September 18, 2020 0

WE are continually being bombarded with social media, advertising and publicity regarding food, supplements and products for our beloved 4 legged family members, but how do we know what is legit and what just makes expensive urine??

I was poking around on google and came across this awesome article that answers lots of those questions.
The article on this subject is available at:

Menchetti L, Guelfi G, Speranza R, et al.  Benefits of dietary supplements on the physical fitness of German Shepherd dogs during a drug detection training course.  PLoS One. 2019 Jun 14;14(6):e0218275. 

So to summarize, the researchers fed 7 dogs their basic basal diet, and a different set of 7 dogs the basal diet plus a daily nutritional supplement for 3-months.  All dogs were German Shepherds, 2-3 years of age, all born and reared in the same place, and trained as drug detection dogs.  At the end of the trial, they evaluated heart rate using treadmill exercise and the subsequent recovery period. Blood samples were collected before starting the nutritional supplement treatment, before and after the treadmill exercise and following recovery.

The supplement contained:  Amino acids, carnitine, vitamins, and octacosanol.  (Iken Up, Teknofarma, Torino, Italy)

What were the conclusion?

Answer:  Dietary supplementation proved effective in improving the physical fitness of drug detection dogs by exerting beneficial effects on heart rate recovery, energy metabolism and biomarkers of muscle damage.

Lower heart rate after recovery, lower time constants of heart rate decay, and higher absolute heart rate recovery.

Lower concentrations of creatine kinase (CK), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), & non-estrified fatty acids (NEFA) – suggesting a reduction in muscle damage and improvement in energy metabolism.

How fantastic! I have always been sceptical of supplements, particularly oral supplements due to the acidity of the canine gut and lack of proof of absorption, so I was very pleased to find this study to share with you. It works!

I wanted to see if this study had true validity or if it was a shot in the dark, so I kept searching, and this is what I found:

Pelligrino et al. Physical response of dogs supplemented with fish oil during a treadmill training programme. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2019 Mar;103(2):653-660.

In this study, supplementing with fish oil and then training dogs on a treadmill for 30-minutes, twice a week, for 12 weeks resulted in lower heart rate values -pre-exercise and post-exercise, lower post-exercise rectal temperatures, and higher thigh circumference was noted as compared to the control group.

Burri L et al.  Effects of dietary supplementation with krill meal on serum pro-inflammatory markers after the Iditarod sled dog race.  Res Vet Sci. 2018 Dec;121:18-22. 

The blood of two Iditarod teams were compared for omega-3 index, inflammation (CRP) and muscle damage (CK).  One was fed a seafood-based supplement from Krill, rich in omega-3 phospholipids and proteins for 5-weeks prior to the start of the race, and the other group did not receive any supplementation.  The supplementation group had a higher omega-3 index pre-race, did not raise as high in the post-race inflammatory values, and had a tendency towards reduced muscle damage.  However more controlled studies are needed to confirm these findings.

I am still not a total believer in oral supplementation but these studies have definitely made me sit up and pay closer attention. There is definitely a need for more in depth and longer studies regarding supplements but they have shown here to have beneficial effects that may aid in performance and recovery.  So, now if or when your asked about dietary supplements by a sporting dog owner, you can feel comfortable saying that research is showing that they are proving to be useful.




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