Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dog Food Dos and Don'ts

There are so many different dog food options available for all different kinds of dogs that choosing the right food can be an intimidating task. How do you even begin?

What you see on that label is the key to knowing whether a food is appropriate for your dog. Before you choose a new food, become educated about some common ingredients so you can know what is preferable and what is not.

One quick note: the higher up on a list an ingredient is, the more it makes up that food. Most of your dog's food will be composed of the first few ingredients on the list. This is important to keep in mind if you see any of the below undesirable ingredients.


The number one ingredient to avoid is something labeled “by-products” or “by-product meals.” These are ingredients created from waste parts in the butchering process. These parts contain no muscle tissue, and are classified as unfit for human consumption. Meat by-products are things like lungs, spleen, liver, stomach, and even bone. If a dog food lists any kind of by-product as one of the first ingredients, avoid it. Instead, look for dog food that lists actual meat as an ingredient. And do not confuse an ingredient like plain “chicken meal” for the yucky stuff described above; it is not the same thing as chicken by-product meal.

Anything artificial is best to avoid as well. Many dog foods use artificial colors and flavors. These synthetic additives are unnecessary, since color has little importance for your dog and there are many natural ways to improve flavor. Some artificial dyes, such as FD&C Red #40, can even impact you; they can be so strong that if vomited, they can stain carpets and fabrics.

Dog foods also often contain fillers; that is, parts with little to no nutritional value that are added to food to increase volume or weight. Almost all dog food is sold by weight, so bulking up food with inexpensive ingredients can save companies a lot of money. The issue is that your dog gets absolutely nothing from these ingredients, and in most cases their body cannot even break them down. (It even makes more work for you, since what comes in must go out, if you know what I mean). Common fillers include soybean meal and flour, as well as wheat middlings, wheat gluten, and corn meal gluten.

Try to get a dog food that little to no sweeteners or sugar as well. Excess sugar in your dog's diet can lead to health problems like obesity and diabetes. The sugar on the ingredients list can appear in a number of different ways including cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

On the other hand there are some ingredients that it is good to have in your dog's food. Look for dog foods that name natural ingredients and boast no preservatives or by-products.


Now that you are aware of ingredients to avoid and if you are considering switching foods, many pet owners are choosing natural foods. There are many healthy options for our pets. The benefits of natural are due to the use of only natural ingredients that can have a positive impact on many areas of your Dog's health.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Toy Selection

How do you choose the right toy for your dog?

Toys are not a luxury when it comes to your dog. They are an absolute necessity. They not only prevent boredom (and the negative behaviors that can arise when dogs are bored), they also stimulate their brains and trigger dogs' natural “play drive.”

Ebony likes soft, squeaky toys she can chew and toss in the air. What does your dog like?

When choosing safe and fun toys, you should consider the size of your dog, his or her activity level, breed, tendencies, and preferences.

In addition to being the right type of toy to suit your pet, your new toy needs to be safe as well as being durable and fun. Please keep in mind that no toy is truly indestructible but some are more durable and sturdier than others.

The best toys are often interactive. These types of toys allow both you AND your dog to play with the same toy together. Toys that present an element of surprise or give your dog's brain a workout are especially beneficial.

It is recommended that you should supervise your dog at play with any toys.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Most Popular

The Labrador retriever has been ranked the top breed for many years, according to the American Kennel Club.

Friendly, loving and very playful, the Labrador retriever has become one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Historically, this large "sporting" breed has been used to hunt and retrieve birds and only recently has the dog become known as a companion dog. The retriever is highly regarded for its good nature, easy trainability and intelligence.

History and Origin

The Labrador retriever hails from Newfoundland and not Labrador, as the name suggests, though both areas are located in eastern Canada. It is possible that geographic confusion led to the name. Exactly how the breed came to inhabit Newfoundland is not known. The first written report of the breed, a letter written by a traveler to this area, dates to 1822. Fishermen brought the breed to Britain in the early 19th century. Originally, the dogs ranged from a heavy-coated variety known as the Large Newfoundland to a smaller rough-coated variety called the Lesser Newfoundland or St. John's Dogs. The modern-day Labrador retriever probably descends from this St. John's Dog and the currently known Newfoundland breed from the Large Newfoundland.

The breed was not originally used as a companion dog. Instead, retrievers were bred exclusively as hunters, a job for which they possessed superior talents. The Labrador retriever was officially accepted into the English Kennel Club in 1903 and the American Kennel Club in 1917. Over the years, Labrador retrievers have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. They are trained as therapy dogs to comfort residents in nursing homes and emotionally disturbed children. The military and police force employ the breed for scent-discrimination to track criminals, drugs, weapons, bombs, and to find people buried in debris of earthquakes or other disasters.

Is this a dog for you?

The Labrador retriever is good-natured and gentle enough to live with children, though some breed lines have been found to be somewhat hyperactive. The breed will share the home with another dog if introduced and socialized at an early age but has a tendency toward jealousy. They are not the best watchdogs as they are not overly suspicious and might be won over by a friendly gesture of a stranger.