Food is essential for life and balanced diet is essential to lead a healthier life. Just like human require a complex set of nutrients to keep their body healthy, dogs also have certain dietary requirements to stay healthy and active. Feeding either excessive calories or providing fewer calories than what is required may impact the biological performance of the dog. The balanced diet promotes proper development of bones and muscles.
When we think of dogs we consider them as a pure carnivore. Accepted! Meat is the essential part of a dog’s diet as it contains both proteins and fat that are essential for dog’s proper growth. Protein helps the dog to build muscles. The energy required to carry out daily activities is extracted by burning fat. However, fatty acids are required for the better functioning of the immune system. Carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and key vitamins are required for the improved digestive system. The nutritional requirement of a dog keeps changing during his entire life. Young puppies require more calories as compared to senior ones because young puppies require nutrients to grow healthy while on the other hand elder dogs require fewer calories just to maintain their body and to carry out daily activities. In addition to this, the nutritional requirements of dog also change according to his breed. Small dogs have a higher metabolic rate which makes them digest food easily thus they require more calories as compared to large breed dogs. Large breed dogs require a bit more attention towards their eating pattern to keep them healthy. Therefore, following are few things that you must consider about your large breed dog’s diet.
Aim for Steady Growth:
Large breed dogs such as the golden retriever, grow faster and this leads people to the misconception that they require higher calories as compared to small breed dogs to grow healthy. However, their fast growing property is innate and there is nothing connected with the number of calories you provide them. A large breed puppy that weighs something around 1 pound can reach up to 120 pounds within 18 months period. Therefore, you need to provide special attention to what and how much you are feeding him because providing him with excessive calories will lead him to gain weight. Being obese can lead your dog to orthopedic disease such as hip dysplasia, retained ulnar cartilage and core Panosteitis because the excessive weight will cause strain on skeletal system of the dog.
Fat and Calcium:
The overall growth of a dog depends on the intake of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. As mentioned prior, protein helps the dog to build lean muscles which actually makes his body tough and strong. However, the excessive intake of fat and carbohydrates lead your dog to gain excessive weight. There are many commercially available large breed dog food formulas in the market that are specifically designed considering the nutritional requirement of large breed dog. Try to go for these formulas because they not only have a limited amount of fat and carbohydrates but these foods also have a limited amount of calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin D. As many of us who own large breed dogs think that our dogs require more calcium for better development of bones. But our dogs require a certain amount of calcium because large breed dogs are more prone to development orthopedic diseases which are caused due to disproportionate intake of calcium and vitamin D. Similarly, copper, zinc, and magnesium are also required for proper development of bones but either excess or deficiency of these nutrients will increase the chance of development orthopedic diseases.
Food Break Down:
As discussed prior large breed dog grows at a faster rate. Feeding too many calories or a large portion of a meal at a time causes pressure on the digestive system. In addition to this, the energy extracted from food is not consumed completely that leads to gain weight. Therefore, veterinarians suggest breaking your dog’s whole day meal into five to six small portions. In this case, the dog will not feel hungry and will stay full while the caloric intake will be limited.
Age Specific Requirements:
Dogs have a specific nutritional requirement at different stages of their life. Your dog falls into the category of a senior dog once he completes 75 % of his breed’s expected life expectancy. Just like humans dog also go through wear and tear. Old age brings many other health challenges with it because the immune system of a dog becomes weak with age. Therefore, you need to give proper attention to your senior dog’s diet to help him maintain his health. Feed your senior dog with fewer numbers of calories because senior dog remains idle for most of the time. They have lower physical activity level as compared to puppies or middle-aged dogs. However, senior dogs require more protein based diet to maintain muscles. There must be some fiber in your senior dog’s diet to minimize the risk of digestive issues. To boost your dog’s immune system you should look for dog food formulas that contain food content that works as antioxidants. In addition to this, your senior dog can experience dental issues, therefore, chose foods that decrease the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Not only this, senior dogs sometimes develop health issues that require veterinarian’s attention and prescription where you are only allowed to feed him dog food that is recommended by the vet.
There is no specific answer to how much you should feed your dog but the packaging of your dog food can help you to identify and tailor your dog’s diet. But if you face any difficulty about what food you should feed your dog, visit your veterinarian so he may guide you on tailoring canine’s diet according to his nutritional requirement.
Have a healthy pet!
Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two; life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves – writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.com