Last year, I shared reviews of ten pet magazines. Now I’m back with a new round-up of magazines. Two cover both dogs and cats, four cover just dogs, and three cover just cats. Unlike my previous round-up, these are only available through subscription. Read on for my views of the magazines!
ABOUT DOGS AND CATS
Best Friends | $4.95 per issue, $25.00 for a 1-year/6-issue subscription (digital issues available for free on website) | 72 pages
Best Friends magazine is the official publication of Best Friends Animal Society—the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary—which has the motto Together, we can save them all.” Dogs and cats receive equal coverage in the features, which fill about one third of the publication. A variety of other animals, such as birds, horses, and exotics receive attention elsewhere in the magazine. The latter consists of editorials, adoptables, tributes, and four departments: news, sanctuary, health and behavior, and bookshelf.
In the November/December 2016 issue, there are three features averaging about five pages each, all detailed in content and lavish in photos. One story is about a luxury hotel that opened its doors to homeless senior canines. Another story is about 52 dogs who were on death row and were given a second chance thanks to foster care. A third story is about acts of kindness in the animal welfare world. The pieces within each department vary in length. News might run one paragraph or one page. Each of the sanctuary animals—except for the special-needs or guardian angel animal, which receives a two-page spread—is covered in about a third of a page including a photo.
While the magazine will appeal most to people involved in animal rescue, some features and departments will be of interest to the average pet owner too. For example, within the health department, one column addresses instinctual behaviors of dogs and cats and another how to keep senior pets comfortable. A different issue featured information on how to integrate FIV-positive cats into one’s home. I originally subscribed to Best Friends simply to support the cause of the Best Friends Animal Society, but I grew to appreciate the magazine for its well-researched and practical content after setting aside several issues with tips that I wanted to try on our pets. Finally, the design is equal to the best I’ve seen in animal magazines, with fancy fonts, bold lines, ample white space, and generous color.
Healthy Pet | sample content available online for FREE | 32 pages
Healthy Pet is a publication of Vet Street website. It may also be a publication that you’re already receiving for free from your local veterinarian. Each issue contains five to ten short articles. In addition to articles being only an average of two-pages in length, content is made even more readable through subsections, lists, and sidebars. The Summer 2016 issue contains information about traveling with pets, indoor vs. outdoor cats, dog-friendly destinations, insect-borne contagious diseases, hotel room pet etiquette, pet weight management. Healthy Pet also regularly features an interview with a celebrity pet owner. I appreciated the call for reader input through photo submissions and tips. Healthy Pet is a quick read with lots of useful content.
The Bark | $16 for a 1-year/4-issue subscription ($12.99 digital) | 100 pages
If The Bark sounds familiar, you’d be right. I subscribed to it in the wake of my previous pet magazine round-up, and I love it so much that I decided to promote it again. The great thing about it is that it’s less about articles and more about celebrating all things dog. Does this mean there’s nothing to learn from The Bark? No! There are in-depth and research-based articles on basic care, behavior, enrichment, and research. In fact, there’s such a great wealth of information that I might take up to a week to digest everything. In the Fall 2016 issue, I was especially interested in an article about resource hoarding (resource guarding/hoarding involves aggressive possessive behavior regarding high value items such as food, toys, or even people), which one of my dogs liked to do. There are also pieces about art, books, films, and the dog-centered lifestyle. In the Fall 2016 issue, I enjoyed the articles about home designs inspired by dogs. Every issue has an article about homeless dogs, and this one discussed how a shelter’s dog fate can rest on its label. The Bark remains one of my favorite pet magazines. When reading The Bark, I feel as if I’m at my local dog club listening to members trading the newest technique they’ve tried and personal stories about their dogs.
Family Dog | $9.95 for a 1-year/6-issue subscription (digital issues available for free on website) | 48 pages
Published by the American Kennel Club, Family Dog is one of the most affordable publications. The first half of each issue is dedicated to columns and departments. There’s news, photos, advice, and single-page pieces on animal care. The second half of the magazine is dedicated to an average of five features that run two to four pages in length, with large photos enhancing the lengthier features. Most issues seem to have a creative contest. My main criticism is the dense print.
The September/October 2015 issue contains a mix of entertainment, rescue, and enrichment news. For example, there’s articles about a pet doctor reality series, dogs from shelters who help disabled farmers, and a camp for canines. The advice section is equally diverse. One piece offers advice on how to teach kids to understand dogs, another tells how to protect dogs from diseases, a third explains how to groom the ears of dogs, and there’s also a piece about interpreting the facial expressions of dogs. The middle pages feature the results of a photo contest and are followed by an informational article about how to care for senior dogs, a profile of a wonder dog, and a tribute to an organization that is reshaping public opinion of large dogs. Family Dog provides fun reading!
FETCH | Single Issue FREE or $18.95 year/4-issue subscription | FREE to Wisconsin residents | 46 pages
FETCH is divided into four sections, each with its unique appeal. Cover Features is the meatiest section, with articles related to the magazine’s theme. I was hard-pressed to decide whether Canine Columns and 4-Legged Extras which offers the most entertainment. Both contain a mix of entertainment such as celebrity news, puzzles, recipes, and opinion pieces. Thrown in for good measure, however, are also some informational pieces. The most local section is In Every Issue. It contains classifieds, events, and directories for Wisconsin. My main criticism of FETCH is the design, which tries too hard to be whimsical. Articles have as many as four different colors of text, as if the mere presence of color makes a magazine more attractive.
Puppies and seniors are the theme of the Winter 2016 issue. Within the pages dedicated to Cover Features are photos, buying suggestions, and several one-page informational articles on puppies and seniors. You’ll learn how to pick and train a puppy. You’ll also learn and how to provide physical comfort to a senior and to recognize canine dysfunction syndrome. Rounding out the rest of the content is a profile of the Samoyed breed, a tribute to K9 Dogs, and a winter guide to camping with your dog. FETCH is one of the better regional pet publications I’ve seen.
