Big dogs have big hearts full of love, but they can also be a big responsibility. No matter what size your dog, their diet is the first line of defence against a whole host of illnesses and conditions. “There are a number of medical conditions in animals that respond well to very specific diets.” says our resident "Ask a vet" Dr. Walt Ingwersen. While no two dogs are alike, large breed dogs do have their own set of concerns to keep in mind when shopping for dog food.
When it comes to diet, puppies need the most attention. Since large breed puppies grow faster and longer than their smaller counterparts, their diet needs to be monitored even more. Too much growth can be a real strain on your dog’s bones and joints, leading to conditions like panosteitis (painful bone inflammation) and hip dysplasia (dislocated hips). With your large breed puppy already growing so quicklyt over-nutrition is like throwing gasoline on the fire. Large breed puppy food takes this into account.
Keeping your large breed puppy at a healthy weight is important, so try feeding them smaller meals throughout the day, rather than free feeding. It may seem counterintuitive, but the ideal large breed puppy food should contain fewer calories, less fat, less vitamin D, less phosphorus and less calcium. This may not seem healthy, but with a large breed puppy, keeping the growth rate manageable is the number one priority. That said, if your puppy seems deficient in anything, don’t hesitate to bring this up with your vet.
Rapid growth stops being a factor when your large breed puppy reaches adulthood, however a healthy weight is always a concern. Also, large breeds are especially vulnerable to bloating. While that’s a relatively minor inconvenience for people, bloating in dogs can actually be fatal. Large size kibbles can help prevent this condition, as well as low fat dog food. Read the label carefully, checking for the percentages of fats and oils.
Whether you’re shopping for a Miniature Poodle or a Saint Bernard, quality ingredients are the most important factor. “It really comes down to ensuring that you pick the right food based on the right manufacturer.” Dr. Ingwersen explains. Dogs need a balanced diet, but most of your dog’s nutrients will come from meat, so the number one ingredient should be meat, and that’s it. If the label says “chicken”, you’re looking at up to 70% more meat than something like “chicken dinner”, or “with chicken” or “chicken flavor”.