COPR1129 WorkingDog Booklet Revision V2 - Flipbook - Page 10
SELECTING THE RIGHT FOOD
FOR WORKING DOGS
BY SCOTT WILLIAMS
Nutrition And Technical
Figuring out which is the best food for your working dogs
can be challenging. Often, it comes down to a simple choice
between what’s available in your local store and what price
you’re prepared to pay.
However, the objective should be to select the one that best
matches the incredible amount of work that your dog performs
every day. A look at the packaging will help you to choose the
diet that provides the optimum nutrition for strength, stamina
First and foremost, working dog foods should provide a
‘complete and balanced’ ration in accordance with nutritional
guidelines established by the Pet Food Industry Association of
Australia (PFIAA), the Australian Standard for Pet Food
Manufacture (AS5812:2017) and the Association of American
Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Look for these logos on the
These exacting guidelines provide the recommended minimum
and maximum levels of 40 different nutrients, including protein,
amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as the optimal
ratios of minerals and fats.
Protein and fat levels are arguably the two most important
ingredients. Protein provides key amino acids to help build
muscle and aid muscle recovery. A protein level of 16.5% is what
an ‘average’ dog requires for optimal health, so anything
beneath 24% is probably insufficient to meet the requirements
of hard working dogs.
Likewise, working dog food should contain at least 10%
fat, which is the ‘fuel’ that keeps a working dog’s energy stores
topped up. Fat also provides the pathway for the essential
fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed by dogs for optimum
health and wellbeing.
The next thing to consider is the quality and bioavailability of the
ingredients. Good bioavailability means nutrients can more readily
absorbed into the bloodstream, reducing the amount of
nutrients excreted as waste. As a general rule, a ration with a
better nutritional profile will result in fewer, smaller and firmer
Meat is a great provider of easily digestible protein and fat.
Check where meat is ranked in the ingredients list and then look
at what types of ‘meat’ are listed. Are individual meat sources,
such as beef or chicken, specifically named or are they grouped
together under the generic description of ‘meat’? Transparency
of the protein sources is especially important when purchasing
food for dogs with sensitivities.
You should then look at what types of grains are in the ration.
Cereals provide a rich source of digestible carbohydrates that
provide sustainable energy for growth and endurance. Rice is
easily digested by dogs, therefore like meat, it has good
bioavailability of nutrients.
Brown rice is one of the best sources of digestible
carbohydrates, it contains rice bran oil, which is a natural source
of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Rice bran oil is also rich
in omega fatty acids, which supports support brain development,
aid joint flexibility, help ease inflammation and are excellent for
skin and coat conditioning.
The ingredients on the packaging should also contain sufficient
levels of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that are essential for
health and wellbeing. In particular, working dogs need a rich
source of vitamins A and E, zinc and selenium to support the
formation of cells and the maintenance of the body systems.
B-group vitamins promote metabolic function and energy
production, while electrolytes stimulate muscles and nerves,
which can help to reduce fatigue.
Working dogs also benefit from the inclusion of additional
non-mandatory supplements. These include beta-carotene (which
is vital for retina and optical nerve health), glucosamine (which
assists in rebuilding cartilage and has an anti-inflammatory effect)
or DHAgold® (which is beneficial for eye, brain and heart health).
And finally, does the ration contain a rich source of antioxidants?
Antioxidants may assist injury healing, can aid muscle recovery
and may boost immunity – and therefore play a vital role in
keeping your dog fit and healthy.
NUTRITION THAT STACKS UP