Now that the guns are cleaned and put away and the hunting season is over, it’s time to give the dogs a rest. This time of year, it’s nice to heal them up from bruises, the scars, you name it.
But just because the field trips are done for another eight months, it doesn’t mean it’s time to switch to a cheaper dog food. You should stay with a highquality dog food all year long.Cheap dog foods are priced that way because quality ingredients cost more to manufacture.
As a trainer and a kennel manager, I always recommend a highprotein dog food, and when you look at protein, look at it for digestibility. Nutritionists rate digestibility based on an industry value of 1—that value based on the white of an egg.
Here are a few ingredients used in dog foods, with their respective digestibility values. The higher the number, the easier it is for the dog to digest:
- Muscle meat (chicken, for example—0.90)
Low quality dog foods have larger amounts of corn or grain products. By law, ingredients must be listed in order of weight.
While some owners feed theirs dogs supplements when in the field or when they’re under high-stress situations, for normal day-to-day feeding, you shouldn’t have to add oils, calcium, vitamins or whatever if feeding a quality dog food in the first place. Over supplementing can cause problems, for example, if a dog gets too much oil, it can get the runs.
I recommend staying away from canned products. They are 75 percent to 80 percent water and also very expensive, you are just wasting your money.
Cheaper food doesn’t necessarily add up to a savings in the long run. One problem with cheaper foods is they have a tendency to require more feeding volume. Six to 8 cups a day for a 60- to 70- pound dog, compared to 3 to 4 cup of a quality brand.
Finally, there’s another side benefit to feeding your dog quality food: the less they eat, the less you have to clean up. Do you have a healthy dog? Do you even wonder if what you’re feeding your dog is doing the job?
Here is a checklist to help you evaluate if the dog food is working:
- Is his coat glossy?
- How is the dog’s field performance? Does it have stamina?
- Are the stools firm and hard? Any time your dog has loose stools, that’s an indication of a health or feeding problem.
- Are the teeth clean? If there is accumulation of food around the gums, that’s one sign that the food is inferior.