Myths Persist When It Comes to Feeding Large-Breed Pups
A myth still perpetuated in some circles says that large dogs need more calcium than other dogs when they are very young, not less. The thinking is that if more calcium is good for humans, it must be good for canines. You can even find calcium supplements marketed for dogs that are pushed by supposedly knowledgeable people. To wit, a number of years ago one of our own veterinary students adopted a Labrador retriever puppy from someone who insisted the student sign a contract to continue feeding the pup calcium supplements at home. (He did not.)
Another myth, one sometimes even circulated by well-meaning but misguided veterinarians, is that people should switch their large-breed puppies to adult food at six months of age rather than wait till they have stopped growing somewhere between 12 and 18 months of age. They reason that because adult “maintenance” food has less protein than puppy “growth” food, it will spare the dog orthopedic problems later on. But that, too, is incorrect. The only thing less protein will do for a large-breed puppy is lead to a protein deficiency that can hinder appropriate growth as well as development of vital tissue. Don’t mess with the 12- to 18-month rule.
“The myths may have come from the early days when people recognized that large- and giant-breed dogs might need something different nutritionally from what smaller dogs require,” says Tufts veterinary nutritionist Deborah Linder, DVM. “But we needed more studies to find out exactly what those differences should be.”