How to love yourself and your dog this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is an event stereotypically filled with chocolate, romantic three-course meals, evenings on the sofa, and, ultimately, relaxation with your partner. However, it’s equally important that you love yourself; self-love is empowering and you really can only love others when you understand, respect, and adore who you are. Whether you’re single or have a partner, self-love is something we can all celebrate this Valentine’s Day, and for those of us with canine companions, we won’t be forgetting man’s best friend!

So, how can you love yourself and your dog this Valentines Day? By looking after your health and theirs!

Valentine’s Day might not be the holiday we typically associate with health and fitness, but by nurturing yourself from the inside out, you really will feel more centred and energised. Meanwhile, if you’ve fallen head over heels for man’s best friend, then you’ll be glad to hear that bringing them along for the ride is easier than ever before (alongside your boyfriend or girlfriend if they really want to join in… the dog comes first!). That’s right, this Valentine’s Day, you can prove that you love yourself and your pup by jointly enriching your health, using the same ingredients, workouts, dish ideas, and principles every step of the way.

This Valentine’s Day, by making smart, healthy, lasting changes to your diet and workouts that are also doggy friendly, you’ll strengthen both your glutes and the bond you share with man’s best friend. Perfect!

Read on for our favourite health-enhancing changes that you and doggo can embrace together.

Enjoy a healthy diet (most of the time).

Valentine’s Day is undeniably a chocolate-fueled holiday, but that doesn’t mean it needs to throw you off track. This year, love your body by enjoying a healthy diet and, no, that doesn’t mean you need to ditch your Lindt box! Balance is key. Simply make sure that throughout February and beyond you find a happy medium, enjoying the treats you love alongside healthy meals.

Thankfully, you can use the same ingredients to nurture your dogs health, making this permanent change a family affair! Although, there is one key difference you need to remember: whilst you’re more than entitled to enjoy a box of chocolates, please stick to raw dog food treats for your furry friend and do not, under any conditions, feed them chocolate.

Wondering which ingredients you and your dog can enjoy together? Here we go…

  1. Turkey

Turkey is a great food option for both you and your dog, which is why it’s included in so many dog food products. As a lean meat, turkey contains many of the important amino acids required to promote healthy development and function; it is also abundant in B vitamins, including B12, B6, and B3, rich in minerals like selenium and niacin, and is low in fat. Turkey can deliver countless benefits to dogs and humans; just be sure to remove the bones for your dog if you’re feeding them cooked turkey!

  1. Berries

Berries are also a fantastic option; lower in sugar than other fruits, they’re filled with polyphenols and antioxidants, aiding anti-ageing and longevity.

  1. Eggs

How does your dog like their eggs in the morning?

You might not immediately guess that eggs are a healthy food for man’s best friend, but they definitely are! Dogs can eat whole eggs raw too, including the shell. Eggs are filled with protein, whilst the yolk is particularly nutrient-dense, boasting a range of good fats and choline for liver support. Meanwhile, eggshells are a great source of calcium, and they are generally rich in collagen, chondroitin, and glucosamine (which is great for joint health).

Whilst you are poaching, boiling, or scrambling your eggs, your dog can tuck in with zero prep time. Bonus!

  1. Green leaves

Thats right; your dog can eat greens!

As it turns out, greens are not only healthy for us humans. Green leaves, kale, and broccoli are all fibrous ingredients packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that combat oxidative stress; as such, greens are nutritionally beneficial for dogs too.

Lightly steamed green veggies are a great compliment to dogs’ meals. Although, please note that we use the word ‘compliment’; dogs don’t require the same quantity of fruits and veggies in their diets as humans. As long as your dog’s meal is mostly animal protein, they’ll be enjoying a healthy meal.

  1. Probiotics

Foods rich in probiotics are important for you and your dog, such as yoghurt and kefir. However, be sure to choose those without artificial sweeteners, made with goats’ milk or coconut milk, as dairy isn’t ideal for a dog’s digestive system. Probiotics help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut, making them a diet necessity.

Blend berries with kefir and freeze for the perfect refreshing dessert for two!

