6 Research-Backed Health Benefits of a Natural, Fresh Diet for Dogs

By Rebecca Dalby

This article originally appeared on the My Ollie Blog.

When it comes to keeping your pup healthy and energized, simply choosing a dog food with “wholesome!” on the label may seem like enough. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. “Just because a dog food is labeled ‘holistic’ or ‘all-natural’ doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any better than anything else out there,” says Andi Brown, author of The Whole Pet Diet and a pioneer of holistic pet products. (Back in the ‘80s, she created the world’s first line of human-grade pet food and treats.)

And, as with humans, dogs are what they eat. Many commercial dog foods are the equivalents of burgers and French fries, Brown explains. “If you’re eating a steady diet of fast food every day, you’ll look and feel one way, and if you eat healthfully and thoughtfully from your own kitchen and garden, you’ll look and feel a whole lot better a whole lot longer,” she says. “It’s the very same thing with animals on a commercial diet.”

So what makes a canine diet healthy? It’s an important question to ask since 95 percent of homemade dog diets studied by UC-Davis researchers didn’t meet dog’s needs. “You need a meat and vegetable diet, generally a 50-50 blend, with little to no grains or starches,” Brown says. “No by-products, no fillers, no preservatives, no artificial chemicals.” Freshness, she adds, is hugely important: “It provides more flavor and more nutrients. After just a few days, your pet will look and feel much healthier,” she promises. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from a natural, fresh diet like Ollie:

It prevents (and even helps treat!) disease

“In my 30 years of experience working with thousands of animals, I’ve seen that many disease symptoms can be turned around very quickly when the animal is given the right nutritional support,” she says. Just like with humans, a diet rich in antioxidants and high-quality protein helps ward off a number of ailments. In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found a link in dogs between lower rates of urinary bladder carcinomas and eating green, leafy and yellow-orange vegetables three times a week.

Many commercial dog foods made in pet food plants, on the other hand, contain super-low-quality ingredients—stuff rejected for human consumption. Says Brown: “Why was it rejected? Well, the animal came to the slaughterhouse dying or disabled, or the grains are dirty from falling on the floor and can’t be used in human plants, so they’re immediately sent to the pet food plants. They’re garbage.” And when you couple inferior ingredients with dyes, fillers, preservatives, and synthetic vitamins, “you’re setting the pet’s body up for warfare,” she says. “They have to battle those foods just to process them.”

It helps manage your dog’s weight

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is well within your control, for the most part. In fact, in one survey published in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine, vets reported that just three percent of obesity cases they saw could be attributed to dog-specific factors (say, a genetic quirk or illness); 97 percent of obesity cases could be traced to how owners fed and played with their pets. So how does commercial dog food fatten up dogs? Simple: It’s too heavy on starches, Brown explains. “Many pet foods contain fillers so that the manufacturers can make more money; corn, wheat, rice, potatoes are very inexpensive,” she says. “It’s exactly the same as for humans: A diet heavy on starches leads to weight gain.”

It increases your dog’s lifespan

In one paper, dogs fed a homemade diet lived for 13.1 years, on average, while those fed commercial, canned dog food reached an average of 10.4 years. The starch, dyes, preservatives, and synthetic nutrients in many commercial dog foods eventually take a toll on a pup’s health, while steering clear of them sets a dog up for many years of health, Brown explains. “People could live on potato chips and beer alone, but not long or well,” she points out. “It’s the same thing with animals on a commercial diet—sooner or later, it catches up with them. She adds that it's especially true with age: "When you’re young, you can eat anything. But as the body gets older, you need to support it with the right food.”

It gives your dog a happier GI tract

Think of it this way: Out in the wild, a dog would take down a small animal—say, a rabbit, bird, or squirrel—and consume the contents of the prey’s stomach, too, Brown explains. The small animals are generally herbivores, so the dog would be consuming meat, plus vegetables that provide nutrients and fiber, which helps keep the digestive system humming smoothly. “When you switch from commercial pet food, the digestive system will be clean and clear,” she says. “When the pet moves it bowels, you’ll see well-formed stool, and you’ll notice that the quality of what goes in will reflect what goes out.”

Another surprising side effect of a not-overly-taxed digestive system: Your dog will sleep better at night. “If your animal gets up in the middle of the night, sighing, breathing, switching positions, that’s a sign that the digestive system is upset,” Brown says. “When you’re putting the right ingredients into the body in proper proportions, the dog’s rest is pure and restorative.” And—just like you after a good night’s sleep—your dog will feel better and be healthier overall if she’s getting a good night’s sleep.

