Know Your Sporting Dog’s Individual Nutritional Requirements
Written by Ryan Sparks
The fascinating part of sporting dogs is that they’re all so different. Never mind the fact that you can find a setter that casts at 40 yards, one that runs inside of bell range, or wins AA as the late Shadow Oak Bo did (twice in fact). That’s a wide range of performance in just one breed. Start to include other pointing, flushing and retriever breeds and the view expands. The icing on the cake comes when you add in 30 breeds of versatile hunting dogs acknowledged by The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA).
To fuel sporting dogs of all types, Eukanuba™ has developed a new Premium Performance product line of nutrition. Four scientifically engineered formulas offer tailored nutrition to help sporting and working dogs perform at their peak. The diets in the Premium Performance line feature antioxidant cocktails that help with post-exercise recovery.
Energy Types: Energy comes from carbohydrates, fat and protein. Carbohydrates supply immediate energy. Think about the short, intense activity displayed by an English Field cocker or Boykin spaniel when released as a strike dog. Dogs that run for up to two hours use some carbohydrates, but more of their energy comes from fat.
Intercellular fat creates energy used during aerobic activities. Intercellular fat, the kind found in ingredients, metabolizes quickly, more so than stored fat. Stored fat adds insulation for dogs retrieving in the late season and provides energy during really long periods of work. But converting stored fat into energy makes the dog’s body work harder than ideal, and that’s why intercellular fat is important.
Protein, meanwhile, provides energy just as it helps build strong muscles. But protein is mostly used to aid in strengthening a dog’s body systems. The skin and coat use the most amount of protein, but the circulatory, respiratory, digestive and other systems use protein as well.
Matching Formulas to Activities: Eukanuba™ Premium Performance diets are comprised of different amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which dogs metabolize at different rates. Premium Performance 21/13 SPRINT is higher in carbohydrates because anaerobic activities require immediate energy for short bursts. Premium Performance 26/16 EXERCISE is designed for dogs that run for up to two hours at a time like hunting moderate-sized fields or accompanying owners on a trail run or a hike. The formula has increased amounts of protein and fat to deliver optimal energy and tailored nutrients to help defend against the effects of regular exercise. Premium Performance 30/20 SPORT is ideal for dogs that run for up to four hours. Whether it’s in a big field for prairie birds or an upland bird cover, the 30/20 protein-to-fat combination is what handlers have come to rely on for years. The new formula includes an antioxidant cocktail to help support post-exercise recovery. Herding and sled dogs running for over four hours per day need extra energy. Premium Performance 30/28 WORK provides a 30-percent protein and 28-percent fat combination, which offers enough long-lasting energy to help keep dogs performing at their peak.
Recovery: Handlers and hunters look for high-quality performance from their dogs today. But they’ve got an eye on tomorrow and the day following as well. Even the best conditioned dogs tire over time, and some of their fatigue may come from a buildup of free radicals. Free radicals are a normal by-product of hard work. The Eukanuba™ Premium Performance line has antioxidant cocktails to help reduce oxidative stress so dogs are ready to perform tomorrow.
Improved digestion: Advanced nutrition means nothing if a dog’s body can’t absorb it. The Eukanuba™ Premium Performance formulas use gastrointestinal health technologies to help dogs optimize nutrient absorption. Carbohydrates such as finely ground corn meal, barley, and grain sorghum (a cereal) can be efficiently absorbed by the digestive system. Fermentable fiber in the form of beet pulp supports digestive health and optimal stool quality.
The Supporting Cast: While each of the formulas vary in protein and fat, they all contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help provide every dog with the nutrition they need to perform. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to help promote healthy brain function. Chondroitin and Glucosamine to help support strong joints, and omega-3 and omega-6 for a healthy skin and coat.
A Nutritional Chassis: The Eukanuba™ Premium Performance is a suite of four products with nutrition coming from similar ingredients. Animal protein, beet pulp, vitamin E, selenium, chicken fat, fish meal, fiber, DHA, glucosamine and chondroitin among others are nutrients in each bag of Premium Performance 21/13 SPRINT, Premium Performance 26/16 EXERCISE, Premium Performance 30/20 SPORT and Premium Performance 30/28 WORK. As you transition your dog from peak season to off-season work, you have the option to transition to a different formula within the chassis to match their reduced workload.
Sporting dogs work differently, and that’s why it’s important to have nutrition that powers their specific needs. They give handlers their best every day. That’s why come feeding time it’s important that they get properly fueled.
Ryan Sparks is an award-winning outdoor writer and photographer. Before becoming Strung’s Editor-in-Chief he worked as a full-time freelancer, serving as Wild Foods Editor for Strung, Media Editor for American Angler, was a Senior Contributor to both Tail Fly Fishing Magazine and Nebraskaland, and worked as the Senior Writer and Photographer for Approach Media. His freelance work has appeared in dozens of publications including Gray’s Sporting Journal, The Flyfish Journal, The Drake, and MeatEater, among others. He loves fly fishing for anything that swims, hunting with a bow, and following his pointers across the country.