12 most famous dogs from movies and TV series

You don’t see them on the red carpet, but there are no less amazing movie stars than their co-actors, albeit a bit furrier. There are many famous dog actors, but we’ve compiled a list of the 12 most famous dog icons we feel simply have to be featured.

The most famous dogs in movies

Pal, the Rough Collie as Lassie from “Lassie Come Home”

Pal, a male Rough Collie, is best known for his role as the iconic female Lassie from the movie “Lassie Come Home” (1943) and several other movies in the franchise. Even though his lineage can be traced to the nineteenth century. With his large eyes and white blaze on his forehead, he was not regarded as perfect and was sold to only as a pet-quality dog.

As a puppy, he was keen on barking and chasing motorbikes, so he was brought to Rudd Weatherwax, a Hollywood actor, and animal trainer. Sadly, or luckily in his case, he was only able to mend Pal’s barking. His unhappy owner decided to offer Pal as payment of his debt to Weatherwax, who then gave Pal to a friend. When Weatherwax learned about the movie “Lassie Come Home”, he sensed Pal could be great for it so he bought him back (for 10 USD).

Being a male, Pal was first rejected for the role of Lassie and was hired as a stunt dog. While performing a rough scene that the original actress was not able to finish, he completed it perfectly in one take and had impressed the director to tears. From then on, Pal took over the role of Lassie and became one of the most popular canine movie stars of the ’40s and ’50s. And he even did his own stunt work.

Lassie has appeared in every type of media since her debut. She is still going strong even after almost eight decades with a successful remake made in 2020, simply titled “Lassie”. Pal lived to be 18 years old. After his passing, the role of Lassie was given only to male pups of his bloodline spanning over 10 generations.

In the original movie, Lassie is the Carraclough family’s dog and has a beautiful bond with their son Joe. After hitting a financial rough patch, they were forced to sell Lassie to an admirer of hers, the Duke of Rudling. Lassie, loyal to a fault, escapes repeatedly, always returning to Joe. The Duke, upon getting her back again, carries Lassie to his distant home in Scotland. His granddaughter Priscilla discovers Lassie’s unease and unhappiness and sets her free.

Lassie, by herself, takes a long voyage back to Yorkshire. On the way, she is met with a lot of trouble and kind-hearted people alike. In the end, her journey is successful and she is reunited with Joe, who has lost all hope of ever seeing her again.

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Terry, the Cairn Terrier as Toto from “The Wizard of Oz”

Terry was a female Cairn Terrier, mostly known for playing a male role as the famous Toto in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). Terry was a rescue dog and was luckily adopted by Carl Spitz, owner of a Hollywood dog training school. She went from an anxious insecure pooch to a smart and energetic dog that did her own stunts. After the movie was released, she was renamed as Toto. She was cast in many movies, but only credited as Toto in “The Wizard of Oz”. Terry/Toto has a memorial at the Hollywood Forever cemetery.

In the movie, Toto lives on a farm in Kansas with Dorothy Gale (played by Judy Garland). After biting one of the neighbors, they sentence him to be euthanized. Before that can happen, he escapes back to Dorothy, who decides to save him by running away. When going back home, to ease her aunt’s supposed broken heart, they are swooped up by a tornado. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” is how the famous quote from the movie goes, and rightly so, as they have been taken to the land of Oz, where the real story we know truly begins. Toto is there every step of the journey, battling the evil-doers and in the end revealing the truth behind the Wizard.

Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd

A week-old Rin Tin Tin along with five of his siblings and their momma were saved by Corporal Lee Duncan, of the US Army Air Service during WWI. They were found in a small French village in a severely damaged kennel that housed the German Shepherd dogs for the Imperial German Army. Duncan regarded Rin Tin Tin and his sister Nanette as his good luck charms and bought them back with him to the US. Sadly, Nanette’s story is not as happy as Rinty’s as she passed away soon upon arrival.

Rin Tin Tin was groomed to win (agility) awards at dog shows, but the idea to become a movie star came when he was filmed by Duncan’s acquaintance Charley Jones, the developer of a slow-motion camera while performing a 12 feet high jump.

His first big break came with a role in “The Man from Hell’s River” (1922) featuring Wallace Beery. He starred in nearly 30 films and series, many written especially for him.

In his Memoriam, the legacy of Rin Tin Tin has been continued by multiple successors. In “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” (1954 – 1959) he was played by Rin Tin Tin IV and a dog named Flame Jr. In the series they showed his heroics as a part of a duo with an orphaned boy Rusty, raised in Fort Apache. Together they helped soldiers establish order in the American West.

He was an unofficial mascot for Warner Bros studio and is said to have saved the company from bankruptcy. In 1960, Rin Tin Tin has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Chris, the St. Bernard as Beethoven from “Beethoven”

Chris is only one of the St. Bernards that played the role of Beethoven in the movie “Beethoven” (1992), it’s sequels, and spin-offs. For the movie, he had eight stunt doubles, understudies, and stand-ins, and there were sixteen puppies that portrayed him in different stages of growing up. None of the other movies in the franchise were as successful as the original, which was an instant box office hit.

As a puppy, Beethoven snuck into the Newtons house after successfully escaping its doggie-nappers. After careful deliberation, the family decided to keep him. They named him Beethoven as he loved to sing along when the kids played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on the piano. Being the size that he is and quite clumsy at that, he got into quite a bit of trouble. Nonetheless, as a smart, caring, and loving dog, he helped the family in many ways.

After a set of unfortunate events and a run-in with the family vet, dr. Varnick, who wanted to use him as a test subject, he is regarded as dangerous and is to be euthanized. The family decides to save Beethoven in any way they can. While doing so, they unearth the vet’s vicious plot and save more dogs from animal abuse.

Cujo, the St. Bernard from “Cujo”

Cujo was the name of a fictional canine character in the horror novel “Cujo” (1981) written by Stephen King. The book was made into a movie with the same name in 1983. In the movie, Cujo was played by four St. Bernards who were sadly uncredited and the names were lost in the space-time continuum. Interestingly so, Cujo was also played by several mechanical dogs and a human stuntman, Gary Morgan.

Cujo is a friendly St. Bernard and the Camber family’s pet. While chasing a wild rabbit, he is sadly bitten on the nose and contracts rabies. While Donna Trenton and her son Tad visit their mechanic, Joe Camber, Cujo is slowly turning rabid and rather murderous. Donna and Tad get trapped in their car for days by Cujo and are at risk of dying from heatstroke or dehydration. That drives Donna to attempt several escapes, all turning rather dire. In the end, after several brawls, she is able to finally kill him and save her son.

