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Super Supplements for the High Performance Dog

Thomas D. Fahey, Ed.D.
Exercise Physiology Laboratory
California State University, Chico

For nearly 100 years, scientists thought that the heart's capacity to pump blood to the tissues determined fitness in dogs and humans. While cardiovascular capacity is certainly important; fitness is more complicated than that. Muscle power capacity and muscles' resistance to fatigue are also important. Muscle fitness is determined by their strength and fuels. If you can increase muscle fuel levels, you increase muscle fitness. Scientists have developed new muscle fuel-boosting supplements that charges up the fitness of the performance dog.

Building muscle power output capacity is important to performance dogs and pets. Sled dogs, working dogs, and greyhounds perform better and fatigue more slowly with stronger, more powerful muscles. Also, stronger muscles mean fewer injuries -- certainly an important consideration for top performance of your dog.

Strong, powerful muscles are important for the smooth and easy performance of your dog's everyday activities, such as walking, chasing balls, and climbing stairs, as well as for emergency situations. They help keep your dog's skeleton in proper alignment, preventing back, hip, and leg pain and providing the support necessary for good posture.

Central to muscle power are the supplies of two important muscle chemicals are ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and Creatine phosphate. Stronger dogs tend to have larger stores of these critical chemicals. A new supplement containing Creatine monohydrate, D-Ribose, and betaine-glycocyamine beef up Creatine phosphate and ATP in skeletal and heart muscle. This new supplement will have a marked effect on your dog's performance.

How Muscles Get Energy The sum total of all the chemical processes occurring in your dog's body is called metabolism. Your dog's body must constantly balance these chemical processes. It must balance the rate it builds and breaks down tissues and provide enough energy for the many physical processes necessary to sustain life. It breaks down foods to supply energy; but, it also stores energy in the liver, fat cells, or muscle for later use. Exercise, pumping blood, and breathing require energy. Energy helps destroy worn out cells and tissues and builds new ones. It also regulates body water balance, sends nervous signals, and fuels thought processes. Without energy from metabolism, you dog couldn't run, chase a ball, or go for a walk.

Exercise Increases Your Dog's Metabolic Rate  the harder he or she exercises, the more it accelerates. At rest, your dog has a low metabolic rate; but, It increases when he stand up and goes up more when he walks. When running, his metabolic rate increases more than 800% above rest. Greyhounds and sled dogs can increase metabolism by a whopping 2000 % or more.

Physically fit animals excel at increasing their metabolic rate. They can rapidly supply energy to for powerful movements and maintain healthy physical systems. Unfit animals, on the other hand, cannot generate the energy needed for powerful or sustained exercise. Their bodies cannot deliver vital substances, such as oxygen and fuel to exercising muscles, or cope with substances produced during intense exercise, so they tire easily. Consequently, their legs hurt and they breathe heavily during exercise.

Canine Metabolism and Exercise  The dog's body takes chemical energy from food and converts it into other forms of energy useful to the body. These energy conversions might allow the dog to contract muscle, conduct nerve impulses, or renew structures like bone cells or muscle protein.

All dog food contains energy. Digesting the food and releasing all the energy would be wasteful because the dog can't use all of it at once. So, you store the energy in forms you can use more gradually. The most basic form of storage energy is adenosine triphosphate or ATP.

ATP is the "energy currency" of the cell -- it supplies energy for the majority of the dog's physiological processes. Rather than use the energy released from foods directly, the dog's body traps energy as ATP. When the body needs energy for processes such as muscle contraction, making new proteins, or controlling fluid levels in the cells, It breaks down ATP. ATP releases the energy which then fuels the biological process, such as muscle contraction.

Foods are classified as fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. After a meal, your dog stores excess energy that is not used to make ATP. Fats are stored in adipose tissue (fat cells). Carbohydrates in the diet help maintain blood sugar (glucose) or they are stored as glycogen or converted to fat. Glycogen is a very important carbohydrate for supplying energy during exercise. It is stored mainly in the liver, skeletal muscle, and kidneys. Amino acids, the basic units making up proteins, are not stored as fuel. Rather, they are constructed into protein structures throughout the body. They can also be broken down for energy or incorporated into carbohydrate or fat energy stores.

