Bird Dogs & Training  |  09/01/2011

Six Reminders for Feeding Hardworking Bird Dogs

Knowing when and how much to feed a hardworking dog can make a difference in how well the dog performs while hunting or at field trials. Optimal nutrition for hardworking dogs also can impact a dog’s endurance. Here are six useful guidelines to remember:
  • Dogs require from 20 to 24 hours to completely digest a meal and eliminate it as a bowel movement. Thus, it is best to feed hardworking dogs after hunting or training is finished for the day
  • If a hunting or field trial outing is a multiple-day event, it may not be realistic to wait 24 hours before the next exercise bout before feeding a dog. Generally, dogs should be fed 30 to 60 minutes after exercise is completed for the day, allowing adequate time for cooling down, so they have the maximum time to digest the meal before the next day’s exercise
  • Feeding dogs 17 hours or more before exercise results in greater use of fat as energy compared to feeding six hours before exercise, which promotes greater use of carbohydrates for energy generation. Exercise metabolism for hardworking dogs is best when fat is used for producing energy for muscles. Fat promotes and supports the endurance exercise hardworking dogs require for optimal performance
  • Generally, it is best to feed hardworking dogs once daily. This practice is consistent with feeding a dog after training or hunting is completed. Healthy adult dogs, unlike people, don’t become hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) with short or multiple days of food deprivation, even when exercising. Since they rely more on fat metabolism, feeding once daily is considered optimal
  • Hardworking dogs should be fed a performance dog food – such as Purina Pro Plan brand Performance Formula – year-round to help maximize training and conditioning. Pro Plan Performance contains 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat, compared to maintenance dog foods that may have from 24 to 26 percent protein and 12 to 16 percent fat. The high levels of fat and protein in Pro Plan help to increase dogs’ capacity to metabolize fat and give them a higher oxygen capacity
  • If a dog requires a large quantity of food to maintain an ideal body condition, you should be sure you are feeding a nutrient-dense performance dog food. Generally, this will help keep weight on a dog without the need to feed an excessive amount. This scenario can be typical of young adult dogs housed outdoors in cool or cold temperatures, particularly when they exhibit very active kennel behaviors and are trained or hunted multiple times a week. If a dog continues to require a large portion of food to maintain body condition, you should consult your veterinarian to devise a feeding strategy addressing the dog’s needs
Hardworking dogs are elite athletes trained for high performance and success. Providing them with the best nutrition using the best feeding strategies helps support them. An optimal daily feeding program complements the training and breeding of your top-caliber hardworking dog.