Max, the Jack Russell Terrier as Milo from “The Mask”

Max was a Jack Russell Terrier best known for his role as Milo in “The Mask” (1994). He was chosen for the job as he appeared the most “perky and alive”, as described by the director, Chuck Russell. Jim Carrey, his co-star, has even praised him for always hitting his mark, by being where he should be and doing what he was supposed to. Max is said to have been energetic and playful even in his “interviews” with the reporters.

Milo lives with Stanley Ipkiss, a timid bank clerk that simply can’t handle confrontations. Ipkiss finds a mysterious mask that depicts Loki, the God of Mischief. Wearing the Mask turns the gentle and shy Stanley into a flamboyant, smooth-talking, suave, and a bit manic wild man. Milo is weary of the mask but stands by Stanley’s side even if it’s his rather over-the-top alter-ego. Loyal and smart, he helps Stanley even escape from prison.

The most iconic moment is when Milo fetches the mask and manages to put it on. We are then treated to a wild wacky little firecracker of a furball that just puts the cherry on the top.

Clyde, the Labrador Retriever as Marley from “Marley and me”

Although Clyde was the main adult Marley in the movie “Marley and me” (2008), there were 21 other Labrador Retrievers of all ages, playing Marley. The movie is based on a memoir named “Marley and Me” (2005) written by John Grogan about his late dog Marley. Grogan later wrote a series of Children’s books showing the various adventures of Marley.

As many of the movies that star lovely canines, “Marley and me” is not for the faint of heart. Well, we at least suggest having a box of tissues on standby. Marley was adopted by John and Jenny Grogan and was named after singer Bob Marley. He was a very active, adventurous, and mischievous pup that even got kicked out of an obedience class. His antics might not be the best when you’re trying to train him, but it was a good source material for John’s newspaper column.

The family has its ups and downs. At one point they temporarily give Marley away as the stress of it all became too much, but it’s soon seen that they simply can’t be without him. They move to a bigger place and Marley gets to live a happy life with them on a farm in rural Pennsylvania.

Spike, the Mastador as Old Yeller in “Old Yeller”

Spike was a yellow Mastador (a mix between a Mastiff and a Labrador Retriever) who acted in several movies. He was best known for his role as Old Yeller in the Disney movie “Old Yeller” (1957). The movie was based on a children’s novel “Old Yeller” (1956) written by Fred Gipson. Spike was a rescue dog and was adopted by trainer Frank Weatherwax (who also trained Pal, better known as Lassie). We recommend having a box of tissues at hand for this one too.

Old Yeller, named for the yellow color of its fur and human-like barking, was a stray, taken in by the Coats family. Jim, the father, is away on cattle collecting and the rest of the family has to meanwhile fend for themselves. Although Old Yeller likes to steal food, he shows to be a very important part of the family. A brave and loyal as he is, he protects them and the other animals in their care on several occasions.

Sadly, when protecting them from a wolf, he contracts rabies and has to be euthanized. The family is traumatized, especially the young Travis with whom they shared the strongest bond. When the father comes back and is told all about Old Yeller, he comforts Travis and encourages him to accept the puppy that Old Yeller sired. Reluctantly, Travis does so when seeing the pup stealing food same as his pop did. He names him “Young Yeller”.

The movie was selected into the National Film Registry in 2019 as it was deemed culturally and historically important.

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The most famous dogs in TV series

Soccer, the Jack Russell Terrier as Wishbone from “Wishbone”

Soccer (named after a soccer ball) was a well-known television commercial’s canine actor. He is best known for his role as the talking dog Wishbone in the children’s series “Wishbone” (1995 -1998). He lived with his trainer on the Plano ranch in Texas, where the series was filmed. The show won several awards, including four Daytime Emmys and a Peabody Award, and has inspired several book series.

Wishbone lived with his owner Joe Talbot in fictional Oakdale, Texas. His imagination knows no bounds, as he consciously daydreams and imagines himself as the main character in stories from classic literature. Often, he depicts a parallel between the story and the issues he and his human friends face.

He sure had a good way of teaching us about classic literature and perhaps we have not yet seen the last of him. In 2020 it was announced that a film adaptation of the series is being developed by Universal Pictures and Mattel.

Happy, the Terrier Mix as Happy from “Seventh Heaven”

Happy was a mixed terrier best known for her role as Happy in the series “Seventh Heaven” (1996 – 2007). She was a rescue dog and was adopted by animal trainer Shawn Webber. Happy played in almost all episodes in the series.

The series shows the colorful life of the Camden family. Eric, the father and the minister in the local church deals with his family as well as the drama and troubles of his parishioners. But no family is complete without an animal companion. Although the Camden family already has seven children to dot on (counting the two latecomers), Happy is a lovely addition to it when she shows up on their doorstep. She becomes a big part of their daily lives and makes the show even more intriguing.

Beejay, the German Shepherd as Rex from “Inspector Rex”

Perhaps more widely known around Europe, Rex is a famous police dog from the Austrian-Italian TV series “Inspector Rex” (1994 – 2004) and it’s Italian spin-off with the same name (2008 – 2015). During filming Rex was played by several canine actors. The first one (up to 2000) was Santo vom Haus Zieglmayer (nicknamed Beejay). He was then replaced by Rett Butler, in 2008 by Henry, and between 2012 – 2013 by Nicky.

Rex is an exceptionally intelligent and observant trained police dog with a lot of tricks up his fur (like unlatching doors, pushing things, pointing to drugs, corpses, any weird stuff really). He is no stranger to technology, as they often wire him and use GPS to track him when stalking suspects. When he was pup-napped, he managed to escape and befriend a boy with whom they solved his first case.

During his career, he had several partners and solved numerous cases. He was especially attached to Richard Moser who died in the line of duty. Rex is shown as an invaluable part of the police force. The series also took care of the comedic interlude, especially showing his love for ham sandwiches and a special skill on how to steal them from his coworkers.

Honorable mentions

Cesar Dog, the West Highland White Terrier

Although not a movie or a TV series star, Cesar is an icon on his own. West Highland White Terriers became the mascot of the Cesar brand of dog food and became instant stars after their infamous commercial “Nightshift” was aired in 2014.

Cesar Dog Food Commercial

In “Nightshift” a security guard and a white ball of fluff, later nicknamed Cesar Dog, were playing around and enjoying a meal during their night shift. A light-hearted 30-second commercial made the West Highland White Terriers famous. They are their official mascots ever since.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians

We can’t have a famous dogs list without the notorious spotted furballs from the “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” Disney franchise based on the novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1956) by Dodie Smith.

