Deciding to add to your family is a big decision. Children and pets, they all require you to ask yourself certain questions to ensure that you are ready. While owning a pet may not impact you as much as having a child, it’s vital that you still consider the decision carefully. This is because owning a dog, or any other pet for that matter, is something you have complete control over. You decide whether you are ready. Sometimes children don’t give you that luxury. So I thought I would share with you some of the most common questions to ask yourself when considering getting a dog.


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Do we have space for the dog?

One of the main things to consider when getting a dog is the space you have in your home. Do you have enough space to accommodate a four legged friend who can bounce around your home and have an abundance of energy? You will need to ensure they have a place to sleep or stay during the hours you are not there. You need to think about whether there’s any toilet training that needs to take place, especially if you are getting a puppy. Space is a big factor.

Do we have enough time to give a dog?

A dog needs your time. Time for playing, affection and most of all training. Considering dog training is important to ensure they obey your orders and behave well. The last thing anyone wants is an unruly pet causing havoc in your home. Dog training especially will take time. So make sure you consider whether you have that free time to give.

What happens when we are not there?

Not everyone is fortunate enough to stay at home each day. So there is bound to be times where your dog will need to be at home without you. It’s important to ensure that you ease your dog gently into this to avoid causing issues with separation anxiety in the future. You also need to workout how long they may be potentially left for. It’s unfair to keep a dog locked away for long periods of time. They need to be able to exercise and relieve themselves.


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Can we maintain a dog schedule?

In all honesty, it doesn’t take much to look after a dog. If you are an animal lover, the general chores won’t be an issue to you. But a dog does need to have regular exercise each day. Walking tends to be the most popular way and most dog owners will do this twice a day. You have to ask yourself whether you are around for those regular exercise jaunts. The feedings schedules and of course have time to offer affection.


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Can we afford to keep a dog healthy and happy?

Finally, there is no hiding from the fact that a dog costs money. Food, equipment, dog beds, and even vet bills. They all add up over time. So you need to ensure that those additional costs don’t put any further strain on your household budget.

I hope this helps you come to a decision of owning a dog easily.

Top 5 Gifts for Dog Lovers

Dogs love their owners unconditionally. They are loyal and cuddly. Dog lovers appreciate it if you buy presents for their precious fur balls on special occasions. Do you have a crazy dog loving friend or relative? If the answer is yes, then you may be wondering what to gift them. Well, here are some awesome gifts that both the dog and the owner will be ecstatic to have;

1. Dog Jackets

dogjacketsAre you looking for the best winter present to gift to a dog lover? Dog jackets are the perfect answer. Winter is a perilous time for dog lovers to walk their pets. To protect your friend’s dog against the atrocities of the harsh cold season such as, rain, snow and sleet, reflective dog jackets serve the purpose perfectly. Not just this, the jackets are cosy and warm even for the chilly nights as well.

2. Dog Shampoo
dogshampooA terrific dog shampoo is not readily available in the market. So, if you really want to surprise your friend, you may seriously consider buying an organic shampoo for your dog loving friend. The shampoos available in general pet stores are okay too but try looking for ones with organic formulations. Shampoos that contain lemongrass oils and rosemary do not just keep the fleas at bay; they also leave behind a delightful smell. Mild organic cleansers are also quite excellent for sensitive dogs even.

3. Hammocks
doghammocksDog lovers often take their dogs with them when they travel which may create a huge mess. It is not the dog’s fault really; scratching the seat covers with their dirty paws or shedding their hair is something which comes naturally to them. A dog carrier may be a decent option but a comfortable hammock for car seats serves not only as a seat cover but also as a much safer option.

4. Food and Water Travel Bowls
travelbowlsIt might get difficult for dog lovers to get their furry pets to drink adequately during a road trip or hiking along the mountainous tracks. In such a situation, gifting the dog-lovers water and food bowls for their pets is a considerate present. There are lots of varieties of these bowls available in the market. Metallic ones have a lot of weight while the plastic ones are easier to carry. Choose the one that can be tossed on the leash easily.

