Energy production in dogs

This article about energy production in dogs may not be for everybody. You can just scan it, ignore the difficult names, and remember the final conclusion at the end.

Methods for energy production in dogs

Three primary ways in which dogs convert food to energy. In the initial 7.5 seconds of activity, dogs use mainly anaerobic sources of energy (processes without oxygen).

Hint: Also pay attention to some of the differences between canine and human preferences.

#1 - Alactic anaerobiosis for the quick jump

Alactic anaerobiosis converts carbohydrates to energy using the phosphagen system in your dog's muscle cells. This kind of energy will last for about 1-2 seconds; just enough to jump up when your doorbell rings.

#2 - Lactic anaerobiosis for the first minutes

Lactic anaerobiosis converts carbohydrates to energy (2 methods).

A - Anaerobic glycogenolysis

Stiffness?

If your dog is very stiff after a training, than perhaps his diet doesn't provide enough fat for fuel.

Lactic anaerobiosis has a disadvantage as is produces the by-product lactic acid. Excessive lactic acid production results in fatigue, poor endurance and poor performance.

Glycogen storages in a dog's muscle are used, but canine muscle tissue has only small depots of this fuel (as compared to human muscles). This kind of energy will last for about 30 seconds.

Carbohydrate loading is not an effective strategy when you want to maximize dog performance. Human muscle cells store up energy as glycogen depots and can use 'carbohydrate loading' to store more fuel. In contrast, dogs fed high fat diets store twice as more glycogen in their muscles than dogs fed high carbohydrate diets.

B - Glucose oxidation

Glucose from the blood and body cells is absorbed by muscle cells and then converted to energy. This kind of energy will last for about 1-2 minutes, which is short! In humans this is major. So yet another difference between dogs and humans.

#3 - Aerobiosis for longer excercizes

Aerobiosis converts fats to energy. This is the dominant method in dogs to convert food to energy. Dietary or stored fat is broken down to free fatty acids (FFA's) that travel though the blood stream and are absorbed by muscle cells.

Inside the canine muscle cell, L-carnitine transports the free fatty acids to the mitochondria (certain cell organels) that are able to convert FFA's to energy. In long-term exercises and workouts this is the main route in dogs.

Fat delivers twice as much energy per gram as compared to carbohydrates and protein. In canines, only fat be be stored in LARGE quantities for future use.

Some dogs need more energy than others

Regular dog food diets are formulated for dogs undertaking average amounts of activity in a non-stressful thermoneutral environment.

Energy requirements go up when:

  • Your dog is more active than the general kennel dog.
  • Your dog has to keep himself warm in the cold.
  • Your dog is in a lot of stress (for whatever reason).

Protein and amino acid synthesis increase in exercising dogs. Working dogs have greater protein requirements than sedentary dogs (a.k.a. couch potatoes).

Special dietary needs for performance dogs

If you want to optimize you dog's performance you need the best dog food for training and workouts. This book by Dr. Jocelynn Jacobs D.V.M. is the only specialized book I could find that will teach you this:

  • Different types of performance dogs have different nutritional needs.
  • Simple nutritional recommendations that will make your dog a top winner.
  • How certain nutrients promote peak performance.
  • How to find nutritional solutions to certain performance problems.

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Converting energy to motion - summary

For prolonged exercises fat is required. For short bursts of activity carbohydrates are used.

Glucose provides less than 20% of the energy during exercise. This declines even further as the length of the exercise time increases.

Proteins can also be converted to energy, but it's better when fats and carbohydrates are used for fuel. Protein should be used as building blocks by the body and also it's not a 'clean' fuel. During exercise proteins are used as a source of energy and as precursors of gluconeogenesis (the formation of sugar).

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