foods list provided above and make sure that it is low in sugar, fat, and salt. It is much better just to feed your dog treats that are made from high-quality, dog-safe ingredients.

 

Q: What is the proper way to store my dog’s food?

A: As a general rule, you should never buy more dog food than your dog can finish in about four to six weeks. Over time, the nutrients in your dog’s food start to break down, so it won’t be as high-quality a diet for him if you let that happen. When it comes to storing dog food, it is best to keep it in the original bag and place the whole thing inside an airtight container. Opened cans of food should be covered with a lid and kept in the refrigerator for no more than 2 to 3 days. You’ll need to consult the package for other kinds of pet food such as freeze-dried, raw, or frozen food.

 

Q: How is puppy food different from adult dog food?

A: Puppies and adult dogs have the same basic needs for nutrients, though the ratios are different. Puppies have a higher need for protein and fat than adult dogs, and they need certain vitamins and minerals in different amounts. To make sure that your puppy gets the nutrients and energy he needs to grow and develop properly, you should feed him a size-specific puppy food. Switch to a size-specific adult dog food when he reaches about 80% of his expected adult size.

 

Q: How do I know my dog is getting enough to eat?

A: It is always a good idea to monitor your dog’s weight between vet visits because you may not notice immediate changes in his energy levels or eating habits. If your dog starts inexplicably losing weight, it could be an indication of health problem that you should get checked out. One way to monitor your dog’s diet and to know if you’re feeding him enough is to check his body condition score – this is simply a visual scale used to evaluate a dog’s body weight and composition. A dog with a healthy body condition score will have a noticeable waist and abdominal tuck. There should be a thin layer of fat over the ribs, but not so thick that you can’t feel them. If your dog’s ribs are visibly protruding and he has little visible muscle mass, he has an unhealthily low body condition score. On the opposite end, if he has large fat deposits with no waist or abdominal tuck, he has a high body condition score, and that too is unhealthy.

 

Q: What is the difference between a dog food allergy and a food intolerance?

A: A food allergy is an immune system response to food that the body mistakenly identifies as a harmful substance. A food intolerance triggers a gastrointestinal response to a particular ingredient – symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, or digestive upset. A food intolerance, on the other hand, is more likely to cause skin problems or recurrent ear infection – things you might not immediately associate with a food allergy.

 



 

Q: What is a limited ingredient diet?

A: Also known as a LID, a limited ingredient diet is a type of dog food that is made with a smaller number of ingredients to help reduce the risk of triggering food allergies and sensitivities in dogs. Many LIDs are made with novel sources of protein and carbohydrate – ingredients that your dog hasn’t had before – because new foods have the lowest risk of triggering a reaction. If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, you might switch him over to a LID for a few months until his body recovers from the allergy. At that point, you can introduce potential allergens one at a time until you find the one responsible, or you can keep feeding him the LID.

 

Q: Should I consider making my own dog food?

A: You certainly have the option of making your own homemade dog food, but it may be more complicated that you imagine. Your dog needs a precise blend of nutrients in his diet to maintain his health, and it might be tricky to achieve that balance with homemade dog food. If you do choose to make your own dog food, be sure to use a recipe that is approved by a vet or an animal nutritionist to ensure that it is properly balanced. It is usually easier, and probably safer, to just go with a reputable commercial dog food.

 

Q: Which type of dog food is the best?

A: There is no right or wrong answer to this question – it really just depends on your dog’s preferences as well as his individual needs. Most dog owners prefer dry dog food, though some dogs do better on wet food diets due to the increased moisture content and the flavor or palatability. If you are judging by quality, consider that all dog food manufacturers are different and you can’t always assume that the dog food that has the prettiest pictures or the biggest type is the best option. You need to take what you’ve learned here and apply it to search for and find the best dog food for your dog.

 

Q: What are the benefits of raw dog food?

A: The main benefit of raw dog food is that the ingredients are still in their natural form – they haven’t been exposed to high temperatures or damaging manufacturing processes which might destroy some of the nutrients. The problem with raw foods is that there’s a high risk of spreading food-borne illness or bacteria and that it doesn’t stay fresh as long as dry food. You can purchase freeze-dried raw food to enjoy the benefits of raw food with the convenience of dry food, or you can try frozen food and just thaw as much as your dog will eat in a day or two.

 

Q: If my dog needs to lose weight, can I just feed him less?

A: Theoretically, the answer to this questions is “Yes” but you need to be careful. Cutting your dog’s food intake too much could compromise his nutrition, and that’s not something you want to do. If your dog only needs to lose a pound or two, it might be better just to give him more exercise and cut back on treats. If your dog needs to lose a significant amount of weight, however, you might think about switching to a healthy weight formula in addition to increasing his daily exercise and limiting treats. Talk to your veterinarian before making any such changes to your dog’s diet or exercise habits.

 

Q: How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

A: Dogs of a certain breed don’t all weigh the same – there is a weight range that, to some extent, is impacted by breeding. If your dog is overweight, however, you will be able to tell. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs through his skin or if you see that he no longer has a discernible waist, he may be overweight. You might also notice pads of fat over the hips and at the base of the tail, and he might waddle when he walks. Overweight dogs may also have trouble moving or exercising, and they might be short of breath. Some dogs also become bad-tempered when they gain too much weight.

 

Q: What should I do if my dog develops digestive problems when I switch foods?

A: You should always take the time to transition your dog onto a new dog food, even if the same company makes it. Start by mixing a small portion of the new food into your dog’s regular food and slowly increase the proportion of new to old food over the course of a week. If your dog develops digestive problems, go back to the previous step and stay there for another day or two until your dog’s symptoms clear up. At that point, you can try again to move forward. Scroll above for a more detailed explanation and instructions on how to switch your dog’s food.

 

Q: What should I look for when shopping for dog treats?

A: It is just as important to buy your dog high-quality dog treats as it is to feed him high-quality dog food. The same rules and regulations apply to dog treats as to dog foods, so the process of comparing products is similar as well. You want to find dog treats that are made with meat as the first ingredient. In fact, you can find meat-only treats – this is a great option for dogs. There is no real reason to buy treats that contain fiber unless you are using them to supplement your dog’s fiber intake. Otherwise, he’ll be perfectly happy with a meat-based treat.