5. Dog Cookies
cookiesDogs cannot be fed the same old regular sugar cookies that you stuff your mouth with. Gifting the dog lover cookies specifically made for the dogs will be an ideal gift. Your dog-lover friend will love your forever for gifting different flavoured cookies. Munching upon the peanut butter wafers or beef and liver cookies are just what you need to become friends with your friend’s pet

Tips provided by Spoilt Rotten Dogs

How to Help Cats and Dogs Get Along

If you already own a cat and are planning on introducing a dog into the family (or vice versa!), it is important to know right off the bat that chances are low for the two of them to just get along.

By nature, dogs are hunters, which means that they might see your cat as a form of prey; the exception being dogs that have been around other cats in the past and not had any problems with them.

However, if you are bringing home a puppy that has never had any experience with them, or if you are bringing home an adult dog that has a high desire to chase and catch, then you will need to work to ensure harmony in your home.

Don’t think cats are innocent, either! Many times cats will feel threatened by a dog’s mere presence, causing them to lash out by scratching or trying to mark their territory (in not-so-subtle ways). Cats can be just as loyal to their humans as dogs can – and they typically hate when their daily routines are upset by anything.

In either case, the stress from new arrival can wreak havoc on both parties. It can cause sickness, such as lack of appetite, vomiting, and hair loss to either or both of the animals, not to mention the fact that the stress on either animal isn’t fair to them – after all, the current pet is used to being there first, and everything belongs to him or her, and now you’re asking them to share with a new arrival!

Let’s take a lot at some ways we can work to help cats and dogs get along, and alleviate all of that stress and tension that might pop up in this situation.


The very first time your cat and dog meet it is vital to introduce them in a calm, relaxing manner. Don’t just place the two of them together on the floor – make sure you are holding your dog or cat as you introduce them to the new arrival. Let them sniff each other and stare at each other – and don’t expect the initial encounter to go too smoothly – time can change things!

After the introduction, make sure to keep the animals separate for a while. You can either keep them in separate rooms or put up a divider. Whatever you decide on, after a while you should make sure to allow them the chance to smell each other or interact – even if it is only though a small opening cut on the bottom of the divider.

If you are putting them in separate rooms, make sure to change what rooms you put them in. This will not only give them a change of scenery, but it will also allow your pets to smell each other’s presence in the room, thereby getting used to one another.

Repeat this process a few times if necessary, giving them time to get used to each other and the fact that they will be spending time together now.

Reducing Problem Behaviors

If your cat and dog are starting to get along, but still have several behaviors that are somewhat of a problem, try and reduce these behaviors in a positive way.

For example, if your dog likes to bark at your cat, then be sure to distract your dog instead of scolding or using a harsh tone. Offer your dog a toy or show him or her something of interest. By trying to distract from the behavior rather than react negatively, you are helping ensure that there will be more positive encounters in the future.

If you yell at your harshly scold your pet, it will remember the interaction and how it was treated negatively, preventing him or her from wanting to engage in the future.

Keep Food, Water, Sleeping, and Litter Separate

A key component to your pets existing harmoniously is to make sure that their food and drinks stay separate from each other.

Don’t allow your dog or cat near each other’s food dishes – their automatic feeders, trays, and water dishes are for them, and them only.

The same can be said for the pets’ sleeping areas. Allow your cat and your dog to have their own designated areas for sleeping – it will give them a sense of security knowing that they won’t be bothered.

Another thing to remember is to keep your cat’s litter box away from your dog – cats will get territorial if they believe their safe space is threatened, and this includes spraying or urinating in other areas of the house if their litter box is disturbed. This is their safe space for going to the bathroom, so make sure to keep it feeling safe for them!

Some Other Tips for Helping Your Pets Adjust

You may be tempted to give your cat and dog each their own water and food dishes, beds, and then leave them alone together until they “get used to each other.” However, this isn’t the way you should help your pets to adjust. Make sure the animals are one hundred percent comfortable with each other before you do this – as it can end poorly if one of the animals turns hostile.

Always make sure to reward good behavior, either with praise or treats. If your pets can play together or sit together nicely without fighting or attacking each other, they deserve that praise! Reward positive behavior!