Pongo and Perdita, the Dalmatian parents to the kidnapped litter, set out to save their 15 children from Cruella de Vil. While saving their own, they also free 84 other puppies, making it a full set of 101.

The 101 Dalmatians were first portrayed in an animated series in 1961, followed by a live-action adaptation in 1996 and it’s sequel “102 Dalmatians”  in 2000. A spin-off/prequel “Cruella” starring Emma Stone is said to be released in May 2021. The prequel will be focused on Cruella and is expected to have a bit of a twist to the story.

Did we miss anyone? Who is your favorite dog actor of all times?


What is the Best Commercial Dog Food and Top 5 Foods in PAWSM app

Why is choosing the best commercial dog food so important?

According to Sciencemag Dog life expectancy has doubled in the last 4 decades, and the primary reasons are better healthcare and a better diet. So in addition to knowing how to deal with an overweight dog (5 tips for an overweight dog and dog weight loss), picking the right dog food is very important as it can not only extend the length of your dog’s life but also improve the quality of it.

Unfortunately we cannot simply tell you which commercial dog food your dog should eat. IT depends on the dog (here’s our blog on FCI Breed Standards and PAWSM Dog Diet and Nutrition APP) and their needs, local dog food brand availability, local producers of the said brand, legislation in your part of the world,…

What we can provide you is some knowledge to make the evaluation of what is the best commercial dog food that is available to you in your locale. This will be a two part blog and  this first blog will answer the question of what is in a certain commercial dog food and what the listed terms mean. The second blog deals with how much of what should be in the dog food.

After you’ve chosen the best commercial dog food for your dog, PAWSM diet and nutrition app can tell you exactly how much of this food your dog can eat at any given time.

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What are the types of commercial dog foods?

Wet food:

This is the least energy filled of all commercial dog foods due to high water content; that means the dog can eat a lot of it. This type of food is a good choice for (older) dogs with no teeth. 

  • Typically sold in cans
  • 75-80% water
  • 8-15% protein
  • 1-15% fat

Dry food:

Nutritionally packed commercial dog food and due to the way it is produced, packaged and stored, it tends to be the most cost efficient of dog food types.

  • Typically sold in bags
  • ~10% moisture
  • 18-40% protein
  • 1-15% fat

Soft/moist food:

The type in between dry and wet dog food; good for travelling, but can be filled with sugar and salt so use in moderation is advised. 

  • Typically sold in single serving pouches
  • ~30% water
  • 18-40% protein
  • 7-22% fat


Dog treats are very varied and can serve different purposes; as such it is hard to give average values to them.

Understanding nutrition label guides

If you want to pick the best commercial dog food, you need to understand that there is a lot to unpack when it comes to commercial dog food declarations. For the time being we’ll focus on the nutrition labels in the EU and USA. In both entities there are standards of what needs to be listed on labels. 

That being said, within the EU there is the legal framework pertaining to commercial dog foods contents and then there are the labeling issues which can be specific to a country or a group of countries – thus only certain parts of the terminology is “set in stone”.

EU and USA typical nutritional label contains:

  • Display panel
    • Product identity
    • Target species
    • Net weight
    • “Percentage rule”
  • Information panel
    • Ingredient statement
    • Guaranteed analysis
    • Nutritional claim / nutritional adequacy statement
    • Feeding guidelines
    • Statement of calorie content
    • Name and address (Manufacturer / distributor name)
    • Statement of calorie content
    • Batch code

There can be differences in how the two entities list and name certain things, so let us dive into it… 

Display panel

Product name

Lists  the name of the product and the name of the brand.

Target species

Lists for whom the food is intended for. Fun fact; legally in the EU all meat used in commercial dog food has to be manufactured out of category 3 meats – meats appropriate for human consumption. That being said, only cuts not typically used by humans or excess meats may be used.

Net weight

We have nothing to add here 🙂

Percentage rule

There are certain “trigger” words in the food name which can quickly tell us how much of what is in a certain food. 

In the USA, if the commercial dog food name contains the word:

  • Chicken flavor dog food (contains between 0 and 3% chicken)
  • Dog food with chicken (contains at least 3% chicken)
  • Chicken platter/lunch/… for dogs (contains 25% – 95% chicken)
  • Chicken for dogs (contains 95% of chicken or more)

In the EU situation is slightly different:

  • With chicken flavor / chicken flavor (more than 0 and less than 4% of chicken)
  • With chicken / contains chicken (at least 4% chicken)

High in chicken / extra chicken / with extra chicken (at least 14% chicken)

Information panel

Ingredient statement

Ingredients lists describe raw materials used and the amounts in which they are present in the commercial dog food. There are large differences between the USA and EU way of presenting things. In the EU additives fall under their own category. They tend to be grouped in five types: vitamins, copper, preserves, antioxidants, coloring agents. In the USA trace elements and vitamins are considered ingredients and are listed in the ingredients statement.

Nutritional claim / nutritional adequacy statement

This explains which and whose needs a certain commercial dog food fulfills. 

The standardized EU terms are:

  • Complete and balanced / 100 % nutritious (complete and balanced nutrition)
  • Complementary (helps with a certain part of a diet, but does not contain everything and needs to be used in combinations)

Sometimes (or in the case of the USA always, with commercial dog foods other than treats, snacks and supplements) the food label also explains which stage of life the food is made for:

  • Growth
  • Gestation/lactation
  • All life stages
  • Maintenance

In the USA all complete and balanced commercial dog foods must contain quantitative feeding instructions.

Guaranteed (typical) analysis

Guaranteed analysis contains information on nutritional contents and amounts. It is the most important part of the label when dealing with commercial dog food plans. While there is some variation in which information is listed the analysis typically states the amount of: crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, moisture.

Again there is a difference between the USA and EU… In the EU the analysis is based on the typical analysis (what it contains on average), while in the USA commercial dog food declarations declare minimum and maximum guarantees.

Feeding guidelines

Feeding guidelines state the amount of feed to be provided based on the given body weight of the dog and the frequency of feeding.

Statement of calorie content

Lists the energy values of food and is expressed as kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg).

Name and address (Manufacturer / distributor name)

Name and address of manufacturer, importer, or distributor. If the food is imported it also lists the country of origin.

Batch code

Ensures traceability of the food. This category also lists the date of manufacture.

A more in depth analysis of the labels can be found on wikivet.

