What qualifies for an athletic dog? Perhaps, one that is alert for long periods of time, or one that needs to run for more than two hours a day. You may think that since they burn glycogen while running (like we do) it may be okay to add some glucose into their diet. In fact, many joggers share their energy drinks with their dogs thinking that it will give them more energy. The truth is- it doesn’t. So, how can you nourish an athletic dog? Do they need a specific diet?
Research shows that dogs and humans have different metabolic systems. Dogs have more mitochondria (small organelles present within cells that provide energy) in their cells than humans do. This means that they do not burn glycogen as their primary source of energy, rather, they burn fat. So, energy drinks and glucose will not help them as much as an hard boil egg will.
If your dog seems active, give them a higher portion of calories combined with a balance of healthy fats. Naturally occurring fat in meat products is good for high energy dogs. Sugars itself aren’t a problem and you can give your dog sweet fruits and treats from time to time. Fruits have antioxidants that help dogs the same way as it helps humans. But it does not provide them with instant energy.
It is also important to understand the difference between an athletic dog or a high energy dog. If you have an athletic dog- one that is constantly involved in various canine sports- you will need a more specific diet. As with humans, different athletes have different dietary requirements. The same goes for dogs. If your dog sprints for short periods of time, its diet will differ from one that jogs for a long stretch. It is not easy to determine the dietary requirements for an athletic dog and in most cases, you should take help from your veterinarian for the perfect diet that caters to your dog’s need.
If your dog runs for more than a half an hour during play time, they come into the latter category- a high energy dog. In this case you you need not alter their diet completely but you can add a small portion of healthy fats in their diet. If you don’t get them any oils, you may start now. Just add half a teaspoon of olive oil, coconut oil or fish oil (like salmon oil), to their daily diet. This will not only enhance the taste, but also give help them restore energy from the rigorous workout they had with you earlier.