It makes your pup smarter

A healthy diet can actually improve cognitive function: In one study, old, cognitively impaired dogs who were fed an antioxidant-enriched diet had higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which may slow cognitive decline. The logic is analogous to how a diet rich in antioxidants (i.e., fresh, colorful produce) seems to help prevent cognitive decline in humans. Even in younger dogs, a fresh, wholesome diet fuels learning and alertness, Brown adds. “When you feel good, you’re sharper, you have more energy, and you can tackle more tasks,” she says.

It improves your dog's skin and coat quality

Skin problems are prevalent in dogs, from itching to rashes to scabs. Often, dogs with itchy or scaly skin are treated with cortisone shots and reaction-reducing steroids, which come with their own side effects. “Pet owners are told it’s an allergy when it’s often just a deficiency,” Brown explains. Blame commercial pet food’s unbalanced, filler-loaded formulations that don’t give pups the nutrients they need. Because of the way it's cooked and processed, dry food especially can deprive dogs of the healthy fats and oils dogs need for a lustrous, moisturized coat and skin. Within a few days of switching your dog to a fresh, natural, balanced diet, “shedding, itching, scratching, dry skin, a rough coat, and other skin problems will start to correct themselves,” she says. “You’ll really notice a difference.”


Thinking of taking a pet-friendly vacation? Look no further than Glamping with Pets. Or check out our blog for more pet-friendly tips, tricks, and accommodations.

Spotlight: A home for little London

By Rebecca Dalby

London, a gorgeous blonde-colored Pomeranian mix, is absolutely adorable and although he is five years old he still looks like a puppy. Our friends at Barks of Love are working hard to find a home for London, so if you are thinking about adopting a dog and would like a small, well-behaved, and full-of-life furry companion then he is certainly the one for you.

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London would be the perfect family dog as he loves children and gets on really well with animals; especially other cats and dogs. Traveling is one of his favorite past times, and although he is yet to go on a Glamping with Pets vacation, he would be the perfect companion.

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If you would like to find out more about adopting a pet from Barks of Love just check out their adoption page to see what dogs are available. Not only will you change their life for the better but they will change yours too.

cabin in California with dog


If you decide you would like to add to your family with one of these pups be sure to treat yourselves to a pet-friendly vacation at one of our stunning glamping destinations from around the globe.

Canine Service Dogs: Which Breed is Best?

By Elizabeth Young

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Throughout history, canines have always been at man's side, helping however they can. Service dogs come in all shapes and sizes and each breed has different qualities making them most capable of different tasks. From Police dogs to Fire dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs to Customs and Border Protection dogs, each breed serves a special purpose. Glamping with Pets takes a look at what makes each breed just so great at what they do.

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Police Dogs

Popular breeds for Police dogs include German Shepards, Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds, Beagles, and Rottweilers. German Shepards and Labradors are extremely intelligent with a good temperament, trainability, and endurance. They are often used as police dogs, along with these other breeds, because these breeds will only detain a suspect by "threatening" them until their master comes. These breeds are trained not to bite the suspect, but rather to make sure the criminal cannot escape.

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Fire Dogs

Everyone associates Dalmations with the fire station, but have you ever wondered why? Dalmations are very compatible with horses and because of that, they have worked hand-in-paw with firefighters for centuries, long before fire trucks were around. When horse-drawn carriages were used, Dalmatians would run alongside the horses, keeping pace. Horses are afraid of fire, and the Dalmatians presence would distract and comfort the horses as the wagon got closer to the flames. Dalmatians also stood guard while the firefighters were working to ensure no one stole belongings or equipment. With the invention of the automobile, many fire stations kept Dalmatians around for the companionship.

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Search and Rescue Dogs

Search and rescue dogs are traditionally Border Collies or Labrador Retrievers. Both breeds have a solid temperament and have great stamina, which is key when climbing through rubble and up mountains. These breeds have bodies adapted for running in both cold and warmer climates, can climb up, under, and over obstacles fearlessly, respond well to commands, and have a high level of intelligence and problem-solving skills.

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Custom and Border Control Dogs

Beagles are primarily sniffing dogs and work with arriving luggage, looking for agricultural products. Beagles were originally bred for rabbit hunting, and as such, they have an acute sense of smell. Beagles are generally friendly and good with people and their smaller size is not intimidating. For these reasons, the Beagle was selected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Bomb sniffing dogs, on the other hand, are usually German Shepards, Labrador Retrievers, or Vizslas (also known as a Hungarian Pointer). These breeds were not chosen solely on their ability to smell, but also, they're calm in crowds and around strangers, and they like to play. They can view their work as a game, and are rewarded at the end.


