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Dog Food: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Dog Food: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good (On Dog Food):

Yes you have had a dog for years and think you know it all!  And you may know a lot about dog food, but even if you do (and of course for those that don’t), it’s always a good refresher.

(1) Stick to protein rich dog food, which result in more energy for your dog, less health problems.

(2) Also give your dog only human grade dog food.  Most dog foods are classified as “feed” which means its made up of meat from dead, dying, and diseased animals.  Yuck!

(3) The least processed the better.  Canned and kibble go through such extreme processing to make them shelf stable.  It’s much easier to absorb nutrients, and there are more nutrients in foods that are less processed.

The Bad (On Dog Food):

(1) Stay away from wheat & processed grains.

(2) Be weary of dog food that is made up of “meal.”  If the word “meal” comes after a mean on the ingredients list of your dog food then its not real meat, its a by product which can also contain feathers, grease and whatever else is lying around.

(3) Stay clear of preservatives, which most commercial brands use to extend the shelf life of their dog food.  Some preservatives used double as pesticides- they are not even permitted in the UK, but the good old US of A allows them of course!

(4) Don’t feed table scraps!  No need, and nothing good will come from it (unless you like a fat begging dog at your tableside, j/k, well not really!).  Also remember never ever feed your dog: chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, bones and macadamia nuts.

The Ugly (On Dog Food):

The FDA doesn’t control what manufacturers are putting in our pet’s food!  So we must ourselves be very diligent, because as you know the saying ‘what we eat is what we are’ goes for dogs too!  And you don’t want your dog to be a sick animal.

Side Notes:

(1) Wash your dog food bowl regularly, whether you give him dry, wet or raw, and water bowl for that matter.  If you wouldn’t eat off of the same plate every meal why should he? (Hopefully I’m not assuming too much! LOL)

(2) Feed your dog the correct portions of food, read labels, talk to your vet.  You are not helping your dog by over feeding him!

(3) Keep your dog hydrated- they need a lot of water!  To help your dog drink more, wash his water bowl daily, and give fresh water at least with every meal!

Final Thoughts:

I think my dog eats better than me (actually I know he eats better than me) but that makes me happy knowing that he will live his longest healthiest life that I can give him.   Yes it’s hard to resist that cute face begging you for some food off your plate, but just remind yourself you would rather have your dog live a long healthy life (than a fat beggar), if so then just give him a hug and a pat instead, or better yet, play a game of fetch with him after you eat!

Here’s a great source to check out.  You can look up the brand of dog food you are feeding your pup, and see if its worthy enough!   Dog Food Advisor



Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet (And YOU!)

(1) Measure your pet’s food every time, don’t just guess.

dog food pic

(2) Choose an age appropriate diet taking into account their activity level.


(3) Try a new activity with your pet, whether its taking a class with your dog (Val and I do agility at Kellar’s Canine Academy, and he LOVES it!), or buying a new cat toy that your cats love (Leo & Mya loves the cat nip cigars from Yeowww Catnip).

dog agility

(4) Groom your pet daily!  It doesn’t have to be a long session, anything counts!

cat groom

(5) Add more playtime into your pet routine.



6) Schedule a check up with your vet.


(7) Teach your dog a new trick!
(8) Practice good oral hygiene.
(9) Update your Pet ID/Chip information.
(10) Consider fostering, or volunteering at a local shelter.

Make it Your Mission, To Get Your Pet In Top Shape This Year!

A recent survey indicates over 50 percent of America’s pet population is overweight or obese. It’s an epidemic now!

To get your pet healthy, or keep your pet healthy and at an optimal weight, food/nutrition & exercise are KEY!


Very simply put, if your pet is overweight it is taking in (eating) more calories than it needs. Set all excuses aside … excessive weight in an otherwise healthy pet is a direct result of consuming unnecessary amounts of food.  Of course, before starting down this course, consult your vet to make sure your pet doesn’t have any metabolic disorders.

