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5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Newborn Puppies


The first few days of a puppy’s life may not be action-packed (it’s a whole lot of sleeping, eating, and pooping, as is the case with most newborns). But there are some things new pet parents should know to ensure their pups grow into healthy and happy dogs.

1. They Develop over a Short Period of Time

Puppies develop and grow inside their mother’s womb for approximately two months. This is the normal gestation period (or length of pregnancy) for dogs. In the sense of development, “a newborn puppy is not unlike a premature child.

At birth, puppies are unable to regulate body temperature, or even urinate or defecate on their own. Puppies depend on their mother and littermates for warmth, huddling in cozy piles to conserve body temperature.

2. They Double Their Weight in a Week

3. They Can’t See or Hear, but They Can Make Noise

Puppies can’t see or hear for the first two weeks of their lives, but they can make puppy noises. “They’ll vocalize right from the beginning. When they are born, the mom will lick the placenta off to stimulate them.

At around 10 days, they’ll start to open their eyes, even though they aren’t fully formed yet. All puppies are born with a blue-gray color to their eyes, their “true” eye color will be evident at around 10 weeks. Most newborn puppies can hear a little bit when they are born. However, their ears are still closed until about 14 days of age.

4. They Sleep and Eat a Lot

Newborn puppies eat every two hours. Even without vision, puppies use their reflexes and instincts to find their mother’s nipple to nurse.

In between feedings, they sleep about 90 percent of the day, or 22 hours.

5. They’re Born with Fur and Nails but No Teeth

Puppies have sharp little nails when they are born. It’s typically best to wait until 4 to 6 weeks of age to clip their nails, but this can be done sooner if they are hurting the mother. They are also born with hair and fur, but the amount depends on the breed. When they’re born, they have a puppy coat.

As they grow over their first year, dogs that shed will shed out their puppy coats and grow their adult coat. Their teeth start coming in at around 4 weeks old. Between 3 and 4 months old, they begin to lose their baby teeth to make way for their adult teeth.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid and CPR

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

310 919 9372

Food Allergies in Dogs vs. Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog’s daily roll in the grass is causing allergic reactions, such as excessive paw licking and rigorous belly scratching, you may be surprised to learn that he could actually have a food allergy.

While it’s common for dogs to suffer from seasonal allergies to things like the pollen they come in contact with while playing in the yard, there are several types of dog allergies that can manifest themselves in similar ways, said Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian for Trupanion, a Seattle-based insurance company.

“Food allergies and environmental allergies can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms can include itchiness, hair loss, skin infections and ear infections. In addition, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why your vet may need to start with diagnostics to first rule out skin mites, fungal infections and endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s,” Nold said.

Dr. Joseph Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that seasonal allergies typically occur during certain times of the year while food allergies have no seasonality.

They do overlap, however, and approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas, he said. Many of these allergies present themselves either with skin problems (like itchiness, recurrent infections, ear infections or hair loss) and/or gastrointestinal signs (like vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite), he added.

Since many of the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs are not unique to either type of allergy, treatment may require a bit of educated trial and error to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s allergy. A visit to your vet should always be your first step. Here are some general guidelines to help dog owners understand food and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of Food Allergies

Many owners may not immediately suspect their dog has a food allergy because it can take years for their dog to develop an allergy to the food it is fed everyday. Food hypersensitivity can occur at any age in a dog’s life.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian, says one possible indicator of a food allergy can be the location of the skin problems. “If you notice lesions all over your dog’s body, on the flanks, ribs, hips or knees there’s a big chance it’s a food allergy,” he said.

Other symptoms include recurrent ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and itchiness that can lead to self trauma such as hair loss, scabs or hot spots (areas that have been repeatedly licked or chewed and have become inflamed). Gastrointestinal issues are usually symptoms that are specifically related to possible food allergies.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Allergies

Your vet will likely want to start with a review of your dog’s dietary history. It’s important to include the foods that make up his daily meals as well as any treats. Many dogs are allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy and wheat as well as some of the additives contained in commercial brands of dog food.

Bartges says your vet may suggest eliminating certain proteins and substituting them for a novel protein, or a protein source that the dog has not been exposed to, such as duck, fish or kangaroo. Other options include a hydrolysate diet (where the protein source has been pre-digested to small pieces that are too small for the immune system to recognize), or to a homemade diet of either cooked or raw food.

