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What, how often and how much to feed …
Proper feeding allows for more consistent,
slower and proper growth.
Not Proper nutrition and feeding can destroy any prefect puppy, because they are crucial to proper growth of any giant breed, from proper development to prevention of bloat in adults. Getting off to the right start is essential in order to assure a happy and healthy life for your dog.
There are a few major points on Caucasian Ovcharka puppy feeding and nutrition that all giant breed owners should be familiar and have there own opinion and practice. We would like to share our feeding practicing, that works prefect for our dogs and what we always recommending to new owners.
What to feed
Typical puppy formulas contain too much fat and protein for giant breeds, the large breed puppy formula is not properly balanced for special needs of giant breeds. Look for a good quality giant breed puppy formula. Good luck. We did not find … Even though you have painstakingly found the diet that meets the recommended calcium, energy (fat) and protein levels for your puppy, it is equally important to control the amount of this diet that is consumed. Otherwise, the puppy may overeat, and still obtain the nutritional excesses we wish to avoid.
We learned that by feeding giant breed puppies approx 30% - 40% less calories (read: DRY FOOD) and replacing it with the proper ratios of protein, fat ( read: meat, oil, eggs, fish…) and other nutrition’s and mineral supplements (vegetables, fish oil, glucosamine, chondratin, MSM…) you can greatly reduce, if not eliminate their chances of developing certain diseases such as HOD, OCD, Pano, and environmentally caused hip dysplasia. Most experts agree that an average of 25% protein and 10% fat are the ideal levels for growing giant breeds.
Caucasian Ovcharka has the potential to grow 100 - 150 times their birth weight. They have a faster growth rate; however, that rate must be controlled in order to allow the puppy to develop normally, without the risk of problems. Giant breed puppy formulas are should be balanced with the proper levels of protein, fat and calcium for the fast growing giant breeds. For this reason, it is important to feed a diet that specifically addresses the needs of large and giant breed puppies. In addition, it is important that additional mineral supplements must be used. If too many calories are supplied and consumed on a daily basis, too rapid growth results and the excess mass that must be supported on an immature skeleton can result in microscopic damage to skeletal tissue, with subsequent malformation and/or malarticulation of joints, degenerative changes and potentially chronic pain.
Grains: I will never feed corn or wheat to my dogs, but I am using at list ones in a week cooked rice instead of dry food.
Vegetables: We are using all king of vegetable, mostly row. There are only few exceptions on that – as onions, avocados, broccoli… We would shred almost any vegetables that we have in the refrigerator and mix it with other food.
Meat: We recommend (as we do it) fresh raw bones and raw meat and poultry as an alternative to processed foods. Although we do not feed exclusively raw foods. We are mixing it with part of processed food or cooked rice and row vegetables. We start in early age (4-5 weeks old) slowly so we do not upset their digestive systems - just a bite or two at a time.
Calcium: Most would assume that large and giant breed puppies would need more calcium and phosphorus than a smaller breed puppy, as their bone structure is so much bigger. On the contrary, they actually need slightly less calcium. Too much calcium can also increase the incidence of any one of those very painful developmental bone diseases. The challenge is to provide just enough calcium to reduce the risk of bone problems while supplying levels that allow for maximum growth potential. Calcium in excess can predispose to significant skeletal abnormalities, such as those mentioned above. Keep in mind, also, that adding of vitamins, particularly Vitamin D, will also increase absorption of dietary calcium (to possibly excessive levels).
Fish Oil (Omega-3): That has been found to enhance brain development in puppies. It is important that these giant, and in some cases large breeds, are well trained so that control is maintained. By providing natural, functional food ingredients that support proper brain development, puppies have been found to be more easily trained in the basic obedience commands. In addition, that works extremely well for healthy and good-looking coat, especially when it is time for shedding.
Protein: The ideal protein concentration is difficult to specify, since it is, in part dependent upon biological value of the protein source; (i.e. if of high biological value, then less is needed ) Protein markedly above the upper limit described here will be converted to energy, rather then incorporated into protein tissue. This will, therefore, add to the energy burden, and potentiate the problems associated with excess energy consumption, as described above.
Mineral supplements: We are using “Next Level Equine Joint Fluid” on the daily basis. An exclusive fluid supplement formula that helps the body keep joints lubricated. Contains glucosamine, shark cartilage, perna mussel, Ester C and MSM (added as a natural inflammatory). Special bromelain enzyme solution digests easily. You can get it in a different flavor. Our dogs love it. Moreover, we love it, because it makes to keep nutrition and minerals balance so easy and in a right proportion. You also can find different brands with the same supplements and same results.
How often and how much to feed
Puppies from 7 weeks to 3 months should be fed three-four times per day. If your puppy is under 4-6 months old, feed three times daily and allow him to ingest as much as he wants but for a limited time (e.g. only ten – fifteen minutes)! This seems to be the toughest point for new giant breed owners. Everyone wants their puppy to be impressively huge, and there is a misconception that by feeding more, your puppy will grow to be a larger adult. You should understand, that you can not change the genetics and your dog will grow to be the same size in the end, it's just a matter of how long it takes for them to get there and how healthy they are in the end. By overfeeding the puppy, you can destroy his future health. It is always better for a giant breed to be on the lighter side rather than overweight as extra weight can lead to hip dysplasia and joint problems in giant breeds.
If your puppy is between 6 months and 2-years-old, feed only two times daily, and allow him to ingest as much as he wants, but again, for only a limited time. Do not let him go to play and then come back to the bowl, even worth- lay next to it and guard. Take the food away and do not give it to the dog until the next feeding time.
When he reaches the age of physical maturity (about 2 years old for female and 4 years old for male), you can modify the diet to obtain appropriate weight gain.
Sure, your schedule could be different due to your circumstance: as your work, type of activity with your dog, weather... For example: our kennel is locating in Nevada and dogs are loosing there appetite due to hot weather. So, every summer we are shifting our feeding time to later hours, less and more lighter food. For adults we are practicing “easy days”. When dogs starting to have leftovers in there bowls, instead of next meal they would get only couple of treats. We practicing it for many years and it benefit us and our dogs in many aspects.
All above, probably, sound bit complicated. Do not worry, just remember 4 “DO NOT” rules and use you’re commonsense.
The Rules are:
A) Do not feed your dog dry food.
As other deep-chested breeds, like great Danes and mastiffs, Caucasian Ovcharka are highly susceptible to bloat (or torsion), a condition where the stomach fills with gas, twists, and kills the dog if untreated immediately. Nutrition and feeding practices play a huge role in the prevention of bloat. Nevertheless, it is very important, that your dog would be getting completely dry food only in rare occasions or as a treat. You can just simple mix the dry food with broth or can food, mixed with hot water.
B) Do not hesitate to ask.
Be on the save side – better ask now than be sorry after.
You should watch your puppy carefully for any signs of irregular growth, including bowing or curving of the front legs or toes, swollen joints or legs, or hip or joint pain, and see your veterinarian promptly if you suspect problems.
C) Do not overfeed your dog.
It is always better for a giant breed to be on the lighter side rather than overweight.
D) Do not give your dog any bones that could be crashed into sharp peaces.