When it comes to diet, feed your pet a high quality food, so he gets the nutrients he needs to keep healthy and full! It’s that easy.  Don’t feed your pet the equivalent of McDonalds every day (Purina, Beneful, Alpo, Kibbles & Bits, etc) because its cheaper, and easier to purchase (at the grocery store).  Spend a little more money and time, and later on down the road, your pet should have fewer medical issues, which means your wallet will suffer less too!

Let’s examine some excuses when it comes to your dog’s feeding habits.  Whether your dog is a good weight or overweight, these 4 points are good to note!


DO ANY OF THESE SOUND LIKE YOU?? (cats are more of an issue, and overweight issues with cats need to be discussed with a vet)

(1) “But she hardly eats a thing.”  This is probably a case where you feed your dog table food, so she is getting calories from that, and choosing not to eat her own food.  Stop the people food- it’s unwanted calories!

(2) “My pup won’t keep quiet unless she gets her treats. And she won’t go to sleep at night until she gets her little dish of ice cream.”  Congrats, your pet has trained you!  Your pet has discovered that the more noise and fussing it produces the more likely it is to be rewarded for this behavior. The owner finally “gives in” to keep the pet quiet and the pet sees the food as a reward. In effect the owner is creating a “beggar” by rewarding his/her behavior.  You need to break this habit immediately, and re-train, reward for being good and quiet.

(3) “She’s such a good dog we don’t want her to go hungry.”  This dog became overweight because the owner’s signal of affection for their pet has focused on feeding.  It is an understandable trait but unfortunately for the dog it can be a case of too much of a good thing. The owners’ method of showing affection should be directed more toward physical activity than feeding. Think “FETCH” and “TUG” not “FOOD”!

(4) “She just refuses to eat dog food.” In this case the dog has trained the owners to feed him/her such things as chicken, liver, ice cream, cookies, etc.  This dog has been given a choice of what to eat and has chosen certain people food.  The dog usually overeats because s/he isn’t getting a proper balance of nutrition, plus everything tastes so good there is a reward factor in eating. The solution is … you choose, not your pet.  Leave down the dog food, and don’t worry if she doesn’t eat it right away, she won’t starve herself.  A dog can go without food for 5 days before you have to worry (as long as she is in relatively good health and not diabetic).


Exercise is beneficial for your pets in so many ways- it helps decrease stress, improve sleeping habits, maintain or loose weight, and you know the old saying- A TIRED DOG IS A GOOD DOG!


The type and amount of exercise needed can differ greatly with breed, age and energy level of your pet. However, it is important to choose the right type of exercise for your pet with the help of a veterinarian if your pet is overweight.  With their assistance you should be able to bring your pet back to their optimal weight.  Arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular problems are just some of the issues your pet will deal with if he or she is overweight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it may even decrease their life expectancy by up to 2.5 years.  So if it is so bad as to affect our pet’s health, how are we letting it happen?

Exercise is important for all pets, overweight or not!

Whiskers and Leo does offer dog walking and dog running if you need extra help exercising your dog!  As for cats, cats need daily exercise too, but more in the form of play.  We do offer cat visits if your feline needs some extra attention and play!



What to Feed Your Dog???

That old saying YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, applies to your pets too!

Do NOT feed your dog chocolate cake please! 🙂

Maybe you are getting a new dog and are wondering what to feed him or her, maybe your dog has been on the same food for years, or maybe you are thinking of switching your dog’s food.

If any of these sound like you, then read on!

Many people do not know that pet food packaging contains ingredients just like human food does.  What you see on that label is the key to knowing whether that food is appropriate for your pet.  Make note, that the higher the ingredient is on the list, the more it makes up that food.  Most of your pet’s food will be composed of the first few ingreidents, which is important to know in case you see any undesireable ingredients.

Here are some ingredients to avoid:

(1) By-products & by-product meals:  These are unfit for human consumption so don’t feed them to your dog. They are created from waste parts in the butchering process.  Instead look for dog food that lists actual meat as an ingredient.  And note that “chicken meal” is not the same terrible ingredient as “chicken by-product meal.”

