Working Dog Challenges
It’s a pretty rare event to see an active working K9 carrying excess weight. In fact, the opposite is generally the more likely situation. The combination of breed and drive in working K9s often results in a dog that burns a ton of energy and has a great deal of difficulty maintaining weight. This can jeopardize the health and performance of a valuable canine team member who serves on the front line of protection; whether police, private security or military.
Working K9 Breeds
Breed certainly plays a role in the performance of working dogs and it also contributes to the feeding and management challenges. In a K9 workforce made up of a large percentage of German Shepherd (GSD) and Belgian Malinois dogs, many years of breed refinement have created high performance canine athletes that burn fuel at higher than normal levels.
It’s not unusual to have a Mal or GSD burn more energy during “inactive” periods in a kennel than most dogs might use at work or play. Their drive is both genetic and reinforced by training which makes it very difficult to just flip a switch and turn off the motor. In addition, an athlete bred for lean muscle mass is going to have more difficulty maintaining weight under the most relaxing of circumstances. Under the constant stress of high level focus and performance expectations, maintaining proper body condition and overall health becomes an even greater challenge.
Dog Food Needs to Match Performance
Working dogs are required to perform at elite levels and many of them simply cannot be properly fueled by the same diet as a household companion. Even under the same conditions, genetics and drive will force them to burn more energy and require more nutrients to maintain condition and overall health.
Foods created with large amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables with limited, at best, digestibility are simply not going to be sufficient. To maintain peak health and performance, a high energy diet made with plenty of meat, fat and digestible starch is a base requirement. Add in the best quality vitamins, chelated minerals and prebiotics and you’re well on your way to a very healthy dog performing at peak efficiency.
High performance athletes don’t train and compete on snacks and salads. They load up on protein, fat and digestible carbohydrates to fuel extreme performance. While your working K9 needs more of the first two than his human counterparts, the general idea is the same. You don’t win the prize with burgers and fries.