Large breed dogs can suffer from joint problems and skeletal growth disorders during their first year of life, when their bones are growing rapidly.
The factors contributable to these growth problems are:
Some breeds are more disposed than others to certain joint problems i.e.
Labradors/Retrievers/German Shepherd Dogs are predisposed to hip dysplasia (hip arthritis).
Choosing animals with decreased genetic disposition i.e. parents with low hip scores on the
BVA/KC Hip Score Scheme can help.
Crossbreed dogs tend not to have a genetic predisposition to joint problems.
The objective in feeding large breed puppies is to avoid over feeding and in
particular to avoid excess intake of energy and calcium.
Most proprietary large breed puppy foods have the correct calcium and energy requirements.
However, if you are concerned check this with one of our nurses.
It is important NOT to give mineral supplements in addition to complete feeds, which already have the correct levels.
We recommend James Wellbeloved Junior Performance. This has oil 10% and ash 7.0% and can be fed from 3-4 months until skeletal maturity is achieved at 12-14 months.
Excessive exercise during growth can also contribute to skeletal growth disorders.
Young large breed dogs should not be taken along with the owner when jogging or horse riding.
They should not be allowed to try and keep up with very fast breeds such as lurchers or greyhounds or energetic adult dogs until skeletal maturity at 12-14 months.
Sensible exercise and socialisation should be encouraged.