are stationed with soldiers worldwide and may also be deployed for a period of 1 to 6 months.

Military working dogs must adapt to extreme temperature changes and often rugged, unyielding environments. While military working dogs may not exert as much energy per day as sled dogs or active hunting dogs, they are required to perform critical and tedious duties.

Nutritional Factors

A high-quality diet helps military working dogs remain healthy as they deal with their environmental and physical challenges. A nutrient-dense, highly digestible, high-performance diet is provided by a commercial supplier for the daily rations of military working dogs.

The care and feeding of military working dogs present situations that are much different from those associated with the care and feeding of pet canines. Unlike our pets, but just as military soldiers do, dogs must carry their food with them when they deploy. Feeding a nutrient-dense food is convenient because it keeps the amount of food to be transported to a minimum. Highly digestible food also creates less waste, which is a consideration as military quarters can be limited.

The diet provided to military working dogs is a fixed formula. This helps to ensure consistency, which is important for preventing gastrointestinal problems encountered by alterations in quantity and quality of nutrients fed. The number one emergency and a common cause of death in military dogs is gastric dilation. During gastric dilation, the stomach fills up with air and twists on itself. If this condition is not treated immediately, the dog quickly dies.

Just as humans in the military fall ill, military working dogs can become sick. When this happens, special diets are provided that meet the dog’s special nutrient requirements until the dog recovers. If the health condition is a chronic one, such as a kidney problem that would require specialized long-term care, the dog is retired from service.

Monitoring the health of the military working dogs is important to ensure their military readiness. Dogs are monitored and maintained at ideal weight. Should the animal gain or lose more than 5 pounds, it is examined for medical problems. If none are found, the diet is immediately adjusted and caloric intake is established to return the dog to its optimal weight.

Many do not appreciate that nutrition is a major factor that must be considered in the health and welfare of military service dogs. The form and composition of the diet must be considered to allow for rapid deployment. The diet must also promote health, reduce risk for disease, maintain immune function ,and ensure that the dogs are physically fit to serve in the military.

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