Large breed puppies have unique nutritional needs. The right food, provided in the right way, is essential to ensure bone and muscle growth and to maintain a healthy weight for their size.
Let us explore the best practices when feeding your large breed puppy as well as 10 dog food recommendations that have been created specifically for our big furry friends!
What are the nutritional needs of a large breed puppy?
Large breed puppies will reach a significant size and weight as adults, generally over 50 pounds. Examples of large breed puppies include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Great Danes and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
These breeds have longer growth periods compared to others. In the process, they develop specific care and nutrition needs. Introducing a large breed puppy in our home is exciting, but it comes with the responsibility to understand they’re not exactly like every other dog and will need a tailor-made nutrition plan.
Here are some guidelines to take into account when feeding a large breed puppy:
High-calorie foods. Puppies need and spend a lot of energy! Caloric requirements are high during the first year of a puppy’s life, regardless of the breed. However, these calories must come in the form of a balanced, regulated diet to avoid obesity or growth abnormalities.
Calcium and Phosphorus. You will see that most of the dog foods recommended here include calcium and phosphorus. That is because the proper calcium-phosphorus ratio is important for healthy bones and joints. Beware, excess calcium is counterproductive, so if the food already contains calcium, do not include calcium supplements.
Vitamins and minerals. The most important ones include vitamin D, vitamin A, copper, zinc, and manganese.
Portion control. Portion control, as opposed to free feeding, is always advised. Set a feeding plan with the help of a vet. Usually, this feeding plan will include two or three meals a day.
The 10 best dog foods for large breed puppies
These are 10 of the best dog foods for large breed puppies, as recommended by Discover Magazine:
This highly digestible formula ensures optimal nutrient delivery for large breed puppies. Besides real chicken, it includes glucosamine for healthy cartilage, DHA for brain and vision, calcium and phosphorus for bones and teeth, and vitamin A for a healthy coat.
Prepared with quality ingredients from North America, Europe and New Zealand. This food has been specially formulated with the appropriate calcium levels large breed puppies need for bone growth until they reach the first year.
Diamond Naturals’ formula has been enriched with superfoods and probiotics. This is one of the few dog foods with lamb instead of chicken as a main protein. Also containing L-Carnitine that helps convert fat to energy.
With the first 5 ingredients being fresh or raw; and 90% of them being top-quality animal ingredients (free-run chicken, turkey, and wild-caught fish), this is one of the best options for large breed puppies. Their philosophy is to mimic a natural diet for the dog.
Not one, but three high-quality proteins will nourish your large breed puppy, including Chicken, Lamb and Salmon as well as a blend of 15 superfoods (coconut, chia, kale, blueberries, and more). NUTRO promotes a “feed clean” philosophy, based on using trusted sources and avoiding additives.
This formula focuses on three main benefits for large breed puppies: body, mind and energy. It’s also designed to be highly digestive and support the immune system. Chicken is the main ingredient.
How to choose the best food for your puppy
Because every puppy is unique, no rule applies to all. Only a professional veterinarian can sum up the many factors that we may overlook (breed, size, age, lifestyle, specific health conditions, and more) into the right diet for your dog. The wrong nutrition plan can create health problems in the medium and long term.
That is why our ultimate advice is to consult a veterinarian for the perfect food and meal plan. Also, this plan is likely to be modified as the puppy grows, and the vet will help you make the necessary adjustments to ensure a healthy, happy dog at every stage of the way.
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