7 Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

7 Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

If you’re a dog owner, you constantly experience the loving nature of these canine wonders first hand. Dogs are naturally affectionate and loyal creatures that have served as companions to mankind for centuries.

Having a dog in the home, especially if you live alone, will boost your emotional well-being. In fact, having a canine companion increases your sense of security and safety.

Dogs also help you learn how to be responsible – as you take care of them and cater to their needs you’re also developing your accountability and reliability as a person.

It’s also known that having a dog contributes significantly to your physical and mental health. This article focuses on the health benefits of dog ownership. Keep reading to know more.

Benefits of Owning a Dog

These are some of the significant advantages associated with dog ownership:

1. Improved Heart Health

Improved cardiovascular health is another benefit of having a canine companion. A good number of studies have proven this.

Heart rate and blood pressure are normalized when you’re interacting with your dog. With this knowledge, perhaps dogs should be adopted as a medical solution for patients with coronary conditions and high BP.

In fact, scientists at the American Heart Association said that dog owners have a 24% reduction of all-cause mortality.

2. Dogs improve mental health

Thanks to the affectionate nature of dogs, dog owners are exposed to a lot of love from these canine wonders. In fact, having a dog at home reduces your risk of developing depression; people who have also been diagnosed with the condition are positively affected by having canine friends at home.

In the process of catering to your dog’s needs, you’re more exposed to the outdoors where you get to meet other people, and possibly their pets – this way, you have more acquaintances and your life is more active.

Summarily, interacting with your dog daily has positive effects on your mood. The affection shown towards you by your dog improves your happiness and fights loneliness in your life.

So if you are looking for dog ownership benefits, what’s better than having a happier life in general.

Puppy love brings many benefits to dog owners
Cuddling your dog boosts endorphin levels making you feel happier.

3. Dog owners are less prone to sickness

Studies have shown that having a dog at home generally reduces the number of times that you fall sick. How is this possible? Here’s an explanation: the idea behind this effect of having a canine wonder at home lies in the presence of germs.

Lots of people deploy various machines and chemicals to clean their home and effectively rid their house of germs. Because of this reduction in the germ level at home, the human body is rid of most types of germs. This absence of enough germ diversity in the body makes us fall ill more often.

This is where dogs come in. Dogs carry various types of germs on them. This biodiversity in dogs introduces all the needed germs within the house. This then leads to the needed biodiversity within humans in the home, and they won’t fall sick often.

In fact, a study conducted on dog ownership by the Scientific Journal Pediatrics revealed that babies who grow up in homes with a pet (dog or cat) are less likely to fall ill as compared to babies who live in pet-free homes.

Dog owners experience less sickness
Dogs not only bring their owners immense joy, they also make you less prone to sickness

4. Dogs promote resistance to allergies

Another health benefit of having dogs at home is improved resistance to allergies. You might be wondering how this is possible since pet hairs are known to kick-start allergies in humans.

The idea here is that kids born into a home with dogs are likely to develop resistance to allergies. Assuming that a woman is with child, and she has a dog living in the same house, the child is born with a resistance to allergies.

This is because bacteria are mutually transferred between the dog and the pregnant woman. Checking the child’s body system will likely reveal the presence of allergy-curbing Ruminococcus and Oscillospira.

Dogs reduce childhood allergies
Growing up in a pet owning household means you are less likely to suffer from allergies.

5. Dogs facilitate an active social life

Dog ownership can also improve your social life. If you take your dog out on a walk, light jog, or some exercise at the park, you’re likely going to meet and interact with other people – both dog owners and non-dog owners.

You might just notice people coming over to pet your dog and admire its adorable looks. As this happens, you also get the chance to start up conversations with new people and expand your social circle.

If you own a dog, you won’t just leave it in the house all week. Instead, you would have some scheduled time each week to exercise your dog outdoors. The advantage here is that while exercising your dog, you also get some additional minutes to exercise your own body.

6. Dogs encourage you to exercise

With dog ownership, you will participate more frequently in activities such as walking, hiking, low pace jogs, treasure hunts, fetching games and many more. As you engage in these exercises with your dog, your physical and mental health will be improved.

Dogs encourage exercise
Owning an active dog is an excellent motivator for daily exercise.

7. Dogs have been known to detect cancer

Lastly, cancer detection is also a benefit associated with having dogs at home. It has been discovered that these canine wonders can detect cancer in people.

Studies have shown that dogs have a keen sense of smell that detects the presence of cancer, such as colon, prostate, breast, and even skin cancer.


Pete Decker is the lead editor at TheGoodyPet.com. For the past 20 years, Pete has been working professionally with dogs, and he has spent time volunteering in animal shelters across the USA and around the world. Now, Pete dedicates his time towards TheGoodyPet, a pet educational website made by pet lovers for pet lovers.

You can find more from Pete on his website or by following TheGoodyPet on Twitter or Facebook.


Remember to track your dog’s adventures with your free WAGSTA walkies, weight and wellness tracker. Start saving your dogventures today!

7 Tips for a Merry Christmas with your Dog

Wishing you and your dog a Happy Christmas!

