Do you grab a big bag of pet food from your local supermarket without looking at the label? Or are you overwhelmed by the seemingly countless number of ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce or recognize?

Picking the best food for your dog can be a challenge. Some subtle—and not so subtle— ingredients in your dog’s food could be depriving him of proper nutrition or even be making him sick. We talked to holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney to break down the hidden dangers lurking in pet food and lay out some simple steps to improve your furry friend’s diet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help. See your veterinarian for advice suited specifically to your dog.

If you’re like most pet parents, you probably think your dog’s stinky breath is normal, so you ignore it. But doggy breath is an indication of infection that can be deadly if left untreated.

Dental disease is one of the most widespread issues plaguing dogs today—in fact, roughly 90% of dogs will have some degree of dental disease by the time they are just three years old, and often it arises even earlier. PetMD says neglecting dental care is the #2 cause of earlier death in our dogs.

We talked to one of the world’s leading pet dentists, Dr. Brook Niemiec, who is shedding light on why dental disease is so prevalent and what you need to be asking your vet about your pet’s oral health.

By: Vee Cecil, Guest Writer

You can take every precaution in the book to keep your dog out of harm’s way, but as any owner of a curious pooch knows, they’ll do their best to get around the obstacles you put in front of them. That was the case last summer when my parents’ dog found his way into the small shed where they keep their pool chemicals.

Though my parents always kept the door locked, on this occasion the last person out had forgotten to latch the door. So it didn’t take long for their always curious dog to find his way into the space that he’s normally locked out of.

By the time my mom found him, he’d already managed to knock over the chlorine container. Of course, my parents were extremely worried about the possibility of a chemical poisoning. They immediately researched what symptoms to look out for and monitored their dog closely.

Knowing these symptoms is important for all dog owners. Immediately recognizing what signs indicate a poisoning instead of wasting critical time researching could save your dog’s life. Here are key symptoms of a chemical poisoning.

If you’re a pet parent, chances are you’re staying home for the holidays. Most pet owners consider their furry friends part of the family and have a hard time leaving them behind during the holiday season when travel options are sparse.

Check out these interesting infographics for stats on how we feel about traveling with—or without—our dogs during the holiday season.

Whether it’s vacation, the holidays or work, we hate leaving our dog behind when we travel. Are you nervous dropping him at a kennel or even a dog hotel? Now there’s another option where the dog sitter comes to you – Rover.com.

rover.com home pageRover.com is a nationwide site of 25,000 sitter profiles where you can search and find the perfect fit for you and your dog. Co-founder Greg Gottesman thought of the idea after a bad experience at a high-end kennel where his dog, Ruby Tuesday, was injured. He thought his dog would have been more comfortable in his own environment.

“He and his team pitched the idea for Rover.com at the 2011 Startup Weekend in Seattle and won top prize,” Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly says.

If you’re worried about having a stranger in your home, rest assured Rover thoroughly checks out its sitters.

Just call it Biggest Loser: Pet Edition. One Bay Area vet clinic is launching a weight-loss contest for your dog or cat, and it’s free!

weight loss challenge
Dr. Kristina Hansson came up with the weight-loss challenge to help overweight patients like the cat pictured here.

Cornerstone Integrative Veterinary Hospital in Marin County was inspired to start this weight-loss challenge due to a startling trend in pet ownership: roughly 50 percent of our furry friends are now overweight, which is leading to a number of health issues.

“Most don’t realize their pets are overweight, they just think they are a bit chubby,” Cornerstone owner Dr. Kristina Hansson says. “But when explained all the problems associated with obesity, they tend to take it very seriously.”

To enter the contest, schedule a free consultation with the office in September, where they will assess your pet and do a weigh-in. All overweight cats and dogs are eligible and the winner will receive a one-year wellness plan valued at over $2,000.

Whether it’s after the dog park, while running errands, or on a long road trip, dogs are left in the car everyday. Leaving your dog unattended for any amount of time can be dangerous—even deadly.

It doesn’t even have to be that hot for the temperature inside the car to reach dangerous levels for your pooch—even at a comfortable 72° outside, your car will reach 106° in 30 minutes.

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtWe’ve already detailed how the ThunderShirt works but if you’re planning on using the shirt for the first time this 4th of July, make sure you know how you should act when fireworks go off.

Did you know you shouldn’t yell at your dog for barking? ThunderShirt offers some training tips on their website to use with the shirt.

We also consulted The Pooch Coach, trainer Beverly Ulbrich, for tips on dealing with 4th of July noises. Here’s what she suggests:

You have Frontline stocked and religiously give it to your dog every month. He’s protected from fleas and ticks, right? Well, maybe.

frontlineTopical flea medicines like Frontline or K9 Advantix lose their effectiveness throughout the month, especially if your pup has had a bath or goes for a swim during that time. So by week three or four, the effectiveness could only be at 50 percent or less, which is a problem for dogs who are flea allergic.

Bay Area Veterinary Dermatologist Dr. Nicole Eckholm says your dog will generally be okay if you give a topical flea preventative once a month but if you dog is flea allergic, it might be a good idea to give it every three weeks.

By: Beverly Ulbrich, The Pooch Coach

There are a lot of good articles about what to do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, but no one has time to read through it all or watch videos when it happens. So here are some quick, easy steps you can take to be prepared, help your dog suffer less and get rid of the smell.

skunk wash
The three ingredients you need to make a skunk wash. But be careful, these ingredients MUST be mixed in an open container or they could explode.

1. Be prepared. Stock these items so you’re prepared in advance: baking soda, three percent hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish-washing detergent, such as Dawn. Nature’s Miracle also makes a Skunk Odor Remover.

2. Contain the smell. Your dog will want to rub off the oil on whatever he can find, so try to keep your dog outside or at least away from anything in your house.

3. Act quickly. Every second counts. The oils sinks into your dog’s coat quickly and it burns his eyes, mouth, nose and skin.