Puppy Food or Adult Food

Puppy Food or Adult Food - When to change?


contributed by Kathy P.
Atelier Goldens

In an earlier post re: calcium supplementation of young dogs, I had said, "Many people don't even feed puppy foods as they *encourage rapid bone growth and weight gain which are other proven risk factors* for orthopedic problems." I received a private post asking for proof of this, the poster saying "I have yet to see any manuscripts in refereed scientific journals. There are plenty of antecdotal reports, but nothing solid."

Well, there's plenty to be found in the journals; here are three citations. I decided to post it to the whole list, as I think it will probably be of interest to many (all are from peer reviewed veterinary journals):

See "Special Symposium, Osteochondrosis: How to identify and treat its manifestations in dogs" by Steven M. Fox, MS, DVM and Alexander M. Walker, BVSc, MACVSc, in Veterinary Medicine (a peer-reviewed journal), Feb. 1993, pp 116-153. On page 121 it says, "the etiology of OCD is multifactorial. The most consistent finding in experimental and clinical studies incriminates rapid growth and weight gain. Most dogs affected with [OCD] are of medium to large size. And male dogs, which generally grow faster than female dogs, are affected twice as often as females. The relationship between nutrition, hormonal disturbances, and genetic factors for rapid growth and disturbances of endochondral osteogenesis suggests a metabolic origin...Dietary factors incriminated in OCD are high-energy, high-protein diets, excessive intake of calcium and phosphorus, and imbalances of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Excessive intake of nutrients accelerates growth and induces hormonal disturbances. In an experimental study in Great Dane puppies, free-choice feeding resulted in increased growth and multiple skeletal abnormalities. The high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet accelerated both growth and weight gain, and excessive calcium intake caused a persistently high level of calcitonin...Regardless of the specific nutrients involved, there is general agreement that the incidence and severity of OCD can be substantially reduced by normalizing the diet and slowing the rate of growth and weight gain." (Several studies were cited)

Also, from "Effects of dietary electrolyte balance on subluxation of the femoral head in growing dogs", by RD Kealey, et al. (8 authors on this one), Am J Vet Res, Vol. 54, No. 4, April 1993 (pp 555-562): "Although hip dysplasia has a genetic basis, several studies have indicated that its development can be influenced by excess food consumption, weight gain, or both. Increased weight gain from excess consumption accelerated development of hip dysplasia, whereas slower weight gain during the first several months of life delayed the appearance or reduced the severity of hip dysplasia." (Several studies were cited)

And from "Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs", by RD Kealy et al., in JAVMA, Vol. 201, No. 6, Sept. 15, 1992 (pp 857-863), "The first report of a correlation of early rapid growth and wight gain to severity of CHD was published in 1964...In a study of Gread Danes, it was shown that excessive intake of food accelerated growth thereby contributing to the development of hip dysplasia. In a study of 31 dogs...with a high parental frequency of hip dysplasia, it was found that CHD was more frequent, developed earlier, and became more severe in dogs with rapid weight gain caused by increased caloric intake, compared with dogs with low weight gain because of restricted feeding." And in the discussion of this study, "On the basis of our findings in the long-term study reported here, limited food intake has a beneficial effect on development of the hip joints in growing and adolescent dogs. Labrador Retrievers fed 25% less food than those fed ad libitum had less hip joint laxity when they were 30 weeks old than their ad-libitum-fed counterparts. Furthermore, by maintaining the dogs on the same feeding regimen until they were 2 years old, this beneficial effect was still present at that age, as demonstrated by the significantly lower frequency of hip dysplasia in the limit-fed dogs. Our findings confirm what has been suggested in previous studies that used fewer dogs, but that included Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherd Dogs."

Quite frankly, I'm puzzled by the fact that vets and PhD's keep asking me for proof that should be readily available to them. I had to e-mail this same info to the vet over on the PetCare Nutrition board here on AOL. My reading (and as a lay person, it's not as easy for me to get my hands on this stuff as it should be for a vet ) plus the advice of my veterinarian and respected breeders who have few orthopedic problems in their lines, has convinced me that puppy foods are not a good idea for large and giant breeds. So, I stand by my statement.

JAVMA is the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assoc.

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