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"Contrary to popular belief among many trainers and handlers, feeding a high fat diet does not predispose dogs to heat stress."

comprise 50-80% of the diet. Protein needs vary depending on the quality (digestibility and amino acid content) of the protein but range from 20-50% of the diet. Minerals are about 2-3% of the diet dry matter and vitamins 0.2-0.3%. The exact percentage of the diet that is carbohydrates, fats, or proteins varies among brands of diets and specific type (maintenance, growth, performance, etc) of dog food.

Affects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs.

In this study, 48-eight week old Labrador Retriever pups were randomly placed into two groups. Group 1 received free choice of a growth diet for the first 3.25 years of life and were then switched to a maintenance diet fed at a measured amount based on their ideal body weight. Group 2 received 25% less food than the pair mate from Group 1 received. These dogs shared common living quarters, ate the same food in different amounts, and received the same care. The only difference between groups was the amount of food they consumed. The two groups of dogs were monitored and evaluated for 14 years. The health related findings of the two groups are notable.

In the lean fed group, the age at which 50% of the dogs required medical treatment for arthritis was 13.3 years. For the free choice fed dogs, this age was much younger, 10.3 years. Treatment for any chronic disease was also evaluated. The age at which 50% of the free choice fed dogs required treatment for chronic disease was 9.9 years compared to 12 years for lean fed dogs. Finally, the median life span for lean fed dogs was 13 years… nearly two years longer than the 11.2 years of the free choice fed dogs.

These findings are truly remarkable.

Both the quality and length of life were greatly improved in the lean fed group simply by feeding less food to the dogs. These dogs had 2-3 more years of disease free life and lived two years longer. It is often said that a dog’s life is much too short. This is especially true considering the 2-3 years of dedicated training it takes to get a finished hunting dog, and the strong bond between dog and handler that results. With everything invested in our hunting dogs, I think all of us want the most productive and longest life we can provide for them. A point to be emphasized from this study, based on a standard body condition scoring test, is that the free choice fed dogs were not obese. They were only slightly to moderately overweight. The lean fed dogs were all within the ideal range for body condition score; none were considered too thin.

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