Our pups can sometimes seem like beloved bundles of energy. No game satisfies them, no amount of play tires them—they just want to run and cuddle and play all day long. (Unless you’ve lucked out on a lazy type of dog who doesn’t want to move, in which case, ignore us.) But this image of a dog running in a park is so common, leaping in the air to catch a Frisbee or chasing after a ball, that it inculcates a certain mindset in us.

Exercise is important, we remember. Play is everything.

And you’re not wrong. A dog needs a healthy amount of exercise to stay alert and happy; they must do something with all their energy. But a vital part of making sure they have energy is their diet. What you feed your dog is extremely important—we would go as far as to say it’s everything. We learnt that when Kafka, our beloved canine, fell ill.

In this article, we explore why healthy dog food is so important for your dog and what you can do to stick to a diet.

Why does diet matter?

It’s easy to be careless about your dog’s diet. Dog food comes pre-packaged and certain brands that aren’t great for your dog are also very famous, so you can be caught unaware. But here is why you should be paying attention.

Fitness – This one is easy: what your dog eats determines how healthy they are. The nutrients in their diet directly translate into their energy levels. So if your dog is low on energy or seems lethargic, their diet may be the cause – the best dog food leads to an energetic and happy pup.

Appearance – Several people think that a dog has a beautiful and glossy coat because of good grooming. And while that does play a part, your dog cannot have a healthy-looking pelt without a diet that provides them with the correct nutrients. A good diet can also fix hair loss, and make sure their coat is thick and luscious.

Diseases – A good diet plays a crucial role in how healthy your dog is and for how long. A well-balanced and nutritious diet can help keep several diseases at bay, including heart disease, stomach problems, arthritis and much more. As your dog gets older, this will matter more. Start them off early on healthy dog food that is tailored to their needs.

Cognitive ability – It’s easy to see that your dog is alert and able to learn. How else would they pick up tricks or learn routines? Along with cognitive mind games to keep your dog’s mental agility sharp, try a diet that gives them the right amount of omega-3 acids. Taking care of your dog’s mental health is very important—as important as their physical fitness—and diet can play a crucial role.

Sticking to a diet- So you know diet is important for your dog. Now what? It can seem as easy as simply choosing the right kind of food to put into your dog’s bowl and making sure they get the right amount. But there are so many ways in which we can fall off the wagon, even when feeding our dog, the best dog food there is. Here are a few things to watch out for or keep in mind:

Treats – When just training your pup, it can be easy to give them a lot of treats as positive reinforcement (or just out of love—don’t worry, we aren’t judging you). Habits die hard and treats can become part of the routine. While treats are essential for a happy dog, it’s important to not treat your dog too often. Make sure you break the treats down into smaller sizes when training your dog or go for a mixture of healthy treats to keep their calorie count low.

Routines – Implementing a well-balanced diet for your dog means choosing a routine and sticking to it. You can feed your dog a certain number of times a day and make sure you measure the food accordingly so that they only consume an approved number of calories. Alternately, you can opt for free-choice feeding. Here, you put your dog’s food into a bowl at the start of the day and let them eat when they like. Remember, though, that if they finish their healthy dog food by afternoon, you cannot refill the bowl; they’ve eaten their calories for the day.

Table scraps – This is a difficult habit to break, especially when your dog is looking up at you with big blue eyes and begging for a scrap from the table. But feeding dogs your own food is not a good idea. It encourages begging and can lead to obesity (who keeps track of how much they’re feeding their pet when giving them scraps?). It can interfere with a well-planned canine diet. It’s best to avoid it altogether.

Allergies – Each dog is different. It’s important to get a list of approved food for your pet from your vet. This will differ from breed to breed, but also from dog to dog. Some dogs, for instance, cannot process gluten. Make sure you take these allergies or specifics into account when choosing the best dog food for your pet. Food is a necessity but also a joy. Let your beloved pet enjoy their food by creating a diet for them that’s healthy, packed full of nutrients and bursting with all the minerals that they need. In the immortal—and definitely rephrased—words of Edwin Starr: ‘What is diet good for? Absolutely everything.’