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How to Decide if Your Dog Should Eat Grains

Dr. Laura Duclos leads the Research and Development team at Puppo. She has over 16 years of experience in developing nutritional pet food that supports animal health and wellbeing. Her clinical research has been featured in prominent publications and scientific journals. She has been an invited speaker at numerous international veterinary conferences on pet nutrition and innovation.

Feeding the Dalmatian

If Grains Are Healthy, What Started the Grain-Free Dog Food Trend?

There are likely several factors at play, but the popularity of grain-free dog food gained traction around the same time as human grain-free dietary trends hit the market. Pet parents naturally wanted to ensure that their dogs were eating just as healthily.

Another possible contributing factor was the melamine pet food recall in 2007. Some kibble manufacturers used grain fractions (e.g. wheat gluten) contaminated with melamine from China. This caused kidney disease in a lot of pets. Pet parents turned to grain-free dog food believing it to be a safer, healthier option for their pups.

More recently, the FDA began looking into potential links between canine heart disease and grain-free dog food. DCM (a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle) is not considered rare in dogs. But the condition was occurring in breeds not typically prone to it.

Though a relationship between grain-free dog food and heart disease has not yet been found, it’s still important to consider the benefits and risks of switching your pup to grain-free dog food.

Reasons to Go Grain-Free?

There are a few common health-related reasons pet parents switch to grain-free dog food, including a dog food allergy, weight management, and chronic health concerns. If you’re considering the switch, first consult your vet to decide if it’s the healthiest choice for your dog. There are some misconceptions about the benefits of going grain-free.

  • Allergies: Grain-free dog food won’t likely solve your pup’s dry skin, itchiness, flatulence, and digestive issues—though some companies make that claim. While a true dog food allergy can occur, it’s uncommon. It’s far more likely your pup has a sensitivity to specific foods (a gastrointestinal reaction), rather than allergies. Grains are rarely allergens; it’s the proteins found in meat and dairy that usually set off your pup’s system. To determine if your pup has allergies or sensitivities to grains, you’d need to work with your vet or pet nutritionist to begin an elimination trial (limited ingredient diet) to pinpoint the problematic foods.
  • Weight Management: While some dogs with weight control issues can benefit from a diet lower in grains, it’s not the answer for all pups. Their body will indeed burn the fat (and protein) for energy without carbs to burn first. But any protein (or fat) not used to build new muscle will still be converted into fat and stored. Plus, grain-free diets have less fiber. A high-fiber diet helps to keep pups feeling full. So, a diet low in fiber may leave them feeling hungry, in turn causing their parents to overfeed them.
  • Chronic Health Concerns: Your dog might benefit from grain-free dog food if they have chronic health concerns like diabetes, cancer, and inflamed gut. Some grains will have higher glucose levels, which challenge insulin levels in diabetic pups. And the gluten and lectins in some grains can cause inflammation. But not all grains trigger inflammation or interfere with insulin levels, so making the switch to grain-free won’t necessarily support their health issues. A better choice for pups with health issues would be a personalized dog food formulated to support their specific dietary needs.

The Role Grains Play in a Dog’s Diet

Grains may not be right for every pup, but they do possess a variety of beneficial properties.

  • Healthy Bowel: A diet rich in fibrous foods, like whole grains, can help in managing large and small bowel diseases. They can delay gastric emptying, slowing small bowel transit time, bind toxins and irritating bile acids, and normalize gut motility. Plus, the slower transit of fiber helps pets feel full longer, which aids in controlling their appetite.
  • Nutritious: Whole grains are a nutritious source of protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, selenium, and magnesium.
  • Healthy Gut: Certain fibers support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Low Fat: Grains also have lower fat content than meat. The right balance of healthy, whole grains can be beneficial for dogs on a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet.
  • Lean Protein Source: The gluten in grain can provide quality protein to your dog’s diet. Although it’s not as bioavailable (intestinally absorbable) as animal-based protein, high-quality whole grains can help fortify the other protein sources in your dog’s diet.

While healthy, whole grains like brown rice and oats are packed with loads of good stuff, over-processed and low-quality grains like white rice and white flour provide very little nutrition. These lesser value grains no longer have the bran, germ, dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. But they still contain the same amount of calories, and dogs process them quickly. This results in a rapid blood sugar spike, which is challenging for diabetic pups.