 

Q: Is it okay to make my own dog treats?

A: Yes, you can definitely make your own dog treats at home. It is generally safer to make your own dog treats than to make your own dog food because your dog will still have his nutritional needs met by a properly formulated dog food product. If you do choose to make your own dog treats, first make sure that all of the ingredients are safe for your dog.

Hopefully, by now, you have a thorough understanding of why quality nutrition is so important for your dog and how to choose a good dog food. If you want your puppy to enjoy a long and healthy life, it all starts with a healthy diet! Do not underestimate the importance of a high-quality dog food and make a commitment to yourself and your dog to buy the highest quality dog food you can consistently afford. Your dog will thank you for it! If you are looking for more reading material, considering visiting the American Veterinary Medical Association and browsing their resources.

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The Boston Terrier has been around since the mid-1800’s and has been recognized by the AKC for almost as long as the breed has been around. Today, the Boston Terrier is the 23rd most popular breed and for good reason! With wonderful personalities, low-maintenance fur, and a compact size, these little gentlemen make excellent companion pets. Read on for our six awesome facts about the Boston Terrier!
 

  1. They are Nicknamed the American Gentleman
    Boston Terriers are a distinctly American breed. These little dogs got their start as a cross between the English Bulldog and the English Terrier. The first known Boston Terrier was called “Judge.” William O’Brian of Boston sold the dog to Robert C. Hooper who was also from Boston, reports the AKC. This was the beginning of the Boston Terrier.

    They are called the American Gentleman not only because of their origins, but because of their gentle disposition. Their kind personalities make them fantastic house pets. Reputable breeders carefully select for these wonderful personality traits. It’s important to select a respected breeder if you are considering purchasing a Boston Terrier.

  2. They are a University Mascot
    Keeping their roots in the city of Boston, the Boston Terrier is the mascot for the well-known Boston University. As a large university with over 32,000 students, BU has a wide range of athletics that are all represented by their Boston Terrier mascot. Players and fans alike are simply called “Terriers.”

    The Mascot himself is named Rhett. This name is taken from the character from Gone With the Wind. The colors of BU are scarlet and white and as stated on the Terriers’ page, “no one loves Scarlet more than Rhett.”

  3. They are Extremely Playful
    Boston Terriers are well known for being playful and having plenty of energy. The type of exercise you give a Boston can vary widely, depending on where you live and what your housing arrangements are. Luckily, Boston Terriers aren’t too picky about their exercise, so long as they have a chance to put that energy somewhere.

    An ideal situation is to provide a fenced-in yard for a Boston Terrier, however due to their small size, the yard itself doesn’t have to be large. If there is enough room to throw a ball, that’s enough for a Boston! Because of their terrier ancestry and instincts, many Bostons will enjoy chasing balls, frisbees, and other dog toys.

    Access to a dog park can also be a great asset. Boston Terriers tend to be social creatures, and love to run and play off-leash with other dogs. It’s important to understand dog park etiquette before going to one. Try starting at the park when it’s quiet to see how your Boston Terrier does. Gradually increase visits and begin going at busier times. It’s important to remember that even though Boston Terriers are high energy and appear to have no fear, they are still quite small! Safety should always be an important concern.

    Due to their shortened muzzle, Boston Terriers are more likely to overheat quickly than some other dogs. Take precautions when playing outside in the summer months. Bring plenty of water to keep your Boston Terrier hydrated. Wherever you are, be sure to find a shady spot where your Boston can relax and cool down. If your Boston Terrier appears much overheated, it’s okay to cut play time short and find an air conditioned space. You can always make up for it later.

  4. They Excel at Agility
    Since they have a ton of energy, Boston Terriers make excellent agility competition dogs. The Boston Terrier is a smart breed, and will learn obedience and even agility courses quickly, with plenty of enthusiasm.

    Agility is especially fun for Bostons because of their love for running and playing. Courses that include jumping, climbing, and running through tunnels will be great for a Boston Terrier and a lot of fun for you to watch!

    If you are considering doing agility with your Boston Terrier, get ready for some exercise of your own! Despite their small stature and short legs, Boston Terriers are fast. Any owner planning to do agility with one will have their own fitness tested during the agility trials!

  5. Above All, They are People Pleasers
    A Boston’s playful spirit and excellence at obedience activities is all centered around one fact: they love people! No matter what activity a Boston Terrier is performing, they will do it to the best of their ability if they are with you. In fact, if no person is there, they may not do it at all!

    A Boston Terrier is certainly not an outside dog. They don’t possess the independent spirit of some breeds, and prefer to be with human companions as much as possible. Their social nature is what draws them to activities such as dog parks and dog day care. They love to interact with others!

    Because they are so people focused, Boston Terriers can make excellent therapy dogs. Their small size means they can visit with a human in need in almost any situation. They are often equally happy curling up in someone’s lap as they are playing with that person in the yard. Because they are so loving, they do well with almost anyone – from young children to seniors. They truly are a lovable dog!

  6. Despite Their Short Coat, They Do Shed
    Their short coat may seem appealing to a future dog owner with allergies, but the Boston Terrier does in fact shed. And they shed year round, so be ready to brush them about once a week. Choose a brush that is gentle on the skin, since the Boston Terrier has a short, single-layered coat. Weekly brushing and a basic vacuuming schedule can keep the hair under control.

    Boston Terriers are also prone to dander, which is the real culprit when it comes to allergies. If you have your heart set on a Boston though, diet can keep the dander under control. High quality, fish-based dog foods are rich in omega-3s and healthy oils that keep a dog’s skin in good condition. If switching food isn’t an option, fish oil food additives can also be purchased to keep your Boston’s coat glossy and their skin healthy.

Share photos of your Boston Terrier with us! We’d love to see what kinds of activities your Boston’s love to do with you.

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Pugs are actually one of the oldest breeds of dog. The AKC officially recognized the Pug in 1885 – only one year after the organization was founded! The popularity of the Pug comes and goes. Currently these little balls of energy are the 34th most popular breed in the United States. But how much do you know about the Pug? Check out our 6 incredible facts about this ancient breed!
 

  1. They Used to be Guarded by Soldiers
    They Pug has a long and noble history. The breed can be traced back to ancient China during the pre-Christian era, according to the Pug Dog Club of America. The AKC dates their origins as far back as 400 BC – though their true origins are a bit of a mystery, as they were likely thriving before even the earliest known records!