(2) Anything artificial (like colors and flavors, such as FD&C Red #40): Many pet foods use artificial colors and flavors.  These synthetic additives are unnecessary, especially since color has little importance for your dog.

(3) Fillers (such as soybean meal and flour, wheat middlings, wheat gluten and corn meal gluten): Fillers have little to no nutritional value and are only added to pet 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 pet gets absolutely nothing from these ingredients, and in most cases their body can’t even break them down.

(4) Sugar or sweeteners (such as cane sugar, or HFCS):  Just because your dog LOVES the food, doesn’t mean it’s healthy!  We all know that what tastes good isn’t always what is good for us.

Here’s a great website to check out the food you are feeding your dog:  http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/

What to feed your cat is next week!

Myths De-Bunked!

(1)  Dogs like the taste of blood once they bite.  This is not true!  Some dogs are aggressive for a variety of reasons but not because they like the taste of blood!

(2) The best way to remove a tick is with a match.  This is not true!  The best way is simple- use a tweezer.

(3) Skittish dogs are “abused.”  This is not entirely true.  Dogs can be skittish for many reasons, not just because they might have been abused.  Just like people, some dogs are shy!  Also, if a dog is not exposed to humans during the first 12 to 14 weeks of his life, then he might never become fully acceptable of humans.

(4) Mixed breeds are healthier than purebred dogs.  This is not entirely true either- depends on the dog.  Mixed breeds tend to have less genetic disorders because of their hybrid nature.  If you do opt for a purebred, make sure you pick a responsible breeder.  Responsible breeders are typically aware of any genetic problems, and work diligently to reduce them.

(5) Bones are good for dogs.  This is not true!  Bones can be very dangerous and are not recommended to give to dogs.


Hyperthermia is systemic over-heating.  Excessive heat is hard on the cells and organs of pets.  Panting is a pet’s way to cool themselves; however, the higher the temperature, the less efficient panting becomes for pets (especially for the brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed)).

We have had record heat in our area, so please take all precautions to prevent any heat injuries to your pets!


(1)  Never leave your pets in the car.
(2) Pay special attention to older and younger pets because they are more susceptible to heat stroke.
(3) If left alone at home, make sure the home is cool.  Do not leave your pets in the yard unattended.
(4) Pets need a constant supply of fresh clean cool water.
(5) Exposing your pets to stresses like traveling, strange sights, sounds and smells, and excitement can be a factor in causing your pet to overheat.
(6) To cool off your pet, wet their paws with cool water, or just hose their whole bodies down with cool water.
(7) Shorten your dog’s walks, walk in shaded area, or walk at the cooler times of the day.


(1) Uncontrollable panting.
(2) Rapid heart rate.
(3) Body Temperatures of 105 degrees and above are extremely dangerous. Normal temperature for cats and dogs is 101.5 to 102.4 degrees.
(4) Mucous Membranes.  As the pet’s condition gets worse, the tongue, gums and lips will progressively move to blue/gray and the pet’s mouth will be dry.
(5) Foaming/Salivating.
(6) Lethargy.
(7) Capillary refill- when capillary refill time reaches 5 seconds, this is a sign of heat stroke.
(8) Vomiting.


(1) Note the time you begin assisting your pet.
(2) Restrain and muzzle if necessary; however, if you muzzle then the pet cannot pant and you are now responsible for cooling the pet’s body down.
(3) Bathe or hose the pet’s body with copious amounts of cool water. Do not use ice or very cold water.
(4) Monitor the body temperature, and stop when it reaches 102 degrees.
(5) Monitor mucous membrane color; unless your pet normally has black gums, pink is the usual.
(6) Prepare to treat for shock, which is the lack of adequate oxygen to the cells of the body.
(7) Do not give them anything to eat or drink unless advised by a veterinarian to do so.
(8) Contact your vet or nearest animal hospital for further assistance.

The information and tips above are provided by PetTech.  They offer Pet CPR and First Aid.

Does Your Dog Have Dry Skin?