And grains are cheaper than meat-based ingredients, so some dog food manufacturers will use more in their recipes than is beneficial for pups. It’s an issue based on poor quality and wrong quantity.

Regardless of whether you decide to keep grains in your pup’s diet or switch to grain-free dog food, a balanced diet, and healthy dog food is what’s important. This will vary from dog to dog based on weight, age, breed, health, activity level, and more; even pups of the same age can have very different needs.

One of the simplest ways to take the guesswork out of choosing the best dog food for your pup is to have it formulated for them. Customized dog food companies work with pet nutritionists to design food that will meet the unique dietary needs of your dog. It’s an option worth exploring; a balanced diet is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your dog has a healthy, happy life.


Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Looking for Success in Life? Get Yourself a Pet!

Did you know there are potential links between pet ownership and success? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs today have pets and are making their office spaces pet friendly too! Even the greats of the past like Theodore Roosevelt knew the importance of pets! So, are you looking for another reason to get one? Maybe your future spouse is on the fence about Fido? Let us walk you through all the reasons your pet can make you a success!

How your pet can make you a success!

  • Beat that stress! – Being a success can be stressful! As your business and influence grows, so does your work load. Having a pet can help you manage the workload when you’re in that transition period before your successful enough to delegate some of your duties. Studies have shown that even people who say they don’t like animals experience reduced stress by petting one!
  • They build confidence!  – Everyone needs someone to believe in them, or someone to comfort them after a failure. Your pet will always be happy to see you! Pets often prove to be an emotional “safe-haven” for people. This allows for some recovery time after a blunder and helps people get back on their feet quicker and stronger! These are important skills for success!
  • They build connections! –  This applies more to dog owners than cat owners, but pet ownership has been proven to increase your social skills. Maybe this is because of all those trips to the dog park? Or maybe this is also related to that confidence boost? Either way, pet owners are often more social and better at networking.

Are you worried that the extra responsibility of pet ownership could cancel out these benefits? Consider hiring a pet nanny or dog walker to help keep up with pet duties. That way, you get all the great benefits of animal kinship without all the stress!


Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

Staying Healthy in the Heat – Summer Pet Edition

the dirt and sniff new smells! We’re talking about your dog of course, not you! But as the season moves on the heat can start to be dangerous to you and your pet. No body is in the mood for another month or two of being shut up indoors. So how can you make sure that you and your pet are staying healthy and active? Here are our top tips!

Staying Healthy in the Heat

  • Stay Active, Safely – It’s important that your pet still gets their exercise, even as the temperature soar. There are several ways you can do this without too much threat of heat exhaustion. The first is to make sure that you or your dog walker time the walks to take place early in the morning or late in the evening when the heat is less intense. Another way is to spend your outdoor time next to bodies of water. This gives your pet the opportunity to cool off when they need to. Who doesn’t love a game of water fetch, anyways?
  • Lots of water – Make sure your pet is getting lots of water. A well hydrated pet can regulate their body temperature better than a dehydrated one. They will need more water than they do in the winter so be prepared for this. Get a larger water dish if you or a Pet Nanny won’t be available to keep an eye on and refill the water throughout the day. When you take your pet out, it’s also a good idea to bring a bowl and bottle of water with you as well.
  • Stop traveling with them – It might be no big deal to take your pup with you while you run errands in the cooler months. They likely benefit from the outings. In the summer though, it is NEVER okay to leave your pet in the car while you run in – even for a second, and even if you leave the window cracked. It can take less than 10 minutes for a parked car to reach deadly temperatures. Leave your pets at home unless you are exclusively going to a pet friendly destination where they can join you.

A happy and safe summer to all!


Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

Kids Growing Up With Pets – Here’s Why Its Good!

Have your kids been pestering you to get them a pet? Have you been pondering over the decision for quite some time now? Then it is time you to act! To help you with your decision here is a beautiful infographic that will explain all about the benefits of children growing up with pets. Having a pet along with young children can be an added responsibility for you, but consider the lifetime of benefits that your children will get by adding a cute, happy, playful, loyal, protective, watchful, sensitive, and loving entity to your family! How many reasons do you need to make the leap? How about 25!

