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Best food supplements for your gun dog

Best food supplements for your gun dog

Getting the most out of training and hunting with your gun dog starts with choosing the right exercise program then adding the best nutritional supplements, like krill oil, to their diet to help hard-working hunting dogs to recover faster. Getting your dog in shape is also the best way to ensure your hunting partner stays healthy and injury free. But diet, and the right supplements to help your dog bounce back after a long day in the field, is also essential. Without this two-pronged strategy of proper training and nutritional supplements, your dog will simply not hunt as efficiently or as long. And this may have a big impact on your enjoyment afield as well. A hunt I took with a friend last fall is a perfect example.

My hunting partner and I were two full days into a four-day hunt last November when his dog gave up. She wouldn't even stand when we parked the truck, and while my dog was like bottled lightning, his chocolate Lab was more like bottled mud. It seemed that two days was enough for the one-year-old pup, and after that she wasn't physically capable of hunting anymore. She needed recovery.

My black Lab, a four-year old named Luna, was like a different species. She hunted sunrise to sunset as we coursed through multiple tracts of public land throughout Nebraska. We targeted four species of upland birds in varied terrain, and without her ability to go all day and then do it again, it would have been a miserable trip.

The differences between his dog and mine are many, and something can certainly be said about drive. His dog doesn't have that magical need to go quite like mine does, but there is far more to the difference than that. His dog started out in poor shape, which is always bad.

We ask a lot of our bird dogs throughout the hunting season, especially on extended trips where they go for days on end. It's imperative we address their recovery needs correctly. Quality nutritional supplements can help.

Making An Athlete

It's really not that hard to keep a hunting dog in shape. They'll run, swim, and engage in training drills all day long if they sport a decent pedigree and their handlers show some initiative when it comes to getting them out and moving. This should be a year-round commitment and is a much better route to take when building a great bird dog's fitness than the ill-advised method of "hunting them into shape." Going that route with your dog is like one of us deciding to run marathons after a sedentary lifestyle and zero training. The odds of crossing that finish line after 26.2 miles are slim, but the odds of experiencing an injury and an embarrassing dose of humility are very high.

Not only is keeping a dog in shape the responsible thing to do, it's also self-serving. Our bird dogs are expected to perform under a variety of conditions. For example, my Lab will start the season hunting doves, which is a simple pass shooting affair, although it can be hot. From there, she becomes a woodcock and grouse hunter, which involves a lot more physical activity. Not long after, the first duck hunts occur and then it's on to pheasants, quail, and just about anything we can get after. She might need to retrieve mallards in a cold river for hours during the morning, and then range throughout a vast series of broken hills to flush sharptails in antelope country the rest of the day. The physical demands are serious, and without a great base with which to start, things can go wrong quickly.

It's not just what you do during the pre-hunt months that matters either. During the actual hunt, a dog needs proper energy and hydration. Ignore both, and you'll put your four-legged compadre in unnecessary danger.

And then there is the need to address recovery after a hunt or rigorous training session.

While proper exercise is the key to building a bird dog that can hunt all day, it's also necessary to address their ability to recover after their day-long efforts.

Heal Up, Move On

Four years ago, I embarked on a personal journey to get into much better shape. This involved making a commitment to running, lifting weights and eating healthier. It took months, but I started to feel comfortable with all three. The one hole in my new game, however, was that I felt like I never fully recovered from anything.

During a conversation with a buddy of mine who runs 100-mile ultra-marathons in the Rocky Mountains, I mentioned that I was slow to recover, especially after long runs. He asked me what I was using for supplements and I told him that I wasn't using anything. He was floored.

After the conversation ended, I ordered several products he recommended for pre- and post-workout health. As you can guess, he was spot-on in his advice. And it doesn't apply to just humans. Dogs need recovery help as well.

Their muscles, joints, and bones all take a beating during a hard day of hunting, and while the body is amazingly efficient at rebuilding, it takes time with dogs of all ages. This is why, especially on a multi-day hunt, it's necessary to supplement your dog's nutrition to offer them the best chance of a quick, proper recovery.

From training to dawn-to-dark hunting days, our bird dogs put in serious effort to please us. The least we can do is offer them the right supplements to aid in their post-activity recoveries.

For years, an essential step in this process was to offer dogs a fish-oil pill. After all, that's what humans take so it must be good for dogs, right? Not necessarily. Fish oil can benefit a dog's health (or ours), but it can also contain unwanted toxins and doesn't address everything necessary for overall health and joint issues.

A far superior option is krill oil, which is found in Alpha Dog Nutrition's Vitality supplement. Like fish oil, krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, but unlike fish oil, krill oil contains phospholipids, carotenoid and astaxanthin. In laymen's terms, these compounds benefit a dog's mental state, promote heart health, and address joint issues.

Krill oil's benefits don't end there, however. It can also reduce allergies, slow the development of certain cancers, help regulate blood clots, and improve your dog's skin and coat while also benefitting eye function. To truly break it down, krill oil works on a level that benefits cellular membranes and supports overall cell survival, which is the cornerstone of not only staying healthy, but recovering after serious bouts of physical strain and activity. As an added bonus, Vitality also contains the wonder food turmeric. While its benefits are many, turmeric's most important role is to combat inflammation, a task it does naturally to the same level of effectiveness that many anti-inflammatory drugs do. Inflammation is linked to a host of issues in dogs and is a road-block to post-hunt recovery, which makes this ingredient essential for hard working sporting dogs.

Unlike fish oil supplements, a krill-oil-based nutritional supplement, like Alpha Dog's Vitality, contains phospholipids, carotenoid and astaxanthin that benefit a dog's mental state, promote heart health, and address joint issues.

More Krill Oil Benefits

Suppose you're still on the fence about whether krill oil is better than fish oil, or if they are basically the same thing. After all, both contain omega-3 fatty acids, so there is no clear winner there, right? Wrong. The omega-3s in krill oil are bound to phospholipids, not triglycerides like those found in fish oil. Research strongly suggests that phospholipids may be more readily absorbed by brain tissues than triglycerides, which means your dog will reap far greater benefits from them.

Alpha Dog sources their krill from Alaskan waters, meaning they are far less likely to be exposed to toxins like mercury, pesticides and PCBs, than fish are. Also, unlike fish, krill are in no danger of being overharvested. In fact, krill fishing could increase 50-fold and still be at safe levels of harvest, which is not the case with most marine life. So, not only is a krill-oil-based supplement, like Vitality, a better choice for your dog's health, it's environmentally responsible.

When it comes to helping a worn-out pheasant or duck dog at the end of a day, or even after a mid-summer training session at your local lake, there really is only one choice for offering the best recovery possible - Alpha Dog's Vitality.

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