The commercial pet food industry can be a scary business. From questionable ingredients that can make your dog sick to misleading marketing tactics, navigating the shelves to choose a healthy and affordable food is a daunting task.

We consulted canine nutrition expert Sabine Contreras, author of The Dog Food Project, to find out what’s really in commercial dog food—and we’ve gone raw!

Find out why we made the switch and tips for transitioning your dog to a healthier—and sometimes more affordable—diet.

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.

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.

Chances are if your pet is overweight, you don’t even know it. At least that’s what a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) says. Roughly 45 percent of pet owners with an overweight or obese pet thought their animal was at a healthy weight.

The majority of dogs and cats in U.S. households are now overweight, with 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats above their ideal weight. Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital in San Francisco says it’s something she sees all too often.

“I would say two-thirds to four-fifths of the pets I see for regular check-ups are overweight to obese,” Dr. Vickers says.

dachshund pit bull mix
Sundown is at an ideal weight, according to the Nestle Purina weight chart. If you compare this picture to the chart below, you’ll see he matches up with the side view of the number 5 dog.

Overweight and obese animals are subject to the same diseases as humans and there has been a sharp increase in pet disease, including diabetes, hypertensions and cancer. But all these debilitating conditions are preventable by keeping your pet at a healthy weight.

You might be overwhelmed if you have an overweight pet, so we’re laying out the professional tips for getting your furry friend back in shape.