What should I feed my gundog on a shoot day?
What's best and at what time? Shooting Times contributors Tony Buckwell and Ellena Swift offer their advice.
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? (Read our advice on feeding dogs – before or after exercise?)
Feeding your gundog on a shoot day – the vet’s point of view
I will give my gundogs a small first feed at about 6am. They don’t start exercise until around 9.30am. Always 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. (If you feed your dog just before strenuous exercise they can get ‘bloat’.
So if your shooting timetable is to start at 9.30am, make sure you feed your dogs by 6.30am, so that they can digest their food sufficiently and have energy for the day ahead.
Take plenty of clean water with you to the shoot so the dog doesn’t get dehydrated. It’s not good to let your dog just drink from streams and puddles.
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. (Make sure you also read how to look after dogs after a shoot day.)
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.
This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.