Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Dog begging for cookies

Photo by Gabriela Pinto / CC BY 2.0

Whether you feed your dog a high-quality dry food or have jumped on the raw (or BARF) diet bandwagon, occasionally your dog is probably going to get some people food. Most of us know not to give our dogs chocolate or alcohol, but there are many other foods you should never feed your dog. The foods listed below can pose health risks for your dog and while some foods may only cause mild digestive issues, others can cause severe reactions that could require medical treatment.

Harmful Foods for Dogs

Alcohol – Effects the liver and brain, can cause coma or death
Apple Seeds – Seeds contain cyanide
Avocado – Contains persin, can cause digestive issues
Bones – Can cause choking, bones can splinter and create obstructions or lacerations
Cat Food – Contains excess protein and fat
Chocolate – Causes digestive, heart and nervous system issues (especially dark chocolate)
Corn Cobs – Cob pieces can become lodged in the intestine creating a blockage
Fat Trimmings – Excess fat can cause pancreatitis
Grapes/Raisins – Contains an unknown toxin that can damage the kidneys
Macadamia Nuts – Contains an unknown toxin that can damage various organs
Milk/Dairy Products – Lactose can cause digestive issues and trigger food allergies
Mushrooms – Some mushrooms can be toxic to dogs
Onions/Garlic – Can damage red blood cells and cause anemia
Peaches/Plums – Pits contain cyanide and can cause intestinal obstructions
Persimmons – Seeds can cause intestinal inflammation and obstructions
Raw Eggs – Risk of salmonella and enzyme interferes with absorption of Vitamin B
Raw Fish – Raw salmon and trout could contain a bacteria infected parasite deadly for dogs
Salt – Large quantity can cause electrolyte imbalance or sodium poisoning
Sugary Foods – Large quantity can lead to obesity, dental problems and diabetes
Yeast Dough – Raw dough can expand and rupture the stomach or intestines
Xylitol – Artificial sweetener found in many products, can cause liver failure

I occasionally hear dog owners say their dogs can eat chocolate or other foods from the list above without having any problems, but keep in mind, you may not notice specific symptoms with your dog even though they could be suffering an adverse reaction.

Always be careful when sharing leftovers with your dog. Analyze the ingredients to make sure they are safe and are contributing to a healthy, balanced diet. Never give moldy or spoiled food to your dog and make sure discarded food is safe from dogs that enjoy raiding the kitchen trashcan when you’re not looking. And speaking from experience, safely store food away from counter-surfing dogs. (Haley once ate an entire plate of dark chocolate brownies from the countertop, yikes!)

Let me know if I’ve missed any foods that should be on the list and please consult with your veterinarian if you’re worried about something your dog may have eaten or if you have any questions about how to feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet.

GoPro Fetch Dog Harness Review


Note: This is NOT a paid or compensated review, but a review of a product that I purchased for my own use. I enjoy sharing information about products you may like or find useful and you’ll always receive my honest and unbiased opinion.

With the recent release of the GoPro Fetch dog harness, it seemed like the perfect excuse to finally purchase a GoPro camera and start recording some dog adventures. The harness and camera are great for active, fun-loving dogs as it offers a unique perspective of your pet’s view of the world around him. The Fetch harness has two padded mounting plates used with three stretchy, adjustable straps to hold a GoPro camera securely on his back or chest, providing two unique views. The harness fits dogs from 15 to 120 pounds and is washable and water-friendly, in case your dog happens to take a dive into a lake or rolls in the nearest mud puddle. You can attach the harness straps quickly and easily and it includes a tether loop to ensure the camera stays with the harness in case it takes a few hard knocks.
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I was curious to see how Haley would react, having never worn any type of harness before. I used some treats while putting it on her for the first few times and she barely noticed it. She did great during her first walk with the camera mounted on her back. After turning around a couple of times to look at it and a few shakes in attempt to get rid of it, she accepted it as her new high-tech toy, although she was a little subdued. After the initial trial walk with the harness and camera, she was comfortable wearing it and acted normally each time.

It’s important to make sure the straps are tight enough (while still being comfortable) so the harness stays in place. Once the harness is secure, the camera can be mounted on the dog’s back or chest. You can then adjust the tilt level of the camera to get the best view. Controlling the camera (Hero3+ Black Edition) once it’s mounted is amazingly simple. In addition to the controls on the camera itself, you can control almost every function of the camera by using the remote control unit or by using the built-in wireless feature along with a smartphone app.

Ok, now for the good stuff. Overall, the harness performed very well. It was comfortable for Haley to wear and she was able to move freely. It stayed in place on her back (after making sure the straps were tight enough) and rarely needed to be readjusted. Because the chest mount plate is able to move freely along the straps so that it can be adjusted higher or lower on the chest, caused an issue with keeping the camera in the desired position. The chest mount and camera kept sliding down Haley’s chest and had to be adjusted several times. Haley has a narrow chest, so dogs with a broader chest may not have this same issue.

