The Pros and Cons of Treating Your Dog Like a Baby

Jacqueline Bennett with Yellow Dog, all dressed up.

Dressing your dog up and carrying him around? Probably not a good idea. But we’ve been guilty of it, too.

Most pet parents are guilty of it at one point or another—babying your dog. Whether it’s extra cookies, carrying them around, dressing them up in cute outfits or letting them get their way, we can treat our furry friends the way we would treat our toddlers. But could this be making a good dog go bad?

We talked to The Pooch Coach, San Francisco based dog trainer Beverly Ulbrich, to outline the pros and cons of treating your dog like a child.

Signs You’re Guilty of Babying

You might not even realize you’re doing it, but there is a good chance you’ve babied your dog.

“There is a wide range of possibilities,” Ulbrich says. “But typically it has to do with owners feeding into bad behavior, such as begging or whining, or allowing their dog to not obey commands.”

Here are some common behaviors that baby our dogs:

  • Giving into whining or barking for attention or food
  • Carrying an able-bodied dog around or pushing him in a stroller
  • Letting your dog ignore commands he knows
  • Not correcting bad behavior such as posturing, resource guarding, and forms of aggression—including dog-on-dog aggression, food aggression, and people aggression

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How to Pick the Best Food for Your Dog

Yellow licking snoutDo 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.

Quality over quantity

You would never give your dog low-quality junk food that could cause cancer, but sadly many pet parents are unknowingly doing just that. Many popular commercial foods are filled with ingredients dogs have difficulty digesting—like corn, beef, soy, and wheat—or even known carcinogens.

“The most important thing owners need to think about is the quality of the ingredients that go into their pet’s mouth every day,” Dr. Mahaney explains. “Most commercially available pet foods are made with feed-grade ingredients—those are the ingredients that have been deemed unfit for human consumption.”

What’s wrong with feed-grade ingredients?

There’s a higher allowable level of toxins, which then penetrate the food.

“Especially mold-based toxins that commonly grow on grains,” Dr. Mahaney adds. “These cause long-term problems like kidney disease, liver disease, and digestive problems.”

Feed-grade ingredients include:

  • By-products
  • Non-specified meat meal
  • So-called 4-D meat.

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