5 Things Dogs REALLY Need From Their Humans

Dear Human,
I was so happy the day you chose me. I miss my mom, and brothers and sisters so much, but I love sleeping by your bed each night and greeting you each morning. You cuddle me, give the best treats, make me feel safe and protected, and I can’t get enough of staring into your adorable eyes. Walking beside you each morning and night fills me with joy, and I am so grateful for the toys, comfy bed I can rip up, and yummy treats you give my when I do really cool tricks… like sit. And Stay. And High-Five. You gave me the greatest gift, a home, and I am forever your friend. I know sometimes we can be a burden, but we don’t mean to be. Those morning kisses while you’re still sleeping, sitting on your feet while you work and dropping slobbery toys in your lap while you watch TV… that’s just our way of saying we love you! And honestly, while you humans need lots of stuff… us dogs don’t need much. If we could talk, this is what we would tell you what we really need.

We need kindness.

I know you’ve seen those weird shows on TV where they use shock collars, and commands, and sometimes trainers yell at us. But we do so much better when you show us kindness. We respond to the tone of your voice and your manner, so when we know you’re mad of course we’re not going to run to you. I mean come on, we’re not stupid! Like you do with your kids try positive praise. Tap your leg and walk away when you want us to follow. Always have treats with you as a reward. If we see that you are happy with us we will want to please you even more.

We need belly rubs.

Man do we love it when you pet us, and scratch us, and give us aaaalllll the affection. It’s our love language and we will do everything in our power to try to get some. I mean, we can’t do it ourselves, so try to make five minutes a day for us, we’ll show you even more love.

We need more supervision than you think.

We get so excited when someone comes to visit and we love to sniff everyone to say hello, but those little bitty humans that hug us? Yeah we don’t always like that. Or those dogs at the dog park that you think are playing? Sometimes we run away because we are scared. Please watch our eyes, our tails, and see what our body language is telling you. We don’t have words but I promise we are communicating if you pay attention.

We need grace.

You can’t expect us to be perfect, I mean we’re dogs not robots! How are we supposed to know the difference between your fuzzy bunny slippers and our stuffed squirrel? It’s an animal and it’s walking towards us tempting us to attack. If you don’t want us to get into trouble then take trouble out of the equation. Lock up your shoes when you go to work, and give us something to chew while you’re gone. We get bored. We try to entertain ourselves, but sometimes we pick the wrong “toys” to play with. And trust us, everything looks like a toy from our perspective!

We need real food.

I know you can’t feed us from the table, I mean if you do we’ll be your BFF every time you sit down to dinner. But it’s OK to drop some chicken, rice or green beans in our food every day. Whole food is good for us, and makes us feel AWESOME!! It’s helps us thrive, have less health problems, and live longer than when we eat that cheap kibble food. Try the 30 Day Whole Food Challenge at or buy us some Side by Side Pet food. Just a little bit goes a long way in keeping us healthy!

But more than all of these things, what we really need is you.

We can’t wait to hear you wake up and stretch and slowly walk towards us each morning. We are obsessed with that morning pet, and to watch the sunrise with you. We love and depend on you so much, you really are the best friend we could have ever imagined. So if you could please put down that rectangle thing you are always looking at, and just look into our eyes once or twice more a day, you might see what you need.

We don’t always come to you because we need something, sometimes we lay by you because you need it.

Dogs everywhere

How to find the best food for your dog by looking nose-to-toes

Whether it’s for our dog’s longest life or a specific issue, we all ask the same question: what foods should I be giving my dog? We learned how to assess our dogs nose-to-toes thanks to Penny & Loosey of the @pigpenthepittie family who went LIVE with us to talk nutrition.

Our founder Marney Prince took the girls and their mom through a series of questions grounded in Eastern & Western medicine to assess who they are and match them to the right warming, cooling, or neutral foods for their individual best health. Watch our live chat with them & Dogly for Marney’s questions and recommendations for each, but here’s our quick breakdown.

It starts with us – we know our dogs better than anyone.

Our everyday observations of their tongues, eyes, personalities, and yes, their poop, are the essential guide to the right foods. Here’s the quick overview chart with what to look for. Or take the pet assessment to get a better understanding of exactly what your dog needs & WHY!

Penny & Loosey turned out to be opposites in their assessments – and good examples for the rest of us to understand our own dogs.

