Puppy Growth and Nutrition
Puppy Growth: why do they grow too much?
Anyone who knows anything about dogs, from the simple enthusiast to the breeder or veterinarian, has noticed that puppies of all breeds grow in an exaggerated manner, and that in only six months their dimensions are similar to those of adult dogs. Moreover, it is clear that all puppies have an increased fat mass in respect to the lean, so much so that, by now, almost everyone considers it to be normal, which it’s not. The abnormality of growth is evident in the specific breed standard, which, compared to the past, have been raised often conspicuously, in the belief that the average increase in height is simply due, similarly to what happens in human “puppies,” the improvement of nutrition. This, in part, is true, but simple observations show that this change is due in large part to an alteration of food.
The labrador as an example
For example, labradors are particularly prone to this phenomenon, with the result being that, the healthy weight of a dog from this breed is actually considered to be thin. Those dogs which have a physiologically lean/fat ratio are even dropped by international judges from competing, because they are considered to be too thin.
Puppy Growth: Not only genetics!
But what caused it? The answer is simpler than imaginable: the formulas of the industrial feed, the all too common kibble produced by all the brands, are heavily unbalanced, presenting a quality of Omega-6 much more superior than the Omega-3. It is exactly this imbalance which provokes the exaggerated growth of puppies, as previously brought to evidence.
How to avoid a pathological growth
The mechanism is as follows: the Omega-6 enables the growth of ALL the cell lines, especially those of fat, while Omega-3 keep them under control. Only a balanced diet, with a ratio between these two essential fatty acids close to 1:1 allows a correct and harmonious growth, the only way to not only prevent obesity among subjects prone to it, but also not to make them go against those extremely common osteo-articular pathologies (dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, abnormal aplomb, patellar luxation) which are likely to affect their lives.
Puppy growth: The danger which is Oxytetracycline
In addition to the problem of Omega-6 in traditional pet food, there is a real and common danger in its frequent presence, in pet food meal based on meat which has been intensively farmed, a toxic residue of oxytetracycline, a widely and legally used antibiotic in the rearing of animals, especially in poltry. This residue, if present in the feed administered to puppies, causes violent inflammatory processes that, in the delicate phase of growth, easily affect the musculoskeletal structures, damaging them and causing an increase in phenomena dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans and defects in perpendicularity.
Let's take better care of those who cannot choose for themselves
If we consider that a puppy growth is comparable to building the foundations of a building, we can easily understand how this very delicate phase must be approached with extreme caution, choosing the most proper nutrition, reflecting the nutritional principles that were mentioned. Use foods rich in fish, an important source of Omega-3 and of high value protein, choose products that contain natural chondroprotection over others which don’t. Ask your vet’s advice, taking in consideration whether he/she is sensitive to the aforementioned arguments, and remember that it is you who has the responsibility to choose, because our pets can’t.
Forza10 Founder and Head of SANYpet’s Research and Development Department Veterinary surgeon and international expert in food-borne diseases