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  • #189807 Report Abuse
    Colter C

    Hi DFA Forum Folks,

    I found some potentially conflicting information as I’m looking around for my Great Dane puppy’s next food attempt to end her diarrhea

    The Best Large Breed Dog Food

    The Best Large Breed Puppy Foods

    Both pages are in alignment and suggest feeding large breed puppy food to large breed puppies until they finish growing. For example, a Great Dane will stop growing at 24 month, so continue feeding until 24 months. One argument for this is to prevent an excess of calcium.

    However, most Great Dane specific websites that talk about feeding puppies say never feed “puppy food” to a Great Dane puppy. The argument is that puppy food encourages excessive growth and it’s better for a Great Dane puppy to grow slowly over time. I imagine this applies to various XL breeds including Great Danes.

    So, is this advice on DFA correct? Are the Great Dane websites correct? Are they both correct?
    Does there need to be a specific recommendation page for XL Puppy feeding with food that is both low in calcium and low in protein & fat?
    Do we even really know what percentages of protein, and fat are truly appropriate if any?

    Or do I just need a dog food that my dog will happily eat and not give her diarrhea?

    #189905 Report Abuse
    Jason S

    Am curious about this as well. Hopefully someone can enlighten us

    #189918 Report Abuse

    Hi Jason and Colter,

    It is confusing isn’t it?

    Before there were foods specifically formulated for large breed growth, a common recommendation was to feed large/giant breed puppies an adult food based on a presumption that levels of nutrients in an adult food were closer to the growing pup’s needs. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always true, some adult foods were/are absolutely terrible for growth, but sometimes it was true and hence the persistence of that bit of advice.

    Also, it was at that time thought that protein played a role in the development of orthopedic conditions like hip dysplasia, so adult foods were recommended on the assumption that they would have a lower protein level in them than a puppy food. This was not always the case; some adult foods may have a higher protein level in them than a puppy food, but more importantly, research came out that ruled out the higher protein levels in food as a contributing cause of this condition.

    Currently some foods have nutrient levels in them appropriate for large breed growth and are formulated for growth yet are marketed as an adult food. The front of the bag may say XYZ for adult dogs, but the nutritional adequacy statement reads “formulated for growth”. I’ve personally heard of breeders saying don’t feed XYZ’s puppy food, feed XYZ’s adult food only to find that XYZ’s adult food is formulated for growth, so even though the recommendation was for “adult” food, it is still sound.
    It is a more recent phenomenon that nutrient levels have been established for and foods are specifically formulated for large/giant breed growth. AAFCO currently requires that manufacturers specify if their food is appropriate for large breed growth in their nutritional adequacy statement if the food is formulated to an AAFCO nutrient profile. The statement will look like this:

    Pet Food Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages including growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

    [Pet Food Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages except for growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).

    Unfortunately, there is a bit of a loophole. If a food meets AAFCO through a feeding trial, the manufacturer does not have to indicate if the food exceeds AAFCO’s max calcium level for large breeds. I believe AAFCO is addressing this.

    The key is to look at the food before you. During growth feed a food whose nutritional adequacy statement indicates the food is appropriate for growth of large breed dogs.
    Consider using a food whose calcium level is as close to 3 grams/1000 kcals as possible, a food whose energy density is around 3700 kcal/kg for a dry product and is made by a company that has fed the diet to large breed puppies and monitored them throughout the growth period.

    Work with your veterinarian on the diarrhea issue. Food may be a factor but there are other causes as well. On thing that may be of interest, but I do not know if it applies to puppies as to the best of my recollection the work has been done in adult dogs. Large/giant bred dog have been found to have a longer transit time of food through the colon compared to smaller dogs. This time persistence gives more time for bacteria in the colon to break down undigested food components that may result in products that make soft stool. Talk to your vet. My understanding is that some companies address this through use of specific formulas for giant breeds.

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