The festive season is upon us and at the centre of the frivolities are our four-pawed friends. Watching on with interest as our routines, households and behaviors change with the ‘silly season”. If only we could read their thoughts!

Most dogs love being swept along with Christmas festivities however timid types can find it a little overwhelming. These 7 tips will help you ace your Santa Paws role to ensure an enjoyable, fun-filled Christmas for your doggo!

1. Make your Christmas Tree a Dog-safe Zone

Brightly colored decorations, flashing lights and wrapped presents are a magnet for many dogs especially puppies. So, if your dog is paying your Christmas tree a little too much interest, play it safe by moving it out of reach. (A simple hack for smaller dogs is to place children’s play pen fencing around your tree.)

This way you can avoid broken decorations, ripped up presents and more importantly you can prevent safety hazards such as accidental poisoning (think wrapped boxes of chocolate and nuts), electrocution and ingestion of foreign objects (baubles and tinsel). As a rule place all household decorations out of your dog’s reach and ensure tripper and safety switches are installed for Christmas lights.

Christmas tree decorations
Tinsel and baubles can be irresistible for many dogs.

2. Extend Christmas traditions to your dog

What’s your family tradition? Wearing knitted Christmas sweaters whilst staying warm by the fireplace, or perhaps you are enjoying a summer Christmas with backyard cricket and a swim at the beach? Whatever your tradition, include your dog, they are family after all. With 87% of dog owners buying their dog’s presents, now is the ideal time to spoil your pup.

Stuck for dog Christmas gift ideas? How about a dog Christmas sweater, a toy to help keep your dog entertained, a collar and leash combo for those upcoming New Year’s exercise resolutions, or a tasty chew to polish those pearly whites.

Dog in christmas sweater
Gaining popularity, the Christmas Dog sweater is a must-have in cold climates!

3. Up-cycle wrapping paper and boxes.

Just like small children, dogs often get as much fun out of packaging as they do the gift within! Wrapping paper and empty boxes can provide hours of entertainment.

Use boxes to create dens for your dog to hide in, or to create funnels and obstacle courses. Dogs love ripping up wrapping paper. Better still, ball it up for a great game of indoor fetch. (Remove tape, ribbon and staples first)

dog with christmas presents
Wrapping paper and boxes galore. Just wait until those presents are opened!

4. Take a Christmas Dog & Family photo

Capture memories by including your dog in your Christmas family pic. Including your pup will make your photos all the better and entertaining to look back on in future years. Photo tip – a Christmas dog treat (piece of ham or roast turkey) never goes amiss in getting your dog’s attention for the camera!

5. Treat your dog to Christmas dinner.

Just hold back from offering your dog the full spread! Sharing a little roast turkey and Christmas ham is a nice way to include your dog in festivities. Prevent over eating which may result in tummy upset and bloat. And remember to play it safe by avoiding toxic human foods- avoid feeding fatty foods (which are likely to trigger tummy upset), avoid stuffing (cooked onion is toxic to dogs), and do not feed anything containing chocolate, nuts or alcohol (Christmas pudding and cake).

a christmas roast turkey
A small amount of Christmas ham, Roast turkey and vegetables makes a special Christmas treat for your doggo!

6. Take time out for an after-dinner nap

All that excitement can be exhausting. So, allow your dog time to curl up for a nap. The extra stimulation of Christmas visitors (especially children),and new smells, sights and sounds can be a little too much for some dogs, so make sure you give you dog time out and provide a quiet place they can retreat to.

Dog in christmas spirit
A little quiet time never goes amiss during the festive season!

7. Stretch those legs

Burn off excess Christmas calories with a Boxing Day dog walk.  This is becoming a tradition in many parts of the world (such as the UK), making the Boxing Day walk the highlight of many a doggo’s Christmas. Meet up with friends and let your dog run, play and burn off their Christmas dinners together😊

dog playing in the snow
Full of the joys of Christmas! The Boxing Day walk is a highlight for dogs world over!

Now over to you, Santa Paws! Let the furred festivities begin 🙂

P.S .Don’t forget to track your Christmas adventures with your WAGSTA app. Make the most of the festive season with walk, weight and wellness tracking for you and your best friend!

Happy dog and owner




4 Reasons to Start Walk Tracking with Your Dog Today

Put on your sneakers and get out your dog’s leash. It’s time for walkies! Here’s why daily walk tracking is great for you and your dog:

  1. Walk tracking helps create a daily exercise habit

By using a walk tracker, you can fast track the development of a daily walking habit. The repeated action of logging your walks, growing your walk statistics and creating a personalised walk diary, provides dog walkers with a valuable asset. A growing distance tally and photo journal (cue: adorable dog photos!) soon bumps up motivation for daily walkies. Walk tracking apps can also assist your commitment to exercise by providing walk reminders and social connectivity.

Walk tracking with your dog
Get in the habit of daily walkies by tracking your dog walks.
  1. Walk tracking apps help you monitor your progress

By tracking your dog walks you can monitor how you and your dog’s fitness evolves over time. For example, WAGSTA lets you know exactly how far you walked, and the time taken.  You can even see how many calories your dog is burning in comparison with you. Maintain your daily walk habit and you’ll both be walking further and in less time. Now that’s progress!