  1. Watermelon

Watermelon is often described as a ‘health-food powerhouse’; it’s low in calories, packed with nutrients, and excellent hydration. As a snack for both you and our dog, watermelon is perfect.

  1. Salmon

Salmon is famously healthy; it’s rich in omega-3 and 9 fatty acids, is a great source of potassium, helps maintain bone health, and much, much more. Be warned, though, salmon is a love it or loathe it' dish for dogs, much like Marmite is for humans! For those that do love it though, it’s a very healthy choice.

  1. Bone broths

Bone broth is highly enriching for both you and your dog.

Made by simmering animals' bones and connective tissues, it’s packed with nutrients. A superfood brew, bone broth benefits the digestive system, supports joint health, is weight-loss friendly, can support sleep and brain function, and so much more.

This is why we’ve created our brand-new bone broth range for dogs - so our canine pals can reap the many, many rewards too! Launching on the 12th February 2022, these bone broths will not only give your dogs' mealtimes an extra nutritional boost —they are also guaranteed to set tails wagging with delight. To find out more, visit our website.

The key to enjoying a healthier diet with your dog

Always opt for fresh, natural foods with minimal processing methods, sugars, and additives. This applies to both you and your dog’s food. From there, you really can’t go wrong!

However, it is important to remember there are some differences too. For instance, dogs are better suited to raw meats, whilst humans must, of course, only consume meat that’s been carefully cooked and prepared. Also, the ratios of foods we benefit from are different to what a dog needs to thrive. As dogs are carnivores and humans are omnivores, they require high levels of animal proteins in their diet, whilst some humans can flourish as vegans or vegetarians.

The foods mentioned above can be enjoyed by both you and your dog; you’ll simply need to evaluate how much you are consuming and do so in accordance with exactly how much you and your dog need.

As Dr. Conor Brady, author of Feeding Dogs, says:

‘Any meat you might usually find in a supermarket is fine for your dog – chicken, turkey, duck, pork, lamb, beef, rabbit, venison, fish… anything. The only meat I wouldn’t feed to dogs would be that sourced from other carnivores (which usually arises from roadkill). Everything is on the menu and the bigger the variety of meats and indeed meat parts you feed your dog, the better off they will be.

Perfect meal ideas for you and your dog.

1. Lady and the Tramp Meatballs.

When it comes to creating healthy meals for your dog, raw meat really is the answer. This year, celebrate Valentine’s Day by recreating Lady and the Tramp’s iconic meatballs – without onions, of course, which are toxic for dogs. Also, forget the pasta! Dogs just don’t need it. Instead, opt for spiralised courgette as a healthier version for you and your furry pal.

2. Sashimi.

Instead of the sushi you enjoy, which is laden with rice, create a fun dog-friendly option with sashimi. Simply put – raw fish! Or, you can, of course, cut corners by choosing our fish skin cubes. A fun and deliciously healthy snack, they’re a great option!

3. Winter Turkey Salad.

A turkey salad is quick and easy, whilst it’s also a dish you can easily fill with protein. When it comes to your dog, make sure you’re giving them enough animal protein to fulfil their daily requirements; exactly how much meat your dog needs can be found via our calculator here

4. Frozen or Grilled Watermelon.

Watermelon is a refreshing snack which can be enjoyed in lots of different ways. If your dog’s warm in the sun, consider enjoying cool cubes of frozen watermelon. Or, think outside of the box and grill your watermelon! Either way, this is a perfect healthy treat for you both to indulge in.

Whilst there are some similarities between humans and dogs, there are also important differences too. To ensure you’re always feeding your four-legged friend safe ingredients, check out our handy “Can My Dog Eat?” guide.

The low down on protein!

Another similarity you share with your dog is your need for protein - it is vital. Protein is what every cell in the body is built from and relies on to function (for both humans and dogs). The difference? Whilst many studies support the health benefits of plant-based diets, including plant proteins for humans, the same can’t be said for dogs. Dogs need meat!

In his book ‘Feeding Dogs’, Dr. Conor Brady suggests that dogs evolved on a diet of 60% protein and 10-15% fat, with studies supporting this finding. Protein cannot be overlooked.

