Dog Behavior Varies With Height, Bodyweight and Skull Shape

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Why Having Pet Insurance For Your Dogs is Important

By Claudia Bensimoun


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Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun


Dogs do become ill just like humans, so it’s important to examine the many benefits of carrying good pet insurance. Emergencies tend to happen out of the blue when you least expect it. Sadly, many dog parents are not able to afford the veterinary bills for surgery, and the basic health care costs for their dogs. These dogs are often euthanized if faced with surgery bills for a traumatic injury like being hit by a car.

Think about the costs of treating renal failure, diabetes and cancer later on. That said, there are lots of veterinary costs to think about during the puppy stage. These veterinary costs will relate to breed specific health issues that all puppies may be prone to. Other  puppy veterinary costs will include dental, yearly health and wellness visits that include vaccinations and dental cleanings.

Today, veterinary medical advances and high-end veterinary equipment give your  puppy the best chance of recovery and a longer life, so why not afford the best veterinary care with the help of pet insurance?


Health Issues That Your Dogs May Be Prone To


Prevention is critical when caring for a dog. Unfortunately vaccinations and parasite prevention are not the only expenses to think about. You’ll also need to take into consideration breed specific health issues that are common to certain breeds such as:


  • Back, hip, and knee disorders
  • Hip dyplasia which can start during puppyhood.
  • Intervertebral disk disease, which can start during puppyhood and cause paralysis and incontinence.
  • Blood disorders: Factor VII deficiency known to cause mild bleeding.
  • Eye disorders like cherry eye, glaucoma, cataracts, eyelid and eyelash abnormalities
  • Heart conditions
  • Musladin-Lueke Syndrome (MLS)
  • Skin allergies
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Cancer
  • Eye and Ear infections


Preparing For Pet Emergencies

Having pet insurance allows you to provide your pooch with the best veterinary care when he needs it. If Fido escapes through the front door and gets into an accident, your veterinary bills are going to be expensive, and possibly unaffordable. Without good pet health insurance, chances are that you’ll not be able to afford the thousands of dollars for major surgery. You’ll put your dog at risk for going without the health care that he deserves, and you’ll never forgive yourself for doing that. By obtaining pet health insurance, you’ll also be able to cover dental, health care like vaccinations and well visits, and spaying or neutering costs for your pooch.

Recommended Carriers

Shopping for pet insurance can be confusing, but is actually very easy to do online. Understanding your dog’s medical condition, and what he may need in the future is very important, so that you can determine what kind of coverage to take out. With so many dogs today being more prone to cancer, obesity, kidney disease and even periodontal disease, it’s imperative that to find the very best in pet insurance.

Here’s What You’ll Need To Do:


  • Start by researching all the carriers and getting quotes.
  • Every quote is custom because rates are based on your dog’s breed, age, and where you live.
  • Find an insurance that insures from 7 weeks right through to old age.
  • Look for comprehensive pet coverage that covers all accidents, illnesses and all unexpected accidents.
  • Find one that allows you to choose your annual maximum rate and reimbursement percentage.
  • Check to make sure that your dog is covered for major illnesses like cancer treatments, and breed specific conditions. This is very important.
  • Look for prescription coverage and most importantly, emergency care and specialist care. Accidents do happen out of the blue and you need to plan for those. Ask about surgeries and hospitalization, and nursing care coverage.
  • Wellness check-ups, spay and neuter costs, vaccines, heartworm treatments, periodontal care and dental cleanings should be added to the policy, if they’re not included. Follow up with a phone call to make sure that you’ve understood the coverage completely.

Pet Insurance Comparisons


  1. Embrace Pet Insurance


With Embrace Pet Insurance you’ll receive a comprehensive plan that covers your dog if an unexpected accident or illness should occur. Plans start for as little as a few dollars each month. You’re able to choose:

  • Annual maximum
  • Deductible
  • Reimbursement percentage


Your dog will benefit from the following:


  • Breed specific conditions
  • Cancer treatments
  • All diagnostic testing and imaging like X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI’s
  • Surgery, hospitalizations, and veterinary care
  • Alternative therapies and rehabilitation
  • ER and specialist care
  • Prescription Drug Coverage (this may be included in your plan)


There is also a Wellness Rewards Program for yearly check-ups, vaccines, heartworm treatment and teeth cleaning. The only downside to this insurance is that your dog has to be 14 years or younger to sign up for a new policy. For more information about Embrace Pet Insurance, please visit:


Pets Best Pet Insurance

Here plans start from as little as $16.00 per month. You’re able to choose any licensed veterinarian, and be reimbursed for up to 100% of your bill after your deductible. If you add routine care coverage to your plan, vaccinations, blood work, spaying and neutering will be covered. For just an additional $4.00 per month, you can add cancer treatments, or accident plans. For more information on Pets Best Pet Insurance, please visit:


  • 100% reimbursement of your veterinary bill
  • Super low deductibles
  • No veterinary exam required to sign up for this plan
  • You may visit any veterinarian in the world, so this is great if you travel with Fido.
  • Quick reimbursements
  • No age limits
  • Online claims submission
  • Complete hereditary and congenital coverage
  • Routine care coverage optional
  • 2-5 days claims processing


Pet Plan Pet Insurance

Plans start for as little as $1 per day. This plan covers all treatments recommended by veterinarians. The insurance is flexible, and there are plenty of great discounts available.


  • Hereditary, congenital and all chronic conditions
  • Prescriptions
  • Diagnostic testing
  • MRI, CAT scans and ultrasounds
  • Holistic and all alternative treatments
  • Surgery
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Cancer treatments and all specialist treatments


For more information on this most popular plan, please visit:

Healthy Paws Insurance

This insurance covers everything, but pre-existing conditions. They’re the only company that provides unlimited lifetime benefits for pets with an annual deductible. This plan starts as low as $25 for pets, with no caps on claims.