    Many Pugs were pets in the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. But many were also the prized possessions of Chinese emperors. These royal dogs lived a luxurious lifestyle. And because they were such prized animals, they were sometimes even guarded by soldiers!

    Pug dogs weren’t the only dogs prized by the Chinese emperors however. Both the Pekingese and the “Lion Dog” were popular among Chinese royalty. What we know as the Pug today, was actually called the Lo-sze or “Foo Dog.” Today, we can see physical similarities between the modern Pekingese and the modern Pug, due to their common ancestry.

  2. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Wife Used a Pug to Deliver Secret Messages

    Before she was even married to Napoleon, Josephine Bonaparte used her dog to send secret messages. During the French Revolution, Josephine was imprisoned in the Les Carmes – one of the most brutal and terrible prisons in France. In order to communicate with her loved ones, she needed to do so discreetly. So she used her pet Pug named Fortune.

    Fortune had been her beloved pet for quite some time, and he was the only one who was permitted to visit during her imprisonment. Conflicting reports state that Fortune delivered messages to Napoleon himself, though it wasn’t until after Josephine was released from prison that she married Napoleon. Regardless of who the Pug was delivering messages to, it is certain that this brave little dog was the one real link to the outside world for Josephine!

  3. Pugs are ‘Pigs’

    One of the pugs favorite activities? Eating! Perhaps it is due to their royal heritage that they enjoy indulging themselves in the finer things. But whatever the reason, there is no doubt that Pug dogs love their food.

    The PDCA cautions that Pug owners must be very careful to monitor their feeding as they grow older. Due to their small stature and voracious appetite, it can be easy to overfeed a Pug. Young Pugs can eat three meals a day, but after 6 months of age this can be decreased. Some owners only feed their Pug once a day when they reach adulthood, which is sufficient.

    It can be very tempting to feed your Pug treats and table scraps when they give their owner the wide-eyed look – but it’s important to resist! Again, it’s easy to overfeed a Pug, so treats should be limited and table scraps should never be given to them. A healthy portion of dry dog food is really all they need! Consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Pug’s weight or eating habits.

  4. They Only Come in Two Colors

    Unlike some breeds that come in a vibrant array of colors such as the Australian Shepherd, Pugs only come in two colors: black and fawn. And no matter the body color, the “mask” on their face should be black. This is all according to the AKC breed standard. Any other color used in a competition will result in a disqualification.

    Any color that is not within the breed standard is a sure sign of poor breeding practices. Any breeder who is reputable will only breed healthy Pugs who meet the AKC standards.

    White, blue, or brindle Pugs may seem “trendy” or “rare” to potential Pug owners, but in order to achieve these colorations unethical breeding practices are often used. Pugs with non-standard colorings or markings often have genetic defects that could prove harmful. Dogs with these colorations may also experience increased health problems because of the defect.

    The PDCA urges anyone who is interested in “unique” colorings on pugs to consider an alternative breed – such as the French Bulldog – where high variations in colors are natural and healthy.

  5. They are Perfect House Dogs

    Pugs may be the largest breed that is classified in the toy group, but their compact size still has many advantages. Their weight should fall between 14 and 18 pounds. And their small but sturdy stature makes them equally suited for apartment or country life.

    These little dogs also really appreciate the comforts of home. Pug’s have a difficult time tolerating extreme weather conditions. They thrive as indoor pets in moderate climates. But with proper attention to hydration in the summer and proper outerwear in the winter, a Pug can live almost anywhere.

    In fact, they can live with almost any person too! As the AKC puts it, “they live to love and to be loved in return.” With their excellent people skills and less-than-intimidating appearance, they make a wonderful pet for people of any age. The PDCA also calls them “clowns at heart” making them wonderfully entertaining and fun for both children and adults.

  6. Be Careful How Much You Exercise Them

    It’s easy to think that the more exercise a dog gets the better. For some breeds this may be true, but for the Pug it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    This is primarily due to the Pug’s brachycephaly. Brachycephaly simply refers to the shortened skull and flattened muzzle found not only in Pugs, but in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs as well. This physical trait is sometimes accompanied by changes to the upper respiratory tract, according to The Pug Dog Club of the United Kingdom. These changes are known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

    Symptoms of BOAS can include snoring, panting, and yes, even exercise intolerance. If you exercise your Pug to hard, it could lead to difficulty breathing. Always start small with a Pug’s exercise routine. Some Pugs will have a higher tolerance than others, so it’s important to go slow and watch for signs such as snorting or breathing difficulties. For some Pugs, short walks around the block is all they will need to stay healthy and happy.

We’d love to meet the Pug in your life! Share a photo, tell us a story, or leave a comment about these fun, and lively little dogs!

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With a large frame, thick fur, and striking colors, a Bernese Mountain Dog isn’t an easy dog to miss. But who would want to? This adorable breed has the look and temperament of a true gentle giant. Though they may be quite sweet, and are certainly beautiful to look at, the Bernese Mountain Dog doesn’t rank as high on the popularity list as other sweethearts like the Golden Retriever. Think you might like to know a thing or two about the Bernese Mountain Dog? Read on for our six fun facts about this noble breed.
 

  1. They are One of Four Types of Swiss Mountain Dog

    The Bernese Mountain dog may be the 30th most popular breed in the United States, but it has three other cousins who have deep roots in Switzerland. In fact, the first of these breeds were brought to Switzerland two thousand years ago when Roman soldiers invaded the area. Once they gained popularity in Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Appenzeller Sennenhund, the Entlebucher Sennenhund, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog were all bred as drovers, draft dogs, and watchdogs for Swiss farmers.

    In Switzerland, the Bernese Mountain Dog is known as the Berner Sennenhund, according to the AKC. All four of the Swiss Mountain Dogs have similar coloring, but the Bernese Mountain Dog is the only one of the four to have thick, long fur.

  2. Cold Weather is their Friend

    With all that thick, gorgeous fur it’s no wonder farmers in the Swiss Alps loved these dogs! Bernese Mountain Dogs thrive in cold climates. Their double coat keeps them warm in the frigid weather. But with so much fur, they have a tendency to shed a quite a bit. Fortunately for any future “Berner” owner, these dogs don’t require much grooming. The AKC recommends just a small amount of daily brushing to get rid of tangles. A daily brushing like this is generally enough to maintain their beautiful fur!

