Reduce Stress on Hunting Dogs


Hunting dogs: outdoorsmen’s best friend

Hardworking hunting dogs are prone to stress from days spent in the field.  Contributing factors to this stress include duration and intensity of the hunting dogs work. Cold weather, travel and exposure to other dogs in a new environment can also challenge hunting dogs gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. First, understand these stressing factors. Then, help your dog counteract them.

Hunting dog stress factors

A dog’s GI tract is associated with a large portion of its immune system. Here, specialized cells help protect the dog’s body against invading organisms. They eliminate pathogenic bacteria and viruses, while recognizing beneficial bacteria. Digestive tract inflammation compromise hunting dogs performance. It reduces digestion and absorption of nutrients.

“Seventy percent of hunting dogs immune systems are associated with the gut. An upset digestive tract can result in reduced immunity,” says Purina Senior Research Scientist Arleigh Reynolds, DVM, PhD, DACVN. “When digestive tract inflammation and reduced immunity occur, an imbalance of the intestinal microflora also can occur, resulting in digestive upset.”

If your dog experiences digestive upset, you may notice a decrease in stool quality and a reduction in energy levels and performance. Other signs include loss of appetite, excess gas, vomiting, constipation, loose stools, and fatigue.

Ways to beat hunting dog stress

To help support your hunting dogs immune system health, keep a supply of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora canine probiotic supplement handy. Prescribed by veterinarians, FortiFlora contains a safe and effective strain of beneficial bacteria. These are proven to promote normal intestinal microflora and a healthy canine immune system, and to reduce diarrhea associated with stress.

Consult with your veterinarian before using FortiFlora. By starting your dog on FortiFlora prior to a hunting trip, you can help increase his or her levels of beneficial bacteria and promote a strong immune system. Sprinkle the convenient single packets on your dogs food once a day, or as prescribed by your veterinarian.

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Can you hunt with dogs in the state you’re traveling to? Check the rules and regulations.

Taking care of your hunting dog after the hunt

Recovery and rest are essential after hunting dogs work hard afield. Maximizing rest helps to minimize stress. Warm, soft, dry bedding is crucial, as is comfortable, not cramped, quarters when traveling. So is a robust and moist bowl of feed.

Overlooking the role of the GI tract as a dog’s natural defense system is dangerous. Reducing stress and supporting digestive health are key to helping your dog perform in peak condition in the field.

Karl Gunzer operated Karl’s High Spirit Retrievers for more than 20 years, the top Derby kennel in America in 2007 and 2012. He trained five National Finalists and a two-time Canadian National Champion. Competing in eight National Championships with 24 different dogs, he won more than 40 Open stakes and 60 Derby stakes. Today, as Senior Manager of Purina’s Sporting Dog Program, Gunzer’s team attends more than 500 field trials and championships every year.

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