Dogs are carnivores, omnivores and scavengers by nature. Nutrition is a too huge a subject to cover here suffice to say we are expecting a lot from any single product to be able to fed exclusively yet still provide all known nutrients plus those non essential but beneficial agents which may prevent cancer, boost immunity or just help keep teeth clean. Dogs need do to chew . It has wonderful dental and psychological benefits. Dry food alone is not sufficient gum exercise! All dogs therefore benefit from having a raw chewy meaty bone or cartilage regularly (2-3 weekly) or at least a rawhide chew in the diet to clean teeth and exercise the jaw, alleviate boredom and stop unwanted chewing of furniture. Chicken wings and necks or rootails are suitable for smaller breed pups . For larger breeds try pigs trotters, knuckles, shank bones etc. The supermarket cereal sticks like “Dentabones ‘ unfortunately are sticky sugary products full of calories which go mushy when wet and leave more food residue on the gums so cannot be recommended.
It is also worthwhile including some phytonutrient rich dark coloured vegetables like carrot, broccoli, peas, beans, corn, capsicum ,pumpkin or sprouted beans/seeds. Fruit like apple, orange, banana, pears or berries are also good. (Avoid grapes ,onion, garlic or chocolate or macadamias as they are toxic to dogs) . Cereals like weetbix have little place in dog diets but are used as cheap fillers for poorer quality foods. Cereals also interfere with zinc or calcium uptake and more frequent causes of food allergies. When selecting a quality food for pups, features to look for are :
- Primarily meat not plant protein and actual meat not derivative
- Some (proven) dental benefit properties
- A good fatty acid (omega 3) and DHA profile
- Gut health promoters (probiotics and prebiotics like psyllium)
- Phytonutrient vegetables versus grains.
Blackhawk and Ivory coat are excellent value Australian made dry products . Of the frozen foods, Dr Billinghursts “BARF” (Bones And Raw Food) diet is a good raw (frozen) addition wholefood diet and also good as a treat.
Growing puppies are like adolescents so should be lean not flabby. They should fill into the lanky frame at around 18-24 months and not before. Flappy pups have a quadrupled incidence of hip dysplasias and other joint cartilage diseases. If the growing and yet undesexed pup is already overweight at 6 month it will only get worse as an adult! Underfeeding is a safer option if in doubt.
Ask the Vet or Nurse for help if you are unsure about target weights.