He’s very active and gets wound-up easily on shoot days – do you think this is what’s causing him to lose weight? I am considering trying one of the calming supplements to tackle this but do you think I should just feed him more during the winter to maintain his condition instead?
Jeremy Hunt says: It sounds as though you have a ‘hot’ dog on your hands. Being in a state of over-excitement means he is burning up a lot more calories and the weight just isn’t staying on him. And when you add the extra activity of working during the season, his loss of body condition is increased.
There is now a wide range of ‘calming’ supplements on the market, and the feedback I’ve received from people who have used them suggest they achieve varying degrees of success.
If this is something you want to try I would certainly study as many of the products as you can in terms of what they contain and what they claim to achieve. It is also worth chatting to your vet before making a decision. Doing this is advisable anyway, just to make sure your dog isn’t suffering from any other condition that’s causing him to be so over-excitable.
As far as his diet is concerned, it’s important to keep a daily check on his weight and adjust his feed accordingly – don’t stick rigidly to the same amount of food if it clearly isn’t doing the job. Hungry dogs are always agitated dogs, so changing the diet as well as feeding more of it may well be required. Dogs need more food during the shooting season, but they also need quality as well as quantity.
Feeding greater amounts of cheaper feed will do little to meet any dog’s real dietary needs when he’s working hard and the weather is colder. I believe working gun dogs need a high quality feed and plenty of it (at least 23 per cent protein). Look at the oil and fat content too– aim for 10-12 per cent in feeds for working gun dogs in winter. All dogs should be fed twice a day.