Four Great Websites for Dog Lovers: Reviews and Ratings
There are numerous websites for dog lovers on the Internet—so many, in fact, that it can be difficult and time consuming to discover the best ones. Dogs have been an important part of my family for many years, so I'm very happy to find so much information about them online. Like many other people, though, I'm often busy. I like to go directly to useful information on the Internet instead of searching for it. I've bookmarked four dog sites that I find both interesting and helpful. In this article I'll review each of these sites
Three of the sites are run by veterinary organizations or veterinarians. They contain useful articles related to dog health and protection. The fourth website contains articles about different aspects of keeping a dog as a pet as well as interesting news, photos, and videos. The vet sites include information about other pets besides dogs. Since I have dogs, cats, and birds, a website that covers multiple types of animals is very useful for me.
Pet websites can be very educational, but some caution is needed. Reading about dog health problems on a website is not a substitute for taking a sick pet to a vet, although it can sometimes give a helpful background to a situation. It can also give a pet owner ideas about topics that they should discuss with their veterinarian.
The website of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is very helpful. As would be expected, it has important sections on preventing animal cruelty, adopting pets, and helping animals in trouble, but it also has a lot of information about caring for a pet. Dog, cat, or horse care can be chosen from the "Pet Care" link on the bottom right of the home page. Visitors can learn about dog health and nutrition requirements, get help for behaviour problems, and discover grooming techniques.
One big advantage of the ASPCA site is the section called the Animal Poison Control Center, which is found in the "Pet Care" section. The center has a long list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats, or horses. It also mentions other potentially dangerous substances in a home, including human foods. In addition, it describes emergency treatment for poisoned pets.
ASPCA has a hotline that can be called at any time—365 days a year and 24 hours a day— if someone suspects that their pet has been poisoned. According to the website, there "may be" a credit card fee for the consultation service, however. If you're a pet owner, you should find out where the nearest emergency clinic is in your community and make sure that you know how to get there. It may be necessary to get your pet to a vet quickly instead of getting advice over a telephone.
A Useful Website
The home page of the site contains the latest news articles about ASPCA's efforts to help animals in trouble as well as photo links to other areas of the site. Like other pages on the website, it also has multiple orange "Donate" buttons. Someone wishing to make a donation should probably investigate the organization, its procedures, and its use of donations. I've reviewed the website, not the organization that runs it.
There's a menu on the home page that contains links to other areas of the site. Visitors can sign up for a newsletter. The Poison Control Center page has a link to ASPCA podcasts about pet safety.
The organization has a Facebook page, a Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest account, and a YouTube channel. These sites enable visitors to comment on posts. The organization also operates a shop, though shoppers must purchase products via Amazon Smile. This program donates to a charity once customers make a purchase.
Dogster has an attractive home page. There's a menu showing different topics at the top of the page. The rest of the page has photo and text links to articles. The page captures visitors' attention with a large, colourful photo under the menu and an accompanying article link. Readers can comment on the articles. A brief description of each menu is given below.
Dog Health & Care: articles about dog health problems (Most are not written by veterinarians, but many contain quotations from vets. New articles are posted frequently.)
Dog Food: information about different types of foods (including unusual ones), supplements, and feeding schedules
Dog Training: dog behaviour and training techniques and problems
Puppies: information about very young dogs
Lifestyle: dog-friendly events, celebrity dogs, movies containing dogs, helping a dog during a natural disaster, and other miscellaneous information
Dog Breeds: a reference section containing facts about different breeds
Videos: the weakest section of the site (There aren't many videos to see and they are old.)
The Community tab is located under the main menu. It takes visitors to the forums, which are quite active. Links on the forum page take people to the cat forums and the Catster website, which as its name suggests specializes in cats.
Dogster and Catster produce print magazines. People can sign up for a newsletter on each website. I've never done this and don't know whether the newsletters are worth reading.
Dogster has a popular Facebook page and Twitter account. The sites are frequently updated, but the vast majority of the posts are advertisements that link to the Dogster website. The site also has a YouTube channel under the name "Dogstervideo". The YouTube videos are five to seven years old. The earliest ones include a person travelling around in a dog costume as well as some other antics that seem a bit silly to me. They do contain some good information, though.
Vetstreet is run by an organization that provides services for veterinarians. The website states that its articles are written by "veterinarians, trainers, and pet experts". One of the vets is Dr. Marty Becker, who appears on TV and is sometimes referred to as "America's Veterinarian".
