Eat, sleep, play, love: four pillars of shared wellness for you and your dog

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Sarah Pollard
woman in park holding black and white puppy

Humans and dogs may be two very different species, but the special bond we share with our pups is like no other. If you’ve ever shared a look and an unspoken understanding with your dog, you’ll know exactly what we mean.  

Beyond the emotional bond, our lives are intertwined with our dogs on many levels. We share our routines, our secrets and even our beds with them, but there are also so many health parallels between you and your dog that can help you both lead healthy and fulfilling lives together. 

We're beginning to understand that healthiness isn’t limited to our genetic lottery, it relies on a positive relationship between key determinants in our life: good nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise and a sense of purpose and belonging. The same goes for our dogs.   

human and dog shared wellness pie chart

A fresh and balanced diet for optimal nutrition 

Humans are omnivores that thrive on a healthy diet including high-quality protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.  

Modern-day dogs are described as carni-omnivores, as they prefer a carnivorous diet but can benefit from phytonutrients in plants.  

Although we have different nutritional requirements, we overlap when it comes to a high-quality, minimally processed diet.   

The best food for humans and dogs contains a balance of wholefood ingredients chock-full of natural nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body. 

“A low carbohydrate, quality protein, microbiome-friendly diet, rich in omega-3s and diverse in colourful fruit and veg is not just describing the Mediterranean diet, one of the healthiest diets on the planet, but also the diet holistic vets and researchers like the DogRisk project are recommending for dogs all around the world"
— Dr. Matthew Muir, Integrative Veterinarian and Lyka co-founder 

nutrition for humans and dogs shopping list

Don’t forget!

Portion control: Serve the right proportions of macro and micronutrients in a controlled portion to maintain weight and optimal health benefits for you and your dog. 

Supplements: Do you take multivitamins or other supplements to boost your health? Dogs can benefit from supplements for targeted and preventative care too.  

Hydration: Up to 60% of our body is water and up to 70% for dogs. Drinking fresh water throughout the day keeps you and your pup hydrated, so does a fresh, lightly cooked diet like Lyka.  

Regular exercise for fit bodies and alert minds 

Staying active keeps our joints moving, gives us a boost of energy, improves heart and lung health and releases endorphins that improve our mood and wellbeing.  

Together with a carefully considered diet, it helps to manage weight and our blood sugar levels, warding off obesity and the risk of developing diabetes.  

It’s exactly the same for our dogs! Depending on their breed, they need between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise per day. Mix up the type of exercise you both get to keep things interesting: 

Walking: 6,000 to 10,000 steps per day can improve your health and quality of life. Walking with your dog is a different stimulation than playing at an off-leash dog park. It’s a great way to strengthen your bond and reinforce on-leash training.  

Running: Raise heart rates and improve your mutual fitness by going for a run. Try using a harness and a running leash that connects around your waist for a hands-free jog.  A morning run is a great way to start the day for you both and develops the trust between you as you navigate the route together at pace.  

Activity: We might destress by engaging in activities like gardening or going for a long walk to smell the roses. Your dog does too!  Try going for a sniffari with your dog instead of your usual walk. Let them lead the way as they follow scent trails and new paths – it’s a great way to engage their brain and relieve any anxiety. 

Swimming: Low-impact and excellent for all-round fitness, swimming is great for dogs and humans. It’s particularly good for overweight or arthritic pups because it takes the stress off their joints. Gradually introduce your dog to water at an early age to help them become confident swimmers.  

Deep sleep and relaxation for a full recovery 

Humans need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to allow our body and brain to recover. If we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating and memory loss. It’s also been linked to depression and other mental health problems.  

Dogs need up to 16 hours depending on breed, and puppies need up to 20 hours. Their need for sleep is also connected to their learning capacity and recall and for stabilised moods.  

The quality of sleep is just as important as length for both humans and dogs. Deep REM sleep is characterised by relaxed muscles and elevated brain function. It’s thought that REM sleep plays a central role in brain development, emotional processing and memory. It’s also the time when you— and your dog — experience vivid dreams.  

There’s no way to tell if your pup is dreaming about playing with you, tasty treats or chasing the neighbour’s cat, but it’s thought that your dog dreams to process their day, just like us.  

Do you sleep with your dog? There’s no judgement from us if you do!  

Sharing a bed with your dog can provide warmth and affection, and their regular breathing may lull you to sleep. But if they take up too much space, snore or reposition with a shake measurable on the Richter scale, it might be affecting your quality of sleep. It’s up to you to decide whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. 

Both dogs and humans need to have time to relax and unwind.  

Ok, so you might not think your furry freeloader experiences any stress to warrant downtime, but our sensitive pups need time to nap and relax so they don’t become anxious.  

Provide them with a peaceful space to lie down so they can rest without being disturbed — especially if you have a busy and noisy environment. 

A pack or a tribe for love and belonging 

Our family, friends and community are our tribe: it’s where we feel love and companionship and it gives us purpose and a sense of belonging.  

Dogs are pack animals too: they might not roam in large groups like their wolf ancestors, but they need to belong to a family. With a juvenile maturity level, dogs also need calm leadership to guide behaviour. Their unwavering loyalty to us as their pack leaders is one of the reasons we love our dogs so much. 

All dogs need to be socialised from an early age. Done properly and with careful supervision, socialisation gives your pup the chance to meet other dogs of different breeds, sizes, ages, personalities and energy levels. It lets them explore their natural instincts and interact as they would in a pack. 

Lyka: it’s about thriving — not just surviving 

The parallels between humans and dogs are a powerful reminder of the connection that exists between us. When we recognise what’s healthy for us, it helps us understand what’s good for our dogs, which flows into a holistic partnership of shared wellness.  

Our dogs trust us implicitly for every aspect of their life, especially their health and nutrition. Next time you’re tucking into a deliciously balanced meal full of protein, fresh vegetables and fruit, is your dog salivating over their food...or yours?  

Lyka’s recipe line-up provides your dog with gently cooked, real food meals (like yours) for optimal nourishment. 

They might be our furry, four-legged friends, but they’re not that different from us, after all. 

This article was reviewed by Lyka's veterinary and nutrition experts

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