Performance Nutrition for Sporting Retrievers

hunting retriever performance nutrition

Performance factors typically tip the scale when it comes to choosing the best food to feed an individual dog. Does the food in your dog’s bowl provide the nutrition and energy needed to power a top retriever?

“When choosing a food, it’s best to determine your dog’s energy needs, the most critical part of his or her diet other than water,” says Purina Research Nutritionist Christina Petzinger Germain, PhD.

Energy fuels a retriever’s performance during hunt tests. When a dog food provides the right levels of energy nutrients — carbohydrates, fats and protein — a dog is more likely to achieve a high VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake. When maximal oxygen uptake combines with maximal fat oxidation, it produces the best performance during hard work.

”The higher the VO2 max, the more intense a dog can exercise,” Dr. Petzinger Germain explains. “This is due to the supply of energy from fat to the muscles, sparing the liver and muscle glycogen stores, and the body’s use of amino acids, or protein, to provide glucose and delay fatigue. The longer you can spare glycogen, the better.”

Glycogen, the storage form of glucose in the muscles and liver, is needed during intense work. However, it is limited in the body, and its depletion may affect a dog’s performance or capacity to work optimally. When glycogen stores are fully depleted, this leads to exhaustion.

A diet that is high in protein promotes high-circulating red blood cells, which have a crucial role in carrying oxygen to the cells, including muscle cells where oxygen is used to burn fat to produce the energy needed by a dog during work. Increased oxygen in muscle cells results in the increased capacity of the muscles to use fat as an energy source.

Fat is an important concentrated source of energy. The gross energy of fat equals 9 kilocalories compared to 4 kilocalories for both protein and carbohydrates. The digestibility of fat is generally higher than protein or carbohydrates, and fat is highly palatable and impacts the texture of dog food.

Curious as to how kilocalories compare to calories in human food? They are the same, except on human nutritional labels, kilocalories are shortened to Calories. Both represent the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius.

“During recovery, particularly during a hunt test in which a dog may have run multiple times in one day, glycogen stores are replenished via carbohydrates in the diet,” says Dr. Petzinger Germain. “Dietary carbohydrates are important because they help maintain glycogen stores, enabling repeated episodes of exercise and work on a long-term basis.”

Understanding energy balance and determining whether your retriever receives the nutrition he or she needs can be as simple as evaluating the dog’s performance to help ensure that he or she performs optimally with energy, drive and enthusiasm.

 

Purina Pro Plan at a Glance

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula

  • Made for all life stages
  • 475 kilocalories per cup
  • Real chicken is the No. 1 ingredient
  • 30 percent protein/20 percent fat

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula helps fuel the metabolic needs of hardworking dogs. Its concentrated nutrition helps optimize oxygen metabolism, or VO2 max, for increased endurance. Amino acids help nourish muscles, including during the crucial time immediately after exercise. It also contains EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine to help support joint health and mobility. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, helps promote a dog’s healthy skin and coat. Antioxidant-rich nutrition helps nourish the immune system and defend against free radicals. Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula contains a high-quality source of protein and amino acids from real chicken.

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Salmon & Rice Formula

  • Made for all life stages
  • 496 kilocalories per cup
  • Real salmon is the No. 1 ingredient
  • 30 percent protein/20 percent fat

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Salmon & Rice Formula is made with salmon as the No. 1 ingredient. Protein is a key source of energy and also important for growth and development. With 30 percent protein, this performance formula helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, including during the crucial time immediately after exercise. The concentrated nutrition of this formula helps to optimize oxygen metabolism, or VO2 max, for increased endurance. It also contains EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine to help support joint health and mobility. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, helps promote a dog’s healthy skin and coat. The antioxidant-rich nutrition of Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Salmon & Rice Formula helps nourish a dog’s immune system and helps defend against free radicals.

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula*

  • Made for adult dogs
  • 429 kilocalories per cup
  • Real salmon is the No. 1 ingredient
  • 26 percent protein/16 percent fat

Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula is rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and zinc, which help nourish a dog’s skin and help promote a healthy coat. This formula contains a natural prebiotic fiber that helps promote digestive health. Antioxidants helps support immune system health, and omega-3 fatty acids help support healthy joints and mobility. Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula contains oat meal, which is easily digestible and gentle on a dog’s digestive system, and contains no corn, wheat or soy, no artificial colors or flavors, and no poultry by-product meal.

*Although Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula does not provide the protein, fat or carbohydrate levels needed for a dog to reach VO2 max, it does provide benefits that are important to sporting dogs and may be ideal for dogs that require fewer calories or have sensitive skin or stomach.

Purina Pro Plan is sold exclusively at pet specialty and through online retailers. For more information, please visit proplan.com.

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