Allow your cat to have somewhere he or she can go to get away from the dog if necessary. Either a cat tree or a special room that only he or she can get into are both good choices, as this provides the cat a feeling of safety and the reassurance that if it feels threatened, it has somewhere to go to be alone. Always make sure that neither animal is afraid of the other before leaving them alone in the house or overnight.

Also keep in mind how different breeds can get along – whereas breeds like German Shepherds, Sheep Dogs, and Pit Bulls might see the cat as an animal that needs to be “herded” or as “prey,” dogs such as Labrador Retrievers or even smaller dogs might be more willing to accept this member of the family, due to their sweeter and more mellow personality.

Many households have cats and dogs that coexist wonderfully, and even play together happily. Following proper protocol when introducing your pets and allowing them time to get used to each other is crucial to keep them healthy and happy, and having the whole family get along well!

BIO: Emily Parker runs Catological, a blog dedicated to helping cat parents love their kitties better. She has lived in both dog and cat homes, and is excited to introduce a new dog to her family (which includes 2 cats) in the coming year.

Pet owners really love their cats and dogs. Unfortunately, they often equate their own needs with that of the pet’s needs. All humans need food, companionship, water and sleep. Animals, just like humans, need to live a healthy life that includes regular exercise and proper nutrition.

From birth through old age, our nutritional needs change. As a baby, you drank formula and slowly graduated to solid foods. Pets are much like humans in that they require certain nutrients at different times in their lives. Switching your dog’s food may be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as digestive troubles or maybe, the brand is no longer sold. In addition to these issues, there are other reasons why it may be necessary to make a change in your dog’s diet. Continue reading to learn more about these reasons and how to introduce a new pet food into your pet’s diet.

Dog Enters a Different Stage of Life

There are three distinct stages in a dog’s life according to pet experts and veterinarians. The first stage is the puppy stage. During this stage, a puppy is actively growing and needs more protein and calories than the other stages of growth. Pet food for this stage of your puppy’s life is generally labeled as a “growth” formula or “puppy” food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials, also known as AAFCO, sets strict standards concerning the nutrients contained in this type of formula. It is imperative that you give a growing dog this type of pet food. Otherwise, your pet’s growth may be stunted or an illness may occur.

The second stage of life for a dog is called adult life. During this stage, the adult dog no longer needs the extra calories or protein that puppies need because they are no longer growing. Pets in this stage of life can become overweight if they do not receive enough exercise or are allowed to continue to eat puppy food. You want a food that is rated as an adult to help protect against obesity that can be detrimental to the health of your pet. There are pet foods that are marketed as pet food for all the stages of your pet’s life. These type of foods should be avoided as they contain excess calories, nutrients and fats that can lead to obesity.

The last stage of your pet’s life is considered senior life. During this stage of their life, pets may experience medical issues that require changes in their diet. If you pet has mobility issues, your vet may recommend a pet food that contains fatty acids to help lubricate their joints. If your pet suffers from kidney or heart disease, it is especially important that they are fed a pet food that is specifically made for these diseases. Unfortunately, the AAFCO does not have a formula specifically made for the senior pet. So, look for an adult formula that says that it is recommended for senior pets.

Pets are considered to be in the senior stage of life when they reach 7 to 8 years old. During this stage in your pet’s life, they will need a formula that offers extra immune and joint support to help them remain healthy and happy throughout their mature years.

Activity Levels

Another reason that you may need to switch to a different dog food is your dog’s activity level. Much like humans, the more active your pet is, the more calories it will need. Conversely, if your pet lives a sedentary lifestyle, he will require fewer calories. You want to ensure your pet is receiving the calories she needs without consuming too many that can lead to obesity. Read your pet food label to help you determine the number of calories in each serving size to ensure you pet is getting the proper nutrition.

Special Needs

Some dogs suffer from food sensitivities. Others have health problems that require different nutritional requirements. For this reason, it is important that your pet has regular veterinarian visits. During these visits, discuss your pet’s nutritional requirements and ask your vet to recommend a food based on their unique needs.