  1. Walk tracking helps you save memories and record your adventures

When it comes to exercise, it’s not just about tracking walk metrics. It’s about recalling the fun and adventures you and your dog have along the way. With WAGSTA, you can upload photos to your walk map and build a photographic walk journal of your adventures together. Perfect for travelling with your dog and for those weekend doggy explorations.

Take photos with your dog walk tracker
Recall special memories by saving photos to your dog walk journal.
  1. Walk trackers help keep you accountable in achieving your exercise goals

If those pleading puppy-eyed looks aren’t enough to get you out and about on a daily basis, we have the trick for you! Start sharing your tracked walks with family and friends to help remain accountable to you and your dog’s exercise goals. Walk sharing is also a handy tool when walking dogs for others. Send a walk link to demonstrate exactly where you walked, and the time and distance covered.

share your dog walks with other dog owners
Be accountable: Share your walks with family and friends

In summary, daily dog walking has proven health benefits for dogs and their owners including weight management, maintaining strength and mobility, and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

In addition to physical health, there’s also mental health benefits for both dog and owner. By committing to daily dog walking, you’ll not only increase your own sense of well-being, but you will also strengthen the bond you have with your dog and help alleviate any pet boredom and behavioural issues your dog may be experiencing.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and commit to a minimum of 30-minutes walk tracking a day. Your dog will love you for it!

Pet Vitamins and Supplements


Should I Give My Dog Supplements?

If your dog is healthy and fit (no skin conditions or joint problems for example) and is fed a commercial dog food that is labeled as “complete and balanced”, he will not need pet vitamins or supplements. In fact, feeding your dog a “complete and balanced” quality dog food is the best way to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients he needs.

However, your dog will need pet supplements if:

  • You make homemade dog food,
  • Your dog is old and stiff,
  • Your dog has a health issue (particularly a skin condition or arthritis).

Choose a complete all-in-one pet supplement that includes vitamins, minerals, enzymes, Essential Fatty Acids and probiotics.

Some pet vitamins and supplements can interfere with medications, so if your dog is on medication, discuss supplements with your vet before giving them to your dog.

Old Dog with a health issue
If your dog is old and stiff he might benefit from supplements

Can I give my dog human vitamins?

Not without veterinary guidance. Dogs and humans have different nutritional needs. Too much calcium, for example, can cause skeletal problems in large breed puppies. Too much vitamin A can cause joint immobility and pain. Human supplements will contain nutrients that are in the wrong dosage for dogs and can contain additives that are harmful to your dog such as the artificial sweetener xylitol.

Human vitamin supplements
Dogs have different nutritional needs to humans

Do joint supplements work for dogs?

Some do, some don’t and some have yet to be proven one way or the other. Choose joint supplements that have been thoroughly put to the test in double-blind, controlled multiple studies.

Some commercial dog treats contain joint supplements but in quantities that won’t do much good. If your dog has a joint problem, he will need therapeutic levels of joint supplements. For correct supplement dosages, talk to your vet.

Below, we list the joint supplements that have been proven to work.

What is the best hip and joint supplement for dogs?

Glucosamine hydrochloride

Note that this is different to Glucosamine sulfate, which has no evidence to show that it reaches the synovial tissue of joints in dogs. A joint supplement doesn’t help if it doesn’t get where it needs to be. Glucosamine hydrochloride, on the other hand has been proven to build cartilage in dogs. Osteoarthritic dogs treated with glucosamine hydrochloride showed significant improvement by day 70. Glucosamine hydrochloride is also cheap, easy to find, and can safely be given to pets with diabetes.

Chondroitin sulfate

This supplement inhibits cartilage-destroying enzymes, but it’s pricey. When given with glucosamine, chondroitin has a synergistic effect making both supplements more potent when paired.

Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs)

ASUs protect cartilage against damage and help the bone and cartilage in knee joints to heal. When combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, ASUs increase the effectiveness of each and reduces the amount of chondroitin required.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s are known to support heart health and joints, improve kidneys and boost the immune system, but the dosage for each condition varies. The best source of omega-3s are from wild-caught cold water fish such as salmon.

Salmon is the best source for omega-3
Salmon is a good source of Omega-3s

What pet vitamins and supplements should I use to treat skin conditions?

Skin conditions affect one in three dogs at some point in their lives and pet nutrition plays a key role.

If your dog scratches and bites at his skin creating bare patches, or of the skin is flaking, red or irritated, your dog has a skin condition. This might be due to:

  • Allergies: Food or environmental
  • Insufficient fatty acids in the diet
  • Parasites: Flea bites, mite infestations
  • Infections
  • Excess weight

Here are five ways to improve skin condition and build your dog’s natural skin barrier.

1. Essential Fatty Acid supplements

Fish oil, flax oil, hemp oil, evening primrose oil and borage oil contain large amounts of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and other nutrients for healthy skin and coat. EFAs will calm your dog’s itchiness, resolve flakiness and nourish his coat.

