Boomer's DNA Results

If you own a mixed breed dog and have ever been curious about what breeds he may be, then you definitely have to try out a DNA test!

We’ve always wondered what Boomer has in him because we know he’s a mix of some sort. It’s fun to guess and google random mixes to see if any look similar to him, but we got to a point where we were just dying to know the truth. This was like a fun little science experiment for us! I had a knot in my stomach when I got the email with his results, because I was that excited. Below I share more info about the test, how to make sure you get a good DNA sample, and Boomer’s exciting results!

This is not an ad, I just wanted to share my experience and the specific test I chose based off the research I did beforehand.



Boomer's History Based off of what i knew

When I got Boomer, he came from a farm where the breeder (I use this word loosely, this was an accidental pregnancy) only owned the mother of the litter. He had no idea who the father was, except he assumed it was one of the neighbor's many Australian Cattle Dogs that roamed the area. So, I was told Boomer was half Labrador Retriever and half Australian Cattle Dog. I noticed the other puppies in the litter had big black and white spots (similar to a Dalmatian) which I found bizarre and not fitting to these two breeds. Plus, Boomer has a longer coat than a Labrador or Cattle Dog, along with a bushier tail than these breeds usually have. So, I always thought the farmer guessed incorrectly - and that the Cattle dog was perhaps an Australian Shepherd instead. Which would then explain the longer coat and bushy tail!

We were both wrong! And you’ll see why later!


THe DNA Test We Chose

I did some research online and the best test I found was the Wisdom Panel by Mars. It seemed like the most accurate and well known at-home test on the market. We ordered it off Amazon for about $80. All you have to do is use two swabs to collect saliva samples from your dog and send them back for the DNA testing. Again, this is not an ad at all. Here is the link to the test on Amazon and their website if you'd like to try it out for yourself.


Wisdom Panel by Mars - Link here!



how to take the test (correctly)

A good chunk of the reviews on Amazon complained about inaccurate results. I called the company to ask about this and the rep I spoke with was very helpful. She explained that results coming from multiple pet households can easily produce incorrect DNA results. To make sure your sample is isolated to the pet you are specifically testing for, you have to take a few precautions to make sure the saliva in their mouth doesn’t get contaminated by any other pets.

I took away both of the water bowls in our house at around 9 pm the evening before collecting Boomer’s saliva. I also put away all of their toys and chews, and they got no treats or kibble for the rest of the night. The following morning I took the sample as soon as I woke up. This way, Boomer’s mouth was clear of any food or debris, and he had not been swapping spit with Ruger (to put it simply).

If you allow your pets to share anything that goes into their mouth, you will contaminate the sample and pick up the breeds from those other pets and therefore get inaccurate results. You want the best sample possible, so take your time swabbing. One big tip is to make sure you let the sample dry completely, minimum 10-20 minutes. Boomer drools a lot so I got a very wet (and good) sample, which I had to let dry for almost 2 hours before I could put them back in the package.



I was so excited to see if the test was legitimate and what it had to say about Boomer…

He is 37.5% Labrador Retriever, 25% Australian Cattle Dog, 12.5% American Bulldog (I'll explain this result later), 12.5% Border Collie, and 12.5% Golden Retriever.

I couldn't believe the results! Especially the American Bulldog (think Chance from 'Homeward Bound'). American Bulldogs almost look like a (regular) Bulldog with a Pitbull’s body, and I felt confused by this result because he literally looks nothing like one. I imagine his coat would be much shorter if he were American Bulldog combined with the coat of the Australian Cattle Dog. But, once I went through the explanation of each breed from the test results, it mentioned that the American Bulldog gene was the only one that wasn't very prominent in his DNA. So it is much higher up in the lineage and basically has almost been bred out of him, which makes much more sense when considering his looks!

His mother was a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. I saw her myself, and just assumed she was a purebred yellow Lab. I googled mixes that are 3/4 Lab and 1/4 Goldens - and they basically look like a yellow or red Labrador, so I can see why the owner assumed she was purebred. Again, he was a farmer (not a breeder) and did not own registered dogs, so it’s easy to see why he didn’t have full knowledge of her breed lineage. Then I googled what the father probably looked like... He was part Australian Cattle Dog and part Border Collie (with that tiny bit of American Bulldog). And, this mix usually looks like a Cattle Dog with a slightly longer coat! This all makes sense why the owner assumed the puppies were half Lab/Cattle dog at a glance, when in reality their mixes were much more diverse! Without this test, we would have never known any of this. This has cleared up so much for us!