It can take a few months to see an improvement in your dog’s food allergies, Nold said, but it’s important to diligently stick to the prescribed diet and to completely eliminate any treats and table scraps. Even certain medications can be flavored, Nold said, so make sure to discuss all medications your dog may be taking with your veterinarian to ensure they’re an approved part of the diet.

If your dog does well and shows no signs of an allergic reaction, you can gradually add in other kinds of food. But if he shows no sign of improvement, regardless of the food source, it may be time to consider that he could be suffering from a seasonal allergy.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies generally occur at certain times of the year. Some of the common causes of seasonal allergies include dust, dust mites, pollen, grass and flea bites. Mahaney said that lesions on the top or underside of your dog’s feet often point to environmental allergies.

Your dog’s climate and environment can have a major impact on if they have seasonal allergies or not, he said. “In Los Angeles, for instance, it’s always warm, so things are blooming year round which can expose your dog to more allergies. But in New Jersey, things bloom in the spring, then they’re gone in the winter.”

Regardless of where your dog lives, it’s still possible for him to develop year-round allergies.

“Allergies can occur at certain times of the year, but they can turn into year-round allergies for older dogs. The more your dog is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes,” Nold said.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Seasonal Allergie

There are a number of ways that seasonal allergies can be diagnosed and treated, most of which depend on the allergen itself. These include:

  • Testing: an intradermal skin test, in which a small amount of test allergens are injected under your dog’s skin, can help pinpoint the problem of moderate to severe allergies. Allergens are identified by which injections cause redness, swelling or small hives. Your vet can then create a specialized serum or immunotherapy shot which can be administered at home or in your vet’s office. Nold says 70 percent of dogs have good results after a year of shots.
  • Fatty acids: omega-3 fatty acid supplements like fish oil can help reinforce the skin’s barrier, reduce inflammation, and can be helpful for all types of allergies in addition to chronic issues including skin, joint and cardiac problems.
  • Antihistamines: the same over the counter antihistamines that people take can be given to dogs to help reduce itching. Depending on the dog and his condition, however, it can take some time and effort to find the right one. “I’ve seen owners give their dog Benadryl because it helped their friend’s dog, but it won’t be affective if your dog has developed a secondary skin infection,” Nold said. “It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet before giving your dog over the counter drugs so you don’t make things worse.”
  • Steroids: dogs who are severely itchy and uncomfortable may need a steroid, which can quickly reduce itching. But owners should be aware that there are increased side effects of steroid medication, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Your dog should receive regular blood and urine testing if he is taking steroids on a long-term basis.
  • Antibiotics: Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if your dog’s constant licking, chewing or rubbing has created a secondary skin infection. His skin may look red and inflamed or have a circular bald patch with a crusty edge.
  • Environmental control: Mahaney said simple things like preventing your dog from making contact with known irritants can go a long way toward providing relief. “Don’t let your dog go on specific surfaces that irritate him like grass. You may have to make a lifestyle change. If you can’t rip out your grass, try putting boots on your dog. Or give him a localized footbath or a cleansing foot wipe down. It may also be a good idea to keep your dog on a regular bathing schedule which can help remove abnormal bacteria,” he said.
  • Flea control and prevention: It’s common for dogs to have an allergic reaction to flea saliva, which can cause itchy spots and red bumps toward the back end of his body. Ridding your dog of a pesky flea infestation can be a difficult task. Make sure to apply flea preventative medication as directed by your veterinarian, as improper use of flea and tick medication can result in an infestation. Other ways to help keep the flea population down include regularly vacuuming carpeted surfaces, using a flea comb and washing your dog’s bedding weekly with hypoallergenic, non-toxic detergents instead of household cleaners that may contain chemicals.

Overall, getting to the root of your dog’s allergy can take a bit of educated detective work. The most important thing is to seek help from your vet and not to get discouraged with the process.

“It can be frustrating if something isn’t working [but] there’s always something else we can try,” Nold said. “It might seem like you didn’t accomplish anything, but your dog’s response to therapy is helpful in determining the next step. We can find a plan to help your pet.”

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 Socialize a Dog


Veterinarians can tell if a dog has been socialized the moment they walk into an exam room. Some come in excited while others hide behind their owner and don’t want to come out. Socialization helps make the difference. Here are 3 ways to socialize your dog.

Start at a few weeks of age

Puppies need to be socialized before they are 16 weeks old. Owners tend to isolate their puppies at that time and expect that at a year, they’ll get them used to cars and different environments.

The ideal time for this kind of puppy training is between 3 and 12 weeks of age. The window of opportunity to socialize your dog usually closes around 18 weeks. Even if you adopt an adult dog, they can get used to individuals they see on a regular basis.

