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Diet and Feeding

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The importance of a good, well balanced diet cannot be over stressed.

In a working dog, energy needs will vary according to the amount of work the dog is expected to do each day. To get the best out of the Border Collie, attention needs to be paid to both the quality and quantity of the dog food that is supplied.

On a day with a heavy work load the dog will require a higher level of protein and other nutrients than it would on a day off.

A Border Collie's diet needs to be boosted on these occasions. This does not necessarily mean that the dog will need more food on these days - it means the nutritional value of the food given needs to be greater.

A basic 'maintenance' diet needs should be supplied with a protein/oil/carbohydrate and vitamin /mineral balance that will give the dog everything it needs - equivalent to a 'day off' for a working dog and an average day for a pet.

This diet may have around about 20% protein, 10% Oils and Fats, 2.5% to 5% Fibre and about 6% Ash with adequate vitamin and mineral content.

On working days - or high energy output days - a proportion of this diet is replaced by a compatible food with higher nutrient concentrations, particularly in the areas of Protein and Oils as the dog will require more of these nutrients when exercising hard.

The effect of this method is to provide the extra energy needed at the time it is required without stressing the dogs system and natural reserves of energy. The dog will feel and perform better.

Bitches in pup are also working harder than average and require a boost to the basic 'maintenance' diet during their term and during the first few weeks after the birth.

Again, proper diet will provide the nutrients required at the time assisting in a stronger bitch that carries better to full term and providing the pups with a better start and better resistance to infection. The mother will also recover sooner as it will not have needed to use its reserves of energy to carry and feed the litter.

Puppies themselves have the need of high levels of protein in their diet immediately after weaning This initially high level should be reduced as they grow.

Dog foods come in stages - Puppy, Junior, Adult and Senior with nutrient levels adjusted to suit the maturity and physical needs of dogs of different ages. This system is a proven science - like crop rotation it improves results.

Feeding the correct diet enhances performance.

Over feeding a pup can be as problematic as underfeeding. Very high protein diets fed for too long to inactive pups can force growth too fast, leading to problems in later years as surely as inadequate nutrition.

Thought needs to be put into maintaining the correct balance of nutrition and exercise to build growing bodies and keep them healthy.

To maintain good growth. health and a strong immune system, a dogs diet should be adjusted throughout its life with consideration given to its individual metabolism and circumstances at the time.

Good health and energy levels - coupled with good husbandry in accommodation will improve the chances that the dog will have a long working life and be less prone to premature problems of ageing that are so common and crippling in poorly kept dogs.

There are many dog foods on the market in many forms.

A dried extruded food has certain advantages. The nutrients are distributed evenly throughout the food and there is no danger of different nutrient sources settling out into layers in the sack during transportation as in a flake food mix.

Other advantages are convenience of feeding, digestibility and ease of calculating quantities required.

Any complete diet changes should be done over 7 to 10 days by replacing a proportion of the food the dog is used to with an increasing proportion of the new food, but the introduction of a proportion of compatible ‘high nutrient’ food on working days should not upset the dogs digestion.

 

Water is an often overlooked but essential part of a dogs diet.

Dogs should have access to fresh water at all times. This is particularly important if feeding any type of dried food, where water should always be provided alongside the food.

These dried foods can be soaked beforehand if required, which is particularly good for older dogs or invalids and necessary with a flaked mix.

However, most dogs prefer to eat the extruded complete diets dry and crunchy with any water added being introduced immediately prior to the food being given so it has no time to soak.

Dehydration weakens a dog far quicker than starvation or poor diet and also affects the dogs ability to keep cool in hot weather so in these conditions and when working, keep the bowl topped up.

 

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