The best food for active and working dogs

If you’ve an active dog, whether it be one that simply shares your active lifestyle on runs and walks, or if it its a working dog on the farm, its important to make sure they get the best diet. Active dogs need specific nutrition to provide the energy levels required for their most demanding tasks, and also to help regenerate their muscles from repetitive strain on their bodies.

So what is the best diet for active dogs?

A diet with plenty of easily digested fats, loads of high quality raw animal proteins, some low GI carbs, soft raw bones with attached cartilage, and a weekly bone fast is a great balanced diet to keep your working dog in tip top condition.

When it comes to providing fuel for activity, it has been assumed that carbohydrates are a good source of energy. The liver does store a fuel source called Glycogen, which is called upon for immediate energy needs, but the reality is, fat is by far the best and most efficient source of fuel for working dogs.

Fat is easily burned by the body and converted into fuel, and yields approximately 2.5 times as much energy, gram for gram, as either carbohydrate or protein.

To fuel up an active dog, you need to feed them fat

Animal fats work just fine, but you can also use coconut oil, which is cheap, clean, and carries some additional significant health benefits. The basic food for sledding dogs on the Iditarod race is a liquid mush of almost pure animal fats, oils, and organ meats.

Protein is also very important for active dogs

Protein provides all the critical biochemical factors – vitamins, enzymes, co-factors and of course, body muscle that working dogs need. The best way to utilise dietary protein, is to make sure there is enough fat in the diet to fuel the body, leaving the protein available for the most important bodily repair jobs.

Repair mechanisms for active dogs.

Active dogs sustain repetitive micro injuries during the work they do, and the body needs to be able to switch on the repair mechanisms every night. Dietary supplements like dietary glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate assist with bone, cartilage, ligament and all soft tissue repairs in working dogs.

It has been demonstrated that the body actually kicks into maximal repair mode when it is fasting, so including a ‘bone fast’ on Sunday, as I do, is a critical part of the overall maintenance of working dogs.

Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.

Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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