Fats, carbohydrates, and proteins can be broken down later to form new ATP and accommodate increases in metabolic rate. When you exercise, your need for ATP is great. Consequently, you mobilize your energy stores to increase ATP production.

Exercise and the Three Energy Systems  Your dog's body has three energy systems to carry out life processes: immediate, nonoxidative, and oxidative. These systems also perform specific functions during exercise. The immediate energy system is used to exercise for 3 seconds or less. Examples include quick movements such as jumping, and short sprints. During daily activities, your dog uses the immediate system for all short-term activities, such as rising from the ground, coming when called, or walking. The nonoxidative system is used for high intensity exercise that last 3-60 seconds, such as fast running. The oxidative system is used for exercise lasting more than 2 minutes.

Except for short power movements, such as short sprints or jumps, dogs use all three energy systems concurrently whenever they exercise. For example, when your dog uses the immediate energy system when running for a ball, but replenish energy stores using the nonoxidative and oxidative systems.

The Immediate Energy System: The components of this system include ATP and Creatine phosphate (CP). During exercise, ATP breaks down and releases energy that is used to contract your dogs muscles. Your dog don't have very much ATP, so the stores are replenished immediately by breaking down CP.

During even the most intense exercise, ATP levels stay high but CP levels deplete rapidly. After a few seconds, your dog reaches the maximum capacity for this system and has to use the nonoxidative and oxidative energy systems to restore ATP and CP levels. The immediate system can be beefed up with a supplement containing Creatine monohydrate, betaine-glycocyamine, and D-ribose.

Creatine Monohydrate  Currently, creatine monohydrate is among the most popular and widely used supplements in human athletes. Athletes use it to enhance recovery, power output, and muscle hypertrophy. Scientists recognize that it's equally valuable in dogs.

While Creatine feeding was attempted early this century, interest in this technique as an performance aid stems from studies done in the early 1990's. They found that Creatine feeding (in the form of Creatine monohydrate) increased the Creatine phosphate content of the muscle by 20 %. The optimal dosage for achieving maximum values of muscle Creatine phosphate appear to be 20 g/day for 5 days followed by daily doses of approximately 3-5 g/day.

Increasing the intake to 20 g/day resulted in no further increase in total muscle Creatine. Creatine supplementation has been shown (in some but not all studies) to improve performance in short-term, high intensity, repetitive exercise, which would make it a valuable supplement for performance dogs. Creatine supplementation may improve performance by enhancing the availability of creatine phosphate and possibly regulating the rate that muscle breaks down glucose. It may enhance muscle growth by allowing dogs to exercise harder.

Betatine-Glycocyamine Therapy  Creatine phosphate is the main storage form of immediately available energy in muscles and nerves. In dogs and humans, the immediate precursor of Creatine is glycocyamine (guanidoacetic acid). Glycocyamine is then transported to the liver where it forms Creatine. Betaine is important because it supplies a vital component of Creatine.

Supplementing Creatine Monohydrate, Betaine-Glycocyamine and D-Ribose- Supplementing these three substance will give your dog an energy jolt that will make more ATP available for your dog's heart and muscle. This will help make your dog stronger, faster, and more fit.

The combination of Creatine monohydrate and betaine-glycocyamine supplementation might increase Creatine phosphate levels in muscle more than creatine monohydrate alone. D-ribose is a carbohydrate that is an import source of chemical energy for most living things. It is also a building block of ATP, RNA and DNA. In several animal studies, administration of D-ribose increased ATP and GTP synthesis in heart muscle. GTP is an important energy cellular compound similar to ATP.

Increasing ATP in heart muscle would increase the contraction capacity of the heart. During exercise in the dog, increased heart muscle ATP would increase the capacity of the heart to deliver blood to muscles and to dissipate heat through panting by enhancing tongue blood flow.

Supplementing these three substance will give your dog an energy jolt that will make more ATP available for your dog's heart and muscle. This will help make your dog stronger, faster, and more fit.