Afgelopen week waren wij voor een Canitrail Training in het Sauerland, Duitsland, om hoogtemeters te trainen.  Dat betekende veel stijgen en dalen over zowel brede paden, smalle single tracks en zelfs dwars door het bos. Voor de honden en baasjes een fantastische core-training.

Bij langere afstanden waarvan ik weet dat het tempo laag ligt, bepaal ik wat ik meeneem voor mijn hond Quasar en mijzelf aan de hand van het aantal uur wat ik denk dat we onderweg zullen zijn. Niet het aantal kilometers. Dat is als je veel hoogtemeters maakt geen goede leidraad.

Ik had voldoende water bij me voor Quasar en een elektrolyten drankje extra voor mezelf. En ik had van tevoren de route afgestemd op een aantal belangrijke waterpunten waar we langs zouden komen. Nu neem ik altijd wat te eten mee en ook voor mijn hond had ik wat te eten meegenomen. Hij moet zich met al die hoogtemeters flink inspannen en verbrandt dan meer als thuis in z’n mandje.

Dr. Michael S. Davis, een wetenschapper die onderzoek doet naar inspanning bij dieren, schreef dat het metabolisme van de honden vóór de race vrijwel hetzelfde is als bij mensen. Maar als ze gaan rennen is het alsof ze een knop omzetten. We weten nog helemaal niet hoe dit kan. Binnen 24 uur kunnen ze wisselen tussen een metabolisme dat je ziet bij honden die in rust zijn, en terug naar het andere voor wanneer ze zich inspannen. Het is een geheime strategie die wij mensen niet hebben.

Voeding en sporten met je hond. De een vind het onzin, de ander zegt weer wat anders. Gretchen Reynolds had met Dr. Joseph Wakshlag in 2014 het onderstaande interview.

Feeding Your Canine Athlete

Many people who run or walk with their dogs treat them like human running partners, offering them sips of Gatorade or half of a sports bar during a workout. But the latest science about performance nutrition for canines underscores that dogs are not people. They have more fur and cellular mitochondria, the small structures in cells that generate energy; lower body weights; and fewer fecal-related inhibitions than their human companions, each of which affects their nutritional needs.

To learn more about sports nutrition for dogs, I spoke recently with Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, a professor of clinical nutrition and sports medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., and the author of a comprehensive new review about nutrition for active dogs, published in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. Among its many tidbits of knowledge, the article notes that dogs are endowed with more endurance-related muscle fibers than cats, making them better running companions; competing in a Frisbee or agility competition is, for a dog, glorious fun but relatively little exercise, requiring only about 25 percent more calories than lying on a rug; and consuming sports drinks tends to cause dogs to empty their intestines soon afterward, often with little warning.

This is all useful information, as were Dr. Wakshlag’s replies to my questions. What follows are excerpts from our conversation.

Q. – How much exercise qualifies a dog as an athlete, and do canine athletes have special dietary needs?
A. – It’s similar to human athletes. There are sprinters, acrobats, marathon runners, all with different nutritional considerations. On the one hand, you have earthdogs — the dachshunds and such — designed for fast, short sprints, and then there are sled dogs that run 50 miles or more. Your typical running companion would be somewhere in between. In general, I’d say that if a dog is running continuously for more than 30 minutes, you should probably take a look at its diet, in terms of performance.
Q. – Does that mean feed it like a human runner?
A. – No. Humans and dogs fuel exercise very differently. When we run, we start out burning mostly glycogen, which is stored carbohydrates. Dogs don’t, partly because they have more mitochondria in their muscles than we do. Dogs burn fat as their primary endurance fuel, and carbohydrates are not very important for them.
Q. – So there’s no reason to give a dog a sports bar, which is full of carbohydrates, during a run?
A. – No. Same for those gel packets. I see people sharing them with their dogs. The dog may like it, but its not helping its running. Fat is the fuel for performance dogs.
Q. – So should an athletic dog’s diet contain lots of fat?
A. – That’s a good question. For dogs jogging along with you for 20 minutes a few times a week, a normal commercial dog food containing about 15 or 16 percent fat should be fine. But if you and your dog run five or 10 miles a day, that dog likely needs a slightly higher-fat diet.

There are special high-performance dog foods now that contain as much as 20 percent fat. Or you can just add a teaspoon of olive oil to your dog’s kibble. That increases fat intake by 1 or 2 percent, which can be plenty. On the other hand, fat is somewhat indigestible and can lead to greater fecal mass. So if you increase your dog’s fat intake, be prepared to carry an extra plastic bag or two when you go running.

Q. – What about protein? How important is it?
A. – Vital. Athletic dogs need protein to build and maintain muscle. In general, their diet should consist of at least 25 percent protein, preferably from meat. In one study, dogs fed plant-based soy protein experienced far more musculoskeletal injuries than dogs consuming meat protein.
Q. – And treats? Are they a good idea?
A. – It depends on what else your dog is eating. The biggest health problem for most dogs is overweight. If you took your dog for a two-mile walk and reward him with a Milk-Bone, you’ve just given him more calories than he burned. A pat on the head would be healthier.
Q. – Any advice on hydration for exercising dogs?
A. – Dogs don’t sweat like we do. They pant to cool themselves. But they do lose fluids during activity. On the other hand, they are much better than most people at rehydrating. We did a study with search-and-rescue dogs working in 90-degree heat. They replaced their fluid losses almost drop for drop.

My advice would be to make sure that water is available if you’ll be running with your dog for more than 30 minutes. But don’t share your Gatorade. Dogs don’t need carbohydrates or electrolytes, and the only study I know of that tested sports drinks in dogs found that the main outcome was gastrointestinal distress.

Foto van website Canicross Scotland