Nutritional trends for highly active dogs

What do you feed your sporting dog? He may wolf down any brand of dog food, but is it what he needs as a canine athlete?

For any dog owner – whether yours is a family pet, furbaby or a sporting companion – nutrition forms the cornerstone of your dog’s health and wellbeing. Understanding good canine nutrition is important for good health.

Lifestyle and diet

When choosing the best diet for your dog, you need to consider his age and size. A puppy will transition to adult dog food at about one year of age for small and medium breeds, and one-and-a-half years of age for large and giant breeds. We also need to consider the dog’s lifestyle and energy levels. Working and sporting dogs need additional energy and, depending on the type and duration of the sport, the amount of energy required can far surpass that of the average pet dog.

The need for high-performance diets can also be seasonal, depending on when the dog trains and competes and requires the additional kilojoules. Overfeeding can cause weight gain, which in turn increases the dog’s risk for injury, so it is important to consider when a decrease or change in diet is required.

Necessary nutrition

Dominique Kuhlmann, general manager for the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), says that to a large degree, the quality of the nutritional intake directly correlates to the energy output. “Much like in humans, a clean, nutrient-dense diet will result in an animal who is in peak condition, which is essential for optimal performance,” she explains. “A canine athlete requires a healthy, complete, nutrient- and calorie-dense diet, to meet the physical demands placed on his body to perform in an athletic environment.”

Dominique says that good-quality sources of protein and fat, in higher quantities, are important for canine athletes, as is water, to ensure optimal functioning of the body. “Fat being the most concentrated form of calories and the body’s primary source of energy; and protein being the building blocks of muscle and body tissue, and the body’s alternative source of energy, especially in the absence of sufficient fat or carbohydrates,” says Dominique.

International trends

Vibe Borregaard Madsen, Springer Spaniel breeder and Nordics country manager for Wellness CORE dog food and Whimzees dental hygiene products for dogs, says that CORE natural pet foods contain no artificial ingredients or additives. Products are made using only fresh and wholefood ingredients and are formulated to deliver essential nutrition in a minimally processed form.

“Grains are included among the common allergies for dogs, which can contribute to skin and coat issues or digestive upsets, and some grains are also highly processed with low nutritional value. We’ve replaced all grains and cheap fillers with more high-quality animal proteins like fresh turkey or salmon, vegetables and super-fruits. This results in easily digestible recipes and better nutrition adapted to a sporting dog’s needs. Our Active Life with Chicken & Turkey supports the additional energy needs of high-performance and active dogs.”

What should owners look out for when choosing a food product for an active dog? Vibe responds: “Look carefully at the key ingredients and the composition. The product should contain excellent sources of high-quality protein, fatty acids and fibre and be rich in omega-3, in order to support your sporting dog’s needs. The composition reveals the truth of the product. Make sure that actual meat is the first ingredient. You should also make sure that the product contains a high amount of both protein and fat.”

Dehydration in dogs

Water is an important part of good nutrition. All dogs require access to fresh water, a precious resource that plays an important role in your dog’s overall health and wellness. Water is essential for a healthy digestive system, absorption of nutrients, elimination of waste and maintaining body temperature. Water even helps to lubricate and cushion the joints to make movement easier.

Dogs sweat through their paw pads and also lose fluids through panting. Without water, a dog will become dehydrated and, if left untreated, dehydration can cause damage to internal organs. In serious cases, dehydration can lead to death.

When your dog competes in various sporting disciplines, you need to ensure that he takes in adequate amounts of water throughout the day. Also provide shade for resting between events to avoid overheating.

#Trends On the international market, there are several hydration and energy products formulated for dogs. These products support proper fluid balance and replenish electrolytes and important vitamins and minerals for use before and during exercise, when additional energy is required. They are advocated for sporting and high-performance dogs.

Signs of dehydration
* Panting

* Lethargy

* No appetite

* Vomiting (with or without diarrhoea)

* Poor skin elasticity

* Dry nose

* Eyes look dry, sunken

* Dry gums, thick salvia

* Unsteady on feet

If your dog shows signs of dehydration, see your vet immediately. He may prescribe an oral hydration product, or your dog may need to receive fluids intravenously.


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