I know you readers hate it when I get serious (the hate mails, the letters to Congressmen, the old ladies standing on their curb shaking their fists at me) but feeding a Great Dane is a serious undertaking so I’ll be visiting this topic from time to time. I especially find it important because thanks to the great marketing engine of corporate America, we’re to believe that you can go pick up a bag of puppy food at the grocery store, slap it down in front of any puppy, and he’ll grow up to be a show dog.
I know this will come to a shock, but that’s not always true. In fact in some cases like a Great Dane, it can be debilitating. There are several bone diseases that are prevalent in giant breeds. Of course the genetics of your puppy play a factor in this, but diet has a very large role.
Puppy foods are very high in protein for growth (around 30% if I’m not mistaken) and have supplements in them such as calcium. Feeding a high-proten, calcium supplemented diet to your giant breed dog can cause them to grow TOO fast.
Now wait a minute – isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want our puppies to grow up to be big, giant, strong, healthy dogs? Well… yes we do. However, we want them to do so in their own time. A puppy food can accelerate their growth rate too fast and the result is a long laundry list of horrible bone diseases.
There’s a great (and short) article to read here about the various diseases that feeding a puppy food can contribute to here. I wouldn’t have known anything about regulating Duchess’ protein or calcium intake if I hadn’t researched this before we got her (remember, we pretty much rescued her from white trash ghetto-land where she was most likely being raised on a diet of pork skins and Pabst Blue Ribbon).
Oh, and don’t be fooled by “Large Breed” puppy foods either… the protein is still too high in those. We’re looking for a protein percentage of 21% or so to promote a slow and steady growth. So I know what you’re thinking right now. It’s probably along the lines of “I don’t care. I seriously don’t care. I can’t believe I’ve even read this dribble this far.” Am I right?
The rest of you that do care are probably freaking out because you’re either a) realizing that you have a dog that you probably shouldn’t have fed puppy food to, or b) wondering just what it is that you’re supposed to feed to a giant breed dog. I mean, really… what are we supposed to do – strap on our loincloths, fashion primitive weapons out of things laying around the house, and go all caveman on some poor unsuspecting cattle just so our big doggies can get back to nature?
I guess you could go that route. If you had your own cattle. And lived really, really, really far away from other people. And was certifiably batpoop crazy… but for the rest of us, there’s a simpler option. But we’ll have to get to that another time because I have a big puppy that’s dying to eat and then crawl in my lap to go to sleep.
P.S. – please keep in mind that these opinions of mine included in this blog are my opinions about feeding GIANT BREED dogs. So don’t go all crazy and throw your bag of puppy food out in the street, set it on fire, and put your dog on an intestinal cleansing product because you fed it to your Lhasa Apso. It’s all cool. Your little Swiffer dog will be just fine. So just put the bag down and step away from the torch.