Feed Your Performance or Working Dog What Works!

Some dogs sit around and live a life of relaxation.  They go for an occasional walk, chase an occasional ball, take an occasional jaunt around the backyard with the kids.  Others, have more on the agenda!  Many of our canine companions take part in activities that require stamina, energy and spark. Whether agility, lure coursing, sled pulling or police work, dogs with jobs and extracurricular activities, occasionally need a little oomph.

Diet makes a huge difference in the ability of our canine companions to perform well, have increased stamina and be at their absolute best.  Of course diet makes a huge difference in ANY dog, even the constant couch potatoes.  For active working animals, it becomes possibly the single most important aspect of their training.  Poor or inappropriate diet, can make your dog more vulnerable to injury and most certainly will affect his performance overall.  This proposal was bolstered by a study done by veterinarians at the University of Florida and subsequently published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research.  The study consisted of feeding greyhounds either a high protein, high fat food or a low protein low fat food.  At the conclusion of the study, it was found that “racing greyhounds ran faster when fed a diet containing higher fat and protein and lower carbohydrate contents.”  Your dog does not have to be a greyhound nor a racer for these conclusions to hold true.  Quality food means energy – its that simple. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1566–1573)

A raw natural diet offers your dog the building blocks that he needs to do his best and to be healthy enough to do anything.  Dogs who eat foods with higher protein levels are less likely to be injured in training and therefore in competition or the working environment. (www.workingretriever.com)  Dogs rely on protein and fats as the basis of their diet.  If they are being fed kibble they don’t get either in an optimal form and often receive more carbohydrates than anything else.  This is not good for a dog who is expected to perform in whatever capacity.  Raw foods offer quality proteins that are highly usable and easily digestible.  They give your dog the energy he needs to do his ‘job’.

One of the best foods to feed prior to working your dog in any manner, is beef.  While you can purchase lean beef, its almost easier to get the higher fat type.  Add to that the fact that beef is one of the most complete proteins you can find and we have a winner.  The amino acid score for food, which measures the amount of amino acids in the food as compared to the need for the amino acids, gives beef high marks.  Any number over 100 is considered a quality protein, but beef comes in at a whopping 142.  Chicken and turkey are right behind at 129 and 139 respectively.  While close, beef has other features that make it just a bit better.

High in iron, beef is a great food to counteract the rigors of exercise and to give your dog a bit of a winning edge.  Even a slight iron deficiency can cause fatigue in a dog (or human!)  Red meat, such as beef, keeps that iron level exactly where it should be and allows the dog to go longer without a dip in iron which can result in tiring more easily.  Low iron can also be a factor in mental as well as motor skills, and can impair a body from doing physical work.   Iron helps muscles to store and utilize oxygen, and in its capacity as a part of hemoglobin, iron is instrumental in helping blood carry oxygen to the rest of the body. Taken as a whole, iron is one of THE most important nutrients that a body needs in order to function at its highest level.

While it is raw food in general that will make your active performance or working dog able to work to their full potential, beef will give them the added edge. When you are preparing for an upcoming agility or lure coursing trial, feed your dog a little extra beef to prepare him.  If you know that their energy may be sapped, it only makes sense to build them up previously to make sure that they don’t lose their edge – its a head start that most of the other dogs around won’t have and perfectly legal!  No cheating involved!