Set goals

Think about who and what a puppy will be around when it gets older and make a long list the things your pet needs to be socialized to.

That means children, adults, men, women, crying babies, people of different nationalities, crowds, people wearing hats, and people not wearing hats. The wider the variety of people you can expose your puppy to, the better.

Include different environments

Have your puppy walk on grass, concrete, through buildings like pet stores, on busy streets, quiet streets, areas with other animals — and near cars, trucks, buses, and trains.

You can even take your dog for rides in the car through different areas of town, through fast-food drive-thrus, and through car washes. This is also the time to get your dog used to be handled during grooming.


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

Why Do Dogs Smell Butts?

 Why Do Dogs Smell Other Dogs' Butts? The Real Answer!

Why Dogs Smell Other Dog Butts

You know the scene: you’re out with your dog when you come across another friendly canine. There’s the initial sniff, and a circle around. Now, another moment and another sniff, right on the rear end. Then it’s time for another loop around and yet another butt sniff. Why do dogs do this?

As a pet owner, the natural thing is to want to pull your dog away from the other dog when they are performing this ritual. After all, it is a little embarrassing when your dog starts smelling the butt of a friend or neighbor’s dog while you are having a conversation.

It seems pretty weird, especially considering how humans communicate, but it’s actually an important part of canine behavior. Here’s why.

Butt sniffing is a very natural, instinctual, and basic form of dog-to-dog communication. Strangely enough, it is how dogs greet and get to know each other. Even dogs that know each other will sniff butts to “see what’s new” and reinforce their bond and communication.

The dog butt sniff is the canine equivalent of “hello, how do you do?” and similar to how humans use a handshake when meeting and being introduced to someone. Dogs communicate with each other using their strong sense of smell and detect signals in the chemicals in smelly oil from the anal glands.

What a Dog Sniff Can Reveal About Another Dog

To understand what a sniff can tell a dog, it is important to understand how dogs are different. There are four main differences in the ways that dogs communicate in comparison with human communication.

  1. The first difference between dogs and humans is a dog’s amazing sense of smell. They are reported to have approximately 40 times more smell-sensing cells in their nasal passages than we do (and some reports suggest an ability as much as 1,000 to 100,000 times greater than that of humans). With such a super ability to smell, dogs rely on this sensory information far more than humans. Some experts believe it consumes over 30% of a dog’s brain function as opposed to about 5% in humans. It’s so strong that a dog entering a room can perceive if another dog previously in the room was happy, stressed, scared, or in heat. Although it is difficult for humans to completely understand exactly how this works, the “sniff” can somehow also tell the dogs if the encounter is likely to be friendly or not friendly.
  2. Dogs have prominent and active anal glands. These apocrine glands, which sit on each side of a dog’s rectum, produce strong-smelling secretions intended to send chemical signals about that dog’s identity to other animals. These signals include information like the sex of the dog, what the dog is eating, and even some clues about a dog’s emotional state.
  3. The third difference of note is the presence of the Jacobson’s organ (also known as the vomeronasal organ). This is a small piece of olfactory nerve tissue filled with extrasensory receptors that perceives odors transmitted through the air. Also present in many animals including cats, snakes, and even elephants, it transmits information to the brain from its position just inside the nose and mouth. You might notice a dog is activating their Jacobson’s organ when they make a funny face called the “Flehman response.” Dogs will often tilt their nose up and curl their lip to optimize their ability to “smell” in this way.
  4. The last big difference is that unlike humans, dogs will reintroduce themselves frequently, sometimes several times in a day or even an hour. Any change or stimulus will often lead to the butt sniff. Some believe the “sniff” can actually relieve tension and stress by helping an individual feel more comfortable about the other dog. Two dogs living in the same house may smell each other when one comes in from the outside or comes back from the vet to confirm information about the dog’s state including diet, stress, availability for mating, and mood.

What You Should Do During Dog to Dog Butt Sniffing

Behaviorists suggest that because the butt sniffing routine is a normal part of dog behavior, it’s best not to interrupt it if the dogs seem friendly. Interrupting this behavior is equivalent to you stopping a friend from shaking hands with someone they are meeting: it can annoy or upset the friend and can make the introduction awkward. In fact, lack of this butt sniffing communication between dogs can create stress between the dogs.

With that being said, some dogs are more aggressive “sniffers” than other dogs and not every dog that meets will actually like each other. If the sniffing gets intense and you notice any other signs of aggression, then it is appropriate to pull your dog away from the other.