Here is a pie chart of Boomer’s official results:


Now that we’ve done this for Boomer we’d like to try it on Ruger next! We think Ruger is Border Collie/Lab because we’ve seen dogs that are this exact mix, and they look exactly like him. Only time, or a DNA test, will tell! If you try out a DNA test, let me know your results!

Here's why you need to wash your dog's food and water bowls


I know it's easy to think dogs don't need to have their food bowls cleaned when they do gross things like drink from the toilet, or eat dead animals without hesitation. I was guilty of cleaning my boys' bowls maybe once every couple weeks. I never considered doing it more often since the bowls never *technically* looked dirty, so I thought what was the harm? Until one day, I happened to touch the bottom of a water bowl that was empty and found that it was covered in a slick, clear film. I genuinely thought it looked clean! Yuck! So, here's why you need to wash those bowls.


The film at the bottom of the bowl

That film is actually a layer of bacteria that comes from many different things; like your dog's saliva, whatever particles are floating around in your home, or whatever is in your dog's mouth at the time they take a drink or eat from the bowl. Your dog's bowl is almost like a petri dish (gross), and sometimes what grows inside can be harmful and cause health problems, like digestive issues. It's been studied that even bacteria like, Staph and Salmonella, can be found in your pet's bowls! If you have children in your home, that can be very harmful if they love to get into the dog's things. 


What to do

It's very easy to avoid dirty bowls, just be mindful and wash your dog's bowls at least twice per week with hot water and regular dish soap. Easy as that!

You can also put them into the dishwasher if that makes your life even easier, but I would scrub them down first to get that film removed. I've also heard you should use stainless steel or glass bowls only. Plastic is porous on a microscopic level and that bacteria can sit there even after being thoroughly washed. If bowls are worn down, peeling, or chipped, make sure you replace them so chemicals don't leak out of the materials into your dog's food or water.

What is xylitol? And why you must keep it away from your dog


Most foods or ingredients that are toxic to dogs have to be eaten in a certain amount relative to the dog's weight to be seriously harmful or deadly. Unfortunately, even a small amount of an ingredient called xylitol can do serious damage to a dog of any size. 

WHat it is

Xylitol (pronouced zye-leh-tall) is an artificial sweetener that works as a substitute for sugar, its use in everyday products is increasing quickly. It's most commonly used as an ingredient in foods that are labeled "sugar-free" or oral care products, such as toothpaste. Xylitol causes no harm to humans, but can be detrimental to dogs. As a pet owner, pay attention to all of the human food products you give to your pups. A big one to keep in mind is peanut butter - sometimes they contain artificial sweeteners and it would be fatal if, for example, you gave your dog a couple spoonfuls in their Kong toy.


What it does

When dogs eat xylitol, it causes a rapid decrease of their blood glucose levels. This causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can lead to liver toxicity and damage. 

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur within 30 to 60 minutes of xylitol ingestion with levels as low as 0.1g xylitol/kg body weight. - Dr. Dana Brooks

That is scary to think about because that is a fairly small amount... and if a dog is getting into something they're not supposed to, they're obviously not going to limit themselves... Most dogs will probably eat as much as possible before they get caught, and that can get them into some serious trouble. 


What to do

Obviously, keep these products out of reach from your pets. After you read this article, do me a huge favor and proof your home of anything with xylitol in it!

If your dog does ingest some they will become lethargic and seem very weak, they may even collapse and have trouble walking. As soon as you see any of these signs, take them to the vet immediately. Don't waste time trying to google info about how much they have to eat or what symptoms to look for, etc. I'm telling you now - just put them in the car and start driving. The longer they have it in their system the more fatal and irreversible the damage is! If you're able to, bring the packaging of whatever your dog ate to the veterinarian so that they are able to see a complete list of the ingredients. The sooner you take your dog to the vet, the better their chances are after ingesting xylitol! 


