Dogs like Great Danes, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards and Irish Wolfhounds that tip the scales at 100 pounds or heavier when fully grown are considered a giant breed. When it comes to feeding these big boys and girls, you have to consider their fast-track growth rates from puppyhood to adulthood, as well as their tendency for bone, joint and skeletal problems because of their size. Obesity adds to the mix.
Overfeeding a giant breed puppy will over-accelerate its growth spurts and increase the likelihood of bone and joint issues. It’s better that these dogs have a slower, steadier growth as they mature.
Naturally, proper nutrition is a crucial component of their health formula. Unless you’re feeding your pooch a puppy food that’s labeled specifically for large/giant breed needs, consider switching to an adult formula between six to eight months to ease into full- growth. In this manner, growth will stretch over a longer period of time, resulting in healthier development.
Avoid feeding your giant breed canine a diet that’s high in fat and excessive calcium. Instead, look for foods containing fatty acids from fish oils, as well as high-quality protein sources. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may also help decrease joint inflammation, as well as help the body repair and strengthen tissues.
These preventative care measures help avoid joint issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia.
If your giant breed dog already has joint issues, consider a diet that’s high in long chain omega three fatty acids and lower in calories, since obesity adds even more stress to a dog’s frame. Premium dog foods such as our Evanger’s Catch of the Day mixed with Evanger’s Grain Free Sweet Potato provides an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids from sardines, as well as vitamin rich sweet potato to help cut calories without cutting nutrition.
Giant breeds with big, deep chests are more prone to potentially fatal bloat or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV). GDV is a condition in which the stomach twists, trapping gasses and swelling the abdomen.
Bloat symptoms include restlessness, pacing, dry heaving or attempting to vomit, and a sensitive or enlarged abdomen. As this life-threatening situation progresses, you’ll notice weakness, labored breathing and possible fainting. Be prepared to take your pet to the vet immediately. To help avoid bloat, consider feeding your dog several smaller meals each day and avoiding vigorous exercise up to two hours before or after meals.