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Commercial Dog food Meat Terminology (on the origins of meats)

This part can be offensive to some sensibilities, so feel free to skip it if you’re squeamish…

Basically in the USA, AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) has a list of terms for identifying ingredients that can be used in commercial dog food. This is an excerpt of their list of terms that they have listed on their website. Similar terminology is also used in the EU.

These terms are not necessarily a verdict on the quality of ingredients, but they do explain the origins of meats and what parts of meats are used.

AAFCO defined terms for meats

We’ll just quote this disclaimer part from the AAFCO website

“The following descriptions are the AAFCO ingredient definitions as they occur in the official publication. Guarantors cannot modify the name; and the ingredient must comply with the ingredient definition.

The first four ingredients below are all raw products. These ingredients are cooked in the process of manufacturing pet food to destroy any harmful bacteria, just as food is cooked for human food.”

Sidenote for all meats; all parts must be suitable for animal food.


the muscle tissue of the animal, but may include the fat, gristle and other tissues normally accompanying the muscle. May include parts of the animal that are less appealing for human consumption. It is often mechanically separated from the bone and ground into a paste-like consistency. Does not contain bones.

If simply the generic term meat is used, it can only be sourced from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats. If it comes from any other mammal the specific species must be listed. If it comes from a non-mammalian species it cannot be declared as meat, but must use the appropriate identifying terms.

Meat by-product

Non-rendered, clean parts (stomachs and intestines freed of their content) other than meat from slaughtered mammals. It includes most parts of the animal such as internal organs and bones (yes, bones). Does NOT include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs. Unless the by-products are derived from cattle, pigs, sheep or goats, the species must be identified.


Clean combination of poultry flesh and skin (with or without bones), excluding feathers, heads, feet and entrails. Unlike meat it may include bone; if the bones are removed it can may be declared as deboned poultry. Depending on the species the more common name chicken or turkey may be used.

Poultry by-product

Non-rendered clean poultry sourced parts such as heads, feed, viscera. Must be free from fecal content and foreign matter (other than trace amounts which mightoccur unavoidably in good factory practice” – quoting AAFCO here).

AAFCO defined rendered product terms

The following are rendered products (material are subject to heat and pressure, removing most water and fat leaving mostly protein and minerals).

Meat Meal

Is the rendered product from mammal tissues (excluding blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents). May include tissues from mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep or goats without further description. Manufacturers may designate a species if they so choose, but are not obligated to do so.

Meat and Bone Meal

Same as above, but may include bone. Similar naming rules as for Meat Meal, but can include bone in the “recipe”.

Animal By-Product Meal

Same as above, but includes by-products in excess of what could normally be found in “meat meal” and “meat and bone meal”.

Poultry meal

Dry rendered product derived from clean flesh and skin of the birds (excluding feathers, heads, feet and entrails) – with or without bones. Similar to poultry, but in rendered form.

Poultry By-Product Meal

Ground rendered clean parts such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines (excluding feathers). Similar to poultry by-product but in rendered form.

Other, legally non-defined terms

These terms appear on certain labels, but are not necessarily legally defined everywhere  and are thus sometimes dependent on the manufacturer.


Usually implies no preservatives, colouring, flavoring, antibiotics, growth hormones or filler.


Refers to the way animals / plants were grown, rather than the food not having additives.

New Protein

Contain “exotic” animals – such as bison or kangaroo… or insects (some places allow for use of non-mammal sourced parts for food).

Human-grade food

May theoretically be consumed by humans without harm, though the enforcement of the standards/law varies by country.

Bone appetit everyone.


If you just read the terms above you probably realize there is a lot that manufacturers may put into commercial dog food; probably more than they should. However it is also true that dogs don’t necessarily share our food sensibilities. That being said as a dog owner you have a responsibility to make sure your dog eats food that is appropriate for them.

Of course, making there is also the option of homemade dog food; or occasionally treating them with fruit, but more on that in our Awesome Homemade Dog Food Preparation and Recipe, and Dogs and Fruit blog posts.

This was part one of the series, giving you the knowledge to read the dog food labels and understand their contents. In the next blog we’ll go over what needs to be in commercial dog food, because not all commercial dog foods are made the same. Some “complete and balanced” commercial dog foods are neither “complete” or “balanced”, but merely fit the minimal legal rather than nutritional criteria.

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Top 5 Manufacturers and Top 5 Commercial Dog Foods Used by PAWSM Dog Diet and Nutrition App Users

Top 5 manufacturers used pa PAWSM users

  1. Royal Canin
  2. Pedigree
  3. Purina One
  4. Hills Prescription Diet
  5. Taste of the Wild

Top 5 commercial dog foods used by PAWSM users

  1. Purina ONE® SmartBlend® Lamb & Rice Formula Natural Adult Dog Food
  2. Hill’s® Prescription Diet® r/d® Canine
  3. Purina Mighty Dog Thick-Sliced Chicken Dinner Wet Dog Food
  4. Baby BLUE™ PUPPY Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe
  5. Beneful Healthy Puppy Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken

Of course as user base from around the world grows, we might start seeing changes in these rankings and we’ll keep you up to date.

Remember, use PAWSM be awesome!


20 tips on the best winter dog care

The wintertime can be beautiful and adventurous if you keep your dog safe during the colder months. We’ve gathered useful tips on winter dog care that every dog owner should know.

Not all dogs love the cold and prefer to stay indoors and cozy up (don’t mind if we do, too!). There is nothing wrong with that if we offer them a suitable space, just the right amount of dog food they need and plenty of indoor exercise if we lessen the outdoor time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all dogs prefer the indoors – some are very active and would go stir crazy being cooped up inside all day. Venturing outside needs some more pre-planning during the winter months, perhaps even more accessories than we are used to, and special vigilance on safety, as there are quite a few special circumstances involving lower temperature and poor visibility.