  • A few of the telltale signs that Penny is best with warming foods: her love of sun (so much so her nickname is SunPig), separation anxiety and worry when her routine is upset, need for moisture to keep everything moving and good energy flowing. Because of this, warming foods would be best for Penny. Foods like chicken, lamb, chicken hearts for happy confident energy, and rabbit (a moisturizing protein).
  • Loosey shows she runs hot and can benefit from cooling foods with her frequently gunky ears, redness around her eyes, outgoing/calm personality, and often looser/less regular poop. Marney recommended organic apple cider vinegar in her ears followed by coconut oil, as well as cider vinegar in her food, a gut health supplement to help reset her GI tract, cooling proteins like rabbit and pork, and fresh whole foods like leafy greens added to her bowl.

Every dog is different

..but every dog benefits hugely from getting more whole, real foods.

Whether your dog runs warm, cool, or neutral, Marney recommends whole, real foods. The great news for all of us is that just filling 25% of your dog’s bowl with fresh foods makes a stunning difference: studies have shown the addition of greens reduces the incidence of cancer by 90%, adding other veggies and fruits reduces cancer incidence by 70%. Just by sharing food in your fridge that’s good for your dog, you’ll see brighter eyes, more mobility, and your dog will process food within 12 hours (the healthy norm) vs the 24 hour cycle of an all kibble diet. You can learn more about the research and benefits of real food at and sign up to take the 30 Day Whole Food Challenge!

Big thanks to Dogly & the PigPen Family for chatting with us & sharing a bit about their dogs!

Our goal is to make it really easy when you’re assessing your dog to know which foods are a good match. Everything is on a color coding system, so since Penny needs warming foods like chicken the best things for her can be found in pink Side by Side bags. Since Loosey is the opposite and needs to cool down a bit through foods like duck & fish – she’s better off with things in blue bags.

Penny & Loosey, we look forward to helping you both!!

Not sure where to start? Take our online pet assessment now!

What’s A Healing Crisis?

Congratulations!!! You’ve started feeding your dog real whole foods. Maybe you’ve transitioned them completely,maybe you’re feeding them whole foods for just part of their meals or possibly you’re converting to a freeze-dried recipe… wherever you’re at, we just want to stop for a second and say:

YOU ROCK. You can feel good that you are doing the absolute BEST thing for your dog because you took the most important step: you decided to feed more real food. 

Whether it’s been 10, 14 or 30 days – depending on your dog (their current state of health, the strength of their immune system, what they were eating before, their age, vaccine history, and a variety of other factors specific to your pet) they may be going through what is known as a Healing Crisis.

What’s A Healing Crisis?

In layman’s terms, it means that they body is getting rid of the junk that has gotten stuck inside Basically, it’s a detoxification process. Depending on your pet’s wellness state, this may take some time and things may get worse before they get better.  

Yikes, is that bad?

Don’t be alarmed, it’s actually a GOOD thing because all those built up toxins are being eliminated from your pet’s body! It just may be a little messy, because the two major organs where our pets secrete out the toxins  are the skin and their butts. In our society, we have become conditioned to believe that if something appears wrong, we need to fix it IMMEDIATELY. We may choose tobecome Google Certified Veterinarians and before we know it, we’ve convinced ourselves that something is terribly wrong and we need to do something quick to cure them. 

Instead of masking this process, we encourage you to be patient – allowing the body to rid itself of the toxins is a GREAT thing (albeit, possibly a bit uncomfortable for your pet)

Symptoms of a healing crisis:

  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Dryskin
  • Anal sac problems
  • Lethargy
  • Mucous on the stool
  • Vomiting
  • Icky ears

Just to name a few

When thinking of a Healing Crisis, we should keep in mind Hering’s Law of Cure:

  1. We heal from the head down
  2. We heal from the inside out
  3. We heal in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared or been suppressed

With so much information floating in cyberspace – we want to reassure you that yes, this is normal. No it doesn’t happen to every dog. Yes it can happen to yours!

Breathe. Be patient. Let your pup heal.

Now, on a lighter note, you may be noticing some AMAZING things happening with your dog!

  • Licking/itching has decreased
  • Eye gunk has decreased
  • Tear stains under the eyes are fading
  • Less/No more scooting
  • More regular poop, more solid poop, less poop – there are LOTS of poop benefits when you start feeding whole foods ;)
  • Dandruff and dry skin improving
  • More energy
  • More excitement at meal time

Where ever your dog is at in the healing process – just know that it will pass, things will get better, youare doing the right thing for them! If you ever need any help, have any questions or just want to learn more about the healing crisis – send us a message and someone from our P.A.W (pet assessment & wellness) Team will reachout!

Happy eating! 

