TIP SHEET FOR RUNNING YOUR DOG
Feed right: Forget carbo-loading. Go for high fat and high protein for dogs in endurance training.
Build up: Start with 15 minutes for a couple of weeks, then a half-hour and so on.
Obey: Dogs must follow basic commands before running with their humans.
Hydrate: Dedicated squirt bottle with cool or lukewarm water is optimal.
Know your dog: If a dog becomes disobedient or uninterested, cut back.
Track: Grass, dirt or sand are best; if running on blacktop or gravel, allow time for pads to toughen.
More information: www.proplan.com/p5/.
— Source: Brian Zanghi, research nutritionist at Nestle Purina Pet Care
The most layabout mutt is a better-built endurance athlete than the most finely tuned distance runner.
‘‘With the proper training, a dog in every case will be able to outperform any human,’’ said Dr. Brian Zanghi, a research nutritionist at Nestlé Purina Pet Care.
Even so, there’s a method to running right by your dog.
Taking your house dog along on the final buildup for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13 probably should wait until next year. Otherwise, Zanghi had good ideas for combining the good of an active lifestyle for human and dog.
While there are similarities between humans and dogs building up in training — Zanghi suggested something like 15 minutes for two weeks, then a half-hour and so on — there are differences, too.
Nutrition is the biggest. With humans, the key is loading carbohydrates. With dogs, it is high fat and high protein.
Oh, to be a dog.
‘‘Dogs do not benefit from carb-loading,’’ Zanghi said. ‘‘That is why performance formulas have high protein and high fat. Their metabolism has evolved to more efficiently use fat for endurance. That is part of the reason sled dogs are able to go all day.’’
Purina’s highest-performance Pro Plan dog food has 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat. That’s like a well-marbled steak with garlic butter and a baked potato smothered in sour cream and butter. That’s far different from the fabled pre-race platter of pasta with marinara sauce for humans.
Hydration is nearly as important. Zanghi even recommends putting water in a dog’s meal before running. But the meal shouldn’t be given before exercising. It’s better the night before, so it has time to be digested. Then give the dog food and water after exercise.
Zanghi said the ‘‘best strategy while exercising is to stop every 15 to 20 minutes to give an opportunity’’ for water out of portable bowl, if possible.
Better is a dedicated squirt bottle. A squirt bottle allows direct administration of water to the back of the throat.
Dogs don’t sweat. Their primary cooling is through panting and respiration.
The water should be cool or lukewarm. Besides cold water potentially giving a dog a head rush, Zanghi said, ‘‘It would cause a restriction in blood vessels in the back of throat.’’ That could restrict the dog’s ability to cool.
Be conscious of your dogs. If they become disobedient or uninterested, it’s time to cut back. Some dogs have builds not suited for long-distance running. Train on grass, dirt or sand, if possible.
Make sure the dog is obedient. A dog running off destroys the flow of a good run.
Ultimately, know your dog.
To learn more, go to proplan.com/p5 .