These foods must be kept away from your dog



It's always scary when your dog eats something they aren't supposed to, but the good new is most toxic foods have to be ingested relative to the dog's weight to be deadly. A handful of Hershey Kisses might not be as big of a concern to a giant Great Dane than to a little Pug. However, there are some foods where even the smallest amount can really harm or kill a dog so it's important to know these as an owner.



This is the artificial sweetener found in products like gum, toothpaste, and soda. An amount as small as .1 grams can cause serious issues in a large dog. If you haven't already, quickly check that your dog does not have easy access to anything with xylitol in it, or any sugar alcohols for that matter.



Never, ever, ever, give your dog your leftover steak bone! Choking is always a concern with this. Cooked bones break and splinter differently than raw bones. They can internally scratch or pierce the digestive system as they make their way through the body. Some raw bones are okay, but they shouldn't be machine cut (since they can be sharp), or weight-bearing bones (since these are too hard and can break teeth).


Grapes and raisins

The general rule is that dogs usually have to eat a specific ratio relative to their weight when it comes to grapes and raisins. But, the toxic components in grapes is still somewhat unknown, so there have been reported cases of dogs dying from eating even a small handful of raisins. For this reason, grapes and raisins should be completely avoided since we don't know what triggers death in some dogs. 



The exact ingredient that causes toxicity to dogs in chocolate is theobromine. Baking and dark chocolate have the most concentrated amounts of theobromine so do not let your dog near these. Milk chocolate has less levels of the toxic ingredient so it's not as big of a concern as dark or baking chocolate. White chocolate has almost none, so it is somewhat safe for dogs to eat.


CaffeinE and Alcohol

I put these two in the same category because it's (hopefully) common sense not to let dogs ingest either of these substances. These are not even that great for humans, so they are definitely not good for dogs (again, common sense). Caffeine is bad for the central nervous system, and alcohol causes breathing and the heart rate to slow down. 


Onions and garlic

Always check foods like chicken broth since these are usually prescribed for ill or picky dogs. Many broths contain onion or garlic ingredients in some form. These are both toxic raw or cooked, so make sure you don't give any human food leftovers that contain onions or garlic.


If your dogs eats any of these foods, it's always a safe bet to call your veterinarian. Watch your dog very closely, if they have any changes in behavior or start to vomit or have diarrhea, take them in to a vet ASAP! 

Life in the City

dogs living in city

We have been in Charlotte for a little over a year now! So wild to think about!

We live in a cute apartment in South End, which is one of the neighborhoods directly south of Uptown (or downtown) Charlotte. We have three awesome breweries and the best coffee shop in the world is literally next door. We love to go grab a beer after work or on the weekends and get some dinner from the food trucks. If it's nice out we will even bring Boomer and Ruger with! There is a tiny coffee shop inside one of the breweries and it has changed my life. If you drink good coffee, I promise you will never want to go to Starbucks again. I randomly ordered a latte from the coffee shop one time at like four in the afternoon and I've been hooked ever since. Zach and I will have a little morning date and walk over with the dogs to go get some coffee before work, it's my favorite time together! 

Honestly, one of the most fun parts about living in Charlotte is that we have the NFL Panthers and the NBA Hornets. I think being with Zach has turned me into a much bigger sports fan than I could have ever imagined. I will only admit it this one time... but I love going to all the games! I think having pro sports teams brings a lot more opportunities for fun things to do. Even if you aren't going to the game, a lot of bars and restaurants will have events or different food and drink specials centered around them, and I just love the camaraderie of it all and how loyal people are to their team. Zach and I agree that the next place we move to must have an NFL team!

I think our boys make great city dogs! They get to go to breweries, coffee shops, dog parks, you name it! I love providing them with some variety so they don't get bored. They always get new places to smell and new dogs to meet. Someone once told me that sniffing for a dog is like them reading the morning newspaper. It's their way of catching up and learning about what's going on around them. They've even made some friends at the dog park, including another Lab/Border Collie mix that looks just like Ruger and a little French Bulldog puppy named Tupac haha! 

