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On Your Rooster Road Trip, Feed Bird Dogs Once per Day

Prior to departing for this year’s Rooster Road Trip, I dialed up Purina’s top dog and professional trainer, Bob West, with a simple question: “How often should I feed my two German shorthaired pointers during the five heavy-hunting days of the trip?”

“That’s a very common question.  Most bird dog owners have heard stories of ‘twisted stomach’ or ‘bloat,’ which prompts this question,” explained West, “but there is actually more to the answer than the one danger associated with feeding a hard working dog at the incorrect time.  At Purina, we’ve done a lot of research and recommend one feeding at the day’s end for hard-working dogs in normal health.”

Feeding your bird dog just once per day on hunting trips has multiple benefits. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

West recommends feeding bird dogs at least one half hour after heavy exercise, including hunting.  “If you feed a dog immediately after the hunt, there is considerable risk of that dog gulping the food and water voraciously.  That gulping action could lead to an inordinate amount of air gulped at the same time.  These are the dangerous ingredients potentially resulting in ‘twisted stomach’ and possibly the dog’s death.”

In addition to avoiding the immediate dangers of feeding a dog too close to hunting, West explained the advantages of a dog having a full night to digest its meal.  “First, a bird dog that can empty its stomach in the morning after a night of digestion can lighten its body weight and actually decrease the strain of the day’s hunt by carrying around less weight.  Secondly, a full stomach during a hunt can lead to that food being slapped around inside the dog’s gut.  We’ve all seen dogs afield that squat and try to pass a bowel and cannot.  This is the result of a dog’s stomach being irritated through this food slapping situation, which can lead to internal bleeding, blood in the stool and bigger potential dangers.”

Lastly, West added that early season bird hunters have even more cause for evening feedings.  “Our research has shown that the dog’s digestion process can also raise the dog’s body temperature a few degrees.  This is extremely important to recognize during those early season hunts when the temps are already stressing the dog during times extreme physical exercise.”

West reiterated this guidance is for dogs in normal physical health and condition.  Dog’s suffering from hypoglycemia, diabetes, or are simply out of shape necessitate a discussion with a veterinarian about the topic.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

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