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One of my favorite running buddies is my dog George! I’m doing a series on running with your dog, and if you missed Part 1 on training your dog to run with you, check it out here
When running with George, I noticed he eats a lot more than Sophie, who doesn’t run. Bless her little heart, she tries, but she just is not made for distance. I have been taking her out a few times a week just for a lap around the block. She seems to like it but that is as far as she can go. Because I do run far with George, I wanted to ask a few questions to the Kurgo Vet, Dr. O’Dell, about when I should be feeding him and if he should be on any special diet. I wanted to make sure she is healthy and happy and running for as long as he can be!
How much food should an active dog (running 10-15-20 miles a week) be getting a day. Is there a proper method to figure this out related to their weight? Should they get more food than a non-active dog?
Unfortunately, there is no exact formula that can determine the appropriate amount of food to feed your dog. There are too many factors involved, including the specific diet they area already on, amount and intensity of exercise, and even the dog’s own metabolism. On average, a dog with a regular exercise routine will need more food than a similarly sized sedentary dog. The most important thing to monitor as the dog becomes more active is the body condition. See this chart for an explanation.
Ideally, an active dog should remain around a BCS of 4/9. If you’re are having trouble maintaining the dog’s BCS and he falls below a 4, you may need to switch from a maintenance food to a high performance diet. If you have any more questions, make sure to check in with your vet to confirm your dog is eating enough especially if they are exercising.
Should your dog be getting water while out running?
Yes, if you are hot enough or out long enough that you require water, then your dog needs it too. I usually let George have a drink at a water fountain that we pass by at a local park. I hold him up to it and press the button and he laps up some water right out of the fountain. Kurgo does have a great Collaps A Bowl that you can take with you on a hike, but since I’m pretty much only running with George at this point and don’t carry things with me as we run, I haven’t tried this out yet. We will be doing a few summer races and I will take it with me then so I will know for sure that after the race he has something he can drink out of that I can fill up and take with me no matter where we are.
Are there any restrictions regarding when to feed your dog right after a run? I’ve heard you should wait 30 minutes to an hour after to not have digestive issues?
I recommend feeding >4h prior to a run. After a run, it is actually beneficial to feed right away. A meal immediately after exercising (no longer than 2 hours post run) leads to improved replenishment of muscle glycogen as well as more rapid and more complete muscle protein replenishment.
Any brands of dog foods that are great for active dogs?
There are high performance foods for endurance dogs – sled dogs, for example. These foods are high in protein and fat to provide a lot of calories in a small volume. For intermediate athletes, which includes most dogs who are also running buddies, all they require is a mild increase in quantity of the regular maintenance food they are already eating.
Here are some examples of maintenance foods that are great:
Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness 17.5 lbs $26
Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 16.5 lbs $30
Eukanuba Active Performance 28/18 16.5 lbs $31
Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 18 lbs $32
Purina Pro Plan Active 26/16 18 lbs $32
Sophie, earlier this week, happy on the Kurgo Leash! She is loving the fact that she can get out more with the new leash. I end up taking George on a long run and when he’s home and tired I take her out quick for the 10 minute around the block track :)
Remember, you can find ALL BREEDS AND ALL AGES of dogs at local animal shelters and rescue groups. Please save a life and adopt a pet instead of buying from a breeder or pet store. Both our dogs were homeless and we couldn’t have asked for better additions to our family!
Dr. Susan O’Dell, DVM, grew up in Michigan, where she received her Bachelors Degree in biology at the University of Michigan and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since her graduation, she has been practicing at animal hospitals across New England with a particular focus on educating small animal clients.