Please No Fat Puppies!

bodyfatWhat is it about that roily poly puppy that makes us want to snuggle with them and laugh at what they do? Maybe the reason people feel that way, is they think it is comforting or funny, I’m not sure. In all actuality it is very unhealthy for a puppy to be overweight. Young puppies grow so fast that it is imperative that they have the right nutrition from the start to avoid problems as they age.

The average golden retriever will go from 14 ounces to over 65 pounds in just a year. Some English Labradors will even go higher! With that comes various growth stages and growth spurts the puppy will go through. The definition of a “large breed puppy” is a puppy that will grow to be over 55 pounds by the time they are full grown which is generally between ten and twenty four months depending upon the breed. I have heard of many breeders recommending adult dog food for new puppies. The dog food companies are calling it “Life Stage Nutrition”. Breeders are telling new owners that the grain free adult formulas are the best for the dogs, especially large breed dogs such as the golden retriever. There is much discrepancy on this issue as to what are the best foods to feed a puppy. For us here at Training Canines, we base our views on scientific information, not hearsay.

One myth we have come across on several Internet websites, is that protein intake needs to be monitored in order to avoid any skeletal issues. This theory was actually disproved in 1991, but still on many sites stating that protein causes abnormalities. Many puppy foods are very high in protein. For humans we know that a having a lot of protein in our diet is good for us. Since we think our dogs are “human” we assume the same is for them. That is not the case. Most commercial puppy food runs between 23%-31% (dry matter) and that percentage of protein does not have an effect on growth. Consult your veterinarian if you are giving your puppy a higher or lower percentage of protein.

Calcium is another item to monitor especially in large breed puppies. Their bodies are not able to control the absorption rate of calcium into their systems. Having to high of calcium in a puppy food will also disturb the natural process of bone grown and result in lesions in the skeleton and joints. Most nutritionists recommend that large, fast growing puppies eat diets containing at least 30% protein and 9% fat (dry matter basis). The calcium content should be around 1.5% (or 3 grams/1,000 kcal).

One way to monitor your puppy’s growth is to keep a constant check of their body fat. Just by looking at your dog from above and the side will easily tell you if the puppy is too chunky. You will want to look at your dog to see if you can see their ribs and their waist. The ideal weight is when the ribs are not visibly seen but their waist is. If you stand above your dog and cannot see any indention at their waist, then your dog is likely to be overweight. Always check with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog to be over or under weight.

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