Post-hunting season health maintenance for your dog
Up here in the north country, a lot of us have a hard time not packing on a few extra pounds during the winter. With limited daylight, air temperatures that hurt, and the gene-deep urge to binge on calorie-dense food, it’s a struggle.
It’s also a struggle for our hunting dogs. They need just as much exercise as ever and a keen eye on their daily k-cal intake. If we don’t pay attention to both, we’ll see our four-legged friends looking a little thick around the middle.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it is for many reasons, not the least of which is joint health. If you want your dog to wring the most out of its prime hunting years, lean and mean is the way to go.
With a Lab that is coming up on 8 years old, I’m paying close attention to this. Older, spayed females are prime candidates for weight gain, so Luna gets a precise amount of food every day. Even though late-winter weather can really stink, she also gets out every day to stretch her muscles and either just go for a walk, or work through some retrieving drills.
It’s not much of a commitment, but it keeps her at her prime weight and will make it easier to manage throughout the summer and into next season. This is my goal each year with her. While it’s easy to plan to work a dog into shape in the pre-season, it’s better to adopt year-round attention to your dog’s physical health so you don’t have to play catch-up next August.