Jun 7, 2012, 4:02 AM EDT
By Jerry Sather
Sometimes people make the comparison of hunting dogs to automobiles. Field trial dogs are called “Ferraris” or “Formula One Cars.” Good old hunting retrievers or meat dogs are called “pick up trucks.” The comparison make some sense. It also reveals one thing that all dogs have in common – the food they eat is their fuel.
Watching a retriever take off from the line on a retrieve and hit full speed in three bounds is exciting. The dog plowing through cover and leaping into the water with no hesitation is a sight to behold. A dog as willing and able to make the last retrieve at the end of a long, cold day in the marsh as the first fetch in the morning is inspiring. A dog with bright eyes, a luxurious coat and an enthusiastic attitude is a thing of beauty.
All of these can be partially attributed to genetics, and perhaps a small bit to socialization and training, but more than anything else they are indicators of a dog’s vigor and health. And the bulk of this can be attributed to proper feeding of high-quality dog food.
Now I’m not here to pitch one brand over another. The standard at Labs Unlimited Kennels has been Eukanuba for years, but I’ve tried others with varying results. Most of my clients have their own preferences and have enjoyed success with other brands, too.
Overall, if you stick with top brand names from the big companies who support the dog field sports your dog should do just fine. There are dozens of boutique brands out there, too, which are good, but tend to be expensive. I often think about the history of the domestication of the dog and where we’ve come. It makes a guy wonder how we came to have generations of great, healthy, performing dogs that weren’t fed “organic” dog food – at least if you believe what the advertisements and infomercials tell you!
The benefits of good fuel for your dog are best seen over time like healthy coat and eyes, high energy, and endurance. However, if you are switching foods or starting a maturing pup on an adult food, there are some immediate signals to show whether the food agrees with your dog. First is stool consistency. Any switch in food can cause loose stool if it’s done too abruptly. Making a switch is best done incrementally by mixing the new food in a growing ratio to the old food during the course of a couple weeks time.
Once you’ve moved entirely to the new food, that’s the time to begin judging stool consistency to see how your dog’s system likes the new food. Also monitor your dog’s energy level and enthusiasm. It won’t take long on new food to begin to show results (positive or negative) in these areas.
For the most part, one thing that new food won’t change is if your dog is a fussy eater. Dogs that “wolf” their food, will eat most anything the same way. Dogs that pick, kibble by kibble, will tend to do the same thing no matter what brand is on the bag or what ingredients are included. Again, like cars, some are gas-guzzlers and some are economy models!
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