We are familiar with ‘you are what you eat’ and the same is true for our dogs. There are many dog specific diets to choose from and those offering high quality ingredients with bio-available nutrients are shown to be optimal. Choosing the right food for your dog is often one of the most important decisions and providing the right nutrition is the first step to ensuring they are at the top of their game, with the energy to explore the world at your side. However, there are other considerations beyond just a great diet that can contribute to your dog enjoying a long, healthy and happy life.
Every day is an adventure.
Physical movement is key to almost every dog but whilst some dogs are very active, others are less so. Some will be pulling you round the park, and others will saunter around the block without a care in the world and feel that is more than enough for the day.
It can be helpful to keep in mind the breed of your dog, how they have evolved and how this impacts their levels of energy and physical requirements. Many dogs are originally from working breeds. Historically these dogs performed a job beyond their status as a pet and some have undergone extensive physical changes as they have been selectively bred to enhance certain features over time. For example, a Cockapoo descends from working stock on both the Poodle and Cocker side and so they will find exercise both invigorating and necessary; a modern French bulldog will most likely take a more relaxed view of life.
The key is finding the right balance. In larger breeds, you should take care not to do too much too soon as their relatively quick growth can put a lot of pressure on joints. This can intensify if your puppy is too active in the wrong ways, too early. Likewise brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, can quickly become overwhelmed during heavy exercise or on a hot day. Reaching the right balance between your dog’s physical requirements and ability, as well as the time you can dedicate to regular exercise, will build a positive connection with your dog.
Wellness can be found from the outside in.
Skin and coat care is important to dogs, just as we take care of skin and hair as humans. Dogs come with many different coat styles, and even the most straightforward coat may require daily care to keep them at their best.
The wool coat of the Labradoodle, for example, is undoubtedly the coat that needs the most daily attention. It tangles easily and can go from a beautiful foam like consistency, to a mess of knots and grass seeds within hours.
Knowing what your breed needs is the key to ensuring coat and skin health is kept in great condition. Even a dog who visits a professional groomer will benefit from having some home care in the form of a daily brush. If you want to keep both the coat and the skin looking great this daily care is a must. It can also be an important bonding ritual with your dog that they will appreciate.
Keep their minds happy and fulfilled.
You will see your dog get excited at the prospect of a walk, but why are walks so enjoyable? Dogs "see" the world through their noses and take their cues from your body language to decide how to react to a new and exciting environment. The territory outside of the home paints a vivid picture of the daily movements of other dogs and people. Their social structure is to be part of a pack with their human family and they want to be clear where their position is within your household and to be able to join you on an adventure. You move as a team outside of the home, just as they would with the pack. They will take this very seriously; you are on a mission and they will take your lead. A change of route will keep their nose and mind occupied. A chance to play and meet others of their kind at the park and other communal areas will give them great socialisation and give your dog plenty to think about, keeping their mind happy and occupied.
When you pay attention to your dog’s health and wellness as you would your own you are both rewarded with a healthy, happy and loyal friend.