Having a dog in New York is unlike having a dog anywhere else. We’ve all adapted our lives for them, but sometimes we forget that they are having to adapt their lives to us as well.
Whether that’s restricted space in our apartment, a lack of natural surfaces beneath their paws, or dealing with the hustle and bustle of busy streets, our dogs become pros at living here too.
They get so good at it that it’s easy to forget that their needs are not identical to those of dogs outside of cities. Living in a city poses unique challenges to their nutrition. We wanted to break down those nutrition gaps, talk about why they exist and give you the tools you need to get things going together.
Pounding The Pavement
The streets here are famous...but not for being clean. While the concrete does act as a natural nail file for your dog, it is also home to some of the highest concentrations of bacteria and pathogens (thanks street-side garbage!). You know that litter is everywhere--your dog has made you well aware of just how much trash they can pick up in a single walk.
Their paws on the pavement are also exposed to more bacteria that they are then tracking home. If they lick their paws, they’re ingesting it. It’s why wiping their paws as soon as you get in the door is so important. On top of that, in the winter, the salts used on the sidewalks can cause a chemical burn on their paws. Dog booties are not just an accessory in this city, they are a necessity.
And then there’s the unyielding pavement isn’t so fun for dogs with stiff joints or growing bones, so finding “softer” environments for them to walk on can help alleviate pain. (i.e. grass and green space if you can find and make time for it)
That Bacteria Tho
Those dirty streets are why keeping your dog’s immune system strong is so important. It’s key to fighting off infections, getting rid of pathogens, and keeping your dog stable and healthy.
It sounds simple, but the best way to help them keep their systems strong is to feed good food. Whether that’s adding some blueberries for boosted antioxidants, raw goat milk for live probiotics, or ultra-healing-immunity-boosting bone broth, small tweaks can make a big difference. A highly-processed diet is not ideal for whole-body health. What you put in the bowl has a direct effect on their immune system, so pack it full of the good stuff.
City Stress Factor
We know this: this city is noisy. Car alarms, sirens, crowds, construction sites, the list could go on and on. Our dogs are reacting to everything, especially those skateboards that are creeping up behind them. Add that to the overwhelming smells of this city, sudden movements, unplanned changes in their schedule, and there we have the perfect recipe for stress.
We’ve already gone into detail on how to de-stress your city dog. Remember, stress directly impacts their health both mentally and physically.
Half The Game Is Mental
Boredom is the harbinger of unwanted behaviors. City dogs tend to stick to the same places, and while the people and smells are rotating constantly, there is a lack of unique mental stimulation based on changing environments. So switch it up!
We tend to be creatures of habit, but changing your walk route can be key to keeping your dog stimulated and sniffing out their environment.
You don’t have to head upstate to see trees either! If Central or Prospect Park isn’t your place, check out the Inwood Hill Park, the only natural forest in the city.
For indoor activities, check out our favorite puzzle toys to keep them calm, cool, and not chewing on the couch:
Dogs are social creatures. They are so social, they make us more social too. A perk of living in this city is that our dogs tend to be better socialized because of their constant exposure to people and other pets. It’s easier to find friends at the dog run than in a backyard.
Making time for socialization is so important to your dog’s overall quality of life. Puppy playdates, attending meet-ups in your local park, or even doing a doggie daycare once a week can help your dog play nice with others. Plus, making new friends is exhausting.
The benefits of that wild city life
While living here might not be ideal, there are plenty of benefits from living in a city full of dog lovers. The sheer concentration of dog-dedicated services is testament to that. Whether its your favorite dog walker, the vets office right around the corner, their groomer that never charges you extra for nail trims, or their daycare that will always find a way to squeeze them in last minute.
Our dogs are exposed to new people, new sights, new smells on the daily! It’s super easy to socialize your dog in the city, people will constantly approach them (and sometimes remember that you’re there too) for pets, pictures, and cuddles.
We’re with our dogs all the time. Every walk is supervised - It’s why we tend to notice changes so much faster and can identify health problems that would be passed by if they were allowed to run around the backyard unsupervised.
Look, having a dog in the city is challenging especially when the city just wasn’t made for them. But let’a face it: it’s worth it. They’ve made our lives infinitely better (i.e. couch time after a long, horrible day at work). With a little planning, we can improve their lives too.