2. Regular Parasite Control

Make sure your dog is protected against parasites. Parasite control has come a long way in recent years, making toxic rinses and weekly flea baths a thing of the past. A simple monthly chew will keep your dog free from fleas, ticks, mites and worms. Chat to your vet about the most suitable parasite control for your dog.

3. Monitor his diet

Most food allergies are in response to a protein source. If you suspect your dog might have a food allergy, work with your vet to devise a food trial based on novel proteins such as fish, venison, duck or rabbit.

Mite-infested grains are also a hidden cause of allergies. At unsafe levels mite-infested grains are deemed unfit for human consumption, but they can be used in pet food, so choose high-end pet foods that use ‘human quality’ ingredients. Oats, barley, millet and rice are the least likely grains to cause allergies. Some pet foods omit grains altogether and substitute them with starchy vegetables such as potatoes and yams.

Making your own dog food from our homemade dog food recipes gives you more control, but you will need to add a complete all-in-one supplement to each meal that includes vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes and probiotics. Choose one that is sourced from organic ingredients if you can find it.

4. Do not Over Shampoo

Do not over wash your dog as this will strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat and impair the skin’s natural defense barrier. Use a quality dog shampoo and rinse the coat thoroughly. Reserve dog washes for when soiled or smelly.  Dogs with a healthy skin and coat do not require regular washing.

Dog getting a bath
Do not over-shampoo your dog


5. Manage your dog’s weight

Overweight dogs are prone to hot smelly skin. Those in the obese range find it difficult to groom themselves and are physically unable to reach parts of their body.  Skin folds and fat rolls cause reduced skin ventilation with secondary yeast and bacterial infection.

Improve your dog’s longevity and quality of life through successful weight management. Find out more about WAGSTA veterinary guided weight plans today.

dog weight loss plan

How Much Food to Feed your Dog

Your Questions Answered: How Much Should I Feed my Dog

Many pet parents fear under feeding or over feeding their dog.  After all, there is no ‘one size-fits all’ approach to feeding. Age, breed, sex, activity level and food type all affect how much food your dog will require. And with pet obesity rates on the rise, it can be a challenge to find a happy medium to keep your dog a healthy weight without feeling hungry. But it is entirely possible!

Determining your dog’s food intake is a process that requires you to monitor the results of your feeding and tweak portions as necessary, ensuring your dog maintains good health and an optimal body weight.

The following dog feeding guidelines will help you establish how much to feed your dog.

A portion of dog food
Feeding the correct amount of dog food is crucial for overall dog health.

8 Feeding Guidelines for Figuring Out How Much to Feed Dogs

1. Know your dog’s daily calorie requirement.

Your dog’s daily calorie requirement is determined by their ideal body weight and is a starting point in determining how much food your dog requires. Check out your dog’s calorie requirement below.

Healthy Weight (lbs.) Daily Calorie Intake (kcal) Healthy Weight (kgs) Daily Calorie Intake
10 218 5 234
20 366 10 394
30 497 15 533
40 616 20 662
50 729 25 783
60 835 30 897
70 938 35 1007
80 1036 40 1113
90 1132 45 1216
100 1225 50 1316
110 1316 55 1413


2. Know the calorie content of your dog’s food.

To feed your dog the correct serving size you need to know the calorie content of your dog’s food. Commercial pet foods list this information on packaging.  If you home-cook for your dog, you will need to research the calorie content of your recipe ingredients.

Knowing your dog’s daily calorie requirement together with the calorie content of your dog’s food, enables you to correctly portion your dog’s meals to meet your dog’s calorie needs.

3. Don’t forget treats and extras.

Set aside up to 10% of your dog’s calorie intake towards treats and extras. Remember, everything your dog eats (treats, extras, chews) should be included in your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Dog chewing on a treat
Chews, treats and supplements contribute to your dog’s daily calorie intake.

4. Monitor you dog’s weight regularly.

If your dog drops below their ideal weight, increase food intake by monthly increments of 10%. If gaining too much weight, reduce intake by 10%. Weigh your dog regularly and track weight changes with your free WAGSTA Weight tracker.

wagsta dog weight tracker
Overweight dogs benefit from fortnightly weight tracking to achieve their weight goals.
5. Accurately measure dog food portions.

To maintain consistency in feeding, get in the habit of weighing dog food portions. Avoid estimating or eye-balling scooped portions, as this often leads to over/under feeding, especially for small breed dogs.

6. Avoid switching foods.

Choose a quality food your dog enjoys and stick with it. Dog foods differ in their calorie and nutrient content. Therefore, regularly switching foods will alter your dog’s nutrient intake and will require you to re-calculate the correct portions to feed.

7. Ignore packet feeding guidelines.

These guidelines tend of over-estimate the amount of food your dog requires. They also fail to consider any extra food types or treats your dog may be receiving. View packet feeding guidelines as the upper limit to your dog’s intake.

8. Seek your vet’s input.

Puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs, and dogs with health conditions have increased energy requirements and more complex feeding needs. Discuss your dog’s specialized feeding requirements with your veterinarian.

Vet assessing a dog's x-ray
Your vet can recommend foods suitable for your dog’s health requirements.

