Feeding your dog before hunting?

Deborah S
by Deborah S
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QuestionI read an article by Scott Linden that stated that you should not feed your dog before you take it on a full day of hunting. I hunt South Dakota and could feed my dog at 7:00 a.m. and we do not start hunting until 10:00 a.m. Do you think that is enough time so she will not have any problems? (Jerry Hoberg - Colorado)


I disagree with Scott Linden, as working dogs need to eat breakfast in order to have enough energy to last through their activity. However, any active dog should have its meals well before the time of the activity. This includes hunting dogs and even dogs that go for a morning jog with their owner. Rough-housing or play should be avoided within 30 minutes of eating. While there is no established “safe” time, the longer the better. A 3 hour gap like you propose (feeding at 7 am and hunt at 10 am) should be sufficient in preventing problems. I often tell my clients who like to jog with their dog to feed the dog after their morning run or feed 2 hours before strenuous exercise.

The danger in feeding your dog before strenuous exercise is a condition called bloat. Bloat is also known as GDV or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus. In this condition, the stomach swells due to ingested air and can twist causing a painful and life-threatening blockage. The blood supply is often cut off to the stomach and the dog can die within a matter of hours if not treated. Prevention is key as any breed of dog can bloat. Hunting breeds and deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes are more prone to this condition. Exercising your dog within 30 minutes of feeding is associated with greater risk of bloat, as the air that was ingested during eating has not had time to be belched out or pass along into the rest of the digestive tract.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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