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Zack adjusts to the new pup, Zoie. Dogs owned by Janie Snelson. Photo by Janie Snelson
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High Protein and High Fat are Crucial for a Gundog’s DietYour hunting dog’s diet is one of the most important components of its health and happiness. Just as a person can get sick from an improper diet, so can your hunting dog. Hunting dogs require special nutrition that is different from a normal family dog, and understanding these differences is important.

Hunting dog breeds require more calories because they are more active throughout the day. The typical hunting dog will often run and sprint for prolonged periods of time while on a hunt. Also, nutritional needs increase when the weather is extremely hot or cold as this type of weather is even more burdensome on a hunting dog’s body.

High Protein and High Fat are Crucial for a Gundog’s Diet

High protein and high fat are important for a hunting dog’s diet. With fat having twice as many calories as carbohydrates or protein per gram, it is a stable fuel that allows hunting dogs to work for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Protein is a good fuel because it breaks down slowly over time, and it is the most natural food source for a dog. It is recommended that a hunting dog’s diet is 30% protein and 20% fat for stable energy throughout the day. Scientific studies have proven that dogs fed a high protein high fat diet in a 30/20 mix of protein and fat greatly outlasted dogs that were fed a lower protein and fat diet in both energy and ability to work.

Also, one major concern with hunting dogs is the loss of weight. If hunting dogs are not fed the proper levels of protein and fat, it is very likely that they will lose weight. Experts recommend that hunting dogs should be fed at least twice per day. However if the dog is losing weight, it is recommended to feed it more often. Weight loss can cause potentially serious health problems, and it is advisable to check a hunting dog’s weight weekly.

Carbohydrates and Hunting Dog Diets

Unlike humans, dogs are better suited to have fat as a fuel source before lengthy physical activity. That doesn’t mean that carbohydrates do not have their place in a hunting dog’s diet. The remaining 50% of the dog’s diet are carbohydrates. Rice, corn, and milo are good sources of carbohydrates. Rice is an excellent food because it readily breaks down into glucose which fuels quick bursts of energy that are required while sprinting. Milo and corn have been shown to break down more slowly allowing a longer duration of energy availability for the dog.

What to Look For In Store Bought Food

Be sure to look at the ingredients of each type of dog food to see what types of carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources are being used. Typically store bought high performance dog foods have corn, milo, and rice among other carbohydrate sources. Protein sources derived from animals instead of vegetables are typically better for dog nutrition. There are a wide number of high performance dog foods on the market. To ensure that your dog is getting the proper levels of fundamental nutrition, check the labels for the percentages of protein and fat. If the product has a 30/20 mix as recommended by experts, or a percentage that is close to it such as 28/17 or 27/15 it will be a good choice for your hunting dog.

Don’t Overlook The Importance of Water

Some hunters become frustrated with their dogs having to go to the bathroom often while on hunts. So, they end up allowing their dogs to drink water only during and after their hunts. Do not do this! As a person would require steady amounts of water while exercising, so do dogs. Dogs can become ill if they are not properly hydrated while working. It is best to have consistent access to water for hunting dogs. No matter what, always have clean water readily available during periods of activity.

Avoid Health and Energy Problems by Following Dietary Recommendations

If these recommendations are followed for a hunting dog’s diet, there will be less of a concern for the overall health, energy, and weight stability of the dog. Although health and weight should always be monitored, serious potential problems can be avoided with the proper working dog diet recommendations are followed.

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