Several types of research have been conducted, and are going to be conducted in the future, regarding the various benefits that kids get by having a pet at home. Some of the important conclusions that these studies have come up with are; the kids who grow up with pets have increased levels of immunity, they learn their responsibilities early in their life. They are also often happier than those without pets. They learn to respect other beings. These children will also be more active and pet ownership helps in keeping serious diseases such as heart conditions and obesity at bay. There are many more advantages, please check out this infographic from Top Dog Tips to get the full details.

25 Reasons Kids Should Have Pets!


Poisonous Plants, Landscaping, and Your Dog

Having a nice home with a big yard is part of the American dream. Throw in a playful pooch and you’ve got it made! If you’ve got a big yard and have been looking to increase your curb appeal, chances are you’ve thought about adding some landscaping. Thing is, some landscaping choices can be very harmful to your pet. Do you know what poisonous plants to avoid in play areas? Here are some top landscaping choices that you should avoid.

Landscaping: Poisonous Plants to Avoid

  • Hydrangeas and Morning Glories – Both are beautiful flowering additions to a yard. Yet they are both highly poisonous plants to dogs. How highly? DEADLY.  These lovely flowers are known to cause cardiac arrest in dogs and should never be anywhere where your dog has unsupervised access. Even supervised could be risky if you have a pet that likes to randomly chew on and bite things.
  • Hostas – These lovely, big green leafy plants are a favorite for landscaping. They are frequently planted close to the home, sometimes framing in entry ways. As far as poisonous plants go they may not necessarily be deadly, but they make your dog very, very sick. Vomiting and diarrhea are the side effects of Fido ingesting this plant.
  • Rubber Plant – These thick green leafed plants are also called rubber trees. They are found both outside AND inside. Ingesting any of this plant will cause the same symptoms as the Hosta. Be very careful to keep your dog away from the plant, as well as any dead leaves which it may have shed.
  • Azaleas – These are big pink flowering bushes. Ingesting these can lead to vomiting, paralysis, and even death. One to definitely avoid!
  • Chrysanthemums – These are a favorite, low growing flower that blooms in the late summer and early fall. A favorite for fall decor, you see them for sale in pots everywhere as soon as the weather starts to change. They come in mostly yellow, red, purple, and orange. These cause irritation in your pups mouth as well as their skin. Don’t let them come into contact with this colorful plant!

These are just a few of the most popular landscaping culprits. Be sure to do your research and talk to your vet before you add plants, flowers, or shrubs to your pets outdoor area!



Rubber Plant


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by T L on Unsplash
Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash

Pet Litter – The Best Types for Your Pet!

If you have a cat, rabbit, or other small critter like a hamster you purchase pet litter regularly. Maybe at the time you got your pet you didn’t look into it that much. Litter is litter, right? Well, sort of. Would you love to improve the process of cleaning up after your pet? Is your litter choice healthy? Read on while we break down the types and help you improve your pets bathroom experience!

Pet Litter – The Cat Edition

Did you know that before WWII people filled their cats litter boxes with sand, dirt, or ashes? Not the cleanest options to be honest. At the time, the military was using absorbent clay to clean up oil spills in factories and a former sailor had an idea – thus pet litter was born!

Clay litter was a big improvement over sand or dirt. It didn’t stick to the cats paws and get tracked around as much. It also helped with odor control. We’ve come a long way since the technology of WWII though! Clumping cat litter was later developed allowing pet owners to simply remove the soiled clay instead of replacing it all.

Now clay pet litters even come in scented varieties. While this may be nice for us, most pets don’t care for it. Be sure to gauge your pets reaction before you stock up on it.

Other natural pet litter options include litter made from recycled paper pellets, pine pulp, and even corn cobs! Many of these options don’t combat odor the way clay does, and will have to be changed more frequently too.

Small Animal Bedding and Litter

While clay based pet litter may be the best option for cats, it’s usually the worst choice for other critters. Many small animals like hamsters or gerbils live and sleep in the same material they use for litter. Wood chips like pine or aspen are most often used for these small creatures, though a paper option like the CareFresh bedding/litter is also a popular, though more expensive choice. These creatures will often have a designated area of their cage where they do most of their bathroom business. Regardless of litter choice, it’s important to regularly refresh this area.