Exclusions include:


  • Preventative care
  • Veterinary examination fee
  • Pre-existing ligament problems
  • Parasite control
  • Dental care


To find out more about Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, please visit:


Final Tips For Choosing Pet Insurance


  • Inquire about the company that you’re about to select, and see what their record is for covering pets and paying claims.
  • Avoid policies that only pay up to a specific amount for veterinary bills for certain illnesses or injuries. Instead opt for annual limits that get carried through each year.
  • Opt for pet insurance companies that offer you 100% reimbursement. Keep in mind that some companies will only pay out a maximum of 80%
  • Don’t opt for a pet insurance company that classifies a chronic condition or preexisting condition. These companies often won’t cover those conditions at the annual renewal date. Call and make sure that all conditions are covered.
  • Coverage should always be ongoing, and should cover all of your dog’s conditions or what he may be prone to.
  • Whether your dog is an indoor or outdoor pet, he should be protected in case of illness or injury. Each stage of your dog’s life should be filled with the security of knowing that you can provide him with the appropriate veterinary care at any time, day or night. No one is in a better position than you to decide right this very minute that it’s time to protect Fido forever!

Thanks for visiting my blog!


Copyright © 2018 Claudia Bensimoun




Medical Marijuana For Canine Cancer Patients

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Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it’s showing promise as an effective natural pain reliever for dogs with cancer.

When Nikita was facing her final weeks after a battle with cancer, her guardian and veterinarian Dr. Doug Kramer eased her discomfort with medical marijuana. The Siberian husky soon stopped whimpering with pain and began eating, gaining weight and even meeting Dr. Kramer at the door the way she used to. While the marijuana didn’t extend her life, it definitely improved the quality of the life she had left.

After his experience with Nikita, Dr. Kramer dedicated himself to achieving safe dosage guidelines for medical marijuana in animals. Sadly, he passed away himself last summer, but his interest in the uses of cannabis to treat and ease animals didn’t die with him.

For the first time in more than four decades, many Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. It’s becoming more widely accepted for its potential medical uses, not just for people, but for companion animals too. Scientists have so far recognized up to 60 important chemicals, or cannabinoids, unique to marijuana.1 According to the National Cancer Institute, “cannabinoids activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.”2 These natural chemicals may be helpful in treating cancer-related symptoms such as pain.

“Dogs prescribed medical marijuana have definitely benefitted,” says Darlene Arden, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant. “The results are almost immediate. Elderly dogs are running around like puppies, and their last months or years are far more comfortable. Those with cancer are no longer in any sort of pain. It increases the appetite. In other words it improves the quality of life. Not surprisingly, few veterinarians are prescribing medical marijuana yet, but I think we’ll see a trend that way once some testing is done.”

More study needed

One of the drawbacks of medical marijuana for dogs is that it hasn’t been studied enough yet. Many veterinarians are in favor of further research on cannabis, but they urge caution until there’s more science behind its use.

Dr. Duncan Lascelles, Professor of Surgery and Pain Management at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine has spent 22 years of his professional career researching how to better alleviate pain in animals. He firmly believes that medical marijuana has a lot of potential, but there needs to be more research done.

“Just because it’s natural, does not mean it’s safe,” says. “There are many natural products that are toxic in certain quantities, or when presented as certain extracts or preparations, and we need to remember there are many, many different formulations and strengths of marijuana.

“However, dogs do have the same natural cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system as humans,” Dr. Lascelles adds. (The endocannabinoid system involves physiological processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.) These receptors are found in the dog’s brain and peripheral nervous system. In fact, scientific research has confirmed that cannabis receptors exist in many different species, including dogs.

But not enough study has been done on how to administer medical marijuana to dogs. “Veterinarians and animal parents do not know how much to use, and we don’t know all the possible side effects or interactions with other medications,” says Dr. Lascelles. “It would be irresponsible to prescribe medical marijuana without knowing more about it. Veterinarians need to be able to carefully inform people about the benefits and side effects, and that information is currently lacking.”

Correct dosage is crucial

It’s important to realize that medical marijuana for dogs is not administered through the smoke or by eating the plant. Dr. Kramer suggested using a glycerin cannabis tincture.

Temporary side effects of medical marijuana could include mild behavioral effects, decreased appetite, vomiting, drooling, excitation, twitching, tremors and convulsions. “The side effects would last somewhere between six to 12 hours after ingestion, although if a dog ingested a single ‘human hit’, he would be unlikely to die,” explains Dr. Lascelles.

An overdose, on the other hand, could be dangerous. “Accidental marijuana overdoses have increased over the past couple of years,” says Dr. Lascelles. “Some dogs may have hallucinogenic reactions, which may cause them to have a higher pulse rate, and muscle weakness with loss of coordination.”

With this in mind, a safe dosing protocol needs to be established. As well, one must take into account that to successfully treat chronic or cancer pain, repeated dosing over time would be needed. Dr. Lascelles adds that scientific research on how a dog’s metabolism would react to this repeated dosing is crucial.

“Dog parents should never administer medical marijuana,” he cautions. Darlene agrees: “Marijuana should be dispensed under medical care.”

It may take some time, if ever, before medical marijuana becomes a mainstream pain reliever for dogs. More studies have to be done on its effects and dosing, and the legal complications must be overcome (see sidebar). But it’s showing a lot of promise. Darlene says, “I think the benefits far outweigh any negative connotations, if it’s used judiciously, people are educated about how to use and store it, and it is carefully dosed to the size of the dog.”

For more

Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun

Healthy Dog Foods

By Claudia Bensimoun

First Published in Reviews.Com under “The Best Dog Food” By Claudia Bensimoun 

Keeping our pets healthy with nutritious food


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Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun 


Do you live with an eight- month old Shepherd mix that thinks he’s Cujo, or maybe  a senior Lab puppy who’s a little on the heavy side that spends that spends half the day chasing a ball and the other half nursing sore joints? Dogs, like people, have individual needs, and every dogs’ nutrition requirements are unique depending on breed, age, weight, and activity level. A dog food that works for one dog may not work for another. A Border Collie who trains for agility needs many more calories than the Chihuahua that enjoys cuddling next to you.

Many pet owners underestimate the importance of good nutrition for our furry best friends. As you may have noticed, there are many different brands to choose from. I know which ones are great for my dogs, but to select the best dog food for your dog, you should assess your dog’s activity level, age, breed, and any medical conditions that he or she may be prone to.

