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Let's discuss dog nutrition!

Let's talk dog food for a minute. I think what goes in to your dog's body is SUPER important for their overall health and wellbeing, and if you have a puppy it's also critical for healthy bone, joint and muscle development.


My least favorite question I see in Rottweiler groups and forums worldwide from pet owners is >"What can I feed my rotti to BULK HIM UP? He's 7 months old and only weighs 60lbs!" < As a breeder and breed enthusiast, this kills me inside a little every single time I read it. EVERY TIME. Why? Because your dog is seven months old, probably going through the gangly stage, also known as the 'puppy uglies' and doesn't need you to pump him full of extras to try and "bulk him up" he needs you to feed him a healthy, balanced diet so he can grow slowly and evenly. Rapid growth is hard on the joints, especially in large breed dogs. The best thing you can do for your puppy is to keep them fit and lean, so you don't add extra weight or stress on those developing joints. The "bulk" or as I like to call it filling out, comes later. It takes TIME for your dog to mature. In some bloodlines (mine is one of them) dogs are slow to mature, will still look gangly at 18 months, and then 4 months later you're like wow! Look at that chest! They will often continue to fill out until about 3 years of age, but the thing is, you can't rush them; it isn't healthy for their bodies to do so.


Every responsible owner wants the best food for their dog, and with the ever growing amount of information we have today regarding canine nutrition, picking the right food can seem somewhat overwhelming. There are so many different brands, formulas, and everyone always claims their food is the best. So how do you choose? My motto has always been "feed the dog in front of you," meaning that not every food that works well for dog A will work the same for dog B.


There are a few key factors to look for when you're picking a dog food. Firstly, for Rottweilers in particular, research points to an "all life stages including growth of large breed dogs" AAFCO certified dog food to be healthiest for proper joint development. The key component to that is *including* the growth of large breed dogs. This is especially important if you have a dog under 2 years old because it ensures they are getting the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus [1]. You can get a large breed puppy dog food, but I personally find them to be extremely high in protein and often cause very rapid growth. I prefer my protein levels to be around 22%-24% for my puppies.


The second aspect that I look for when choosing a dog food is to make sure it is free of peas, legumes and potatoes. There has been a direct link between dogs with diet related DCM and these ingredients, which are very popular in many "grain free" foods [2]. Another big issue I have with peas in particular is they are a type of phytoestrogen and are strongly believed to have negative effects on reproductive health, metabolic and thyroid issues. There have not yet been many studies pertaining specifically to dogs and and phytoestrogens but there have been proven negative side effects on rats, cats and pigs[3]. In my opinion, it's better to be safe than sorry.


The third thing I look for when searching for a dog food is one specific to my dogs. I need to find a dog food that doesn't include any processed chicken in it. My dogs have absolutely zero problems with fresh, raw chicken, but for some reason processed chicken makes them super itchy! Finding a food free of phytoestrogens and processed chicken does prove to be difficult at times, but definitely isn't impossible. It usually comes in a salmon flavor, which Princess Barkley doesn't really like the smell of, so I mix in some raw food as well. Right now she's eating a raw beef blend I found at my local butcher shop. I add FortiFlora probiotics and Dr. Kruger's Healthy Skin and Coat. I am switching her food from Pro Plan Adult Lamb and Rice formula to Wholesomes Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon, so she is getting a little pumpkin added in to her food this week to help prevent any tummy upset.


Grocery shopping for your dog doesn't have to be totally overwhelming! There are lists online that have done a lot of the research for you [4], and you can always consult with your vet or a canine nutritionist to help guide you, too. Remember when switching your dog to a new food it will take a few weeks to start seeing results from that food. I always like to give new food a solid two months to start working to it's full power before making a decision about how much I like it (unless of course bad side effects are noted before two months).


Here are links to articles I used while researching:

1. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2017/02/confused-about-what-to-feed-your-large-breed-puppy-new-rules-may-help/


2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/diet-related-dilated-cardiomyopathy-in-dogs/


3. https://www.thebarkspace.com/best-dog-food-without-phytoestrogens/?fbclid=IwAR2iBQocnfJWM1qByRZjh5qwBI7dguDw31DkD8RgrWZsnKWvhO2VSE40WrE


4. https://www.seviernewsmessenger.com/2019/07/14/best-dog-food-without-peas-legumes-potatoes/?fbclid=IwAR0bMPzjGTCCcP_1l0Ec8NPTxuSJRN-__K-5u6rlWTW39Aghohs1IffVD3w


Here are links to the products I feed:

https://www.chewy.com/purina-pro-plan-veterinary-diets/dp/50029

https://www.drkruger.com/collections/healthy-skin-and-coat-formula

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/wholesomes-sensitive-skin-stomach-salmon-2100114-30-lb?cm_vc=-10005#


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