putting weight on dog for cold weather
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Thread: putting weight on dog for cold weather

  1. #1

    Default putting weight on dog for cold weather

    My 2 yo is a lean 80 lb's. I think he'll be more comfortable sitting around in the blind if he puts on a little weight going into the winter months. Any feeding tips - supplements to the 30:20 stuff he eats recomended out there?

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  3. #2


    I wouldn't worry about putting weight on the dog. Just worry about acclimating the dog to cold weather, and making sure they're in good physical condition for long days of retrieving. Just my opinion.
    Sean Bryan

  4. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by simcoe mtn View Post
    I wouldn't worry about putting weight on the dog. Just worry about acclimating the dog to cold weather, and making sure they're in good physical condition for long days of retrieving. Just my opinion.

    Thanks - ya I've been getting him in the water a lot as we are gradually cooling down, sleeping outside. All in an effort to acclimate to the coming winter and some extreme cold weather hunting. Pretty much did the same thing last year - he still froze his butt off. Not sure if it is even possible to put weight on the dog just something that I read about elsewhere.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Colonel Blimp's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Mid Wales UK



    If he's principally a house dog, any prolonged exposure to very cold conditions is going to challenge him, so I agree with simcoemtn. Young dogs burn off energy like buggery, and so it's a hard job to keep flesh on them, especially in winter.

    Just putting extra weight on him might not be appropriate or do him any favours; there are downsides to a dog carrying excess weight, particularly a young chap like yours. If a dog shivers a lot, it isn't necessarily a bad sign; they use the mechanism of shivering to put extra warmth into their systems. What I do, in common with many others, is make sure he has access to a really great meal at days end that will give him a big boost physically and mentally.

    When we get back to the vehicle, before moving off, it's a 2/3 ration of his normal grub, plus a can of hot soup (held in a Thermos) dumped on top; for some doggy reason my lot relish Heinz minestrone! Back at the ranch I give them a pound of tripe (like what the mushers do) with a 1/3 ration. After a day on the marsh or in the coverts, they don't want much rocking, it's lights out and Goodnight Nurse!

    I like to look at a dog at rest and see a couple of ribs showing; more than that and he's losing condition, less and he's overburdened.

    Hope this helps,

    Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 10-07-2012 at 01:35 PM.
    Thank you, very kind, Mine's a pint.

  7. #5
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2009
    So. Californina


    If you choose to add weight to your dog here are some easy supplements to use that will work.

    PROZYME digestive aid - better digestion will keep your dog in proper wieght. http://www.prozymeproducts.com

    Animal Naturals K9 Show Stopper - Multi purpose supplement in one. http://www.k9power.com/k9-show-stopper.html

    Animal Naturals K9 Healthy Gainer - http://www.k9power.com/k9-healthy-gainer.html
    Training Isn't Expensive..... IT'S PRICELESS!

  8. #6
    Senior Member archer66's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Ralls County, MO


    Your goal for feeding you dog should be to feed him enough quality food to maintain a lean healthy body weight. Highly active dogs need more calories than sedentary dogs. Dogs that are expected to make cold water retrieves and stay wet for hours on end DO need to be acclimated AND/OR their hunts kept short. Some things you can do are put an insulated vest on the dog to help trap heat, make sure the dog is NOT in the water any more than needed, not having to work too hard for retrieves, make sure he is fed before the hunt and you feed him protein and carbohydrates throughout the day as needed.

    I'm embarrassed to tell this story on myself but it might be beneficial:

    I can tell you from experience it's a BAD thing to let a dog burn too much energy on a cold day....the crash isn't pretty. I almost lost my previous dog to low blood sugar during a hunt. The temp was in the mid 30's and was the first day above 20 in about a week. We were hunting a hole that ducks had kept open in a frozen flooded cornfield and the birds were flying pretty good. The water was about 18 inches deep and my dog had been in and out of the water off and on for about 2 hours. The ice was so thick we were able to sit on it in the corn and I had an insulated pad down for him to lie on, he was also wearing a vest and receiving peanut butter and crackers all morning. It wasn't enough. Shooting was good and some of the ducks were falling in the water while others were falling on the ice to the sides of the water and across the water which was about 40 yards. He was in and out of the water, climbing up on the ice and jumping back in repeatedly and what I didn't account for was how MUCH extra energy he was burning between that activity and his shivering which as someone above mentioned is normal. Anyway....one buddy and I doubled up on mallard drakes and he easily marked one but not the other. I lined him up for the one he didn't mark and sent him for it which he completed no problem. Then I released him for the second which was directly across the water hole on the ice. He got halfway there and just stopped in the water....then SUNK. I jumped up and got over to him and pulled him up...he was breathing and just looking at me with the saddest look I'd ever seen. I dragged/carried him to the edge of the ice, my buddy and I wrapped him in a coat and carried him to solid ground in the sun. I ran a mile and a half in my waders...got my truck and drove to him. We loaded him into the back seat and headed for town. He was having siezures that shook the truck. We called the vet on the way and they were ready for us....the drew some blood...almost zero blood sugar...an IV and a warming lamp and he was his old self in no time but what a scare. I learned a tough lesson that day.....I'm embarrassed about it and as I said before I'm only telling on myself here so you all might not have to experience the same thing.