The quality of protein is also crucial, not just the amount.

Studies show that fresh, raw meat provides all of the essential amino acids a dog requires. However, the protein found in meats cooked at high temperatures, and ingredients such as corn and gluten, are practically indigestible for dogs.

It could be time for your dog to go gluten-free!

Focus on your fitness.

It might sound obvious but introducing regular fitness activities into your lives is a great lifestyle change to make. You also needn’t fall off the bandwagon this Valentine’s Day; you and your dog can enjoy fun workouts together all year long.

Different breeds of dogs do require very specific amounts of exercise; be sure to do your research to really understand your dog’s needs based on their breed, age, health status, and food intake.

Here are 6 of our favourite exercises ideas that can be enjoyed with man’s best friend:

  1. Walking.

Perhaps the most obvious form of exercise you can enjoy with your dog – walking!

Often underestimated, walking is a fabulous way to get moving. Keep things lively by finding new exciting routes; uphill climbs to get your blood pumping and speed walk intervals to keep your heart healthy for example are great. Meanwhile, incorporate some time in quiet areas for a bit of obedience training too; dogs enjoy being mentally stimulated, so they will love you for it! Mix things up to keep your dog engaged and remember that if the route is boring for you, then it probably is for them too!

  1. Trail running.

If you live in an area surrounded by steep gradients and/or great hiking trails, then trail running could be a perfect activity for you and your dog.

Regular runs can be great fun but bear in mind that this activity is best suited to dogs with a good level of obedience. The excitement of running through the countryside with all manner of scents and distractions requires focused attention and an ability to follow commands. If your dog is obedient, trail running is a fantastic way to burn off some excess energy, leading to a calmer and happier partnership.

Be sure to do a trail check before starting out! Begin with a short route that is flat and quiet if your dog is new to running. Then, build up their endurance in exactly the same way you would for yourself (basically, as newbie trail runners, don’t make your first run a 10 mile stretch over mountainous terrains!). Plus, don’t forget the all-important H2O! Water is crucial for both you and doggo, so stay safe and keep hydrated.

  1. Dog-friendly yoga.

Dog-friendly yoga, otherwise known as ‘Doga’, is a brilliant way to enjoy exercise with your dog. Why? Doga is thought to promote bonding by teaching your dog to trust you, strengthening your relationship in turn whilst also helping to improve your dog’s behaviour and training.

Doga inspires relaxation and brings with it a number of physical health benefits, including improved flexibility, range of motion, injury recovery, and more. Finally, doga is a brilliant method of socialisation.

  1. Wild swimming.

Wild swimming is a great form of exercise that immerses you in your environment – some dogs love it too!

Swimming utilises different muscles and can be wonderfully relaxing. Should a lake or similar nearby permit wild swimming, we couldn’t recommend this enough. Be sure to get specialist advice before launching into the water though. Be sure to kit yourself out with the correct safety equipment (including appropriate life jackets, drying equipment etc.). Finally, know your distances; 1 minute of swimming can be the equivalent of 1 mile of running, so don’t overdo it to start with.

  1. Agility courses.

Agility courses can be beneficial for both dogs and their owners. By creating your own course in the garden or attending organised classes, you’ll help your dog to enjoy great physical and mental stimulation. Agility training is also great for improving mobility, flexibility, strengthening your connection and helping you to improve your bond in a fun way.

  1. Bikejoring.

Bikejoring is a fantastic option for dog owners who enjoy cycling and fit dogs with a love for adventure.

Bikejoring typically consists of one dog, or two dogs, running in front of the bike. As a sport that originates from ‘mushing’ (sled pulling), the pace of this activity depends on how fast you choose to cycle – you can be flexible in accordance with your dog’s needs and preferences.

Typically fit, confident dogs who love running are best suited to bikejoring. The benefits of this are significant; bikejoring keeps dogs mentally stimulated and, as with any vigorous physical activity, improves blood flow of oxygen to their brains, facilitates the release of endorphins and more.

