How to Feed Your Large-Breed Puppyby Simon Foden
Your puppy's health, happiness and development are heavily influenced by the food you feed and the manner in which you deliver it. Each dog breed has its own nutritional requirements. Large-breed puppies such as Great Danes, rottweilers and Newfoundlands grow and develop more slowly than small and medium-size breeds do, meaning their growth period is longer. For this reason, it's essential that a large puppy's diet supports his nutritional needs at the correct time. Large breeds are prone to suffer from a condition commonly called bloat; it's a potentially fatal condition caused by a buildup of gas in the abdominal cavity. Dogs are most at risk after feeding. It's essential that you feed your puppy in the correct manner to reduce the risk of death or illness caused by bloat.
Select an appropriate food. During the large breed's growth period, the most essential elements of the diet are calcium, protein and fat. For convenience, many dog owners elect to feed a formulated life stage diet for large breeds. These products typically contain the optimum combination of calcium, protein and fat to support growth without over-delivering calories.
Put the food in a slow feeding bowl. These bowls are divided into sections. The sections make it difficult for dogs to push their faces right into the food. the smaller pockets encourage them to nibble rather than scoff their food. By eating more slowly, your dog is less likely to experience bloat.
Let the puppy feed for 10 minutes in the morning, eating as much or as little as he wants. If your dog is still scoffing the food without taking time to breathe or appears to be inhaling lots of air with his food, distract him for a second. Jingle a set of keys or bounce a ball at him. In order to reduce the chances of bloat, it's essential to prevent the puppy from eating in a manner that increases gas buildup in the stomach.
Remove the bowl after 10 minutes and dispose of the uneaten food.
Discourage the dog from exercising or indulging in any vigorous activity for 10 minutes after feeding. If necessary, put the puppy on a leash to prevent him from running, jumping or climbing. This sort of activity increases the chance of gas buildup.
Repeat the feeding process twice more, once in the middle of the day and once in the evening. The puppy will learn to eat until satiated during the 10-minute feeding period. When the dog is older than 6 months, feed him just twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Examine the feeding bowl as you remove it. If there is a lot of food left over, consider reducing the portion size. This cuts waste and discourages overeating, and saves you money.
Observe the dog throughout the day to monitor his toilet regimen. If the the dog is regularly passing wet or runny stools, this is indicative of a few things including a bad reaction to new food, eating too much, infection, parasites or bowel obstruction. If the wet stools persist for more than one day, consult your veterinarian. If the dog appears to be struggling to pass stool or is constipated, this points to a possible lack of fiber in the diet.
Feel the dog's sides. You should be able to feel his ribs through the fur. If you can't, your dog is probably overweight. Being too heavy is unhealthy for any dog, but especially so for large breeds as it compounds problems to which large dogs are already prone, such as osteoarthritis. If your dog appears to be overweight, reduce the amount of food you put in the bowl.
An Item You Will Need
- Slow feeding bowl
- Use food from the dog's daily allowance for treats. This way, you can reward good behavior without overfeeding.
- The Journal of Nutrition: Body-Weight Changes During Growth in Puppies of Different Breeds
- CNN Living: Bloat; Preventing a Deadly Dog Illness
- Newman Veterinary: Large Breed Puppies; What Is an Appropriate Diet?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Diarrhea
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Constipation
- great dane running in water image by Lars Christensen from Fotolia.com