  9. #7
    Senior Member chuck187's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Asheville, NC


    Vest and a stand?!!!! Make sure your pup is out of water most of the time. Also read some of the lessons other folks have shared with us on these forums. They tell there stories out of great humility, but its for a damn good reason.
    Cherokee Foothills HRC

  10. #8
    Senior Member shawninthesticks's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    north east mo


    One thing that I stumbled upon last year .I ordered a new vest and it was a little tighter than I've ordered for previous pooches.I was concerned it would be a bad thing ,but it ended up being positive ,due to the fact that it fit snug enough that on normal retrieves it would not let water under the vest .We could hunt all day and once we got back to the truck I would take her vest off and she would be bone dry under it which I think greatly aided in keeping her core temp up.

    Also I keep a Shamwow (as seen on TV and sold at Walgreens) in my gear and would wipe her down in between retrieves on really cold days.

    I cook pork or beef livers well done and give them to her for snacks through out the day.

    She does not heavy a heavy coat but has never seemed to have any cold weather issues.

  11. #9
    Senior Member KwickLabs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Roscoe, IL


    All four of my dogs are inside all year around (except when exercised, trained or hunted). We hunt the Mississippi River and a local goose area until things freeze tight. Breaking ice in December is fairly common.

    My take on the issue of hunting cold and a dog's energy levels is based on several facts and experience.

    Here's a list.

    1. My dogs are not "fat" and I agree with with "Eug" on being able to slightly see a couple ribs.
    2. No dog hunts two days in a row.
    3. When it gets really cold the "dog of the day" always wear a snug, good fitting neoprene vest.
    4. When hunting they do not sit in water and are protected from the wind.
    5. I hunt alone which means on a good day it still is only a "max" six times in the water (unless we loose one - neither of which happens very often).
    5a. When I guided in the uplands, the dogs usually ran for three-four hours (often in bitter cold with no vest) and still were fed as per point number six.
    6. I feed once a day (in the evening) and they don't get any "snacks" while hunting.

    The last point is where I disagree with most of the posts. First of all, if there is food in a dog's stomach (whether fed that morning or given snacks), it takes energy and blood flow which the stomach will "demand". This comes at the expense of less blood flow to muscles and less efficient distribution of any available energy. In addition, food in the stomach that moves to the intestine is still not totally digested and the intestines will continue to "demand" energy and blood flow to do their job. We are talking about several hours before energy is available.

    A dog's digestive system is designed to work when it is resting. Once empty and coverted to stored energy, it is available for hunting and a dog moves with more comfort. Energy is not unlimited which means too much cold water, retrieving and/or extended time in the field will eventually require of the handler to call it a day....mostly because a good dog won't.

    By feeding at the proper time (which means allowing the digestive system to do it's job first) and using common sense when in the field, it is possible to maximize a dog's safety, effectiveness and comfort in the field.

    On an end note, it is possible to give a dog a quick "glucose boost".......but there is an expense paid soon after (sugar crash) if it is designed to extend the day much longer.
    Last edited by KwickLabs; 10-08-2012 at 01:47 PM.
    Jim Boyer KwickLabsii.com

  12. #10
    Senior Member Noah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    I feed to body condition and not weight, but I will feed to put a little more "finish" on when the weather gets bitter and ice forms readily on water. Fat is a natural insulator. Stored fat has 2.25 times more energy than equal proportions of protein or carbs. Fat metabolism is a relevant mechanism to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.) Heat is a by-product of the metabolic breakdown of food and helps maintain core body temp in frigid temps. Research from Purina shows that the energy level of a dog is at it's highest about 17 hours after feeding.
    "A dog doesn't care how much you know, until it knows how much you care."

    Rick W Jackson D.V.M.
    Gunpowder Creek Retrievers
    Dakota Decoy Field Staff

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