Do active dogs need a special diet?

Exercise dog A dog who goes for long runs every day is considered an ‘intermediate athlete’ in that he is not pulling dog sleds all day (most working dog nutritional research is done on these sled dogs), but is more active than the average dog. All dogs require a diet containing balanced quantities of protein, fats and carbohydrates, although the percentages of these changes depending on the dog’s activity level. While human athletes tend to ‘carbo-load’ during training, this has been shown to be less effective in dogs. Fat is much better utilised for energy than carbohydrates by working dogs and many working-dog diets are high in fat.

However, the feeding of active dogs is not a precise science and each dog’s needs vary. It is important to monitor your dog’s body condition regularly. There are many body condition charts available that are easy to use. If your dog is gaining weight on an active diet, a maintenance diet is probably more than enough.

Text: Dr Adi Graiser, River Valley Veterinary Clinic

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