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Diet and Nutrition

When humans first domesticated dogs, we fed them scraps from our meals. Those early dogs did just fine on that diet. As our affection for dogs has grown over the centuries, so has our understanding of what our canine companions need to eat to live long, healthy lives. Research conducted by veterinarians and pet food manufacturers over the last decade have revealed more specific details about what a dog’s diet should contain.

Your dog’s food must be appropriate for her size, age, state of health and activity level. As you stroll the isles of pet supply stores or grocery stores, you’ll find a variety of food brands in a wide range of prices. A good basic rule of thumb is to buy the highest quality food you can afford. If you buy the cheapest food because you have a big dog that eats a lot, you must understand that what you save in food will affect your pet’s health.

It is important that your dog always eats some dry food. The crunchy pieces help keep her teeth clean and her gums healthy, and provide necessary fiber. If you choose to give your dog moist food in addition to dry, use it sparingly; a small spoonful mixed with warm water makes a good gravy over dry kibble. Some devoted dog lovers feed their pets home-cooked food. Dog-specific recipes can be found on the Internet and in books, but understand that this is not just giving your dog leftovers from your own meals. Homemade dog food is designed to meet the nutritional and digestive needs of dogs. Spices, fats, and fillers in human food often makes dogs ill.

Adult dogs should be fed two meals each day. Puppies need to eat more often. They should be fed three to four meals daily until they are 12 weeks old, then three meals daily until they are six months old. Many dog trainers advise against leaving food available all day, to prevent dogs developing picky eating habits. They suggest you allow 20 minutes for each meal. After this time, whatever has not been eaten should be picked up. Dry food can be held until the next meal, but moist food should be thrown away. It is very important to make sure your dog has plenty of clean water available at a all times.

The amount you feed your dog depends on her age, weight and activity level. Check the back of food or with your veterinarian to get an idea of how much your dog should be eating. Monitor your dog’s weight by running your hands along the sides of her body. If she is at the right weight, you will be able to feel her ribs without pressing. If you can’t feel her ribs, she is gaining weight and you should either slightly decrease the amount of food or increase the amount of exercise she gets. If you can easily see your dog’s ribs, she is underweight (except in certain breeds.)

Stool Eating

Coprophagia – Dog Eating Feces

Does your dog eat his or another dog’s feces or stool? This behavior, although quite unacceptable and embarrassing to humans, is quite natural and acceptable to dogs. In nature, nursing mother dogs eat the feces of their puppies in order to keep the den clean. Also, eating feces utilizes undigested material and can be viewed as a food source to most canines.

Research has pointed to several reasons for this behavior including nutritional deficiencies, boredom and habit. No conclusive reason has ever been found and it is believed that this may just be a normal behavior found distasteful by a dog’s human companions.

Feces should be picked up immediately from the yard to remove the opportunity to consume it. Bored dogs who are inactive or alone for long periods can become coprophagic. Exercise and stimulation are called for in these cases. Some veterinarians have suggested that the behavior may be cause by a deficiency of B vitamins and vitamin K which can be found in feces. Meaty diets often times result in aromatic stools so dry kibble is recommended. All such dogs should be fed a consistent, balanced diet in two or three short meals a day.

Several remedies have been tried to help treat coprophagia and different methods work on different dogs. One easy remedy is to add plain yogurt to your pet’s food. Yogurt contains live cultures of acidophilus , a beneficial bacteria, for a healthy digestive system. Acidophilus may also help with gas, bloating, diarrhea, dry skin, dull coat and bad breath.

There is a real danger of your dog picking up disease and parasites from eating feces of other dogs and animals such as rabbits. Simple aversion therapy can be done by letting the dog approach the stool on a long lead. If he starts sniffing it, give a strong leash check. If he passes by, praise him.

Chocolate – A Tasty Alternative


Carob Cornered Crunchies
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 beef bouillon — or chicken
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup carob bar

Mix all ingredients together until well blended, except carob bar. Knead dough two minutes on a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/4″ thickness. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 30 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Cool.

Melt carob chips in microwave or saucepan. Dip cool biscuits in carob or lay on a flat surface and brush carob over the biscuits with a pastry brush. Let cool.

Chocolate Poisoning

Chocolate is dangerous to dogs and fatal to cats. While most healthy people can eat large amounts of chocolate with only dental decay and obesity to worry about, a dog eating chocolate can develop a toxic poisoning leading to cardiac arrest. To a dog chocolate is poison.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a caffeine-like alkaloid that dogs cannot metabolize quickly, allowing it to reach a toxic level in pet’s blood. Dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate, and white chocolate has none because it is made from cocoa butter, not cocoa beans. The danger to your pet will vary, depending upon the size and weight of the dog and the amount and type of chocolate consumed. Pet-proof your home and keep anything dangerous out of his reach. You might also consider crate training for the times you cannot supervise.

Dog Ate chocolate! What do I do?

If you know your dog ate chocolate, take him to a vet immediately. The signs of chocolate toxicity include: rapid breathing and/or heart rate

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • excessive urination
  • muscle spasms
  • possible seizures.

Car Sickness

Does your dog get sick every time he rides in the car? Does he jump all over you in a frenzy making driving difficult and dangerous?

Traveling with your pet can be fun and exciting, or it can be disastrous. Dog car sickness is the number one reason people do not travel with their dogs. Training, conditioning and planning ahead is the key to a successful trip and these guidelines can help.

If the only riding experience your pet has is to the veterinarian or groomer, he will be very nervous. Take him for short enjoyable rides that involve walks in the park or a treat stop. Once your pet can handle short rides around town, plan a “Practice Trip”, an afternoon ride with activities.

