Bird Dogs & Training  |  04/01/2013

Feeding a Performance Dog Food Can Help Maximize Endurance

Getting a top performance from your dog when it matters most involves proper training and conditioning as well as feeding a high-quality performance dog food.
Hardworking bird dogs, should be fed a high-fat, high-protein performance formula to help maximize their training and conditioning and to help boost their metabolism and endurance. “There’s no doubt about it, diet alone can help change a dog’s athleticism,” says Purina Nutrition Scientist Brian Zanghi, Ph.D. “By feeding the right food, based on an individual dog’s activity level, an owner can improve a dog’s athleticism.”
The Pro Plan Sport Formulas are formulated for all life stages, meaning they provide complete and balanced nutrition for puppies through senior dogs. The Sport Formulas are:
  • Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 Formula – Contains 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat to help optimize a dog’s V02 max, or rate of oxygen use, for increased endurance. This energy-dense food, previously known simply as Performance Formula, helps fuel a dog’s metabolic needs and maintain lean muscle. It also has eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine to help support joint health and mobility.
  • Pro Plan Sport Advanced 28/18 Formula – Contains 28 percent protein and 18 percent fat to help optimize exercise metabolism. This performance dog food helps nourish muscles, particularly in the crucial time immediately after exercise.
  • Pro Plan Sport Active 26/16 Formula – Contains 26 percent protein and 16 percent fat to help sustain the energy needed by dogs that exercise every day. This performance dog food is highly digestible and promotes total body health.
“Active dogs benefit from an increasing proportion of protein and fat in their daily diet to fulfill their increasing need for calories and the increased protein metabolism that occurs naturally with exercise,” Zanghi says. “Importantly, dogs that regularly consume higher protein and fat food will metabolically prime their muscles and metabolism, which will allow them to better adapt to exercise and have improved exercise endurance.”
Athletic dogs achieve maximum efficiency from a diet containing highly digestible fat. A diet that skimps on fat will significantly contribute to a reduction in endurance and overall fitness. Fat metabolism is the optimal energy-generating source for exercising dogs. Unlike humans, a dog’s main energy source comes from fat, not carbohydrates.
The energy density of dietary fat helps boost the energy density of dog food and thus primes a dog’s active metabolism. Active dogs need more calories from an energy-dense food to provide the greater energy required to maintain a stable body weight and support their active lifestyle. Dogs fed a high-fat food have more capacity to burn fatty acids and a greater capacity to perform at an optimal level.
Canine athletes have a higher V02 max than untrained dogs. This means that these dogs efficiently consume more oxygen when exercising at maximum capacity, giving them increased aerobic energy and endurance. Endurance for dogs is based on how well their body can use fat energy, and thus not primarily rely on and/or deplete the limited sugar energy stored in muscles and liver as glycogen. Fat oxidation provides most of the dog’s energy at low rates of energy expenditure.
Athletic dogs require more protein than sedentary ones because their muscles undergo a natural process of building and breaking down muscle protein, called protein turnover. This is why active dogs should be fed a food containing high-quality, highly digestible protein. During and after exercise, protein turnover increases to meet the metabolism needs of working dogs. Elevated dietary protein complements the benefits of fat metabolism, since amino acids, the building blocks of protein, promote muscle growth, while fat helps fuel aerobic exercise.
The Purina Pro Plan Sport Formulas are specially formulated to provide optimal nutrition for hardworking dogs. It’s no coincidence that 80 of the top 100 dogs in 10 major U.S. sporting dog segments are fed Pro Plan dog food.
Visit to learn more about the Purina Pro Plan Sport Formulas for canine athletes.


Exercise is a natural stress that challenges the immune system and accelerates the body’s protein metabolism and muscle breakdown. This is why it is important to feed an athletic dog a food that provides optimal protein and fat. Suboptimal nutrition can impair a dog’s performance.
A dog food high in fat and protein can help boost a dog’s metabolism and endurance. Thus, diet alone can help change a dog’s athleticism.