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Working dogs need proper nutrition

Brandon White, Territory Sales Manager, Victor Super Premium Pet Food 8/7/2019


Because of their activity levels, working dogs naturally require more caloric intake than a regular family pet. Their diet needs to consist of high-quality, highly digestible ingredients as well as higher levels of vitamin C and optimal levels of fat for fuel.
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Training, exercise, and correct nutrition are essential to optimal performance in working dogs. Food is fuel, and working dogs will run far better and avoid fatigue on a premium, highly digestible diet designed to keep the muscles working and the blood flowing.

Working dog breeds are typically strong, agile, and enduring. However, they may run greater risks of injury and stress. Promoting healthy growth through an appropriate diet starting as puppies allows adult working dogs to develop strong bones and joints and a well-muscled frame. Strong neck and shoulder muscles allow for greater lung capacity, better endurance, and necessary power for duties or sporting activities. Sensible feeding may not prevent injury but may reduce incidences or alleviate symptoms.

A strong, healthy body with an equally strong, healthy immune system has greater healing capacity, too. For working dogs, the immune, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems are stressed during prolonged physical exertion. Mental health also should not be overlooked, and the nervous system may benefit from nutritional support to help promote alertness and improve concentration levels.

All dogs require a balanced diet that provides sufficient energy for the work they are bred to do. Naturally, a working dog will require more calories than a family pet. For peak performance, the diet must not only provide fuel for energy but also optimal levels of essential nutrients the body requires to function efficiently.

The energy requirement of working dogs depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise as well as environmental conditions. Energy-dense foods allow increased nutritional demands to be met during the season without having to give feed that takes longer to digest and metabolize.

Fats contain twice the energy of either proteins or carbohydrates, and studies on canine endurance athletes have shown that fats improve endurance. In dogs, 70-90 percent of the energy comes from fat metabolism and only a small amount from carbohydrates. This is why it’s important to provide optimal levels of high-quality fat for fuel.

Protein is a crucial nutrient and again must be highly digestible. Chicken has one of the highest biological values, meaning that it’s easily broken down to support the body’s structural and functional demands.

Working dogs may also benefit from functional ingredients such as natural antioxidants. The adverse affects of stress on both human and canine health are often underrated. Working dogs are particularly subject to physical stress due to the demands of their sport. When the body is under stress, free radicals are released. Antioxidants work against these potentially harmful effects.

Moderate levels of carbohydrates are needed for working dogs to promote sustained energy. Human athletes often dramatically increase carbohydrate intake to improve the availability of glycogen for anaerobic energy metabolism in muscles. Studies have concluded that such glycogen loading is ineffective in canines.

High-performance dogs require higher levels of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin, due to increased demands resultant from oxidative stress, so make sure your working dog’s diet includes an optimal level.

Complete commercial diets are the most popular for working dogs due to their convenience and economy. It’s an absolute must, however, to ensure only high-quality, highly digestible ingredients are incorporated into the working dog’s diet.

More information about choosing the right food for your working dog is online at Visit your local Co-op to pick up a bag of Victor Super Premium Pet Food.

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