Feeding your Large Breed Puppy

All puppies are not created equal – different breeds grow and develop at different rates. Larger puppy breeds are particularly susceptible to diet related health problems, and premium food companies offer foods that meet the exact needs of these special pets.

All puppies should be fed on a high quality food specifically formulated for growth. These foods provide protein, minerals and vitamins in the exact quantities required, and in a form that is palatable, digestable and available to the pup, as tested by rigorous feeding trials. This nutrition ensures the pup is in optimal health, has a glossy healthy coat, is full of energy and has a good resistance to disease.

Large breed puppies – why are they special? Large breeds of dog (adult weight 25 to 40 kg) reach their mature weight at 12 to 18 months of age. The giant breeds (adult weight over 40 kg) will not reach their mature weight until 18 to 24 months of age. These breeds are growing very rapidly over a long period of time, and require careful nutrition to minimise the risk of dietary related diseases. How much should I feed? Many large breed pups should not be fed ad lib as they will overeat, and overweight puppies have been linked in many studies to obesity and related health problems in later life. Large breed puppies are also particularly prone to skeletal problems associated with overfeeding and accelerated growth. These include hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, dropped hocks, splayed feet, elbow subluxation, wobbler syndrome, and lameness. **A controlled intake of food during growth allows good development with no reduction in mature body size, but reduces the risk of obesity and skeletal problems. **The optimum growth rate for health and longevity in a pup is the average growth for that breed. This can be achieved by feeding the recommended amount for the pup on the premium pack, and regularly assessing the weight and fat cover of the pup (ask your vet staff for help!), and adjusting the food as needed. What about vitamin and mineral supplements? Premium foods have correct levels of protein, minerals and vitamins as assessed by optimum growth rates and feed trials. The pup should be fed the selected premium food and nothing else, as supplementation with dog roll, meat or table scraps can lead to a finicky eater, or nutritional imbalances. Other supplements should also be avoided. Skeletal problems can be predisposed by an unbalanced diet with inadequate protein, or an excess or deficiency of calcium, phosphorous, or vitamins A D or C. All growing puppies should be fed on a premium growth diet, and large breed puppies in particular should be weighed and assessed for optimal growth to prevent skeletal disease. Weigh your pup at your vet clinic, and ask if you need further advice.