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Hunting dogs are the elite athletes of the canine world. They require very specific nutrition to keep them healthy and to help them perform at their best. Their diet needs to be calorie-dense and must contain optimum levels of protein and fat.
The hunting dog food that you choose for your dog should also have a blend of micro-nutrients that will support their immune system and digestive system as well as promote strong bones and joints. You also need to be careful about when you feed your hunting dog and how much you feed them to help them to avoid some common health problems. Your vet will be able to give you detailed advice but first, check out our guide to the best dog food for hunting dogs.
This premium dried dog food is packed with protein (88%) delivered by high quality meat sources including beef meal, pork meal, chicken meal and fish meal. The recipe has been scientifically and nutritionally balanced to support the needs of high performing dogs. To give your dog plenty of energy, there is 20 % fat. The calorie content is 406 kcal per cup of food.
It also delivers all the essential micronutrients that your hunting dog needs to stay healthy. There are Omega oils for a healthy immune system and skin as well as selenium yeast which supports a healthy metabolism and helps your dog to fight disease. The carefully balanced mineral components will maintain the integrity of the paw pads and the prebiotics and probiotics support a healthy digestion. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our Victor Dog Food Review.
Your hunting dog will get plenty of energy (370 kcal per cup of food) from this premium dried dog food. The protein content is 32 % which is vital for building healthy and lean muscle. This grain-free recipe is based on the diet of wolves and perfectly fits a dog’s metabolism. The protein is provided by roasted bison and roasted venison which are highly digestible and have an amazing flavor that your dog will love.
This hunting dog food delivers a complex blend of vitamins and minerals to support your dog’s overall health. The recipe is packed with antioxidants supplied by vegetables and fruits including sweet potatoes, peas and blueberries. These also provide zinc, selenium and vitamin E which maintain a healthy immune system. Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 7 recipes included in our review of the Taste of The Wild Dog Food.
The high protein content (30 %) of this food for hunting dogs is provided by real bison (plus chicken meal and fish meal) and the recipe is completely grain-free. To provide the 386 kcal per cup of food, there are also healthy carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes and carrots.
Essential antioxidants are provided to help fight disease and these are delivered by the blueberries and cranberries in the recipe of this hunting dog food. There’s a careful blend of calcium, phosphorous and vitamins which keep bones and teeth strong. The omega oils promote a healthy skin and coat.
There is a trio of proteins (25%) provided in this recipe for active adult dogs which are chicken, lamb and salmon. There is also a medley of super foods to provide all the essential vitamins and minerals that your dog needs. The recipe includes vine grown tomatoes, orchard-picked apples and sun-ripened blueberries.
These combine to support a healthy immune system and digestive system as well as healthy teeth and bones. There are plenty of omega oils for a healthy coat and calcium and phosphorous for healthy bones. The recipe contains no GMO ingredients and there is no corn, wheat or soy.
Highly concentrated nutrition is provided by this formula for sporting dogs. The total protein content is 30 % and this is provided by high quality sources – chicken is the primary ingredient. The recipe has been designed to maximize the metabolism of oxygen which helps with the endurance of hunting dogs.
There is no grain or soy, the carbohydrate content is delivered by peas and beet pulp. There are plenty of antioxidants to mop up free radicals and support a healthy immune system. There is also glucosamine to keep hard-working joints healthy. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
Buffalo and sweet potato are the primary ingredients in this premium dried food for hunting dogs. One cup of food delivers 342 calories and the protein content is 38%. To keep your active dog’s joints nice and strong there is added glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate.
The recipe contains only real, whole foods and it has been designed to make it easy to digest. There are omega oils to keep the coat healthy and a carefully designed balance of vitamins and minerals to support overall health. It contains probiotics and is completely grain-free.
This recipe is based on just seven to ten simple ingredients so it suits dogs with food sensitivities. It contains 32 % protein which is provided by lamb, chicken meal and fish meal. The carbohydrate content is easy to digest and is mainly made up of sweet potatoes and peas.
There is chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints and vitamins and minerals for overall health. The probiotics are added to keep the gut healthy and the omega oils are for a shiny coat. The recipe is packed with antioxidants to support the immune system.
You can be sure that this food will be good for your hunting dog because it contains no fewer than 16 super foods (including blueberries and broccoli) which deliver antioxidants and has 38 % protein. The primary ingredient is cold water salmon which supports healthy muscle development. The moderate energy value (345 kCal per cup) means that your hunting dog will have plenty of fuel to support their active lifestyle.