Whether you mount the camera on the back or the chest, the video is going to be a bit shaky as you would expect. Video quality is good when the dog is sitting, standing or walking at a normal pace, but running, rough play or chasing rabbits (as Haley did in the video) may cause a slight nausea-inducing effect for the viewer. Video quality is much better when the camera is mounted on the back, rather than on the chest where it tends to swing a little bit or get bumped by the dog’s front legs. A third additional view is possible when you mount the camera looking backwards while on the dog’s back. The camera tilt angle stays in place most of the time, but will need readjusted if your dog runs into something or the camera takes a hard bump.

The Bottom Line

The GoPro Fetch dog harness is a good quality camera harness that should hold up well and with a MSRP of $59.99, it’s not a bad value. The fact that it’s durable, washable and water-friendly is great for water dogs that love to swim. The few small issues I have with it can be tweaked with some minor alterations. The chest plate mount doesn’t appear to be as practical as the back plate mount, as far as both usability and video quality, but it can be removed if you have a small dog or prefer not to use it at all.

Enjoy Haley’s footage below and look for additional GoPro videos in the future. Let me know what your experience is with using a GoPro camera and the Fetch (or other brand) dog harness.

5 Good Reasons to Get a Dog


5 Good Reasons to Get a DogThere are good reasons to get a dog and bad reasons to get a dog, but there’s nothing worse than having to find a new home for your dog after you’ve become attached to it because you made a hasty decision. Luckily, you can avoid the heartache by taking your time and considering the suggestions below before adding a new canine member to your family.

People who need service dogs or working dogs to perform tasks already have a good reason to get a dog, but for most of us, our dogs will be family pets. Before thinking about what kind of dog you would like, it’s important to understand and accept the level of commitment you’ll be making when bringing a new dog into your home. The average lifespan of a dog is around 12 years with smaller dogs often living longer. You’ll need to have a good amount of time and energy to spend with the dog along with enough space and money to properly care for its needs. So, if you’re ready for that commitment, what are some good reasons to get a dog?

5 Good Reasons to Get a Dog

1. Companionship
Dogs are loyal companions that enjoy spending time with you. You’ll never feel lonely or isolated when you have a dog. They’re thrilled to be invited along if you’re heading out the door or happy to greet you when you return home. While spending time around the house, they’re content to hang out with you and may even listen to you talk about your day, without judging, of course. As social pets, they do require you to spend time with them (taking walks, playing, training, etc.) and they will reward you with their true friendship and unconditional love. Bonus: You’ll never have to eat alone!
2. Better Health
There are several health benefits to owning a dog. They can lower stress and blood pressure levels and help relieve depression. Petting or playing with a dog can increase serotonin and dopamine levels which also helps you to relax. Because dogs bring more structure and purpose to our lives, we feel needed and can more easily forget about our problems. Dogs can even enhance our social lives as we meet new people when we’re out with our dogs. There’s no wonder there are so many therapy dogs lending a paw to patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
3. Exercise Buddy
Dogs need exercise to stay fit and healthy and those long walks and play sessions in the park with your best friend will help keep you healthier too. Exercising alone can be boring but with so many fun activities you can share with your dog, you and your workout partner will both keep moving and stay fit. Your new live-in fitness coach will motivate you by reminding you when it’s time for your daily walk together.
4. Joy
Dogs deliver an enormous amount of fun and laughter with their contagious zest for life. They play with you, entertain you with their crazy antics and bring families closer together. Nothing is better at turning around a bad mood than watching a playful puppy or goofy dog having fun and living in the moment. If you ever need a little TLC, a dog will curl up beside you and give you a kiss or gently wipe away those tears. There’s no doubt about it, dogs make our lives more joyful.
5. Home Security
One of the best deterrents against home burglaries is a barking dog. Most dogs will be happy to alert you if anything unusual is happening around the home and a barking dog will normally cause a thief to move on to an easier target. If your dog rarely barks, keeping a large dog bowl outside your back door can still be a great defense against burglaries.

If you happen to be wondering about bad reasons to get a dog, here are a few.

