Springing into summer – Is it time for a dietary change?
As we start to head into summer, it’s a good time to review our dog’s diet. This is because for some dogs, the summer is a time for rest and recuperation before the next working season begins, so their energy demands will often drop. Yet for others, the summer season is time to stay active, by channelling their energy into new and exciting activities, such as running, hiking, or even raising a litter.
Read these helpful tips from Skinner’s in-house Nutritionist – Zoe Russell, BSc (Hons), ANutr
The Traditional Gundog
Throughout the season, dog’s fitness, stamina, and endurance is being pushed as they work hard by their handlers side. But as the season draws to a close, many working dogs are treated to a well-earned rest. This means their energy demands often drop and as a result, don’t need as much nutritional input from their diet. At this stage, it’s important to regularly monitor their weight and condition and manage any changes. If they do begin to put on weight, their daily feed intake can be dropped by around 10-20%. However, if you need to feed significantly under the feeding guidelines to keep the weight off, then it may be beneficial “stepping down” to a diet such as Field & Trial Maintenance out of the working season. This diet has been traditionally used during the close season, as it’s less nutrient-dense than other diets so can be ideal for dogs at rest or undergoing light activity.
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Traditionally, the working season would come to an end and dogs would have the summer to rest. At this time, a dog’s energy demands would usually drop and therefore their diet would need amending to minimise the likelihood of weight gain. However, this is not so common now, as many dogs turn their paw to other activities during the summer to help keep their fitness up. Owner/dog duos may take part in cani-cross, agility, flyball, or simply venture out for longer walks and hikes, making the most of the longer, sunnier days. Therefore, if your dog continues to be active all year round, you may not necessarily need to change their food. Ideal diets for active dogs include Field & Trial Working 26, Working 30 and Duck & Rice.
We would simply suggest keeping an eye on their weight and condition and adjusting their daily intake if you need to. If you are unsure how much your dog should weigh, then speak with your vet who should be able to provide an ideal, current weight. Body condition scoring can also be made easy by using this handy guide called the Dog-Size-O-Meter.
For some dogs the summer months mean a different type of responsibility- raising a litter. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, a bitch can remain on her “normal” maintenance diet until around week 5 of her pregnancy. At this stage, her energy demands will greatly increase, so we would suggest a slow and gradual transition onto a more nutrient-dense diet such as Field & Trial Puppy or Working 30. These diets provide a higher provision of key nutrients such as protein, fat carbohydrates and balanced levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorous especially. At this stage, you may need to increase her number of daily meals as her stomach capacity will start to reduce, due to the presence of growing puppies. The bitch can then stay on this diet until her puppies are around 3-5 weeks of age, at which stage the puppies will be slowly weaned off mum and she can return back to her “normal”, pre-pregnancy food.
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Need more advice? Visit your local Skinner’s stockist or visit our website. Alternatively, please contact our nutrition team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01379 384247 and we would be more than happy to help