You want your dogs to live the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible, right? Of course you do! One of the biggest contributors to their health is what it’s in their diet. You know the saying “you are what you eat,” and the same can be said for you dog. If you put in kibble with high fat and sugar contents, it raises the risk of your dog developing diabetes in the future — just like if you were to only consume fast food! Ensuring your dog is eating right and exercising is the best and easiest thing you can do to ensure they’re healthy.
Making a Balanced Diet for Your Dog
While every dog has different nutritional needs, one thing is for certain: a balanced diet is essential. Poor nutrition increases your dog’s risk to develop chronic diseases, joint issues, or auto-immune conditions. It can also decrease their lifespan by an average of 2.5 years if they are chronically obese!
The first thing you need to know is that dogs are not strictly carnivores. They benefit a lot from fruits and vegetables, which makes them omnivores. They do need a large amount of protein, but vegetables, fruits, and grains are essential to their development and health too.
A balanced diet is 50% cooked protein, 25% produce, and 25% cooked complex carbs.
A well-balanced meal for your dog should contain:
- High-quality protein
- Essential fatty acids
Remember that dogs should not free feed. Give them a feeding schedule to ensure they are getting all of the nutrition they need — nothing more, and nothing less.
Not All Breeds Need the Same Things
If you have two or more dogs, do not feed them the same meal unless they’re from the same litter! Just remember that your 5-year-old golden retriever is going to need a different diet than your 13-year-old German Shepard. Your dog’s diet should center around their age, breed, and weight. If you’re concerned or have questions about what to feed your pup, talk with your vet. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what types of ingredients to look out for and how much to feed your dog.
Get Your Dog Moving Too
Part of a healthy diet is what you do to work it off so you can turn fat into muscle. The same is said for your dog. You can feed them right, but they will pack on pounds if they’re not exercising enough, or burn off too much if they’re running too much. The key is finding the right balance between what they eat and how much they run.
For a full guide on how to exercise your dog, check out our blog on the topic! If not, here’s a quick summary.
Like with food, the amount of exercise your dog needs depends on their breed, age, and weight. The younger the dog, the more energy they have to burn. A general rule is that the bigger the dog is, the more exercise they need too. Just remember that overdoing it is not good for your pup! It can lead to an increased risk of leg, ankle, or paw injury, or hurt their joints and ligaments.
The recommended amount of exercise varies between 30 minutes to 2 hours per day, depending on the breed. There are seven different dog breed groups, all of which need different types of care.
The Sporting Group, which consists of Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Cocker Spaniels, and more, are typically mid-to-high energy dogs.
The Hound Group consist of Bloodhounds, Dachshunds, and Greyhounds. Their energy level depends on the size of the dog, but all of them like to hunt for buried items and run around.
The Working Group has high energy dogs that need stimulation and exercise to remain happy. Breeds include Boxers, Great Danes and Rottweilers.
The Terrier Group was first bred to pursue rodents and other vermin underground. They are smaller dogs, like Bull Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and West Highland White Terriers. Because of their size, they usually require low amounts of exercise.
The smallest group of them all is the Toy Group. Breeds include Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Shih Tzus. They don’t need much physical activity at all.
Herding Groups — Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Pembroke Welsh Corgi — need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy. These dogs need to run and play for long periods.
The last group is Non-Sporting, which houses every dog that doesn’t fit into the other six categories, such as Bulldogs, Dalmatians, and Poodles. This group requires a diverse range of exercise, as their sizes and shapes vary dramatically.
Tips on Dog Exercise
Dogs are creatures of habit who need daily stimulation. It will be best to work a daily walk or two into your routine and to stick to it.
If you have a high-energy dog, such as one in the herding class, mix up the walks you take. This way, your dog won’t get bored! Don’t stick to the same route or the same place — use dog parks, hikes, or trails to help make it new.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things! You dog may love to swim, chase frisbees, run an obstacle course, or hike on a trail. Just remember to keep in mind your dog’s physical limitations for each new activity.
If you’re worried about your dog hurting their leg, check out our Dog ACL brace. They’re amazing for preventative care to keep your dog happy and healthy.