  3. They are Skilled Farm Dogs

    Originally, the Bernese Mountain Dog was bred to be an all-purpose farm dog. And to this day, they still shine in many areas of farm work. In fact, according to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, they are able and willing to do most any task that is sent their way.

    Traditionally, the Bernese Mountain Dog was best known for their drafting abilities – or more commonly called “carting.” The Bernese used to pull carts full of milk products from farms all the way to villages for selling. Today, Berners can still participate in drafting – either on a farm or in a competition! The BMDCA hosts a Draft Test Program for Bernese Mountain Dogs and their owners. These competitions offer up a chance to test out the traditional skills and abilities the Bernese are still so great at.

    Another traditional farming skill that Bernese Mountain Dogs continue to compete in is herding. Though they are not as strongly inclined towards herding as a Border Collie might be, Bernese Mountain Dogs still display strong herding instincts. Many of them were traditionally used to herd cattle, which was very suited to their calm and gentle personalities.

  4. But They Also Excel At Modern Activities

    Did we mention that Bernese Mountain Dogs can do almost any task? Well here is further proof! Not only to Bernese Mountain Dogs continue to perform traditional farming activities, but they compete in modern-day skill competitions as well.

    You may be surprised to learn that one area the Bernese Mountain Dog excels in is agility. Weighing upwards of 100 pounds, you may not expect a Berner to be particularly agile. But as we said, they love to work! The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America states that agility competitions can be exciting for dogs and their handlers who want the challenge of racing against the clock and navigating obstacle courses.

    But not everything a Bernese Mountain Dog participates in is athletic. Many Bernese are being trained as therapy dogs, and excel in this area. Berners are naturally affectionate towards humans, which makes them excellent candidates. The BMDCA encourages anyone who wants to train their Bernese Mountain Dog in therapy work to give their puppy early and frequent socialization. Some Bernese have a tendency towards shyness, and it’s important for a therapy dog to be social with people.

  5. They are Extremely Easy-Going

    With all this talk about how hard-working the Bernese Mountain Dog is, you may think it’s all work and no play for a Bernese owner. Think again! In addition to being strong, “calm” and “good-natured” are two of the chief personality traits the AKC looks for in a well-bred and healthy Bernese.

    Bernese Mountain Dogs love their families. For complete happiness, being near them is all they need. When they are in the home, they tend to be quiet, gentle, and eager to please. And they do well with children! Since they were traditionally bred as drovers, pulling children in carts or wagons is a common (and fun!) activity Berners can do with their family.

    The BMDCA notes that Bernese Mountain Dogs do not do well in isolation. They need to be with their families to remain calm and happy. Without proper training and socialization, a Berner can become stressed or even act out.

  6. Berners Don’t Bark Much

    You might think a loud booming bark might be a common thing to hear from such a large and strong breed. Not so! The Bernese Mountain Dog is actually a relatively quiet breed, and rarely barks or makes noise.

    The AKC notes that to prevent any sort of barking or stress, it’s important to properly exercise your Bernese Mountain Dog. As a working breed, this dog will have a lot of energy. And as a dog of a large size, it’s important to put that energy to good use! Fortunately, Bernese Mountain Dogs love to work and love to be outdoors. Hiking, cart pulling, running, or any other physical activity will suit them fine – so long as they are doing it with you!

    The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America also notes that a Bernese may become noisy or even destructive if left alone for long periods of time. They are very social and attached to their families. For a calm and happy dog, it’s important to spend quality time with them.

Do you know a Bernese Mountain Dog? Do they work? Do they play? Perhaps they do a bit of both! Let us know!

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Golden Retrievers are perhaps one of the most recognizable breeds of any dog. Their friendly personality and happy disposition are the standards by which many pets are judged. We see these dogs in movies, on television, working jobs, and of course, living comfortable lives with loving families. But how much do you really know about the Golden Retriever? Check out these 6 facts about one of America’s favorite breeds!
 

  1. The First Ever Golden Retriever was a Mistake (Sort Of)

    In the early 1800’s, Retrievers were a popular breed in Scotland and England. According to the AKC, this was due to the prevalence of game that could be hunted. Hunting was still a popular way to get meat and a popular sport as well.

    The first Golden Retriever was a small yellow puppy – the only yellow dog in a litter of black Wavy-Coated Retrievers. Though his yellow coloring was a bit unusual, the dog was still purchased in 1865 by a Scotsman named Dudley Marjoribanks, first Lord of Tweedmouth.

    It was Lord Tweedmouth who decided to breed this funny yellow puppy. The puppy, which he named “Nous” was to be bred with a female Tweed Water Spaniel named “Belle” – a breed that is now extinct. According to the Golden Retriever Club of America, Lord Tweedmouth was interested in developing a breed that was well-suited to the Scottish climate.

    Nous and Belle produced two litters and four yellow puppies, which became the foundation for the Golden Retriever as we know it today.

  2. They are Equal Parts Smart and Silly

    Golden Retrievers today are known to have one of the best temperaments of any dog breed. It’s no wonder they are ranked by the AKC as the 3rd most popular dog breed in the United States! The AKC lists friendly, reliable, and trustworthy as the chief traits of the breed. In fact, their personalities are so agreeable, that the official breed standard states that, “quarrelsomeness or hostility towards other dogs or people in normal situations, or an unwarranted show of timidity or nervousness, is not in keeping with Golden Retriever character.” In fact, if a Golden Retriever demonstrates these unwanted characteristics in a show ring, that could be grounds for deduction in points!

    Along with their agreeable personality, the Golden Retriever is known for being playful and silly and probably why the AKC refers to them as “the Peter Pan of dogs!” But they aren’t just golden goofballs. These retrievers are naturally very intelligent and eager to please.

  3. But They Still Need Training!

    Just because they have a wonderful personality by nature, doesn’t mean you can forget about training! The AKC cautions that they are an active breed, and need to be given proper exercise and attention. Golden Retrievers are also big people pleasers, and love to have a job to do! Train your Golden on basic commands, and practice them every day. They will love how happy it makes you to see them perform even the simplest of jobs. And it will definitely be a job well done.

