There are two aspects to getting your dog in shape for next year’s hunting season.  One is being in condition to a certain level through exercise.  The other is the problem with being overweight.

Many overweight dogs get table scraps in addition to their regular meal.  You are over feeding them.  If they get a quality dog food, there is no reason to feed table scraps.

“Being over weight can really contribute to a lot of health problems,” says Bob West, Director of Purina PetCare’s Sporting Dog Group.  He is also a dog breeder.

West believes that the monitoring of a dog’s condition should consist of visual and hands-on evaluations.  “You should be able to place both thumbs on the back bone of the dog and spread both hands across his rib cage,” maintains West.  “If you cannot feel the ribs easily, the dog may need to lose weight.

West recommends that you look at the dog’s profile.  The abdomen should appear slightly tucked up behind the rib cage.  Looking down from overhead, you should see an hourglass shape.

According to the Purina scientists, one can adjust the amount of food offered up or down to maintain a dog in ideal condition.  According to West, dog food producers take great pains to make sure that all the vitamins and nutrients needed are present in reduced amounts of food.  It is not necessary to worry about not getting a complete diet, just back off a little bit.

It is important to weigh the dog weekly to insure that he is not losing muscle mass or becoming overweight.  “Dogs that are overweight and poorly conditioned could get in a life threatening situation on a hot day in the field,” warns West.  Obesity in a dog is life threatening.

Once in condition the dog requires fewer calories.  “The two factors that are major contributors to how many calories a dog needs,” says West, “are exercise and the weather (temperature and humidity) in which they are working.”  When they first begin exercising, dogs require more calories.  Then they reach a point at about six or eight weeks that it starts to tail off.  A well-conditioned dog becomes more of a fat user than a carbohydrate user.  Reports Bob, “that is why the high protein, high fat, high energy diet is best.”

Dogs burn fat because it is the most efficient way to run light.  It is the most efficient way because of the way they evolved.  In some situations they do need carbohydrate replenishment but not to the extent that some diets provide.

West and his staff have found that regardless of where the proteins originate, dogs reassemble those proteins into dog protein.  Protein is protein.  The source the dog gets it from is not important as long as it is digestible.

Do not get hung up on ingredients of the dog food.  Focus on the nutrients and what they contribute to the diet.  Are their ingredients that do not provide any nutrition?

An example of an empty ingredient is feather meal.  Feather meal is 95 percent protein, which should good.  However, it is zero digestible.  The result is that it passes through the animal.  The species of the meat used in the food is not as important as the protein.

Chicken base, rice base, beef base or lamb based foods should all deliver protein appropriately.  The difference is not in delivery.  Some ingredients are more digestible.

Digestibility is a function of what you put in verses what comes out the other end of the dog.  The difference is what is left for the body to use.  There can be a difference in digestibility between different meat sources.  Most feed makers make sure there is little difference in digestibility between their various products.  It is a matter of formulation.

The dog owner needs to read the label of the food he is using.  In products of all the top five dog food makers, you should find top quality proteins.  Some of the high quality protein sources are such things as chicken meal, chicken by-product, meat, and bone meal.  In fresh meats, chicken, beef and lamb are good sources.

A lot of time you will see corn gluten meal listed.  That is a vegetable protein source.  It is an excellent vegetable protein source.  Some products will have corn, a good source of protein, as is rice.  Nevertheless, if you start to see things that say wheat milling, bran and other ingredients, they are of less quality.

In the less active dog, fillings have a purpose in keeping them feeling full.  Feeling full keeps them from eating all day.  High performance dogs do not need the bulk because they are going to be running.

In reading dog food labels, look for some indication that AAFCO has tested it.  AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) is the regulating body in the pet food industry.  They report to the FDA.

AAFCO determines three ways to formulate food.  It is formulated and fed to dogs.  Formulated, and ingredients listed, but perhaps not fed to a dog.  Alternatively, is can be so similar to another diet that it can be familyed in because of the close relation.  West maintains that for a high performance dog you want some indication it has been fed in live animal testing, a proven system.

West indicates that dogs fed low quality; lower protein diets are prone to injury and generally less healthy.  They bruise easily and have joint problems.  Professional dog handlers report fewer trips to the vet with dogs fed on high protein diets.

He also reports one clinical study shows, dogs fed properly and exercised regularly, tend to live three years longer than their litter mates not in such a program.



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  1. i found your website to contain all the information i was has taken me ages to find such relevant information on the various subjects i was looking for?thanks again..

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