There is a healthy blend of fats and krill meal provides the omega oil content that keeps your dog’s skin healthy. The added probiotics assist with healthy digestion and there are no corn, wheat or soy grains that could cause digestive issues.
This premium dried dog food has been specifically formulated for senior dogs who are over seven years of age and weigh 24 and 54 pounds. There is plenty of protein to support the maintenance of healthy muscle and the added chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine keep their joints strong.
There are high levels of DHA and antioxidants to keep their brain healthy and to support an efficient immune system. Thanks to the careful balance of fats and carbohydrates, your senior dog will have all they need to maintain a very active lifestyle.
This grain-free formula contains 38 % protein and 18 % fat. The recipe is based on a ‘whole prey’ design which closely matches the diet of a wild dog so poultry organs and cartilage are included. However, there are no rendered poultry, fish or meat meals. A full 85 % of the content is made up of poultry fish and eggs and 15 % is made up of vegetables, fruits and botanicals. There is no grain or tapioca.
There are plenty of superfoods which provide the full range of nutrients that your dog needs including butternut squash and peas. There’s chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints and DHA and EPA to support mental alertness and keep the immune system healthy. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Orijen Dog Food.
There are several key ingredients that you should look out for when selecting a hunter’s special dog food. Here are the main ones.
Hunting dogs need amino acids to build strong muscles so that they can run around. For this, they need protein so look for foods that have a high protein content. Also, the protein must be derived from high-quality sources. Animal-derived protein is always preferable and lean meat and fish sources are the best.
Canine nutritional research has shown that it is better for sporting dogs to derive their energy from fat than from carbohydrates. This is because it is a longer-lasting source of energy that allows dogs to run further – it helps their endurance. In fact, the research has shown that fat is the best source of energy for both short duration and high-intensity activity as well as the long duration and moderate-intensity activity in dogs. Therefore, look for food that has a high-fat content.
Your hunting dog’s intestines need to be able to absorb nutrients efficiently to keep them healthy. To do this, they need adequate amounts of healthy fiber. This also helps to keep the metabolism on track so that your dog will have plenty of energy.
The best dog foods have a careful balance of micro-nutrients to support all aspects of your dog’s health. This includes a balance of calcium and phosphorous for strong bones, chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints, and probiotics for healthy digestion.
Hunting Dogs Diet and Nutrition
Hunting dogs are the canine equivalent of human elite athletes and their diet and nutrition are very important to maintain their performance and keep them healthy. They need an appropriate feeding strategy with suitable premium dog food.
In terms of a feeding strategy, you need to closely match your dog’s energy requirements with their calorie intake. If you feed them too much, there is a danger that they will become obese. If you feed them too little, they will not have enough energy to complete their task. Keep a close eye on their weight and get advice from your vet. Always feed your dog after a hunting session and not before as they need adequate time to digest the food. Once a day is usually sufficient. Dogs do not suffer from low blood sugar like humans do because they rely on fat and not sugar for their energy. Therefore, they can go a day without food and still carry out the vigorous exercise.
Your hunting dog needs high-performance dog food that is calorie-dense and delivers a lot of energy. It needs to be easy to digest and it needs to contain a careful balance of fats and proteins as well as micro-nutrients to support a healthy metabolism.
Types of Hunting Dog Food: Canned Food Vs. Dry Food
This is a matter of personal preference and it is important that you find food that suits your dog and suits you as well. The main difference between canned and dried food is the water content. If you are feeding dried food, it is vital that you provide your hunting dog with plenty of freshwater.
Canned food is generally more expensive and more difficult to store. Once you have opened it, it has to be used up quickly. With dried food, you can buy it in bulk and use it up gradually which is more cost-effective. Also, look at the protein content. Often, the protein content is higher in dried food and your hunting dog needs a lot of protein. Canned food that is packed with cheap grains and fillers to make up the volume will not suit a hunting dog.
Common Health Problems in Hunting Dogs – How Diet Can Help Them
Hunting dogs are generally the healthiest canines because they lead such an active lifestyle. However, there are certain breeds that often work as hunting dogs and these breeds are prone to some recognized health problems. Some of these health issues can be partly prevented or helped by using a suitable diet.