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 Often Should You Bathe A Dog?


If your dog had the wherewithal to make out a list of his least favorite things to do, getting a bath would probably be close to the top. Since dog baths tend to be messy, time-consuming and not a whole lot of fun for everyone involved, it’s natural to wonder, “How often should I bathe my dog?”

As is often the case, the answer is “It depends.”

“Dogs groom themselves to help facilitate the growth of hair follicles and to support skin health,” says Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn. “However, bathing is needed for most dogs to supplement the process. But bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet as well. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.”

Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, adds, “the best bath frequency depends on the reason behind the bath. Healthy dogs who spend most of their time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, frequent bathing is a critical part of managing some medical conditions, like allergic skin disease.”

Whether your dog willingly hops in the tub for a scrubbing, or fights you tooth and nail every bath day – here are a few things to know that can make bath time easier.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

How often you should wash your dog depends on a number of factors, including his health, breed, coat, and activity level, as well as where these activities are taking place. Dogs who spend the day outside rolling around in things they shouldn’t are going to need a bath far more often than ones who spend most of their time on the couch. Or, as Mari Rozanski, of Plush Pups Boutique in Huntingdon Valley, Penn., puts it, just use your nose.

“If your dog comes into the room and you can smell him, he needs a bath,” says Rozanski. If your dog is covered in dirt or dried mud, a thorough brushing (outside if possible!) followed by a bath is usually your best option.

“I always bathe the body first and head last, as dogs tend to shake once their head is wet” says Rozanski. “Just because a shampoo says tearless or tear-free, do not put it directly in the eyes, rather wash around the eyes and rinse right away.”

Coates adds that if baths are part of a dog’s medical treatment plan, “your veterinarian should give you guidance on how often to bathe and what product to use.”

When to Call the Professionals

Rozanski has bathed barkers of all stripes, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes. She’s seen pet bathing fads come and go and says that keeping your dog clean is more than simply lather, rinse and repeat.

“Bathing dogs is not as simple as it seems. There are so many different types of dogs and coats which each need to be addressed separately, because of varying textures and lengths. In a salon, the groomer can address these distinctions, but at home, a pet owner may not realize the difference.”

For example, she says, a Shetland Sheepdog is a double-coated dog with thick, shedding hair. This breed requires a good soaking and moisturizing with lots of water and a lot of brushing and combing before, during, and after the bath, then a dog-specific conditioner, rinse and high velocity blow dry.

If you simply don’t have the time, space or desire to wash your dog at home, there is no shame in calling in an expert.

Finding the Right Bathing Products

Some differences between human and canine skin are obvious, but one that isn’t, skin pH, is arguably the most important when it comes to picking out the right bathing product.

“Human skin is very acidic, coming in at a pH of under 5 in most cases,” says Coates. “But dog skin is much closer to a pH of 7, meaning that it is essentially neutral – not strongly acidic or strongly alkaline.”

Therefore, some products that are specifically designed for human skin could be quite irritating to canine skin. For routine baths, Coates recommends using a mild, moisturizing dog shampoo. “Oatmeal-based shampoos are a good choice for many healthy dogs,” she says.

According to Denish, dogs can have negative reactions to shampoos and other products, even if they’re specifically made for dogs. “I have seen many pets that have had reactions to topical shampoos, rinses and conditioners. Reactions typically are either skin-mediated or from actual ingestion of the shampoo.”

Clinical signs of a skin reaction can include red, itchy skin and hives. Ingestion of pet shampoo can cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling and decreased appetite, Denish says. If you notice these symptoms, he recommends re-washing your dog with warm water only and reaching out to your veterinarian for next steps.

If you’re unsure of which type of shampoo to buy, talk to your veterinarian, who knows your pets and their medical history and is in the best position to provide individualized recommendations. This is especially true if your dog suffers from a skin condition.

“I separate shampoos into two types-basic grooming and medicated shampoos. As a veterinarian, I believe that real medicated shampoos should be recommended and dispensed by your pet’s doctor,” Denish says.

Learn more about the most common bath-time mistakes pet owners make.

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

Common Puppy Illness

 6 Common Illnesses to Watch for in Puppies

Your puppy is brand new and you want to protect him. The best thing you can do is to feed him a healthy, balanced diet, says Dr. Jim Dobies, a veterinarian with South Point Pet Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., and a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

“If you do, you’re giving your puppy’s immune system the best chance to fight off infection, he says. “He is in better shape to fight off illness and recover.”

