Sporting Dogs

The puppy stage is over in what can seem like the blink of an eye. That means you have only a short window to support a puppy’s development. Feeding a puppy food that provides nutrition with comprehensive benefits from the start is key.

Sporting breed puppies are bred and trained to work. As a result, they have very different nutritional needs from those of a future house dog. Puppy formulas are typically more nutrient dense when compared to most adult formulas, to meet the demands of growth.

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When we think about the longevity of our hardworking sporting dogs in the fields and blinds, joint health is often a point of concern. They run hard in a variety of conditions, they jump over logs or stone walls, and they twist and turn their way through fields and covers. Those aggressive movements can put a tremendous amount of stress on their joints.

“What we ask our dogs to do is not easy,” said Russ Kelley of Eukanuba™’s Pet Health & Nutrition Center. “Sporting dogs are exceptional in their ability to run, jump, and twist—and they’re doing it on unlevel ground. After a day in the field, I’m tired and sore. Still, my level of exercise isn’t even close to how hard a sporting dog works. That’s why we look for ways to help fortify a dog’s different bodily systems through nutrition.”

Image 1A sporting dog’s joints serve a variety of key roles: supporting weight, aiding movement, and functioning as shock absorbers from jarring impacts.

Joints serve a variety of key roles: supporting weight, aiding movement, and functioning as shock absorbers from jarring impacts. Next time your dog is working, take a moment to appreciate the impact each movement has on his shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, carpi, and the intervertebral joints of the spine. Over the course of an hour, day, week, and season, that impact to the joints is significant.

Joints are complex intersections. The ends of bones are covered by a smooth layer of articular (joint) cartilage. The cartilage, in conjunction with joint fluid, helps reduce friction and impact from hard landings. Then there are ligaments, which connect bone to bone. Finally there are tendons located on each side of the joint to connect muscles to bones. Cartilage, joint fluid, ligaments, and tendons all work together to provide unhindered movement and rotation, and that’s why keeping joints healthy in sporting dogs is so important.

Image 2Cartilage, joint fluid, ligaments, and tendons all work together to provide unhindered movement and rotation, and that’s why keeping joints healthy in sporting dogs is so important.

Two other key natural elements of joints are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine is an amino sugar produced naturally by a dog’s body. It is a compound found in their joint cartilage, and it stimulates the growth of cartilage cells. Chondroitin sulfate, also found in joint cartilage, helps promote water retention and elasticity.

While a dog’s body naturally produces both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, for decades scientists have studied the potential benefits of adding them to dog food. Some dog foods, including Eukanuba™’s Premium Performance diets, include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support hardworking joints.

Image 3Some dog foods, including Eukanuba™’s Premium Performance diets, include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support hardworking joints.

According to Kelley, “Sporting dogs need healthy, agile joints. “I push my dogs in the field. Feeding a diet with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate gives me more confidence that I am promoting healthy joints in my dogs.”

Sporting dogs work tirelessly, and their unique nutritional needs continue to inspire scientists and researchers to look for ways to better support their health through nutrition. When it comes to supporting healthy joints, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate play supporting roles. And anything Eukanuba™ can do to help dogs perform at their full potentialis high on our list of priorities.

When it comes to optimizing performance, professional athletes know the importance of healthy muscles. The same applies to our canine athletes. Whether your sporting dog is a hardcore waterfowler or a big-running bird dog, maintaining healthy, lean muscle will help ensure years of performance.

Sporting dogs burn a lot of calories during the hunting season. To support their elevated nutritional needs, savvy handlers feed them performance kibble. Off-season nutritional needs are often different, and that’s why many handlers shift a dog’s diet to one with lower amounts of fat and calories.

With a total of 38 years between them working on Livingston Place, Randy Floyd and Clay Sisson have taken charge of preparing one of the few remaining field trials in America that still boasts wild quail. With the 84th consecutive Continental Field Trails slated for the third Monday in January at Livingston Place in Greenville, Florida, Randy and Clay are hard at work sweating the details on this prestigious competition.

You trained all spring and summer. Your dog performed perfectly during the early season. But then a cold front moved in and the duck and goose migration kicked into high gear.

It won’t be long before field training, conditioning and obedience work give way to the true satisfaction of being back in the woods and fields enjoying the hunt with our canine companions. Here are a few final steps that some Eukanuba™ pro trainers take to get their dogs ready for the season opener.