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Feeding Puppies + Seniors

Feeding Puppies and Seniors

By Lew Olson • June 2006 Newsletter
Since we have covered nutrition and diets for dogs in the last ten newsletters, it is time to address the needs of puppies, growing dogs and senior dogs. Although the basic nutrition needs are the same, there are a couple of important things that need some specific attention when it comes to feeding our young and older dogs.

In today’s commercial pet food market, we can find both adult and puppy diets. An emphasis on diets for puppies is fairly new. Puppy food was introduced in the seventies, with Purina Puppy Chow being probably the first food introduced solely for puppies. The diet differences were minimal, but the food was marketed as having ‘powdered milk’ coating and smaller sizes kibble nuggets to accommodate the smaller size of a puppy. Some focus was placed on adding calcium or feeding higher calcium foods, but in reality the idea of feeding diets higher in calcium to puppies is a bad idea and can cause harm.

“In addition to excessive calcium intake, researchers have shown that over nutrition can also initiate these disturbances in skeletal maturation and growth. An excess protein intake, without an excess of other nutrients revealed NOT to influence skeletal maturation and growth in growing Great Danes (Ref. 2).” “Disturbances of skeletal growth were also seen in research animals (Great Danes), which were energy restrictedly raised on a food with a normal calcium level (1.0 – 56 calcium on dry matter base, according to the requirements of dogs as followed by many of the manufacturers and owners for dog food preparation). Therefore we now advise to raise dogs, vulnerable for these skeletal diseases, on a balanced food with a calcium content decreased to 0.8 or 0.9% on dmb (dry matter basis).”
Further, the above article goes on to state: “Therefore it is advised not to feed young dogs ad libitum or excessively, to prevent the development of (causative factors for) osteoartrosis. It is also common practice to advise a weight loosing programme to those dogs which suffer from osteoarthrosis as an aspect of conservative treatment or as an aid in surgical treatment of dogs with ED (elbow dysplasia).” www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu
To feed puppies on a raw or home cooked diet, I would recommend three guidelines.
1) Home made diets: If your home made diet does not include raw meaty bones, supplement calcium at about 900 mg of calcium carbonate per pound of food served. If your home made diet does include raw meaty bones, you do not have to supplement with calcium carbonate as there is sufficient calcium in the bones. You do however, want to make sure that 40% to 50% of the home made diet is raw meaty bones. If the diet includes more than 50% raw meaty bones, it can lead to excessive amounts of calcium which can be harmful.
2) Puppies need animal protein for healthy growth and building strong organs, skin and coat. Puppies can’t have ‘too much protein’.
3) Do not free feed puppies. Offer very young puppies three to four meals a day, and decrease meal frequency only after teething is completed (six to seven months)
Supplement recommendations for puppies include:
EPA Fish Oil – 1000 mg per ten lbs of body weight. The omega 3 fatty acids are important for brain and nerve development and provide a healthy skin and coat.
Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder. This contains healthy flora and fauna to help keep the stools firm and help keep a healthy digestive tract.
Berte’s Daily Blend. This powdered blend contains vitamin C, vitamin E, B complex and vitamins A&D. It also contains kelp and alfalfa for the trace minerals.
Another new phenomenon is the advent of “Senior Dog Food.” This market was developed because of obesity in older dogs and the false belief that senior dogs need less protein. These diets are full of fiber, have higher levels of carbohydrates and reduced amounts of fat. This type of diet results in dogs that are less satisfied causing them to appear hungry and beg for more food. The ingredients lead to the loss of coat and skin quality and they do not lead to any weight loss.
As most of us humans have learned, reduced fat diets lead to more food cravings and a feeling of not being satisfied after a meal. Adding more carbohydrates and reducing fats will not lead to a reduction in weight, it will create more weight gain. And the lack of protein (especially high quality animal proteins) will cause loss of health. Proteins are necessary for maintaining the health of the kidneys, heart, liver and skin and coat quality.
While in the past it was believed that excess protein might cause problems in dogs, it has been shown that dogs have the ability to metabolize excess protein. Protein is an essential part of the canine’s diet, and is necessary to sustain life and maintain the integrity of the internal organs.
More recent studies show today that it is harmful to restrict protein in senior dogs and that high quality proteins are needed for our older pets.
To feed senior dogs on a raw or home cooked diet, I recommend these guidelines.
1) Do not restrict protein, but instead offer a variety of high quality animal proteins, including beef, lamb, fish, pork, dairy products and eggs.
2) If your senior dog is overweight, try reducing fat. This would include using low fat dairy yogurt or cottage cheese, trimming excess fat from meat or draining excess fat from cooked meat and avoiding fattier meats such as lamb and pork.
3)Reduce carbohydrates in the diet, especially the starchy or high glycemic types such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and green peas. This would also include grains (all types) and rice.
Supplement recommendations for Senior Dogs include:
EPA Fish Oil. These help with cognitive functioning and are also renal, liver and kidney protective. The omega 3 also helps to provide a healthy coat and skin.
Berte’s Immune Blend. For healthy seniors, I would give this at half dose. This blend contains high amounts of antioxidants including vitamin C and E. It also has B complex, which assists in protecting kidneys and nerves. Lastly, it contains some digestive enzymes and probiotics which aid in proper digestion.
For further information on diets, please refer to the following:
Putting It All Together Cooked Diets for Dogs
Putting It All Together – Raw Diets for Dogs
Rearing Puppies on a Raw Diet
Protein Amounts and Puppies
Proteins, Kidneys and Senior Dogs
Next months newsletter will be the last in the 12 part series on Canine Nutrition, so until then, Bone Appetit!
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