Aricle about feeding the performance dog

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maximusflys
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Aricle about feeding the performance dog

Postby maximusflys » Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:29 pm

http://www.working-retriever.com/library/dietper.html


DOES DIET AFFECT FIELD TRIAL PERFORMANCE
MARTIN COFFMAN DVM
ERIC ALTOM PHD

For decades, professional and amateur retriever trainers have depended on optimal nutrition to complete the triad of genetics and training for success in retriever field trials. Common sense has dictated the value of good nutrition in support of canine athletes and has become one of the standard tools we all use in conditioning the all-age competitor. Modern training of the field trial retriever has evolved to allow true Olympic-class athleticism in the successful dog. This attainment of performance, coupled with the increased number of competitive animals, has caused trainers and owners to look at every nuance of conditioning to maximize execution in these dogs. Nutrition is one example of these fine points.

But, the question has always lingered: Does diet really affect a dog’s performance in the field? New research may give us insight into the positive role of diet in the field trial retriever.1 While the research was conducted using upland pointing dogs, the connection with field trial retrievers can be made. Both activities require stamina, cognitive function, and use of the same senses.

In this field study, 23 trained English Pointers were randomly assigned to be fed either of two commercial dog foods. The dogs were selected “blindly” (i.e. the assignment to the food was done without knowledge of the dog’s quality as a bird dog.) Over an entire season (November through February), data were collected on the dogs to determine the effects, if any, that high-quality nutrition had on hunting performance.

The two diets were a well-known “performance” food a and a widely accepted product used for sporting dogs. The foods arrived at the plantation in plain brown bags marked only with a blue sticker or a yellow sticker and the handlers of the dogs were unaware of the identity of the diets.

The dogs were subjected to a normal hunting routine as used on this plantation. Each dog was trained and conditioned for 2 months prior to opening day which, in Georgia, occurs in mid-November. During each half-day bird hunt, a total of 8 dogs were typically used (4 braces) and the selection of the dogs and their hunting time was at the discretion of the handlers. The handlers kept records of total time hunted, number of finds, number of flushes, general attitude of the dog, and reason for stopping the hunt and/or changing dogs (fatigue, lack of interest, or injury).
During the study, all dogs remained healthy and consumed typical amounts of food throughout the entire season. No differences in the amount of food consumed were observed.

The differences in hunting performance were remarkable. Dogs fed the performance diet did maintain their body weight and overall condition better than the dogs on the standard diet
.
Dogs fed the performance food also demonstrated superior hunting ability, compared with the dogs fed the maintenance food. Dogs fed the performance food found an average of 7.5 coveys/singles per hunt, compared with 4.5 coveys/singles per hunt for the dogs on the standard dog food. Data for finds/hour documented that the performance diet again resulted in better hunting succuss. Finds/hour with the performance food was 2.49 on average, versus 1.55 for the dogs on the maintenance food.

In addition, this study documented that dogs fed the higher fat levels performed better even on hot and humid days! Quail season in south Georgia can be warm and, during this study, 9 days had high or severe heat stress. Regardless, the dogs fed the high-fat performance food still out-performed the dogs on the standard dog food, documenting the value of fat as the primary energy source for performance dogs, regardless of adverse weather conditions.
Performance foods are typically high in fat, which provides more energy for Pointers and other athletic dogs. A good performance food should have 20% fat as part of the nutritional composition. Fat has 2.5 times the calories of carbohydrate (grain), so a high-fat diet can offer more energy in a smaller amount of food.

As shown in this study, improved nutrition can actually result in better hunting performance. This could be due to higher-quality ingredients, the higher fat level, improved digestibility, or other nutritional factors. Regardless, we all know that if a dog swings around a grain field and makes a 100-yard cast, it will find x amount of birds. If the dog makes a 150-yard cast, it will find x+y number of birds. Stamina and energy become the key factors. In this study, higher-quality nutrition resulted in finding more birds, an accomplishment we all appreciate regardless of breed or sport.

So, how does this research pertain to the field trial retriever? Optimal nutrition has common consequences in all canine athletes. From sled dogs to racing Greyhounds to field trial retrievers, dogs can benefit from nutritional research. One example is research on the value of protein2. Dogs in intense training were fed foods with protein levels varying from 16% to 40%. Dogs fed the lower-protein foods (16% and 24%) had injuries during training and all of the dogs on the 16%-protein food were removed from training due to injuries. Dogs fed 32% and 40% protein had no injuries during the training process. An important goal of canine nutritionists is to provide the performance dog with a food that supplies sufficient calories from other sources to allow minimal protein usage for caloric needs. This spares the protein for tissue repair, hormone production, and the other crucial functions of protein.
The best source of these calories is fat. Either carbohydrates or fat usually provides most of the energy in dog food. It has been known for many years that high-carbohydrate foods can cause stiff gait in endurance dogs.3 Further research documented the value of fat as an energy source.2 The VO2 Max* of highly conditioned dogs was recorded. Subsequently, the VO2 Max of ordinary dogs on low-fat diets was compared to their VO2 Max on high-fat diets. The levels of VO2 Max for the ordinary dogs placed on a high-fat diet equalled that of the highly conditioned dogs. These findings suggest that diet may play a critical role in endurance, and specifically that feeding high levels of dietary fat may increase VO2 Max and the maximal rate of fat use for energy. For the field trial retriever and other field dogs, this could result in better endurance and greater performance in competitive events.