But you can’t protect your baby pooch from everything. Here are six common illnesses he could catch in his first year of life.

1. Parvovirus (Parvo)

This highly contagious canine illness attacks puppies aged between 12 weeks and up to 3 years. Transmitted through bodily secretions and unvaccinated dogs, canine parvovirus is easily passed on, though most dogs are vaccinated against it starting at six to eight weeks, then again every three weeks until they are four months old (or until your veterinarian recommends).

Symptoms: A CPV infection (parvo) in dogs starts with a fever, and at this point puppies are probably very contagious (to other dogs, not humans). “After a few days, they will experience vomiting and bloody diarrhea and become dehydrated and weak,” says Dr. Dobies.

Treatment: Vaccinate against parvovirus! If you haven’t, hospitalization is the best route, where your puppy will be given IV fluids and sometimes antibiotics to prevent sepsis, which can be fatal.

Recovery time: Three to seven days. Puppies with parvo are usually hospitalized for three to four days then go home with medications.

2. Distemper

The vaccination against canine distemper virus is quite effective. The first vaccination takes place at six to eight weeks, and again after 9 weeks, “and when puppies have had one or two vaccines they are immune,” says Dr. Dobies. Consult your veterinarian for the best course of action for your dog concerning the distemper vaccine.

Symptoms: “This can really be an ugly disease,” he says. It shows in two ways: Initially distemper in dogs typically appears as an upper respiratory disease with sneezing and eye discharge. Then it can develop into pneumonia or can lead to neurological problems such as a fatal encephalopathy (brain damage).

Distemper in dogs is frequently misdiagnosed because owners think their puppy has a cold “so by the time we see them they have tons of discharge from their nose and eyes and have high fever. They are also depressed,” Dr. Dobies says.

Treatment: Seek medical attention for distemper in dogs. This usually involves inpatient supportive care.

Recovery time: It can take weeks to recover from canine distemper and pets usually go home from the hospital with respiratory medications.

The bad news about canine distemper is if your puppy survives it, the disease can lie dormant and break out again when she’s older. At that point she has an even worse

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

Poisonous Plants for Dogs at Home

 20 Common House Plants: Are They Dangerous to Your Dog?

Toxicity of 20 Common House Plants to Dogs

House plants are popular additions to many rooms. Usually, plants and dogs live together harmoniously, although some curious pets often venture to take a little taste. Listed below are 20 of the most popular houseplants and their levels of toxicity.


  • Philodendron. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.
  • Boston Fern. Non-toxic
  • African Violet. Non-toxic
  • Ficus. Mildly toxic. Contact with the plant can result in skin irritation. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Mother-in-Laws Tongue (Snake Plant). Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Schefflera. Mildly toxic. Chewing on or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.
  • Croton. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Jade. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting, depression and staggering.
  • Aloe Vera. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite or muscle tremors.
  • Dieffenbachia. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.
  • Poinsettia. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur. Generally over-rated as a toxic plant. Large amounts of the plant need to be ingested for even mild toxic signs to develop.
  • Pothos. Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.
  • Corn Plant (Draceana). Mildly toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting, drooling and staggering.
  • Spider Plant. Non-toxic. Do not confuse spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) with the toxic spider lily (Crinum species or Hymenocallis species).
  • Ivy. Moderately toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, breathing difficulty, fever or muscle weakness.
  • Norfolk Pine. Moderately toxic. Chewing or ingestion can result in vomiting, depression, pale gums and low body temperature.
  • Palm (Neanthebella). Non-toxic.
  • Chinese Evergreen (Algaonema). Mildly toxic. Chewing on or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may occur.
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). Mildly toxic. Chewing on or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.
  • Antherium. Mildly toxic. Chewing on or ingesting can result in irritation of the mouth and throat. Drooling and vomiting may also occur.



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

Age-Appropriate Food for Pets: Why It’s Important



When it comes to choosing an appropriate diet for your pet, it is important to consider your pet’s age, body condition, medical problems and even breed. It is also important to be sure your pet’s food includes a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which indicates that the diet has either been tested via food trials or has been analyzed to meet nutritional guidelines.

Here, learn more about what to feed your pet throughout his or her life and find out why products labeled “all life stages” might not be the most appropriate option.

