What's best and at what time?
On a shoot day you obviously want your gundog to perform at his best and remain fit and healthy. So what should your feeding programme for the day be? What’s the best time to feed before energetic exercise and how much? And what happens after the shoot day is wrapped up?
We asked Shooting Times contributors – specialist vet Tony Buckwell and gundog trainer Ellena Swift – for their advice.
Feeding your gundog on a shoot day – the vet’s point of view
My gundogs get a small feed at around 6am and exercise from around 9.30am.
You should try and leave at last an hour and a half or two hours before your dog undertakes any strenuous activity. In fact, the longer you can leave it, the better.
So if you’re meeting to go shooting at 9.30am, make sure you feed your dogs by 6.30am, so that they can digest their food sufficiently.
Take plenty of clean water with you to the shoot so the dog doesn’t get dehydrated. Relying on streams and puddles isn’t a good idea.
Dogs going out into the field regularly will be burning through their ‘fuel’, so make sure they are being fed a good quality food with suitable protein content. You don’t want them to lose weight and be undernourished.
After the shoot day in the evening feed your dog at around 5.30pm – you might want to add some raw tripe too.
Gundog trainer Ellena Swift advises
I very, very rarely (if ever) need to give mine a snack in a work day. I genuinely feel if what you’re feeding is good enough quality, a dog with no medical problems should be able to work and be sustained comfortably for one day’s work just on their normal diet. If you have to supplement, then I’d be questioning what the dog’s daily food is lacking.