Highly active, working or sporting dogs have different requirements than the average pet. Read our advice on how to make sure these needs are met!
Is your dog always on the go? Will he or she happily join you on an all-day
hike or perhaps regularly take part in canine competitions and sporting
activities? Make sure their diet is providing all they need for optimal health and longevity.
Naturally, active dogs will utilise more calories and
nutrients than more sedentary pets. Feeding them an energy dense diet means that increased
nutritional demands can be met without having to feed copious volumes of food
that take longer to digest and metabolise.
The ideal diet will not only provide fuel for energy, but
optimal levels of the essential nutrients that the body requires to function
efficiently. It is not simply a case of ‘adding
more fuel to the rocket’. Therefore the ‘balance’
of energy supplied should also be considered.
Energy balance - The role of fats, protein and carbs
The energy necessary for endurance is derived from
predominantly aerobic metabolism, which requires a good level of quality
dietary fat. Fat is an especially important nutrient in the active or
sporting dog’s diet because it is a concentrated source of fuel (1gram of fat supplies more
than double the calories of one gram of protein or carbohydrate).
Protein of a high biological value is necessary for tissue
growth and replacement. Studies have suggested that higher protein diets may
reduce susceptibility to injury*. However, excessive levels of
protein have no benefit.
Chicken and egg are great sources of protein as they are
easily broken down into the constituent amino acids necessary to support the
structural and functional demands of the body. Both are included in the Arden
Grange Prestige and Performance foods.
When a dog is sprinting, there is a shift towards anaerobic
metabolism and this is supported by the carbohydrate in the diet. The provision
of the correct balance of all these key nutrients is therefore important. Whilst dogs don’t
have a specific requirement for carbohydrate, they do need glucose, which is
most easily and efficiently obtained from carbs.
Digestibility and immunity
Proper nutrition helps the digestive system work efficiently.
It allows the immune system to focus on its primary protective role, without
being waylaid by ingredients that hinder the metabolism, are poorly digested or
likely to provoke allergic responses, ‘upsetting’ the digestion and requiring more
effort to be properly assimilated.
A strong and healthy body which is protected by an equally
strong and healthy immune system has greater healing capacity too.
Protection given by supportive supplements
The active dog will benefit from nutrients that help to
protect against additional stresses imposed upon the bodily systems. When the
body is under stress, potentially harmful free radicals are released. Antioxidants,
if present in the diet in sufficient volume, may help to combat their effects.
The immune, cardiovascular and musculo-skeletal systems are
under particular stress during any period of prolonged physical exertion.
Sensible levels of supplementary ingredients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty
acids, joint supplements and chelated minerals are ideal. Examples of such ingredients contained within all the Arden
Grange diets, are:
- Krill – a very good source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA
and DHA which have anti-inflammatory properties.
MSM – a form of organic sulphur which also has
anti-inflammatory properties and may improve mental alertness by increasing the
availability of oxygen to the body and brain.
Glucosamine and chondroitin – to support the joints.
Cranberries – for their antioxidant properties and for
urinary tract support.
Prebiotics FOS & MOS and nucleotides – to support the
digestive and immune function.
Injury may not be preventable by sensible feeding, but incidences may be reduced or symptoms alleviated by the provision of optimal
We recommend: Arden Grange Performance
Arden Grange Performance is a great option for more periodically
active dogs or those competing in agility, flyball or canicross due to its
unique blend of antioxidants. A combination of quercetin, green tea and grape
seed extract*** may help protect against free radical damage. Also included it
L-carnitine, which aids the metabolism of fat, and taurine to support the
We recommend: Arden Grange Prestige
Arden Grange Prestige is a calorie dense food ideal for
periods when high levels of endurance/stamina are needed. This concentrated
diet enables the provision of the extra calories needed during prolonged periods
of activity or heavy work without overloading the digestion.
Water is a critical nutrient and used as a solvent,
transport medium and lubricant. If the body’s hydration status is not
maintained, then athletic performance is quickly impaired. As well as ensuring
clean drinking water is readily available, try feeding kibble lightly soaked
for about 30 minutes prior to serving, to ensure that your active dog’s
increased requirement for water is met.
Excerpts from the Arden Grange nutrition fact sheets By Ness
Bird - Nutrition Adviser and RVN CertCFVHNut ©
**[Altom et al, 2003].
***Although grapes are toxic to dogs, grape seed extract is
harmless. The toxic substance in grapes is water soluble and thus found in the
flesh/skin of the grape and not the seed.