Paper fiber litter is an ideal choice for a rabbits litter box, as it tracks very little and absorbs well. Aspen pellets are a great choice for absorption, though some pets enjoy fluffier material. Aspen chips or fiber over the pellets can be a great combination. Avoid pine chips for rabbit litter however. Pine, when soaked in rabbit urine can create unhealthy fumes for your pet.

Whatever litter choice works best for you and your pet, be sure that you keep their bathroom area clean. Many pets won’t use poorly kept litter boxes!

photo credit: Carly & Art Eco-Bun Henrietta knows a grand way to reuse packing material via photopin (license)

Cuddling Your Pet – The Pros & The Cons

Is Cuddling Your Pet Good For You?

There’s nothing like an affectionate cuddle with your pet when you’re reunited after a long time apart. Your pet will be thrilled to have your attention. That warm, velvety soft fur is simply irresistible. But how safe is it to get close to your pet in this way? What are the risks of disease? Are some people more vulnerable than others? From planting a sloppy kiss on your pet’s head to inviting him to cozy-up at night on your bed, we investigate what’s safe and what to avoid in the pet cuddling department.

Hooray for cuddles!

Generally, cuddling your pet is indeed safe. Many believe that the mental health benefits of cuddles far outweigh the risks of getting sick. A good cuddle with your pet creates feelings of security and well-being. It has also been proven to reduce stress levels by lowering blood pressure together with harmful anxiety-related hormones like cortisol. It also raises happiness-inducing hormones like oxytocin! The effects are comparable to eating chocolate. But this is nothing new; therapy dogs have been used to visit nursing homes, help ease the pain of hospital patients and calm autistic children since the 1970s. Their healing power is very much palpable.

Down with kisses?

The jury seems to be out when it comes to kisses. Some believe that letting your pet lick your face or kissing them on the snout is pretty harmless. The bacteria and viruses in a dog’s or cat’s mouth are similar to those in a person’s mouth. However, other pet owners reel at the prospect of slobbery kisses. Just think where your pet’s little nose has been! It’s likely that, through scratching and licking, germs will end up all over a pet’s coat. In fact, a report by the CDC highlights the risk of transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners which has lead to cases of MRSA, chagas, roundworm, rabies and even the bubonic plague transferred from pets to humans. This is one of a number of issues for owners who bedshare with pets.  Those that practice good pet hygiene are at a greatly reduced risk. Other things to consider if you bedshare include sleep disturbance and aggravation of allergies.

It’s good to be cautious

There are instances when you need to be cautious of getting close to your pet. If you are pregnant and own a cat, you need to be aware of the risks of toxoplasmosis. This is an infection caused by a parasite in cat feces which can be picked up by clearing cat litter or touching garden dirt where your cat has been. Cuddles with your cat are safe as long as your cat is clean. Others who should practice caution when cuddling animals include children. Many young children find it difficult to interpret the body language of a pet. Cuddles should be supervised and guided by an adult at all times to guard against any dangers presented by a child who may be overly keen to show their affection.

Share the love

There’s no doubt about it, there are huge benefits to cuddling your cutie pie pet. The small risks to health shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying those soothing snuggles. As long as you are sensible and practice good pet hygiene, you can rest assured that your pet is the perfect snuggle bunny.

Photo by Andrew Spencer on Unsplash

Ensuring Quality Meat In Your Dog Food!

Finding Quality Meat that is Safe and Good for Dogs

The perfect cure for depression and one of the best stress busters are pets, and dogs are arguably the most perfect pets for people with these health problems. That is just one of the many reasons why some people adopt dogs, and how canines help people more than we help them. Considering the aforementioned, it is our responsibility to do our best in taking care of our companions, and that starts with a good diet. For a dog a good diet means quality meat!

Dogs love meat and dogs need meat. As pet parents we must ensure that it is of good quality and sourced from reputable places. There are different quality meats used in different brands of commercial dog food diets. For example, some fish have higher mercury levels than others and certain protein sources can be over or undercooked before they’re used in the formula. It’s essential for dog owners to familiarize themselves with the way meat is processed before it’s turned into dry kibble or put into a can, and other aspects of the process to ensure only good quality meats come our dogs’ way.

