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Nutrition

Preparing Your Working Dog For The Shooting Season

By | Health, Nutrition, Training | No Comments

man and dog on shoot in countryside

Summer is coming to an end, the first leaves of autumn are falling, and there’s a decided nip in the air. And what does this spell? The shooting season is nigh!

After a beautiful summer holiday, your dog will probably be looking a little wider around the middle, and maybe a little out of shape. You too may be feeling the same?! With this in mind – now is the perfect time to begin preparations for a busy season in the field.

Everything from feeding to training is about to ramp up – and it’s crucial to manage the transition back into the field with care. In this week’s blog, we talk nutrition and fitness preparation to get your dog in tip-top shape for work.

The DIY health check

Before embarking on your epic pre-season training plan; it’s good to give your dog a quick health check. Luckily, this is very straightforward and can be done for the comfort of your home. However, If your dog is displaying any signs of discomfort, infection or illness – a trip to the vet is recommended. The following steps will highlight any potential problems;

  1. Covering the entire body, thoroughly check your dog for any bumpy bits, and don’t forget the tip of his tail – after a hard season before, this area is prone to injury.
  2. Extend and flex all joints. You should be feeling for any resistance to manipulation and signs of discomfort.
  3. Check the mouth for redness in the gums, loose teeth over zealous tartar build-up; this can all lead to discomfort for your dog.
  4. Check your dog’s ears for redness, irritation and excess wax.
  5. Examine your pet’s eyes for clouding or discharge.
  6. Inspect all four paws looking out for discolouration or strange smells. Examine the length of the nails and study between the toes.

Let’s get moving!

After a few months of relaxing and restoring – your dog is ready to get back into training; and being a working breed, he’ll be turbocharged to get back into the action! Just a few extra pounds can increase the pressure on your dogs’ joints, increasing the risk of an injury, and after a sedentary period, your dog is likely to have put on a few!

Start your training light with regular walks, and increase the intensity gradually. Conditioning your dog for long days in the field, including some short sprints, is crucial. And, focusing on the duration and frequency of exercise will help no end. Activities like running beside you while you ride a bike, practising long and short retrieves (with a variety of dummy weights) and obedience training will all help build stamina and sharpen your dog’s mental response skills.

Nutrition for optimum health and endurance

As the energy levels and activity ramp up, it’s essential to feed accordingly. In the same way, you are building up the workout intensity – introduce new foods slowly. A sudden change in diet could lead to stomach upsets – just as jumping straight into intense physical training could result in injury. We suggest mixing the new food in with the current meal for a week to allow the dog’s digestive system to adjust.

As your dog’s energy levels grow, heralding the start of the season, gradually increase the volume fed, splitting it into two or three meals per day. It would be best if you were looking for a dog food that offers high levels of protein and fat to support energy levels and muscle repair. At Alpha, we provide a range of high performance feeds, including Alpha Sporting Puppy (29% protein), Alpha High Performance (32%protein), and Alpha Grain-free (25% protein).

*No dietary changes will be required if your dog enjoyed a busy and active close season. Vet’s and scientists agree that it’s best (if possible) to keep the dog’s nutritional profile consistent. This aids and maintains good metabolism.

 

 

Could your dog need a sensitive diet?

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dog, border collieSome dogs are born with food sensitivities, but other dogs can develop sensitive skin or a sensitive stomach later in life and gradually over time.

If your working dog has food sensitives to the current type of food you’re feeding them, then their symptoms will be constant, and it’s worth varying their diet to see if this helps settle symptoms.

What are the symptoms of a dog having food sensitivities?

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive gas
  • Soft stool
  • Diarrhoea
  • Frequent scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Chronic ear problems

When to seek attention from a vet:

If at any time your dog experiences chronic vomiting or diarrhoea that doesn’t clear up by itself in 24 hours, seek attention from a vet, so that they can help diagnose your dog quickly.

Here are some tips to help a dog with a sensitive stomach:

  1. Cut out scraps
    Once other serious issues have been ruled out, it’s time to simplify their diet. Cut out giving your dog any table scraps or multiple different treats.
  2. Make sure they’re not getting into anything they shouldn’t
    When out, where possible, try and prevent your dog from eating something they shouldn’t.
  3. Try a Hypoallergenic diet
    Test out new foods on your dog. Hypoallergenic diets are diets that are less likely to case reaction by eliminating ingredients like Wheat, Dairy, Eggs and Soya. Choose dog food that is designed for sensitive stomachs. It may take some trial and error to see which food agrees with them best, but once you find a gentle food that agrees with them, their symptoms should clear up completely.

Our Hypoallergenic range for working dogs:

Alpha Sensitive dog food has been nutritionally formulated with chicken and rice, which are carefully cooked to help optimise digestion.

Not only is our food hypo-allergenic, wheat and gluten free, but it’s also got prebiotics to help promote digestive health. It’s also free of soya, dairy products and artificial colours and flavours, which can all irritate the bowel and cause digestive issues.

Our food is designed to be easily digestible, well balanced, and high in protein – ideal for working dogs with sensitive stomachs and comes in a number of ranges:

  • Sporting Puppy
  • Sensitive Extra
  • Adult Grain Free
  • High Performance

Find out more about our sensitive diet food here – https://www.alphafeeds.com/product/alpha-sensitive-15kg/.

The benefits of a high protein diet for working dogs

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Your dog’s nutrition is just as important as your own, so it’s essential that you ensure they are getting the right amount of protein in to their diet to keep them healthy and active for longer.