XO, Your Side by Side Family

Disclaimer: If your dog hasn’t eaten in 24 hours or has a fever lasting more than 24 hours call your vet immediately. You know your dog best.

Is My Pet Overweight?

By Dr. Alison Birken

It is the New Year, and just like with us humans, it is a great time to ensure your pet is at their optimal weight and best health. One of the most important lifestyle and health decisions you can make for your pet is to ensure they stay at their recommended weight. Obesity in pets an increasing problem. Being a small animal veterinarian, I see so many overweight pets, and I am always working with pet parents to create ideal diet and exercise plans for their pets.

With over half of all the pets in the United States being overweight (56% of dogs, 60% of cats), it is more important than ever to make sure pet parents are well informed about obesity in pets and maintaining a healthy weight for dogs and cats. When you know there is a problem, you can take the appropriate steps to rectify any health issues that may be present.

Your pet’s weight can say a lot about their overall health.

Obesity in pets is an epidemic in our country and poses dangerous health concerns for our pets. Just like with us, obesity in pets can lead to multiple diseases and health concerns, including the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin disease
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Seizures
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Some cancers
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Where to start?

So, how can we ensure our pets are fit and help them live longer and healthier lives? First, it is important to know if your pet is overweight.

Start by determining if your pet is at the ideal body weight using the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) method. Once we all have a better understanding of how your pet should look, your pet may have to lose some pounds. Always have your veterinarian evaluate your pet with BCS. Your veterinarian is your best resource for creating a proper diet plan and exercise regimen for your pet.

Help stop obesity in pets with these tips from the vet! 

  • Have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian and routine bloodwork performed to rule out systemic disease. Many times, weight gain can be from systemic illnesses such as hypothyroid.
  • Come to the vet prepared. Make sure you know the exact food type, the way in which you feed your pet, and how many and what type of treats your pet receives throughout the day. This information is helpful for the veterinarian to assess your pet’s general diet. Many times, veterinarians will have a form to fill out with your pet’s exact feeding schedule. This schedule is important in establishing how many calories your pet is eating daily and whether you need to cut back.
  • Your pet’s diet is the most important factor in keeping them healthy and at their optimal weight. Food choices and the ways in which pet parents are feeding their pets are evolving and improving. Pet parents and veterinarians are becoming more aware of the importance of whole food nutrition and feeding your pets high quality ingredients with no artificial additives or preservatives. Studies show that replacing 25% of your dogs current diet with real whole food, can decrease the probability of obesity in pets (along with reducing the risk of disease and even cancer). We suggest adding these foods that you can find in your fridge or try out our freeze dried patties
  • Measure meals. Have your veterinarian establish your pet’s ideal body weight then feed your pet the recommended amount of food according to their ideal body weight. With obesity in pets, some transitional goals may be more appropriate. Your veterinarian is the best resource to establish the goal weight for your pet at any given time. It is important to utilize the correct measuring tools when feeding your pet. Make sure your veterinarian knows exactly how you are measuring your pet’s food to ensure the correct amount.
  • Establish a feeding schedule. Many pets graze on food that is left for them all day. With overweight pets, we do not recommend grazing. Measure out the exact amount of food your pet should get, and give it to them at scheduled times throughout the day.
  • Cut down on treats. I know this is a tough one, but people do not realize how many calories treats can contribute to your pet’s diet. Just cutting out the treats alone, or switching to low fat treats, can result in weight loss for your pet.
  • Exercise! Just like we need to maintain an active lifestyle to stay in shape, our pets need to exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Regular follow-ups are crucial in tracking your pet’s progress and the results of any new diet. Have your pet evaluated regularly with weight checks once the diet has been established. This evaluation is crucial in assessing the effectiveness of the plan and adjusting the diet, if needed.
  • A low-fat diet may be necessary to shed excess weight. If your pet does not respond to decreasing treats or receiving proper amounts of food and exercise, speak with your veterinarian about additional diet changes.

With obesity in pets on the rise, it is up to us to give our furbabies the healthiest lives possible. Our pets depend on us to make the right choices for them and to keep them healthy and strong. Our pets give us so much love, devotion, and loyalty, so let’s give them the benefits of health, happiness, and a long wonderful life!

If you haven’t already, sign up for our 30 Days Whole Food Challenge now!

Dr. Alison Birken is a small animal veterinarian in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. She owns Victoria Animal Hospital, is the co-founder of Forever Freckled, wife to her amazing husband Rob & mom to her 3 greatest accomplishments Luke, Leah & Hayden.