If you are confused what to feed your dog, you can ditch the packaged dog food and cook for them yourself. It’s the only way to exactly know what you are feeding it. Or you can check out these tips from Top Dog Tips – the perfect resource in the form of infographic on quality meat in dog food for more information and tips on feeding your dog:

Time With Your Pet – Make the Most of It!

For most people days are full of work, chores, and social obligations. It’s not uncommon to find yourself lost in a world of interacting around your pet instead of with them. Time with your pet is a precious commodity so make yourself a New Years Resolution to make the most of it!

Ensure they are a part of everything!

How to Spend More Time With Your Pet

  • Exercise! This common resolution is a great way to boost premium pet time! Dog owners can integrate Fido into jogging, biking, or even active games at the dog park like frisbee and catch! Cats make can make great yoga partners and love to be involved in floor exercises. An added bonus? This sort of physical activity is good for your pet’s health too!
  • Talk to them! You don’t have to have one on one physical interaction. Most pets know when you are addressing them. Make it a point for them to have a place in the bathroom while you get ready in the morning, or in the kitchen while you cook or do dishes. Tell them stories, vent, talk about your dreams. They like the attention and it’s a free de-stressing therapy session for you!
  • Make them “Social”. Don’t let your social media accounts keep you distracted from your pet, involve them! Animals are always a hit on the internet. Break out your camera and take some action shots and “selfies” to share! They will love the attention of a private photo shoot!
  • Be lazy together. Finally got some time to kick back on the couch or curl up in the bed with a book or some Netflix? Find your pet and invite them to join you! No need for the two of you to lounge separately.

All these tips have added health benefits for you both! Any time spent with your pet builds and strengthens bonds. The more you involve them, they more likely they are to want to be involved. Show your pet the love they deserve and let their presence and stellar listening skills help keep you de-stressed, fit, and stable!

photo credit: tinto Dog Dienstag via photopin (license)

Bath Time – What You Should Know About Bathing Your Pet

With all the extra summer romping around it’s not unusual for your pet to need a bath a little more often. Taking a bath may seem super straight forward to us but for pets things get a little more complicated. Does your pet have skin allergies that may make it sensitive to soap? Is a bath dangerous for my type of pet? If my pet cleans itself, do I ever need to give it a bath?

Bath time!

Bath Basics

Dogs need regular baths, it’s a simple fact. They don’t groom themselves and get up to (and in to) all sorts of unpleasant thing. Dog baths are pretty straight forward barring any specific skin allergies or water phobias. The basic steps to giving most pets a good bath are as follows:

  • Give them a good brush down to get rid of any loose fur or mats
  • Place them in an un-stopped up tub so the water drains freely and poor warm water over their coat.
  • Be sure the water is penetrating your pets coat of fur.
  • Lather them up with pet shampoo! Be sure to use appropriate shampoo for your pet. Do you need extra flea protection? Is your pet sensitive to fragrances or detergents?
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Towel off!

Some pet owners may add in a pet safe conditioning step or even rinse their pooch with a little vinegar to help shine the coat and nix any lingering scents.

What about other pets though?

    • Cats – Cats groom themselves but on occasion may require some extra help. Cats can get into some sticky and smelly situations too and it’s perfectly safe to give them a bath. In addition to following the steps above you may consider trimming their claws before hand and loosely tucking a couple cotton balls in their ears to keep water from getting in them.
    • Rabbits – It is often highly advised against giving a rabbit a bath. They are prone to hypothermia once water penetrates their fur to their skin. Rabbits can also die of fright and are more prone to injure themselves when frightened. If your bunny really gets into a mess that they just can’t handle themselves consider a good brushing followed by a thorough wiping down with a wet cloth.
    • Potbelly Pigs – Pigs may be associated with being dirty but they are actually very clean critters! Under normal circumstances there is no need to bathe your pig. Brush them and wipe them off like a bunny and you should be good to go!
    • Hedgehogs – Hedgehogs usually love baths! A sink with a small amount of water in it is often a great source of fun for them! Be sure the water is not too deep or warm and never leave them unattended. Dry thoroughly when done!

photo credit: The mascot pup after a bath 1943 via photopin (license)


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