The best winter dog care

20 tips on how to take care of your dog during the winter:

  1. Be mindful of increased health risks (dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia) due to low temperatures (especially for older dogs, puppies, and dogs with pre-existing medical conditions).
  2. Groom their fur and keep them clean and dry to maximize their insulation.
  3. Do aftercare when back from walks (clean them of snow, dirt, salt, and chemicals and carefully dry them and warm them up).
  4. Keep special attention to their paws and pads and moisturize them if needed.
  5. Dress them up in nice winter wear if they seem too cold or just give them some booties to protect their pads and if you venture out in the dark, make sure they are visible.
  6. Keep their indoor accommodations dry, warm, and cozy (they shouldn’t sleep on a cold floor), draught free, and away from dangerous not pet-proofed space heaters and other heat sources.
  7. Limit access to places with toxic chemicals and pet-proof the area (especially antifreeze in the wintertime as it is toxic to dogs).
  8. Remove snow from rooftops and away from the fences so they don’t climb over them. When they are outside also monitor their water bowl so the water doesn’t freeze over.
  9. Monitor your dog’s food intake and create a winter dog diet plan catered just for them as each dog has their own needs (some burn extra calories in the winter and some exercise less).
  10. Add extra supplements to their diet to ensure they get enough vitamins and minerals they need in the winter.
  11. When the temperature drops and the weather is not suitable, arrange indoor activities that stimulate the mind as well as provide the needed exercise. While doing so, offer them enough toys and socialization so they don’t get stir crazy.
  12. Use indoor dog facilities the community offers such as doggy sports classes and doggy daycares.
  13. When it’s the holiday season, be mindful of fireworks and elevated anxiety levels.
  14. Plan outdoor activities and winter walks in advance and pack appropriately. Be mindful of temperature drops.
  15. Try to venture on winter walks during late mornings or early afternoons and take advantage of sunny days.
  16. When going outside in the dark, be especially vigilant, be sure to be visible, walk well-known paths, don’t get distracted, have someone know where you are, keep your mobile with you, and if you can don’t go on a walk with your dog alone.
  17. If the weather permits, do your usual outdoor routine.
  18. Avoid bodies of frozen water and unknown paths that are covered in snow.
  19. If letting your dog off the leash, be sure they have good recall and are microchipped.
  20. Never leave pets locked and unattended in the car.

The tips mentioned above are grouped and quite shortened, but you can read about them in more detail in the continuation of this article.

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Dog health risks in the colder months

One would think that because of the voluminous amount of fur some dogs have, they are completely fine with cold or even freezing temperatures. In some cases that is true (especially for certain dog breeds like Huskies, that have physically demanding outdoor jobs mostly on cold, snowy surfaces. But in most cases, our pets are used to a more temperate climate and being indoors.

When wondering if your dog is cold, it’s good to remember that if you are cold, there is a good chance they are as well. If you can’t stand on your threshold without a warm coat, then it’s reasonably too cold for your doggo to stay outside for longer periods of time. If you notice them shivering or whining and searching for a shelter, you should bring them in immediately.

Prolonging their exposure to cold can cause unnecessary and preventable medical conditions ranging from mild to severe (such as skin irritation, chapped paws, and can become disoriented and get injured). It can also cause major health risks like hypothermia, frostbite, and even freezing to death.

Dog hypothermia – abnormally low body temperature in dogs

Just like humans, if your dog spends too much time subjugated to cold temperatures, they can develop a medical condition known as hypothermia. It is a very serious winter weather health concern for dogs.

Hypothermia in dogs can occur because of:

  • prolonged exposure to cold temperatures,
  • prolonged submersion in cold water,
  • wet skin and fur,
  • shock,
  • as a common side-effect of anesthesia,
  • as a result of several medical conditions or diseases.

Hypothermia in dogs is defined as:

  • mild if their temperature falls between 32 and 35°C (89.6 – 95.0°F),
  • moderate between 28 and 32°C (82.4 – 89.6°F), and
  • severe if it falls below 28°C (82.4°F).

Based on the type of dog hypothermia (mild, moderate, or severe) the symptoms may vary. Usually, the first signs of hypothermia in dogs are:

  • pale skin,
  • cold ears and feet,
  • (strong) shivering,
  • lethargy.

The symptoms progress and present as muscle stiffness, slower breathing, lower heart rate, and non-responsiveness. It is life-threatening if left untreated.

Dog frostbite – a medical condition in dogs as a result of exposure to extreme cold

Frostbite in dogs (and humans) is damage caused to the skin and other tissues due to extremely cold temperatures. Dogs are quite susceptible to frostbite and can develop frostbite in as little as 30 minutes.

It starts when the body is cold and pulls blood from extremities to warm up the center of the body (ears, paws, or tail are the first to go). It is not easy to determine frostbite in dogs. Interesting bonus fact: if only the surface skin is frozen, it’s called frostnip.

Signs of frostbite in dogs:

  • tenderness and/or pain when touched,
  • swelling in the affected area,
  • pale, blue, or gray skin or other discoloration in the affected area,
  • skin cold to the touch,
  • stiffness or clumsiness,
  • blisters or skin ulcers,
  • areas of blackened or dead skin.

Increased health risks in colder months due to existing medical conditions

Some medical conditions flare-up in the winter due to lower temperatures, such as dog arthritis (osteoarthritis). Arthritis in dogs can’t be cured, but we can make them comfortable and lessen the symptoms.

Besides medication, supplements, and regulating their weight, we have to ensure regular dog exercise, albeit mild to prevent further damage. Mild to moderate exercise minimizes stiffness in joints and muscles (that frequently accompanies arthritis, particularly during cold weather) and keeps them limber.

Suitable dog exercises, for medical conditions as mentioned above, are easy walks and especially swimming if you have access to a suitable body of water. You should keep in mind that cold water during winter is a no-no and you have to be very careful of slippery surfaces to prevent any injuries. A lot of snow can make it difficult to walk as well, so the time and energy spent on such a walk should be thought about and incorporated in the pre-planning (or even avoided altogether).

Additional care for older dogs in winter

The aforementioned medical conditions (arthritis, stiffness and pain in joints and muscles) aren’t exclusive to older dogs, but they do present the majority of them. On top of that, older dogs, in general, can have additional medical conditions and require special care, especially in the winter months.

Changes your dog faces when aging:

  • they begin to slow down and sleep more,
  • aren’t as active due to arthritis and joint pain,
  • can gain weight as they don’t burn calories as they used to but still have a healthy appetite,
  • get cold easier because regulating body temperature is tougher,
  • their senses dull – they can’t see or hear as well as before,
  • can be a little more anxious and have a harder time handling stress,
  • can become more clingy or want to be left alone more,
  • can get confused sometimes because of the decline in cognitive abilities,
  • bathroom accidents may become more common,
  • may need extra care in grooming because of changes in skin, coat, and nails, as well as changes in frequency and ability to self-groom.

A rule of thumb is, when keeping all of the changes in mind whilst still ensuring a regular (yet mild) dog exercise, older dogs should be kept indoors more frequently during the cold weather. It should be noted, that like older dogs, puppies have issues with regulating their body temperature as well, so they too should be monitored more closely.

