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
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
"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
"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
"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,"