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Lifestyle & Wellness

Once Upon a Pumpkin Puppy: Pumpkin’s Nutrition Story with Side by Side Pet Food


This post was sponsored by Side By Side as part of a Two-Post Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

From the age of 10 I dreamed about having a brown and white cavalier King Charles spaniel. I begged and pleaded with parents for what felt like years about getting a dog, and always got the same sad answer of no. A dog just wasn’t in the cards for my parents, and as they knew I would be headed off to college, it wasn’t right for our family at the time.

Fast-forward to just a couple of months ago when Rob and I toyed with the idea of just going to see a breeder with a new litter for “fun”. Rob’s family has two cavaliers of their own, so together we had always talked about eventually having one, but never did I dream it would happen this fast (a true lesson that you don’t go to see cavalier King Charles spaniel puppies and not fall in love with one!).

The minute we saw our future little Pumpkin our fate was sealed. Those big brown eyes, those floppy ears, and that sweet demeanor that just makes you want to cuddle with them. We were sold!

With my thoughts preoccupied with puppy collars, toys, and pumpkin accessories, I admittedly failed to do my research what dogs eat and the types of dog food out there. As a registered dietitian who knows a thing or two about human food, I was truly so confused when it came to dog food! Walk down the aisles of Petco and you would be too!

And just as everyone has their two senses when it comes to a baby, everyone had their input on everything from food to puppy classes! While I greatly appreciated the knowledge of many other puppy parents, I remember feeling torn on what would be best for Pumpkin, the dog of my dreams, the little life that’s now in my hands, until I learned about SidebySide.



After attending an event with the brand here in Chicago, I was immediately drawn to their transparent packaging and whole foods based recipe of protein and vegetables that I myself would eat. As RD who practices a whole foods approach, I really liked knowing that Side by Side honors nutrition from sourcing to formulation with clean and ethically harvested ingredients to build a foundation of health that honors pets. Started by a holistic veterinarian credentialed in Eastern and Western medicine, Side by Sides recipes are personalized to the pet, based on their stage of life and what’s best for them–an approach that we all strive to take with our own diets, so why wouldn’t we take with our four legged members of the family?

The ingredients they use include, fresh, all-natural proteins like chicken, duck, beef, rabbit and fish, finely ground bones and organ meats such as hearts and liver. You can see actual vegetables including vibrant greens, carrots & sweet potato, fruits such as apples, and healthy fats, and herbs in the food. It’s prepared in small batches and rigorously tested to verify the best nutrition delivery, caloric intake, and food safety. Side by Side products are free from additives, toxins, carcinogens. As closely as I scrutinize my own food to be sure it’s free from similar additives, I want to make sure what I’m feeding Pumpkin is too, and with Side by Side I don’t have to worry.

I had a lot of questions going into the personalized Pet Assessment with founder Marney Prince, especially because I knew a puppies’ diet might differ from the diet of a full grown dog. It was so interesting to hear first hand from her about the vitamins and minerals growing puppies need, and some interesting parallels between facts I know from my studies of human nutrition that she confirmed are also true for dog nutrition.

We also had a fun time joking about the irony of Pumpkin’s name because pumpkin itself is in fact very healthy for dogs! Did you know that pumpkin could help remedy diarrhea and relieve constipation for them? According to traditional Chinese food therapy, pumpkin is a balancing, sweet, qi tonic that regulates blood circulation, and counteracts damp and phlegm. Signs of a qi deficiency can include tiredness, loose stool, reduced appetite, shortness of breath and more.

Marney’s guidance and knowledge of key nutrients that puppies and dogs need put me at ease as we transitioned Pumpkin off of his lack-luster kibbles and onto Side by Side. Pumpkin seamlessly switched over without any issues. It’s really fun to watch him at mealtimes because excitement radiates throughout his entire body. He wiggles from side to side and always looks up for more!  

Check out this video that is the definition of licking your plate clean! And follow along on his Instagram, @pumpkingcav for more cute moments like this!

Pumpkin Eating Side By Side Dog Food

It makes me so happy to see him enjoying his food and how good he looks and feels having been using the food for a couple of weeks now. Another major benefits of the food definitely worth mentioning is the fact that it’s nearly odorless and smells like real food! Pumpkin’s breath never smells either. He gives me lots of puppy kisses so I would know!

Marney took the time to explain which nutrients are crucial for Pumpkin as he matures and what certain signs meant that put my worried dog mom thoughts at ease. She was also extremely knowledgeable on the unique characteristics of cavalier King Charles spaniels, pointing out health conditions and personality traits of the breed that can all be affected by the food they eat. Marney recommended a product formulated perfectly for his needs, a level of personalized care that I never knew was available for dog food, and truly something I couldn’t be happier giving it to him everyday.


Click here to take the Side by Side Pet Assessment for your furry friend and to learn more about the difference real food can have on their quality of life.

For more information on Side-by-Side, and a complete list of all of their products, visit their website, and check them out on social media on Instagram! Side by Side is available online and will first be available in premier pet stores in Chicago in the coming months followed by a national rollout this year.

You can also get 25% off your first order and 15% the subscription service with code: PUMPKIN





Pin more info on Side-by-Side for other dog mammas to learn about!

Lifestyle & Wellness

My First Week With Pumpkin the Puppy

As many of you know, we welcomed Pumpkin, a cavalier king charles spaniel into our lives last week! He is the first pet I have ever had in my life besides a goldfish named frisky when I was five! Growing up my parents where never up for an animal in the house, and by the time college was on the horizon, I let that argument go. Pumpkin comes from a long line of award-winning ACK certified cavaliers with longevity of 14 years!