Did we mention that cuddles are an amazing way to keep your doggos warm and cozy? No? Well, they are and we love them too!

Winter is coming – the cold does bother them and careful winter dog care helps

The double whammy of a title right? Silly puns aside, the winter is not the friendliest time for your fluffy companion, as most of them have long forgone life in the wilderness, where extreme winters were a normal, even though a harsh(er) occurrence. Being able to sleep on a soft pillow, next to a fireplace does get one to be content a bit quickly, doesn’t it?

Dog grooming needs during colder months

Some dog breeds with thicker fur are at an advantage when it comes to colder temperatures, but not all of them are as lucky and may need some additional clothing. To ensure their coats are properly insulated, they need to be cleaned and well-groomed.

Even if we like the look of our dogs with shorter hair or shaved down to the skin, we shouldn’t take their protective layer when the temperatures are colder. A longer coat will provide them more warmth and lessen the chances of frostbite and hypothermia. If needed, we can trim them a bit to prevent clinging ice balls on their underside and accumulation of dirt, salt, and any possible de-icing chemicals on their paws.

Bathing your dog during the winter should be limited and after each bath time, they should be thoroughly dried and warmed up (especially if venturing outside). Frequent washing can remove essential oils from their skin and can cause irritation and flaky and dry skin.

Dry and cold weather outside and dry heat emitted from central air systems or furnaces indoors add to the issue in the winter months. Even though in general the damaged skin gets naturally replaced, prolonged exposure to such an environment without additional treatment can cause skin irritation to be present during the whole winter. If accompanied by relentless scratching, it can cause serious skin problems.

We can help to moisturize their skin and ease the symptoms with special moisturizing shampoos and adding skin and coat supplements to their food. Additionally, we can use natural oils, such as coconut oil, on their skin and even their paws, ears, or tail if we notice they are dry or cracked.

Protecting dog paws in winter

While grooming your dog’s coat, you should inspect their paws and pads. If they have long hair growing between their toes, the foot fuzz should be carefully trimmed to prevent snow and ice build-up, as well as accumulating any unnecessary dirt, salt, and chemicals. If the pads on their paws are cracked they should be treated too (using special creams approved by your vet or natural paw salves or oils).

Salt and de-icing chemicals on the streets during the winter are quite common and can burn your dog’s pads (and can be overall toxic). After each walk, you should carefully clean your dog’s paws and remove any accumulated snow or dirt, use pet-friendly ice melts if necessary, wipe them down or rinse them with warm water, thoroughly dry them and apply aftercare if needed.

To prevent discomfort and abrasions while walking on frozen and salty surfaces, you may massage petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into their pads before going outside. Alternatively you can simply dress them in booties (no worries, Iditarod sled-dog teams wear them too!) and simultaneously prevent dirt and salt getting between their toes.

It is recommended that you bring a towel or a rag with you on long walks to intermittently wipe their paws and lessen any irritation and stinging. Protecting dog paws in winter is quite important.

pawsm mobile app
PAWSM mobile app is live on app and play store.

Cold weather dog fashion and winter clothing

As not all dogs are graced with a thick furry coat and are well acquainted with the benefits of the amazingness of a warm and cozy indoors, they simply don’t do well out in the cold. Luckily, the solution is as pretty as it is useful – cold weather dog fashion! We have previously extensively written about dog accessories and the history of dog fashion, but there is a special place in our hearts for dog winter clothing (so stinkin’ cute ^^).

As you probably like to put on a warm jacket before venturing out on winter walks, your doggo also deserves a nice sweater, or even better – a coat (especially if they are short-haired and for some of them you can even say it is regulation winter wear). Their winter clothing should offer sufficient coverage by having a high collar or a turtleneck to protect their necks and go to the base of the tail, as well as protect the belly underneath when the temperature drops.

Such winter wear doesn’t protect the ears, tail, or feet, so you should be mindful of the danger of frostbite and limit outdoor time for small, delicate, short-haired dogs and dogs that need special attention.

Some days waking up in the pitch-black of the morning and venturing out in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of some morning sunshine doesn’t sound so appealing. And some days you simply don’t have enough time to catch some needed daylight but you still need some fresh air. In those cases, the only option left is to go out when it’s dark.

Going on winter walks with your doggo in the darkness can be dangerous and it’s important to make yourself, your surroundings, and your dog visible. Luckily, dog winter clothing can accommodate that. Dress your pup in some reflective clothing, or neon clothing if you want to make a fashion statement simultaneously, and add some reflective accessories, light-up dog collars, or a small light on your dog’s collar to make them stand out even better. All the advice written here applies to you as well (how about some matching outfits?!).

Indoor accommodations during cold weather

As your dog needs to be cleaned up and thoroughly dried when coming back indoors from an adventure outside, it is equally important that their accommodations indoors are well cleaned, dry, cozy, warm, and away from any possible draughts.

They shouldn’t sleep on a cold floor when the temperature drops. Thick or raised beds from the cold tiled floor can ensure they stay warm, as well as any warm blanket can make it extra cozy and snug. For older dogs, puppies, and dogs with arthritis and joint pain, heated pet beds are also recommended.

As having them in a warm environment is necessary, they shouldn’t be too close to space heaters and other heat sources to avoid them getting burned. They shouldn’t be left alone and unsupervised near fireplaces or wood stoves. Any access to a heated surface that can cause an injury should be limited and pet-proofed.

As home space heaters and other heat sources often emit dry heat which can cause skin irritation it’s recommended to keep your home humidified and offer your dog proper skin and coat winter care.

You should always be careful with keeping toxic chemicals around your home, especially if you have a curious and active doggo. In the cold months, we often use antifreeze and can be complacent with its placement. As antifreeze and coolant are extremely toxic and can cause major health risks as well as can be fatal, it’s imperative you keep them away from your dog. Pet-proof the area you keep it in as well as limit your dog’s access to that place.

Antifreeze can sometimes be found on the street as well, so be vigilant when out on walks and seek medical attention for your dog immediately if you think they have ingested it. Signs of antifreeze poisoning include panting, drooling, thirst, vomiting, lethargy, and seizures.

Heavy snow is not so much an indoor issue, but rather the backyard and around-the-house issue. While shoveling snow and piling it near fences it’s recommended to make a parameter check to ensure that your dog can’t climb over the fence because of it. A potential hazard is also snow and ice accumulated on the rooftops. Make sure to clean them regularly so it doesn’t slide off on your dog and cause an injury.

