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Hydration Management

by Arleigh Reynolds

Following are several management practices and tools to consider to maximize conditioning and genetic programs and reach optimum performance levels.

Reaching the winners circle involves a good deal of time, efforts and talents. Several things are consistent:

· Begin with quality genetics with selection traits focused on the game they enjoy most

· Feed a quality dog food which provides maximum performance potential and quick recovery

· Gain a sound understanding of the importance of quality and quantity of hydration needed to succeed

· There are no shortcuts to be at the top of your game year after year!

Our canine athletes are made up of 80% water. To put that into perspective a 50 lb. animal has 5 gallons of water in his body. Every day a dog loses hydration through urine, feces, breathing and sweat. The amount lost varies based on environment, exercise and diet. A dog can lose 6% of its body fluids (6 cups) before it will stop to drink. If a dog loses 10% (8 cups) of its body fluids it could become fatal.

Water is the single most important nutrient in terms of survivability. Dogs can survive for weeks without food using their own body fat and muscle for energy production. Water is vital for many important body parts and functions- including removing toxins for the body. Young and leaner animals have higher water content than older dogs or less desirable body conditions.

It is crucial to our dogs’ performance that we understand the volume of water consumption and use when managing canine performance animals.

  • Respiration water loss = 23% in inactive dog while increases to 40% with exercise.

  • Feces water loss = 7% in inactive dog while decreases to 5% with exercise. (stress stools 80-90% water loss)

  • Urine water loss = 70% in inactive dog while decreases to 55% with exercise.

*Normal feces in chart above are calculated from normal stool. Stress stools created from exercise induced stress without empty digestive track can create 80-90% water loss in stool percent. Prevention of feeding animals 10-12 hours prior to exercise will support a sound hydration plan.

Signs of dehydration

Beginning Signs- Visibly tired, slowed pace/less animation, act more “warm”, excessive panting etc.

Intermediate Signs: Skin will become less elastic if you pinch the skin on their back, it will be slow to return to normal shape; Slow gum capillary refill- if you press firmly on their gums and release, the time it takes for the gum to refill with color will be slow; Gums and tongue become darker in color, Rectal temperature remains > 105° F

Final Signs: Weak in the hind end and Wobbly and unsteady on feet

Cold temperatures can increase respiratory losses by 10-20 times. . With each breath, dogs inhale very dry air, but exhale about 6% water. The air temperature results in a difference of 2-4 quarts of water per day.

A general rule of water consumption: Water consumed per day should = 2.5 – 3 cups per cup of dry dog food consumed. Force feeding water with dry food is a practice used by many performance handlers to achieve their hydration needs.

Always use a common source of water. . Change of water source is no different than food source and affects the body with variable results.

Hyper-hydration with a good protein and electrolyte supplement prior to exercise is a good practice in managing the levels of body fluids.

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