By: Susan Briggs, Owner of Urban Tails Pet Resort

Sheppy and Archie Eat Better Than Us!

Bill frequently says this when people ask what we feed our dogs.  It may surprise you to learn that with all the great dog food available to me at Urban Tails we actually shop for their food at Kroger and Whole Foods in the “human” aisles.  Now I realize that preparing a balanced home-made natural diet for your dog takes knowledge, time and is not for most pet parents.  However, everyone can spend five minutes reading this short article and get on a path for a healthier family in 2012.

Our pets are important members of our family and we want them with us as long as possible.  So let’s focus on building a strong immune system and just like us the keys are a good diet, proper exercise and a healthy environment.

The right diet for your dog is personal to each individual animal so be open to change.  When fed the proper diet your dog will enjoy it, have bright clear eyes, a shiny coat, good energy and small firm stools.  It is important to read your pet food label where you should see meat as the first ingredient and a minimal number of chemical sounding names.  For those who want more details on selecting the best diet for your pet please use this link:

Another consideration in selecting the best diet is selecting the protein type that is best for your pet and this may change during the year.  (Varying your pet’s diet is acceptable and could be the best way to maximize their health.)  Archie is always trying to cool himself as his body tends to run “hot”.  He likes to lie on cool floors, he pants more than Sheppy and will get hot spots occasionally.  To help cool him he is fed a neutral or cold protein source.  We always avoid the hot proteins during the summer months and offer them on occasion during winter.  Learning that different foods can help cool or warm our bodies is a key to creating a strong, healthy immune system.  Following is a chart of the more common proteins available in pet foods and their elemental classifications:

Hot Proteins

Neutral Proteins

Cold Proteins

Chicken Beef Turkey
Venison Pork Duck
Lamb Salmon Cod
Pheasant Tuna Yogurt
Goat Milk Wild Rabbit Raised Rabbit
Chicken Egg Yolk Quail Chicken Egg White


Proper exercise is very important for great health.  Regular leash walks in the neighborhood are very important.  Some dogs benefit from additional forms of exercise and we are grateful that many of you choose dog daycare and swim sessions at Urban Tails for them.  We also offer neighborhood walks, individual play times and treadmill sessions for dogs that stay with us for lodging or just for the day.  Our dog training is always focused on fun and works the mind and the body.  Watch for opportunities to enroll your dog in a class with you or a day training camp.

Maintaining a healthy home and care environment is very important to a healthy immune system.  Especially living in Houston where our air quality can definitely use improvement.  Start with the water you and your pet drink making sure it is filtered to remove chemicals that our bodies do not need.  Next, consider the cleaning products you use on floors and bedding selecting natural green cleaners without added chemicals.  Finally, minimize the use of preventatives, vaccinations and chemical medications as much as possible.  Preventatives are a necessity for many pets in Houston, but some pets are extra sensitive to the chemicals in these products.   Pets with a strong immune system are less attractive to a flea which is another reason to focus on boosting their health.  More research is being done on the long-term health impact of vaccinations and is something that all pet owners should monitor and we recommend this site for more information (  Discuss natural approaches for the care of your pet with your veterinarian.   At Urban Tails we care about providing a healthy environment when your pet is away from home.  Filtered drinking water is provided and we also select cleaning products with the least chemicals possible.

Another side benefit to a focus on your pet’s health is a healthier lifestyle for you!  My diet has definitely improved the more I learned about healthy eating for my dogs.  Our pets want us to be healthy so we truly enjoy a long life together.