Your Dog | $3.99 per issue or £47.88 for a one-year/12-issue subscription (£19.99 digital)| 98 pages
Your Dog hails from Great Britain and is part of a family of magazines. There are no departments, and each article is on a different topic. One moment you’ll be reading about how to train your dog indoors, the next you’ll be reading a profile of a popular breed, and after that you might be reading about diagnosing different health conditions. With its oversized format and smaller print, you’re getting a lot of information packed into every article. At the same time the visually-attractive format makes articles easily readable. There are ample subheads and frames, including ones that are slanted or colored, and pages pop with large photos and fun typefaces.
In the February 2016 issue, there are six pages of news, most just a paragraph in length but a few run half a page and are illustrated. There are plenty of informational articles. Besides those mentioned in the first paragraph, there’s an article about lead-training a dog, one on tapping into your dog’s natural instincts, and one on caring for senior dogs. Then there’s twelve pages of experts’ answers to questions as varied as what collar should be used for a Labrador puppy to why dogs like to roll on animal carcasses. The rest of the content is assorted, such as a report on the Crufts Dog Show, true stories about how dogs helped their owners, and a pet-friendly tour of Britain. Your Dog is considered Britain’s favorite dog magazine.
Catnip | $20.00 for a 1-year/10-issue subscription (includes access to all Tufts University articles) | 16 pages
Produced by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Catnip is technically a newsletter, but I wanted to include it in this roundup because I subscribe to it. Each issue contains an average of five articles, along with three regular sections: Editor’s Note, Dear Doctor, and Short Takes. The latter is generally a research-based back-page piece. The main articles run about two to three pages, with content divided by subheads and perhaps enhanced with a sidebar. Color is used sparingly, with photos being black and white.
The December 2016 issue contains information about feeding a cat with Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Trap-Neuter-Release programs, understanding anemia in cats, the discomfort of joint disorders, and safeguarding against winter hazards. Dear Doctor offers brief advice on how to help toothless cats, the ideal time to wean kittens, and preservatives in cat food. Short Takes tells about an upcoming study that hopes to find benefits in placing shelter cats in the homes of children with autism. As you can see, most coverage is health-based, but there’s a scattering of other topics too. Any cat owner serious about understanding their cat’s possible medical needs should check out Catnip.
Cat World | $10.99 an issue or $120.00 for a 1-year/12-issue subscription ($45.99 on iMag) | 80 pages
The content of Cat World isn’t divided into categories, meaning you’ll be surprised each time you turn the page. There’s certainly ample variety! You’ll find feline news, profiles of breeders and rescue groups and pet owners—some more famous than others, crafts, photos, and fiction, along with lots of articles and opinion pieces.
Like American pet magazines, Cat World is printed on glossy paper and colorful in design. To its credit, Cat World also boasts a bigger size, being produced not on letter-sized paper but legal. To its discredit, the print is smaller than in the average magazine and harder to read.
In the January 2016 issue, news ranges from research on how boxes benefit cats to a caution about poison in a common baking product, to a rivalry between Christmas cat ads to a French ban on animal trophies. One of the more high-profile entities to receive coverage is a Moroccan rescue organization. A few of the informative articles include ideas for keeping cats comfortable in winter, ensuring cats are entertained when owners are away, and becoming an “antibiotic guardian”. There’s also a continuation of a series on how cats use their senses. Finally, there are several reader-submitted true stories about lessons learned from cats. Cat World is considered Britain’s favorite cat magazine.
Your Cat | $8.95 per issue (Barnes and Noble), £66.80 for a 1-year/12-issue subscription (£19.99 digital), 90 pages
If Your Cat sounds familiar, you’d be right. Although the hefty price still deters me from subscribing, Your Cat remains the closest cat counterpart to The Bark that I’ve read, and for that reason I wanted to give it kudos again. How is it like The Bark, which is a dog culture magazine? Perhaps it’s the mix of serious and light content. Or perhaps it’s the willingness to recognize that cats can live amazing lives, even to the point of training and traveling. Maybe it’s the international flavor. At any rate, there’s plenty I like about the February 2016 issue. A few of the outstanding features focus on the options for cat care when owners go away on vacation, tips for finding a missing cat, and insight into the way cats communicate. Some of the more engaging pieces under Caring for Cats include a profile of an international rescue, a diary from a local rescue, and a peek at a Pet Fit Club. My favorite story under Curl Up & Read is a fiction submission that tells of a cat who lived at a laundromat and changed the lives of one of the patrons. The back pages are dedicated to kittens, and this issue contains a highly relevant cautionary piece about the dangers of buying a cat online, while also featuring photos and personal stories of cat owners.
Because of my reviewing pet magazines, I now subscribe to three pet publications. Best Friends meets my rescue needs; Its writing and the design are top-notch. The Bark satisfies my dog needs; Its quirky content not only educates me but also gives me hours of reading pleasure. Finally, Catnip serves my cat needs because of its research-based articles, but I wish there were an equivalent to Your Cat here in the United States. If your budget allows for only one magazine, and like our family you have dogs and cats, turn to Healthy Pets or Animal Wellness. I reviewed the latter in my first roundup and felt that with increased cat coverage it’d be a worthy contender as a hybrid.
To date, I’ve reviewed seventeen magazines, but there are still more to be discovered. I’ve already set my sights on one called Animal Sheltering and occasionally I’ll read sample content from it online. What have been your experiences with the magazines I reviewed? Are there magazines you’ve enjoyed that I missed? Share your thoughts!