We're a week away from Christmas, and all too soon after that we'll see deer season come to an end here in South Carolina. In the spirit of the "hunt week," today we'll talk about some ways you can keep your hounds healthy and happy during the last two weeks of hard hunting for the year.

Hound Care During Hunt Week

The last two weeks of the year are deer hunters' last chance to enjoy a deer race and the camaraderie of deer camp before the season comes to a close. Many hunters take advantage of Christmas and New Year's week to burn the last of their vacation time and hunt as much as possible.

There are a few things you can do to help keep your hounds feeling their best during hunt week. Hunting 5-7 days in a row can leave a dog a little run down and sore, but this can be greatly reduced with a little extra care. It might take you a little extra time and money, but it's worth it. The better they feel, the better they'll hunt!

  1. Remember that your dog will need extra feed to compensate for a heavier work load. This may seem like obvious advice, but surprisingly many people overlook this simple action. If your dog is still not holding weight on feed alone, there are few different products and supplements that I use to help. Dyne is a great product to help not only make a picky dog eat more readily (it's a sweet vanilla flavor) but to introduce extra calories into its' nutrition. You can find this product here as well as occasionally at feed stores. You can also add non-xylitol peanut butter to the dog's feed, along with cooked pasta or bread for extra carbs. Note, if cold weather has set in making sure your dogs are warm in their kennels also helps

keep them in proper weight. A dog can lose a ton of energy and calories trying to stay warm through the night.

2. One of my tried and true methods of keeping or adding weight to a dog is a homemade supplement called "satin balls." Satin balls can be made ahead of time, and freeze well when wrapped in tin foil and placed in freezer bags. The recipe I use is as follows:

10 lbs of high fat content hamburger meat 1 large box of Total cereal

1 large container of oatmeal 1 jar of wheat germ

1 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses

10 raw eggs 10 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

Mix all of these ingredients in a large bucket or bowl, blending everything together thoroughly with your hands. Warning-this makes a gigantic mess. I like to lay out sheets of

parchment paper to put the patties on as I form them. You can serve these to your dogs cold or warm them up in the microwave a few seconds to bring out the scent.

I've not had many dogs turn up their nose at this recipe, and it will not upset their digestive system like giving them bacon grease or other fatty foods will. They're a great

supplement to regular dog food during times of ill health, stress, or hard hunting.

3. Hydration is key to keeping your dogs healthy and performing well during hunt week. If you don't have easy access to a hose at points throughout the day or a water tank on

your dog box, you can find large refillable water jugs at places like Walmart to keep fresh water on hand. I like to make sure my dogs have access to fresh water in a bucket

in the dog box after every drive, and I will add a little Gatorade or Pedialyte to it throughout the day as well. At night, I add water along with a product called K9 Go Dog

to their feed for added water consumption and electrolyte replacement. You can find this product here. I also add a little beef or chicken broth from time to time.

4. Consider adding a product like K9 Superfuel to your dogs' feed to help assist with recovery. I've used this product for years on my hunting dogs, and it has always seemed

to help them "bounce back" a little faster. You can find this product here.

5. Let them REST. If you notice that a particular dog(s) is lame, overly stiff, or just generally doesn't want to leave the truck when you turn them loose give them a day or two off.

It won't hurt you to take a stand for the day or for half a day to help your dogs rest and recover from the hard work they've been putting in.

Good Luck!

I hope some of you will find this information useful, and it will help you and your dogs have your most successful (and fun) hunt week yet.

It's never too early to start planning for next year's deer season. I'd love to help you capture a day of hunting through images that make gorgeous wall art and timeless heirloom albums. Having deer hunted with dogs in the lowcountry of South Carolina for over 15 years, I truly understand all the high's, low's, and emotions experienced during deer season. It would be my honor to preserve some of these memories for your children and grandchildren to look back on years down the road. Visit my website here to learn more, or contact me for additional information and quotes.

For pet owners, be sure to take a peek at the next blog post in the blogging circle I take part in with other pet photographers. Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography shares her knowledge as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help keep both your dog, and your Christmas tree, safe during the holiday season. Click here to head that way!