Athletic dogs may need to eat more food to support the high caloric demand of their sports. Owners should monitor their dogs to be sure they maintain a lean body condition, which will help to reduce the risks of developing painful, and potentially life-threatening, weight-related health problems.
Body condition impacts a dog’s health and well-being throughout life and it provides a convenient means of estimating a dog’s degree of body fat. Consequently, it is used to estimate a dog’s individual energy requirement and aids to determine how much food to feed. Regularly monitoring your athletic dog’s body condition is one of the most important things you can do.
Dogs that are overweight or have a “higher than ideal” body condition while participating in an active lifestyle are eating excess calories than what their body needs for the day. The first and easiest strategy to helping get your pet to his ideal body condition, if he is overweight, is to reduce the amount of food he gets every day. A good rule of thumb is to lower his daily portion by 10% and reassess the potential change in body condition on a weekly basis.
Active dogs that have an ideal body condition appear to have a metabolism that favors fat metabolism, and when a dog’s body fat is slightly increased, the metabolism shifts to rely more on carbohydrates, which is not optimal for exercise. This exercise study also revealed that overweight dogs have a higher loss of water, which presumably would increase the risk of dehydration during exercise if not adequately hydrated.
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