Bird Dog & Retriever News

April / May 2003 issue Page 23

 "Nutritional Supplements For Hard-Working Hunting Dogs."
By Jerry Thoms

verheard a hunter say last fall. "Every time I take her hunting for a day or two she loses about 25% of her body weight. In the morning she's too excited to eat her usual dry dog food and in the evening she's too pooped to eat anything After a couple of days of this during a hunting trip, she's hardly able to hunt at all. And it takes her a week or more to recover from this experience."
Does this sound familiar? Does your Labrador ignore the contents of his food dish prior to a hunt? Or does your springer spaniel climb back into her crate at the end of a long day too tired to eat her normal rations? And, as the days in the field or on the water continue, does your gun dog's performance start to fade? Maybe sometimes end all together?
Could your hunting dog use some "nutritional supplements" while working hard during the waterfowl or upland gamebird season? Would it be good to give your pooch a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a can of meat-based dog food and a shot of Gatorade or a slug of Karo syrup? Or will such supplemental nutrients, added on to a regular dry-food diet, throw your dog's normal metabolism out of balance, cause new problems, maybe create possible health threats for your canine?
"You're feeding boiled eggs and baked potatoes to your German Shorthair pointers?" an English setter owner said to me, in a surprised and sort of accusing tone. At the time, we were taking a mid-morning break out on the western plains of South Dakota during the September opening of the prairie grouse season. And I was giving my two pointers their usual 10:00 a.m. "snack" at the same time that I was having a cup of coffee and a sandwich. "You're not supposed to ever feed hunting dogs anything but their regular dry dog food," he lectured me. "You'll throw their nutritional balance out of whack with between meal 'goodies' like these. Your dogs will end up with dangerous energy surges. They'll get sick. Their stomachs will bloat. They might die," he warned me.
His own dog, obviously in well-maintained physical condition, was standing in her dog crate ready to return to the wide-open spaces in pursuit of sharptails and prairie chickens for which we had been hunting hard for the last three hours. My two dogs, though not pooped out, were worn-down by having already run, in my guess, 20 miles of open country defined by hills, gullies, endless pastures, and bottomless ravines all covered by a sea of knee-to-chin high prairie grass. They ate their hard boiled eggs and cooked potatoes with enthusiasm, then caught cat-naps, while we all rested for an hour before our return to hunting.
"Now you're giving your dogs peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!" my hunting partner later com

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
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