Skinner's: Feeding for the close season
Zoe Russel, BSc (Hons), Nutrition Officer, Skinner's
With our time out in the field now at an end, it’s a good time to take a step back and reflect on what has hopefully been a great season.
It’s also a good opportunity to think about the months ahead and how we can manage our dog’s fitness, lifestyle and diet to adapt to the close season.
Drawing the season to a close
For some dogs, particularly those who have been working hard over the winter, often over cold, wet days, they may end the season lacking a little condition. Therefore, it’s important we build them back up to full strength and health, to aid both their welfare and their future performance.
In these circumstances, you may consider keeping your dog on their in-season food for a little longer. Typically, these diets are rich in key nutrients such as protein, which can support muscle repair and recovery, as well as being more calorie-dense, which may help to support healthy weight management.
It's just another day...
For some dogs, the close season brings very little changes to their daily energy demands. These dogs may still be working on the estates or simply living an active lifestyle with their owners. Therefore, if your dog’s energy output remains consistent all year round, then you may not need to make any significant dietary changes.
However, it is important to keep a close eye on their weight and condition over this time. Regularly weighing your dog and body condition scoring them will help you keep track of any changes and make appropriate dietary adjustments if required. However if during this time their weight does start to creep up a little, then try dropping their daily feed intake by around 10-20% and monitor again.
Taking it easy
For others, the close season is a time to rest, recover and enjoy a well-earned break. That being said, it’s important to maintain some degree of physical exercise to provide mental stimulation for your dog, as well as keep them ‘ticking over’ in the run-up to the next season.
For these dogs, a diet with a lower provision of key nutrients such as protein and fat may be required, as well as a lower energy density to support their decreased workload. A diet which Skinner’s traditionally recommends is the Field and Trial Maintenance, or the Field and Trial Lamb & Rice for a sensitive alternative.
These diets help to support day-to-day activity, without providing excess calories or protein which could otherwise contribute towards weight gain or simply be wasted by the body! While feeding the right diet is important, it’s also good practice to weigh your dog’s food using accurate, calibrated scales to ensure you are not over-feeding (or even under-feeding!).