Many of the larger hunting dog breeds suffer from a condition called hip dysplasia. The hip is a vital joint in the dog’s body, it is the place where the thigh bone attaches to the pelvis by fitting into a socket. If the bones do not fit well together, it will cause pain and it can lead to a degeneration of the joint which is called arthritis.
Hip dysplasia is mainly inherited from the dog’s parents but excessive wear and tear and injury can make it worse. Hunting dogs inevitably use all of their joints a lot and wear and tear is a big issue. Foods that contain supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can help with this.
Joint issues can also be reduced by making sure that your dog does not become obese. If your dog puts on a lot of weight, it will put a lot of strain on the joints. Diet plays a vital role in this. You need to balance the number of calories that your dog ingests with the amount of exercise that they are doing. This is a particular problem for senior hunting dogs that are not getting as much exercise as they used to.
The hunting dog breeds that have deep, narrow chests such as the Irish Setters and German Shorthaired Pointer can suffer from a condition called bloat. This is a torsion (twist) or dilatation (enlargement) of the stomach and can be fatal.
The timing of feeding your dog is crucial for the prevention of bloat. Never feed them less than two hours before a hunting session. Also, some owners are convinced that dogs that are fed on a more natural diet are less likely to get bloat. Therefore, you could try to protect your dog by picking food that has plenty of natural ingredients. Avoid foods that have corn, soy, and wheat. Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives should also be avoided.
Hunting dogs spend a lot of time out in the countryside and this brings them into contact with infectious diseases that their urban cousins are less likely to encounter. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease are typical examples.
Therefore, it makes sense to keep their immune system as strong as you can. A diet rich in protein and with the right amount of fiber is crucial. Foods that have superfoods such as blueberries that deliver antioxidants are also useful for promoting a healthy immune system.
Q: When should I feed my hunting dog?
A: There has been a lot of research that indicates that the best time to feed a hunting dog is after a hunting or training session. It takes around 20-24 hours for a dog’s meal to be completely digested. Studies have also shown that a dog’s endurance is enhanced when they have an empty stomach but is reduced if they eat four hours before a hunting session. When a dog is fed 17 hours before exercise, they use more fat as energy. This is important because fat metabolism produces the best type of energy for use by the muscles and is best for endurance which is vital or hunting dogs.
Therefore, the scientific evidence seems to recommend feeding a hunting dog 24 hours before a session of intense exercise. This will help to prevent problems that can be caused by combining exercise with a full colon which includes irritation of the lining of the intestine.
Q: When shouldn’t I feed him?
A: When your hunting dog is accompanying you in the field, they will be exercising vigorously. You may think that giving them a big meal just before you head out is a good idea but the opposite is true. You should not feed a hunting dog for at least two hours before you head out on a hunt.
The main reason for this is the risk of bloat. Bloat is the common name given to a canine medical condition called gastric dilatation/volvulus syndrome (GDV). It is basically a twisted stomach and is a life-threatening condition, dogs can die within hours because the body goes into shock. It is caused by an accumulation of food and air in the stomach that causes it to flick over. The hunting breeds that are most at risk are the Weimaraners, German Shorthaired Pointers, Irish Setters, Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
A dog with GDV will appear restless, their abdomen will be stretched and they will have shallow, rapid breaths. They may attempt to belch or vomit but will bring nothing up. Their abdomen will appear swollen and will feel hard. Sadly, many dogs suffer profound shock and collapse. If your hunting dog is older than seven years, is a male and is anxious, they are most at risk.
Q: What is the difference between high-performance and normal dog food?
A: As the owner of a hard-working hunting dog, it is important that you understand what high-performance dog food is and why your hunting dog needs it. Hunting dogs need the energy content that a high-performance diet provides. A high-performance food has higher levels of both protein and fat than normal dog food.
High-performance dog food has specific ingredients that help your dog stay alert for long periods of time. They also build healthy muscles and promote rapid recovery times. Therefore, omega oils antioxidants, and calcium are important elements. A normal dog food provides less energy and focuses on maintaining healthy digestion as well as skin and dental health.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick of the best food for hunting dogs is packed with protein (88%) from meat sources including beef meal, pork meal, chicken meal, and fish meal. There is plenty of energy provided by the 20 % fat content and your dog will get 406 kcal per cup of food.
The Omega oils promote a healthy immune system and skin as well as selenium yeast which supports a healthy metabolism. The carefully balanced mineral components will maintain the integrity of the paw pads and the prebiotics and probiotics support healthy digestion.
Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!