“Buckling Up” is not only for people Dog Car Sickness dog travel crate dog seat belt Buckling Up but for pets, too. Unrestrained pets can cause an accident by distracting the driver, and in an accident, will become a projectile. Pets also can bolt from a car and get lost in an unfamiliar area or run out into traffic. Purchase a dog travel crate or dog seat belt for your pet and include their use in your practice runs.

Including fun walks on your short trips can make riding more pleasurable and helps reduce dog car sickness. Consider applying a flea, tick preventative and repellent to protect your pet from diseases such as heartworm, West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease

Make sure your dog’s ID Tags or other identification is on his collar. Consider adding temporary tags with your cell phone number. Should your dog become lost or missing while away from home, you can still be reached immediately if you have your cell phone with you.

We often read headlines like “Dog Dies in Car.” The heat in your car can become unbearable within minutes, even on cloudy days. If you must leave your pet in the car for short periods, windows must be more than cracked. Window guards will allow air flow without letting without compromising security. Allow your pet free access to water and CHECK ON YOUR DOG FREQUENTLY.

The time you spend training and traveling with your dog is valuable time that you will both enjoy. It will increase the bond between you and help with socialization. If introduced successfully, car rides can open up a whole new experience of traveling and vacationing with your pet.

Spaying and Neutering – Myths and Facts

Pet overpopulation is a problem worldwide. There are more dogs than homes available, and the number of canines increases daily. Homeless dogs suffer from starvation and disease. Yet, there is a simple solution to this serious problem. Spaying and neutering pet dogs would drastically affect overpopulation. To “spay” a female animal is to remove her ovaries. When a male dog is neutered, his testicles are removed. Unfortunately, this solution only works if people use it-and too many people have the wrong idea about spaying and neutering pets. Their understanding of spaying/neutering is based on myths. Here are the facts:

Myth: Spaying/neutering makes pets lazy so they get fat.

Truth: Removing her reproductive organs doesn’t affect your pet’s metabolism. If you feed her too much and/or don’t give her enough exercise, she will get fat. Whether your dog is spayed/neutered or not, you need to monitor her weight and control her food and exercise to keep her in top health.

Myth: Female dogs should have one litter before they are spayed.

Fact: Veterinary studies show that female dogs are actually healthier if they are spayed before they ever go into heat. If a female has even one litter, it increases her chances of developing cancer later in life.

Myth: It is cruel to put a dog through the pain and discomfort.

Fact: Dogs that are spayed and neutered have a much lower risk of painful, fatal cancers of the reproductive organs. Veterinarians have found that dogs spayed/neutered as puppies-as young as 8 weeks old-recover much more quickly and need less pain medication than older dogs.

Myth: Dogs become less protective of territory if spayed or neutered.

Fact: the biggest effect spaying/neutering has on a dog’s personality is that it becomes more predictable. The lack of hormones means your dog won’t tend to roam in search of a mate, and won’t go into erratic, aggressive fits. She will, however, still have a strong sense of territory and the desire to defend it from strangers.

Myth: Watching a female dog give birth is educational for children.

Fact: The chances of children actually witnessing the birth are very small since females seek privacy when they go into labor. Observing puppies develop is fascinating, but children experience great trauma and sadness when they have to give up the friends they’ve grown attached to over eight weeks.

Myth: Having a dog spayed/neutered is expensive.

Fact: the cost of the procedure depends on the size of your dog, since the amount of anesthesia needed is based on weight. If having a private practice veterinarian perform the operation is too expensive, check with local humane societies and other animal welfare groups. They often run low-cost spay/neuter clinics so that cost doesn’t contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation.


Dog Fleas

Dog fleas often carry tapeworms. If your pet has had a flea infestation, consider checking or treating him for tape worms.

The presence of just a few fleas can cause a severe allergic reaction in your pet characterized by severe itching and hair loss above the tail.

An adult flea mates shortly after emergence from their pupae and begins laying eggs within 36 hours. The female lays eggs on the host animal, but the eggs fall to the ground, carpet, sofa, dog bed, owner’s bed, or easy chair where they hatch in two-to-five days.

In her brief 50-day life span, a single female flea can lay more than 2000 eggs.

An adult flea can jump about 100 times its own height.

Female fleas need blood to complete their reproductive cycle. Baby fleas need blood to grow.

Fleas can be very hard to detect so look for flea “signs” instead of the fleas themselves. Flea dirt looks like sprinkled pepper on the dog. If you drop some of this “pepper” onto a damp paper towel and it turns reddish, it’s flea stool (dried blood.)


There is a plethora of flea control products today including monthly applications, sprays, dips, shampoos, collars and herbal products. It can be very difficult to determine what is right for your pet and your situation. To make matters even more complicated, many of today’s products can be dangerous if used together.

If you bath or dip your dog to kill fleas, many more remain in the home and yard your pet will be reinfested very quickly. Spraying and fogging the premise is expensive and time consuming and does not kill the eggs. The whole procedure must be repeated in 2 weeks.

I am not in the habit of recommending a single product, but in this case, I make an exception.

What I recommend to every dog owner is applying a flea, tick preventative and repellent to protect your pet from diseases such as heartworm, West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. There are many such products found in stores but in my many years experience as a dog groomer, most of these are not effective. The only products that WE FIND work ALL THE TIME are the veterinary applications such as FRONTLINE PLUS and ADVANTAGE . For many years these were only available through your Veterinarian. You can now purchase these products without a prescription online saving you valuable time and money. The newest of these products is called ADVANTIX . This is the one we use and highly recommend. It not only kills fleas and ticks but also repels mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus.

The best part about using these products is you do not need to treat the home and yard. Most of the fleas die within 12 hours and any fleas in the area will die within a few days after jumping on your pet. Even in severe cases, you will see no fleas at all after 2 weeks.

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