Healthspan March 16, 2018

Energy levels are often at the top of the checklist for prospective pet owners. High energy breeds will keep you busy running around after them whilst low energy breeds are likely to love joining you for a duvet day on the sofa.

Knowing whether or not you can keep up with them is one thing to think about but it’s also important to know what this means for other aspects of their care including what they eat, what activity they need and how to train them.

1. Knowing the differences

A little online research will soon help you know whether you’re dealing with a high or low energy breed. As a rule of thumb though, think about the history of the breed – if the breed was historically used as a hunting dog, sheep dog or for following horse-drawn carriages, they’re most likely a high energy breed.

2. Food for thought

Much like elite athletes might increase their carbohydrate intake for better endurance, high energy dogs may require different levels of nutrients from their food. However, dogs do not process carbohydrates in the same way so instead it is the fats rather than carbohydrates in their diet which are important. Typically, dog food designed to help them lose weight contains a lower percentage of fat whilst those designed for highly active dogs contain more fat. When changing a dog’s diet, it is important to assess many different elements including your dog’s current weight, other dietary sources of fat such as treats and evaluate their overall level of exercise. If your dog is a good weight and healthy you may not need to change anything at all. Any changes should be discussed with an expert and made gradually.

3. Active & agile

Both high and low energy dogs require daily activity for their physical and mental health. Regular exercise will help their circulation, contribute to the prevention of obesity and entertain them no end. It’s important to note that low-energy dogs can sometimes be confused with dogs who are simply displaying signs of boredom. If your dog is showing a lack of motivation ensure you mix up play time and keep them interested with new routes on your walks.

Low-energy should also be taken with caution as this could be a sign that your dog is not well – problems like heart disease or arthritis could make them reluctant to exercise. If a vet confirms any medical issues you can then consider appropriate, gentler forms of exercise; Swimming, for example, is a great non-weight bearing exercise that will give their joints a break. As a general rule for prevention it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ – keeping your dog active will also help protect them from things like joint problems.

For high-energy dogs another key element of their care is to stick to a routine. Knowing they can count on a walk when you get home will help to keep them calm before.

4. Training & treats

Basic obedience is hugely important for a dog of any energy level. Socialisation and teaching them commands will make life a lot easier for you and will keep your pet’s mind entertained. For younger dogs the fundamentals of obedience training will probably keep them and you busy but to keep this going into their older years trick training or sports such as agility may help. Not only will this keep their mind occupied but it will also tire them out physically. When you’re not around to keep them busy why not try some treat hiders or puzzles?

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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