Why is a food for an active dog different?
People often ask what is the difference in a food formulated for an active dog versus a dog that may be more stay at home orientated. With activity, dogs tend to have a gastrointestinal tract that could expedite movement of the food through its lumen, or the inside of the GI tract. These dogs need a food that is highly digestible (so uptake happens quickly versus a long period required for digestion to occur or not at all if the ingredients of poor quality or poorly manufactured), and also need a food that may allow for slower transmission along the GI tract.
How to slow it down a bit can be accomplished by the careful inclusion of certain fiber types so we can end up with a solid stool at the end of this whole digestion process. Fat type can also influence this process along with the size of the meal. Often I will get the question of why feed twice a day with an active dog. It is so we can reduce the overall size of each meal to allow for better and complete digestion of the food due to the realization that this certain dog is active. No different than if you eat a big meal and then try to go jogging in a few hours. You get the drift.
Lastly, when to feed an active dog is important with the digestion process and prevention of bloat. I recommend no earlier than at least 4 hours prior to exercise and at least 1 hour after activity are the best times to offer the dog a meal. With many highly active dogs it is not uncommon to feed 12 hours prior to the event or longer to assure that the dog has his GI tract clear of the goods.