Feeding a Species and Life Stage-Appropriate Diet

One of the most important feeding fundamentals for pet parents to understand is that dogs and cats do not have the same nutritional requirements. Cats are considered strict carnivores while dogs are classified as omnivores. While it is not ideal, dogs can receive adequate nutrition on a feline diet, but cats must never be fed dog food. Although adult dogs and cats will intake sufficient nutrients if fed a growth formula (food specifically formulated for growing pets), puppies and kittens should not be fed adult diets while still developing. The greatest concern associated with adult dogs and cats consuming moderate amounts of a growth formula is the propensity to gain weight.

Pet parents with dogs and cats in various age ranges might be tempted to choose a single food labeled for “all life stages.” These diets are particularly appealing when it is difficult to separate pets and feed them individually. Feeding a diet deemed appropriate for “all life stages” may be fine for some households, however, for pets with specific nutrient requirements, or pets that gain weight on an “all life stage” diet, it is best to feed individual foods and keep pets separated during feeding times.

What to Feed a Puppy or Kitten

Because of their rapid growth rate, puppies and kittens possess calorie requirements that exceed those for adult or mature pets. For this reason, it is important to feed developing puppies and kittens diets labeled for growth. There is a general consensus amongst veterinarians which recommends feeding a puppy or kitten formulation until the pet has achieved 90 percent of its adult size. Generally, cats’ stature maturity is reached at 10 months, small and medium dogs at 12 months, and large-breed dogs are usually fully-grown by 18 months.

When it comes to large-breed dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers and Great Danes, nutritional recommendations are different than those for their smaller counterparts. Because large-breed puppies have a genetic propensity for rapid growth, they are prone to skeletal abnormalities. Feeding a diet that is labeled for large-breed puppies is recommended. These diets are formulated to regulate the calories and calcium intake needed to minimize the risk of developmental problems such as hip dysplasia and osteochondrosis, a condition in which there is disruption in the normal maturation of cartilage to bone. The failure to feed a diet formulated for the specific needs of large-breed puppies can result in pain secondary to arthritis and the possible need for corrective surgery.

Feeding an Adult Pet

The majority of commercially-available pet foods are appropriate for young adult dogs and cats. Dogs in the “young adult” category fall in the age range of one to between five and seven years depending on their breed. Cats in this group range from 10 to 12 months to between six and seven years. Young adult pets are typically neutered, which has been shown to slow their metabolism.

Obesity affects more than 50 percent of dogs and cats in the U.S. It is therefore important for your veterinarian to monitor your pet’s weight and body condition and to make diet recommendations and adjustments accordingly. If your young adult pet has an underlying medical problem such as bladder stones, arthritis, allergies or kidney disease, your veterinarian will suggest a specifically-formulated diet to help with these issues.

As pets mature, their dietary needs can change based upon their activity level, overall health and body condition. Mature adult dogs, depending on their breed, fall into the age range of between six and eight years and older. Cats between seven and eight years of age or older are considered mature.

When pets reach this age, many pet parents become interested in feeding diets labeled as “senior.” Since there is no standard for such a label designation, these diets possess caloric and nutrient variability. For example, some companies increase the protein content, while others lower the percentage of protein in their “senior” formulations. Due to the fact that all pets age at different rates and develop individual health issues, consult your primary veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist before switching your pet to a “senior” diet.

Mature pets can fall at either end of the weight spectrum. Some dogs and cats, as they become less active, are predisposed to weight gain. A weight reduction diet, moderate exercise and limited treats can help to restore your pet’s ideal body condition. On the other hand, some dogs and cats become underweight as they age. Studies suggest that as pets enter their senior years, they are not able to digest protein and fat as readily as they did when younger. As pets age, they are also at risk for weight loss secondary to dental disease and diminished senses of taste and smell. If no underlying condition has been diagnosed to account for weight loss such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism in cats, or cancer, discuss a diet change with your veterinarian.

Pet Feeding Tips to Follow

Some ideas for feeding pets individually include:

  • Feed smaller meals two to three times per day rather than free feeding by providing entire day’s portion at one time.
  • Place pets in separate rooms at feeding time, giving them 15 to 20 minutes to finish a meal.
  • If one cat is young and spry and the other is overweight and unable to jump high, feed the cats on different levels. This will enable the younger cat to eat at an elevation while the less mobile cat consumes its food on ground level.
  • If you cannot separate dogs and cats in segregated rooms, disperse food bowls to different ends of the room in which feeding occurs and supervise closely.

Providing an appropriate diet based upon your dog or cat’s age, body condition and medical problems will help to ensure a happy and healthy life.                    By Mindy Cohan, VMD


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

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