Skinner's: End of the season - how to support your dog through diet and recovery
Written by Zoe Russel, BSc (Hons) ANutr Nutrition Officer, Skinner's
As the season draws to an end, it’s important to look ahead and think about how we can support our dogs both nutritionally and physically.
A change of pace
Historically dogs may have been confined to a kennel at this time of year, resulting in the energy demands dropping quite significantly compared to what they were just a few weeks before. For others, their work will continue, or they will take part in other disciplines such as working tests, agility or perhaps even producing a litter.
Whatever their energy demands, it’s important we provide the right nutrition and management to help support their health, wellbeing and performance.
Rest and recovery
A rest period at the end of the season can be essential for some dogs and will allow them time for a well-deserved break. This gives the body a chance to repair and regenerate, recover from any minor injuries and allows the dog time for some mental recovery.
That being said, it’s also important to provide your dog with some mental stimulation such as training, walking or enrichment to keep their minds active. Working breeds are generally active dogs and just like people, some have a more ‘lively’ personality than others.
For this reason, continued training and providing positive outlets for your dog’s energy will be the best way to keep your dog happy.
Feeding the right diet
Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear of a dog fed the same diet all year round, with the only change being the amount fed. This regime can be suited to dogs who maintain a similar energy output all year round, who only need minor daily feeding adjustments to help maintain stamina and condition.
However, if your dog’s energy output reduces substantially as the season draws to a close, then you may need to consider a dietary change to support their energy demands and minimise the likelihood of weight gain. A reduction in frequency, intensity and duration of activity means that less calories are needed in the diet and often a lower provision of key nutrients such as protein.
With this in mind, a diet we typically recommend for dogs out of the working season is the Field & Trial Maintenance, or Field & Trial Maintenance Plus for the added joint support. These diets are less energy-dense than other in-season foods to minimise the likelihood of weight gain, and provide a step-down in key nutrients such as protein, where excess amounts would otherwise be excreted.
Monitor and manage
It’s good practice to weigh your dog as often as you can and keep a note of any changes. At Skinner’s we typically advise following our feeding guidelines for your dog’s ideal current weight (essentially the weight you’d like them to be right now). If you are unsure how much your dog should weigh at present, then speak with your vet who will be able to give you an idea.
We also suggest regularly body condition scoring your dog, which involves looking at areas such as their overall shape, muscle tone and fat distribution. If you are unsure how to do this, then a handy tool is the Dog-Size-O-Meter on the UK Pet Food website.