Not only does the level of fat effect performance, but the source of the fat is also important. Fat is composed of different types of fatty acids which are characterized by their chemical structure. Terms like omega-6 and omega-3 are used by chemists and nutritionists to identify two important types of fatty acids. During inflammatory processes, these fatty acids produce “eicosanoids” [eye-ko-san-oid]. The eicosanoids from omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids result in markedly different levels of inflammatory response in body tissues. For example, the eicosanoids produced from omega-6 fatty acids can be more inflammatory and immunosuppressive than those produced by omega-3 fatty acids. Research conducted by Iams Company scientists has documented the value of a specific range of ratios of these fatty acids in the diet.4 For optimal conditions, a ratio of between 5:1 and 10:1 (omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids) is recommended.

Field trial retrievers represent one of the most competitive and highly conditioned groups of dogs known. Modern training methods have allowed dogs to continue impressive feats during field trials and to persist in pushing the performance envelope. The dogs running today are not the same as those who ran in the fifties and sixties. Modern all-age field trials allow dogs to perform retrieves only dreamed of twenty years ago. The nutritional needs of these dogs have likewise escalated and owners, breeders, and trainers can utilize modern, researched diets to enhance their charges' performance in field trials.

a. Eukanuba Premium Performance®
*VO2 Max is a measure of the dog’s ability to utilize oxygen; it can be interpreted as a measure of energy use.
1. Davenport G, Kelley, R, Altom, E, & Lepine, A; Effect of diet on hunting performance of english pointers, Veterinary Therapeutics Vol 2, No. 1, Winter 2001
2. Reynolds AJ; Effect of diet on performance, Perf Dog Nutr Sym; Colorado State Univ, 1995
3. Krondfeld DS. Diet and performance in racing sled dogs. J AVMA, 1973.
4. Reinhart GA. Fat for the performance dog. Perf Dog Nutri Symp Colorado State Univ, 1995.
Editor’s Note: After 30 years in private veterinary practice, Dr. Coffman is now the Manager of Technical Communications for The Iams Company’s Research and Development Division in Lewisburg OH with primary responsibility in the various sporting dog breeds. An experienced hunter, he has owned Pointers, Setters, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and coonhounds. Currently, he is active in Beagle field trials nationally.
Dr. Altom received his Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Clemson University followed by his doctoral training in Nutrition at Auburn University with an emphasis in canine nutrition and exercise physiology. Eric joined the Iams Company in 1999 as a Research Nutritionist with primary responsibilities for product formulations and research in companion animal nutrition. Dr. Altom owns Labrador Retrievers and regularly competes in licensed field trials.
For reprints of the research mentioned in this article, call the Iams Company’s customer service number: 1-800-525-4267 or visit their web site: www.iams.com

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Dtwo
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Postby Dtwo » Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:39 pm

Thank you for the article.
I like a lot of the things it says, but am somewhat skeptical performance food could directly result in increased hunting success.
What were the study sample sizes, I wonder? There isn't that much difference in the "finds per hour". A greater contributer to the "finds per hour" would seem to be the dogs skill and available prey in the area.
Of course, they are trying to sell people premium food at a premium price (look at the author).

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Postby Leslie H » Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:29 pm

If I'm reading it correctly, it says there were 23 dogs in the group, I wish it was a much larger group.
It's an interesting study, I wonder how performance would have improved if they fed a truly superior food, like raw. Thanks for posting the article.

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Postby amelie » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:09 pm

i have seen the results of feeding a high protien/fat diet compared to a "regular" dog food. i have switched all our sled dogs to a 38/25 and there is a HUGE improvement in their stamina, speed, and recovery time. i also notice less injuries (pulled muscles, sprains etc) we train these dogs hard starting the 1st of Sept. through March. by the middle of Dec. we are running back to back 50's, meaning a 50 mile run (takes about 4 hours) then a 4 hour rest and medium sized meal then another 50 mile run followed by another meal. it is amazing what a high protien/fat diet can do. they also get snacks every 2 hours on a long run consisting of some sort of fat.

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Postby Misskiwi67 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:27 pm

23 animals is actually a pretty large group for a study using live animals. I've seen groups as low as 6 animals in studies.

Higher fat for dogs working long hours has been well documented with racing dogs. According to our nutrition class, the diet of some racing dogs consists of a normal ration of a quality dog food to provide the protein and nutrients needed for a regular active dog, topped off with a healthy portion of straight up lard to provide the extra calories needed. You'd have to ask the sled dog racers if its true, but it sounds about right in theory.