Different pet food formulas contain different nutrients. You want one that will supply your dog with the nutrition he needs during each stage of life. For example, if your pet has mobility issues or skin problems, you want a formula that contains essential fatty acids. Look for a dog food that contains both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids, as they work together to ensure that your pet’s joints stay lubricated and their coats remain shiny and healthy.

If your pet seems weak or lethargic, schedule a visit to your veterinarian to ensure that your beloved pooch is receiving the nutrients he needs.

Another common problem in pets is gastrointestinal upset. This generally is due to a food sensitivity or stress. If you pet is suffering from upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea, it is essential that you take him to see the vet. He will get to the bottom of the problem and may recommend changing what you feed your pet.

Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to ensure that your pet lives a long, healthy life. If you suspect you need to change you dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian as sudden changes in your pet’s diet can lead to further complications. Proper nutrition throughout all the stages of your dog’s life will help ensure that your pet has a happy, healthy life.

Martyn Williams is a record-holding extreme explorer, author and successful entrepreneur. He is a yoga teacher and practices natural and Ayurveda healing. To learn more, check out his site,

There is no feeling that’s more amazing than adding a new puppy or dog to your family. There’s excitement, lots and lots of love, and, of course, a small amount of nervousness. Bringing a new pet into your home isn’t something to take lightly, after all, dogs are for life. Some breeds can live for up to 20 years, so it’s essential that you’re sure about it before you adopt a new furbaby to bring home. Unless you’re 100 percent sure that you can give your new pup a home for life, don’t bring him or her home.

cute puppy

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The number one reason that dogs are put in shelters or abandoned is due to money. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that money isn’t something to think about when it comes to adopting a puppy. But the truth is it’s an incredibly important factor. That’s why, before you adopt a puppy or dog, it’s essential that you’re sure you can afford to look after them. To help you do that, we’ve put together this handy guide explaining all the costs that come with owning a dog.


Monthly food bills

The cost of the food pills for your dog will depend on various factors; from the breed to the age of the dog. Larger breeds tend to eat more food than smaller breeds, which makes their monthly food bill more expensive.

For example, a small breed dog like a Jack Russell tends to cost between $20 to $30 a month to feed. While a larger breed, like a Labrador Retriever, tends to cost between $40 and $60 a month to feed. So make sure to take the breed into account when working out how much they will cost to care for.


Training and daycare

If you want your new family member to be happy and well behaved, it’s essential that you take them to training classes. This allows you to establish who is in charge and learn the best ways to teach and discipline your dog. Most beginner dog training courses cost between $10 and $13 a lesson, or around $70 for a block of classes. This doesn’t change depending on the breed; this is a set amount.

Then there’s doggie daycare services to take into account. You see, if you’re out at work all day and can’t leave your new family member at home, you’ll require a daycare service for them. Good doggy daycare services cost around $50 a day to take care of your pet. That’s a great price for daycare; it just depends if you can afford it.


Vet checkups and annual jabs

There’s also vet checkups and annual jabs to take into account. Most vet checkups cost around $45 a visit, that’s before any treatment has been prescribed. Treatment tends to come at an additional cost.

There’s also the cost of your pet’s annual jabs and boosters. The initial set will probably cost between $50 and $95, with annual boosters costing a little less than this. These are essential for your dog’s health, so it’s crucial that you’re able to afford to get them. Else, your dog could become seriously unwell.

Adding a dog to your family can be the most amazing thing to do, if you can afford it, that is. A dog’s for life, so you need to make sure that before you adopt a new pup into your family that you can afford to look after them.


There’s nothing quite as joyous as bringing a new puppy into your home. Even more fulfilling is the strong bond you will build over the years. Here are some tips and techniques you can use to help integrate your new puppy into your family’s pack!


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The obvious first choice to bond with your dog. Regular walking will not only strengthen your relationship but provide valuable exercise. It will also reduce stress throughout your dog’s life. In the early years, it will also introduce them to the world and new experiences. So make sure you mix it up, and take your puppy to lots of different areas and meeting lots of people. Being with you in these early stages of development will allow the dog to trust you. When they are feeling uneasy in new situations or places and show them, the world is a fun place. The more aware of the world your dog is, the less worried he’ll be about things!