5 Bad Reasons to Get a Dog

1. The Adorable Face
It’s happened to all of us. You know, that phenomenon when you see a cute puppy with an adorable face and those “please take me home” eyes and your mind races to figure out how you would manage all those details of caring for the dog. Take a deep breath and resist the urge to assume everything will work out somehow. Caring for a dog is a huge responsibility. Give yourself enough time to think through the decision before you head home with a new puppy and you’ll avoid having any regrets later.
2. Protection
Having a threatening dog chained in the yard with little or no socialization or training is never a good idea. You may feel safer, but it may be an accident waiting to happen and someone could be injured if the dog accidentally gets loose. Dogs needs attention, socialization and proper training and are more content as social, well-adjusted family members rather than lone security guards patrolling the yard.
3. Fashion Accessory
I have to admit, there are some cute little dogs being toted around in purses these days wearing the latest in doggie fashion. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as having a small fashionable dog is not your only motivation for becoming a dog owner. It may seem like little dogs require less work and energy because of their size, but they have the same needs as bigger dogs.
4. Begging Children
Dogs can help kids learn about compassion and teach responsibility, but you can’t expect a child to assume complete responsibility of caring for a dog no matter how much they promise or beg. If all family members are on-board with the decision to get a dog and are involved in caring for the dog, everyone benefits. Yes, no matter how reliable or responsible your child is, you’ll occasionally find yourself out walking the dog (and probably enjoying it).
5. Companion for an Existing Dog
Having more than one dog can help reduce issues with separation anxiety, boredom and loneliness, but getting a second dog because you don’t have the time to spend with the dog you already have can introduce more problems. Make sure you have the time and energy to give each dog the individual attention they deserve and that all the dogs get along well with each other.

Having a good reason to get a dog and being able to meet your new dog’s needs will start you off on the right foot in creating an amazing relationship with your new best friend. Good luck with your decision and share your experience of why you decided to get a dog and if it turned out to be a good decision.

Why You Should Make Homemade Dog Treats


I know, it sounds like a hassle to make your own dog treats, but there’s a good reason to consider getting that mixer out and baking up a batch of some homemade snacks for your dog.

It seems like every day there’s a new warning about a brand or line of dog treats that’s been recalled because it contains ingredients that are dangerous for our pets. Sadly, some unfortunate dog owners find out too late that a product has been recalled only after their dog starts showing symptoms of illness. Tragically, some dog owners have lost a pet because of contaminated dog treats.

Most unsafe treats are jerky type treats imported from China where manufacturing standards are lower than in the United States. Although treats made in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United States are considered safer, it can be hard to tell where the ingredients were sourced to make the products. Just because a product has a Made in the USA or Product of USA claim or an American flag logo on the package, doesn’t necessarily mean the ingredients to make the product came from within the USA.

Some major pet supply chains have started phasing out products from China, but instead of trying to decipher product labels and hoping those companies are honest in their labeling, why not keep your dog safe by making your own homemade dog treats?

Here’s a great recipe from my daughter-in-law Colleen and her Aunt Marilyn. Some of Colleen’s favorite dogs are lucky to find a gift wrapped package of these yummy treats under their Christmas trees each year. I love this recipe because it’s healthy, easy to make and the treats dry out nicely so they will last for months. Let me know if your dog finds these treats irresistible too!

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
2 1/2 Cups Warm Water (can use 1/2 Broth and 1/2 Water, if desired)
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1. Combine first three ingredients.
2. Stir in water and peanut butter.
3. Knead dough, working in more flour until dough isn’t sticky.
4. Roll 1/4 inch thick, cut into shapes and bake on greased cookie sheet for 40 min at 350 degrees.
5. Turn oven off and leave in oven with door closed until completely cooled.

Homemade Dog Treats

A big “thank you” goes to Colleen and Marilyn for sharing their recipe and if you’re looking for a healthy treat recipe that contains pumpkin, check out the post 7 Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs!

The Most Useful Command to Teach Your Dog


Lucky for you, training your dog to sit is not only the most useful command but it’s the easiest one to teach!  Most dogs learn this command quickly and you’ll soon be able to use his new skill in a variety of situations to easily manage your dog.

First, let’s see how simple it is.

Teaching the Sit Command

Stand or kneel facing your dog and hold a training treat near his nose to get his attention. Move the treat towards his nose while raising it slightly above nose level. As he looks up to follow the treat with his nose, his backend will automatically lower into a sitting position. Give the verbal command “Sit” as he begins lowering his rear and reward him with the treat when his rear hits the ground. That’s it!

If you need some extra help, here are a few tips: Remember, dogs follow their noses and you are directing his movement with the treat.  Keep the treat close to his nose without letting him have it until he sits. Never physically force the dog into a sitting position.

The most useful command to teach your dogPractice several times each day in short sessions, giving him lots of praise when he’s successful.  As your dog catches on, start giving the command with the treat further away from his nose.  Eventually your dog will understand the verbal command without using treats, but occasionally reward him for sitting because he’s such a good boy!

Now you can start working the sit command into your dog’s daily routine.  Having your dog sit before getting food, treats or toys teaches him good manners, patience and respect.  The sit command is also an effective way to resolve common behavioral issues such as rushing through open doors or jumping on guests.  Teaching your dog an alternate behavior such as Sit lets him know what you expect from him in those situations.  Rather than repeatedly saying “No!” to your dog, tell him what you would like him to do.  Sit!

Isn’t it amazing the easiest command to teach your dog is so useful?