Ask The Vet
01.31.2012 | 04:57 pm
This month, Dr. Al answers your questions about protein levels for a large breed puppy and helping a 2 1/2 year old lab Labrador Retriever lose weight.
Q: I have a Great Dane and she is currently on Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Food. She is about 9 months old and she is very healthy and playful. Our pet food store recommended we try a puppy food that is 40% protein. What is your opinion? Are we right by keeping her on the puppy food she is on, it’s only 23% protein?
A: I would be very careful about considering a higher protein diet for a growing giant breed puppy for several reasons.
Most high protein diets, also called grain free, are not recommended for use in growing puppies. They are designed for adult dogs and a 9 month old Great Dane would be considered by most to still be growing (therefore still a puppy). Giant breed puppies are the most vulnerable to what are known as developmental bone problems, which commonly occur when the growth rate is not controlled so as to maintain a slightly lean body mass.
Diets with higher protein invariably have higher fat levels too. High fat and high protein usually means higher calorie levels per cup, which can make it harder to maintain that slightly lean body mass while still allowing for growth. That’s why diets designed specifically for large and giant breed puppies are traditionally lower in protein and fat; to provide fewer calories and help the pet parent achieve and maintain that slightly lean body mass.
Q: We have a 2 1/2 yr old yellow lab who weighs just over 80 lb. She is not super active & the vet keeps saying she weighs too much. She was on the Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Dry Food but we are transitioning to the Holistic Select Weight Management Recipe. We just don’t know how much to feed her to make sure she’s not hungry. Any suggestions?
A: It’s great that you are addressing the issue as long term excessive weight can lead to more serious issues that can affect your pet’s quality of life as well as longevity. Problems like arthritis, heart disease, pancreatitis, diabetes and many more concerns are known to occur in overweight pets more frequently.
Switching to a lower calorie food such as the Holistic Select Weight Management Dry Dog Food is a great start. I would begin by looking at the feeding guide for weight reduction on the back of the bag. You mentioned that your dog is 80 pounds. Let’s say that your veterinarian would like your dog to weigh 60 pounds. Always use the guide recommendations for the ideal weight and never for the actual weight. So start by feeding the recommendation for a 60 pound dog. Also keep in mind that feeding guides are just that, a guide. No two dogs are exactly alike in their nutritional needs and so the amount may need to be adjusted based on regular weigh-ins. Weigh frequently (weekly) and be sure you are feeding just enough to slowly get the weight down.
As important as what you feed – and how much you feed – is exercise. In addition to changing the diet, you must initiate a regular exercise program. Set time aside to walk your dog daily and throw the ball if your Labrador Retriever is a typical retriever. That not only helps with the weight loss but it is a time you and your dog can bond and have fun together. Exercise should not be strenuous. Never over stress your pet with too much exercise. You will find that as the weight comes off the ability to withstand more activity will increase.
Best of luck, and I applaud you for your commitment to a healthy long and happy life for your pet!
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