Healthy Diet for a Border Collie

Border collies are high-energy dogs and need more protein and fat than other dogs.
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Border collies are high-energy working dogs. These energetic pooches will burn more calories and use more energy than their more sedentary canine peers. Feeding your border collie a diet with appropriate levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates will help keep him happier and healthier.

Protein Levels for Border Collies

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The Association of American Feed Control Officials requires that adult dog foods have a minimal level of 18 percent protein. These values are slightly higher for puppies, at 22 percent protein. However, these minimum values are too low for active adult and puppy border collies. If your dog is active in herding, agility, running or another high-energy activity, he will need a protein level of at least 25 percent; a protein level over 30 percent is recommended for very active dogs. If your dog is older or more sedentary, a high-protein diet may make him more excitable, so a protein level of 22-25 percent may be adequate. Choose highly-digestible proteins, such as lamb or salmon, and avoid meat byproducts.

Fat Levels for Border Collies

AAFCO also requires a minimum fat content of 5 percent for adult dogs and 8 percent for puppies. For all but severely overweight dogs, these fat levels are too low. If your border collie is a puppy or is active, look for a food with a fat level of 18-20 percent.

Carbohydrate Levels for Border Collies

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Carbohydrates are more complicated for dogs than proteins and fats. While dogs need some carbohydrates, excessive levels can cause insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and fatigue. Veterinarian Angie Untisz recommends limiting carbohydrates for border collies to no more than 10-15 percent of your dog's diet. The carbohydrates should come from complex ingredients, such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes or peas. Avoid corn, wheat and soy products, as well as foods that contain any kind of corn syrup or sugar compounds.

Feeding Raw or Home-Cooked Food

The most nutritious food option for any dog, including border collies, is to feed him from a menu of home-cooked or raw foods. By preparing your dog's meals at home, you can control the levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates in your border collie's diet. You also have the flexibility of adjusting the levels as needed, based on your dog's current activity levels. If you choose to prepare your own food, make sure you are adding appropriate ingredients to meet your dog's nutritional needs.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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