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Large Breed Puppy Feeding



     There are many different ways to properly feed a puppy.  Essentially you will need to feed all the nutrients she requires for growth. Excesses and deficiencies are to be avoided. How do you know that your puppy’s nutrition program is adequate?

     Obesity is to be avoided.  As long as you cannot see the puppy’s ribs, yet easily feel the ribs, she is near their optimum weight for her size.  A waist should be seen from the top and an abdomen (stomach) that slopes up to the hips also should easily be noticed from the side.  We do not recommend leaving the food out (ad-lib feeding).  Always measure the food you provide daily.  Feed 2-3 times a day.

     Exercise is encouraged among all animal species.  Fewer problems develop with pets that have a daily exercise period.  A walk is good for all of us.  By providing a daily exercise and play period, your puppy will look forward to this time.  Fewer behavioral problems are seen with animals that have quality time, training periods and exercise.  You do not have to continuously give treats to train a dog.  Praise is adequate and wanted by your dog.

     The quality and composition of different puppy foods may vary with the amount you should feed your growing dog.  If you overfeed your dog, obesity and growth problems may develop.  In some studies this is true.  Does one feed a smaller amount of a quality food or a larger amount of a less dense food?  Both theories can be correct.  The premium dog foods are manufactured to be denser in their nutritional composition.  This way you feed less and have less to clean up.  A very low quality dog food is to be avoided.  The composition may be so inadequate that to correctly feed one nutrient you may then be overfeeding another.  Stay away from the unknown, inexpensive, “too good to be true” dog foods for growing dogs.  In horses if you overfeed protein, overfeed energy and phosphorus and/or underfeed protein, calcium and other minerals you can cause joint swellings (epiphysitis), OCD and other problems.  Dogs are not horses, yet the composition and amounts also need to be balanced for dogs or similar problems occur.  It is possible to cause bone problems if your puppy is not fed a correct diet.  What may be adequate for a 1# Chihuahua puppy may not be the same diet composition as for a 75# Great Dane puppy.  With the large, fast growing breeds of dogs some people recommend that you switch to a less concentrated dog food after a few months of age.  Others believe you should not overfeed your dog the puppy food; we believe you should not feed your pet to the point of being overweight. Use the method that is best for you.  Some studies do suggest that if a dog has a genetic predisposition for OCD and hip problems, the severity of the bone problem will be reduced if you restrict the growth rate of the dog by not overfeeding protein, vitamins, minerals and energy.  It is not the ratio of calcium/phosphorus in these large breed diets, but the total amount of calcium ingested and the energy of the diet which contributes to growing bone problems.  Feeding a lower protein, lower calcium containing food WILL NOT PREVENT hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, hypertrophic osteodystrophy and other problems, but the severity may be lessened if the patient has one of these potential hereditary problems.   

     The amount to feed your dog may vary with each brand of dog food.  The suggested feeding amounts are usually MORE than what is needed by the average dog.  The company does not want animals dying from malnutrition and starvation if they are fed the suggested amount for that weight.  Expect most brands to be 10-20% higher than the amount actually needed for the average dog.  A growing dog usually requires 1 cup of dry food per 10# of body weight, while an adult requires 1/2 this amount for the same weight.

     The elevated feeders are not routinely recommended for any breed.  Studies have shown that the elevated feeding bowls cause an increase in gastric volvulus dilatation (GVT, GDV) and bloat.  The larger breeds of dogs are genetically susceptible to GVT problems where the stomach twists in a circle.  Studies have also shown that if you feed a large amount once a day to the deep chested breeds and/or small kibble food this predisposes them to an increase chance of bloat/GVT.  We recommend feeding 2x a day.

     Each individual puppy should be fed the amount of a quality diet that does not allow him or her to become obese.  Excessive calcium and protein supplements should be avoided in these large breeds of puppies that will become 60-70+ pounds as adults.


The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic

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