Obedience training in a dog is an important way to grow your relationship. It will teach your dog to focus on a task, creates a sense of teamwork between you. Training will help with your communication together. Your dog will look to you for guidance, and this will help you to read its body language when doing so. Simple commands such as: Sit, Stay, Quiet, And Lie down. These commands can be used throughout your relationship with the dog. It will keep them in order and to keep them out of trouble. It will also teach them what behavior is appropriate at certain times!  You can go further with this, and have professional dog training, where your dog can learn more. Dog training is also great fun at the same time!



Not all dogs like to be touched all the time. Some dog’s love to be snuggled up on your lap all evening, but others may prefer to keep to themselves. Stroking your dog regularly when it’s young, you will show them that it can be a relaxing experience! Try not to be rough with them. Make sure children are monitored to ensure your dog is happy and comfortable with physical interaction and affection. You’ll soon find they’re incredibly friendly and love being by your side.




It may seem okay to leave food in your dog’s bowl all day. But a good way to bond is to feed your dog at regular times every morning and evening. Feeding time will create a routine for your dog, and an association that you are the provider in the house. Your dog will respect you for bringing them food.



A good amount of play time is necessary for a puppy, as it will help with their co-ordination. A ten-minute game of fetch gives your dog a rewarding, fun experience that exercises you both! You may have to splash out on various toys to find what your dog likes the most. Some love tennis balls and some love Frisbees. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior with toys and indulge them in their favorite!





As a pet owner, you have a lot of things you need to sort out. And the main focus should be helping to keep your animal fit and healthy. If you can do this, they will stay strong and live a long, happy life with you. These are some of the things you need to make sure you do to keep them fit and healthy.

Feed Them Right

When you keep a dog, one of your key responsibilities is making sure they are fed right. This is essential when it comes to keeping up their strength and health. The bigger your animal, the more food it is likely to require as well. And, you have to remember that different types of food contain different benefits for the animals. So, try to get a mixture of the food you might want, and see what you can do to keep up an organized feeding schedule.


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Take Them to the Vet

The best way of keeping your animals fit and healthy is by ensuring that you take them to the vet. This is something that you need to do on a reasonably regular basis. The thing with animals is that it’s more difficult for them to articulate if anything is wrong. So, by taking them to get looked at on a frequent basis, you ensure that any problems get caught early. They can be penciled in for surgery if necessary. And it prevents issues from getting worse and leading to things that might prove terminal.




Give Them Tablets

A lot of the time you will be able to get tablets you can use to treat your mutt. Some of these you can buy over the counter. Or, the vet might prescribe you something a little more specific. It’s important to get the right tablets and medication for your pet as you will need to treat them yourself. You need to check out things like Trifexis in order to prevent serious ailments. Many of these tablets are a crucial part of treating your dog on a weekly basis. And you have to be sure you have plenty of them to choose from.


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Make Sure They Get Exercise

Any pet, whether it’s a goldfish or a horse, needs to have regular exercise. It’s not fair on animals to leave them cooped up and locked away for long periods of time. You have to allow them the freedom to get out and about and express themselves. This is good for allowing them to let off steam but is also great for their health. Try to pencil in an exercise schedule for your pet on a daily or weekly basis. Or course, a dog is going to need considerably more exercise than, say, a rabbit might. But, you still have to ensure that whatever animal you might own that it gets the exercise it needs.




Part of being a great dog owner is making sure your pooch is well taken care of. Remember, animals need love and attention as well as humans do. So, it’s essential that you do what you can to keep your dog fit, healthy, and well taken care of. This is how to ensure you get as much time as possible with them.



Just like their human friends, dogs get stressed. Depending on the breed and temperament, they cope with this in different ways. Are you able to spot the signs? The following may indicate that your furry friend is suffering from stress, and it’s time to take action.

  1. Shedding

Have you ever noticed how much fur your dog sheds when you visit the vet? This is because they are out of their comfort zone and may be feeling anxious. If your dog is shedding more than usual, they may be suffering from stress.

  1. Ears

When dogs are stressed, they often pin their ears back. This is easy to spot.

