Even the most conditioned dogs get tired, but what you choose to feed your dog can have a positive impact on his post-exercise recovery.
Give a pointer, setter, shorthair or Lab a choice between working or taking a nap, and the odds are stacked that he’ll take work at every opportunity. Labs were bred to make retrieve after retrieve, just as bird dogs were born to run fields and to snake through covers. Helping your dog maintain an ideal weight year-round along with regular conditioning helps prepare him for the season ahead. But nutrition can help give him an edge, too, especially because sporting dogs don’t stop when they’re tired; they stop when they’re done.
Pre-season conditioning helps dogs prepare to run for longer periods of time. Regularly exercised dogs develop strong, powerful muscles and cardiovascular systems. Conditioning also supports mental sharpness to help keep hard-charging dogs focused on the tasks at hand. Dogs that are in good physical and mental shape may be more likely to recover faster.
That said, running day after day all season long can cause sporting dogs to experience a reduction in energy. It’s apparent when Labs don’t hit the water hard for a retrieve or a bird dog’s normally crisp points get sloppy.
So how do you help your well-conditioned sporting dog recover from a repetitive and rigorous workload? The first step is understanding that some of the post-exercise fatigue may come from oxidative stress and the buildup of free radicals. Free radicals, the by-product of strenuous activity, are a normal part of a dog’s everyday life. But increased workloads can result in more free radicals being released in the dog’s body.
Russ Kelley, the Scientific Services Nutritionist at Eukanuba’s Pet Health and Nutrition Center in Ohio, says that “antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein, beta-carotene and taurine among others help reduce oxidative stress and free radicals.” In a study* of Iditarod dogs, which run a 938-mile course across 8 to 15 days, the results found that dogs with a higher pre-race plasma vitamin E concentration were twice as likely to finish the race.
Recovery from rigorous work is important for dogs to work at their peak. Proper conditioning and optimal nutrition are both important for the recovery process. Nutrition that contains a custom blend of antioxidants like those found in Eukanuba’s Premium Performance line supports post-exercise recovery and helps prepare dogs to perform at their maximum potential.
* Piercy RJ et al. Association between vitamin E and enhanced athletic performance in sled dogs. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2001; 33 : 826-833
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF EUKANUBA SPORTING DOG.