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stayman79

How often to feed a hunting dog?

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stayman79

I'd like to hear some facts/opinions about how often or when to feed our dogs. I currently feed a.m. and p.m. but have heard that once a dog is full grown they may even do better with one feeding a day. I also heard about not feeding right before a day of upland hunting/exercise to avoid "twisted gut?" I had never heard of that before but would like to avoid it. I also want to avoid "accidents" in the duck boat on those lakes where they can't walk on the bogs.

Facts are great, but experience is also worth alot! Thanks for the info!

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FISH ON!!

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Redlantern

I have an informative article on this in an old issue of Mushing Magazine. Let me know if your interested and I can scan it for you. I think that's legal, isn't it?

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Erik Torgerson

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Bryce

Once a day here. Twisted stomach is one reason. Also like to have dogs that don't mess around when it gets to be chow time. First thing I do when we get to the lodging is throw the grub in the kennels. By the time I've got the gear in, the hounds are done and can get their once over for cuts. Let em out once more for water and potty and see you tommorrrow morn. Been on too many hunts where the guys basically have to hand feed their dogs.

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BLACKJACK

On young dogs, I give them all they want, just keep filling the pan. On my older dog, she gets a cup morning and evening to keep her weight down. Once pheasant season gets going and we're hunting every day the ration goes up. On long trips, they get all the dry food they want to eat, but at the end of the day they're so tired they won't eat so we generally take some canned dog food with and mix that with the dry food and water and then they'll eat it. When we take our second trip to Dakota and the pheasants are harder to find and we're hunting all day, we'll give them a small batch of canned dog food and dry food that we've pre-mixed and carry in tuppers, to keep their energy up. We do this when we have our lunch break. Need to keep fuel in the furnace.

[This message has been edited by BLACKJACK (edited 10-07-2004).]

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mudman

Get topic!
I have a question. My lab is not quite 8 months and is already 80-85lbs. I was told to only feed him once in the morning and keep the water dish full and fresh at all times. I don't want a 100+lber so this is supose to slow him down?

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Hossienda

Question for you guys. What does twisted gut/stomach mean? How does it happen? How is it related to feeding? I am curious because I have never heard of it before.

Thanks,

-Hossienda

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LABS4ME

I feed once a day at the end of the day like Bryce. No messing around... when it's feeding time they eat! No messing around no matter how tired they are. On late (December-January) season hunts when they will be out in the cold all day, I MAY give them 3/4 cup ASAP in the A.M., If I do feed them I want to make sure it's digested before they are working to avoid twisted gut. Back in my trial days, it was rare to find a trainer who fed in the A.M. or free fed. Feeding time was at night before you put them up for the night. Food and a good night sleep to rebuild for the next day.

I don't know much about the physical way twisted gut works... I know it is caused by feeding the dog before strenuous work, I think it's from the stomach being full of food and water and swinging around in the abdomen. I believe it literally twists around, thus causing everything to back up and usually death. I personally know of at least 4 dogs over the last 20 years that have gone down from this.

If you are feeding a quality food, once a day feeding at night will suffice, plus this way you can easily control weight and avoid twisted gut, and you will never have a dog who will not eat when you're done hunting.

Good Luck!

Ken

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Harmonica Bear

What you are referring to is called bloat. Although I have never had a dog suffer from it, I run setters and was made aware of it from my vet.

For your reading enjoyment:

Introduction
Bloat, Torsion. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Call it what you will, this is a serious, life-threatening condition of large breed dogs. While the diagnosis is simple, the pathological changes in the dog's body make treatment complicated, expensive, and not always successful.

A typical scenario starts with a large, deep-chested dog, usually fed once daily. Typical breeds affected are Akita, Great Dane, German Shepherd, St. Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, and Irish Setter. Sighthounds, Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Bloodhounds, other similar breeds, and large, deep-chested mixed breeds are also affected.

Factor in the habit of bolting food, gulping air, or drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating to this feeding schedule and body type. Then add vigorous exercise after a full meal, and you have the recipe for bloat.

Of course, the fact that not all bloats happen in just the same way and the thought that some bloodlines are more at risk than others further complicates the issue.

Simple gastric distention can occur in any breed or age of dog and is common in young puppies who overeat. This is sometimes referred to as pre-bloat by laymen. Belching of gas or vomiting food usually relieves the problem.

If this condition occurs more than once in a predisposed breed, the veterinarian might discuss methods to prevent bloat, such as feeding smaller meals or giving Reglan (metoclopramide) to encourage stomach emptying. Some veterinarians recommend, and some owners request, prophylactic surgery to anchor the stomach in place before the torsion occurs in dogs who have experienced one or more bouts of distention or in dogs whose close relatives have had GDV.


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The physiology of bloat
Torsion or volvulus are terms to describe the twisting of the stomach after gastric distention occurs. The different terms are used to define the twisting whether it occurs on the longitudinal axis (torsion) or the mesenteric axis (volvulus). Most people use the terms interchangeably, and the type of twist has no bearing on the prognosis or treatment. When torsion occurs, the esophagus is closed off, limiting the dog's ability to relieve distention by vomiting or belching. Often the spleen becomes entrapped as well, and its blood supply is cut off.