Overweight dogs, dog obesity, and winter dog diet plan

Overweight dogs and dog obesity, in general, is a serious global concern with 40% (or more) of dogs being overweight. It causes many health risks and can reduce a dog’s lifespan considerably.

If you don’t know if your dog is overweight and would like to learn more about dog obesity and tips on how to help your dog lose weight, check out our blog 5 tips for an overweight dog and dog weight loss.

Monitoring your dog’s food intake and keeping them in shape in winter

Keeping your dog fit in the winter is quite similar to keeping them in shape overall. Here are 5 easy steps to ensure your dog is in shape during winter:

  • make a dog diet plan to accommodate their needs during colder months and ease them into it gradually,
  • keep a dog food diary,
  • limit treats and snacks,
  • ensure a regular dog exercise,
  • measure and monitor their progress.

Keeping a dog food diary, tracking snacks, keeping a dog exercise journal, and monitoring their progress can be easily done with the PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app.

Pawsm mobile app
Get a little closer to the PAWSM graphics. It is awesome.

You might also be interested in knowing that as a part of our PAWSM tools project we offer the PAWSM Food Similarity Tool that helps you search for foods similar to the one you use or are simply curious about.

The tool uses the PAWSM dog food database we created for our app that includes the ingredients contained in each dog food. With that in mind, you can create a fresh new dog diet plan you can use in the winter, but still have similar dog food to the one you already use.

Balanced dog diet during winter months

Managing the right amount of dog food and knowing how many calories a dog needs per day in the winter can be tricky. We’ve learned that older dogs can gain weight easier as they don’t burn as many calories as they used to, but hopefully still have a healthy appetite. Keeping dogs indoors more often and not making sure they get the same amount of exercise also keeps them at risk of gaining weight.

On the other hand, pets burn extra energy in the winter just by trying to stay warm. If you feel that your dog is losing too much weight and has lower energy levels, monitor them closely and try adjusting their seasonal dog diet plan and add a little extra to their meals, but still be wary of overfeeding them.

We as well as our dogs are more susceptible to colds and other ailments during winter so a balanced dog diet is especially important. Making sure your dog gets enough vitamins and minerals is a must and you can even look into adding extra supplements to their dog diet. Be sure not to overdo it though. If you are not sure about the amount recommended, check in with your vet as they will be happy to help.

Hydration is very important even in winter as dogs can get dehydrated just as fast. Eating snow is not a sufficient substitute for fresh water, which should be made available for them at all times. In the colder months make sure to check that the water provided in their outside water bowl hasn’t frozen over.

Careful dog exercise during winter

Some of us tend to hibernate in the winter and we tend to be more lenient with the frequency and amount of exercise we and our dogs get. Studies have shown that 56% of dog owners exercise their dogs less during cold, winter months.

In some cases, limiting outdoor activities is also preferred – mainly for older dogs, puppies, and dogs with pre-existing medical conditions. Even the fluffiest dog can catch a cold in the winter and there are higher health risks during those months.

When the temperatures fall to the extremes, the time spent outdoors should be limited even to the more outdoorsy and healthy dogs to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. When your dog shows that they are ready to go back inside, even if the time is less than what you had planned, trust their judgment and let them in.

If they are outside alone, make sure to check on them regularly and ensure they take frequent indoor breaks for water and warming. If their water bowl is outside check it regularly to make sure the water isn’t frozen.

Indoor dog exercise and activities in the winter

Sometimes it’s not just you, but your pooch doesn’t want to go outside either. It’s good to provide them with access to the outdoors anyway or try to convince them (never force them) to take a short walk around your place if you can. Not all outdoor walks should be supplemented with indoor activities – you and your dog need some fresh air and mental stimulation.

Short outings can also help them acclimatize to the temperature changes when winter comes. When outdoor activities lessen you need to provide enough stimuli and dog exercise indoors even if you would prefer to just cuddle your time away with them under a soft warm blanket. A lot can be done at home when the weather is just too horrible to venture out in or you don’t like the darkness when you couldn’t find the time during the daytime hours.

So they don’t go stir crazy when at home, make sure to offer them enough toys and socialize with them to keep them and their minds occupied (and away from your shoes and furniture). You might even look into some fun new interactive games to try out with them.

Using the time together with your dog for training is beneficial to their mental state and simply gives you both something to keep the winter depression away. Being mentally stimulated, seeing progress, and having a sense of achievement are quite important when the world around you slows down.

3 Brilliant Winter Exercise Ideas for Your Dog by The List Show TV

If you don’t have enough space at your place or just feel your dog needs a bit extra room to roam and perhaps mingle with their peers, we recommend looking into alternative indoor options. One of them might be doggy sports classes or other places that offer indoor areas for dogs or even doggy daycares.

Late fall and the wintertime also come with several holiday celebrations. Be mindful of the dangers those present as well and how to prevent anxiety during those times.

Outdoor dog exercise and activities in the winter

Some doggos simply love snow and can’t stay indoors for long. If you can, try to time your outdoor activities with your dog in the late morning or early afternoon as the temperatures are a bit warmer and there is enough daylight. Take advantage of sunny days as sunshine is beneficial and provides your dog with the vitamin D they need to stay healthy and active.

In wintertime, as days get shorter and nights get longer, the temperatures get lower and visibility decreases due to nightfall and winter weather (snowstorms and blizzards are quite a hoot when you’re trying to get some needed exercise and fresh air). Sometimes you won’t be able to avoid going out in the darkness.

We have mentioned the need to be visible in darkness with reflective clothing and shiny accessories, but it is also important to know well the paths you will take and have explored them in the daytime. If you can, don’t go out alone with your dog and make sure someone always knows where you are and when to expect you back.

Choose well-lit paths that are often frequented. Avoid listening to music so you don’t get easily distracted and don’t let your dog off the leash to avoid them getting lost in the dark. Keep your mobile with you in case of an emergency.

Pre-plan your outdoor activities and pack appropriately. On longer outings, pack a towel or a rag to help clean your dog’s paws and pads if needed to avoid stinging or irritation. Pack enough water and make sure it doesn’t freeze. Have enough appropriate clothing for yourself and your dog if they need it and pick safe roots you know well.

If the weather is appropriate you can exercise as you and your dog are used to. Take your dog to the dog park to play in the snow with their peers so they can exercise and get their fair share of socializing. Agility parks, if there are any in your area, are also great for getting in that needed exercise. Alternatively, if you have a yard, you could also improvise and make your own agility course.

