Why many supermarket dog foods are not a bargain

Poor quality dog foods bear a large part of the blame for growth problems in Giant and Large breed dogs.

By Guest blogger, Lyn Richards

Many dogs, especially large and giant breeds, are identified with specific limb and joint conditions. Giant and Large breed dogs are particularly susceptible to some of these conditions. Bone disease is often the result of factors other than genetic or inherited in these large and giant breed dogs.

Assuming that you have purchased your dog from an ethical breeder who has taken advantage of testing and genetic registries (OFA, PenHip, CERF-for example), not a pet store, puppy mill, or a rescue where we are unable to determine genetic predisposition, we can rule out poor conformation and genes.

High intake of calcium is associated with various bone diseases in Large and Giant breed dogs. Owners mistakenly believe that “more is better” and attempt to supplement all kinds of things with bigger breed dogs. Diets high in protein also increase the growth lameness tendencies for large dogs. Most experienced breeders also recommend that no vitamin or mineral supplement (other than Vitamin C) be given to puppies of these larger breeds.

Poor quality foods bear a large part of the blame for growth problems.

Poor quality foods bear quite a large part of the blame for growth problems like HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy), OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans), and Pano (Panosteitis). The problem is too fast growth caused by too much protein, unbalanced fat to protein ratios, or poor quality protein and fat sources.

Usually, a good quality adult dog food that is 22-25% protein and 15-19% fat is recommended. In recent years, protein requirements have turned into a numbers game. Research has shown that 21% to 24% protein is optimum for various life stages. It’s not just the quantity but the quality of your dog’s protein source that is vital. For example, a 32% content of a poor quality protein source could give your dog too little protein.

Many pet food companies add low-quality protein products such as meat and bone meal, by-products, and corn gluten meal, knowing they can increase the percentage of crude protein on the label without making better food. Low-quality proteins are not easily digestible, therefore, not easily assimilated by the dog. You may be paying for food that your dog can not utilize. One of my pet peeves is with companies like Iams, Eukanuba, and Purina, who make “puppy foods” which contain low quality and way too high protein content for Giant Breed dogs to do well.

Quality dog foods usually contain more calories per pound.

Quality dog foods usually contain more calories per pound and are more digestible than store brands, so it takes less quantity of quality food to meet your dog’s needs. Also, smaller amounts of highly digestible, quality food mean fewer stools–another major advantage of quality digestible food.

Dogs of many breeds are susceptible to bloat and torsion, so the less stress on the gastrointestinal tract, the better. Good, highly digestible diets are a MUST for most breeds. Many even recommend feeding a Raw Dog Food diet (See BARF references below).

Many folks interested in feeding for maximum health, low cost, and low environmental impact now espouse BARF’s feeding plan (Bones and Raw Food). Based on the premise that animals are far healthier when fed a natural whole food diet than if fed cooked and processed foods. This harks back to the “natural” state for wild canids, of the need for raw, freshly killed meat and the partially digested vegetable contents of the stomachs of their prey.

Puppies are usually fed 3-4 times a day, gradually decreasing to twice a day between 6 months to a year. NEVER, EVER feed puppy or growth food (high protein levels of 28-30%) to a large or giant breed pup. That’s like asking for leg and bone growth-related problems.

Another “mistake” that many commercial food companies and dog owners make is lowering the fat content in foods. This causes several problems, the most serious of which are skin and allergy type disorders. Veterinarians will many times suggest dropping fat contents in foods fed to overweight dogs. This, in fact, causes weight GAIN due to hunger caused by protein to fat imbalances in the diet, which make the dog constantly feel hungry. Instead, feeding a higher fat (15-19%), moderate protein (19-23%) food at a LOWER volume and supplementing with some raw foods (meats and veggies) will facilitate steady and gradual weight loss, with little stress to the dog or its digestive system.

about the author

For more info on dog health, foods and feeding, check out Lyn’s site at http://www.doglogic.com. Type any of these words, Feeding, Health, or Food, into Lyn’s site search engine for more info!

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