When you start to consider all the options and all the possible outcomes of making both good and bad decisions when choosing puppy food, there are a few critical things to keep in mind.  There is considerable controversy regarding the role of nutrition during the developmental and growth periods of puppy-hood, and its possible effects on the musculoskeletal system in later life, in particular in our larger (greater than 60 lb) breeds. Certain problems are believed to be partially caused by over supplementation of various nutrients, in the mistaken opinion that rapid growth is desirable. Included in the list of medical problems that are believed, in part, caused by over supplementation are: Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, Osteochondrosis, Hip Dysplasia.
   The most significant problems appear to be related to the following, in order of decreasing importance: 1. Calcium, 2. Energy, and 3. Protein .

1. Calcium: The ideal calcium content, on a dry weight basis is 0.7%-1.2%-. AAFCO recommendation is 1%-2.5% which is generally acceptable though not ideal.  However, for giant breeds, such as the Great Dane, the lower end of this range is especially recommended. It is believed that calcium in excess of 3% on a dry weight basis can potentially lead to significant skeletal abnormalities, such as those mentioned above. Keep in mind, also, that adding of vitamins, particularly Vitamin D, will also increase absorption of dietary calcium (to possibly excessive levels).

2. Energy: If too many calories are supplied and consumed on a daily basis, too rapid growth results and the excess mass that must be supported on an immature skeleton can result in microscopic damage to skeletal tissue, with subsequent malformation and/or malarticulation of joints, degenerative changes and potentially chronic pain. For most practical purposes, energy levels in food can be extracted principally from dietary fat, which should be no less than 9% (AAFCO recommendation) to upper limit of 12% on a dry weight basis. Total kcal/kg of food should remain in the 3.2 to 3.8 range

3. Protein: The percentage of protein in a diet on a dry weight basis should range between 15%- 27% (AAFCO recommends minimum of 22%). The ideal protein concentration is difficult to specify, since it is partially dependent upon biological value of the protein source; (i.e. if of high biological value, then less is needed (more is absorbed) and the lower end of the range is desired). Protein considerably above the upper limit described here will be converted to energy, rather then incorporated into protein tissue. This will, therefore, add to the energy levels, and possibly lead to the problems associated with excess energy consumption, as described above.

   So how do you tell if your puppy food is designed properly for your large breed puppy? Simply keep the following in mind.
   Protein is good.  Higher protein leads to more energy, but if the puppy food has high protein and then contains less fat and less carbohydrates, the energy gain from the protein won’t be excessive and it will be in balance for your large breed dog.

   So although you really need to be careful, most companies produce a large breed formula that does the balancing act for you based on the ingredients they use. 

   Here’s a common list of what are commonly considered Large Breed Dogs.  There are many more, and as well, some mixes are considered large breed. But from the list below you should be able to get an idea if your dog might be considered a large breed dog, and therefore how to properly choose the puppy food you buy.

Boxer
Collie
Doberman Pinscher
English Setter
Dogo Argentino
German Shepherd
German Pinscher
Giant Schnauzer
Golden Retriever
Gordon Setter
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greyhound
Irish Setter
Labrador
Neapolitan Mastiff
Rottweiler
Saint Bernard
Wolf dog

   For more information on choosing puppy food for your dog, and where you can get all the supplies you need for your new friend, visit Luke’s All Natural – Puppy Food.

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