Keeping a watchful eye on your dog and your surroundings is equally important. Avoid bodies of frozen water and thin ice that can easily break or you can slip on. Keep them leashed if they are likely to jump in, or if you are in an unfamiliar area and you can’t determine if it’s safe to walk around with the added layers of snow.

If you do let your dog off the leash be sure they have a good recall so they don’t get lost if the weather changes and visibility reduces. Having them microchipped also helps reunite with them.

We find it important to point out that you should never leave pets locked and unattended in the car. No matter if it is winter or summer. In the summer, the temperatures are sky-high and can be fatal for your dog, while in the winter, they can equally drop very quickly.

Leaving the car running is not a solution as there is a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if in an enclosed space or your dog can move around in the car and accidentally turn off the breaks and cause an accident. It’s best to take your dog with you or simply leave them at home.

In the little wintertime we have left, we hope these tips help you take care of your pooch. Are they anything like what you usually do? What are your personal tips you would recommend?

And as always – stay awesome, use PAWSM 😉


Science Diet Dog Food – Searching made easy and explained in 5 points

PAWSM tools are an attempt at bringing our ideas to the people before we introduce them into our PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app. Each tool is supposed to be simple and lightweight, focused only on the task at hand.


What happens when you run out of your dog’s food? You usually try to buy the same dog food. But what if you cannot find it? This is when Science Diet Dog Food – PAWSM search for food by similarity (shortly named PAWSM Food Similarity Tool) comes to the rescue.

PAWSM developed PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app. The main purpose of our mobile app is optimal dog nutrition based on their activity and selected dog food.

What is food similarity?

For our PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app, we had to build a database of the ingredients contained in each dog food. Because every single dog food producer lists the data differently, we couldn’t use a web scraper so the only way to do it was to take each dog food and manually input the data.

Since that took a lot of time and effort, we decided to make something good out of it and made the database searchable. We added additional features such as range search, where you can look for certain ratios of ingredients. That helps you find dog food for special diets that might otherwise prove to be quite difficult to find. The database is being updated regularly (you can even add new non-listed products yourself).

To find a dog food that is similar to the one you searched for, we compare it to the other dog foods in our database. In the following text, we will try to explain the methodology and use case.


For a better understanding of our analysis, we have to take a look at the dog food data we collected. 

The data can be roughly grouped into three distinct groups; general dog food information, elementary dog food information, and vitamin dog food information.

General dog food information contains:

  • dog food name,
  • manufacturer,
  • is the dog food AAFCO compliant,
  • state of the dog food (dry, wet, raw & treat),
  • caloric value and
  • nutritional analysis (fat, protein, fiber, moisture, …).

The caloric value and nutritional analysis are numerical and they can be used for the search by similarity.

The elementary dog food information contains information about the foods elementary composition while dog food vitamin information contains the data of vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin A, C, E, K
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 & B12.

This data is necessary for our nutrition calculator for optimal feeding in our mobile app. The result shows you the best dog diet, by offering the optimal amount of food your dog needs per meal in a day.

Pawsm mobile app
Get a little closer to the Pawsm graphics. It is awesome.

Not all of the mentioned dog food information is necessary for our similarity search, but can be and is useful in our PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app. Our analysis uses:

  • food name,
  • state of the food
  • the caloric value of the food and
  • guaranteed analysis of the food.

Now comes the fun part of our blog post – statistics :). As you can imagine, the gathered data can be overwhelming.

The first part is data normalization. It’s a fancy word for bringing all of our numerical data to its common denominator. We have to do this because our data contains different scales (kcal/kg, %, g, …) and we do it with feature scaling.

Feature scaling formula
Feature scaling

With all that, our data is nice and clean. The only problem we can have is missing data. This step is a bit of a  trial & error; basically, we must decide if we remove the food with missing data or replace the missing data with an arbitrary value (that fits the context; e.g. average value).

This is also the part where you can see the quality of the dog food data we collected. It must be stated that the data collected varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, with some manufacturers omitting important data such as the moisture content of the food.

Because of the number of dog food attributes, we cannot group the food by hand. The method we use is k-means clustering that aims to partition n observations into k clusters.

If you remember, there is some kind of clustering already within our dog food data. That is the state of the food, which can be dry, wet, raw, and treats. In our PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app, we even go so far, that we classify our “food” as all of the food with dry, wet, or raw state of food, and the others are “treats”.

We apply the K-means algorithm within each state of food. The result of that is, that our search results always have the same state of food; dry, wet, raw or treat.

The number of clusters is calculated with the Silhouette method. The silhouette value is a measure of how similar an object is to its cluster (cohesion) compared to other clusters (separation).

K-means clustering - sillhoute method
Silhoute method

As you can see on the Silhouette method chart, the optimal number of clusters for dry dog food stored in our database is 9. The process is similar for all other states of food.

The only thing remaining is to transpose the results of the grouping on our database. This results in a partitioning of the data space into Voronoi cells. K-means clustering minimizes within-cluster variances (squared Euclidean distances), but not regular Euclidean distances.


Now that we explained the reasoning behind the tool, we can see it in action. As stated in the beginning, you can find this tool useful if you are buying your dog food and cannot find it. The result of our Science diet dog food – search is three randomly selected dog foods in the same cluster.

Science diet dog food - search by similarity - introduction
Food similarity tool – introduction

When you are on the tool’s webpage, the first thing you’ll see is a short description. You can enter your dog food name in the input field and we’ll display the results of the search below it. The search is done within our dog food database, which is updated constantly.

Food similarity tool – searching

Now you can scroll the search results with “Next” and “Previous” buttons and you select the desired dog food by clicking on it. You can always change the search pattern.

Pawsm food similarity tool - selected food
Food similarity tool – selected food

The first result displayed is the selected dog food information. If you click on the pulsing arrow, you can see its additional information; protein, fat, and fiber. If you wish to see other dog food information, you can always download our PAWSM dog diet and nutrition mobile app and look up your dog food in it.

PAWSM food similarity tool - similar foods
Food similarity tool – similar foods

The secondary results are similar dog foods. We are displaying 3 randomly selected foods within the same k-means cluster.

If the food you are searching for is not in our database, we provide you with a checkbox, which you can then tick, if you want us to put the chosen food into our database.


Clustering can be and is a powerful tool for managing large quantities of data. And this is only the beginning. Please let us know if you wish to see similar content or tools and we’ll try our best to make it happen.

Changing your dog’s food can be stressful and this is our small contribution to ease this task.

Stay Awesome, use PAWSM.

PS: What dog food do you use? Do you have any dog food ideas that you want to share with the world? Comments are welcome in the comment section below or on our FB page.