Finding a quality dog food is an involved process considering the tens of thousands of dog foods available. The Consumers Advocate BEST Dog Foods 2020 article addresses the complexities in rating dog foods and helps navigate the minefield of internet advice available.

To compile your own short-list of dog foods focus on finding a food which:

  1. Fits within your budget
  2. Is suited to the growth profile of your dog. i.e. puppy vs reproduction vs adult maintenance vs mature dog
  3. Is ‘complete and balanced’ – this AAFCO statement ensures the dog food is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional requirements.
  4. Contains an ingredient list with readily identifiable ingredients. A quality protein source should be listed in the first few ingredients.
    (Tip: ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity. Foods with higher protein content will help your dog feel full longer!)

Your dog’s food should satisfy your dog’s appetite and support a glossy coat, whilst providing your dog an energetic and playful outlook.

For dogs with health conditions, it is advisable to seek your veterinarian’s advice over the many prescription diets available. From renal failure and hepatic disease through to arthritis and obesity, specially formulated diets can make a big impact in managing your dog’s condition.


dog diet plan

Is Grain Free Dog Food Healthier for my Dog?

Sales of grain-free dog food have been trending for several years now. Is the grain free movement simply a marketing bonanza or are there real health benefits gained by feeding grain free dog food? To find out let’s look at the rise of grain free foods….

The Grain Free Dog Food Trend

Magazines, television commercials and food packaging all sing the virtues of “super foods” promising us improved health and well being. Supermarket shelves are graced with the likes of chia seeds, goji berries, protein shakes, coconut water and gluten free foods – just a sample of the current “in crowd” of human health foods!  And of course it doesn’t stop here with many such trends now flowing on into the pet food aisles.

Considering the rapid growth of the human gluten free market, it is not surprising just how popular the grain free dog food movement has become. Grain free dog food has gained such popularity that nearly all major brands of dog food have now launched their own grain free line to avoid missing out on this new market.

Grain free dog treats
Grain free dog food accounts for 30% of dog food sales in the US.


The trend for grain free dog food is so widespread and highly marketed, owners who have happily been feeding dog food containing grain, are starting to question whether in fact they have been doing harm!

So the question begs… Should we be feeding grain free dog food? And is grain free dog food healthier than regular dog food?

To answer these questions, it helps to understand the reasoning behind the grain free dog food movement. Advocates of grain free dog food primarily argue grain is an ‘unnatural‘ canine food source and grain is an allergen causing ill health.

Dog vs Wolf

It is true that our dogs fore bearers would have been unlikely to consume grain, other than grains contained in the stomach contents of their prey. However unlike wolves our modern day domestic dogs are capable of digesting grain based carbohydrates. Cohabitation with humans over tens of thousands of years has resulted in physiological changes to the gut and the enzymatic digestion processes of our pet dogs. Quite simply domestic dogs are more adjusted to a humanised diet than their wolf fore bearers.

Modern day dogs have evolved from wolves
The digestive systems of modern day pet dogs have evolved physiologically to be able to digest grain.

Whilst on this point it is interesting to note that many brands of grain free dog food substitute grain with alternative carbohydrates such as potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and rice. From a historical perspective, carbohydrates such as these could also be argued as being “unnatural”.

Grains can act as allergens. Fact. This is backed by “grain allergic” and “grain sensitised dogs” who suffer ill effects such as itchy skin and gastrointestinal upset from ingesting certain plant and grain-based proteins.

However, it is important to realise that almost every food source has potential to act as an allergen. And it is interesting to note, allergies caused by animal based proteins such as beef and dairy, far outnumber those caused by grain.*

Grain free Benefits

An often-unheralded benefit of grain free dog food is their tendency to provide increased levels of animal-based protein. Egg and meat proteins (beef, poultry, fish, lamb, pork) are quality amino acid sources which are readily digested and converted by dogs. Naturally dogs thrive on such quality ingredients.

Grain free dog foods tend to have a higher protein content, which from a weight management point of view can be beneficial. Increased protein content enhances satiety levels (a feeling of fullness) and helps to maintain muscle mass during dog weight loss.

As pet parents it is important to realize, what works well and benefits one dog will not necessarily do so for another. There is no one-dog-food-fits-all approach. Hence the millions of dogs who consume grain in their diet and remain perfectly healthy!

It is important for pet parents not to be pressured by feeding trends. Ultimately it is your choice what to feed. So rather than following perceived health benefits of the latest food trend, invest your efforts in finding a quality food your dog enjoys and thrives on.

Whether your dog’s diet contains grain or not, if your dog sports a glossy coat, healthy appetite, formed stools and an energetic and playful outlook, you are onto a winner!

Grain Free Diet Tips:

Dog spills her Grain free dog food
Grain free dog food is necessary only for the small percentage of dogs who are allergic to grain.

Is grain free dog food healthy for your dog?

2018 reports by the FDA have linked grain free dog food with taurine deficiency and the development of congestive heart failure (dilated cardiomyopathy).  Ingredients of concern are potato, peas/ legumes and lentils. Avoid foods which list these as their main ingredients.

