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Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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If the dog seems to be gaining too much weight, reduce his food intake. If the dog seems too thin and there are no health problems, encourage him to eat more.

Cold Climate and the Active Dog
Outside temperatures can influence a dog’s food intake. Purina research shows that dogs who spend most of their time outdoors consume about 30 percent more calories during December through February than June through August in temperatures representing the St. Louis area. As a general rule, dogs need about 7.5 percent more calories with each 10 degree drop in temperature. A thin layer of fat provides insulation for the dog. If you can feel the definition of every rib in the dog’s body, the dog may be too thin for cold-weather hunting. Consult your veterinarian. Do the reverse in the summer, when the problem may be obesity.

Off-season Feeding
Some dog owners ask how a dog should be fed off-season. This can be done in one of two ways, but certain precautions should be followed to help prevent discomfort for the dog or digestive upsets. If you continue to feed a high energy diet during the off-season, reduce the amount. However, be aware that the dog’s stomach will shrink or distend over a period of time, depending upon the amount of food he consumes daily.

When feeding levels are reduced at the end of the hunting season, the dog may experience a sensation of hunger until his stomach has sufficiently shrunken. Conversely, he may experience an uncomfortable feeling of over-fullness when feeding levels are substantially increased at the start of the hunting season until his stomach has distended.

These periods of discomfort can be relieved. At the end of the training/hunting season, feed several small amounts of food each day and gradually work into a reduced single feeding. At the start of the training/hunting season, gradually increase the amount of food being offered through several small feedings each day and work into a single feeding to match the dog’s activity level. The benefits of feeding a single food throughout the year are not having to find more than one food which delivers the performance you expect and eliminating the risk of digestive upsets or food refusal which can result from changes in diet.

If you decide to change diets during the off-season, choose a good quality dog food in a bulkier form that is nutritionally complete and balanced for all life stages and contains at least 20 percent protein and 1600 calories per pound of food such as Purina Dog Chow brand dog food. When you make a diet change to match the dog’s seasonal activity, make the change gradually over a seven to ten day period. Each day replace more of the food currently being fed with the off-season ration. This slow changeover minimizes the possibility of a digestive upset or food refusal.

If You Have Questions
Reliable dog food manufacturers conduct actual feeding trials to determine the palatability, digestibility and overall performance of their dog foods. If you have questions about a particular product, we recommend contacting the manufacturer.
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