Large Breed Special Diet Needs
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Caitlin UltimoNutrition / Special Diets

Large Breed Special Diet Needs

Your large breed dog isn’t built the same as smaller breeds, so his dog food shouldn’t be, either. In fact, larger dogs often require special dog food formulas—including things you may never have heard of—like glucosamine and chondroitin—to promote pet health.

If it’s the first time you’re hearing about this, or you simply aren’t sure which food to try, we can help.

Why are certain nutrients or ingredients more important for large breed dogs than smaller ones?

Large breed dogs tend to be more prone to developing arthritis and degenerative joint disease, and supplementing their dog food with certain ingredients can help. “Studies have shown that by supplementing glucosamine and chondroitin before degeneration starts, you could increase the length of time until degeneration,” said Judy Morgan, DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT. “By being proactive, these supplements provide some protection to the cartilage and joint fluid.” Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM Soft Chews have both of these joint-supporting ingredients, plus two extras—MSM and ASU—and they’re specially made for dogs over 60 pounds.

If you make dog food on your own, keeping up with all of the important elements to include can be difficult. “I really am a fan of raw feeding for [large breed] dogs, but it can be expensive,” said Dr. Morgan. Additionally, “some trace minerals and vitamins can be hard to balance in home-prepared diets,” she added.

If you’re still interested in making dog food at home for your large breed, you should always consult with your vet before doing so. “Large breed dogs may benefit from a special diet during their formative years, but that diet should be a well-balanced diet formulated for large breeds and fed under the guidance of your veterinarian,” said Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club. “Feeding special diets to dogs without the guidance of a veterinarian could lead to an imbalance of nutrients and cause health problems for your dog.”

If you’re in the market for a good large breed food, American Journey Large Breed recipe is a good place to start. The real, deboned chicken provides protein and amino acids to help improve dog nutrition and keep your large breed dog’s muscles lean. This dog food is made to meet her specific nutritional requirements, and it entice your big pup with its meaty taste and delicious flavor.

What are some other important things to keep in mind when it comes to large breeds and their diets?

Large breed dogs also tend to be more prone to pet health issues like gastric distention (bloat) and volvulus (twisted stomach). “Factors contributing to the problem are not completely clear, but genetics, feeding large volumes of dry food at one time, exercising right after eating and allowing access to large volumes of water right after eating can all play a role,” said Dr. Morgan.

Additionally, Dr. Morgan likes to see higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids for larger breeds because of their anti-inflammatory effects that support the joints, coat, heart, eyes and brain. American Journey’s large breed recipe is formulated with healthy doses on omega fatty acids, so you can be sure your dog gets the vital supplement as a part of his daily diet.

What are some of the risks of poor diet for larger breeds?

Besides pet health issues like bloat or gastric torsion, a large breed dog that’s on a less-than-stellar diet might also display signs of other issues. “Unbalanced diets can cause higher incidence of ligament tears,” said Dr. Morgan. The reason, says Dr. Morgan, is that carbohydrate-based foods may contribute to obesity in your pet, which can lead to secondary problems like ligament tears, arthritis and even diabetes.

“I would say that one of the most import things you can do to help prevent [pet health issues] is making sure they are at a proper weight and not overweight or obese,” said Dr. Alison Birken, DVM and owner or Victoria Park Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “This might be one of the biggest contributing factors to degenerative joint disease, and the biggest culprit for pain and discomfort. Our pets rely on us to keep them healthy. Make sure to keep them healthy and slim.”

Whichever feeding method you decide to go with, remember that proper dog nutrition and the maintenance of a healthy weight can contribute to a lifetime of good pet health for your dog, says Dr. Klein. “From the time a dog joins your family until the end of its life, it’s important to work with your veterinarian to make certain that your animal is getting the nutrition it needs for each stage of its life based on its breed, size, lifestyle and health.”

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