Spring’s on the way, we hope, but what should you do if your dog’s skin has become dry and flaky because of overheated houses and dry outdoor air?  According to Helen Fazio, travel dog blogger, Canine Omega 3 capsules taken during this time of year can stop dry skin flare-ups and help your dog ease that winter coat into the lighter summer coat without excessive scratching or hair loss. Consult your vet for dosage based upon weight and to make sure there are no dietary restrictions.


I saw an article about the Top 5 Toxins to Your Pet in 2010, and I thought it was important to share!

Some people tend to think that cats are not as fast to eat things they shouldn’t, but that is entirely untrue.  About 9% of the calls to the Animal Poison Control helpline are about cats!  So whether you have a dog, cat or another pet, this is a must read!

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list.  Just a list of the top 5 reasons people called Animal Poison Control in 2010.

1. Human and Veterinary Medications – During 2010, about 40 percent of feline cases at Pet Poison Helpline involved cats that improperly ingested human or veterinary drugs. Cats have difficulty metabolizing certain drugs, especially as compared to dogs and humans. Common drugs such as  NSAIDS are some of the most deadly to cats. When ingested, NSAIDS can result in severe kidney failure and stomach ulcers. Likewise, one acetaminophen tablet can be fatal to a cat, as it results in damage to red blood cells. Untreated, it can cause severe anemia, difficulty breathing, a swollen face, liver failure and death. Cats also seem to like the taste of certain antidepressants, which seem to contain an attractive smell or flavor in the coating. With any accidental medication ingestion, immediate veterinary care is imperative.

True Story: Last weekend, a friend of mine’s mother, left her daily pills in a plastic cup on the counter in the bathroom.  She left the room and when she returned, the pills were spilled over on the floor.  She noticed 2 pills missing, one being a blood pressure pill.  Immediately she told my friend, and they calmly surveyed the situation.  First, they thoroughly searched on the floor for the pills; however, they were nowhere to be found.  My friend has never seen her cat eat a pill, and never thought he would!  She then took one of the blood pressure pills and put it up to her cat’s nose to see if he showed any interest in it.  Immediately, he tried to eat it!  Without hesitation, she called her veterinarian, to find out the right protocol.  I’m very happy to say that the cat is fine, and was not affected by the ingestion of the pill, but this is a lesson we should all learn from!

2. Plants – Poisonous plants were the second most common cat toxin in 2010,. True lilies, including the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies, are among the most deadly and cause kidney failure in cats. Because these flowers are fragrant, inexpensive and long-lasting, florists often include them in arrangements. Small ingestions of two or three petals or leaves – even the pollen – can result in severe, potentially irreversible kidney failure. Immediate veterinary care is imperative. Despite their name, other plants such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lily are not true lilies and do not cause kidney failure. Instead, these plants contain insoluble oxalate crystals that can cause minor symptoms, such as irritation in the mouth, tongue, pharynx and esophagus.

3. Insecticides –Exposure to household insecticides such as lawn and garden products, sprays, powders, or granules often occurs when a cat walks through a treated area; however, serious poisoning is rare. More concerning is exposure to concentrated topical flea and tick medications meant for dogs. Dog-specific insecticides containing pyrethrins or pyrethroids are highly toxic to cats. Poisoning occurs when pet owners apply such products directly to cats or cats lick these medications off dogs that live with them. Severe drooling, tremors and life-threatening seizures can occur. Always read labels carefully before using any kind of insecticide and ask your veterinarian about appropriate topical flea and tick medications for your cat.

4. Household Cleaners –Many cat owners don’t realize that some common household cleaners like kitchen and bath surface cleaners, carpet cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners can be toxic to cats. Symptoms can include profuse drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and even organ damage. After cleaning your home, make sure all excess liquid or residue is wiped up or eliminated, and stow the products out of your cat’s reach as soon as possible. Only allow your cat back into the cleaned areas after the products have completely dried.

