Strenuous exercise can challenge the digestive systems of hardworking sporting dogs. Their bodies endure mechanical stress from the vibrations caused by exercise, as well as physical stress associated with increased levels of cortisol. As a result, dogs can experience GI upset.
Fortunately, feeding your dog a diet that includes certain key nutrients can have a positive impact on their GI health. According to Russ Kelley at the Eukanuba™ Pet Health & Nutrition Center, “Nutrition that supports the GI system includes insoluble fibers, psyllium, prebiotics, and beet pulp. These ingredients help ensure that nutrients are absorbed by the dog’s body and can be used to help replace cells lost during activity.”
Fermentable fiber in the form of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and beet pulp plays a prebiotic role by stimulating the production of short-chain fatty acids which nourish the intestinal cells. And FOS also provide a prebiotic effect by stimulating beneficial bacteria. The addition of psyllium aids in the passage of stool.
Some diets contain solid ingredients that are precision-ground to make digestion easier. Finely-ground carbohydrates from corn meal, barley, and grain sorghum (a cereal) can be more efficiently absorbed by the digestive system. Foods that are easily digested help dogs optimize nutrient absorption.
Kibble size is another aspect that plays a larger role in digestion than most owners and handlers realize. Kibble that is small and perfectly round is easy for dogs to swallow without chewing. Without being chewed, the kibble isn’t ground by the teeth. Small kibble that is swallowed without being chewed allows many nutrients to pass through the small intestine without being absorbed. So, slightly larger kibble size formed in irregular shapes encourages chewing and aids digestion. That chewing also helps reduce tartar and plaque build-up on the teeth.
Digestion is important for sporting dogs to be able to perform at high levels. Dogs with upset GI systems can have low energy, and their attention may be less than sharp on the task at hand. Taking care of your dog’s digestive system through high-quality nutrition is a great first step.