Canine athletes are wired to run and work. Give these hard-charging dogs a choice between working or taking a nap, and odds are they’ll take work at every opportunity. Owners and handlers who recognize their dogs’ potential are in it to win it today, but they’ve got an eye on tomorrow as well.

Pre-activity conditioning is important. Dogs that are regularly exercised can develop strong body systems. Their muscular system is strengthened as are their cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Strong dogs have the conditioning to better handle elevated work levels as well as the mental sharpness to stay focused on the tasks at hand. Dogs that are in good physical shape are more likely to recover faster than out-of-shape dogs.

But even the best-conditioned dogs can tire over time. Their energy levels can drop, and their mental sharpness can soften. Some of their fatigue may come from oxidative stress and the buildup of free radicals. Free radicals, the by-product of strenuous activity, are a normal part of a dog’s everyday life. Increased workload results in more free radicals being released in the dog’s body. Large amounts of free radicals can slow down the rebuilding of cells lost during rigorous exercise. By reducing free radical production, dogs may recover more quickly.

That’s where nutrition can play an important role in positively impacting post-exercise recovery of hard-working dogs. Antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein, beta-carotene and taurine, among others, help reduce oxidative stress and free radicals. In a study* of Iditarod dogs (the ones that run a 938-mile course across 8 to 15 days), the results found that dogs with a higher pre-race plasma vitamin E concentration were twice as likely to finish the race.

There are always more drills and trails to run. Recovery from daily work and training is important for a dog to work at his peak. Proper conditioning and optimal nutrition are both important for the recovery process. Nutrition that contains antioxidants like Eukanuba’s Premium Performance line aids post-exercise recovery times and helps prepare dogs to perform at their peak tomorrow and in the days following.

SOURCE: * Piercy RJ et al. Association between vitamin E and enhanced athletic performance in sled dogs. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2001, 33 : 826-833