Healthy Diet for Dogs; AAFCO Nutrient Requirements

Most of us were taught the importance of a balanced and nutritionally complete diet. But when it comes to knowing what is a healthy diet for dogs to grow properly and stay healthy, we often come up short.

Many years ago, little thought or research was put into the manufacture of pet food, or the proper way to feed our pets. Eventually, in response to consumer demand, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) was formed. Their primary function was to publish feed regulations and ingredient definitions. After much research, committee investigations and feeding trials, nutrient profiles for pets were developed, and guidelines established.

This is still a work in progress. Despite significant advances, the importance and proper levels of some nutrients are still under investigation. The recommendations of AAFCO, for instance, may change when additional information about nutritional health in dogs becomes available. For now, the minimum levels of nutrients that should be included in pet foods are listed. In a few cases, excess amounts of certain nutrients can be damaging so maximum levels are also listed in AAFCO guidelines.

When buying pet food, choose only those products that carry the statement “Formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…” because they follow these guidelines. It is not a requirement to meet AAFCO standards in order to sell pet food, so buyers beware. Check the labels and compare products.

The nutrient list is divided into two separate profiles. One profile is for growing, pregnant or lactating dogs and one is for adult maintenance. The nutrients are listed on a dry matter basis. What this means is that if you are comparing products, the moisture content of the food must be taken into consideration. If the food has 75 percent moisture, then the remaining nutrients make up 25 percent of the food.

Take each nutrient amount and divide by 0.25 to obtain an accurate dry matter amount to compare to the nutrient guidelines or even to compare one food to another. If the moisture content is 10 percent, then 90 percent make up the rest of the nutrients. Divide each nutrient value by 0.9 in order to get an accurate value.

Current AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles

For Adult Maintenance

Unless otherwise listed, all values are minimum requirements:

Calcium……0.6% (maximum 2.5%)
Phosphorus…0.5% (maximum 1.6%)
Magnesium…..0.04% (maximum 0.3%)
Iron…………80 mg/kg (maximum 3,000 mg/kg)
Copper………7.3 mg/kg (maximum 250 mg/kg)
Manganese……..5 mg/kg
Zinc………..120 mg/kg (maximum 1000 mg/kg)
Iodine………1.5 mg/kg (maximum 50 mg/kg)
Selenium……0.11 mg/kg (maximum 2 mg/kg)
Vitamin A…..5000 IU/kg (maximum 250,000 IU/kg)
Vitamin D……500 IU/kg (maximum 5000 IU/kg)
Vitamin E…….50 IU/kg (maximum 1000 IU/kg)
Thiamine………1 mg/kg
Riboflavin…..2.2 mg/kg
Pantothenic Acid..10 mg/kg
Niacin……….11.4 mg/kg
Pyridoxine………1 mg/kg
Folic Acid……0.18 mg/kg
Vitamin B12…..0.022 mg/kg
Choline………1200 mg/kg

For growing puppies, pregnant and lactating bitches

The majority of nutrient minimums are the same except for the items listed. The maximum for those listed does not change.

Vitamin B12….0.022 mg/kg

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Dog Nutritional Requirements

Good dog  nutrition is no accident. It takes time and patience to learn what your dog needs to stay healthy, happy and active. It also takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants: dog nutritional requirements.

To make your job a little easier, here are some tips to ensure your pet gets all of his nutritional needs met.

1. Why is good dog nutrition important?

It’s vital that your dog eats a complete and balanced diet. He needs fresh water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The most important nutrient is water, which makes up 60 percent of a dog’s weight. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy; minerals are important for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, among other things; and vitamins are important to help your dog process biochemicals.

2. How often should I feed my dog?

Puppies under 3 months of age should be fed at least four times a day. Puppies between 3 and 5 months of age should be given three meals a day. Adult dogs can be fed once or twice a day. Dogs like routine, so establish a feeding schedule and stick to it. A good time to feed him is during the family meals. This will occupy him while the rest of the family is eating.

3. How much should I feed my dog?

The amount your og needs to eat depends on many factors, including: life stage (puppy, adult, pregnant or lactating), lifestyle (active versus the “coach potato”), size and general condition. Select a high quality food, weigh your dog (don’t try to guess) and then read the feeding guidelines provided on the package. Remember, though, that every dog is unique, so you might have to adjust his feeding accordingly. Click here to learn more about Feeding Your Adult Dog.

4. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on?

You should only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. Bones, especially chicken bones, can splinter and become lodged in a dog’s mouth. If swallowed, they can cause constipation, or even bloody diarrhea (the result of fragments scraping the colon). Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw and if swallowed, can get stuck in the esophagus.

5. When should I change from puppy to adult food?

Puppy food is different from adult food. It is designed for a rapidly growing pup. In his first year, your puppy will grow very quickly. You can begin to switch to an adult diet when he reaches 80 to 90 percent of his anticipated adult weight. For most dogs, this occurs around 9 months of age. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes, have special needs. They require a more specialized diet until they are 12 to 18 months of age. Learn more about how to adjust to your dog’s nutritional requirements by reading the article When to Change from Puppy Food to Adult Food.

6. How do I change my pet’s diet?

Don’t change his diet all at once. Do it gradually over three days. Begin changing his diet by feeding 1/4 adult food and 3/4 puppy food for a few days. Then add 1/2 adult food and 1/2 puppy food. After a few more days, feed 3/4 adult food and 1/4 puppy food. Then, you can feed straight adult food.

7. Can my dog be a vegetarian?

Believe it or not, yes, your dog can be a vegetarian, as long as his meals are well balanced with protein from other sources. There are a number of commercially available vegetarian foods, but you should first discuss his diet with your veterinarian.

8. Are rawhides bad for my dog?

Many people give rawhides to their pet as a toy and to help their teeth. It is theorized that dogs like rawhides, due to their natural instincts as wild dogs. But pets with a history of vomiting, special dietary needs, diarrhea or allergies may have a bad reaction to rawhide. Talk with your veterinarian about whether to give your dog rawhide or not. For more information, see Rawhide, Cowhide: Are They Good or Bad for Your Pet?

9. Can my dog eat cat food?

Your dog may survive on cat food, but he won’t thrive. Dogs and cats are different species, with their own nutritional requirements. Although a dog will get the necessary nutrients, he will be ingesting excess protein and fats that a cat requires to stay healthy. Over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

10. What is in dog food anyway?

Dog food contains a variety of agricultural ingredients, such as meat, poultry, seafood and feed grain byproducts. (Byproducts are parts of an animal or plant not used for human consumption. They still must meet federal standards for safety and nutrition.) Vitamins and minerals are added to complete nutritional needs. Preservatives are added to keep dog food fresh during shipping and while on the shelf, and color is added to make the food look more attractive. The coloring and preservatives are the same used in food for people and have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Association of American Feed Control Officials publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” pet food. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Read the label.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

The Facts About Microchipping Dogs


It is a sad fact that hundreds of dogs go missing every year and are found, rather bedraggled but perfectly healthy, handed into the local animal shelter which then searches desperately for the animal’s owner to no avail. We explore the facts about microchipping dogs to solve these issues.

Introduction to Microchipping Dogs

In some cases the dogs are even euthanized. Many of these fine canines had been equipped with dog identification tags or collars but with so much time astray from their owners such collars had often slipped off or, agonizingly, the writing had become illegible. In a recent study involving over 7,700 stray pets, the number of non-microchipped dogs that were safely returned to their owners was just under 22%.

Very few dog owners would wish that their chances of finding their beloved lost pet were as low as one in five. As such, the solution that many have turned to is to have a microchip injected into their scampering young member of the family in order to raise these meager odds.

For an average one time cost of $45 at the majority of local veterinary practices, a microchip can be injected into the dog. It is a small glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice that contains a radio transmitter and a minute electronic device containing the animal’s ID number. This is done in exactly the same manner as any usual injection procedure, although, in order to accommodate the microchip, it requires a slightly larger needle. The chip will last for over 25 years, which is well beyond the lifespan of all but the most exceptional hounds.

Lost Dogs

At this stage it is important to note that this is not a tracking microchip that can be used to pinpoint a dog’s location. The idea behind it is that when a dog is handed into an animal shelter, they can scan the dog for the microchip.

This will then give them the animal identification number in order to search the database so as to contact the owner. The same study of 7,700 stray pets revealed that dogs with implanted microchips have a 51.2% chance of being reunited with their owners, a near 30% increase over those without.

