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    Feeding Large Dogs

    Articlepet health guidesTuesday 27 November 2012
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    There are significant differences among different breed sizes and their body build-up. These differences are caused because breeds were developed for different purposes over the time. This resulted for example in the difference between the aerodynamic look of the Hound and the sturdiness of the Rottweiler or the discrepancy in the size of a Yorkshire terrier or an Irish wolfhound. This vast genetic diversity has also shown that certain breed characteristics and needs vary considerably, so the nutritional needs required from dog food differ as well. When deciding upon the nutrition of food for dogs we must always take the characteristics of the individual into account when.

    It is Growing Faster Than its Bones

    We should particularly regard the feeding of the large-sized puppies. They were often bred with the purpose of achieving a larger adult body size. But because of this feature and the extremely rapid growing time there is a much higher risk of developing bone disorders during that rapid and intense period.

    Undernourished or Overfed?

    It is not the high growing speed that is harmful to the dog, but those feeding methods that aim to achieve a larger body size by overfeeding components. 20-30 years ago many dogs were fed with food remains and poor dog food and it occurred so often that the insufficient supply caused the problem. Compared to it, today we encounter only problems caused by an overdose of vitamins, calcium and other components of the food. The more the vitamin or the food the better it is, is a wrong view; a growing animal has to eat the amount corresponding to its needs - and not more.

    Bone Disease

    It is a well known fact however, that among the larger-sized breeds, bone diseases such as Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), the Osteochondritis, the dysplasia of the hip (HD), etc. can more frequently occur. These diseases mainly occur in young dogs when overfed in order to achieve or exceed the genetically determined dimensions. Therefore, a good nutrition of the large sized dogs has an important role in reducing the growth-related bone disease. The Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) is a metabolic bone disease that occurs during the rapid growth phase (between the age of 3 to 6 months). Loss of appetite, fever, lameness can be noticed, the joints are warm, painful and swollen.

    The transformation mainly occurs at the joints of the tarsus, elbows and knees. During Osteochondritis (OC), joints are painful, swollen and lameness can appear also. Nutrition during growth has an important role in the development of the disease. The damage of the articulation joint is the consequence of the weak cartilage under the joint that can not supply it properly. As a result, the function of the growing cartilage cells is impaired. As the dog hip dysplasia (HD) is being developed, the balance between the power of the hip joint soft tissues and the gaining of weight is crashed over, resulting incongruity (when the head of the femur when the joint gambrel is not exactly its negative, so the x-ray of the two - I mean the head of the femur and the joint gambrel are not completely parallel). The joint is deformed, the gambrel is going to be shallow, the head of the femur is flattened and arthritis develops as a result of which may have serious consequences later.

    The Protein is Rarely a Problem

    Genetic background has an essential role in the incidence of all three diseases. However, other factors, such as diet, have also an important role in the development of these diseases. The more numerous incidents among the larger-sized animals indicate the increased importance of the dog food factors for these breeds. One of the most common misconceptions is that the commercial dog food contains too much protein and causes too rapid growth. This assumption is not confirmed by later subsequent research. There was no correlation found between protein and calcium metabolism, respectively that of the bone growth. It is already known that high protein level does not adversely affect the bone.

    Too Much Energy, Too Rapid Growth

    The misconception upon the excessive feeding of proteins may be too much energy-related. The increased protein level raises the energy of the dog food power, also. The increased energy intake significantly increases the incidence of bone diseases. During experimental feeding of ad libitum fed large dogs, bone disorders occurred more frequently than in the case of the bones fed with a reduced energy-dose group.  An increased energy intake can cause in a thinner under cartilage bone tissue, being less able to supply the developing articulation cartilage. On the other hand, a rapid weight gain is an even greater burden on poor, developing articulation cartilage. The increased energy intake increases the rate of growth, so the body weight, also. This can be prevented during the growth by calorie restriction.

    Calcium, but not too much!

    Dietary calcium has a significant impact on the skeletal development. A high calcium intake affects the body's internal balance, influences the hormonal rating. As a result, high blood calcium level and low phosphorous level develops.

    On that basis, we can conclude that the calcium overdose is harmful to the development of large dogs’ bone system. The regularisation of the dogs’ calcium intake in the bowl is considered to be the background of this process.

    During a high calcium diet feed, the dog can not reduce the absorption of the calcium excess, so a major passive calcium transport occurs. However, if the diet is of low calcium level, there will be an increased calcium inhibition in the gut. In this case, the calcium intake can be absorbed in up to 90%, so the dog can better defend against a calcium deficiency than that of an overdose.

    How Should We Protect Their Cartilage?

    The development of dogs is also influenced by the proportion of the nutrients in the food for dogs related to each other. The better food for the large sized breeds is considered the one lower in energy, calcium and phosphorus is reduced, the protein is moderated, compared to the food of the small dogs, thus ensuring them an optimum growth. Feeding with cartilage preventing ingredients - such as chondroitin sulphate, glucosamine - can help the healthy development of joints (such as green shell extract).

    The Correct Proportions and Percentages

    As a conclusion we can say that during the growing phase of large dogs, the proper selection of dog food can reduce the risk of developing bone disorders. To have a healthy development of the skeleton the best food should contain 26% protein of animal origin, 0.8% calcium and 0.67% phosphorus and last but not least it should have a reduced energy (14% fat). That reduced energy slows the pace of growth down but it will ensure the achievement of the genetically determined body size without any malformation of bone evolution.
     

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