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About DogAware.com

Photo of me with my dog Ella

My name is Mary Straus, and I've lived with dogs all my life (pictured at right is me with my dog Ella, a Norwich Terrier born in 2004). I became interested in dog training and behavior in the 1980s, attending several seminars given by Ian Dunbar, who lives in my local area (the San Francisco Bay Area). In 1997, I attended a seminar on wolf behavior at Wolf Park in Indiana, which changed my life. I was introduced to clicker training for the first time, and I began to consider the question of how we feed our dogs after watching the wolves eat whole deer carcasses.

I started researching information on a raw diet for dogs, and after a year of study I converted my dogs to a homemade raw diet in 1998. I continued to want to learn more, and in 1999, I joined the K9Nutrition list, and became a moderator there in 2002. In 2007, I left K9Nutrition to focus more on writing and my web site.

I have spent literally hours every day for several years now doing research for people whose dogs have health problems, or who just want to learn how to feed them a better diet. Over this time, I have learned a great deal about dog nutrition and health, including the role of diet, supplements and nutraceuticals. Because of my time spent on the K9Nutrition list, I have learned much about what has worked for other people, and what has caused problems. My own investigations and those of others have also made me aware of recent research in many areas, much of it contradicting what was formerly considered true and often is still propagated, not only by dog owners, but by veterinarians.

In September 2004, I attended a seminar given by Dr. David Mech on "The Diet of the Wolf in the Wild." There I met CJ Puotinen, frequent contributor to the Whole Dog Journal, and author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care as well as other books. She and I ended up collaborating on two articles for the Whole Dog Journal on kidney disease, When to Say No to Low-Protein, about diet for dogs with kidney disease, and  Not So Fast, about how chronic kidney disease is often misdiagnosed. CJ then encouraged me to begin writing articles myself, and my first article was published in the March 2006 issue. I have since become a regular contributor to that publication.

Photo of The Healthy Dog CookbookIn 2007, The Ivy Group asked me to contribute to The Healthy Dog Cookbook. While I was not comfortable writing the recipes for this book (I prefer to give dietary guidelines rather than recipes), I ended up doing almost everything else -- I wrote the Introduction, did the nutritional analyses, and wrote the "Facts" that go with each recipe, including portion sizes and amount of calcium to add.

In the summer of 2009, I was asked by the editor of Dog World to write their "Cook's Corner" column. My columns appeared in each of the 2010 issues, after which the magazine was redesigned and the column discontinued. I continued to write occasional articles for Dog World, and one for Dog Fancy, after that time.

DogAware.com has been created to help make people more "aware" of how to make the best decisions for their dogs. It's designed for people who like to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind decisions, rather than just being told what to do. The information provided will help you become aware of such things as:

I do not claim to have all the answers, but I can offer my own understanding of various topics, as well as providing links to web sites that I recommend for learning more yourself. I make an effort to keep my web site updated every time I learn something new, or change my opinion on a subject, or receive feedback that indicates I need to add clarification or additional information to what I have written. I have no formal training in any veterinary or medical field, but I do believe that the education I have received thru my own efforts, which includes reading veterinary textbooks and conference proceedings, exceeds what I would have been able to learn from accredited courses (most of which are designed and taught by dog food companies). Although I believe strongly that you must rely on your vet when it comes to diagnosing and treating health problems, I have also been successful in at least a half dozen situations in diagnosing a dog with a life threatening illness when one or more vets were unable to do so, including dogs that had leptospirosis, masticatory myositis, calcinosis circumscripta and hypoadrenocorticism (fortunately, in most cases, the dogs were able to be saved).

I have begun adding affiliate links to a few sites and products that I recommend in order to generate a small amount of income to help pay for my site. I do not link to any sites or products that I do not recommend, and if I find a better price at a non-affiliated site, I provide that link instead or in addition. I also added Google ads for the same purpose; note that I have no control over the companies who advertise that way so those are not products I am recommending.

For those of you who are wondering why BowChow.com became DogAware.com, I was contacted in January, 2005, by an attorney for the Nestlé Purina company, who claimed that my domain name was an infringement on their trademark of the word "chow". We were able to come to an amicable agreement where they reimbursed me for the costs of changing my domain name to DogAware.com, which I think is more descriptive of what this site is about, so I am not unhappy with the change.

Below are pictures of my last two dogs, Piglet, whom I lost in March 2009 at age 17, and Nattie, who passed away four years earlier at age 16. I owned Shar-Pei for 26 years, although I was not  involved with the breed after the 1980s. All of my dogs come to me as adults. I chose to switch to Norwich Terriers for many reasons, including my concerns about dog aggression and my need to be sure that I have dogs I can physically manage as I grow older.

Photo of my dog Piglet at age 15
Piglet at age 15, 12/22/91 - 3/5/2009

Photo of my dog Nattie at age 12
Nattie at age 12, 9/20/88 - 1/31/05

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If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me, but I have less time to answer questions than I used to, and it may be several days to a week before I can respond. My name is Mary Straus and you can email me at either or

   


Rocky is a Yorkie-Poodle mix who had suffered from digestive problems his whole life. Click on his image to read about the diet his owner finally found to help him.
Pashoshe Fisher, a Chihuahua, was a wonderful, joyful companion to his owner for 19 & a half years. He was on a high quality raw diet for over half his life.
This is Ella, my Norwich Terrier.