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Active dogs should be fed a nutrient-dense food to perform at their best. Without adequate nutrition, performance dogs will not be able to generate the energy needed for their sports and activities.

Canine athletes have an increased metabolism due to their physical activity, which increases their need for energy, says Purina Research Nutritionist Brian Zanghi, Ph.D. Environmental conditions plus exercise intensity and duration also impact a dog’s energy requirements.

Feeding a high-fat/high-protein diet will allow your dog to have a higher fat metabolism and higher oxygen capacity, which help to increase metabolic capacity and generate energy. A high-energy, nutrient-dense food is recommended for active dogs. In fact, dogs maintain ideal body condition eating less of a nutrient-dense food.

Nutrition studies have shown that feeding dogs a food with higher levels of fat will result in more fatty acids in the blood before exercise. These fatty acids can contribute 60 percent or more energy during the first two hours of exercise. Diets rich in fatty acids help to produce the energy needed for energy metabolism.

More fatty acids in the blood also mean more nutrients to promote endurance metabolism. Fatty acids are used by the muscles to make energy for movement. Dogs fed a high-fat food have more capacity to use or burn fatty acids and have a greater capacity to metabolize oxygen. Elevated dietary protein complements the benefits of fat metabolism.

“The ultimate goal is to optimize performance,” Zanghi says. “This means feeding a food containing key nutrients in an optimal balance to provide optimal benefits. This enables dogs to work longer and perform better. Food can metabolically prime our dogs to promote optimal endurance.”

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