    It’s also important to socialize your puppy from the start. Goldens are naturally very adaptable to many situations, but it’s essential to start this from a young age.

  4. They are Pretty Much Good at Almost Everything They Do

    When you think of any job a dog can have, you’ve probably seen a Golden Retriever doing it. Whether it’s search and rescue, hunting, being a therapy dog, or being the guiding eyes for a blind person, Golden Retrievers are excellent at any job they set their mind to. The AKC states that they are incredibly hard workers whose physical strength aids in their ability to perform their duties well.

    Though their capabilities certainly have a lot to do with intelligence, their excellent job performance can also be credited to their amazing adaptability. As the GRCA puts it, a Golden Retriever is “equally comfortable with a hike, swim, romp in the snow, snuggle on the sofa, or taking up most of your bed at night!” Any situation a Golden is presented with they will adapt to comfortably and eagerly – so long as a devoted human is by their side!

  5. Being a Guard Dog is the Exception

    Perhaps the only job a Golden Retriever might be bad at is being a guard dog. After all – they are super friendly! You may not want to trust your Golden Retriever to protect your home.

    Golden Retrievers are first and foremost devoted to their families. If an immediate threat was obvious, they may certainly step in. But when a stranger comes to the door, the typical reaction of a Golden is to bark until the new person comes to greet them. And before you know it, the new person has quickly become a new friend – no matter who they are!

    This is in part due to the fact that Golden Retrievers do not do well alone. It is recommended that Golden Retrievers never be left home alone for more than 7 hours at a time. In fact, for all the positive rankings Golden Retrievers receive on the AKC website, only 53% of owners agree that they do well left alone.

  6. They Have a Face for Fame

    With their wonderful personalities – and good looks too! – it’s no wonder we are constantly seeing Golden Retrievers on the big screen. Movies like Homeward Bound or Air Bud and television shows like Full House all feature lovable Golden Retrievers.

    In fact, one Golden Retriever in particular stole the hearts of America for a time. Buddy was perhaps the most famous Golden Retriever in the United States during the mid 1990’s. Buddy famously played Air Bud in the original “Air Bud” film and also played Comet the dog on the tv show “Full House.” Sadly, Buddy has since passed away. But his legacy lives on in these timeless stories.

Do you have a beloved Golden Retriever in your life? Share a photo or a story with us!

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Perhaps you’ve seen the famous “Doge Meme” and thought you might like a playful Shiba Inu of your own. With their fox-like appearance, compact size, and spirited personality, this Japanese breed can be hard to resist. But how much do you know about the Shiba Inu? And do you truly think they could be the right dog for you? Check out these six facts about the Shiba Inu that any potential owner or fan of the breed should know!
 

  1. Shiba Inus are the Number One Most Popular Dog in Japan
    As a distinctly Japanese breed, the Shiba Inu has been popular in Japan for thousands of years. Shibas are just 1 out of 9 “monument breeds” to Japan, and are in fact the oldest of the Japanese breeds. But today, even after increasing popularity in the United States, it remains the number one companion dog in Japan.

    This is partly because they make excellent watchdogs, according to the AKC. In fact, they are so important to the Japanese, that in 1936 the Shiba Inu was named a “precious natural product” through the Cultural Properties Act. This helped the Shiba Inu to gain official recognition throughout the world.

    The Shiba Inu’s name, though certainly Japanese in origin, is something of a mystery. There is no certain answer as to where the name came from exactly. Some believe it received its name because of its skills in navigating through the brushwood. Other stories suggest that the name is meant to suggest its size – since another meaning for the Japanese word “Shiba” is “small.” Regardless, no true evidence has been found as to why the Shiba Inu carries its name to this day.

  2. They Nearly Went Extinct
    Though their popularity spans across centuries in Japan, the Shiba Inu nearly went extinct during World War II. Many dogs perished during bombing raids in that period. Those that did not die during the raids often took sick and died from distemper after the war was over. The National Shiba Club of America states that it was nearly a disaster for the breed. Had it not been for a few devoted breeders, we may never have known the modern day Shiba Inu.

    After the war, breeding programs were established to boost the Shiba Inu population. Shibas from remote areas in Japan were brought to these programs to begin the breeding process. Three distinct bloodlines remained that were being used to re-establish the breed. These were the San In Shiba, the Mino Shiba, and the Shin Shu Shiba. The AKC says that it is from these three distinct bloodlines that we get the Shiba Inu of today.

  3. They are Not Good at Sharing
    Shiba Inu owners will warn you that this dog breed is not for everyone, and their inability to share is one of the reasons why. In fact, the National Shiba Club of America says that “if a Shiba could only utter one word, it would probably be ‘mine.’” The food nearest to a Shiba Inu? It all belongs to them. The dog toys you brought with you to the park? Sharing with other dogs will not be tolerated. And a Shiba Inu’s owner? Well, the dog will often get possessive of their owner as well.

    Sometimes a Shiba Inu can become aggressive if the behavior is left unchecked. It is important for the Shiba Inu to have a well-established training and socialization foundation so these behaviors can be minimized and controlled. When in the presence of other dogs, it’s wise to remove the Shiba’s favorite toys. Shiba Inus might exhibit resource guarding behavior which can lead to aggressive interactions.

    And this “mine” attitude applies to everything in a Shiba Inu owner’s house as well! The bed, the couch, the shoes, the food, and anything the Shiba Inu get it’s mouth on could be in danger. Crate training is strongly encouraged.

  4. Though They are Small, They are Feisty
    The Shiba Inu should remain relatively small throughout its life. The average male Shiba should weigh 23 pounds, and the average female should weigh 17 pounds. Though many small breeds of dog don’t need extensive exercise, the Shiba Inu is not one of them. Size does not stop the fire in this active dog’s spirit.

    The National Shiba Club of America suggests that any traditional walking routine is best for the Shiba Inu. Shiba’s were traditionally bred to be hunting dogs, and will love exploring any neighborhood, big or small, with their owner. For this same reason, a Shiba should never be off leash unless they are in a fenced in area. If a future Shiba owner wishes to let their new dog run free in the yard, fencing is a must.

