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5 tips to help keep your dog fuelled during a day in the field

If you’re spending the day in the field with your dog, it’s important that they get the fuel they need to keep them going happily all day. Whilst not quite as simple as a normal non-working day feeding routine, ensuring your dog stays at the top of their game while they work doesn’t have to be complicated either. Here are a few top tips to support them to do just that:

1. Feeding your dog at the right time of day is crucial. Ensure the dog is fed early enough before shooting starts so that the meal can be digested efficiently, ideally at least 2 hours before exercise. Feeding with plenty of time before they begin any hard work allows them to digest their meal, supports glycogen stores and allows time for the dog to empty its bowel reducing the weight carried during exercise whilst also reducing the chance of excitement (or stress-related) diarrhoea. Feeding well in advance of work also helps support optimal stamina for the day and will keep your dog going for longer.

2. Ensuring they get a meal between 30 and 120 minutes after exercise can help with replenishing glycogen stores which aid recovery. This is especially useful for dogs that are doing consecutive days of strenuous exercise. After a full day of working in the field, your dog is likely to be more than ready for some food. Once the dog is finished working, dry and warm, offer their evening meal as normal to finish up the day. Mixing your dog’s usual food with warm water, enabling it to soften can help with water intake and palatability as it makes an appetising gravy.

3. When it comes to snacks, there are no hard and fast rules, it is very much down to your dog as an individual. If they require nutritional top-ups during the working-day it’s important to remember that this, in most cases, is not a reflection of lack of fitness or the quality of feed fed daily. Just as athletes require energy boosts when they are training or competing, your dog may require a pick me up during their working day. If that is the case, offering a small amount of their normal kibble with plenty of water will be much kinder on the digestive system than an unfamiliar very high fat or sugary treat.

4. Small amounts of food offered regularly during exercise is thought to aid blood glucose stability and is especially beneficial for dogs that are prone to bouts of tiredness or weakness towards the end of a long day. This is as easy as having a small handful of kibble in a trouser pocket and offering the dog a couple of pieces every 30-45 minutes during exercise or less than 15 minutes before the end of a break. A dog in working mode may not take the food offered but having some available is advisable to counter any dips in energy, nonetheless.

5. One incredibly important thing to remember is to take plenty of fresh water to offer your dog throughout the day to avoid dehydration - do not rely on natural water sources such as puddles to hydrate your dog. Offer water to your dog regularly throughout the day, especially on warmer days, and keep your eyes peeled for signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, lethargy and lack of skin elasticity.

If you are unsure about how to best support your dog nutritionally, don’t hesitate to speak to your vet if you would like further advice on feeding your working dog, the Chudleys nutritional helpline is open 8:30am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Please call 01832 737 300, option3 and we’ll be happy to help.

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