  1. Yawning

Dogs yawn when they are tired. However, they also tend to yawn a lot when stressed. The yawns tend to be longer and more frequent in stressful situations.




  1. Panting

This can be difficult to spot as dogs pant a lot. If it’s a cool day and they haven’t exerted themselves, panting could indicate stress.

  1. Licking

Again, dogs tend to lick a lot and so this is difficult to identify. But if you notice they are excessively licking their lips and mouth, they could be feeling stress.




  1. Avoiding

If your dog is avoiding interacting with other people or dogs, he or she could be telling you that they are uncomfortable. Avoiding could include turning away, placing their tail between their legs, etc.

  1. Toilet Issues

If your house-trained dog is having accidents around the home, this could indicate distress or discomfort. There may be other reasons for this, and so it is worth a trip to the vet. But it may be related to your absence or another issue that is causing discomfort.

  1. Sickness

Some dogs show stress through physical illness such vomiting and diarrhea. They may also be off their food. Again, there may be many reasons for this, and so it always best to check with your vet if you are unsure.

How To Make Your Dog More Comfortable

If you feel that your dog is suffering from stress, there are several things you can do to make him/her feel more comfortable.




Dogs like routine. Wherever possible keep to their regular schedule. This will make them feel more comfortable,

Keep on top of your dog’s health with regular trips to the vet. It’s a good idea to take out pet insurance for any unexpected vet’s bills. Companies like Stoneway Insurance offer peace of mind, and you’ll know your friend is taken care of.

Some pet owners use calming collars as a way to soothe and calm their dogs. They can be infused with herbs or pheromones.

One of the best ways to reduce your dog’s stress is to avoid stressful situations. For example, if you know they dislike traffic, avoid main roads.



Exercise can be a great way to combat and cope with stress. Make sure your doggy friend receives regular exercise.

The best way to make your dog feel soothed and comfortable is to love them. Give them your attention and show you care. Nothing can beat that special bond you share with them.

No matter how well you look after them, you can’t alway prevent your dog from getting sick. What you can do is quickly identify the problem and seek fast treatment, to get them back on their feet again.





Parasites can be such a problem for dogs. From fleas to ticks and ear mites, dogs can suffer awful itching when these little blighters are feeding off them. The best way to treat canine parasites is to use a product that both removes and prevents further infestation, such as frontline plus. It is also important to keep your dog clean and to check for ticks if you have been for a walk in the countryside.




Weight gain


All dogs are susceptible to weight gain, especially older, less mobile pooches. It is important to watch their diet, treat intake, and their exercise levels. If you dog needs to loose some weight, try to exercise them a little more. A new toy or an active treat dispenser can help them get the required calorie deficit. If this doesn’t do the trick, then a specialised diet can help. Consult your vet for advice on diet and the changes that will best help your breed of dog.  But make sure that no other family member is sabotaging your pups weight loss, by feeding them treats or scraps, under the table!


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A common problem with dogs is vomiting and diarrhea. While these symptoms can be a sign of something more serious, they are often a reaction to eating something that does not agree with the dog. While your dog can enjoy, rich foods like chocolate and cheese, on the way in, they way that they come out might not be so much fun for Fido or you. Remember that dogs are lactose intolerant so anything containing milk and dairy can do them harm. Sugar and sugar replacement are also dangerous for our canine friends and should be avoided. If you are going to spoil your dog, make sure it with a treat designed especially for canine consumption.




In later life, many dogs can suffer from joint pain, known as arthritis. Some dog owners include oil supplementing their dog’s diet to minimise arthritis in their pets. If Fido is struggling to walk, there are plenty of medications available to ease their pain. A visit to the vest will get you a diagnosis and some medication advice, and is always a good idea if you can see that your pooch is in pain.


Hot Spots


Hotspots or contact dermatitis in dogs is another common issue. They are usually easy to see, as your dog will be biting or scratching the area. Fur loss in these areas is also a common occurrence. Hot spots can be caused by parasites (see above), dryness or by irritants coming in contact with the skin. The best way to treat canine dermatitis is to take your pooch to the vet. They might shave and clean the areas and treat it with steroid or antibiotics depending on how bad it is.