After a month’s worth of research and interviews  the answer was clear: The Honest Kitchen: Thrive was my top pick, and is simply the best dehydrated dog food on the market. As an alternative, Halo, Purely for Pets Spot’s Stew is the best choice if you’re looking for dry dog food only. If you have a pup that suffers from allergies, or if you’re hunting for a great food that won’t break the bank, I also suggested some other great options for you.



The 6 overall best dog foods

  • The Honest Kitchen (Dehydrated ) & Halo for regular dry dog food
  • Nature’s Balance. Sweet potato & fish. Grain-free
  • Fromm Adult Gold
  • Wellness Core Puppy Formula. Grain-free. Protein focused nutrition for puppies
  • Taste of the Wild. Pacific stream canine with smoked salmon
  • Royal Canin. Maxi Aging Care Senior Dog Food


How I chose healthy dog foods

 In my search to find healthy dog foods, I focused on AAFCO nutrient profiles, and what ingredients would qualify for the “ complete and balanced ” designation. With so many dog food brands trending, there was a lot to go on. All dog foods are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration,( FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Individual State Department of Agriculture. That said, it’s the The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that provides  guidelines for the manufacturing, selling and labeling of pet foods to ensure pet safety. AAFCO also dictates the levels of nutrients that should be used for each life stage.

Food has the power to heal; yet that healing is totally dependent on the quality of the ingredients within each dog food recipe. Dog food recipes are also constantly changing. This is done to update formulas according to new scientific research, and also to keep costs down.

Pet parents should focus on optimal nutritional diet plans for their pets. They should focus on optimal commercial nutrition diet selection and assist with nutritional management for pets with medical conditions.

Generally speaking, there are a couple of tips that can be used to check if your dog food choices pass the test.

  • Look for dog foods that are tested using the AAFCO feeding trials instead of by formulation.
  • Look for the nutritional adequacy statement that is required on all pet food labels.
  • This label provides answers to three most important questions about your pet food.
  • If it’s complete and balanced
  • What life stage is it intended for? (Puppy, senior, etc.)
  • How the claims on the label are substantiated

Pet parents should look for foods made by reputable dog food companies with long histories of producing high- quality diets. Diets that have an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the label saying that the diets have undergone animal feeding trials for the appropriate life stage are generally preferable to diets that are formulated [by computer] to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for that life stage.

This is very important for puppy and kitten diets. Most importantly, the diet you select for your pet should be the one that they thrive on.

That said, dog owners should understand that all dog foods are made to meet the minimum of one recognized life stage: growth and pregnancy, or adult maintenance.  Pet parents need to know that the life stage that a pet food is marketed for, may not be the same life stage for which the food actually meets the minimum requirements.


  • Feed a diet from a well-known, reputable company. Contact them with any questions of concern.
  • The labels on any diet should meet the levels established by the AAFCO Control Officials and/ or feeding trials.
  • All dog food diets should have the following statement “Animal Feeding tests using the AAFCO procedures substantiate that “Brand X” provides completed and balanced nutrition for growth (or maintenance.)
  • Feed puppies puppy food and be sure to feed a large breed puppy a Large Breed puppy diet.
  • Feeding a small dog diet can cause large dogs to grow too quickly, and can lead to serious growth abnormalities and “growing pains.”
  • There is no “best diet”- dogs are individuals. A diet that works for one dog may not be the best for another. Age, energy level and individual medical concerns play a large role for each patient.
  • The recommended guidelines on bags often contain more calories than our patients need. Unless it is a very energetic (and intact) animal, I usually recommend feeding the lower end of the recommendation.

Feed a complete and balanced food for the appropriate life stage of the pet. 

I researched whether dog foods used “human grade ingredients,” by-products, rendered ingredients in the form of meat-meal or chicken-meal. As a pet parent and writer that specializes in writing about dogs, I wanted to look at all  dog food brands objectively, list all the controversial ingredients sometimes used, and come up with the most popular brands that had awesome reviews. I researched hundred’s of dog food reviews from the FDA, The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) , The Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF), The Consumerist, Amazon dog food reviews,The American Veterinary Association (AMVA), The Whole Dog Journal, dog food advisors, and scanned lists of ingredients on plenty- and I mean plenty- of dog food formulas. This strategy was used to get to my favorite six picks, after reviewing a comprehensive list of over 50 dog food brands. I then moved on to further ingredient evaluations to single out my top pick. The Honest Kitchen for the best dehydrated dog food, and Halo, Spot’s Kitchen for the best dry dog food.

Other dog foods to consider

Every dog is different, some will suffer from serious allergies, others will have digestive issues. Some brands are better suited for certain dogs. When it comes to dog foods, understanding your pet’s current health and nutritional needs is paramount. And always remember to ask your veterinarian for advice before changing your dog’s diet.

The best-dehydrated, raw dog food

The Honest Kitchen. Thrive. Chicken Recipe- Chew on this:

This raw dehydrated, all- natural pet food makes pet travel easy. Just add warm water, let it sit for a few minutes, and it’s ready to eat. Plus, it’s made with human-food grade ingredients, so you can be sure your four-legged companion is getting the best. The Honest Kitchen is available online and at selected pet stores.

The best dry dog food for adult dogs

Halo.Purely For Pets. Spot’s Stew. Adult Dog Formula. Wholesome Chicken Recipe.

This dry dog food for adult dogs contains no rendered meat or meal from chicken,fish or other meat sources.Plus,Halo also contains plenty of farm- raised vegetables, no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and is conveniently available at most pet stores and online.


The best dry food for puppies

Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Puppy Formula.( Deboned Chicken, Chicken meal and Turkey meal.)  Wellness provides some of the best in puppy pet food with holistic real- foods ingredients that are free of added hormones and steroids.This puppy food is gluten-free, and contains salmon oil, a natural source of DHA, that helps support cognitive development. This puppy food also contains probiotics to help maintain a healthy digestive tract. Plus, Wellness Core has guaranteed calcium and phosphorus levels to help support healthy development of bones and teeth. Wellness is available online and at traditional pet stores.


