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Feeding large breed dogs
"Big dogs have big appetites, but they also have slower metabolisms"

Feeding Large Breed Dogs

Bigger may be better, but when it comes to feeding larger dogs, less can often mean more – in nutritional terms, at least.

Balancing act

Big dogs have big appetites, but they also have slower metabolisms than their smaller cousins, so they require fewer calories and less fat from their food to maintain a healthy, lean body condition.

At the same time, bigger breeds need to develop and support a large, strong skeletal system and powerful joints, which means an additional requirement for minerals like calcium and phosphorus. It's particularly important not to over-feed large and giant breed dogs, not just because of the usual health problems that result for all dogs, but also because if their weight outstrips the ability of their frame to support it, there's a real risk of deformities, especially during their youth.

Specially prepared large-breed formulas have larger, more satisfying kibbles to encourage big dogs to chew for longer, slowing the rate of eating and helping them get the most out of their food – as well reducing the temptation to over-feed. Reduced fat content takes into account their slower metabolism and helps control weight gain and minimise the impact on joints and other vital organs. Nutrients associated with the synthesis and repair of the joints are in good supply.

Best dog food for large breeds

Several leading Purina brands offer formulas specifically developed to meet the needs of large and giant-breed dogs, each the result of the very latest scientific advances in quality, taste and nutrition. Click any brand link below to learn more.

SUPERCOAT Adult Large Breed

PRO PLAN Adult Large Breed

Large dog feeding checklist

  • Feed your larger adult dog once or twice a day, although seniors may prefer smaller portions more frequently, especially if you serve canned food. Large dogs have a tendency to bolt their food without chewing properly, which can lead to problems in the gut. Smaller portion sizes can help reduce the urge.
  • Serve dog food at room temperature to ensure your dog can taste and smell it properly. If you are feeding canned food, warming up an opened can may take up to two hours once it’s been taken out of the fridge. Alternatively, you might consider microwaving wet foods (out of the can) for a short time. But avoid serving dog food that is either too hot or too cold.
  • If feeding a dry complete dog food, store it in a dry, clean environment. Re-sealable packaging or an airtight container keeps it tasty by sealing in the aroma.
  • Your dog should be fed in a quiet place away from interruptions and away from where you eat. It's always a good idea to feed on a surface that is easily cleaned, like a tiled floor or a mat. Large breeds, susceptible to arthritis in old age, may find it hard to lean down, and will benefit from a bowl placed at head height.
  • Don't allow children to interrupt your dog when it is eating or they may mistake them as a 'predator' trying to steal their dog food and react aggressively. If you have more than one dog, feed them separately to avoid bullying or fighting.
  • Try not to feed your dog immediately before or after exercise. Many dogs are susceptible to a twisting of the gut and blocking of the stomach, which requires immediate veterinary attention. About an hour's grace either side is advisable.

How much to feed a large breed dog?

Follow the feeding guide on the back of the pack.

Note: that adult large breed products have lower feeding recommendations, but remember, the guide is only there to give you an idea. Every large breed dog is an individual, so the most important consideration is to feed enough to maintain a lean, healthy condition. Always provide a bowl of fresh drinking water.

Weight concerns

Obesity is a common nutritional disorder in all large dogs and needs to be monitored carefully. Overweight dogs are more likely to develop diabetes, heart and respiratory problems and arthritis.

Lower calorie levels in large breed foods can help control the tendency. But if weight is a growing concern, consider trying a specially formulated 'light' dog food product, lower in fat while still containing all the necessary vitamins and minerals, ensuring a balanced diet despite reduced calorie intake.


About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre

PetCare Advice Centre The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.

Last updated: 20 August 2015 at 11:15 AM
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