Bird Dog & Retriever News

April / May 2003 issue Page 26

 ogs burn up calories to do what needs to be done. And all dogs need more high-energy foods to perform day after day. Sometimes their regular everyday dog food doesn't give them all that they could use under high-stress situations," Rieser contends.
Some general suggestions on nutritional supplements.
In nearly four decades of owning hard working hunting dogs and hunting with other dogs and their owners, I have gathered some observations on adding nutritional supplements to the diets of these dogs during hunting season. Make your own nutritional supplements or buy commercially available products. Cooked meat and vegetables are relatively easy to prepare and almost always popular with most gun dogs no matter how excited or tired they may be. Keeping and carrying homemade stew, however, can be an inconvenience. Boiled eggs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread are less trouble to store and transport, but these food items don't always have the tempting odor of meat as a way to trigger a reluctant appetite.
Store-bought canned dog food, with a meat base and added vegetables all cooked and ready to eat, is usually an irresistible supplement poured on dry dog food. With some hot water added to release meaty odors and flavors, most canines, no matter how wound-up or pooped out, will eat the meat and their dry dog food too.
Several dog food companies produce a line of canned dog foods and a couple major dog food manufacturers also make "moist and meaty" meat and cheese combinations put in cellophane packages. Gun dog owners can carry these packets into the duck boat or pheasant field, open them without any special tools, and feed their dogs whenever necessary. With some at-home experimentation and practice, most all gun dog owners should be able to find some supplements that their pooch will eat no matter what the circumstances. And with the exercise of common sense and appropriate caution those who hunt their gun dogs hard should have better results while in pursuit of upland game and waterfowl.

 

Overcoming Prejudices About Nutritional Supplements."
"Buck's butt seems to be dragging," I said to my duck hunting partner as I grabbed his 85 pound black Labrador by the collar to help haul his soaking-wet and freezing-cold body back into the boat.
There were 10 reasons for Buck to be worn down and weary because he had made long retrieves on the 10 ducks already piled up on the boat seat. With more birds likely to be shot to fill a limit for three guns, Buck's day was still not done, even though he had so far been in and out of the icy water of this wind-blown lake for nearly three hours.
"It's sandwich time," I announced, a piece of news that considerably perked up Buck's interest level, as I dug into my lunch sack for a peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat that I had built back home just for this big hard-working retriever.
"I don't know why you do that," Buck's owner commented. "I fed that dog double rations yesterday, so he would go all day todayI'm not sure he needs any supplements now and I'm still not confident what you're giving him is good for him."
"This is the second season I've done this and about the fiftieth sandwich I've given him. I sure don't hear the dog complaining and I sure do see him doing better at retrieving after he's had something to eat It's just that simple," I added.
Actually feeding a hunting dog during a hunt isn't at all simple for many owners of gun dogs. There are all sorts of false warnings, faulty assumptions, and misleading stories that discourage the practice, through there isn't much solid evidence to say we shouldn't do it.
"If you feed your dog while he's hunting, his stomach will bloat and turn. He'll suffocate and die from this, and then you'll be sorry," is one common comment often heard out in the duck boat or down in a goose pit.
"Feed your dogs once a day. That's all they need no matter how hard you work them. Give 'em snacks and you'll mess up their metabolism, maybe make them sick, maybe kill 'em," was another extreme view on the subject. This opinion, delivered by a retired veterinarian in his 70's, represents some of the old thinking on giving nutritional supplements to any breed of hard working hunting dogs.
"I know I'm going out on a limb with this, but I really do think gun dog owners can do damage to their dogs by not feeding them while they're hunting." The speaker here is Jim Rieser, an owner of a dozen German shorthair pointers all used every season to hunt upland gamebirds and waterfowl. From retrieving geese out of the backyard in rural Franksville, Wisconsin to pointing prairie grouse and pheasants in western South Dakota, Rieser's dogs get lots of exercise. And, lots of nutritional supplements.
"Whether hunting here in Wisconsin for warm-weather October wood ducks or down in Iowa for late-season cold-weather January pheasants and quail, I feed my dogs all day long," Rieser says. "And I do this despite the fact that some of my hunting partners tell me not to In the 25 years I've done this, I think my dogs feel and perform better on the water or out in the field."
"But, I've developed a carefully controlled program for giving nutritional supplements. And I would recommend that anyone who wants to give their hunting dogs extra food should create their own well-prepared and tested procedure for doing so," Rieser adds.

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
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