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Dog energy

The essentials

  • Healthy habits are essential for your dog’s energy levels — A balanced diet, 12 to 14 hours of sleep, and daily exercise are all vital. 
  • Exercise can prevent obesity — Unnecessary pounds can cause trouble for your pup — obesity is linked to many chronic illnesses like diabetes.
  • Talk to your vet about any new patterns or sudden changes in behavior — Lethargy may be a sign of serious illness.

Everyone knows the common culprits of fatigue: old age, poor diet, lack of exercise, and depression. Not only do these factors negatively impact us as humans, but they also take a toll on our pets. Some dogs are lazy because of boredom. However, if your pet constantly acts like it’s the dog days of summer, it might be a good idea to take them to the vet and talk about a plan for boosting your dog’s energy. In the meantime, here are a few dog energy booster ideas.   

1. Visit the veterinarian

If your dog suddenly seems lethargic, or if their decreased energy becomes a pattern, take your dog to the vet to rule out chronic or serious illness. We know the vet bills can stack up, but you don’t have to let expenses prevent you from going. You might find it beneficial to invest in a pet insurance policy that will help cover many exam fees, sick visits, and medications in case you discover something’s wrong.

👉Go to the professionals to diagnose your dog’s chronic or sudden low energy. You might overlook critical factors and not give them the treatment they need.

2. Ensure a healthy diet

A well-balanced diet with an appropriate amount of protein and fat helps boost your dog’s energy levels and regulates their overall health. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that dry food must have a minimum protein level of 18% to earn its certification as maintenance (adult) dog food. Puppies need even more, with a minimum of 22% protein to qualify. Wet or fresh food is a little harder to calculate, but the AAFCO website gives you instructions here

3. Add protein and fats for more energy

Your dog’s body breaks down proteins to use immediately. Like humans, dogs must have certain amino acids to function. Dogs metabolize fats more slowly. If they eat more fat than they need, their body can store it for future use. Too much fat and your dog will be obese, but not enough, and your dog may suffer from a lack of energy.

Choose a dog food with at least the minimum AAFCO-advised level of protein and fat. Young or active dogs may need more, so consult your vet when shopping for the best formula. If your vet agrees, it might also be a good idea to supplement their dog food with these healthy, protein-packed snacks that contain beneficial fats. 

  • Scrambled eggs.  Crack an egg in the skillet for Fido when you make breakfast. Eggs have essential amino acid proteins, and the yolk contains healthy fats. Skip the yolk completely and only feed your dog the egg whites if they don’t need the extra fat.  
  • Fish. Salmon, cod, and whitefish are all low-mercury, high-protein fish filled with omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are these fatty acids beneficial to your dog’s energy levels, but they’ll also nourish their skin and coat, and can improve joint health. ZipZyme™ Omega is nutrition that contains DHA, a particular type of omega-3. Made from ocean algae, it’s a natural, safe, plant-based source of energy for dogs and cats.
  • Lean ground turkey. Nothing will send your dog to the kitchen like ground turkey sizzling on the skillet! Turkey is protein-rich choice meat that isn’t as likely to cause an allergic reaction in dogs as chicken or beef. Although turkey is fairly lean meat, be sure to drain the grease before you feed it to your dog to keep it easy on their tummy. Avoid seasoning the meat in case of stomach upset or allergies.

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What about carbs?

Your dog also needs carbohydrates as part of a well-balanced diet. Up to 50% of their diet can contain carbs, but you should be discerning about the type of carbs that make up your dog’s diet. Complex carbohydrates such as baked potatoes are typically more nutritious than simple carbs that are usually heavily processed, such as potato chips. Your dog’s body takes longer to break down a complex carbohydrate, which is better for their metabolism, and they benefit from the nutrients in some complex carbs such as whole grains.

👉Your dog requires a large number of proteins, fats, and carbs in their food every day. All three macronutrients provide energy, but the amount differs.

There are:

  • Four calories in a gram of carbohydrate or protein
  • Nine calories in a gram of fat

Your dog’s body also metabolizes these macronutrients at different speeds — carbs are the fastest and fats the slowest.

4. Boost energy with the right treats

Snacks aren’t meant to be the main source of nutrition, but that doesn’t mean they should be pure junk. If you want to fuel your pup for zoomies in the yard, filler snacks made from bleached flour and corn might not be the best idea. Incorporate healthy snacks like blueberries into your dog’s day for optimal energy. If you like to bake, make these DIY treats, or you can find healthy dog treats at the store at your convenience.  

5. Make sure they have clean, cool water

Always make sure your pup has access to fresh drinking water. Lethargy can be a sign of dehydration. Although your dog can become dehydrated any time of year, it can happen quickly in the summer and may lead to fatal consequences such as heat stroke if left unattended. 