Service dogs deserve a vacation too. If you're looking for ideas for pet-friendly destinations check out these accommodations just waiting for your visit.

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Looking for more? Take a look at the Glamping with Pets blog for travel tips and check out our website for unique accommodations around the globe

Pet Spotlight: Don't Lose Hope

By Ffion Matthews

Continuing to care for canines, Barks of Love are still hard at work trying to find homes for their shelter dogs. Here at Glamping with Pets we are a sucker for lending a helping paw and spreading the word for this great cause.

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This cute little lady is Hope, she is a ten-year-old Chihuahua looking for a home in California. Her life was saved as she was removed from her shelter that was going to euthanize her the following day. Barks of Love didn't lose Hope, and had her re-evaluated, where it was discovered there was a misdiagnosis of her illnesses and treatment was possible. It appears there was a lot more fight for this little one.

The kind-hearted vet gave her the care and time she needed to show she is a tough cookie. Now, with the right medication, she is ready for a forever home.

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Hope really is a Chih-wow-hua with her strong spirit shining through in her older age. Do not be fooled by her petite size, as she has a big heart and lots of love to give. If you want a chance to provide Hope with a much-needed place to rest her paws, have a look at her profile here.


In the mood to spoil your new adoptee or fostered furry friend? Have a look at these luxury camping rentals and get inspired to get away in style with your precious pooch.

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Hungry for more? Why not check out some pet-friendly glamping rentals over at Glamping with Pets, or have a look at our blog for tips and tricks for spending quality time with pets.

Canine Veterans: Heroic Hounds in History

By Ffion Matthews

Let's take a step back and have a look at few of history's most respectable hounds. Glamping with Pets is here to highlight some of the heroic hounds who have served us over the last 100 years in the lead-up to National K9 Veterans Day. From the small yet mighty to the big and humble, these proud pups send an important message about the power of loyalty.

Sergeant Stubby

The fearless fellow above is Sergeant Stubby, a real life inspiration that any dog has the chance to turn their life around. He began his life roaming the streets of New Haven, Connecticut, as a homeless dog, where he came across the Yale Campus and a 102nd Infantry training session. After warming the heart of Private J. Robert Conroy, he was taken in and named Stubby due to his lack of tail. He was trained to salute to the commanding officer, securing his life changing position. A journey of bravery and honor unfolded as Stubby went on to serve 18 months in World War One in 17 battles, alerting troops to gas attacks, locating missing soldiers, and quite literally catching Germans with their pants down.

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Noble from start to end, Trakr the German Shepherd was one of many search and rescue dogs that contributed to the efforts of the 9/11 rescue mission. He worked as a Police dog in Halifax, Nova Scotia for six years giving him a world of respect when he retired in May 2001. However, this dog was not done giving when he and his owner James Symington returned to service for one last assignment. Trakr's drive to the search was rewarded when he found one of the last remaining survivors, Genelle Guzman, who had been stuck in the rubble for 26 hours. A canine's commitment that led to a human life being saved.

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Chips was a volunteered dog from New York who served in World War Two. This dog showed multiple selfless acts of bravery, but most memorably he saved soldiers from a gun-machine team on a beach in Sicily, 1943. Despite injury, Chips carried on to help capture ten Italian prisoners on that same day. They say every dog has their day and this was certainly his. After being discharged in 1945 Chips went home and was eventually given to Private John P. Rowell, his handler during service.

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German-born Rex, was destined for a life of greatness when he was sent to America for a military dog-training program, but little did he know the true impact he would have. His first handler was Mike Dowling and the two were deployed to Iraq in 2004, where Sergeant Rex would be one of the first dogs to serve on the front line since Vietnam. Sergeant Rex took part in hundreds of missions until an explosive caused an injury to both him and his handler. Determination broke though and Sergeant Rex recovered, going on to serve until 2012 when he was officially retired and adopted by his second handler.

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Nemo served in the Vietnam war as one of the hundreds of war dogs who were sent to defend human lives. A display of pure devotion occurred on December 4th, 1966, resulting in saving Airman Robert A. Throneburg's life. When Nemo took a gun shot to the face losing his eye and incurring a serious injury he still carried on and protected his handler. The incredible dog then used his own body to cover Robert and prevent further harm until back-up was sent. He laid down his life for his handler, a real testimonial to man's best friend. His dedication was honored when he became the first sentry dog to be officially retired from active service and returned home to live in Texas.

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Why not spoil your own furry friend this K9 Veterans Day and head out on a pet-friendly glamping getaway like the one above?


Still hungry for more? Then take a look at our pet-friendly glamping rentals at Glamping with Pets, or check our blog for more pet-friendly tips, tricks, and accommodations.