There is a tendency for grain free dog food to be high in calories so always check the calorie content (ME content) and portion meals according to your dog’s healthy weight.

Is grain free food necessary for your dog?

No, not unless your dog has a grain allergy or grain free food is your personal preference.

dog weight and walk tracking
* Carlotti DN, Remy I, Prost C. Food allergy in dogs and cats. A review and report of 43 cases. Vet Dermatology 1990;1:55-62.
Chesney CJ. Food sensitivity in the dog: a quantitative study. J Small Animal Practitioner 2002;43:203-207.
Jeffers JG, Meyer EK, Sosis EJ. Responses of dogs with food allergies to single-ingredient dietary provocation. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996;209:608-611.
Paterson S. Food hypersensitivity in 20 dogs with skin and gastrointestinal signs. J Small Animal Practitioner 1995;36:529-534.
FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease.https://www.fda.gov/animalvete…

Corona virus and your dog- Your COVID 19 dog questions answered


Since emerging onto the world stage in early 2020, corona virus it has significantly impacted everyday life with many of us living in uncertainty and fear due to its wide-ranging health and economic impacts.

Thankfully dogs are not affected by coronavirus which is a definite silver lining in these times of lockdown and social distancing. There are however many questions from concerned owners over coronavirus and their dogs. We’ll answer them here.

Can my dog catch Corona Virus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a disease of people. Its global spread is due to transmission between people and there is no evidence animals are responsible for this ongoing spread.

There is however evidence dogs can catch the virus from infected humans. (See excerpt from World Health Organization below). It is important to note dogs do not get ill or exhibit symptoms of coronavirus and they cannot transmit the virus themselves.

“The Veterinary Services of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China reported to OIE evidence two dogs have been infected with the COVID-19 virus following close exposure to their owners who were sick with COVID-19. The test showed the presence of genetic material from the COVID-19 virus in nasal and oral specimens. The dogs were not showing clinical signs of the disease.”

A boy walking his dog during covid-19
Dogs are not clinically affected by Corona virus, COVID-19.

Can my dog transmit COVID-19?

There is no evidence of animal-to-animal transmission or of animal-to-human transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, there is potential for dogs to act as fomites (a technical term for an object or material which can carry infection). For example, if your dog was sneezed or coughed upon or handled by a person infected by coronavirus, the virus could remain on your dog’s coat. If your dog was then handled by another person, the virus could be transmitted to this person.

For this reason, it is advisable to practice social distancing for your dog as well as yourself. Do not let people who are not part of your household pat or handle your dog.

Owner and dog in the park
Apply social distancing rules to your dog as well as yourself. Restrict pats and cuddles to household members only.

Can I take my dog for walks during Corona virus lockdown?

Abide by local laws regarding access to outdoor spaces. Many localities allow for outdoor exercise so long as social distancing is practised. Ideally walk your dog at least twice daily to provide exercise, mental stimulation and opportunity to toilet.

Employ best social distancing practice by avoiding other people and dogs and avoiding contact with benches, playgrounds, exercise equipment and water bubblers in public areas. Keep your dog on a leash and maintain 2 meters distance from others.

Owner with dog a leash in a park
Keep your dog on a leash at all times and prevent them from approaching other people and dogs.

How do I care for my dog if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

The World Health Organization provides the following guidelines for pet owners infected with coronavirus:

“When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pets and have another member of their household care for their animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible. Animals belonging to owners infected with COVID-19 should be kept indoors as much as possible and contact with those pets should be avoided as much as possible.”

Hand washing during covid period
Regular hand hygiene and social distancing are your number one protection against the spread of coronavirus.

How do I provide exercise for my dog during corona virus lockdown or quarantine?

If you find yourself in a lock down situation where you are unable to leave your home, dog exercise and mental stimulation can be provided through games, dog work-out sessions and making changes to your dog’s feeding regime. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Turn mealtimes into a scavenger hunt: spread and hide your dog’s kibble throughout the house and garden.
  • Intersperse multiple play sessions throughout the day: 5-10 minutes of fetch, hide & seek or football
  • Encourage your dog to walk up and down the stairs multiple times (if they have healthy joints)
  • Teach your dog new tricks and practice obedience training to keep your dog mentally stimulated and on their feet.

It is important to try and maintain your dog’s routine where possible. By keeping up your dog’s regular exercise you will help maintain their mobility, regulate weight and reduce anxiety and boredom.

Dog playing with a flyball in a park during covid
Encourage regular exercise to keep your dog healthy and prevent boredom during lockdown.

How do I keep my dog healthy during COVID-19 isolation?

Remember prevention is better than cure. So keep up to date with your dog’s health schedule. Continue providing regular medications and maintain parasite prevention (worm, flea, tick, heartworm prevention). Should your dog fall ill, don’t panic. Even in isolation, expert advice is available.

As a result of the corona virus pandemic many vets throughout the world are offering tele-consultations, enabling vets to provide advice and prescribe medication via phone and video call. As an essential service veterinary clinics remain open for your pets care.

