Expert Blog: Gundog Nutrition

Pic: www.sportingshooter.co.uk

There is a huge range of dog food brands and types to choose from and it can often be a minefield working out the best option for your dog.

To help you do the best you can by your dog we enlisted the help of Gundog nd shooting expert Richard Reeve and his basic guide is designed to arm you with all the information needed to meet the nutritional needs of your gundog.

Is your dog well nourished?

Assuming a dog is getting enough exercise and has no underlying health issues, there are very definite indicators as to whether or not a dog is receiving the correct nutrition:

  • Coat — a dogs coat should be thick and glossy, without excessive amounts of oil or a bad smell. Dry skin or dandruff is also often related to diet. Excessive malting can be diet related though it is often just down to genetics.
  • Teeth & Bad Breath — Dogs breath should not actually be that bad! Often dogs with poor diets have bad teeth and stomach issues, which leads to bad breath. Your dog’s teeth should be white and free of any staining or rot.
  • Weight — A dog should have a waist, it should not be barrel shaped. Ribs should be visible but only just. Muscle definition should be obvious in areas where fur is short enough.
  • Stamina — a working dog should never appear overly fatigued. If you have been properly exercising and training your dog in preparation for the game season, or whatever you will be using it for, then your dog should not exhibit any signs of extreme fatigue. Signs of fatigue include foaming at the mouth, disorientation, inability to stop panting, bloodshot eyes, excessive drinking.

What to feed?

As a puppy your dog should have been exposed to a huge variety of suitable foods — raw and cooked red and white meat, raw vegetables, rice, oily fish, and a variety of good quality kibble. As an adult your dog will need a balanced diet that agrees with its stomach and caters to its energy requirements.

If you give your dog “wet dog food” exclusively, its teeth will rot very quickly — wet dog food is not a natural thing for a dog to eat. It is too soft to offer a natural cleaning action as the dog bites into it. Kibble is much better for teeth as most contain a small amount of grit to assist in keeping teeth clean. I feed Bruce a kibble and meat mixture in the morning, then a small amount of kibble in the evening.

Here are a few do’s and do not’s:

–          Do not feed your dog leftovers. Even if you are training for the Olympics your diet will still be unsuitable

–          Do not feed your dog sugars — human food and some dog treats contain a lot of sugar, so no treats. Sugars will ruin your dogs coat too.

–          Do not feed your dog cooked bones, as in this state they are likely to splinter and cause issues.

 

–          Do feed your dog raw meats. As long as they are from a hygienic source your dog is at no real risk of worms. Raw meat helps keep teeth clean, about once every 1-2 weeks is ok

–          Do give your dog uncooked bones. Raw Lamb, venison, and beef bones are fantastic at keeping dogs teeth clean. Too many will cause undue wear on teeth, so I give mine a large bone every 2-3 weeks.

–          Do give your dog a tin of oily fish (in spring water, not brine) from time to time — I give mine one once a week to ensure his coat, teeth, and nails remain healthy.

When to feed?

Once or twice a day is fine — it doesn’t matter which, as long as the routine is constant and the total daily amount is sufficient for the dogs needs.

The most common mistake is to feed a dog too close to when it is exercised — your dog should have at least 2 hours before and after exercise without being fed.  This will allow its system to return to normal so that the food can be digested properly and the maximum nutrition extracted.

I feed Bruce when I first wake up, which usually means he has a couple of hours before he has to do any running. As he works all day and sleeps outside I give him a smaller meal in the evening to give him a little energy boost and help him stay warm outside when he’s sleeping.

How much to feed?

The most obvious way to tell if you’re over feeding your dog is to keep an eye on what comes out of the other end — it should be firm but not hard, and there should not be very much of it (a handful for a Labrador).

Bruce works throughout the year, 4-5 days a week, and sleeps outside. He therefore requires easily double the amount of the average dog that works once or twice a week and sleeps in the warm.

Dog bowls…

A quick point on dog bowls — they should be kept clean (washed with boiling water), and be positioned so that your dog can easily reach it and doesn’t have to chase it around the floor. I like to put Bruce’s dinner on a step outside so that he does not have to drop his head all the way down, and it rests in a corner so cannot be moved as he eats.

To help you look after your gundog why not buy some of the dog essentials we have for sale online?

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