Now a complex chain of physiologic events begins. The blood return to the heart decreases, cardiac output decreases, and cardiac arrythmias may follow. Toxins build up in the dying stomach lining. The liver, pancreas, and upper small bowel may also be compromised. Shock from low blood pressure and endotoxins rapidly develops. Sometimes the stomach ruptures, leading to peritonitis.

Abdominal distention, salivating, and retching are the hallmark signs of GDV. Other signs may include restlessness, depression, lethargy, anorexia, weakness, or a rapid heart rate.


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Treatment
GDV is a true emergency. If you know or even suspect your dog has bloat, immediately call your veterinarian or emergency service. Do not attempt home treatment.

Do take the time to call ahead.; while you are transporting the dog, the hospital staff can prepare for your arrival. Do not insist on accompanying your dog to the treatment area. Well-meaning owners are an impediment to efficient care. Someone will be out to answer your questions as soon as possible, but for now, have faith in you veterinarian and wait.

Initial diagnosis may include x-rays, an ECG, and blood tests, but treatment will probably be started before the test results are in.

The first step is to treat shock with IV fluids and steroids. Antibiotics and anti-arrythmics may also be started now. Then the veterinarian will attempt to decompress the stomach by passing a stomach tube. If this is successful, a gastric levage may be instituted to wash out accumulated food, gastric juices, or other stomach contents. In some cases, decompression is accomplished by placing large-bore needles or a trochar through the skin and muscle and directly into the stomach.

In some cases, this medical therapy is sufficient. However, in many cases, surgery is required to save the dog. Once the dog's condition is stabilized, surgery to correct the stomach twist, remove any unhealthy tissue, and anchor the stomach in place is performed. The gastroplexy, or anchoring surgery, is an important procedure to prevent recurrence, and many variations exist. Your veterinarian will do the procedure he feels comfortable with and which has the best success rate

Recovery is prolonged, sometimes requiring hospital stays of a week or more. Post-operative care depends on the severity of the disease and the treatment methods employed and may include a special diet, drugs to promote gastric emptying, and routine wound management. Costs may run $500-1000 or more in complicated cases.


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Prevention
Clearly, prevention of GDV is preferable to treatment. In susceptible breeds, feed two or three meals daily and discourage rapid eating. Do not allow exercise for two hours after a meal. As previously mentioned, some owners feel that certain bloodlines are at greater risk and choose to have gastroplexy performed as a prophylactic measure.

While the genetics of GDV are not completely worked out, most breeders and veterinarians feel there is some degree of heritability. Therefore, while prophylactic gastroplexy will probably help an individual dog, it makes sense not to breed dogs who are affected or who are close relatives of those suffering from GDV.

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stayman79

Mudman-

I have a 90 lb yellow lab that was supposed to be around 70 lbs, based on the fact that both parents were. I don't think you can change their genetics by how much you feed, what you want to go by is how the dog looks. You should be able to see and feel his last 3-4 ribs when he's standing. And especially with a big dog that will get lots of work, keep him lean to be easy on his joints. This is what I was told, I'm no vet. My dog needs 5-6 cups of premium food a day to not look anorexic. But boy does he make hauling in those geese easy!

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FOOT

I feed my Labs once a day, in the evening all year long, no matter if it's hunting season or not.
The one thing I do, like Blackjack, is to mix the dry food in with canned and water during actually hunting time. At home there is no problem with them eating but after a long days hunts they don't want to eat.
One other thing I do is to give each Lab one egg a week or mix in the dripping from a chicken breast we have for supper. You will be surprised how shinny black their coats become and the vets I've talked to say it won't hurt but keep it to a minimum.

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mudman

sure does!
I use a kool aid pitcher to "Dig" out of the bag. I give him one pitcher a night
and he takes that down in seconds.
check out his picture on the photo sharing fishing buddies and let me know what you think.
Thanks

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stayman79

Mudman-

Nice looking yellow! I'll have to post a picture of mine on there soon. His name is Murdock, and he's a great hunter, but a little bit of a pain in the fishing boat. Thinks he's got to retrieve the lures, bark at the fish, etc. I chalk it up to still being young and full of energy...hopefully I'm right!

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mudman

stayman-
same here everytime I cast he's on FULL alert,pacing, whining but after about an hour he tires out wink.gif

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Dano2

Shouldn't it be o.k. to feed your dog in the morning before you leave if its a good 1-2 hour trip anyway? thats time enough for the food to digest isn't it?
What about a small snack in between time like Blackjack mentioned so they have more energy?
I've hunted with guys that give there dog a couple peanut butter sandwhichs a couple times through out the day of hunting.
Is this bad news for labs to do this?
thanks

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LABS4ME

Thanks Harmonica Bear! Your post was insightful...Interesting about the 2-3 meals a day. I have over the last 20 years been taught to feed at the end of the day after all work is complete to avoid these problems. I think I still will continue this as I have had nothing but good luck with the dogs phsically and energy wise.

Good Luck!

Ken

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