PrimaDog dog agility training

Feeding an agility dog

When feeding an agility dog, consider tailoring its meals to fit the exercise routine. A laid-back training session once a week and a competition every now and then will not up your dog's energy needs. But if you are getting serious with regular sports training and the usual warm-ups and cooldowns during contests, then yes, your furry athlete is going to need more fuel to keep up.

Read this article for some handy PrimaDog tips on nailing the diet plan for an agility dog and making sure everything is spot on for competition days.

Energy needs of an agility dog

The diet of an agility dog is planned according to the daily activity. Dogs that are active for 2–3 hours a day need 10–50% more energy than dogs with general activity levels. If the high-energy activities such as running free or training exceed 3 hours a day, a dog’s energy requirement can increase by whopping 50–100%. Learn more about assessing a dog's activity levels and feeding an active home dog.

If you are taking your dog out for obstacle course training or other intense workouts more than three times a week on top of regular walks, the dog will need a bit more in its bowl. In addition, young dogs might burn through energy faster than older ones, even on a lighter training schedule. In addition, sprinting playdates lasting about an hour with a dog buddy count as physical training.

An agility competition run is a quick burst lasting only a couple of minutes, increasing the dog's energy needs by about 10–20%. However, during competition weeks, the strain can add up if there are several runs over the weekend.

Looking for supremely tasty and soft training treats for your trusty teammate? Try PrimaDog grain-free Northern Treats made from fresh meat. Bound to make your dog's tail wag with delight!

PrimaDog encourages dog owners to activate their dogs


What to feed to an agility dog?

So, what is on the menu for an agility dog? In agility, a dog performs sharp turns, quick accelerations, sudden stops, and high jumps, which particularly strains the dog’s joints and tendons.

It is crucial to plan an agility dog's diet in a way that keeps it in an ideal weight for a sports dog. Carrying extra weight puts more strain on the dog’s bones and muscles, and it also slows the dog down and makes it harder for it to recover after performances. Furthermore, it is vital that your four-legged friend does not get too thin, which could weaken the muscle condition.

An ideal body condition for an agility dog is a 4 on a scale of 1 to 9, meaning slender. You should be able to feel your dog's ribs under a slight fat cover, see a clear waist when looking down from above, and notice its belly tucking up nicely from the side.

Tips for feeding your agility dog

When it comes to feeding your high-flying agility dog, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choose a dry food for an active agility dog containing about 25–30% protein and about 20% fat. This combo not only provides your dog with energy but also amino acids to help recover strained muscles. Try PrimaDog grain-free Active Duck & Herring dry food.
  • Your dog might benefit from supplements added to kibbles, such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
  • Check your agility dog's daily feeding, especially if it cannot continuously eat active dog food, for example due to gaining weight. On training days, up to one-third or at most half of the dog’s food can be active dog food. Avoid adding more fatty kibbles as a sudden increase in fat content in the diet can lead to acute pancreatitis.
  • If your sporty sidekick eats active dog dry food daily, mix in lighter food during the off-season. As competition and training seasons approach, gradually shift back to the fattier food.

Build your dog's diet to their specific needs. Not sure where to start? Read our guide to choosing the optimal dog food.

PrimaDog two active dogs running and need energy-rich dog food


Feeding your agility dog on competition days 

The evening before the competition

Offer your dog a slightly larger meal than usual. Either increase the amount of food or provide more calorie rich food. Make sure your dog has also drunk enough water. Usually, dogs need water about 0.5 decilitres per kilogram of body weight daily. However, on hot competition days, the need for water increases.

If your sprint star has had diarrhoea the day before the event, think twice about letting it compete as it can cause serious dehydration.

Competition day morning

Give your agility dog easily digestible food along with additional fluids. Wet foods are perfect for this, and you can always add a bit more water to help hydration. See PrimaDog’s wide range of tasty wet foods and sausages for dogs. 

Make sure you feed your dog at least six hours before the run to make sure it has time to defecate at least once before hitting the track. The dog's energy levels should be topped up, but the stomach should be empty. If six hours is not enough, feed the dog even earlier.

Do not change a dog’s diet just before an intense competition weekend to avoid upset stomach. Learn more about changing a dog’s diet.

Competition day

Before the race, or in between runs, you can offer your dog a small top-up of water. For a small dog, often a 0.5 to 1 decilitre top-up is enough, and for a larger dog, a couple of decilitres will do. Just make sure to manage fluid intake carefully about 15 minutes after the track, but preferably an hour before the next run. If there is less than an hour before the next run, cut back on the amount. You can mix the water with something tasty for your agility dog, for example PrimaDog handy Mini Meal in gravy wet food.

Avoid large amounts of fluid or food before the run. Be particularly mindful of overhydration, both before and during events. For instance, half a litre of water in one sitting is already too much. It can dilute your dog’s body, as dogs lose sodium mainly through their urine. It is quite usual for dogs to have looser stools after they have been physically exerting themselves, but the dog should not get diarrhoea, as this can lead to significant fluid loss.

Competition day evening

If your dog is up for another round of competition tomorrow, make sure to serve it a meal that is easy to digest and a bit more calorie dense. Include some wet food or meat in the agility dog’s dinner to ensure good digestion and proper hydration.

Feeding your agility ace made easy with PrimaDog Active dry food

PrimaDog grain-free active dry food product image

Did you know we teamed up with the Finnish Agility Association to create the grain-free PrimaDog Active Duck & Herring dry food? It is tailored for both agility dogs and other active tail-waggers, helping to boost energy levels throughout the day and support recovery from intense activities.

Optimal content of protein and fat for an agility ace: The Active dry food contains 30% protein and 22% fat, with 80% of the protein coming from animal sources.

Rich in meat: The dry food consists of 55% meat and fish in total. Duck and herring are the main sources of animal protein in the kibbles, often suitable even for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Learn more about feeding dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Completely grain-free and potato-free recipe: The carbohydrate and starch source in this food is pea starch, which holds the kibbles together. Only the starch part of the pea is used, which does not weaken with nutrient absorption.

Herring oil instead of salmon oil: In Active dry food, we have replaced the commonly used salmon oil with herring oil as salmon oil can cause acid reflux in some dogs. Herring oil helps to ensure a good intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Supplements for overall wellbeing: Added L-carnitine helps muscles recover from energy-intensive performances, while taurine supports heart function and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, MSM, and natural green-lipped mussel further aid in maintaining joint health in dogs.

Read more about grain-free PrimaDog Active dry food.