    The Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue also warns that Shibas will go wherever their nose leads them, sometimes regardless of training. Though a solid training foundation is important for a Shiba, they still may not always listen. This feisty behavior can be quite frustrating, but the true Shiba Inu fan finds it charming and embraces the quirks as part of a lifestyle.

  5. They are “Cat-Like”
    One reason many future dog owners become interested in the Shiba Inu is their cat-like nature. The Shiba is a very clean breed and they can often be found cleaning themselves and each other, similar to a cat. Their cleanliness even extends to their bathroom habits. Shiba Inus tend to be very easy to house train, often becoming house broken in as little as a few days. They even have very little doggie odor, which could be appealing for those who like to keep a fresh and clean household.

    Shibas are also very agile, similar to a feline. While most dogs seem to find themselves in all kinds of silly mishaps, the Shiba is more coordinated giving it a natural resistance to injury. Shibas also have a tendency to perch, similar to the way a cat might. Due to their hunting instinct, it is not uncommon to find a Shiba sitting atop the back of a couch or perched on top of a table, scouting for prey.

  6. The Famous “Menswear Dog” is a Shiba Inu
    “Menswear Dog” is a famous canine that models menswear clothing – human clothing that is! And the breed of Menswear Dog is none other than the Shiba Inu.

    Bodhi is a five-year-old Shiba Inu earning a living as a menswear model. And a hefty living it is! According to Fast Company, Bodhi earns $15,000 a month through various modeling jobs. Those jobs include photo shoots for Coach, Victorinox Swiss Army, Ted Baker, American Apparel, Brooks Brothers, Salvatore Ferragamo, ASOS, Hudson Shoes, Revlon, Todd Snyder, The Tie Bar, Polyvore, and Purina to name a few!

    It’s clear that Bodhi has a natural talent for the modeling industry. In addition to having an adorable face, he is wonderfully capable of sitting still – even with many layers of clothes on. Such talent!

  7. Are there any Shiba Inus in your life? Have any fun stories about their fun and willful personality? Let us know!

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Anyone familiar with Pomeranians knows what a joyful bundle of energy they can be. And cute on top of that! These little fluffs have been charming dog owners since 1888 when they were first recognized by the AKC. Today they are the 22nd most popular dog breed in the United States. Not bad for such a little thing! Think you know everything about Pomeranians? Check out these 6 facts about the sweetest puff-balls on all fours!
 

  1. They are Related to Huskies
    While all dogs are related to some extent, the Pomeranian is a member of a specific group of dogs known as the Spitz family. These dogs are characterized by their thick fur, pointed ears, and pointed snouts. Dogs in the Spitz family include Samoyeds, Keeshonds, the Chow Chow, and yes, even the Siberian Husky.

    Pomeranians and Huskies share similar origins and features, and the Pomeranian is descended from sled dogs in Iceland and Lapland, according to the AKC. Their name comes from the region of Pomerania however, where they were bred to a smaller size than their ancestors. However, Pomeranians did retain that thick, warm fur that is a feature of any dog in the Spitz family.

  2. They Require Minimal Exercise
    Because of their small size, Pomeranians don’t need the same amount of exercise a larger dog might need. A quick walk around the block or run around the house typically does the trick. The AKC recommends a fenced-in area for these little dogs if you plan to bring your Pomeranian outside to run laps in the yard.

    More than exercise, these dogs need attention. They are extremely affectionate, all-around people pleasers and will want to be with their family as often as possible. They are typically at their most energetic when they are around people due to their love of family.

    Since the Pomeranian is so outgoing, they can make excellent family pets when trained correctly. With consistency and positive reinforcement, teaching a Pomeranian basic manners will usually suffice. And with minimal exercise requirements, and such a small stature, Pomeranians can be an excellent choice for families living in the city.

  3. They are Fearless
    Above all, Pomeranians are extroverts. The American Pomeranian Club states that they demonstrate “great intelligence and a vivacious spirit” making them excellent companions. But it also makes them completely fearless. Pomeranians seems to be born with the idea that the world is their oyster, and they will not hesitate to explore it. Just like the AKC, the American Pomeranian Club recommends never allowing your Pomeranian to run loose. They could easily get themselves into trouble.

    A Pomeranian is shockingly fast for it’s size. If it does get loose, it’s very possible it will run straight towards a car or larger animal without hesitation. A Pomeranian is totally fearless and has no concept of the danger either of these things might present. Thankfully however, this breed is extremely devoted to their family and far less likely to run away from home.

  4. There is No Such Thing as a Teacup Pomeranian
    Pomeranians are already considered a toy breed, and should weigh no more than 7 pounds and no less than 3, according to the AKC breed standard. In fact, the American Pomeranian Club states that a tell-tale sign of a poorly bred Pomeranian is one that weighs in the 10 to 15 pounds range.

    The Pomeranian Club UK cautions that any breed described as “teacup” is likely bred irresponsibly. In order to breed a dog so small, it often means depriving a dog of essential nutrients, taking the dog from it’s mother before 8 weeks of age, or breeding the mother at the beginning or end of her cycle to increase the chances of the babies being born prematurely. Occasionally, a breeder might be breeding healthy Pomeranians, but is marketing them as “teacup” to attract buyers who like the idea of very small dogs. Anyone who is considering buying a teacup dog should be extremely cautious and consider buying a healthy toy dog from a reputable breeder.

  5. Their Fur is Not Supposed to Be Soft
    You might think all that beautiful fur on your Pomeranian should feel like a gentle cloud. Not according to the AKC breed standard! It’s true, the Pomeranian is supposed to have a thick, double coat with a short undercoat and long outer coat. The longer fur is actually meant to be “harsh-textured guard hair” that stands up from the body. And if you are competing with your Pomeranian in a dog show, a soft coat is considered a “major fault.”

    This does not mean a Pomeranian owner should forgo caring for their dog’s coat entirely. It’s important to maintain a healthy coat and skin no matter what. Because Pomeranians have a thick double coat, regular brushing is important to keep tangles away. The AKC recommends brushing their coat weekly. It’s also important to give your Pomeranian the occasional bath to keep it clean and healthy.

  6. The “World’s Cutest Dog” is a Pomeranian Named Boo
    Perhaps you’ve seen this face before. If not, that’s the face of Boo the Pomeranian – the World’s Cutest Dog.