Understanding The Frequencies

Based on this information alone, most people would be convinced that a microchip for their pet is a good idea. However, there are a few warnings of which to take heed. In the past there were three microchip frequencies commonly used in the U.S. that responded to scanners on the fame frequency. These were 125 kilohertz (kHz), 128 kHz, and 134.2 kHz. Until recently, these frequencies were mutually exclusive. For example a microchip that responds to a 125 kHz scanner would not respond to a 134.2 kHz scanner. There were some very sad cases of dogs unable to be returned to their owners, despite having a microchip, because it did not respond to the scanner’s frequency.

In order to alleviate this problem, universal scanners have been introduced. They are used by most shelters in the country, detecting microchips resonating at any of the above frequencies. In those unfortunate cases where animals are still scanned with the wrong frequency, it is always recommended that the dog’s identification tags are also maintained and kept up to date. An especially vigilant owner could always check the frequencies that local rescue shelters use to identify microchipped dogs. For reference, the international frequency for those looking to take their dogs abroad is 134.2 kHz.

Some Concerns

The more worrying concerns are the admittedly rare medical complications that a microchip implant can cause. In 2009 there was the case of a Chihuahua hemorrhaging to death in California due to mystery bleeding put down to the microchip implant. There have also been complications when the chips have been implanted into the wrong area of the animal — something highly unlikely with a qualified veterinarian — or when the chip has migrated within the animal’s body.

These have usually been harmless but can sometimes cause infections or abscesses. Finally, there have been reported cases of tumors developing in and around the area in which the implant was made, though this in itself does not necessarily mean it was due to the implant itself.


The latter part of this information is not designed to worry owners, it is merely a statement of fact. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Considering how a large number of pets have been implanted with microchips with a relatively small number of confirmed cases of tumors associated with microchips, the AVMA advises against a rush to judgment on the technology.”

In the great majority of cases, microchips have saved lives and kept dogs and their families together without any drawbacks. While a dog can easily lose its tags or collar, it’s almost impossible to lose a microchip barring serious injury, and the benefits can outweigh the risks.


Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Human Medications for Dogs: Never Give to Your Dog

 Pets are a lot like kids. They depend on you for their safety – and you can never be too careful. Your most important job as a pet parent is to keep your pet healthy. So today, I want to give you some information about toxic medications that could potentially save your dog’s life.

Just because a medication is safe for humans DOESN’T mean it’s safe for dogs. I’ve seen cases where pet parents with the best intentions accidentally poisoned their dog with common over-the-counter medications because they didn’t understand the dangers. That’s why you should NEVER give your dog medication without first checking with your veterinarian.

Here are 3 common over-the-counter medications that you should NEVER give to your dog:

1. Aspirin – Aspirin interferes with platelets (which help the blood to clot). So if your dog has a wound or laceration, aspirin would make it harder to stop the bleeding. Aspirin is especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs, like steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Dogs may experience gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders and kidney failure.

2. Ibuprofen – This over-the-counter medication is a popular way to treat pain and inflammation in people – but for dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. Well-intentioned owners may give their dog what they consider to be a “safe dose” – but it can easily lead to bleeding stomach ulcers and eventually kidney failure. And, if left untreated, this can be fatal. Symptoms include poor appetite, vomiting, black tarry stools, vomiting blood, abdominal pain, weakness and lethargy.

3. Acetaminophen – Medicating your dog with acetaminophen without consulting a veterinarian is dangerous. (Pets also consume tablets that are dropped on the floor or left around the house.) Dogs are less sensitive to acetaminophen than cats are. For example, a 50-pound dog would need to ingest more than seven 500 mg tablets to suffer toxic effects. For a cat, one 250 mg acetaminophen tablet could be fatal. If you suspect that your dog has ingested a toxic amount of acetaminophen (one pill or more), contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility immediately. Common brands of acetaminophen include Tylenol®, Percocet® and aspirin-free Excedrin® among others.