The home page of the website has interesting photos and links to informative articles. The top of the page has tabs that let visitors go to a dog page or a cat page. Other tabs link to sections on pet health, pet care, and training. Visitors can sign up for a newsletter. A potentially useful feature of the home page is the "Find a Vet" tab, which lets people search for a vet in their area by entering a zip code.
The site has extensive information about dog breeds. It also has a "Find a Breed" section. This allows visitors to select certain features that they would like in a pet dog and then see suggestions for suitable breeds.
The Vetstreet site is rich in information. However, it hasn't been updated recently, which is a worrying sign. All of the articles that I've read are dated from 2017 or earlier. In addition, unlike the case for the other three sites discussed in this article, the design of the home page hasn't changed for a long time.
People can comment on posts on the Vetstreet website and can also share them. Unlike Dogster, the site has no forum. Vetstreet has a YouTube video channel and social media accounts. The video collection is extensive and very useful. Many of them show Mikkel Becker (Dr. Becker's daughter) teaching owners how to train their dog. The latest video was published in 2017.
Vetstreet has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but at the time when was this article was last updated, neither social media account had been updated since April, 2017. It's a shame that a website that contains so much information seems to be ignored by its creators.
First Aid and Pet Care Pages of the AVMA
Much of the American Veterinary Medical Association website is aimed at veterinarians, but some pages were created for the general public. These can be reached by clicking on "Public Resources" on the top right of the home page. The section contains an extensive list of articles that are well worth exploring. The articles aren't dated. The news on the home page of the website is frequently updated, however, as would be expected for an organization partially intended for professionals.
One of the public resource pages covers dog and cat first aid procedures and describes how to treat poisoning, seizures, fractures, bleeding, burns, choking, heatstroke, shock, lack of breathing, and lack of a heartbeat.
The AVMA page is very useful, but it's important that all dog owners know about first aid techniques before an emergency happens. The first aid aid instructions should be printed out and kept in a safe and easily accessible location. They should also be read frequently so that they can be remembered.
The AVMA website has a general pet care page which contains links to other useful pages for pet owners. These pages cover topics such as vaccinations, medications, and pet insurance. The links also go to pages about pet care in special circumstances, such as during hot weather or holiday celebrations like Christmas.
My Ratings of the Four Dog Websites
All of the above websites have lots of very useful information for dog owners and I enjoy visiting them. I do prefer some of them to others, however. Of course, you may have a different opinion about the sites, but my star ratings are as follows.
- The ASPCA website receives my five star rating due to its very useful poison control center in addition to its extensive dog care section and the fact that it gives people a chance to help animals. In the past I've had to take a dog to an emergency care center (with a happy outcome, I'm glad to say), so I'm very interested in websites that give advice for preventing and dealing with emergencies.
- I won't rate the AVMA website as a whole, since it isn't aimed at the general public, apart from some sections. However, the pet first aid page alone is worth 5 stars in my opinion.
- The Dogster site receives a rating of 4.75. The site is enjoyable and interesting to visit and contains lots of useful information. When a visitor is browsing without searching for information about a particular pet problem, this may be the best site of the four to visit.
- The Vetstreet site receives a rating of 3. The information on the website is useful and interesting, but I'm concerned about the future of the site. I'm also concerned about another possibility. Our knowledge and ideas about pets and their problems change over time as new discoveries are made. While it's true that a pet health problem must be treated by a veterinarian, some people may be misguided by out-of-date information about other dog topics on a website. I don't know whether this is the case with the Vetstreet site, but it becomes more likely the longer the site goes without updates.
The poll below mentions Webvet, which I reviewed in the first edition of this article. It was a useful site but had some problems. The site no longer exists. In order to avoid eliminating the votes for the other websites, I haven't edited the poll.
Vote For Your Favorite Dog Website
Which dog website is your favorite?
The only website described in this article that deals entirely with dogs is Dogster. All of the sites that I've reviewed contain helpful information for dog lovers, though. I think that they are definitely worth visiting, in some cases on a regular basis.
References and Resources
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
What are the best dog foods?
It’s not possible to give a simple answer to your question. The best food depends on a dog’s age and life stage, their activity level, and their state of health. A veterinarian who knows your dog and any health problems that he or she has is the best person to advise you.
An information source that specializes in dogs and is written by a vet could also be useful. It would be good to look at several sources. Even experts sometimes have different opinions. One helpful source might be the Merck Veterinary Manual, but there are others.
I look for a high-quality food that contains natural ingredients and doesn’t contain ingredients such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. I look carefully at other ingredients in the food that may not be healthy, such as the salt level. I also do some research about the company that makes the food to see whether it has a good reputation and to see whether its claims about the food seem accurate.
© 2012 Linda Crampton