The best grain-free dry food

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance. Limited Ingredients Diet. (Sweet Potato and Fish)

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance is made with human- grade fish, chicken broth, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and dehydrated potatoes.This dry food is designed with a limited number of protein and carbohydrate sources. Additionally, it uses a premium quality protein source that is not often used in dog food-salmon that is rich in Omega-3. Plus, Natural Balance contains sweet potato, a top quality carbohydrate that is rich in potassium and  is highly digestible. This dry dog food offers excellent Omega-3 and Omega – 6 fatty acid profiles.Dick Van Patten’ Natural Balance is available online and at traditional pet stores. The best dog food for active dogs

Fromm Adult Gold.

Fromm Holistic Adult Gold contains ingredients like duck, eggs, chicken, lamb and Wisconsin cheese! This product also includes probiotics to aid with digestion. Fromm is available at most traditonal pet stores and online.

The best senior dry dog food

Royal Canin Maxi Aging Care Senior Dog Food. This dog food works to support healthy aging and cellular growth for dogs aged eight years and older.  Royal Canin not only provides nutrition that is tailored for each breed, but also for each life stage, weight, gender, etc. This product can be found online or at traditional pet stores.

The best dry exotic dog food

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food. Pacific Stream Canine Formula with Smoked Salmon.

With options like bison, duck, venison, quail, wild boar, lamb, salmon and turkey, this brand offers unique and unusual protein sources that are healthy for dogs. Taste of the Wild is an excellent choice for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.This brand is available at pet stores or online.

The best canned dog food

Dogswell Nutrisca. Salmon and Chickpea Stew.

Dogswell has four lines of wet foods, which contain no corn, soy products or artificial flavors. The Live Free formula is for for adult and senior dogs. Nutrisca, the second formula, is grain and potato free and offers a lots of protein. Vitality, the third formula contains added vitamins for holistic health. Happy Hips, the fourth formula offers glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint wellness. This product is available at pet stores and online.

 A full review of the best dog food

 Most of us understand the importance of eating healthily, but many don’t fully understand that this applies to our furry friends, too. Vitamins and amino acids should not be synthetic, and organic should mean that all of the ingredients are organic, including vitamins and minerals, and not just a few. A well-balanced dog food should use real meat as its first ingredient. It should also not use harmful preservatives, flavors or artificial colors.

The Honest Kitchen: Thrive: Chicken and Whole Grain Dog Food is all natural and human- grade dehydrated dog food. It states that “ all ingredients are guaranteed 100 percent Human Food Grade” and that it “ has been the only pet food manufacturer in the U.S to have proved to the FDA that every ingredient it uses in its products are suitable for human consumption.” This dog food is easy to prepare, and easy to take along when traveling with your pet.

The first five ingredients in this dog food yield dehydrated chicken, organic quinoa, dehydrated sweet potatoes, dehydrated spinach, dried parsley, and dehydrated organic kelp. This brand contains no animal feed- grade ingredients, and is also made in an FDA- inspected facility. Plus, all their ingredients are gluten –free.

Judging by their ingredients alone, The Honest Kitchen looks like the best dehydrated dog food out there. When estimating the product’s chicken content, crude protein reads at 26 percent, with a fat level of 19 percent, moisture at 7.26 percent, and an estimated fiber content of 6.30percent. It also contains natural added vitamins and chelated minerals (which are easier to absorb) with no fillers or by-products. It also is formulated to meet the nutritional levels by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages. This means that it’s great for the puppy stage, gestating stage, lactating stage and other life stages, with adjustment for each stage. According to The Honest Kitchen, this is a product that is recommended by holistic veterinarians too.

Pet parents should look for foods made by reputable dog food companies with long histories of producing quality diets. Diets that have an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the label saying that the diets have undergone animal feeding trials for the appropriate life stage are generally preferable to diets that are formulated [by computer] to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for that life stage. Most importantly, the diet you select for your pet should be the one that they thrive on.

How do dog owners feel about this product? According to Amazon reviews, many felt that they had found the “perfect food.”

What does the The Honest Kitchen say about their ingredients?: “The meats used in our dehydrated recipes are pathogen- safe and are even FDA- approved “human edible.”  When considering how long it takes to prepare a home-cooked meal for your furry best friends, those of you who want to spend less time in the kitchen should consider this healthy alternative. The end dehydrated pet food contains the raw foods’ natural color, flavors and aromas, which shows that it still contains life. This is why we are confident we’re the best alternative to dog food and cat food on the market.”

Another huge plus was the fact that this product does not contribute to plaque build up since it contains no sugars, salt, or added preservatives. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and cheap to ship. The benefits of feeding dehydrated foods are a healthy alternative to feeding a raw diet to picky eaters.

Who is it best for?

 There is no best diet since all dogs have different dietary needs, so it’s always smart to find the best dog food to match each individual dog. That said, consult with your veterinarian for advice when changing Fido’s diet.

 If you’re dealing with a picky eater, who doesn’t readily accept kibbles, The Honest Kitchen dehydrated dog food is a good option. Considering that this company uses free- range chicken, as well as cage- free turkey, Mid-western beef, and 100 percent wild-caught fish in their other recipes, this product allows for dogs to eat the very best ingredients. There are no substandard ingredients listed, and all their foods are AAFCO approved, with the exception of Preference,  since that is a premix used for supplementing a meat dish.

Who should skip it?

 If you’re not one for measuring out water to add, then you may want to pass. Bottom line: If you are not into deviating from regular dry kibbles or canned dog food, this brand may not be for you. This line also tends to be pricier than the average dog food.

How best to use it?

 The Honest Kitchen:Thrive isn’t the regular type of pet food in the form of a kibble or canned. Since it’s a dehydrated food, it has to be fed slightly differently.

Use a standard cup to measure the amount of water and food needed, per the directions.

The Honest Kitchen brand also includes four lines with an additional meat-free premix, Hale that is easily added to a raw diet or as a supplement to another diet.


