Did you know that feeding your working dogs like athletes could result in fewer injuries and keep them working for longer?
Working dogs are running up to a marathon a day and just like human athletes, we should focus on their nutrition to optimise performance and reduce fatigue. Having said that, dogs need “fat loading” rather than “carbo loading” – their muscles are better designed to use fat than human muscles and carbo loading in dogs causes lactic acid build-up, causing muscle pain and excess panting.
To avoid injuries, they need optimal levels of quality protein – with chicken and egg being the best source. Dogs fed quality protein diets were found to have 8 times fewer injuries than dogs on regular diets. Optimum protein diets strengthen muscles and provide extra benefits such as a better skin barrier.
So they need fat for energy and protein for injuries – can’t we just feed home kill?
While home kill can be considered a wonderful fat and protein supplement, it has many vitamin and mineral deficiencies which is not ideal for overall health and may actually cause some serious health issues. Home kill, brisket or frozen meat mixes can all be considered one thing – high fat, high protein supplements to a quality working dog diet. While these meat products may provide high levels of fat for endurance and protein to reduce injuries, there are many vitamins that are affected by the freeze-thaw process. Freezing meat is an important step in preventing the spread of sheep measles and Neospora but it can affect the quality of the meat.
Feeding a high quality, balanced diet allows more nutrients to be absorbed, meaning more benefit for the dog over a poorer quality diet. Feeding straight after exercise can improve the muscle repair and energy storage for the following day – allowing for better recovery and less fatigue. There should also be at least 8 hours between the meal and work to avoid stomach discomfort, vomiting and possibly bloat.
Pre-season conditioning has become important. Studies have shown that feeding a high fat diet 8 weeks before periods of increased demand enhances fat burning by 20-30% which improves performance and reduces fatigue.
Working dog diets vary massively in the quantity and quality of the protein they contain. What our working dogs eat is of vital importance to their working capacity, health and longevity.
If you would like further information please contact your local Anexa Vet Clinic.