I've also seen studies that showed the protein percentage improved performance up to 40%, but endurance decreased when the protein was higher than 40%.

I didn't read anything in that article that didn't correlate with all the other studies I've read. In fact, many of the super-premium foods you recommend here fall into the category of a "performance" food... which could be why its often too rich for many house dogs...

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Postby amelie » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:42 pm

you could use lard, but we prefer to use either frozen turkey skins (we get them in 50lb blocks and cut them with a bandsaw) or one of the many fat blends made by dog food companies that cater to the sled dog world, likle Redpaw, or Caribou Creek. they come in 1, 3, or 5 gallon jugs.

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Postby abman » Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:05 pm

I love the results that hard working dogs get from higher protein and fat diets.

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Re:

Postby InBearsMemory » Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:23 pm

That was an excellent article, thanks for posting that!
Amelie, do you feed your dogs gruel or just plain kibble/raw etc. If you do what do you usually put in it? You mentioned the 38/25, are you feeding something like Momentum or Pursuit?

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Postby amelie » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:50 pm

we fed momentum last year and had pretty good results, but changed over to redpaw this winter. the cost of the momentum went up by $7 per bag and that makes a big difference when you go through a bag every two days. alot of the high quality sled dog foods can actually be fed straight with little or nothing added except water. i saw martin buser do just that on a race last year and there are iditarod mushers that feed these foods straight. i still like to give our guys meat. i feed a kibble and water meal once a day, usually in the evening after we have ran, in the morning i give them water baited with a meat mix that is chicken, fish, liver and some other stuff i cant remember off the top of my head. right before a run (we are doing 15-20 miles right now) i give them a "fat" snack, usually ground turkey skins, bigger dogs get 1/2- 1 lb and smaller dogs get 1/4-1/2lb.

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Postby InBearsMemory » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:51 am

amelie wrote:we fed momentum last year and had pretty good results, but changed over to redpaw this winter. the cost of the momentum went up by $7 per bag and that makes a big difference when you go through a bag every two days. alot of the high quality sled dog foods can actually be fed straight with little or nothing added except water. i saw martin buser do just that on a race last year and there are iditarod mushers that feed these foods straight. i still like to give our guys meat. i feed a kibble and water meal once a day, usually in the evening after we have ran, in the morning i give them water baited with a meat mix that is chicken, fish, liver and some other stuff i cant remember off the top of my head. right before a run (we are doing 15-20 miles right now) i give them a "fat" snack, usually ground turkey skins, bigger dogs get 1/2- 1 lb and smaller dogs get 1/4-1/2lb.


Great info, thanks for that. I am thinking about switching my Husky to Momentum but haven't taken the plunge yet. Do you have any problems with picky eaters at all the way you are feeding?

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Postby amelie » Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:51 pm

i have a siberian (not a sled dog) that has been picky her whole life, she LOVES the redpaw, i dont remember her being too picky with the momentum, sometimes she wont eat the meat, but she is not working hard, so she does not need the meat. all of our sled dogs are great eaters, i actually "train" them to eat quickly and eat it all. if we are out on a race or a long (week long) camping trip, they can not afford to miss a meal. it is cold (from 0 down to -40F) and they are working hard and burning thousands of calories. i would reccomend the momentum/pursuit, it was a GREAT food but the price jump made me switch. (i may go back to it next year) oh and our dogs all eat raw in the summer (fish) and fall (fish, moose bones, caribou scraps)

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Postby InBearsMemory » Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:54 pm

amelie wrote:i have a siberian (not a sled dog) that has been picky her whole life, she LOVES the redpaw, i dont remember her being too picky with the momentum, sometimes she wont eat the meat, but she is not working hard, so she does not need the meat. all of our sled dogs are great eaters, i actually "train" them to eat quickly and eat it all. if we are out on a race or a long (week long) camping trip, they can not afford to miss a meal. it is cold (from 0 down to -40F) and they are working hard and burning thousands of calories. i would reccomend the momentum/pursuit, it was a GREAT food but the price jump made me switch. (i may go back to it next year) oh and our dogs all eat raw in the summer (fish) and fall (fish, moose bones, caribou scraps)


Thank you so much. My girl is extremely picky when it comes to eating. If you have her food in the wrong spot in the house she won't eat at all, lol. She would rather watch you eat and "maybe" pick up a crumb that falls to the floor than to eat her own stuff unless it is a completely homecooked meal.
I am going to try the momentum for her and see how she does on it, I heard a lot of good things about it but I will also look into the Redpaw.
Oh, I know what you are saying about caribou, my dogs LOVE fresh caribou ribs and meat!!!!

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Postby amelie » Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:12 pm

the momentum if i remember correctly is chicken based, the redpaw is fish meal based, i think that is why my girl loves it so much. she is one of those dogs that WOULD starve herself if i just took her food away after 10 minutes if she did not eat it. drives me nuts.


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