They are both in great health, which makes me super happy. Especially for Boomer, I was very worried about his arthritic elbow and his allergies. But, we've had him on the Adequan injection for several months and he is doing better then I could have hoped for! He rarely limps now, and if he does it's for maybe half a day, rather than several. And his allergies seem to finally be starting to calm down after being here for a year. For the first 6 months we lived here, we thought they were food-related, but it turns out North Carolina has terrible environmental allergies - for dogs and humans! And Ruger just turned three a couple weeks ago, so he is officially an adult!


Tips for cleaning in a home with dogs, what cleaners to use and where


Cleaning your home exposes pets to many types of chemicals that can be harmful to them. I have some tips to help keep them safe while keeping your home clean!


how to use 

I suggest using cleaners with harsh or toxic chemicals like bleach on countertops, bathtubs and other surfaces your pets do not directly touch. The reason I do this is because I do believe food surfaces need to be properly sanitized and since dogs don't (usually) have access to surfaces like countertops, sinks, or bathtubs, they are mostly fine to clean with stronger cleaning products.

For places dogs do have access to, such as toilets and floors, use natural cleaners that are fine if ingested. This way, if they lick something off the tile or take a drink from your toilet they don't accidentally ingest something toxic that can harm them. 

*Toilet bowl cleaners must be nontoxic, too many dogs die from drinking out of toilet bowls that use cleaners with ingredients like bleach.


Best Nontoxic Products to use

Here are some of the biggest brands that are pet-friendly. Many you can find in large box stores like Target or Walmart. And always remember to store cleaners where they can't be reached by curious noses!

*These are not affiliate advertisements, click the link to go directly to their website*

  1. Method Products - what I use!
  2. The Honest Company
  3. Seventh Generation
  4. Nature's Miracle
  5. Greenworks
  6. Simple Green

What is dog bloat, and how to prevent it from happening


Let me just tell you that bloat is my biggest fear as a dog owner.

Bloat might not seem like a big deal to humans, but it can be deadly to large or deep-chested dogs. An emergency vet explained me that a dog's stomach hangs like a hammock, and when a large amount of gas is sitting in the abdomen it can cause the entire stomach to twist. When this happens, the blood and oxygen supply is cut off and dogs can die within minutes. Unfortunately, many people don't take their dogs to the vet until the stomach has already flipped and it's too late. I wrote about some tips and signs to look for since I went through this scare with Boomer a few months ago.



No one really knows the exact causes, but we have somewhat of an idea on what triggers it. We know it mainly happens in large dogs, especially those with deep chests like Great Danes. We also know it can happen if your dog drinks too much water too quickly. It can also happen if you feed your dog foods with ingredients like citric acid and add water. Intense exercise too soon before or after a meal may also cause it. I avoid all of these scenarios to prevent it, just in case. 


How to prevent it

Sadly, you can never truly prevent bloat, I learned that from my experience with Boomer. But, you should monitor your dog's water intake as much as possible. Read your dog food ingredient list and make sure there are no citric acids if you normally like to add water to the food. This causes strong acids in the stomach that create gas. Most importantly, never feed your dog 1 or 2 hours before or after exercising them. 



In the very beginning stages, your dog's stomach may make loud gurgling noises, like a human's stomach when you're hungry. I could hear Boomer's stomach from across the room. At this point, give your pup some Gas X pills (3 - 4 pills should work, they can't overdose on these), and take them on a long, but slow, walk to encourage the gas to travel out of the stomach. Do this about every half hour for several hours. We had to do this once for Boomer after he got x-rays and his stomach (luckily) did not flip, every time he burped or farted I was so relieved lol!

*If your dog starts retching, or looking like he's trying to vomit but nothing comes out, IMMEDIATELY take him to the vet - preferably a hospital so they can do surgery, if necessary. Also take them if they look uncomfortable or are pacing. At this point the vet will want to take x-rays to see if the stomach has flipped and if surgery is needed. 

Once the stomach flips, it swells like a balloon because of the trapped gasses. These photos aren't pretty, but I want to make sure you have a visual of what the symptoms look like. I kept thinking Boomer's stomach look bloated, but the vet said it did not and that it would look like he swallowed a watermelon if it was. If you haven't taken your dog to the vet by this point, you must go when their stomach is visibly enlarged like this! 

Bloated belly: