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The ideal body condition score is as follows: ribs easily palpable with minimal fat covering (1-2 rear ribs may be slightly visible), the waist is easily visible when the dog is viewed from above, and an abdominal tuck is clearly seen when viewed from the side. For long haired dogs - such as many spaniels - this evaluation is most easily done after the hair has been clipped or when the dog is wet.

"During periods of mild or high heat stress, the dogs fed the performance diet maintained this superior hunting performance."

To obtain this ideal body condition score in a dog, it is important to closely monitor the daily food intake. The energy needs of healthy dogs vary greatly depending on activity level, growth, reproductive status, environmental temperature, and age (older dogs tend to have a lower metabolism and require less energy) of the dog. For a given dog, the energy requirement can vary greatly at different times of the year. An individual dog must be fed whatever amount of food it needs to maintain an ideal body condition. To accomplish this, begin by feeding the recommended amount of food for the ideal body weight of the dog. There is usually a chart on the dog food bag that will give this information. Then adjust this food amount based on changes in the dog’s body condition score. If a dog is overweight and does not lose weight after 1-2 months at the recommended feeding amount, reduce food intake by 25-30%.

It is also advisable to feed that daily ration divided into two servings rather than one. If a dog is currently at the ideal body condition score, increase or decrease the amount fed as indicated by changes in the dog energy needs (activity level, age, environmental temperature, etc…). In general, dogs kenneled outdoors in cold climates will require increased energy to maintain body heat in the cold weather months. Dogs that are being worked hard can require two to three times their maintenance energy requirements. Monitor your dog’s body condition score regularly, starting as a pup, and adjust the daily ration accordingly. A final thought, feed a high quality diet and keep treats and table scraps to an absolute minimum or eliminate them entirely.

Effect of diet on hunting performance of English Pointers.

In this study, 23 adult English Pointers were assigned to one of two groups based on the diet they were fed. One group was fed a performance dog food, and the other group was fed an adult maintenance food. The dogs were fed the prescribed diets exclusively for eight weeks prior to hunting season and then throughout the hunting season. The dogs did not receive nutritional supplements or treats at any time. Dogs were initially fed a calculated amount based on their ideal body weight. Handlers were then instructed to adjust the food amount as needed to maintain body

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