    Boo’s rise to stardom began with a Facebook fan page started by his owner – a page that now has over 17 million likes. With an adorable haircut and personality to match, it’s no wonder this little Pom became such a star! Now in addition to Facebook, fans can keep track of Boo’s adventures via both Instagram and Twitter. Boo even has a website made by a fan! You can also follow Boo’s two best friends – a Pomeranian named Buddy and a Golden Retriever named Blue.

    And if you’re a mega-fan? Boo even secured his own book deal! Read all about him in Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog. Jealous that you can’t have a Boo of your own? Well actually you can! Boo plush toys are available for those fans who want the World’s Cutest Dog for themselves. In classic Pomeranian fashion, Boo has managed to charm the hearts of millions of humans across the world.

Do you have a Pomeranian of your own? Know a sweet, little Pom that has won your heart? Share it with us!

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A Great Dane. Everyone knows one when they see one. They are the biggest, most impressive dogs on the block. Though many people can recognize them, how much do you really know about them? Check out these 6 facts about the Great Dane.
 

  1. They Aren’t Danish At All
    Great Danes aren’t “Danes” at all – they are German! In fact the AKC states that there is “no known reason” for calling these large, German, working dogs Danes.

    The breed itself is very old, and has a long history as a boarhound in Germany. The Great Dane’s large head and stature is particularly well suited to fighting and hunting. As a breed, they have actually gone through many different titles before being called “Danes.” Dogue Allemand, Mastiff, Dogo, and Dogge are just a few of the names Great Danes have been called in a variety of languages. But as the Great Dane Club of America states, it was in Germany where the Great Dane truly rooted itself.

    Workers in the meat industry in Germany used to have to sell one day’s worth of meat per day. This was before the days of electric refrigeration, and it had to be done to prevent meat from spoiling. Butchers had to travel to a central meat storage facility in their city, and travel back to their shop with a day’s worth of meat loaded onto a cart in the summer – or a sled in the winter. But who was pulling these carts?

    Butchers found that the Great Danes were perfectly suited to the daily labor of carting meat. It was because of this that workers in the meat industry began breeding the dogs for work, and setting standards for the breed to yield the best possible working dog. Thus the modern Great Dane was born!

  2. Great Danes Used to be Circus Dogs
    Yes they used to work for the Circus, but maybe not in the way you think. Great Danes didn’t perform tricks the way lions did or carry humans the way horses did. In fact, they were used for protection.

    As you can imagine, training lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) is a dangerous business. Circus ringmasters were putting themselves in harm’s way every day attempting to tame these beasts. So what would happen if the training took a turn for the worst? Enter the Great Dane.
    Many circus trainers had a Great Dane by their side at all times while training lions and tigers. If the big cat decided to lash out, the Great Dane would react immediately, attacking the cat in defense of it’s master. This gave the lion tamer a few moments to run to safety – even if it meant harm for the dog.

    It takes a certain type of dog to attack a lion or tiger on behalf of their master. The Great Dane Club of America notes that Great Danes have always been bred for three major traits: loyalty, spirit, and courage. These qualities make Great Danes fierce protectors of those they love – in the circus and in daily life.

  3. Call Them the “Gentle Giants”
    There’s no doubt about it: Great Danes are huge. The AKC puts their maximum height at 32 inches at the shoulder. And when a Great Dane stands on it’s hind legs, it will be taller than most humans!

    “A Great Dane must be spirited, courageous, never timid; always friendly and dependable,” is a quote from the AKC breed standard. A Great Dane is bred to be loyal and trustworthy with their human companions. In fact, they are known for being excellent with children of all ages.

    Though they are prone to gentleness, that doesn’t mean a Great Dane owner should forgo proper training. A poorly trained Dane could result in some serious mishaps due to their size. Supervision around children is also essential. Due to their sweet nature, positive reinforcement training should always be used. And be sure to start training early while your Great Dane is still small enough to be easily controlled!

  4. They Make Excellent Therapy Dogs
    It’s no surprise that with such a great disposition, these sweethearts make fantastic therapy dogs. To be a successful therapy dog, the canine in question must first be disposed to such traits as patience, sweetness, and friendliness – all of which the Great Dane possesses.

    Many therapy dogs work on a volunteer basis, traveling to different locations with their owner. These dogs all must be certified to work closely with people of all types, and in all situations. Therapy dogs must be comfortable around children, the elderly, and also around certain medical equipment. An owner and dog team can volunteer through a variety of organizations such as Therapy Dogs International or Pet Partners.

    The GDCA has a collection of photos of Great Danes doing therapy work in many different capacities. Too cute!

  5. Great Danes Also Make Excellent Cartoons
    Some of the most beloved Great Danes the world has ever seen aren’t even real – they are cartoons!
    I. Marmaduke – In 1954, Brad Anderson published the newspaper comic strip “Marmaduke.” The comic followed a Great Dane named Marmaduke and all the trouble he would get himself into. The charm of Marmaduke came from the fact that he was a dog behaving like a dog, not a person. The inspiration was drawn from Anderson’s own pet Great Dane. In 2010, a live action film version of the comic strip was released. Though it was not well received, the Great Dane who plays Marmaduke is certainly adorable!

    II. Astro – In 1962 the world was introduced to the Jetson family and their dog Astro. The Jetsons was a hit, and after success in the 60’s made a comeback in the 1980’s. Astro was a Great Dane who could talk to his family – though he replaced many of his consonants with the letter “R” (ruh-roh, Reorge!).

    III. Scooby Doo – Probably the first famous Great Dane people think of, Scooby Doo has become an icon. It all began with the hit TV series in 1969, and has since inspired spin-off shows, cartoon movies, live action movies, and even video games! Scooby Doo and his best friend Shaggy are a dynamic duo. Scooby talks similarly to Astro, saying “ruh-roh, Raggy!” any time they find a ghost!

  6. The Only Dog Ever Enlisted in the Royal Navy was a Great Dane
    The Great Dane Just Nuisance was born in April of 1937 near Cape Town, South Africa. When he was just a puppy, he was purchased by a man named Benjamin Chaney. Chaney soon moved to Simon’s Town where he was to run the United Services Institute. In those days, the USI was full of Royal Navy Sailors at the Simon’s Town Naval base. Just Nuisance’s destiny was set in motion.

