How to Feed Your Adventure Dog
Dogs join their humans in all kinds of outdoor pursuits. Shouldn’t they fuel the same way we do?
Summer’s almost here. You’re planning and preparing for warm-season outdoor adventures. And the food you put in your body powers your hikes, climbs, runs, and bike rides. The same is true for your dog. Here’s everything you need to know about fueling your dog the same way you fuel yourself (sort of), so you can have a summer full of memories with your four-legged adventure buddy.
It All Starts with Nutrition
How do dog owners support their pups so they get the most out of their time outside? It all starts with dog-specific nutrition.
A little bit of science for you: Just like humans, a dog’s diet supports its performance. Unlike humans, dogs are built to tap into fat stores for stamina. While humans burn carbs (or glycogen stores) to support their endurance during exercise, dogs rely on fat oxidation to perform. Burning fat for energy requires more oxygen and a higher VO2 max. That’s why dogs need increased fat in their diet and higher oxygen capacity to boost endurance.
A diet high in fat and protein fuels an active dog’s metabolism and optimizes VO2 max. Purina Pro Plan Sport dog food formulas are made to support canine athletes with high levels of fat, not carbohydrates, to provide energy. The recipes also include amino acids to nourish muscles, plus glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids for mobility and joint health.
The result is a dog that’s fueled with the strength and stamina to run alongside you on every big outing.
Dogs: Built for Endurance
Dogs are natural athletes. Their seemingly endless energy and powerful muscles help them keep up with—and sometimes smoke—their humans on the trail. They make it look easy. Maybe too easy. Curious how your dog can go from couch to 5K while you’re spending hours training? There’s a simple answer: it’s all in the VO2 max. And dogs have some impressive stats.
VO2 max measures the rate of maximum oxygen consumption, or how efficiently you consume more oxygen when exercising at maximum capacity. It’s measured in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. Human athletes typically range from 60 to 85 for women and 70 to 85 for men, while a sled dog can have a VO2 max as high as 240.
Simply put, dogs consume oxygen more efficiently than humans when exercising at maximum capacity. That increased efficiency gives them more energy and improved endurance. That’s why when you’re huffing and puffing, your dog’s out for a stroll.
Feeding for Adventure
You’d never skip breakfast before a workout. But unlike humans, dogs do not need to fuel up immediately before exercising. A dog’s metabolism takes about 20 to 24 hours to completely digest a meal, even if your food-mongering lab tries to convince you otherwise. That means when you head out on your morning run together, your dog’s body is still processing food from dinner the night before. To keep your dog moving at top speed, feed them two to three hours before moderate exercise—short hikes, neighborhood runs, and the like. If you’re heading out on something more intense, opt for a small meal or even no meal before. Your dog will still have the nutrition it needs, because dogs derive the most nutrition from meals ten to 12 hours after eating. Feed your canine companion 30 to 60 minutes after a high-energy adventure. Of course, trail snacks are always welcome.
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