Border Collies are a highly energetic working breed, so their nutrient requirements are typically high. Of course, every dog is different, and a Border Collie who spends a lot of time actively working or playing will need a higher-calorie diet than a dog who favors rest and relaxation. Understanding the basic nutritional needs of a Border Collie while keeping your individual dog's characteristics in mind can help you decide what kind of diet will work best for your Border Collie.
A maintenance diet for a Border Collie should take into account not only the breed, but also the activity level, individual biology, and current weight of the dog. Even the outdoor conditions where your Border Collie spends time can affect the dog's dietary needs. Most complete and balanced, brand-name commercial dog foods will provide the proper nutrition for a moderately active pet Border Collie, but trying out a few different types may let you hone in on one that best suits your individual dog. Choose a brand that lists a meat as the primary ingredient, instead of grains. A meat-based maintenance diet can improve your dog's stamina, energy level, coat and skin condition. For some dogs, a diet based on lamb or chicken may be easier to digest.
Raw Food Diets
Some pet owners and breeders opt to feed their Border Collies a raw food diet. You can choose a commercial raw food diet or create meals for your pet in your own kitchen. Do not feed your Border Collie raw meat without consulting with your veterinarian first. If you choose to go this route, it is important to work with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist to determine the exact ratio of protein, fat, organ meats, and other ingredients you will include to create a nutritionally complete and balanced diet for your dog. Always choose high-quality meats. Do not rely on freezing raw meats to kill bacteria and parasites. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says freezing of raw meats at sub-zero temperatures inactivates bacteria, but when the meat thaws the bacteria are activated and begin to proliferate again. Freezing may kill parasites, but must not be relied upon to do so, the USDA says. Only thorough cooking can be relied on to destroy bacteria and parasites. Always practice food safety when handling raw meat. Wash your hands, kitchen utensils and preparations surfaces thoroughly to avoid bacterial contamination, and always keep raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods.
Active Dogs and Active Days
An extremely active Border Collie needs food with more protein and fat than a less active dog. Similarly, if you participate in agility or herding competitions, your Border Collie may require a different type of food for active days compared to rest days. However, don't simply increase the total amount of your dog's regular food to handle increased activity. Instead, focus on the total nutritional content of the food. Commercial performance dog foods may work for your dog, or you might opt to try offering puppy food, which typically has more fat and protein than adult dog foods. Choosing a dog food with at least 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat can give your dog a nutritional boost on a long-term or short-term basis.
Weight and Health Issues
Your Border Collie's weight and overall health are the best ways to determine whether the diet you have chosen is the best one for your dog. An underweight dog may need a high-performance diet with added fat and protein even on less active days. An overweight dog might need a calorie-restricted dog food, but first try solving the problem by increasing your dog's activity level instead of switching foods. Keep an eye on your dog's coat as well, since a dull coat can signal a lack of fat or nutrients in the diet.
References & Resources
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.