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Preliminary investigation into the effects of low carbohydrate dietary content on glucose levels in working farm dogs

Working farm dogs are an integral part of New Zealand agriculture1 as well as in other countries. These dogs are elite athletes that are extremely fit and have extraordinary endurance. The dogs’ intense physical activity results in high-energy expenditure; energy metabolism utilizes two main substrates namely, fat and carbohydrates. While most organ systems and tissues can utilize fat, the central nervous system and the brain exclusively consume glucose for energy. Hence, low glucose levels can lead to a spectrum of clinical signs. However, brain starvation from glucose may cause subtle deficits without overt clinical signs that are cumulatively deleterious and that can impair the general wellbeing of working farm dogs. In New Zealand farms, there are two types of canine diets that are commonly used to feed working farm dogs: high carbohydrate diet and low carbohydrate diet (raw food). Yet, very little research has been undertaken to determine which of these two diets are more biologically appropriate to meet the energetic requirements of working farm dogs.

Therefore, this study will test the hypothesis that low carbohydrate diet is associated with increased frequency of periods of low glucose levels under conditions of prolonged strenuous physical activity. We will approach the research question by analysis of the association between glucose and activity levels derived from continuous monitoring of glucose and physical activity in the farms over a period of 48-hours.
Outcomes of this study will set the ground to the establishment of guidelines regarding the feeding practices that will improve the overall wellbeing and performances of working farm dogs in New Zealand.

Researchers : Arnon Gal

Institution : Massey University

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