Dog with a plastic protective
Pets are not forgotten. Veterinarians have been classified an essential service and remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pay extra attention to your dog’s food intake. If daily exercise levels reduce make changes to food intake to prevent weight gain. Likewise pay attention to your own feeding habits. Extra time at home often leads to increased snacking and increased feeding of treats which quickly results in dog weight gain. Set your dog a daily food and treat allowance and make sure the entire household heeds it.

Finally, keep calm and carry on

Millions of dogs around the world are currently rejoicing over the extra attention and company they are receiving as a result of their owners staying home.  Meanwhile we humans benefit by maintaining some normalcy in our lives through keeping up with our dog’s needs.  We now value the companionship of our dogs more than ever. Not to mention their adorable antics which bring comic relief to the situation we all face, THANK DOG!

This coronavirus pandemic will pass. By heeding isolation and social distancing guidelines, enjoying the companionship of our dogs and keeping in contact with friends and family by phone, we will get through this together.




How weight management improves dog arthritis symptoms


Helping your Arthritic Dog

1 in 5 dogs are arthritic, making osteoarthritis the single greatest cause of chronic pain in dogs. The heavier the dog, the more likely the onset of dog arthritis symptoms. The link between excess body weight and early onset of this disease well documented.

Obese dog showing signs of arthritis symptomsWeight management eases dog arthritis symptoms.

Therefore, the best preventive measure against dog osteoarthritis is to maintain your dog at a healthy body weight. And the most effective way to manage arthritis symptoms in overweight dogs is through weight management.


A University of Glasgow study * investigated the effects of weight loss in obese arthritic dogs. The study recorded significant improvement in lameness and pain after a commencing weight loss of just 6.1- 8.85% body weight!  Even more buoying was the fact that dogs in the study continued to improve in-line with ongoing weight loss.

Documented improvements such as these are especially encouraging for the pet parents of overweight and arthritic dogs.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms:

  •  stiffness,
  • trouble rising from a resting position,
  • difficulty with everyday activities such as climbing the stairs and getting into the car,
  • reluctance to jump and run,
  • limping,
  • running with a skipping or hopping gait
  • swollen and painful joints
  • behavioral change e.g. reduced playfulness or aggression.

The development of any such symptoms should prompt a veterinary check-up.

Dog showing signs of arthritis symptomsIs your dog slowing down or stiff when rising from rest? It’s time for a vet check.

 4 Steps to Effectively Manage Dog Arthritis Symptoms:

1. Weight management:

Alleviate pressure on joints and improve mobility by maintaining your dog at their ideal weight.  Help overweight dogs lose weight through a customised calorie and portion plan.


  2. Provide regular low impact exercise:

Low intensity activities such as on-leash walking and swimming, do wonders for arthritic pets. Gentle exercise helps stimulate blood and nutrient flow to the joints, it improves flexibility and helps build muscle mass to stabilize joints. In fact, gentle exercise helps alleviate joint pain!

Many well-meaning owners believe it best not to exercise their arthritic dogs. This often results in increased stiffness and weight gain- exacerbating mobility issues.  Keep your dog to a gentle activity program and seek advice from your veterinarian regarding effective pain management to help with your dog’s mobility.

3. Seek effective pain management to help ease arthritis symptoms:

Many dogs are stoic and do not overtly display signs of pain. Chronic pain is often interpreted by owners as their dog simply ageing or slowing down. Regular veterinary check-ups will determine whether your dog is arthritic or experiencing pain.

Most arthritic dogs benefit greatly from pain management. Quality of life improves dramatically as does mobility and the ability to exercise.

Pain management is achieved through anti-inflammatory medications, cartilage repair and protectant drugs (chondroprotectants) and nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

Acupuncture and hydrotherapy also greatly benefit arthritic dogs.

Dog getting a wellness check up by a vetThe well-being of arthritic dogs can improve dramatically with veterinary management.

4. Implement household measures to help your arthritic dog.

Provide your dog with a soft padded bed to cushion their joints. Avoid winter chills and keep your dog warm by bringing them indoors and using pet friendly heat pads or blankets.

Consider purpose-built ramps to aid your dog getting in and out of the car and raise the height of your dog’s food and water bowls.

Dog chilling during winter seasonAvoid winter chills and provide soft cushioning to help alleviate dog arthritis symptoms.

Ultimately achieving a healthy weight for your dog is the best remedy and the best protection against arthritis. So, if your dog is a little on the cuddly side, start working towards your dog’s healthy weight goal. Your dog will thank you!

*Marshall WG, Hazewinkel HAW, Mullen D, De Meyer G, Baert K, Carmichael S. The effect of weight loss on lameness in obese dogs with osteoarthritis. Veterinary Research Communications. 2010;34(3):241-253. doi:10.1007/s11259-010-9348-7.



The Bulldog – all about the breed


Courageous, tenacious, calm.

The Bulldog is a British national icon, symbolizing strength, courage and tenacity ­sometimes referred to as the ‘Bulldog spirit’. These qualities, along with its willingness to fight larger animals, appealed to the British population during the first world war, and the Bulldog became the poster child for WWI propaganda.

The Bulldog’s stout, muscular stature, wrinkled skin, undershot jaw and hanging chops are unmistakable. They make loyal companions and adapt well to the city or country life.