So remember to keep all medications out of your dog’s reach and NEVER give your dog any medication without first consulting your veterinarian. If you ever suspect that your dog has ingested any of these medications (in any amount), please contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility immediately.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Canine Assistants: The Roles of Service Dogs

 When Chris Timmins buys a book, her dog Pacific pays the clerk. When she goes into a darkened classroom to teach, the Labrador retriever jumps up to turn on the lights.

Pacific is a service dog, a highly trained canine that has the intelligence, motivation and skills to help people manage and overcome disabilities. He is trained to help Timmins, a quadriplegic, with hundreds of day-to-day activities. Pacific learned his trade from Tender Loving Canines, Assistance Dogs (TLCAD), a nonprofit organization located in San Marcos, Calif.

An assistance dog is a canine specially trained to help people manage physical or emotional problems. TLCAD is just one of scores of similar organizations dedicated to training dogs to help people lead happier, more productive lives.

There are several types of assistance dogs: there are the well-known guide and hearing dogs. Guide dogs have been giving the blind greater mobility for more than 70 years. Hearing dogs came after that. They alert the deaf to the phone, the alarm clock, fire alarm, etc. Therapy dogs (also called “facility dogs”) help people with cognitive or emotional problems. Some the dogs are trained to perform certain tasks, and others simply possess a gentle, calm and loving nature that draw people out of their shells.

Then there are service dogs. These canines primarily help the physically disabled and/or mobility impaired. They retrieve objects such as keys and cordless phones, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off, and even get objects from the refrigerator and take clothing out of the drier. Service dogs include “balance dogs,” which are specially trained to help people walk. These dogs have a guide-like harness attached to them to allow people more freedom of movement.

Service dogs are more recent than guide or hearing dogs, notes Betsy Howell, program coordinator for the Susquehanna Service Dogs. She says they have been around for about 25 years. Howell explains that people with disabilities have been achieving more independence over the years, which is one the most important criterion a person has to show to be accepted into a program.

These dogs have demonstrated tremendous benefits, notes Sally Montrucchio, an apprentice trainer at TLCAD. A study published in 1996 in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that service dogs greatly improved the self-esteem and well-being of people with severe disabilities, as well as increasing their feeling of being in control of events.

The study also showed a cost-savings benefit. The participants in the study showed dramatic decreases in the hours of paid and unpaid assistance. “There’s a real cost-benefit, if you measured it that way,” notes Montrucchio.

The emotional benefits, of course, are priceless. Dogs (and pets in general) give people a sense of being needed.

The many organizations devoted to this kind of work generally use positive training. Dogs are corrected when they do something wrong; they are not punished. But programs may differ in size and specialties. TLCAD, for instance, trains a very small number of dogs (perhaps two a year) for a specific person. Each dog undergoes 18 months of training, from puppy to adulthood, learning basic positional cues (sit, stay, come, down, back, etc.) and advanced cues (bringing specific objects and doing very specific tasks on cue). At this point, the dog is paired with a disabled partner – based on ability and personality – for six months of team training with a trainer. The disabled handler studies dog behavior, how to be pack leader and how to handle the dog in private and public.

Montrucchio says the process of learning is as important as what’s being taught. “During the first 18 months, the dog learns how to learn,” she explains. “During team training, the handler learns what the dog knows – about 100 commands – how the dog learns, and how to teach the dog new tasks that apply specifically to him or her.” For instance, the handler learns how to rearrange and re-label commands to get the dog to put clothes in the laundry basket, in addition to putting metal cans in the recycling bin.

Pacific, Timmins’ dog, follows her instructions exactly. When they are in school, he turns on and off lights that are too high for Timmins to reach. During class, he curls up on a bed or under her desk while she teaches. In a store, Timmins hands the money or credit card to the dog to give to the clerk. The dogs are taught what side of the wheelchair to stay on, that they need to back up to let a person through, etc. At TLCAD, dogs are not taught to pull manual wheelchairs, but they will retrieve the chairs or other walking assistance devices.

Larger programs, such as the one at Susquehanna Service Dogs, use different training methods. Howell explains that dogs are kept with foster families and trained in basic obedience until they are about 1 1/2 years old. They are then fully trained at the Susquehanna Service Dogs facility outside Harrisburg, Pa. When they are about 2 to 2 1/2 years old, they go to a recipient. They both undergo about 2 weeks of training to learn how to work and live together. Dogs in this program are taught to pull wheelchairs when they can.

