Hunting & Heritage,Bird Dogs & Training  |  11/13/2017

Reduce Stress and Optimize Bird Dog Field Performance


Understand the factors that stress a bird dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract, then counteract those forces

As the owner of a hardworking bird dog, you know that he or she is prone to stress from days spent working in the field. The duration and intensity at which your dog hunts, combined with cold weather, travel and exposure to other dogs in a new environment, are contributing factors to this natural stress that challenges a dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract.


A dog’s GI tract is associated with a large portion of his or her immune system. Here, specialized cells help protect his or her body against invading organisms, such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses, while recognizing beneficial bacteria. When the digestive tract is inflamed, digestibility and absorption of nutrients are reduced, which can compromise your bird dog’s performance.

“Because 70 percent of a dog’s immune system is associated with the gut, an upset digestive tract can result in reduced immunity,” says Purina Senior Research Scientist Arleigh Reynolds, DVM, PhD, DACVN. “When digestive tract inflammation and reduced immunity occur, an imbalance of the intestinal microflora also can occur, resulting in digestive upset.”
If your dog experiences digestive upset, you may notice a decrease in stool quality and a reduction in energy levels and performance. Other signs include loss of appetite, excess gas, vomiting, constipation, loose stools, and fatigue.


To help support your dog’s immune system health, keep a supply of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora canine probiotic supplement handy. Prescribed by veterinarians, FortiFlora contains a safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria proven to promote normal intestinal microflora and a healthy canine immune system, and to reduce diarrhea associated with stress.

Consult with your veterinarian before using FortiFlora. By starting your dog on FortiFlora prior to a hunting trip, you can help increase his or her levels of beneficial bacteria and promote a strong immune system. The convenient single packets can easily be sprinkled on your dog’s food once a day, or as prescribed by your veterinarian.
After a day of hard work afield, it’s important to make sure your bird dog recovers and is well-rested. Maximizing rest helps to minimize stress. Warm, soft, dry bedding is crucial, as is comfortable, not cramped, quarters when traveling. So is a robust and moist bowl of feed. Find important feeding tips here.
You also can help maintain your dog’s immune function by feeding a high-quality performance dog food, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula. The foundation of optimal performance and recovery, this complete and balanced formula sustains a dog’s energy needs and helps keep him or her properly conditioned.
The role of the GI tract as a dog’s natural defense system often is overlooked. Reducing stress and supporting digestive health are key to helping your dog perform in peak condition in the field.