Hunting dogs require a different diet than your typical domestic family dog. Bread to spend entire days out in the field with their human counterpart; these dogs have to have stamina and focus. There is no option for them to eat in the middle of a hunt nor can they be distracted with treats or snacks. That being said, traditional manufactured dog food and eating schedules won’t quite cut it for these types of hardworking pups.
A balanced diet for hunting dogs should include 30% protein and 20% fat. Having these majorities in your dog’s diet will allow his or her body to process oxygen quicker and turn all of its consumed food into pure energy. This type of diet is called a “performance diet,” as it enables dogs to sniff, run and follow trails for hours without getting hungry. The increased activity of these dogs is what lets them consumer a higher amount of fat without ever gaining weight.
You should also avoid feeding your hunting dog in the morning. After a full meal, dogs can get sleepy or lazy the exact opposite of what a hunter needs in his furry hunting companion. A dog with a full stomach can find it difficult to exercise and stay motivated. When a dog has eaten the night before its body has processed the food and turned it into energy. This way on the morning of the hunt the dog is ready to go and only needs to be provided with water.
Hardworking hunting dogs also need water. If they don’t get enough water throughout the day, they can easily dehydrate. At frequent intervals, dogs should be provided with water but nothing else. Any type of sugary or high fat snack will provide a burst of energy but then a harsh crash for the dog. Feeding your hunting dog the night before and giving him or her water throughout the hunt will keep them on task, hydrated and energized.
Along with proper training and conditioning, this diet can make an average hunting dog, an exceptional hunting dog. It is best to start their training and diet as a puppy as switching them at ages two, three or older can be very difficult. If they grow up with this diet, their body will process it correctly and be well prepared for a daylong hunt. While sugary snacks and treats shouldn’t be part of the hunt, they should be used at the end of a long day to reward your dog for a job well done.