Food and Exercises to Keep Pets Healthy

Sammamish resident Tara Slinn is a longtime pug mom. Fifteen years ago, she adopted two pugs named Onyx and Snickers, both of whom — she discovered after a few years — were overweight.

“I talked with my vet who said the biggest thing I could do to get my dogs to a healthy weight was portion control, along with more walks and fewer treats,” Slinn said.

After extensive research on dog food — which included a spreadsheet of the top 15 brands to compare ingredients and nutrients — Slinn discovered Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, a Tukwila-based company that sells raw, all-natural food for dogs and cats that is gluten free, wheat free, and that provides complete and balanced nutrition in custom sizes delivered for free to your front door on a regular schedule.

“Six months after I switched to Darwin’s, Snickers went from 36 pounds down to 26 pounds,” Slinn said. “Onyx went from 25 pounds to 18 pounds. They shed less and their coats completely changed; everyone would comment on how soft they were.”

More than half of pets in the U.S. are overweight, according to a 2018 Pet Obesity Survey, which is not all that surprising, Slinn said, if you look at the ingredients of traditional kibble. She credits the switch to Darwin’s early on to the fact that her pugs lived such long and healthy lives: Onyx died at 14 and Snickers will turn 15 in May.

Slinn said that, of all the dog food brands, she chose Darwin’s because “it is local, and it delivers. I also researched the percentage of meat to vegetables to bone and Darwin’s was the best one.”

With so much time now at home — and with all of us having extra eyes on our four-legged friends as we quarantine with them — it could be a good time to make sure they’re healthy and take extra steps to do so. Switching up their food, like Slinn said, could make a big difference. You can also opt for natural, healthy dog treats, like bananas, carrots, broccoli, jerky, apples, green beans, snap peas, and blueberries in moderation.

If you’re finding it harder to get out for walks than usual — we’re feeling tethered to our desks working from home, too — you can also check out the Dog Calorie Calculator, which suggests how much food your pet needs based on weight and activity levels, and shows how long their food supplies will last based on that. The calculator also has some suggestions on indoor activities to keep dogs healthy.

“In this time of isolation, we tend to spoil our pups by overfeeding them,” said Maria Kluziak, one of the creators of the tool. “Let’s show them some love by keeping them healthy.”

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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