Bulldog puppy chewing on a treat

The Bulldog is sometimes called the English Bulldog or the British Bulldog to distinguish him from the taller American Bulldog and smaller French Bulldog.

At 40 to 50 pounds (18 – 22 kg) they’re heavier than they look and have a relatively short lifespan of 8 – 10 years. You can maximize his lifespan with a healthy diet.

Famous Bulldogs

Bulldogs are popular with celebrities. Adam Sandler has Meatball, Brad Pitt has Jacques, Miley Cyrus has Ziggy, Pink has Elvis, Ozzy Osboure had Lola and Ashley Simpson has Hemingway.

Bulldogs are not known for the athletic prowess, but they do have a natural aptitude for skateboarding, kicking off with one foot and leaning to turn corners. Some of the best skateboarding Bulldogs will do tricks and turns. Tyson and the late Tillman are perhaps the most famous skateboarding Bulldogs.

Positive Traits of the Bulldog

  • A Bulldog’s coat is short, smooth, glossy and easy to care for.
  • The Bulldog is easygoing and loyal.
  • He doesn’t need much exercise.
  • He seldom barks.
Bulldog playing with toy
Bulldogs love chew toys

Negative Traits of the Bulldog

  • The Bulldog’s short snout can make breathing difficult, especially during hot humid days. If a Bulldog’s breathing is labored during hot days, put the air-conditioner on for him. Read more about Brachycephalic dog breed risks.
  • Though their fur is short, they shed.
  • The wrinkles on a Bulldog’s face can trap food and moisture so when you brush him wipe his wrinkles, too.
  • Bulldogs can’t swim. If he falls into a pool he will drown. The Bulldog carries most of his weight around his head, so stairs and swimming pools can be a hazard for him.
  • They can be stubborn.
  • The Bulldog can be food possessive and should not be fed around small children or other pets.
  • Bulldogs drool.
  • Bulldogs are prone to dystocia (difficult births) due to the size of their head and shoulders. Emergency caesarians are common.
  • Bulldogs often cost more than your average dog in vet fees over the years.
  • His snout means he will snore, grunt, snuffle and pass gas. They can’t help it. The short snout means they gulp air when they eat, and what goes in must come out one way or another. Some commercial pet foods can make this worse due to their high fiber levels. This high protein home made dog food will help.


  • Trim his nails every two weeks
  • Brush him with a soft brush 2 – 3 times per week, wiping in the wrinkles of his face and snout.
  • Keep his ears clean with cotton balls and ear cleaning fluid. Start young and keep some healthy dog treats handy so the Bulldog will associate the experience with something positive.
Bulldog looking tired
When grooming, wipe the groove of his wrinkles

Exercise for the Bulldog

Bulldogs are not as demanding as the more active dog breeds, such as Labradors, but he does need regular moderate exercise, along with a careful diet, to stay in shape.

Training the Bulldog

The Bulldog is known for being stubborn, but they do have a sweet nature and persistent training will pay off.

Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving your Bulldog too many will make him fat. Choose healthy low-calorie treats to avoid him becoming overweight, and use them sparingly.

Puppy training classes will help you to curb any undesirable behaviors that some Bulldogs have a tendency to develop. Bulldogs love to chew and play tug-o-war, so it is important to teach the young Bulldog what he can and can’t chew, and to release what’s in his mouth on command. To prevent aggressive food protection, get him used to having food removed from his bowl.

Bulldog puppy playing with a ball

Bulldog Health Issues

Bulldogs, like many purebreds, are predisposed to certain health issues including hip, heart and skin problems.

As a brachycephalic (short-nosed breed), Bulldogs are predisposed to breathing difficulties, especially during exercise and when they become over heated. Breathing troubles are also exaggerated if dogs become overweight.

Responsible registered breeders of Bulldogs (such as Kennel Club Assured Breeders) account for these issues by supplying the buyer with information on the pup’s parents. Whenever possible you should always meet the pup’s parents so you can see for yourself that there are no exaggerated features, such as an overly short snout, that might cause health problems.

Bulldogs are prone to heat stroke and owners should be vigilant about providing shade and water on a hot day. Air conditioning indoors and ice in his water can help. Never leave any dog in an enclosed car in the sun, even in mild weather.

If a Bulldog is breathing too hard and his tongue hangs out unusually far and takes on a bluish color rather than its usual pink, he is overheated. Immediately soak him in cool water and call your vet.

Bulldog - British Icon
The British icon – keep calm and carry on.

History of the Bulldog

The English Bulldog was bred for bull baiting, a cruel form of amusement in the Middle Ages in which a dog was pitted against a bull or a bear. A lot of money changed hands in wagers, and as bull baiting grew in popularity, dogs were selected and bred for courage, power and tenacity. A Bulldog will hold on to the bitter end. #Bulldog

Keep your Bulldog active with our free WAGSTA walkies, weight and wellness tracker! Join the pack and create the optimal healthy lifestyle for your dog!

Create the optimal healthy lifestyle for your dog with WAGSTA walkies, weight and wellness. Learn more now.