Working dogs need a good quality, sustainable diet to keep up their strength for the long working days ahead of them. They need to be able to keep up their energy to stay active and the protein in their diet aids in doing this.

Protein works to build their strength and preserve their health as well as maintain their energy through the day. It also offers calories which can sustain the needs of active and working dogs for a longer period of time.

Protein provides your dog with stronger muscles, greater bone and body mass, improves nerve function, aids the creation of cells and can help in healing your dog’s wounds. Your dog will even benefit from having a shinier coat and healthier skin due to the higher level of protein.

All dogs need protein in their diet, but choosing the right food for your working dog is essential even from a young age as this will help to build their strength and energy through to adulthood.

At Alpha, we offer a range of different foods for both active puppies and adult dogs, which are nutritionally balanced and formulated for health and vitality. Our foods range from 19% to 32% protein, helping you to choose the right food for your dog depending on their purpose and high performance.

For advice regarding feeding your working dog, please email us at info@alphafeeds.com or phone us at +44 (0)844 800 2234

Selecting the Correct Level of Protein for Your Dog

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When looking to choose the right diet for your dog it is important to look at their lifestyle, activity rate, size, breed and age.

Taking all this into consideration you will then need to think about the protein levels in their food to ensure they are getting the correct level to keep them fit, well and in optimum health.

The range from Alpha Feeds includes diets for dogs at rest, those in work, and those competing and performing at the highest level.

There are many different breeds of dog and all have different purposes or lifestyles, as an owner you should feel confident in what you are feeding your dog.

The Alpha Feeds range offers complete nutritional excellence and delivers great taste and performance for your favourite friend.

For the dog that requires a food to help enhance stamina for sustained physical effort and demanding challenges such as sled dogs, grey hounds, emergency rescue, hunting and sheep dogs, Alpha High Performance is the perfect choice.

Offering 32% protein the diet provides consistent high levels of energy and is nutritionally formulated to help promote muscle development.

Alpha also offers a selection of food for working dogs such as gundogs, sheep dogs and agility dogs. These types require a balanced food with enough energy to perform at their best. Alpha Adult Maintenance – Sporting Dog provides 22% protein to fuel their energy levels while maintaining a healthy coat and immune system.

A complete and balanced food for less active dogs is available thanks to Alpha Sensitive. With 20% protein senior and working dogs at rest will benefit from this food which optimises digestive health, skin and coat condition, teeth and bones and overall wellbeing.

Alpha Feeds offers a 10-strong range of food to give your dog the very best nutrition whatever their lifestyle.

For more further information contact the helpline on 0844 800 2234 or visit www.alphafeeds.com

ENDS

For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.

Feeding the Working Sheep Dog

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Kelpies are fast becoming a worthy choice for the working life of a sheep dog. Kevin Lyndhurst a well-known Kelpie breeder and trainer sponsored by Alpha Feeds, sheds’ some light on this Australian breed and tells’ us why they are such fantastic dogs.

What qualities make a good Kelpie?

In a nutshell it is down to good and proven bloodlines, intelligence and physical ability.

The Kelpie has the capability to muster sheep or cattle without being guided or commanded. This is why intelligence is key because they need to be forward thinkers.

Known for their signature move of jumping onto the backs of sheep to get to the cause of the jam when in single file, the Kelpie needs to be agile.

What exercise regime is best put in place for a Kelpie?

This depends on the amount of work the dog is currently doing. If they are working with sheep, the dogs will be put to the test a lot during the summer periods. Winter will be quieter unless you have sheep that are not breeding so the dog will be working all year round. The exercise programme should be based around your dogs’ level of work.

What dogs do you currently have?

I currently have nine Australian Kelpies but in the future I will have a few litters’ puppies on the way which I am very excited about.

What is your routine with them?

I do have my dogs out a lot and constantly feed their intuition by keeping them active. They are all kept in kennels outside, so in the morning I let them out for some exercise and a walk.

I currently don’t have any sheep, but if I do the dogs will be working with the sheep during the day.

At the moment during the week, I take them all with me to work so they are out and about. In the evening I take them for a walk sometimes with my mountain bike before turning in for the night.

Which dog is your top one at the moment?

I wouldn’t pick a favourite. There isn’t one that I dislike more than all the rest and there isn’t one I would say is better. They are all genuinely great all round dogs who are enormously intelligent and I have so much admiration for the breed.

Any future plans?

I am obviously looking forward to the puppies coming and I will carry on with the breeding programme. I believe the pedigrees are so important and I used to import from Australia, but now there is no need to because I have new bloodlines.

I will carry on working my dogs and also continue with my teaching ranging from basics to advanced level and cover all aspects from field to farm.

What do working Kelpies or Sheep Dogs need from their food?

There should be two main objectives when supplying them with food. One is to keep your dog healthy and the other is to have the correct levels of protein which will give your sheep dog the energy it needs to work.

Alpha Feeds offer a great range of kibble which is nutritionally balanced and formulated for health and vitality. I feed Alpha Junior & Active and for the young ones Alpha Sporting Puppy which ensure they get everything they need for their health and wellbeing.

The range includes feeds which offer different levels of protein so owners can pick the appropriate food for their dog which will supply them with the correct level of energy for their purpose be it high performance, maintenance or rest.

For more information telephone Alpha Feeds on 0844 800 2234 or visit www.alphafeeds.com

ENDS

For further information please contact Tim Smith at TSM on (01724) 784600.