Meat, meat and more meat may seem what your dog most loves to eat. But he needs more than just meat for a healthy, balanced diet. While dogs are carnivores, they require a full range of nutrients for proper growth, cell maintenance and optimum health.

More on Carnivores

Dogs are members of the Carnivora family, which is a large group of mammals with similar teeth structures. The group is broken down into several different categories:

  • True carnivores: Absolute requirement for meat, like cats
  • Herbivores: Plant matter can meet nutritional needs, like cows
  • Omnivores: Combination of plant matter and meat to meet nutritional needs, like humans and dogs

Dogs fall into the omnivore category, with both an intestinal tract and tooth structure adapted to a diet that contains a combination of meat and plant matter. The dog’s ideal diet contains high-quality components that:

  • Dogs can easily digest
  • Meet their full range of nutritional requirements

Dog Nutritional Requirements

Dogs require the full range of basic nutrients, and there are a total of six of them at your service. They are:

  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) developed national guidelines that serve as the general foundation for commercial pet foods for nutrient contents. Ensuring the food you choose


Made up of amino acids, proteins are the foundation for cell maintenance, growth and repair. Dogs particularly need protein to maintain a shiny, healthy coat. Dogs’ bodies are able to produce 10 of the 20 amino acids needed for adequate nutrition, but the other 10 must come from their diet. The group is known as essential amino acids, and they are:

  • Arginine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine


Fats provide highly concentrated energy, and they’re also crucial for cell maintenance and the creation of other bodily substances. They additionally help the dog’s body absorb fat-soluble vitamins while sprucing up the taste of the food. Your dog’s diet should include the three essential fatty acids:

  • Linoleic acid, source of omega-6
  • Linolenic acid, source of omega-3
  • Arachidonic acid


Carbohydrates are actually optional for dogs, as canines can get adequate supplies of energy from fats and protein. Carbs the dog’s body can digest can provide additional energy, while whole grain carbs can supply fiber, minerals, iron and other nutrients.

Two caveats with carbs are their digestibility and high calorie count:

  • Carbs must be cooked for the dog’s body to properly digest them; they can otherwise ferment in the dog’s large intestine.
  • Carbs are often the biggest source of calories in commercial dog foods; overfeeding can lead to excessive weight gain.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are only needed in small amounts for dogs, but both serve essential functions. Vitamins are organic substances that help convert calories into energy and ensure a body’s normal functioning. Minerals are inorganic substances that help with a wide scope of functions, such as the development of strong teeth and bones.

Choosing a Dog Food

The overall suggestion from one vet is to opt for the highest-quality dog food you can afford. The main differences between a low-cost and high-end food aren’t the levels of nutrients, but the source and quality of the ingredients.

High-end foods may list specific types of animal proteins or meat meal, such as chicken meal or lamb meal. Avoid foods that simply list “meat meal” generically. Generic “animal fats” are another ingredient to avoid, instead opting for fat derived from a specifically named source.

Additional ingredients to look for include:

  • Whole grains and fruit rather than flour, bran, gluten or refined grain products
  • Antioxidants, such as rosemary extract
  • Natural preservatives, such as vitamins C and E

Additional ingredients to avoid include:

  • Additional sweeteners, often listed as “grain fragments”
  • Artificial preservatives, colors or flavors
  • Any type of “by-product” from any source

Your dog’s daily diet plays a huge role in achieving and maintaining overall optimum health. Combine a healthy diet with plenty of exercise, training activities, routine medical visits and a pet insurance plan for those who need help covering the rising cost of vet bills.

Parting thoughts: If you find yourself forgetting the ins and outs of canine nutrition, bookmark this page and reread it until it clicks. If that doesn’t do the trick remember that a warm welcoming home with your loving presence is all that really matters to your furry BFF.

And that is the recipe for good doggy health — mind, body and soul.


Dr. Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS, is a veterinarian with over two decades of experience treating cats and dogs. She is also a research contributor to When she’s not working, she’s relaxing at home in London with a house full of her own beloved pets.