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Tips for Pet Health and Wellness From Instagram’s Favorite Golden Retriever

Courtney and Tucker Budzyn | @tuckerbudzyn and @mrsbudzyn

Courtney Budzyn, owner of Instagram-famous golden retriever Tucker Budzyn, discusses her strategies and tips for keeping her beloved pups happy and healthy.

How has Tucker’s platform affected both of your lives?

It’s changed our lives completely! When I first started posting to Instagram, I had no idea that we could make a living out of it. After about six months, we realized this could be supplemental to our income. Tucker’s page just exploded over the course of a year, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In 2019, I got really sick with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). I couldn’t work a normal job anymore, and because my fainting episodes were happening so often, being home alone was not really an option. With our social media earnings, my husband was able to quit his engineering job to be home with me, and we made Tucker’s social media our full-time job while I focused on healing. It was truly such a blessing. 

Tucker fans are quite literally the kindest people on the planet. The DMs we get often have me in tears. Tucker has become more than a “dog influencer” to them. To Tucker’s fans, he is their dog, too. Every day we get messages from those who suffer from anxiety or depression saying that Tucker has helped them smile after a bad day or helped calm their panic attack. This means so much to me because that’s the main reason we started sharing him with the world to begin with. Something about Tucker is just so healing and comforting. He has truly become the world’s online therapy dog.

What factors do you consider when selecting food options for Tucker, and what are some of the top ingredients that you look out for?

Tucker is on a fully raw biologically appropriate diet. We really try our best to keep things as close to nature as possible. A quote I love and live by is, “The farther you get from nature, the closer you get to disease.” We look for high-quality proteins that have been minimally processed and supplement with whole foods instead of synthetic vitamin mixes. There are a lot of really great pre-balanced raw diets out there, but our favorite is Viva Raw Pets. Diet is a tough one with dogs because it can be insanely expensive. However, if I couldn’t feed him a raw diet, I would feed him a gently cooked whole foods diet and absolutely avoid kibble brands that list things like corn in their ingredient list. We love to supplement with stuff we have on hand at home, too — spinach, broccoli, blueberries, etc. We also love using goat’s milk, probiotics, and CBD for inflammation and overall wellness.

Tucker is actually releasing a CBD product called Tucker’s Gold this coming June that contains both turmeric and ashwagandha. Both are superfoods and have many benefits along with the CBD itself. We’ve partnered with one of the top brands in CBD, King Kanine, to ensure the best quality on the market, and we’re so excited to launch it!

What strategies do you use to ensure Tucker maintains a healthy weight and avoids overeating?

Both Tucker and Todd (@toddbudzyn) are pretty active boys. They go for daily jogs with my husband, and during the summer months, they swim a lot, which is a fantastic exercise that’s gentle on their joints. We always keep an eye on their waistlines. A great way to tell if your dog is overweight is to look at their shape from above. If there is no tuck in the waist, it’s time to cut back on their food. 

How do you incorporate physical activity and exercise into Tucker’s daily routine?

Every day my husband straps on his rollerblades and takes the boys around the big block in our subdivision. They love to jog at their own pace and sniff everything along the way. Tucker and Todd also get great exercise just playing and wrestling around the backyard together. In the summer they swim their hearts out in the pool, and in the winter we love going for snowy hikes in the woods.

How do you prioritize mental stimulation and enrichment activities for Tucker’s overall wellness?

We absolutely love lick mats as a source of mental stimulation. We add some of their food to it and freeze it, and it keeps them busy for a good 45 minutes. The Tucker-branded lick mats are one of our fans’ favorite Tucker products because they are not easily destroyed.

The act of licking is actually extremely calming for a dog, so we often use lick mats when trimming the boys’ nails or when we have company over. We also love using a flirt pole to engage their natural prey drive. On bad weather days, we engage their noses by hiding treats around the house and then have them search until they find them all. They love to use their nose this way, and they are often super wiped out afterward.

What advice do you have for pet owners on building a strong relationship with their veterinarian and staying proactive about their dog’s health?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If a vet isn’t willing to explain something to you, find a vet that you feel comfortable with. We feel so at ease with our vet because she is willing to explain things to us in a way that’s easy to understand, and she truly listens to our concerns.

As far as being proactive, we get yearly blood and stool tests done to stay on top of any changes that may happen. We also use food as medicine and try to prevent things before they happen.

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