Pre-Hunt Conditioning; Glucose Boost; Autoimmune Disease

'¦Plus, choosing the proper flooring for a kennel.

I have a seven-year-old German shorthair. As she ages her recovery time increases after each hunt. Will feeding a higher protein food help? If I decide to use a high protein food, how much should I feed my dog? How about energy bars during the hunt? How long after exercising should we wait to feed? --KJ

When we think of the muscle activity that is involved in the hunt, recovery of that muscle is based on glucose (simple carbohydrate) uptake by the muscle cells. Getting simple sugars into the dog during the first 20 minutes or so following a workout best accomplishes this. This glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in the muscle cells ready for use as an energy source the next time muscle activity is called for.

Higher protein is not really an immediate energy source but is required to rebuild the muscle fibers themselves. It is therefore an important nutrient but not one that reenergizes tired muscles.

Energy bars are a source of simple sugars and can be given throughout the hunt as a short term, quick shot of energy to provide glucose to those muscle cells.

Another thing you should think about with this dog is that now that she is older she will also benefit from a better pre-hunt conditioning program. Start by having her at an optimum weight for the activity she will be involved in. Then, through gradual conditioning, bring her up to the point where she can maintain the pace you want to hunt at for the time periods you hunt in.

It seems like around here we hunt for 11⁄2 to two hours then are back at the truck, either to get something to eat and drink or to move on to another spot. This is also a good time to replenish her glucose supply.

Enjoyed your article in the recent Gun Dog. Took some searching to find out that Purina had stopped making the performance bar that I had used in my once-yearly hunt out west. Found the Xtreme Fuel Booster bars that you mentioned, but they apparently are not high in corn syrup or similar product to replace glycogen stores. Can't find anything on Google that is similar to the Purina bars.

What about using a human bar such as Power Bar Performance, which is made in vanilla and peanut butter flavors? Found these at Sam's. My Brittany and I would appreciate your thoughts. --JS

The human power bars are fine. I just have a hard time paying for the fancy wrappers and advertising. I think that was part of the downfall of the Purina bar. It is hard to pay that much for something you can get as a squirt bottle of honey or syrup. Granted, Purina's product was a refined sugar source that required little digestive energy to get it into the system, but it was still high priced.

I have a yellow Lab that I picked up about 18 months ago after losing my great 13-year-old chocolate. It was hard to start over with the new dog but I was excited and determined to not make some of the mistakes I made in training Harley, my first Lab. I found a breeder who seemed to have what I was looking for, an affordable dog with good bloodlines and a lot of FC's in the pedigree. My wife helped me pick out the pup.

After we got our pup home he got acclimated to his new kennel and seemed content from the start. Not much barking but a lot of chewing and whatnot. I followed Wolters' training method and he learned at a normal rate with retrieving and obedience.

He is a soft dog, though. Verbal reprimands and squeezing his jaws occasionally for too much barking makes him cower, and his body language is terrible, with his tail between his legs. He is also jumpy to the touch, nothing like my first Lab, who was aggressive and happy-go-lucky.

At about 12 months the new pup started scratching his back in one spot until it was bald.

He also had a double ear infection. Two hundred dollars later the vet said that he might have an allergy or mites. She tested and found no mites. She gave me drops and pills for the allergies and ear infection.

His hair on his back grew back and his ears cleared up temporarily. But now, a month after the medicine was used up, his ears are bad again and he has scratched under his chin a six-inch-diameter patch of skin that is kind of slimy and stinks.

At about 14 months I took him for a four-mile jog with me. At about three miles he seemed exhausted and looked funny. He was wobbling around and panting excessively.

His hips reminded me of what my 13-year-old Lab looked like after he got tired and hot after a day of hunting. I took him home, hosed him down and got him in the shade. A couple hours later he seemed fine, jumping and running around the yard.

The next time something weird happened was when I took him to the farm. My father-in-law took his four-wheeler to a pond about a mile from the house. My young Lab tore after him and I thought it would be good exercise so I didn't call him back.

My father-in-law came back an hour later, saying after five minutes of sprinting behind the four-wheeler, my Lab's back legs stopped working and he was dragging them around.

My father-in-law put him on the back of the four-wheeler and took him to the pond to cool him down. After five minutes he could walk again but was wobbly and walking funny. He laid in his kennel the rest of the night. The next morning he seemed fine. I took him hunting pheasants last weekend and he had no physical problems other than sore feet and a cut pad. He got up a couple birds and got birdy a few other times. He didn't retrieve the birds but he did find them. His progress is slow.

I am really limited in funds but would like to know what is going on with him. Are the infected ears and hotspots and his collapse pointing to a lifetime of problems with this dog? I am trying to be patient with him but sometimes I wonder if I got a dud. He is great around the kids and will retrieve dummies all day long, but he seems afraid of his own shadow and won't hunt aggressively. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. --PS

The medical problems this dog has are complex and probably interrelated. They also contribute to the dog's general uneasiness with life, and seeing that you also asked Dr. Bailey for his thoughts on this situation, I recommend you follow Dr. Bailey's advice along with a medical treatment plan.

To take off with a dog on a four-mile jog or to let a dog run behind a four-wheeler without proper conditioning seems ill-advised. However, the collapse episodes also fit in with the exercise-induced collapse that we see in young Labs just starting into training. The ear and skin thing could be an allergy pr

oblem, for which he can be tested. I would also test the dog for thyroid function, as low thyroid can contribute to skin problems and exercise tolerance.

If all this testing proves positive it will show you that you have a dog with autoimmune disease complex, which in turn means you'll also have a close relationship with your veterinarian for the rest of the dog's life.

Our training business is continuing to grow, and my retirement is permitting us to do this full time. We are building a larger kennel with concrete floors inside and out.

My question is: Do you have a preference for floors using an epoxy sealer or a silicone sealer? Or is there something else that you know of that someone is using other than these? My goal is to eliminate any concerns with the dogs being on the concrete almost continually. --M

The goal of constructing a kennel floor is to have a surface that is easy to clean and affords good traction for the dogs. I recommend a light brush finish on the concrete of the runs. This leaves the floor fairly easy to hose down and the dog can still run back and forth without getting spraddled out.

Inside, if you have just a small 4 x 4 sleeping area, a smoother finish may be used. I think you need to be careful with epoxy finishes as they can become slick. Our local eatery just put an epoxy finish in the kitchen and they had to include fine sand in the mix to provide for traction. We used a silicone treatment on the concrete block walls and floors of our vet kennels and I feel it has worked well. The only trouble is that it is not very pretty.

One thing I have noticed with concrete work is that if they work it up too wet the surface tends to flake off. I saw this happen recently at another kennel. They built a new building, poured the floors and when they had cured out, painted them with epoxy. Now it looks like someone came in with a BB gun and shot holes in the floor. All those little fish eyes popped out, leaving divots in the concrete.

I remain at

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