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 dog information 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 some dog sites that I find both interesting and helpful. In this article I'll review each site and give it my personal rating.
All the sites have information about caring for dogs, training them, and understanding their behavior. They also have photos, videos, and news. Some provide information about the different dog breeds as well. Most of the sites include information about other pets in addition to dogs. Since I have dogs, cats, and birds, a website that covers multiple types of animals is very useful for me.
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 or cat care can be chosen from the "Pet Care" link at the bottom of the home page. Visitors can learn about dog health and nutrition requirements, get help for behavior problems, and discover grooming techniques.
One big advantage of the ASPCA site is the section called the Animal Poison Control Center. This section 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 pet 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.
How to Clean a Dog's Ears, from an ASPCA Vet
ASPCA publishes frequent news articles about pet and farm animal concerns. Visitors can sign up for a newsletter. The organization has a Facebook page, a Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus account, and a YouTube channel. These sites enable visitors to comment on news items.
Dogster has an attractive home page, which it calls a "magazine". The magazine captures visitors' attention with a large, colorful photo and an accompanying article link. Below these are photo thumbnails and links to other articles on the site.
There are tabs at the top of the page that link to different topic areas on the site. These areas include a Video section, a Book of Dog page, an Answers to Questions section, Photo Galleries, an Adoption section and a Community area. The home page also has a sign-up box for the newsletter.
The Book of Dog tab on the home page links to informational articles about dogs and their care. The Community tab takes visitors to areas such as questions and answers, forums, and group discussions.
Visitors can comment on posts at Dogster. The site is updated frequently and the Community area is active. I enjoy visiting the website in order to learn more about dogs and to be entertained.
Dogster has a popular Facebook page as well as other social media accounts. It also has a YouTube channel. The YouTube videos are several years old, however. 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.
How to Teach the Leave It Command
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.
People can comment on posts on the Vetstreet website and can also share the posts. However, 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.
How to Prepare Your Pets for a Disaster, by Marty and Mikkel Becker
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.
Webvet isn't as comprehensive as the other dog websites that I describe and isn't as feature-rich or as visually interesting, but it does contain some useful articles and covers some unique topics. There is a small section on holistic care for pets and another one on pet travel. Webvet has a few articles about small mammals and birds in addition to dog and cat information.
The home page has photos that link to articles about pets. At the bottom of the page are links to the different topic categories on the website as well as to articles and blog posts. Some of the articles are more relevant to vets than the general public, however.
The site has information about different health problems and different dog breeds, a collection of videos, and a box to find a local vet when a visitor enters their zip code. In addition, it has a section where visitors can download "Pet-Pods", which are pdf files about pet health. Visitors can also sign up for a newsletter.
Webvet contains a considerable amount of helpful information, but it has one major drawback. At the time of this review, neither the website (as far as I could tell) nor its Facebook page had been updated recently. The site is useful as a static resource, however.
The Webvet site says that its information is vet approved. A visitor should probably check any important information that they read with another site due to the age of the articles on Webvet, however.
Another feature of the home page on the Webvet site is a "Symptoms" link. Clicking this link causes a symptom checker box to appear. When a visitor types in the name of a symptom, a list of articles containing the name appear.
The search box on the other dog websites works the same way as the Webvet symptom checker box, returning articles that refer to "vomiting" if this is the search term, for example. In fact, Webvet has a conventional search box as well as a symptom checker box. The conventional box returns the same search results as the symptom checker box, according to the tests that I've performed. The problem with calling a search box a "symptom checker", in my opinion, is that it might give the box an air of authority, especially on a site with "vet" in its name.
I would hate for someone to enter one of their pet's symptoms in the symptom checker box and then based on the articles that appear on the screen decide that the pet's problem isn't serious. The information that the box returns may be valuable and accurate for the pet's situation. A serious symptom (or a minor one if it lasts for a long time or occurs repeatedly) should be checked by a vet, however. On its "About Us" page, Webvet says that it "does not diagnose or recommend treatment".
The 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. One of these 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 Five 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 and Vetstreet sites receive a rating of 4.75. They are fun and interesting to visit and contain lots of useful information.
- The Webvet site receives a rating of 4.0 because although it has useful articles I don't find it as interesting as the sites above. I'm also uneasy about the symptom checker box. In addition, the website doesn't seem to have been updated recently.
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. (The creator of Dogster has produced a similar site for cats called Catster.) Dogster is a popular site and has a lot of followers on Facebook. All of the sites that I've reviewed contain helpful information for dog lovers, though. I think that they are definitely are worth visiting.
References and Resources: The Websites
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