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Feeding Advice for the Active Dog

Proper Nutrition For Your Working Dog

Dogs that lead a very active lifestyle demand a more comprehensive diet than average dogs require. Examples of these hard-working dogs are those that participate in agility competitions as well as those that team up with law enforcement on a search-and-rescue mission.

These dogs require nutritional needs that are different from an average household pet. Most of these sporting and working dogs participate in intermediate activities as well. These are activities that require low to moderate duration and intensity. Examples include: Competition or agility, service, search and rescue, tracking or hunting, police or guarding, detection, and even managing livestock.

Essential Nutrients For The Canine Athlete

Because your dog is always on the go, you need to provide him with larger doses of food and certain types of nutrients. This is especially important in times when they are most active. A typical working dog would need about 2 – 5  times more calories than a sedentary dog.  These extra calories are converted into energy that helps our canine athletes perform better.

Below are four key nutrients for busy dogs.

1. Carbohydrate: Once your dog reaches adulthood, he has less need for carbohydrates in his diet. Protein is the main building block in the canine diet, however for those dogs who are constantly working, carbohydrate in take should be carefully monitored according to work load.

Working dogs, such as gundogs, need suitable lifestyle related diets

Working dogs, such as gun dogs, need suitable lifestyle related diets

2. Protein: Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks for hormones, tissues, and enzymes. This nutrient provides energy and helps develop muscle mass for extra size and strength. Keep in mind, however, that too much protein in your dog’s diet can lead to excessive protein breakdown. A busy dog should have a diet that includes high-quality protein, enough to provide for muscle and structural repair.

3. Fats: The main source of energy for intermediate athletic dogs comes from fats. This nutrient contains about twice as much energy as carbohydrates and protein provides. Adding more fat to your dog’s diet is the best way to increase his energy and strength. A diet high in fat is more appealing to your dog while at the same time providing him with better endurance. Therefore, it is very important to supply him with adequate amount of essential fatty acids along with saturated and unsaturated fats.

4. Water: A hard-working dog normally loses more water during laborious activity so it is very important to provide him with an ample supply of water to keep him hydrated. This is even more important when your dog is under extreme temperatures (both hot and cold weather).


My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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