 The runners up for best dog food

There were plenty of other great dog foods that didn’t make top pick, but that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. Each brand of dog food should be chosen with a dog’s unique and specific health needs in mind. Just as we choose different diets to suit our own lifestyles and life stages, the same should be done for our dogs.

Halo Spot’s Stew –  Considering how many awesome reviews Halo received, this brand ranks highly among the top natural dog food brands. There are no chicken meal products or other rendered animal parts used, and Halo does not use any of the 4D products: diseased, disabled, dying and dead (before being slaughtered) in their food. The formula for Halo Spot’s Stew offers real, natural ingredients such as fresh chicken, whole greens, and berries. The top- five ingredients listed are chicken, eggs, pea protein, oats, and vegetable broth. This brand is a great choice for the health – conscious pet parent, and is available for large and small breeds.

Fromm Adult Gold Fromm Adult Gold wasn’t my top pick, but it came close. The main reason it was not crowned king was because there was not enough information listed about the vitamins and minerals. The first five ingredients named are duck, chicken meal, chicken, brown rice and pearled barley. Fromm’s contains Menhaden fishmeal as its seventh ingredient, which comes from whole fresh fish caught specifically for fishmeal and uses clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish. With that said, it’s a good brand of dog food that is holistic and is available in duck, chicken and lamb recipes that have fresh Wisconsin cheese and whole eggs.

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance. Sweet Potato and Fish. Grain-free- Dog owners are constantly praising this brand. Made with human- grade fish, chicken broth, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and dehydrated potatoes, it uses only highly acclaimed ingredients.It provides an execellent source of protein and kelp meal that contains a mix of vitamins,minerals and trace elements.

Royal Canin Maxi Aging Care Senior- We all want to help our aging pets and this brand certainly does. It comes highly recommended by veterinarians and can be purchased from many clinics as well as traditional pet stores. Royal Canin believes that pet have unique nutritional needs. All their pet foods are based on scientific research. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a pet food that has nutritional formulas  for each breed and life stage, Royal Canin is the way to go.

Taste of the Wild- Pacific Stream Canine with Smoked Salmon- For those dog lovers wishing to ensure digestive health in their pooches, Taste of the Wild uses guaranteed probiotics. This is a great product for dogs suffering from digestive health issues. With sweet potatoes – a good source of dietary fiber- as its third ingredient, this dog food is packed with antioxidants, and offers a high source of vitamin E. Sweet potatoes contain many important nutrients, and include vitamins A, B6 and C, calcium, folate, copper, thiamine, iron and potassium. The first five ingredients listed are salmon, ocean fishmeal, sweet potatoes, canola oil and salmon meal, so your dog will be consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids. This is also excellent for anxious or stressed out dogs. It does contain canola oil which some may consider an unhealthy fat.

Wellness Core Puppy Formula Grain Free- The Wellness formula contains probiotics, salmon oil, and has guaranteed calcium and phosphorus levels to help support healthy development of your pup’s teeth and bones, and is made with gluten- free ingredients. Critically, it doesn’t contain beet pulp, which can act as a stool hardener in pups. The first five ingredients include deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes and peas. This is a holistic brand that is free of hormones and steroids. It is also free of any meat by-products and offers plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dogswell Nutrisca Canned Foods- Salmon and Chickpea Stew- This was my top pick for wet foods. Dogswell is a line that includes dry and wet foods, and carries four different lines in canned foods. The options include Live Free for adult and senior dogs, Nutrisca, a grain – and potato- free variety with high protein, Vitality with added vitamins for holistic health, and Happy Hips offering glucosamine and chondroitin for hip and joint wellness. The protein options include turkey and chickpea stew, salmon and chickpea stew, and a chicken with chickpea. There are no artificial flavors, and no corn or soy in the ingredients.

Choosing the right type of dog food for your dog

Dogs give us their everything-friendship, love and loyalty! In return we should give them the very best nutrition. Every dog food contains different ingredients.

It’s also wise to examine the nutritional benefits of the dog food that you’re currently feeding. Jot down all the ingredients, caloric content, protein and fat levels, and question whether your dog is currently suffering from any health problems like itchy skin, bloat or diarrhea. Your next step will be to find the ideal food for your dog.

Even if you’ve been feeding your pet the same dog food for years, you’ll probably not notice the changes, like using chicken meal instead of whole chicken,  or changes in the type of carbohydrates used. This could affect your pet in many ways, triggering allergies and sensitivities that he or she may have never had before. Protein percentages can also drop when formulas are changed. This happens often, and does affect the quality of the food.  For those unaware, cellulase breaks down cellulose. Many dogs have problems with both because it causes digestive problems.

If you want to see which dog foods make a difference, and keep Fido healthy, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money. The best dog foods are made with the simplest, and most nutritious ingredients. Look for high-quality ingredients such as whole meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains, and take heed of the different ratio of macronutrients- proteins, fats and carbs! Next, you’ll have to try out which one works best for your dog. Providing Fido with the most appropriate diet that is healthy and beneficial to his life stage will help you give your pet a long and healthy life!

Dry foods

Dry foods come in different sizes in the form of kibbles. AAFCO model regulations and the federal feed laws stipulate that all pet food labels need to list all the ingredients in their pet food. This is done in descending order according to the weight of each ingredient listed. With that said, it’s easy to see where the most important sources of calories and proteins are coming from-the first five ingredients listed. The first ingredient is the one ingredient that is present in the highest amount. As a category natural, organic and holistic dry dog food brands offer many varieties – grain free, gluten free, vegetarian and traditional. Dry dog food is available through most pet food brands.

What’s good about dry dog food?

 easy to feed

many different varieties

excellent for travel

easily combined with canned foods or fresh foods

high quality brands

easy feeding instructions for the new pet parent

can easily be purchased from your veterinarian’s office

grain free, gluten free and vegetarian options

not messy

complete- and- balanced nutritional requirements recommended by veterinarians


What’s bad about dry dog food?

 may be heavy to carry or ship

can become contaminated with mold if not stored properly

numerous recalls due to bacteria, salmonella, mycotoxins and nutrient concerns.

cheap dry dog food brands may have lower quality ingredients

constant need to check for a balanced ingredient list

some by-products

obesity in dogs

may use by-products


Wet/canned dog foods:

 can be combined with dry kibble

inspect first five ingredients

watch out for thickener’s like “gum”

try to stay away from wheat gluten that is used in wet foods to bind the protein content of the food.


