Whether you’re an avid resolution maker, goal setter or don’t bother with any of that anymore, one thing’s clear, the new year is a reset – a new beginning. We spend so much time thinking about ourselves and what we want, but what about our pets, our four-legged babies who rely on us for all of their needs? Specifically, let’s discuss a health reset for our dogs.
Let’s make a commitment to their needs so they live a happy, healthy and long life. (I’ve made a commitment with my pup to do whatever it takes to keep her healthy, including buying whatever food is best for her – uh, yeah, raw Paleo ain’t cheap?!)
Typically, dogs under the age of 4 are still quite active and need lots of daily exercise. And you know what happens when they don’t get it, they’re little crazies. Bouncing off the walls, chewing inappropriate things (hello and goodbye to those expensive shoes) or various behavioral issues.
And while you love your buddy tons, consider your pup and their health and fitness needs in the new year. You want your dog to live as long of a healthy life as possible, so let’s review what contributes to their best health:
High Quality Dog Food
I’ve seen first-hand over the years that a dog lives a longer and healthier life, with less vet visits, when fed a higher quality (aka more expensive) diet. You’ll find the best quality food towards the front of the pet food stores. With each passing aisle is typically a lowering of food quality.
A paleo diet is great for aging dogs or those with cancers or health problems. Grain free is more expensive but higher quality. Some great brands to check out are Nulo, Wilderness, Nutro and Wellness. When my dog had Liver problems last year, I put her on a raw Paleo balanced meal that comes in those bags or tubes in the refrigerated section. (I added a few new supplements and Chinese herbal medicine and sure enough, after a few months, we got her Liver enzymes down, as well as her weight! Victory, I say.)
Is important for us all, but unlike humans who can decide when to exercise, your pet is left hoping you’ll remember to take them out. All healthy pets should get at least 15 minutes of exercise per day, with bigger breeds and younger dogs requiring more. If your pet has mobility problems, swimming may be easier on them while still getting them some play time.
Bedding and Shelter
This time of year brings us colder weather, and just like we’re cautious in the warmer months not to leave our pets outdoors too long or overexert them; we must also be cautious in winter months to not leave them exposed to cold weather for too long. Horrible things can happen to animals when left outdoors without proper outdoor animal shelter. In cold weather, your dog shouldn’t be outside for any more than 10 minutes if they’re not being exercised and attended to. (My PSA for the puppies)
Regarding bedding, I’ve found memory foam beds to be great for older dogs and the nesting kind where dogs can bed-in for most dogs. Many people have also used beds with bumpers or rises on the side and their pets seem to love that. Whatever you choose, be sure to create a spot in your home that’s designated just for your four-legger, it’ll allow them to feel safe and part of the household.
Over the years, I’ve been consulting a lot about supplements for pets (mainly dogs and cats). I’ve often seen how humans don’t take supplements themselves, but they will get them for their pets. I say that while I think it’s great and usually very helpful to supplement our pets’ diets, that the humans should be doing so as well. Happy, healthy humans foster happy and healthy pets.
For dogs, a multivitamin and vitamin C are great and should be dosaged according to their weight. If the pet is in pain or having mobility problems, then we look at a good joint supplement like Glucosamine, Chondroitin and I’ll usually recommend a Chinese Medicine formula that is specific to the area of discomfort. (More info on supplements below)
If you are dealing with a tough situation with your pet, please see a veterinarian. This guidance isn’t meant to replace any guidance you’ve received from your vet. The info shared is what I’ve gathered as a pet owner and holistic doc to humans. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.
Happy trails (and tails) to you and your pup friend!
Resources and Tips
Here are further details about some topics discussed above.
The below 2 products we use and recommend are powdered, so you mix it over the dog’s food, pour some water on and it makes a sort of gravy for them. Smells and tastes great. Have never had a dog or owner complain.
I order the Vitamin C in a powdered formula and use either a people product and dose to weight or order a vet-specific line that is dosed to weight already. Either way, you’d need to get that from a medical provider or vet.
Petsmart or Amazon can ship food directly to your house (unless it’s socialization time to go to the store for you pup, like it is for us). Once you get on Petsmart’s mailing list, they send coupons pretty frequently.
Petco has a vet division of the company called Vetco, available in many stores. They offer affordable shots and meds. A good thing to check into if you just need a booster shot for your pet, but are running low on funds. Don’t expose your pet to possible life-threatening illnesses by not getting vaccinated; Vetco can help.