Feeding a Newfoundland puppy can be tricky. After all, these giant breed dogs need a lot of food while they're growing, but too much could result in a fat puppy, or even in growth problems. Too little food, or feeding an unbalanced diet can also cause serious trouble. Learning the basics of a good diet for Newfoundland puppies can help dog owners raise strong, happy dogs, and avoid vet visits in the future.
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A balanced commercial puppy kibble should form the base of a young Newfoundland's diet. Newfoundlands are particularly heavy eaters between the ages of 3 months and 18 months, and will consume several cups of kibble per day. Owners should initially use the same food the breeder or shelter has been using, and slowly mix in new food over a period of time. This helps prevent digestive upset.
Since Newfoundlands are such large dogs, many people assume they need to eat very large quantities of food. While a growing puppy will eat more than an adult, Newfoundlands are actually relatively light eaters for their size. Providing too much food can actually result in malformation of the joints, as the puppy grows faster than its bones. According to Denali Newfoundlands, a puppy should have only as much food as it can eat in one sitting--until it lifts its head from the bowl--three times per day. A healthy puppy will have ribs that are easy to feel through the fur and skin, but should not have prominent hips or vertebrae.
Giant breed dogs, such as the Newfoundland, require much less calcium in puppyhood than smaller breeds. While the Association Of American Feed Control Officials recommends 1 to 2.5 per cent calcium in dog foods, giant breeds should have closer to 0.7 per cent. According to Newman Veterinary Medical Services, too much calcium can cause serious skeletal problems, including hip dysplasia; osteochrondrosis, or interrupted skeletal blood supply; and hypertrophic osteodystrophy, or skeletal scurvy.
Newfoundland puppies should have between 15 and 27 per cent protein in their diet, depending on the quality of the protein. Too much protein can have the same effect as a diet too high in calories, causing the puppy to grow faster than its bones can support. Puppy food specifically for large breeds limits protein and calories to levels appropriate for these animals. Some breeders also recommend switching Newfoundlands and other giant breeds to adult food at the age of 6 months to prevent overgrowth.
Very young puppies whose mothers are unable to feed them may be fed on milk replacer. Not all commercial milk replacer products are nutritionally balanced, though. According to the Journal of Nutrition, puppies fed on commercial replacers deficient in essential amino acids developed nutritional cataracts. Owners should choose a milk replacer only on the recommendation of their vets.
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