Long days of hunting and training require optimum nutrition for your retriever
One of the easiest ways to keep your dog in good shape is to make sure that he is getting proper nutrition. Nutrition is very important for all dogs, but your gun dog needs optimum nutrition to make it through long days of quartering, flushing and retrieving birds.
Pay for premium
Start by feeding a premium dog food. Premium dog foods concentrate more nutrition in less food because they use high quality ingredients that are easily absorbed. These foods generally have higher fat and protein, something working dogs need.
The latest research in pet nutrition shows dogs fed a high-fat diet run faster and further than dogs fed a diet high in carbohydrates.1 A high protein dog food helps protect your dog against injuries. Canine nutritional scientists recommend a premium dog food containing 18-20 percent fat and 28-30 percent protein for working dogs.2
How do you know if your dog food is good?
Our dogs and the dogs we train are worked hard almost every day. If a food is not providing good nutrition, we see it pretty quickly. Here are some areas where we see signs of poor nutrition.
Coat texture and shine
Poor dog nutrition will show up fairly quickly in a flat or bristly coat. Your dog’s coat should be growing evenly and have a shine to it. If you notice that it is different colors, thick in some areas and thin in others, or just overall looks flat and lifeless, it is likely your dog food that is to blame.
Amount of waste
Another way you can tell if your dog food is providing good nutrition is in the amount of waste that is coming out of your dog. A premium dog food will have very little waste. The dog will be able to absorb a great deal of nutrition from the food and very little is left over.
If your dog is having really big poops, that may be a sign that your dog food has a lot of fillers and ingredients your dog is not able to absorb.
If your dog lacks energy or runs out of steam quickly while training, I would look to your food first. Working dogs need a high fat, high protein food source to maintain their energy throughout the training.
Consistency is important
Dogs like consistency in all things, but especially their feedings. Feed your dog at the same time each day and do not change brands or flavors of food.
Dogs are not like humans; they do not get bored eating the same food each day. The only thing that should be varied at feeding time is the amount of food your dog receives. This should fluctuate depending on how your dog looks and how much exercise he is getting.
Working dogs should be kept lean, with a defined indentation between the ribs and hipbones. Overweight dogs tire faster in the field, injure themselves easier, and develop health problems earlier than lean dogs.
Final thoughts on gun dog nutrition
Assuming your dog is healthy, you should not give your dog table scrapes or other human additives unless prescribed by a veterinarian. If you are feeding a premium dog food, these scrapes are unnecessary and can throw off the nutritional balance you are working toward.
Remember, if you really want your retriever to grow and progress in his/her hunting training this year but doing the training yourself sounds overwhelming or maybe your schedule is just too busy to get it done, I’m here to help! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just give me a call. I would be happy to discuss your goals for your retriever and tell you about the programs I offer.
Until next time, happy retrieving.