Puppy Nutrition for Large Breeds
Your puppy is undergoing some pretty dramatic changes. In fact, large-breed puppies generally grow more rapidly than smaller-breed dogs. But your large-breed puppy is best fed a diet that supports growth without allowing him to grow too quickly, a circumstance than can contribute to abnormal skeletal development. To help give your puppy the right balance of nutrients, here are some key points to keep in mind.
Feeding Your Puppy
From the time your puppy’s weaned until 4 months of age, you should feed your puppy 2-3 meals a day based on the guidelines of the food label. After 4 months of age, your puppy should be fed twice a day on a regular schedule. Always have fresh water available.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Not all puppies have the same nutritional needs. Large-breed puppies actually have lower metabolic rates per pound than smaller-breed puppies. And while his growth is more dramatic, your puppy will reach his mature adult weight at 18-24 months? Later than smaller breeds that reach adulthood as early as 9 months. So large-breed puppies require less energy in their diets.
Large-breed puppies can also benefit from less calcium. Puppies who consume too many calories and too much calcium grow too rapidly and can develop bone growth or joint problems. With your large-breed puppy, the goal should be a moderate, healthy rate of growth. That’s why it’s important to choose a diet with precisely balanced amounts of fat, calcium and phosphorus, designed specifically for large-breed puppies.
To help your large-breed puppy grow at a healthy rate, look for these features:
- adjusted calcium and phosphorus levels to support healthy skeletal development
- reduced calories and fat to help maintain ideal growth rate
- vitamin-rich fish oils to support overall health
- essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help your puppy stay healthy during this critical stage of growth
- high-quality, animal-based protein sources to help nourish growing muscles, vital organs and skin and coat
- a fiber source that will help keep your puppy’s sensitive digestive system healthy, so more nutrition stays in your puppy
These are important building blocks of nutrition. Look for them when you choose dry or canned dog food and when you select treats.
A Caution About Supplements
You want to give your puppy the very best nutrition during these months. Some people assume that this can best be achieved by supplementing their puppy’s diet. But this may lead to a variety of health problems. Whether feeding vitamins, calcium tablets, table scraps, yogurt or meat, you could be upsetting a balanced interaction of nutrients and minerals. That balance is important. Too much of one mineral can affect a puppy’s ability to absorb other minerals. And excess amounts of calcium may lead to bone growth problems, especially in large-breed puppies. A high-quality pet food, carefully formulated for life stage and breed size, will give your puppy complete and balanced nutrition? Without supplements.
The Switch to Adult Food
A large-breed puppy reaches adult weight by 18-24 months. You can begin feeding adult dog food at this time. You can help ease the transition by gradually introducing the adult food. Try mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of his puppy food then gradually change the proportions over the next three days until he’s eating 100% adult food.