What’s good about wet dog food?

 numerous “complete and balanced” brands that are of high quality.

numerous varieties such as turkey, chicken, beef, liver and duck.

supplemental varieties available which are perfect for supplementing a varied diet

easy to feed

easy to carry

convenient in times of illness when your dog needs to have a change of diet


What’s bad about wet dog food?

meat by-products that may not be clean or refrigerated

wheat gluten

unnamed animal /protein sources

sweeteners or sugars

preservatives, flavors, artificial colors, hormones

fat content may be high

water may be first ingredient, with the second being wheat gluten (cheaper brands)

vegetables may come in as the 8th or 9th ingredient, which means that there’s hardly any vegetables in the formula

need to check ingredient labels repeatedly, most often when switching brands to make sure that you’re not falling for the pretty packaging.


Dehydrated dog food


fresh produce is dehydrated below 104 degrees, and is considered raw.

meat and fish are steamed at approximately 140 and 165 degrees to kill food borne pathogens.

meat and fish are then dehydrated at 125 degrees

grains and potatoes are flash heated at temperatures higher than 210 degrees to make them more digestible

This also breaks down the cellulose


What’s good about dehydrated dog food?


minimally processed

high moisture content

whole foods

human grade


dehydration process leaves behind natural ingredients that support immunity and good health

stable shelf life

does not need refrigeration

color, flavor, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients not impacted by dehydration process

cheap shipping costs


What’s bad about dehydrated dog food?

 not as many brands to chose from

may be more expensive


What makes a dog food good

 The 18 Most Important Features

 With nearly 80 million dogs in the U.S, it’s important to consider why large-scale pet food companies have recently become more concerned with better nutrition. Pet parents are demanding organic, natural, high quality dog foods that will help their pets lead healthier and longer lives. All in all, you’ll find that dog owners are being encouraged to provide the best in nutrition for their pets. However, it’s important to consider what makes a good dog food. One of the biggest trends today is grain- free! You’ll notice that many brands have or are releasing grain-free versions of their original formulas.

Most of us understand the importance of eating healthily, but many don’t fully understand that this applies to our furry friends, too. Vitamins and amino acids should not be synthetic, and organic should mean that all of the ingredients are organic, including vitamins and minerals, and not just a few. A well-balanced dog food should use real meat as its first ingredient. It should also not use harmful preservatives, flavors or artificial colors.

General ingredients that include whole meats, fruits or vegetables in their top 5 ingredients are considered good foods. Those that also incorporate antioxidants like blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates and pumpkin are also becoming popular. With that said, organic, natural and preservative- free with no artificial ingredients, are also key to a well- balanced, and high quality dog food.

Always ask yourself these questions: Is my dog suffering from any health problems? What life stage is he or she at? Veterinarians recommend that dog owners have a better understanding of their dog’s health issues and life stage before choosing a dog food.

“ Good quality dog foods will always have better results than poor quality dog foods. But dogs which have diseases which are heavily impacted by their diet, such as atopic allergies or inflammatory bowel disease, have more stringent requirements than the average dog, and they must be on a diet appropriate to their problems in order to control that disease. (So they might need a restricted diet, such as a grain-free diet, or one that is high in soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, or both.)” Dr. Nancy Scanlan. DVM, Executive Director of the AHVMF


  • no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives such as propylene glycol.
  • whole foods –no processed foods.
  • meat instead of meat meal.
  • organ meats are good.
  • by-products such as organ meats are fine, but no non-meat parts.
  • a good source of calcium
  • vegetables for fiber and nutrients such as flavonoids
  • diets need to be tested using AAFCO feeding trials, or by formulation to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles
  • specific quality control measures to assure consistency and quality of all ingredients used, as well as for the end product.
  • diet should be complete and balanced
  • the food should indicate what life stage it is intended for?
  • AAFCO provides nutrient profiles for all different life stages, all but for one, the senior geriatric dog.
  • dog food must meet the AAFCO profiles for all life stages and must meet the minimum nutrient levels for growth and adult maintenance in dogs.
  • the dog food must be made by a reputable and knowledgeable dog food company that has the highest quality control measures.
  • it should not be made in China, nor should any of the ingredients come from China.
  • puppies should eat only a puppy food so there should be a puppy formula.
  • large breed pups like the Great Dane or German Shepherd need to be on a large breed puppy diet to ensure correct growth and no growth abnormalities.
  • contains antioxidants, Omega 3’s, healthy ingredients and a balanced diet for the appropriate life stage.


That said, it made sense for the best dog food to have:


  • healthy ingredients
  • fresh meat
  • vegetables and fruit
  • no controversial ingredients
  • no added hormones and steroids
  • no unnamed meat sources
  • right ratio of macronutrients
  • by-products in the form of organ meats
  • not overly processed

Final thoughts

 You may not realize that your dog’s physical well-being depends on what you feed him. Feeding your dogs the right foods will help him or her overcome certain diseases, live a longer and happier life, and even prevent many behavioral problems that may be linked to improper nutrition.

While dehydrated dog food is an excellent option, canned and dry dog foods also provide high- quality nutrition. Dogs also enjoy variety when it comes to what they eat. With the huge selection of high- quality dog foods available, make sure to try different varieties in the same way that we try new foods. And as always, consult with your veterinarian for expert dietary advice.


Dog Food Reviews


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Copyright © 2015  by Claudia Bensimoun





Caring For Your Rescue Cat


By Claudia Bensimoun

Care of Your Cat



Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun

Image Copyright: Claudia Bensimoun


Cats are one of man’s most popular companion animals today. Unlike dogs, our furry feline friends have rich emotional lives that we need to respect and understand. Cat parents must earn a cat’s love, trust and respect, yet cats do love and need humans. As much as there are so many different cat breeds and colors, there are some individual feline traits that are the same in all cat breeds.