5. Other Toxins – The remainder of feline-related calls during 2010 involved less obvious toxins, such as glow sticks and liquid potpourri. Glow sticks and jewelry contain a very bitter tasting liquid called dibutyl phthalate. While rarely deadly, just one bite into these items can cause your cat to drool profusely. Most of these exposures can be managed at home. Offer (but do not force) your cat chicken broth or canned tuna (in water, not oil) to help to remove the bitter taste from the mouth. Remove the glow sticks and clean up any remaining liquid to prevent re-exposure to cats, who may continue to groom it off their fur. A bath may be in order to remove any “glowing” liquid from his or her skin. If you see signs of redness to the eyes, squinting, continued drooling, or not eating, a trip to the veterinarian may be necessary.

Pet Poison Helpline – 1-800-213-6680

Full Article:  http://click.petplace.com/?ju=fe24157174600c797c1c77&ls=fdec12757267007a70117975&m=feff1273766004&l=fe9616737361067c73&s=fe1d12787c6004747c1071&jb=ffcf14&t=

The Food Transition- From Puppy to Adult Food

This transition may seem simple but it can wreak havoc on everything from your puppy’s stomach to your patience at dinnertime.

Your puppy’s food is NOT working for him if he has developed any of the following: loose stool, diarrhea, constipation, stool eating, skin rash, allergy, a rise in hyperactivity, a rise in aggression or  other personality changes.  Here are some possible solutions, but also consult your veterinarian FIRST!

  • Loose Stool or Diarrhea – Make sure your puppy’s food does not have oils added to it. Also, consider a food that is used for food allergies. And don’t give your puppy or dog scraps from the dinner table!
  • Constipation – Make sure your puppy’s food does have oils added to it. Also, the food should have a high fiber content, and should not be highly processed.  Also make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise!
  • Stool Eating – There are many reasons for stool eating and diet is one. Poor nutrition can lead to this so up the grade of food if this is a problem.  Puppies may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency and they eat feces to restore this balance.  You can check out some pet supplements, like Nuvet (www.nuvet.com; order code: 46654).  Also, could be the result of over feeding. If a puppy is over-fed he doesn’t properly digest his food, therefore his feces will still smell like the food he just ate! Make sure you feed your puppy or dog twice a day, instead of once, that he gets plenty of exercise, and you could also try to put a tablespoon of pineapple in your puppy’s food, because it is suppose to taste really bad after it comes out the other end.
  • Skin Allergy – This is usually caused by a food allergy if diet is indeed the culprit. Try a food made specifically for this such as the duck and sweet potato mix.  You can also try supplements- see Nuvet above.
  • Hyperactivity – Puppies who become more hyper on a new food probably need a little more protein. Try a high protein food but watch for weight gain.  Also, make sure that sugar and other food chemicals are not present in your puppy or dog’s food.  In addition, your dog might need more exercise!
  • Personality Changes – Dogs’ moods are affected by diet just as ours are. Too much sugar or a food allergy can cause a sharp shift in a dog’s aggression or irritability. Make sure there are no additives or preservatives in your puppy’s food which can be a hidden cause.

If you’re noticing some of the signs of a food disagreeing with your puppy, it is probably time to try a new one. Always introduce a new food slowly, switching about 1/4 cup of food over a week. Give him another week or two on the new food to see how he does on it before switching again. You can also give him breaks between food by feeding him cooked chicken and rice for a few days.

Good nutrition is essential to your puppy’s health. Different puppies have different needs and it’s through trial and error and recognizing health issues that you can choose the best food for him.

Some of us may think that a change in food is only fair to our pups but once you find a food that fits, stick with it. Offer variety by adding small amounts of vegetables, chicken broth or a high quality canned food.

For puppies and dogs a steady and consistent diet means better health.


1)    Does your dog need outdoor gear?

Let’s face it, dogs either love winter or they don’t. Many of the big dogs with thick coats are pretty prepared when prancing in the snow. You just have to keep a watchful eye on their feet and their outdoor habits.