6. Assess factors that might explain your dog’s lethargy

A new diet or change in feeding schedules may alter your dog’s energy. If you believe these may be contributing factors to your dog’s fatigue, go back to what was working, or consult your vet to find a better solution.

7. Provide a good night’s sleep

If your dog is catching Z’s for most of the day, perhaps they’re not getting enough sleep at night. Dogs need an average  of 12 to 14 hours of sleep every 24 hours. They might sleep less during their prime adult years, but sleep more when they’re puppies or seniors. For example, puppies only spend about four hours awake. About 75% of their overall sleep should occur at night with the remainder of their sleep coming from naps throughout the day. Healthy naps can be a sign your dog is expending energy and feels relaxed with you. However, you should be concerned if they seem lethargic through most of their waking hours, too. 

Although sleep disorders are rare in dogs, they do exist. Insomnia is typically not an isolated medical condition, however, and usually stems from another illness such as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) in senior dogs.  Mention your pet’s unusual sleeping pattern to your vet to help them determine the cause.

8. Start training and exercise

Sometimes a lazy dog can be a sign of a bored dog. Look for ways to engage your canine’s body and mind, such as these activities:

Play fetch — This game is perfect because it works even if you live in close quarters on a rainy day.  Fetch is an exciting activity for your dog’s body and mind, and creates some bonding time with you, too.

Navigate an agility course — Some dog parks have a mini-agility course with activities such as hoop jumping. You can also make an obstacle course with some hula hoops and empty cardboard boxes. Encourage your pup through the course with a healthy treat and lots of praise.

Run with your dog — Consider hitting the pavement with your pooch. Dogs make excellent accountability partners for your fitness. If running becomes a habit, they won’t let you forget!

9. Make time to have fun

Even exercise can be fun for dogs. Consider inviting another furry friend to join you so your dog engages socially and physically. They’ll likely have more fun at the dog park if they’re playing in a pack or romping with another dog one-on-one.

Did you know that dogs can develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD) just like humans? The short, cold winter months give your pup fewer hours to play outside and soak up the sunshine. You can mindfully combat SAD by spending ample time outside while the sun is up and placing your pet’s bed in a sunny place in the house. You might also use a dog-friendly vitamin D supplement but consult your vet first. Vitamin D has its uses but can be fatal to dogs in high doses.

10. Use vet-approved supplements

Your vet might suggest nutritional supplements to boost your dog’s energy, especially if the other methods aren’t proving helpful. While supplements can be beneficial, stick to the recommended dosage because excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals may lead to adverse medical issues such as kidney stones. Also, always use a vitamin supplement formulated for dogs, never any human supplements.

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11. Help your pup lose weight

Obesity can affect your dog’s energy levels. If they eat more than they need to without getting adequate exercise, they’ll gain weight, and the extra pounds will make exercising a strenuous task. Additionally, obesity comes with an increased risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and even joint problems. If you want your pet to lose weight, you’ll need to make changes to your pet’s diet and activity level at the same time.

👉 Please don’t put your pet on a diet without consulting a vet first.

Excessive weight gain can also be a sign of an underlying health condition, so you should see your vet if your pet suddenly packs on the pounds with no probable cause.

Frequently asked questions

What can I give my dog to increase energy?

For optimal health, supply your dog with a well-balanced diet, water, exercise, loving attention, and a consistent routine that’s as stress-free as possible. If you’re already doing these things but nothing seems to help, talk to your vet to see if supplements or a change in your dog’s food may be the next best course of action.

Why does my dog have low energy?

There are many possible reasons why your dog may not want to play. They could have a nutritional deficiency, the winter blues, an undiagnosed illness, or sheer boredom. Talk to your vet if their humdrum continues without probable cause or if you notice a sudden change in behavior, such as a seeming inability to move as this can be a sign of a life-threatening illness. 

How do you train a dog with low energy?

Look for ways to engage their mind! Make exercise fun by including yourself in the games, whether that’s playing fetch or running with your dog. Your pup might also enjoy exercising in the dog park with another furry friend to keep them company. 

Why is my dog so lazy?

If the house is quiet and there’s nothing else to do, Fido might decide to lay down and take a nap. Dogs can become bored without mental stimulation. Try to play fetch or take your dog on a walk daily to keep them from becoming too lazy. You might also consider finding new toys to pique their interest while you’re working. If your dog doesn’t want to play or is otherwise acting depressed, you should make an appointment with your vet to make sure they’re feeling well. 

Why is my dog so sleepy?

Dogs need more sleep than humans do, averaging around 12 to 14 hours a day. Older dogs and puppies need even more than that. However, an excessively sleepy dog may be a pet that isn’t getting enough sleep at night, is bored, or has an underlying illness. Talk to your vet if your dog can’t seem to keep their eyes open during the daylight hours.