Dog loses weight in win­ter

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - SPORTING ANSWERS -

My two Labradors are kept out­side and are fed a low­er­priced com­plete food. Even though I in­crease the amount dur­ing win­ter — when we can be out pick­ing-up two or three days a week — the dogs strug­gle to keep their body con­di­tion. Should I feed them some­thing more ex­pen­sive?

Keep­ing weight on work­ing dogs can be a prob­lem in the win­ter, but in most cases it is linked to diet. It is easy to be cyn­i­cal and think that a 15kg bag of food at £45 is sim­ply giv­ing the man­u­fac­turer a big­ger profit than a £10 bag, but that is not the case. The mar­ket­ing man­ager of a lead­ing dog food com­pany told me the profit is based largely on in­gre­di­ent costs. Of course, there has to be some profit made, but to make sure that hap­pens he reck­oned some of the cheaper foods were made from lit­tle more than £2-worth of in­gre­di­ents per bag.

In­gre­di­ent sourc­ing is also a con­cern be­cause while the for­mu­la­tion of a dog food may not change, the in­gre­di­ent qual­ity of­ten does. Try to get an as­sur­ance from your dog food man­u­fac­turer that it is buy­ing the raw ma­te­ri­als from re­li­able sources.

I’d sug­gest buy­ing a higher-priced feed for­mu­lated specif­i­cally for dogs in hard work and made by a rep­utable com­pany. But don’t be afraid to put the man­u­fac­turer on the spot and ask where it sources its raw ma­te­ri­als. JH How to spot it and where to find it: Wide­spread through­out the world, el­der can be iden­ti­fied by its dis­tinc­tive short trunk and grey­ish-brown, cork-like, fur­rowed bark. It has feather-like leaves on com­par­a­tively few branches.

The leaves and the twigs smell un­pleas­ant. By con­trast, its creamy flow­ers smell sweet and each forms a small, sour, pur­ple-black berry, which ripens through au­tumn. In­ter­est­ing facts: The name el­der is thought to come from the An­glosaxon aeld, mean­ing fire; the tree’s hol­low stems were used as bel­lows to blow air into the cen­tre of a fire. Both flow­ers and berries of the el­der are mildly toxic if con­sumed raw. The flow­ers can be used to make cor­dial or wine, or dipped into bat­ter and fried to make frit­ters. The berries can be used to make jam or wine or baked in a pie with black­ber­ries; they are too sour on their own.

In mythol­ogy, the el­der is as­so­ci­ated with death, witchcraft and ill for­tune. The cross upon which Je­sus died was made of el­der wood; Ju­das hanged him­self from a branch of an el­der tree, those 30 pieces of sil­ver scat­tered be­neath his dan­gling feet. Fur­ni­ture made of el­der wood was re­garded as cursed; the devil’s throne was made of el­der. How­ever, if you planted el­der in your gar­den, it would keep the devil at bay.

Hard-work­ing dogs needa high-qual­ity food to help them main­tain body con­di­tion dur­ing the win­ter

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