The impact of diet and exercise on your dog

We’ve always been fairly constant with Freya and Frankie’s diet and exercise regime. In their lifetimes, their daily food brand changed only once to Pooch & Mutt chicken and superblend*. I loved everything about the company’s ethics, quality of products, and importantly, that they are all produced in the UK.

It may look like boring, dry kibble to us, but Freya and Frankie absolutely love it; they wolf it down as you can see, with Freya making sure every trace is accounted for. Frankie needs her special bowl to slow down her scoffing! *This is not intended as a promotion, purely our food of choice.

However, it wasn’t always that way with Freya. As a pup she decided to be super fussy, but this issue was addressed quickly at the time.

Breakfast time for Freya (right) & Frankie

Supplements to meal times

Gone are the days when I bought a variety of expensive ‘natural’ treats as supplements for Freya; once you have two dogs, budget as well as common sense kicks in. Now they both enjoy varying flavours of Pooch & Mutt dental sticks as an after dinner finisher and regular fish treat cubes, with a super treat of a Cod fish skin bone after a groom.

Image of cod skin fish bones for dogs
Very special treats: Cod skin bones

We used to alternate fish bones with a dry baked cow’s ear – which they both loved naturally – but Frankie’s so greedy she was practically swallowing it whole and then vomiting, so these were banned for her. Then one day, our vet asked about their diet during a bi-annual check up and advised cow/pig ears cause internal issues over time. Enough to say, they are no more.

Raw treats are carrots, pepper, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, melon, apple, tomatoes, cucumber and the occasional cooked potato! These are an important supplement for Freya who drinks very little compared to Frankie. They also love raw lamb rib bones (good for cleaning teeth), but these are hard to find. I buy in bulk and freeze as an alternative to cod bones whenever they’re available.

But that’s not to say we’re purists (other than with any rawhide product). If we’re eating out and they’re offered the usual pub dog treats, or a cooked sausage at breakfast, they enjoy these, along with the attention!

Daily exercise

On average Freya and Frankie enjoy an hour’s walk a day, longer at weekends and during holiday time. For them it’s all about being free to roam off the lead and the sniffs along the way. The older Freya becomes – she’s seven this year – the more reluctant she is to go out in the rain, but in wind, snow, ice and sunshine, she’ll walk as long as you have time for. Frankie, now four, is primarily a cocker spaniel; always darting to and fro on the look out for squirrels and leaves to chase!

The result?

I know I shouldn’t tempt fate, but other than the removal of a cyst on Freya’s shoulder, neither of our cockapoos has ever needed a vet visit other than for routine injections and checks. Awareness of all the various issues related to an overweight dog is a constant. Freya enjoys 100g and Frankie 120g of kibble per day, divided into breakfast and dinner (Frankie is always on the move so needs more). The healthier supplements we offer never seem to make a difference and our main focus is that they both live as long and as healthy lives as possible.

From the expert

Should overweight dogs blame their genes? Is weight loss built in the kitchen or the park? Can pet dogs outrun a poor diet? This evidence-based lecture by board-certified veterinary surgeon Dr Mike Farrell explores the science behind body weight and its impact on canine arthritis.