What is the difference between large breed dog food and regular? Get Your Pet Thinking

Large breed puppy foods are different

Large breed puppy foods are different from “regular” puppy foods in that they are lower in fat and calories, contain slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorus, and have a carefully balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Feeding a large breed puppy formula doesn’t completely get rid of a dog’s risk for bone and joint diseases, but it can help reduce it.

The most important “nutrient” that affects growth rate is energy, which is measured in calories and provided by fat, carbohydrates and protein in food. It’s important to provide enough calories to meet your growing puppy’s energy needs but not to feed so much that rapid growth occurs. That’s why the number one goal of feeding large and giant breed puppies is to avoid overfeeding them. By limiting energy intake (calories), your pup’s growth rate is slowed down, and joint cartilage and bones are able to develop normally. Large breed puppy foods limit calories by containing less fat, since fat is the most calorie-dense nutrient in food.

Two minerals that are important to healthy bones are calcium and phosphorus. In fact, as much as 99 percent of the body’s calcium and about 85 percent of its phosphorus are found in the skeleton where they provide strength and structural support. Appropriate amounts of calcium and phosphorus are good, but more of either mineral isn’t better.

Too much calcium during the rapid growth period (3 to 5 months of age) can wreak havoc on a large breed pup’s skeleton, increasing the risk for bone and joint problems. Unlike adult dogs, puppies less than 6 months old can’t control the amount of calcium absorbed from the intestines. Since calcium absorption during this time is directly related to the amount in food, high levels of dietary calcium can lead to excessive absorption and retention that in turn can cause bone and joint problems. If your healthy puppy is eating a complete and balanced puppy food, there’s no need to give a calcium supplement.

One tidbit that veterinary nutritionists and pet food manufacturers take into consideration when formulating diets is the interactions between calcium and phosphorus that can occur. Excess dietary calcium can bind phosphorus, leading to decreased phosphorus absorption. Similarly, high dietary phosphorus levels can interfere with calcium absorption. So once enough calcium and phosphorus are present, it’s important to consider their ratio. Dog foods with an improper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio can lead to an imbalance in either mineral and ultimately to skeletal problems. That’s why large breed puppy foods typically contain less calcium than regular puppy foods and the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is kept within narrow limits.

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Lamb & Rice Formula is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your large breed puppy. It contains appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus in the correct ratio for optimal bone and joint development. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy also contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid, for proper brain and vision development. High-quality protein, carbohydrates and fat give your pup the energy and building blocks they need for muscle growth, ideal body condition and plenty of playtime.

Aim for steady, not rapid, growth

Some pet parents mistakenly believe that feeding extra food to their large breed puppy so that they grow as much and as fast as possible is best for the puppy’s development. While large and giant breed puppies have the potential for rapid growth, it really isn’t healthy for their bones and joints. And extra body weight can stress the immature and developing skeleton. When large breed puppies are overfed, they are prone to developing bone and joint problems such as hip dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans (inflammation of cartilage and bone) or panosteitis (painful inflammation of the outer surface of the long bones in the legs).

So what’s a pet owner to do?

Feed your large breed canine companion a puppy food that’s complete and balanced to promote a steady, healthy growth rate. Ideally, you’ll want to feed a large breed puppy formula. Studies show too many calories and inappropriate amounts of calcium can negatively affect the development of the skeleton. Feeding your large or giant breed pup for steady growth instead of maximum growth still lets them reach their full (and large!) size, because adult size is primarily determined by genetics. It just may take a little longer when done at a slower pace that allows healthy bone development.

The Truth About Dog Food Labels

Dog food labels are a valuable source of information about your dog’s food. They can also be misleading. As you search for the best food for large breeds, you will encounter a huge selection of products. As you do your research, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Look for a dog food labeled “complete and balanced”
  • Select a dog food that has been clinically tried and tested
  • Ignore unregulated phrases such as “all natural” and “human-grade ingredients”
  • Avoid foods with oils and fats listed in the first four ingredients
  • Dog food labels won’t tell you very much about the quality of the ingredients. In fact, no reference to quality is technically allowed. What the ingredient list does tell you is where the proteins and carbohydrates in the food come from. This is very useful for dogs with food allergies or sensitivities and for owners looking for a specific source of protein for their dogs.

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