Archive for Nutrition
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Without the right diet, your dog won’t perform as well as he could. When you are training your dog for endurance, it’s important to keep an eye on what he is eating. This doesn’t just mean ensuring he consumes the right foods, but also making sure that he eats at the appropriate time.
If your dog is in good health prior to racing, there shouldn’t be any need to change his diet too much. Just keep an eye on his body condition and if he’s burning up too many calories and is looking a bit lean, you may need to switch him to an “active dog” formula.
It’s easiest to feed your canine athlete a nutritionally balanced commercial diet, so you know he’s getting the right nutrients in the right balance. This is particularly true when his energy needs increase with exercise. Don’t just feed him more food, this will certainly give him more calories but it will also give him more of everything else which he may not need. An “active dog” recipe will have extra fat content for energy but still contain the right balance of other nutrients.
If you want to create a home-made diet, consult your veterinary nutritionist beforehand to make sure it’s going to support his exercise levels. It’s not easy to formulate a balanced home cooked meal plan, especially when your dog needs to not only maintain his body during exercise but to help it recover afterwards.
There is no doubt that a dog can make a great running companion and sometimes is the best personal trainer an athlete can have. As these canines are happy to exercise over longer distances and times, it is important they maintain a steady weight so as not to put any undue strain on their joints. This is particularly true for breeds prone to joint dysplasia, such as Border Collies and German Shepherds.
Obviously, daily running or hiking will provide a dog with an opportunity for great exercise and this will have an enormous health benefit as long as the animal has been properly trained up in the first place. Having undergone a thorough examination by the vet, it is best to start the dog off with an activity such as walking at a modest pace over a short distance, gradually increasing the speed and distance over a period of time. This allows the dog to build up both confidence and stamina.
On Sunday 18 March 2012 Audrey and I did something no-one else in Brisbane has done, as far as we know. We took our dogs Guinness and Cinnabar into the Twilight Half Marathon. OK, so maybe it’s not up there with Kathrine Switzer’s first running of the Boston Marathon, but for us, it represents a big step on the road to getting dogs accepted as runners, and racers too.
The week’s weather was rainy and humid. We were a little worried about running with the boys – Guinness and Cinnabar – in rain for 21.1 kilometres, not because of the cold or water in our eyes, but because the dogs foot pads would be softened by exposure to water and may have been more prone to cuts, glass, or splinters. However the rain held off for the latter part of Sunday so with leads in hand we headed off to the wilds of St Lucia.
Have a look at your bag of dog food, and find the nutrition analysis. It will give you a figure for metabolisable energy, expressed in kilojoules or calories. Some ingredients, such as fiber, do add to the energy content of the food, but it’s not easy for your dog to digest. This means that it’s not readily available for your dog. Metabolisable energy is the amount of energy in your dog’s food that he can actually use. Dogs who run need more metabolisable energy than a sedentary dog.