Rob’s family has two cavalier king charles spaniels, so we kind of always knew that if we were to get a dog at some point, he would be a cavalier too. We started down that dangerous path of looking into breeders in our area, and taking some trips to see the puppies. Low and behold when we met our future Pumpkin, it was hard to say we’ll wait any longer to get a dog! I knew from the moment I looked into his eyes that he was the puppy of my dreams!

Since I work from home the breeder was comfortable letting us adopt a puppy of this breed that requires a lot of attention. Since the beginning of March, we anxiously awaited little Pumpkin’s arrival and started stocking up on all of the puppy essentials and certain things recommend based on his breed. Naturally, I started an Instagram for Pumpkin and scoured pet sites, and amazon for all things pumpkin!

There’s no waiting until fall for me when it comes to dressing little Pumpkin up in t-shirts, jerseys and sweatshirts! Pumpkin is three months old, and loves face scratches, tummy rubs, and his pumpkin toy linked below!

Check out the rest of the things Pumpkin is loving (and learning to use!)here. You can find all of these things on my Amazon list too!

Kruuse Buster Incredibowl, Small/34 oz, Dark Grey

Since spaniels are very prone to issues with their ears, our breeder highly encouraged we purchase spaniel bowls for Pumpkin’s ears to flop over and avoid getting wet every time he takes a drink. So far, he’s eating out of a small dish


Sumen Halloween Puppy Dog Shirts Slim Cute Pumpkin Pet Costumes (S, Yellow)

I got this tiny pumpkin t-shirt for one of Rob’s family cavaliers a couple of years ago, and like to think I secretly knew it would be perfect for my little Pumpkin one day. And it is!


Starbarks Pupkin Spice Dog Toy (mini)

They couldn’t have made a more perfect toy for our little Pumpkin! A PUPkin Spice latte toy from StarBARKS! Rob surprised me with this toy before we brought him home, and now Pumpkin loves it. You know it’s making for a lot of great photo opps too!


Mirage Pet Products Pumpkin Face Design Soft Mesh Dog Harnesses, Small, Orange

Continuing on our orange theme, I had to complete the look with this orange pumpkin harness! You better believe Pumpkin will be wearing this on his first walk outside! The pumpkin face faces out from his chest.

Mirage Pet Products Pumpkin Parade Dog Collar, Large

I love this cute little pumpkin dog collar! We also bought Pumpkin a plain orange one, but I plan on busting this one out as much as possible, and all fall long!

Zack & Zoey Pumpkin Pooch Dog Costume, Large, Orange

Is it too early to start planning Pumpkin’s Halloween costumer? I think not! I’ve got my heart set on this one for sure! Little Pumpkin as a pumpkin for baby’s first Halloween! I’m also thinking he would make a cute ghost!

Working from Home and Taking Care of a Puppy

Pumpkin’s first week with us was definitely an adjustment for me in terms of planning out the day so that I could get work done. During his first couple of days he was still a little shy and getting used to his new surrounding, which made it easy to hold him in my lap as I sat in the computer, or let  him curl up on his own in his dog bed.

Towards the end of our first week, Pumpkin’s rambunctious side definitely came out! He became much more playful, vocal and into biting everything–including every shoe in sight! But that’s normal for a puppy right?! I really enjoyed soaking up all of the puppy snuggles I’d never had before, and made it work with my work in between his chill-ness and sleeping.

I do crate him when I leave the house, and those puppy dog eyes starring out at me tug at my heart strings every time I have to leave. I find myself thinking “I wonder what is pumpkin doing right now?” in the middle of barre class or when I’m talking to someone about him. I get in now when people say “I have to go home to be with my dog!” because that’s how I feel now!

Week two with Pumpkin continued the same pattern as the end of week one. Lot’s of biting, prancing to full on sprints in the apartment and little puppy barks when he sees himself in the mirror or window! Poor planning on my part, and lots of crate time proved to be a little disastrous for us on Tuesday, the first time I started feeling like getting it all done with a puppy in tow was going to be harder than I thought.

It’s weird because as I was feeling slightly annoyed at myself and at him, I still couldn’t be mad or upset because of the joy he has already brought into my life. I almost can’t imagine what the apartment was like without the pitter-patter of tiny paws and his cute face licking my toes. His excitement for the littlest things makes me so happy to have all of these experiences with hims!

If you’ve worked at home with a new puppy, I’d love to hear your tips on what worked for you, and how you made it all work!

pumpkin puppy

Potting Training Pumpkin

With Chicago’s winter like temps in spring, we opted to start Pumpkin on training pads in the apartment. We did try taking him out on his first night with us, only to see one scared little puppy with his tail so far between his legs! There are also quite a few bigger, less friendly dogs in our building, so we don’t want to take any chances bringing him to the dog run at this time in his early life.

Our breeder got him used to taking care of business on newspapers so that’s what we’ve continued to do. Week one brought a few accidents in random spots (all on the hardwood thankfully!) and here in week two Pumpkin has been a newspaper champion! In a way it makes it easier for me because I don’t need to take him downstairs every hour, but as soon as the temps warm up, and he gets the rest of his shots we will start the walks outside and potty training phase two.

I’m still learning a lot about his personality and navigating our daily routine, and would love to hear from you if you have any tips, tricks, or experience when it comes to raising cavalier king charles spaniels!

oh, and happy National Pet Day!