Both programs favor retrievers because of the breed’s intelligence, natural abilities (they are genetically hard-wired to retrieve) and eagerness to please. They add that retrievers are more “socially approachable,” meaning people are not intimidated by this breed as they would, say, by a German shepherd. Both stress that the German shepherd is a wonderful breed, but that it’s a matter of public perception – these dogs are associated with military and police work. Labrador and golden retrievers have a gentler reputation.

Dogs are obtained through donations by responsible breeders, a program’s own breeding program, breed rescues and, more rarely, shelters. Shelter dogs are not favored because they may have physical or emotional troubles that are not readily apparent. Training a dog can cost $5,000 or more and takes several years, so a program is risking a lot of time and money if the dog suddenly cannot be used. By knowing the history of a puppy – the health of the parents, their temperament, etc. – these risks are minimized.

Most programs are nonprofit, with funding coming from government, business and private donations. Many hold fundraisers, such as Susquehanna’s “Pawsabilities” event, held in March. Dogs compete in games, show off tricks and march in a parade, among other activities. Proceeds go to Susquehanna Service Dogs.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Is Rawhide Safe for Dogs?

 Dog chewing rawhide bone

Chewing — it’s what dogs do. And rawhides are classic chew toys for dogs. Made from the inner layer of cowhides that are cleaned, cut, shaped, sometimes flavored and then dried, rawhides can give dogs hours of chewing pleasure. Or they can be gulped down practically whole bydogs who are more eager for the eatingexperience than the chewing experience.
So when clients ask me if it’s safe to give their dogs rawhides, I have to say that it depends on the individual dog. Labrador Retrievers and Pit Bulls, for instance, tend to be heavy-duty chewers and gulpers. They are among the dogs who are most likely to bite off and swallow large pieces of rawhide. Those chunks can become stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract and may pose a choking risk or require emergency surgery or endoscopic removal. Other dogs, though, may be content to gnaw on them for hours or days.

That’s just one of the reasons why everyone, including veterinarians, has a different opinion on whether it’s okay to give your dog a rawhide. I asked two of my colleagues, Tony Johnson, DVM, and Tina Wismer, DVM, to weigh in with their experiences.

Know the Hazards

There’s a small but real risk of a blockage if a dog swallows a piece of rawhide, says Dr. Johnson, an emergency and critical-care specialist in Indianapolis. “I have seen many esophageal foreign bodies in smaller dogs with rawhides,” he says. He’d rather not give rawhides to dogs at all. In his opinion, the ideal dog treat or toy should be either completely consumable in 30 seconds or as inedible and difficult to consume as possible.
At home, though, his wife — who is also a veterinarian — gives rawhides to their three dogs with no problem.

“Stomach acid will break down small pieces of rawhide,” says Dr. Wismer, a veterinary toxicologist and medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “That’s not a problem. The issue is if they ingest a piece that’s big enough to leave the stomach whole, and then it gets stuck in the intestinal tract.”
Some dogs break teeth when chewing rawhides. There’s a higher risk of that with pressed rawhides because they are more dense, Dr. Wismer says.

Rawhide Safety

The way rawhides are prepared can also be a concern. In the United States, rawhides are washed with degreasers and detergents, sterilized with hydrogen peroxide and then thoroughly rinsed. The hides are refrigerated until they are processed to keep them fresh. But rawhides made in other countries may be produced under less stringent practices. Dr. Wismer notes, however, that there has been only a single documented incident of imported rawhides contaminated with toxins. “This dates to the early 1980s, when there was one shipment of rawhides that was contaminated with arsenic,” she says.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the manufacture of rawhides in this country. It’s up to consumers to call U.S. manufacturers and ask about their practices. That’s a heck of a lot easier to do with a manufacturer in the U.S. than one in China.

For that reason, I only recommend rawhide products made in the United States. Dr. Johnson also prefers domestically made rawhides. Don’t hesitate to call the manufacturer and ask if their rawhides are completely sourced and made in the U.S.

Like any product from an animal source, rawhides can also be contaminated with salmonella, says Dr. Wismer. The same is true for pig ears, cow ears and similar items, she adds. Salmonella typically affects younger dogs and those with compromised health, and healthy dogs tend to be less prone to salmonella infection than humans. But it can be an issue for people in the household who come in contact with the rawhide. Young children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Don’t let little kids play with or chew on rawhides, not even long enough for you to snap a photo for Instagram. And wash your hands after giving your dog a rawhide or putting one away.

The Upside

So is there an upside to giving your dog a rawhide? There may be. Chewing a rawhide helps to keep dogs mentally stimulated and out of trouble.

What about a rawhide’s rumored teeth-cleaning properties? Anything that rubs against the teeth can help, but letting a dog chew a rawhide is no substitute for daily tooth-brushing or a professional cleaning that gets under the gumline where bacteria lurk.
What’s the verdict? For the vast majority of dogs, I’ve seen very few accidents from chewing rawhides other than digestive upset. If you choose to give your dog rawhide treats, know his chewing style, select one that’s large enough that he can’t swallow it whole and only provide it when you can monitor the chewing. If he’s a gulper, not a gnawer, keep an eye on him while he’s chewing to make sure he doesn’t break off and swallow pieces. Put the rawhide away when you can’t supervise. Chew on!

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Harmful Dog Treats-Dog Teeth Problems



Some pet parents can’t resist sharing their desserts with their dogs. Sweet treats like ice cream, cookies and other sugary human delicacies are a bad idea for dogs from a nutrition and weight standpoint, but sweet foods can also have a negative impact on tooth health as well.

Dr. Chad Lothamer, assistant professor of dentistry and oral surgery at Colorado State University, says that even though dogs aren’t as prone to cavities as humans because of the shape of their teeth (they have fewer flat teeth where bacteria can build up) and the pH in their mouths, it is still possible for dogs who eat an excessive amount of sugar to develop them, particularly on teeth in the rear of the mouth. Instead of sharing sugary snacks with your dog, eat the ice cream yourself and give your pup healthy dog treats with natural ingredients and limited fillers.



It might seem like ice cubes are a great dog treat because they do double duty as a quick chew as well as a way to hydrate. Unfortunately, those hard chunks of ice can do major damage. Even though dogs have powerful mouths, the pressure required to break through a piece of ice is considerable, and a determined ice-chomping dog might end up with a fractured tooth. Dr. Barden Greenfield, DVM and diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College, says that the sharpest points of a dog’s mandibular first molar and the maxillary fourth molar are particularly at risk for snapping off because of the pressure needed to crush ice. Come hot weather, skip the ice and give your dog a good old fashioned bowl of water instead.

Katie Grzyb, DVM, says that owners should also be cautious about what their dogs chew on outside or at the dog park, as many dogs can break their teeth chewing on rocks.

Hard-Plastic Dental Bones

Hard-Plastic Dental Bones

Some processed plastic or nylon dental chew bones are marketed to suggest that they improve dental health, but they may in fact cause the same types of problems as antlers and hooves. Many of these chews don’t pass the “knee test,” which means that they’re hard enough to do damage to your dog’s teeth. On top of that, some dental chews might not deliver the tooth cleaning benefits that they promise.

“There are tons of treats that make claims to improve oral health and unfortunately most of these do not provide proof beyond anecdotal claims,” Lothamer says. He suggests using the Veterinary Oral Health Council website as a guide for safe chews and treats, since it gauges product effectiveness based on the scientific method.

Signs of Tooth Injury

Signs of Tooth Injury

Dental problems aren’t always as obvious as a canine tooth snapped in half and, unfortunately, dogs can be very good at masking their pain.

“There often are no warning signs of tooth fracture as dogs are very good at masking signs of dental pain. However, some general signs might be unwillingness to play with or chew on their regular toys, dropping food or chewing on one side of the mouth, decreased levels of activity or energy, reluctance to allow brushing of the teeth,” Buelow says.

Chronic tennis-ball chewers should also be watched, Grzyb said, as constant chewing on tennis balls can wear down the crown of the tooth, exposing the nerve and leading to pain and infection.

Greenfield suggests that pet parents check their dog’s teeth and mouth proactively during regular teeth-cleaning sessions. Staying on top of home cleanings keeps pet parents familiar with the topography of their dog’s mouth, and more likely to pick up on a pain point before it gets out of hand.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Dogs Itchy Skin


What if your dog’s fur seems dry and a bit dandruffy, and also looks to be shedding more than usual. Know what can you do in this situation to help your dog?


Dogs itch for many different reasons, and sometimes, for no reason, and it’s not uncommon for the scratching to seem worse at night, when the house is quiet. Every dog’s gotta scratch some time, and that’s completely normal. But when a dog is incessantly licking, scratching, biting and chewing to the point of wounding herself, then scratching becomes a symptom of an underlying pathology.

The medical term for scratching related to excessive itching is pruritus. This is the second most common reason people take their dogs to the vet (gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea top the list). The causes of pruritus can be quite complex, but there are two main reasons why dogs itch. The first has to do with the condition of the skin itself: Is it infected? Is it too oily? Is it too dry? Of these three, dry skin is a frequent occurrence. The second major cause of pruritus is allergies.

Is It Dry Skin?

One common cause of itching is dry skin. If you live in a region with low humidity, it’s more likely that your dog will have dry skin, which is fairly easy to recognize. When you part your dog’s hair, you see flakes of dandruff in the undercoat, and the skin itself may be cracked and tough. The slightest stimulation of the skin—your gentlest touch—can provoke your dog to scratch violently.

Dry skin can be influenced not only by environmental factors, but also by diet. Commercial pet foods process out the good oils that contribute to healthy skin and a lustrous haircoat. Dry pet foods have an even more dehydrating effect on skin and hair and also stimulate increased thirst, which only partially compensates for the drying nature of these diets.

If you must feed dry foods, then by all means add digestive enzymes to your dog’s meals. In fact, digestive enzymes are good to use with any type of food. Enzymes improve the release of nutrients, and beneficial probiotic bacteria also assist in the digestive process. (Probiotics also help with allergies, as noted below.) A healthy digestive system absorbs fluids more readily from the food your dog eats, thus improving hydration and increasing the moisture levels of the skin and haircoat.

Or Allergies?

Another common cause of itchy skin is allergies. Allergies may make your dog’s skin dry, greasy, or slightly dry and oily, and are accompanied by frequent scratching, licking or chewing. We are seeing significantly more cases of allergic dogs than we have in the past; many veterinarians believe that we are experiencing an “allergy epidemic.” While the reasons for this allergy epidemic are uncertain, some of the theories put forth include the aggressive vaccination protocols that many dogs have been subjected to, poor breeding practices and the feeding of processed pet foods.

Whatever the cause, allergies are difficult to address. In the worst cases, afflicted dogs require strong (and potentially toxic) pharmaceuticals just to get some relief. Though allergies are rarely cured, early identification and intervention can keep them under control, and in some cases, can substantially diminish them.

Preventing Allergies

Clinical research has shown that one important way to reduce the likelihood that dogs will develop allergies is to give them high-potency cultures of beneficial probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bifidus when they are very young. Probiotics are relatively inexpensive, absolutely safe to use, and can save both dog and the owner tons of grief—and visits to the vet—later in life.

Regardless of age, many dogs’ allergies are controlled by improving the quality of their diet, giving them high potency acidophilus cultures and high doses of fish oils; adding freshly milled flax seed; and, in some cases, giving them antihistamines. (It can take up to three months for this regimen to take effect; see sidebar for details and dosages.)

Determining which condition your dog is dealing with requires a vet’s evaluation, but implementing some of the suggestions provided in the sidebar can certainly help your pup be more comfortable in her own skin—literally.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Dog Dental Health

 Dog Dental Health - What You Need to Know

Your dog’s teeth represent a sophisticated food-chewing machine.

Open your adult canine’s mouth and take a look. You’ll find approximately 42 permanent teeth comprised of incisors for biting, canine teeth for tearing, premolars for grinding, and molars for rigorous chewing. Each type of tooth serves an essential function within your dog’s overall process of breaking down food.

Yet, without proper care, your dog’s teeth are destined to suffer from issues associated with oral disease. As with any piece of machinery, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure continued operation at a peak level.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs show oral disease by age 3, making it one of the most common conditions afflicting our canine companions. The buildup of bacteria in your dog’s mouth causes more than just bad breath – it can also serve as a catalyst of dental conditions and diseases affecting organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys.

How can you keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy in the face of this startling statistic? Here’s what you need to know about dog dental health.

Healthy Teeth Make a Healthy Pet

White, healthy teeth help form the foundation for any canine’s overall strong bill of health. But similar to with humans, dogs’ teeth are prone to plaque buildup. When allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

The most common disease afflicting small animals, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the mouth. Its stages of severity progress from plaque and mildly inflamed gums to established gingivitis (gum disease) and, ultimately, the onset of full-fledge periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss.

Preventive dental care represents one of the most neglected pet health needs. Periodontal disease is painful, and it’s up to us to take responsibility for our dogs’ care. If you think your dog may have periodontal disease, schedule an appointment to have your veterinarian perform an oral exam.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Dental Disease

While you may not have a veterinary degree, your sensory perceptions can provide a strong indication of whether your canine is suffering from periodontal disease. Halitosis – or bad breath – is the most common sign of oral disease, and buildup of yellow and brown tarter on the tooth surface serves as the most obvious visual clue.

Other signs of canine periodontal disease include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Gingivitis
  • Drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pawing at the mouth

As a dog owner, you should monitor your canine for potential dental conditions. However, it’s also important to realize that some periodontal disease may not be visible to even the most experienced observer. Consequently, a complete periodontal examination – including dental X-rays – may be necessary to uncover all types of oral disease.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

How To Stop Bleeding on a Dog

Accidents happen. Your dog’s playful nature and curiosity may lead to cuts, scrapes, and punctures at some point in his life. Proper wound cleaning will prevent infection and help you and the vet tell how bad your pet’s injury really is.

1. Calm the Dog Down

When you find that your dog has been injured, get immediate control of him, calming him down in case he is overwhelmed. Gently petting him and speaking to him in a calm, friendly voice, try to soothe him instill confidence that things are or will be okay.

Although you may get so worried, do not show it to your dog. He is able to read your body language and he can tell what your voice intonations mean. He is likely to pick up on your behaviors and act following your lead. A calm dog has his heart not racing any more, and that may ease the bleeding.

2. Muzzle the Dog if Necessary

Whenever you are handling an injured animal, remember to keep your safety first. Even dogs that are usually sweet and friendly may lash out in fear of additional pain. As such, if you are not fully confident about your safety as the dog begins to growl and snap at you, or if he has a history of using his canines when irritated, muzzle him first.

In case there is no muzzle, wrap a light rope or leash around his muzzle, and be keen not to block the nostrils. In case this initiates a big fuss, avoid any protraction and try the best to, as safely as you can, take him to a vet. To ensure you are safe, put a towel or blanket over him before and as you move him to the pet hospital.

3. Address Any Bleeding You See

More than cleanliness, you should actually focus on stopping profuse bleeding immediately. If you find the blood is pulsing out of the fresh wound, it is likely your dog has an arterial vein injury, and that can turn out very disastrous. You ought to treat pulsing blood with the fierce urgency of now.

Using a clean and absorbent material, apply pressure direct to the wound. For that matter, you can use a washcloth, towel, gauze, or a sanitary pad, even. Stay it there while the pressure is on for about 3 to five minutes, then check to confirm whether the bleeding has stopped. Do not let excitement make you keep on taking the pressure off and on again, for that will disrupt blood clot formation, delaying the process.

4. Apply a Tourniquet

When trying to control dog injury bleeding, using a tourniquet should be the last resort. Be aware that pick up on t if applied inappropriately it may result in complications leading to tissue death. It is scary that the pet might be given an amputation if you cut off proper circulation, and neither your dog nor you want that to ever happen. As such, if you had no proper training on how to apply a tourniquet to a fresh wound on a dog, you are advised to call your vet to receive professional instructions on how to it right. Don’t just rely on the written general guide. Place a clean pad or towel around his limb—not anywhere near his chest, neck, or abdomen. Using a leash or belt, hold the towel in place.

The tourniquet should be place just above the wound, toward its body. Let it stay for between 5 and 10 minutes, and then release the pressure to avert permanent injury to his limb. Use just adequate pressure to alleviate or stop the bleeding, while avoiding too much that may result in crushed tissue or muscle. However, be confident while doing this; applying tourniquet should be painless to your faithful friend.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372