Before you bring an adult cat home there are a few things that you need to know. Bringing an adult cat into your life means taking on additional responsibility and should never be taken on lightly. You will need to spend time with your new furry best friend, and to make sure that your cat is healthy, well fed, vetted regularly and exercised. The litter box will need to be cleaned out frequently, and your cat will need to be house trained.

Cats do feel lonely and need to spend quality time with their pet parents. Cats also need plenty of love and attention, and do not thrive without affection. As with all animals, treat your cat with respect, kindness and love. If you’re house training an older cat that has not been litter box trained, be prepared to spend some quality time teaching him how to abandon some embarrassing potty habits, and teaching him the correct ones.

Make sure that you have the time to devote to a new cat and discuss fostering, cat adoption or purchasing a cat with all family members before embracing this wonderful process. Save a life by adopting and encourage everyone around you to do the same!


Things To Do Before Bringing Fifi Home


  • Research all the cat breeds that best suit your lifestyle and personality.
  • Read about and understand your responsibilities as a pet parent.
  • Know how to prepare your home for Fifi.
  • Understand the basics of cat care, litter box training and the essentials of what every cat needs in her life on a daily basis- that includes positive training, clicker training, healthy nutrition, adequate veterinary care, mental and environmental stimulation in the form of interactive cat toys, frequent interactions with other cats, people and children. (socialization) Never isolate your cat.
  • A phone number of either a good veterinary behaviorist, a feline foster parent, or a local veterinarian to call in case you feel frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Consider your financial resources for veterinary care, cat food, pet insurance and daily care.
  • Consider your work schedule. Are you able to provide Fifi with the care, exercise and companionship that she will need?
  • Strive for feline parenting success with love, kindness, respect and positive training! That means no punishment ever, only rewards for the correct behavior.


What Do I Need?


Before bringing Fifi home, you’ll need to be prepared. Feline parenting will be less complicated if you’re well prepared before your new furry best friend arrives home. In addition, make sure that you’ve found a veterinarian that lives close by to give Fifi a check-up. With so many affordable cat food brands and pet products on the market, there’s no reason why shopping for Fifi shouldn’t be lots of fun. Keep in mind that your new cat deserves to live an incredible life with you by her side as her caregiver!


  • Food and water bowls
  • Cat carrier
  • Collar
  • Name tag and microchip
  • Grooming essentials
  • Feline interactive toys
  • Scratching post
  • High grade cat food
  • A few litter boxes and litter
  • Special litter box with lower sides for senior cats
  • Kitty bed
  • Training treats for rewards
  • Feline first aid kit


 Fleas and Ticks


With so many flea control products on the market, ask your veterinarian as to which products are best suited to your cat’s health and needs. Keep in mind that cats can also attract dog fleas.


  • Examine for fleas by using a flea comb on Fifi.
  • Contact your veterinarian to discuss which flea and tick products are best to use.


Bringing Your Cat Home

This is a very exciting time for everyone. Before bringing Fifi home, you must make sure that your home is cat proofed and safe for your new furry best friend. If you’re bringing home a mature cat, keep in mind that she may have already developed a few unusual habits. She also may not be fully litter box trained. In this case, litter box training the positive way needs to start right from day 1 when you bring Fifi home. Homecomings should never be traumatic or loud. Your home needs to be stress free at all times, so as to ensure that your cat is able to adapt to her new environment in a relatively short amount of time.



 Cats need to eat a varied diet, so it’s important to understand basic feline nutrition. With so many choices available in the pet market, it’s best to do some research before going to the store. Commercial cat food can also be bought online. There are semi -moist, canned, dry cat food options, as well as foods for senior cats, and cats with health problems. Cat foods contain fish, meat, turkey, beef and lamb. Opt for a high- quality cat food that’s best suited to Fifi’s health and age. Keep in mind that a vegetarian diet is never appropriate for your furry best friend since all cats need taurine. This is an amino acid found in meat, and in tiny amounts in some vegetables. If your cat is taurine deficient, she may be prone to blindness and fatal health problems like cardiomyopathy. (heart muscle disease) Never feed your cat dog food. Ask your vet about supplements for Fifi. Overdoses of Vitamin A and D are toxic and can be dangerous.


Scheduled feedings for cats are preferable. A good reason for this is that so many cats are obese today. By feeding on a schedule you’ll be able to see how much your cat is eating, and if your new cat is overweight, you’ll be able to put her on a diet that supervised by your veterinarian. The other option is free feeding, which means leaving food out all day for Fifi. This works for picky eaters since they’re able to eat throughout the day.


  • Buy the very best cat food that you can afford.
  • Healthy nutrition is vital for good health and a healthy and long life.
  • Read up and understand feline nutrition so that you’re better able to determine which commercial foods are best.
  • Always consult your veterinarian when changing diets to make sure that all your cat’s nutritional needs are being met.


Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

Never leave your cat outdoors unsupervised. Cats can be trained to come with positive training. You can even train your cat to walk on a leash with clicker training. With so many felines ending up at shelters, it’s best to prevent your cat from running free.


 Visiting The Vet

 You should choose a veterinarian that is located nearby your home, and recommended for his skills. If your vet is located close to your home, it will be convenient in case you have an emergency. Your vet is going to be one of the most important people in your life. Your furry best friend is going to need regular veterinary care so that any health problems may be detected early on. Your cat will also need to be neutered or spayed, so as to prevent more homeless cats going into shelters.

When you first bring home your new cat, it’s best that you bring her to your vet for a checkup. With that said, stay with the same vet so that all your cat’s medical records, vaccinations and treatments for injuries can be referred to by the same veterinary professional. Your vet will examine Fifi’s teeth, gums, ears, eyes, skin and coat. She will also be weighed and blood work will be drawn. A fecal sample will be taken to check for intestinal parasites and any additional vaccinations that may be required will be given. In case of any emergency involving your new cat, timing is always important. Never hesitate to bring your feline to the emergency veterinarian which is open at all hours!

