Around here, we regularly stress the importance of quality hunting dog food. But, it’s not all about what you should feed your dog. It’s equally important to acknowledge what you shouldn’t feed your dog.
An athlete can only perform as well as he eats; is your hunting dog’s diet good enough to make the cut? Read on to learn 5 things you should avoid feeding your working dog.
1. Avoid High Carb Dog Foods
If your dog spends countless hours running and retrieving, he or she needs foods with enough fat to keep energy levels up. Dogs turn fat into energy more efficiently than carbs, hence why high-fat content is important for quality gun dog food.
Read labels to assess the nutritional breakdown of each food. Top level hunting dog foods usually contain around 20% fat, 30% protein and 50% carbs. Hunting dog food that is high in carbs and low in fat will only slow your dog down and cause energy resources to deplete faster.
2. Avoid Dog Foods with Filler Protein Sources
Protein is important because it helps build muscle, but not all protein is equally beneficial to your dog. Just because one dog food has 10% more protein than a competitor’s label doesn’t mean it’s better. Quality of protein can only be measured by identifying where protein is sourced from. Most hunting dog foods rely on meat as a primary protein source, but there are a lot of cheap foods on the market that use grains and fillers in place of real meat protein.
Some food labels claim to only use real meat protein, but take a closer look to make sure they aren’t just using cheap meat fillers like chicken beaks or other by-products. While a chicken beak is technically “protein,” it’s not digestible protein and is therefore worthless to your dog.
Reading nutrition labels is just the start. It’s important to look at the listed ingredients and dig a little deeper into a company’s production process to identify how quality their food really is.
3. Avoid Wet Dog Food During Hunting Season
Dry food vs. wet food: what’s the best option for your dog? According to most dogs’ taste buds, wet food is the most desirable, followed by semi-wet food, and lastly, dry dog food. It’s okay to feed your hunting dog wet food and let them indulge in the good stuff during off-season. Yet, the best hunting dog food during hunting season is dry food.
Food with higher moisture content contains fewer nutrients. Dogs must eat more wet food to reap the same nutritional benefits as they would get from a smaller portion of dry food. While this isn’t a big deal to every dog, some dogs experience decreased appetites when out on the road traveling to competitions or new hunting grounds. As a result, it might be hard to get them to eat enough wet food to obtain essential nutrients.
4. Don’t Feed Your Dog Standard Dog Food, Not Even During Off-Season
Hardworking hunting dogs need high performance food all year long, not just during hunting season. It might be tempting to run to your local store and buy the cheapest food on the shelf as soon as hunting season comes to an end, but you’re doing your dog (and you) a big disservice.
Feeding hunting dogs high quality performance food all year offers several benefits:
- Allows your dog’s body to adapt to high exercise levels while improving overall athleticism
- Keeps your dog physically fit to train and exercise all year long, which results in a higher performing dog come hunting season
- Feeding your dog high fat levels all year long helps prep muscles for enhanced performance and endurance.
5. Don’t Feed Your Dog Anything Right Before Hunting
Researchers found dogs who ate 17 or more hours prior to exercise burned fat more efficiently than dogs who were fed 6 hours prior to exercise. When dogs eat a few hours before exercise, the body burns carbohydrates instead of fats—which leads your dog to tire out much faster.
As we mentioned above, dogs burn fats more efficiently and can maintain higher energy levels in doing so. Therefore, many hunting experts recommend feeding your dog once a day, immediately after you return home from hunting. This gives your dog enough time to digest food and burn fat instead of carbohydrates to produce energy. If you must feed your dog before a hunt, give him a small snack as opposed to a full meal.
Give Your Alpha Dog Vitality, Risk Free
Your hardworking partner needs more than just high-performance quality hunting dog food. Adding the right supplements, such as krill oil rich in omega-3s, can make all the difference to your dog’s overall health, longevity and mobility. Vitality is the first-ever krill oil omega-3 supplement made by hunters especially for hunting dogs.
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