Good Friends, Good Food

Dog owners dish on how food factors into pet bonding

(Family Features) Ask most dog owners and they’ll tell you that they count the bonds they share with their pets among their most treasured relationships. However, that boundless affection and loyalty isn’t a one-sided effort; dog owners are demonstrating their puppy love in numerous ways, especially when it comes to chow time.

There’s much to be said for the unique relationship people share with their dogs, according to the 2018 Pets and People Survey by Just Right by Purina. Nearly unanimously (95 percent), respondents said they view their dogs as part of their families, and more than half reported that their pet pals help them de-stress after a long workday and have comforted them after receiving bad news.

Just like any relationship, the bond with a dog requires nurturing. As it turns out, most dog owners are working to keep the love alive with a familiar approach: the notion that the fastest path to the heart is through the stomach. After all, when you view pets as family, you may as well feed them like it.

Encouraging dinner dialogue
A helpful aspect of pet bonding is developing communication patterns that your dog can recognize and understand. In part, this involves commands to help manage behavior, but it often includes other forms of engagement, as well.

Mealtime is an ideal opportunity to enjoy some extra interaction, from asking if your dog is hungry to talking your way through filling his or her bowl with a personalized dog food blend. In fact, 64 percent of dog owners surveyed reported asking their dog if it likes its food after serving it. There may not be a verbal response, but dogs give off plenty of signals to let you know whether or not they’re enjoying the meal.

Personalizing the experience
Humans agree that eating or drinking out of a favorite vessel just makes mealtime more special. That may be the motivation for the 65 percent of dog owners who reported taking time to personalize their dogs’ bowls.

Making dog nutrition matter
The majority of dog owners surveyed agreed the type of food their dog eats has an impact on its health and mood. For 43 percent of Millennial dog owners surveyed, they reported spending more money on their dog’s food than their own groceries. Fortunately, not all nutritionally sound options will break the bank, but it is a good idea to do some research to understand the nutritional value and quality of the food you provide.

Serving up security
Dogs thrive on rituals and dinnertime is an opportunity to create some consistent patterns that help your pup feel safe and secure. A routine with meals in the same place at approximately the same time every day helps strengthen the pet bond because your dog knows he can rely on you to satisfy one of his most basic needs.

If you extend some human courtesies as part of your feeding ritual, you certainly aren’t alone. For example, 73 percent of dog owners in the Just Right by Purina survey feed their dogs before they serve themselves. Not only is it a smart strategy to prevent begging at the table, it keeps your pooch from wondering when his own hunger cravings will be sated.

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Celebrating special occasions
If your dog is part of the family, it only makes sense to celebrate special events like birthdays. It’s a good excuse for a little extra attention and maybe a new toy or two. Forty percent of dog owners, including 56 percent of Millennials, have upped their pet parenting game by buying their dog its own birthday cake. Make your own using a pet-friendly recipe or visit a pet bakery for a special birthday treat.

Learn more about feeding the bond with your pet at

Dog Food Ingredients for Unique Nutritional Needs

Your dog is unique, not only in his relationship with you, but his preferences, tastes, quirks and habits. It’s no wonder that his nutritional needs are unique to match. When you’re evaluating food options, give careful attention to the ingredients to find the right blend of nutrients for your dog:

Vitamins are responsible for a vast range of functions, including aiding in DNA synthesis, energy release from nutrients, bone development, eye function, maintenance of cell structure, blood clotting, nerve signal transmission and everything in-between.

Minerals contribute to your dog’s healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, muscle function, nerve transmission, nutrient metabolism, cell function and more.

Fat is a source of energy that helps with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids, as well as promoting healthy skin and coat, immune system, joints, brain and vision.

Protein is essential for building organs and tissues like tendons, muscles, skin, hair and blood; it also functions as enzymes, hormones and antibodies.

Carbohydrates are efficient sources of glucose for energy, a source of heat and can be stored as glycogen. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that aids in colon health, as well as managing weight and obesity.

All statistics and findings included in this release were pulled from a survey conducted online by Research Now SSI on behalf of Just Right by Purina among adults ages 18+ who are dog owners and have some responsibility over the well-being of their pet. A total of 1,010 responses were collected between March 26 and March 29, 2018. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


Just Right by Purina