23 May 2019

Athletes, be they canine or human have distinct nutritional needs - so how best to feed highly active dogs

Sledge dogs; Working dogs; Hunting dogs: Sporting dogs – all members of that exclusive club of Canine Athletes

To be able to do what they do athletes need to take special care of themselves

Athletes need to train, they need to rest and they need feed themselves properly

Athletes don’t just need more food – they need very specific nutrients to provide optimum support

Athletes need nutrients that 

  • Provide energy 

  • Help to maintain and repair muscle 

  • Help support joints 


During periods of exercise, very active dogs may need up to four times more energy than other dogs and this is why fat is important 
Fat is the most important source of energy for dogs. When humans exercise, we start burning glycogen - stored carbohydrates.  Dogs are different, dogs need fats as their main energy source.
Vitamins and minerals also have a role to play by helping the body convert foods into energy 


High quantities of high quality protein are important. Protein in the food is broken down into its amino acids – and these amino acids are then used to help rebuild the muscle
Vitamin C can also help with the growth and repair of muscle damaged during training. 


Cartilage is a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of bones at the joints.  Cartilage is constantly broken down and rebuilt but high levels of activity can increase the breakdown of cartilage. Athletes need to take extra care of their joints and nutrition can help here
Omega-3 from fish can support the natural anti-inflammatory processes, to help reduce inflammation, and reduces the activity of cartilage degrading enzymes, helping slow cartilage degradation.


SPECIFIC – the brand of veterinary pet nutrition from Dechra veterinary products, has a range of wet and dry high energy diets to support highly active dogs and provide extra nutritional support from dogs recovering from surgery or illness

  • High in energy and fat to give your active dog the extra energy they need.
  • Ingredients are highly digestible to ensure nutrients are absorbed.
  • With added Vitamin C – to help with the growth and repair of muscle damaged during training.
  • Rich in Omega-3 from fish for healthy coat skin and joint.
  • Immune support – added beta glucans from yeast to support the immune system.

Recommended foods for highly active dogs