 Caring For Your Adult Cat

 When bringing your cat back home with you, you will need to transport him in a cat carrier. Open windows pose a danger in an apartment, as does leaving your cat unsupervised outdoors. All cats enjoy basking in the sun and playing with other cats or people every day. These interactions are important for socialization. Cats should never be overwhelmed by loud noises or people. Teach your family how to behave appropriately around Fifi, gently grooming her and calmly stroking her. If you want your cat to be calm you will need to create a calm home environment.

Limit all new experiences for Fifi in the first couple of days after arriving home. Ensure that your cat knows where her area is and place her bed there. You may also place her food, water and litter box nearby for the first few days until she settles down. Cats may hide or act terribly shy for the first few weeks until they’ve adjusted to their new homes.

If you have dogs at home, don’t be reluctant to introduce them slowly. If your adult cat has been around dogs before, both species may develop a great friendship pending on their temperament. Never allow for your dog to chase your new cat. Use the distraction method for Fido, and keep in mind that punishment should never be the end result, only positive training with plenty of scrumptious rewards!


 Cats need regular brushing and sometimes an occasional bath. Grooming your cat is vital for good health. Brushing enables pet parents to feel for lumps, sores and to possibly detect parasites. By frequently grooming your feline, you can remove excess hair before it’s shed, and before its ingested by your furry best friend. Daily grooming helps with bonding! Long- haired cats will naturally need more combing. Nonetheless, cats wash themselves with their tongues many times a day. This also keeps their coat shiny and healthy.


 Altered cats make for better furry best friends. It’s best to either spay or neuter your new cat. There are plenty of free or low- cost veterinary clinics. Female cats should be spayed between 5 to 6 months of age. Male cats should be neutered at around 6 months of age. If your older cat has not been neutered or spayed, it’s advisable to do so as soon as possible.  Having your cat altered will prevent your cat from wandering in search of a female. It also prevents spraying by females. Consult with your veterinarian with regards to all your furry best friend’s health and wellness issues.

House Training Your Older Feline

 As cat parents we have to encourage and reward desirable behaviors, With that said, house training an older cat does not have to be difficult. Instead, it can be extremely easy with positive training and the clicker. All cats need to be litter box trained. This can be done within a short amount of time with positive training and your cat’s favorite treats.

Avoiding Punishment and Reprimands

 Any form of punishment should be avoided at all times. It does not prevent undesired potty behavior. Research has shown that harsh punishment may even be counterproductive, and sometimes tends to increase unwanted feline behavior, or even start up another unwanted behavior.

 Veterinary Emergencies

 Male cats tend to come down with bladder infections. If your feline seems distressed when trying to urinate, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Bladder infections cause small amounts of urine to be excreted. Your furry best friend may be straining to urinate. If not treated immediately, your cat could develop a serious urinary blockage that could be fatal within hours. Often times bladder infections are confused with bad litter box habits. Take your cat to the vet if you see changes in his litter box habits.


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Text and Image Copyright © 2018 by Claudia Bensimoun








Eastern German Shepherd



Image Credit: Wiki


The Differences Between East and West German Shepherd Lines and The American German Shepherd Lines

You might be thinking: Is there any difference? Start thinking temperament, confirmation, coloring and movement. So you’re undecided on which line of pups is best for you and your family. Asking yourself first if you want a working dog, family or show dog. Temperaments differ greatly. Start by making a list of all the qualities you are looking for in your shepherd. Pink papered imported pups from Germany are free of hip dysplasia and come from generations of parents that are free of hip dysplasia and that have Schutzhund titles.

History of the Western and Eastern Shepherd

Western German Shepherd



Image Credit: Wiki


From 1949 until 1990, Germany was divided into the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in the East, and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West. The DDR, being a communist state under influence from the USSR, was kept separate from West Germany. This separation is what caused the split in German shepherd bloodlines that persists to this day.

The working lines in Czech were bred to have a high pain tolerance so that they could endure the hardships of protection work and border patrol. They are mostly black and tan, all black and sometimes sable in color.

  • Breeders focus mainly on good movement and looks.
  • These shepherds are larger, heavier but have a lighter bone structure.
  • Temperament plays a huge factor here as shepherds from the US were not bred as working /herding dogs but for show.
  • In Germany both parents have working titles-Schutzhund and are hip certified before they are allowed to breed.
  • Schutzhund is about accountability, whereas in the US and Canada, breeders do not need any of these things except pedigree.
  • German shepherds in the US are primarily judged by their looks.

To German shepherd breeders , their dogs working ability was most important, and then came the outstanding looks.

The West German show lines are the most popular worldwide. These dogs are mostly black and red and exhibit a fluid, ground-eating trot.

The Czech lines were originally bred in Communist Czech as state working dogs.

  • Large blocky head with big bone structure and much leaner in build. These shepherds have straighter backs and fewer problems with hip dysplasia. However, they are high-energy dogs.

Czech line German Shepherds and East German DDR German Shepherds are essentially the same bloodline.

The bloodlines in West Germany were split between working line dogs and show line dogs.

It is important to recognize that the working line and show line German Shepherds from West Germany are vastly different.

Show line dogs are bred to be physically attractive, but lack the courage and strong nerves of a true protection dog.

Accepting that West German show line dogs are unfit for protection work, the true comparison is between the West German working line (often stated simply as German working line), and the DDR/Czech line. There has been much debate over which is superior, and this debate may continue for years to come.

Some people consider the West German lines to be superior, arguing that the DDR/Czech lines were developed before the split between working and show lines, and are not extraordinary in either discipline.

Both lines were recovered from the original German bloodlines after WWII, and both have been continuously built up and bred for working qualities over the past 60 years. The bottom line is that they are both working line dogs.

Show lines are a better choice for homes with children and working lines for protection work.

The American shepherds are calmer in temperament and have a lower energy drive. The North American shepherd relies on physical ability to move quickly and turns on the blink of an eye.

Many breeders have attempted to combine the East and West or American shepherds to achieve a lower incidence of hip dysplasia and achieve a strong work instinct and more refined show lines.

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