Live Better

Keep your dog’s tail wagging with Dr. Chris Brown

Dr Chris Brown's advice - Just like you, diet and exercise is key to your dog’s health and happiness

Keeping your dog happy and healthy

Medibank’s Pet Insurance Ambassador, Dr Chris Brown provides the following advice on feeding your dog and exercising safely.

What to feed your dog

Dogs are carnivores, so they need a high level of meat in their diet to provide them with most of the nutrients they need. Carbohydrates for extra energy, fats, vitamins and minerals are also crucial if you want a happy and healthy pet. There are many dog foods available that have the exact requirements calculated and precisely incorporated into the foods. Whether you feed your dog dry or wet food or even a combination, it’s important to use a food that is suited to your dog’s age and size.

Speak to your vet and do some research around your dog’s dietary needs.

Foods to avoid

There are some foods that should be off the menu – here are some of the important ones to avoid:

Chocolate – is toxic and will cause vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness which can progress to seizures, heart failure and even death.

Onions – will cause serious anaemia (lack of red blood cells) in dogs if eaten in excess.

Cooked bones – can splinter and require surgery to remove.

Nuts – are high in fat and will cause gut upsets and even liver and pancreas problems if eaten. Macadamia nuts are the most toxic of all.

Spicy food – is generally too rich for dogs and can cause stomach upsets.

How often to feed your dog

This varies with age, generally vets recommend:

  •  at 6-12 weeks: 4 times a day
  • at 12-24 weeks: 3 times a day
  • at 24 weeks – 12 months: 2 times a day
  • at 12 months onwards: this can drop to once a day, depending on your dog’s needs.

Treats and bones

Treats are a great way of showing your dog how much you care and help with training. It’s a good idea to make sure they are low in fat and ensure you feed them a little less for dinner.

Bones can be an important part of your dog’s diet. They keep their teeth clean and fun for chewing – but you should only ever feed your dog raw bones. Raw chicken wings are a good way to start from 12 weeks of age.


Dogs need regular exercise to regulate their weight and to keep their heart in peak condition. Most dogs need to get out of the house at least once or twice a day for some rigorous physical activity.

Keeping your dog’s exercise safe

Keep chasing balls and frisbees to a minimum.

The twisting and turning and stopping and starting movements can put enormous strain on your dog’s body, especially in the hips, knees and elbows. This can lead to the early onset of arthritis, from 5 years of age.

Never throw sticks for your dog to chase.

There is a significant risk of the stick splintering and causing damage to your dog’s neck, mouth or stomach. Hard wearing rubber balls (large enough so they cannot be swallowed) are a much safer alternative.

Dogs don’t sweat

They lose most of their body heat by panting. It’s a good idea to provide some cool water during and especially after exercise as well as finding shade and a cool spot to rest in warm conditions.

The information contained in this guide is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional veterinarian advice. Dr Chris Brown is a practicing vet and author of two books, “The Family Guide to Pets” (2005) and “Tales from a Bondi Vet” (2009)”. Content contained in this guide was sourced from “The Family Guide to Pets” and is reproduced with kind permission of Dr Chris Brown.

Advice from Dr Chris Brown – Just like you, diet and exercise is key to your dog’s health and happiness.

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