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 there is also 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.
There is an ASPCA hotline that can be called at any time if someone suspects that their pet has been poisoned, but there is a credit card fee for this service. 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
Other Features of the ASPCA Website
The ASPCA site has a blog which is updated daily. There are often multiple posts in a day. Readers can share the posts and comment on them. The site doesn't have a forum, but visitors can sign up for a newsletter. The website also holds periodic contests, such as photo competitions. ASPCA has an official YouTube channel and a Facebook page.
The website has an online store which sells clothing, jewelry, accessories and books for humans as well as items for pets, including toys and treats. Miscellaneous items such as ASPCA license plate frames, window stickers and totes are also available. In addition, visitors can purchase an iPhone case and an ASPCA calendar. The website states that all net funds from people's purchases are used to help animals in need. The store ships "to almost any country".
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 dog care. The Community tab takes visitors to areas such as forums, groups and diaries. In the diaries section of the website, dog owners record events in the life of their pet, writing as though they are their dog.
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. I find the ads on the site somewhat intrusive, however.
Puppy Mills and Dog Breeds - The Dog Show From Dogster
Other Ways to Access Dogster
Dogster has a popular Facebook page. It also has a video channel on YouTube. The videos contain some good information, but they are quite old. In addition, I find the presentation in some of them to be rather silly. The opening segments of many of the videos show either a dog puppet or the narrator traveling around in a dog costume. The narrator sometimes performs high-energy antics in the videos. The light hearted style of the videos may appeal to some people, though. If you can pass over the opening silliness (or fun, depending on your point of view) you'll find useful information about dogs and dog care.
How to Teach the Leave It Command
Vetstreet is run by a group of people that includes a vet. The home page 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. There is also a link to articles by Dr. Marty Becker, a popular vet in the media who is known as "America's Veterinarian" .
An interesting 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 "Pet Scoop" section on the home page links to the latest animal news from around the Internet. The "Breed Spotlight" section links to information about different dog breeds. There is also a "Cute Pet Videos" section.
People can comment on posts on the Vetstreet website and can also share the posts. However, there is no forum. Like the Dogster website, the Vetstreet site is updated frequently.
Vetstreet has a YouTube video channel and an active Facebook page. 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
Webvet isn't as comprehensive as the other dog websites 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 home page are links to the different topic categories on the website as well as to recent 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. The web site has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, which doesn't contain many videos.
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 symptom 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 symptom checker box returns may be valuable and accurate for the pet's situation. A serious symptom (or a minor symptom if it lasts for a long time) should be checked by a vet, however. On its "About Us" page, Webvet says that it "does not diagnose or recommend treatment".
In general, Webvet is useful as a static resource, but it has one major drawback. At the time of this review, neither the website nor its Facebook page had been updated recently.
The First Aid and Pet Care Pages of the AVMA
Much of the American Veterinary Medical Association website is aimed at vets, 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.
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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 isn't updated frequently.
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.
© 2012 Linda Crampton
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