Monday, October 6, 2014

Nourishing Your Dog for Long Days

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Chowing Down in the RV
I started thinking about this topic when I was taking a good look at how I manage Oliver's energy level during travel and hiking adventures. He's such a pipsqueak that I have to be sure I don't overfeed, yet I want to be sure he's energized. It's a fine line to walk.

Transport for Long Days on the Go
I can hardly believe that it has been nearly 2 years since Oliver’s certification as a Medical Alert dog. We’re still learning, but we have come a very long way in reading one another. Mostly it’s me that’s learning now. The biggest lessons I have had to learn are in how to manage Oliver’s energy level when we’re on the go long days, such as when we’re traveling or heading out of town with lots of walking and outings.  Here’s a few tips I can share that are not just for service dogs, but for any dog that accompanies you on your daily doings:
  • Sleep and rest:  Working dogs and pets alike all need to have a chance to recharge. Keeping this in mind, you can allow your Fido to grab a nap in the car, while you eat lunch, or even as you enjoy a picnic in a beautiful pullout along a scenic road. This is a great way to inspire your day and relax your mind while your dog gets a much needed power nap.
  • Reinspiring your day:  Oliver and I have recently had an opportunity to practice our Doga and yoga asanas (aka poses) at some gorgeous places on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I think we both found this very relaxing. 
  • Energizing your body with nutrition:  Just as hiking requires appropriate nutrition to give your dog the energy to trudge on down the trail, days on the go mean keeping your dog’s blood sugar stable with plenty of water and a regular snack to energize him. Oliver has had a throat injury that means I have to choose treats carefully. They either have to be soft, or I have to soften them with water. For that reason when I’m out and about I need to carry soft treats to help Oliver keep his energy level stabilized. We often choose Castor and Pollux’s Good Buddy treats that are a bit softer--chewy--and small enough for Oliver to swallow whole without incident. 
  • Bigger dogs: When Tanner tags along, he likes a bit heartier treat, so Jerky Chip Cookies are his treat of choice-a good bit larger portion suited to his 70 lb. body. Choose your dog’s treats based not only on portion size that is appropriate to the dog, but also to the activity level they are experiencing. If you’ve got a couch potato, skip the treats and offer a healthy, organic meal twice a day, to help him feel that he is eating often enough, while also balancing his blood sugar proactively.
  • ©
    Doga Practice
     at Mabry Mill, Virginia
  • Food choice: When choosing an organic food, consider your dog’s health status, activity level, age, and other factors to select the right food for him. You’ll find some in depth tips on food choice here.
© Diane Silver
Rocco Rocks!

Now, let’s consider what type of activity your pup engages in. My friend Diane’s dog, Rocco, is extremely active in agility, a sport that requires Rocco to practice regularly and summon spurts of high energy and enthusiasm in order to bring home ribbons. Dogs like Rocco need a diet that offers protein and healthy carbs in sufficient quantities to energize his practice and competitive runs, but also to provide his brain with the nutrition that will keep him mentally alert so that he is following his handler’s guidance as he weaves, jumps and shoots through the tunnel.

Oliver, Tanner and I spent a couple of years in agility training early in the boys’ lives. I can vouch for the extreme nutrition required to help push a pup through a long practice session. We were fortunate to have already converted to an organic diet--ORGANIX--rich in the many nutrients and healthy calories needed for this high-intensity lifestyle. I increased the dogs' food allowance during this phase of their training to assure they were getting adequate calories to carry them through their busy days.

Oliver at Work
Now, Oliver has a different job. He is often on the go for whole days at a time, accompanying me on trips and vacations, as well as shopping and social outings. I’ve discovered a few things that help him manage, such as grabbing a nap while I stop for a meal and making sure he can rest at times when I can’t stop. He’s lucky to have come in a compact package, so I’m able to offer him rolling transportation that’s easy for me to use when our days get longer than average. After all, if I expect him to provide the alerts I need, I have to give him a lifestyle that supports his need for nutrition and rest.

The way I see it, even a pet dog needs superior nutrition to meet the needs of his daily life, whether it’s  walking  his owner (#TongueInCheek), exercising the family’s children, or guarding your home. These are all important jobs that our dogs probably take very seriously.

Got questions about an active, organic lifestyle for your dog? I’ll be happy to provide more tips and I can even connect you with a customer care expert at Castor and Pollux. Here’s to your active pup’s important jobs.

Happy tails,

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The All Things Dog Blog dogs eat ORGANIX, which is why we're super excited to share their banner ad on our site. Tanner wants you to know that his favorite Jerky Chip Cookie flavor is Chicken, but Castor and Pollux has several flavors available for your discriminating pooch. All opinions you find here are completely our own. 


Elaine said...

Great things to keep in mind when you have an active dog! Sometimes they're having so much fun we forget that they need extra nutrition and rest too.

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