If your dog is smaller with shorter hair, or older, a soft dog sweater and booties might be the required winter wear for their ultimate enjoyment.  The sweater will keep him warm during his daily walks, and the booties will prevent cuts on his paw pads, create traction for ice, and also prohibit chemicals such as antifreeze, salt and other de-icers from getting on his paws.

Remember, it might take time and some bribing to get the booties on, but have patience!

2)    Do you have a glowing leash?

Glowing dog leashes, dog vests and flashing lights on both owner and pet are a great buy, and have become very popular with dog owners! They are wonderful during both the darkness of early morning and evening walks.

3)    Watch out for puddles!

Don’t let your pet drink from puddles in the winter; they could easily be filled with toxic salts and chemicals, which are harmful if digested.

4)    Watch out for frostbite!

Be watchful of frostbite in the most common areas, such as the tips of the ears and tail. If you suspect your pet suffers from it, get in touch with a veterinarian right away.

5)    Stay away from lakes.

Keep your pet away from frozen lakes. Keeping them on leash would ensure this. I can personally attest to this.  When I was younger, I had a lab mix, Amber, that ran onto the frozen lake (Brady’s Pond, Staten Island) in our backyard to chase some ducks.  The lake was not fully frozen yet, so she fell threw the ice right in the center of the lake. Thank goodness for my father and uncle because they saved Amber’s life!  They took our aluminum boat and chopped there way slowly to her.  Even though the outcome was miraculous, the process of saving my dog was grueling and very dangerous, so watch your pups!

6)    When you get back home from being outside:

If your dog does not have booties, be sure to have an old wet, warm towel to remove the residue of mud, ice, and street chemicals picked up from the walk. Use a dry towel to then dry your pet’s paws, legs and belly. Give close attention to removing ice caught between the paw pads. If you don’t wash this dirt from your pet’s paws, the dog will be licking it off two minutes after you get in the door.

It’s going to be a cold winter, so follow these tips and keep your pets safe!


A study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention indicated that 45 % of dogs and 58 % of cats in the U.S. are overweight. How to Determine if Your Pet is Obese:

  1. Run your fingertips against the direction of the animal’s coat without applying pressure. If you can feel his ribs, your pet may be underweight. If you can’t feel your pet’s ribs:
  2. Run your fingertips in the direction of the coat, this time applying light pressure. If you can feel the ribs easily, your animal is at a healthy weight. If there is a layer of fat covering the animal’s ribs, this may be an indication that the dog or cat is obese.

Pets need to get regular exercise to maintain proper weight.

An overweight pet is not a healthy pet. Owners need to recognize that they are putting their pet’s health at risk by allowing that extra weight.

Obesity commonly leads to diabetes, heart problems, and arthritis. An overweight pet does not age well, either. Overweight pets are more prone to hip dysplasia, back and joint pain, and endocrine diseases. Extra weight also decreases a veterinarian’s ability to manage these conditions both medically and surgically. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight can literally add years to her life.

Why are more pets overweight? The answer is the same for pets as well as people: too many calories and not enough exercise.

So stop feeding your pet extra treats just because he or she is begging you, and give your pet the gift of exercise this Holiday Season!! 20% off your first month of dog walks! Call today (347-223-5116) for particulars and mention Code B-20-  this promotion expires 1/18/11.

We would never forget about your precious kitty! If your cat seems overweight and/or bored and needs exercise, we can come do daily or weekly pet visits while you are at work! 20% off first month of regular pet visits as well, expiration date 1/18/11.

Keeping Your Pet Healthy!

Adding a daily supplement can help jump-start your pet’s immune system and promote wellness and health.  A great supplement will help pets fight foreign invasions caused by toxins that can wreak havoc on their bodies.  When picking one, inspect the label to determine what it contains.  Vitamins A, C, E and Selenium should be contained in the supplement.  Proper supplements that meet your pet’s needs will ensure a strong immune system.  Take a look at Nuvet (www.nuvet.com) as a daily supplement for your pet.  They use all natural, human-grade vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  If you are interested, enter code 46654 at check out.