Keep Sporting Dogs at a Healthy Weight to Power Performance


As the weather warms, it’s time to get your sporting dog back in shape to prepare for next fall’s hunting season. Proper nutrition directly impacts a hardworking dog’s performance in the field. When a dog carries extra weight, it slows him down. By keeping him at a healthy weight, your sporting dog will be ready to give you his all.

Monitoring dogs for ideal body condition, described as having an hourglass shape, should begin with puppies. Petting your dog daily is a prime opportunity to feel his ribs to check body condition. That way, you’ll notice subtle changes faster. Using the nine-point Purina Body Condition System, a dog should have a score of four to five, meaning the ribs are palpable but without excess fat covering.

The importance of keeping dogs in a lean body condition was shown in the 14-year Purina Life Span Study, in which Purina scientists followed Labrador retrievers through their entire lives, revealing that feeding these dogs to a lean or ideal body condition from puppyhood throughout life extended their healthy years by 1.8 years and significantly delayed the need for treatment of chronic conditions compared to the moderately overweight dogs in the control group.

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Keep your hardworking hunting dog at a healthy weight by feeding a high-protein, high-fat performance dog food year ‘round, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula, and continuing to monitor your dog’s caloric intake and his body condition.

“Switching to a maintenance diet in the off-season is like metabolically detraining your dog,” says Purina Research Nutritionist, Brian Zanghi, PhD. “Maintenance dog foods contain higher levels of carbohydrates, which decrease the metabolic capacity to use fat, ultimately resulting in reduced endurance. It is best to reduce the portion fed in the off-season and monitor a dog’s body condition to keep him healthy and fit.”

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