If you want to try bikejoring, you must get the right equipment. You must use a harness and leash designed specifically for bikejoring to prevent accidents or injury. Also, whilst this may seem like a fun sport, please consider your dog’s health and fitness level. This isn’t an activity suited to growing puppies or older dogs with mobility difficulties; their bones are growing and/or fragile, meaning the intensity of this exercise wouldn’t be advantageous.

All of these activities are great ways of exercising with your dog, but be sure to consider your dog's temperament, health status and breed predisposition before attempting a new sport or activity. It is always important to set your dog up for success when asking anything new of them, so be sure to consider which would be best for both of you by doing your research.

Join the protein shake revolution – with your dog in tow.

If you’ve been researching how to lead a healthier lifestyle, then you’ve inevitably stumbled across protein shakes. Protein supplements are known to promote muscle growth, improve performance, and support post-workout recovery, boosting the results of athletes’ workouts— protein shakes have truly become a cult phenomenon!

Now, if your dog’s your fitness buddy, they needn’t be left out! At ProDog Raw, we’ve created a number of protein supplements for dogs that’ll support their health, fitness, and activity whilst you hone your own. For example, our MAXIMUS Canine Performance Supplement is expertly formulated using dog-friendly, natural, premium-grade ingredients; it’s designed as a meal topper and can easily be added to food. The result? Your dog can achieve the ultimate results in muscle definition, condition, health and vitality. They really will prove to be an unexpected protein shake partner…

Meanwhile, our MUSCLE+ Dog Muscle Building Supplement is a unique blend designed to help dogs achieve both mass gain and muscle development, allowing underweight or malnourished dogs to reach a desirable weight in a safe, healthy way without using milk-based proteins such as whey. These can irritate a dog’s digestive system and should be avoided where possible.

The benefits of protein supplements are well evidenced.

Protein supplements are an excellent addition to a dog’s meat-based diet. Supplements can deliver extra nutritional reinforcement and support, especially helpful for dogs recovering from injury or illness or those simply requiring healthy weight gain or maintenance.

In any instance, it’s important to remember that supplements (for both dogs and humans) are designed to be an addition to a fresh, natural, wholefood diet, whilst you should be choosing products that are designed with your dog in mind. To put it simply, don’t give your dog your protein powder; it may contain ingredients that are inappropriate for their digestive system.

Don’t forget the treats!

Treats are allowed!

For any dietary change to be sustainable long-term, it needs to be enjoyable. You and your doggo can enjoy snacks by smartly incorporating healthy and tasty options into your diet.

When it comes to maintaining your health, it is important that you’re mindful of your diet - including how many ‘treats' you allow yourself. The same can naturally be said for your dog. Your dog should be enjoying healthy treats which are calculated in accordance with their main meals; if you’re treating your dog, that shouldn’t automatically mean you’re over-feeding them.

Thankfully, if you’re hoping to maintain a healthy weight alongside your dog, this needn’t be a difficult task – with our feeding calculator, all of your questions can be answered at the click of a button.

You also needn’t feel any Valentine’s Day gifting panic! The following healthy dog treat ideas could go down as the best doggy Valentine’s Day presents ever:

  • Black pudding
  • Liver
  • Rabbit ears
  • Duck feet
  • Salmon sticks
  • Calf hooves
  • Bones

Bones are an excellent treat for your dog. Why? Bones, and bony material, are beneficial for general wellbeing, teeth, gut, and stool health. To find out more about the benefits of bones as treats, check out our information page.

Get the right information.

When it comes to supporting your dog’s health, the most important thing is that you get reliable information from the right places. As canine nutrition specialists, we’ve spent years researching the top-ranking health foods for your dog. Not to be biased, but we come in 1st place as a top-ranking source!

(Data can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1W7xRc4u-N7CIxiWhxNB1gl_4pPxwxfV53okw4OAhOmY/edit#gid=0)

CONCLUSION:

This Valentine’s Day, enjoy all that the holiday has to offer without ditching your love for health and fitness. Meanwhile, bring your best friend into your celebrations; this can be an opportunity to show your dog that you truly care – prioritising their health and happiness too!