    The Navy Sailors adored him. They loved to spoil the Great Dane with pies, treats, and even beer! He in turn adored all the sailors and took to following them around. Often the dog could be found laying on the deck of a ship, completely in the way. Sailors would tell him he was “just a nuisance” and thus his name was created.

    Just Nuisance also liked to follow the sailors when they traveled via train. The sailors loved it and attempted to hide him on the trains, smuggling him onboard without a ticket. Of course since he was a Great Dane, this didn’t work so well. When a conductor would come by to protest the dog’s presence, Just Nuisance would jump to his hind legs, put his front paws on the conductor’s shoulders, and growl in his face.

    This wasn’t going to work for long, so the Commander in Chief came up with a solution. Enlist the dog into the Navy! His enlistment as a volunteer would allow him to ride the trains for free. Just Nuisance went through a medical examination just like a Navy Sailor and even signed the proper forms with his paw print.

    Though he never went to sea, Just Nuisance was always there to boost morale for the sailors. They even held a wedding for him to a Great Dane named Adinda. The marriage resulted in five puppies.

    Just Nuisance was put down at the age of 7, after surviving a car accident that was slowly paralyzing him. His legacy lives on in the form of a statue that stands in Simon’s Town today.

Is there a Great Dane in your life that you love? Let us know!

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The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed hailing from the Himalayan Mountains. Its origins are surrounded in mystery and its breed lineage is quite primitive. Though the breed has been around for thousands of years, it is only recently gaining recognition in the United States. Here are six things to know about the majestic Tibetan Mastiff. Maybe it’s the right dog for you!
 

  1. Originally Bred as Guard Dogs
    Though the Tibetan Mastiff has only been recognized by the AKC since 2007, the breed has a rich history intertwined in the Himalayan Mountains and the plains of Central Asia. In Tibet, Tibetan Mastiffs have always been highly prized for their strong guarding abilities.

    According to the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, most large working dog breeds can trace their ancestry back to the Tibetan Mastiff. But the TM is quite a mysterious breed, having no formal recordings of its existence before the 1800’s. This is partly due to the fact that few Westerners were even allowed into Tibet up until that time period. The Tibetan Mastiff remained a breed isolated to that region.

    Today they are still highly sought after in Tibet as guard dogs, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a purebred. Tibetan Mastiffs in Tibet are typically tied to gates during the day and let loose at night to guard the homestead. Others work with shepherds, guarding against predators that could threaten the livestock or their master. But they are best suited to guarding homes, since they are loyal and territorial by nature.

  2. They Don’t Shed
    This may seem crazy, but it’s true. They don’t shed! But that doesn’t mean they don’t lose all that fur. Once a year the Tibetan Mastiff “blows its coat.” This means that for a brief period of time during the warmer months, the TM will be shedding like crazy. But for the rest of the year? No shedding at all!

    The AKC still recommends plenty of brushing. The Tibetan Mastiff has a long, double-layered coat that can get matted and messy. Brushing their fur is important whether it’s shedding season or not! But during the time when the TM does blow its coat, brushing is extremely important. In fact, it should be a daily activity to ensure all the dead hairs don’t get tangled in the healthy ones.

  3. They Can Be Destructive
    Tibetan Mastiffs are bred to have strong jaws and teeth, ideal for a guard dog to properly perform its duties. On top of that, the TM is a very intelligent and independent dog. Without the proper training, a strong mouth and a bored mind can lead to some serious destruction in your home. This is especially true during the puppy years.

    The American Tibetan Mastiff Association repeatedly states that the key to combating unwanted behavior is lots of socialization. Keep things interesting by taking a TM on a variety of different walks. Bring your Tibetan Mastiff to the playground, to sports games, and other activities while they are still young and easily trainable. Exposing a Tibetan Mastiff to lots of new and different situations will keep their brain engaged and combat their tendency to be overprotective and find ways to entertain themselves.

    For those interested in a Tibetan Mastiff, rescue organizations such as Tibetan Mastiff Rescue work to adopt well-trained, adult Tibetan Mastiffs to new families. This can be a wonderful alternative for a family that doesn’t have the time to housebreak a puppy, and cannot afford risking all their things getting destroyed by a young TM puppy.

  4. They Don’t Like Competition
    Tibetan Mastiffs combine a fierce independence with a sensitive sweetness that doesn’t lend itself well to competition that other breeds might excel in. Though they can compete for the title of “Best in Show” in dog shows across the United States, Tibetan Mastiffs typically don’t do well.

    ATMA states that this is due to their stubbornness when it comes to basic obedience. Though they tend to be fast learners, it is not uncommon for a Tibetan Mastiff to challenge their owner when being given instructions. This is not because they don’t care for their owner. Tibetan Mastiffs are extremely devoted and sensitive to their families. However, they have a tendency to think they know best – and will avoid listening to their master to prove it.

    This is not to say it’s completely impossible! Many Tibetan Mastiffs have successfully learned and retained basic obedience and gone on to compete in obedience competitions.

  5. Tibetan Mastiffs Bark at Night
    As a guard dog, the Tibetan Mastiff’s instinct is to bark. Though this impulse is more subdued when the TM is indoors, the dogs especially take to barking in the evening.

    It is recommended that a Tibetan Mastiff owner bring their dog indoors for the night. When the TM is left alone outside, this is when their guarding instincts will take over. The slightest sound could be seen as a threat, and with no owner there to tell them otherwise, the Tibetan Mastiff will set their own rules.

    This night barking can be troublesome for neighbors, especially in close communities. But most Tibetan Mastiffs will be much more relaxed by their family’s side – during the daytime and the nighttime.

  6. They love children!
    Though many may find their guarding instincts troubling and their size intimidating, Tibetan Mastiffs are actually famously wonderful with children. Proper socialization is key to bringing out a TM‘s nurturing side. With plenty of exposure to children from puppyhood, the Tibetan Mastiff does very well.

    The guarding instincts drive them to keep children safe, and their sensitivity to humans ensures that they will always be gentle with those who they sense are vulnerable. Besides children, Tibetan Mastiffs are wonderful with their families. These dogs are extremely devoted to the family that cares for them – even if these dogs can be a bit stubborn! They always have their master’s best interest at heart.

Do you have a Tibetan Mastiff? Are you interested in owning one? Tell us about it!

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