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Why "Overgrowi​ng" Your Large Breed Puppy is Dangerous

By Dr. Becker

Today I want to discuss slow growth diets  for growing puppies – especially large and giant breed pups.

Contrary to what many people continue to  believe, a roly poly puppy is not a healthy puppy.

Optimal growth in a large or giant breed puppy is very different  from maximum growth.

The goal of breeders and owners of big dogs  should not be to help their puppies grow as big as possible, as fast as  possible.

Somehow, we've gotten the idea a large,  fast growing puppy is a positive thing for the health of the dog.

Actually, the  opposite is true.

And until everyone understands that, sadly, we as dog owners  will continue to contribute to the development of orthopedic diseases in large  and giant breed dogs.

The definition of a large breed dog, by the  way, is a dog that will be over 55 pounds when he's full grown, which usually  occurs between 10 and 24 months of age, depending on the breed.

Serious Health Problems Often Develop in Puppies Who Grow Too  Fast

There are several factors that contribute  to the skeletal development of puppies, including genetics, exercise, trauma  and nutrition. One of the most important factors is nutrition.

The good news is that nutrition is  something you, as a pet owner, have complete control over.

A number of orthopedic diseases, which are  problems with a dog's bones, joints, tendons, muscles and nerves, take root in  poor feeding practices during the puppy's growth period. These diseases include  osteochondrosis, some forms of hip  dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy  and Wobbler's  syndrome.

Many large and giant breed dogs are  genetically predisposed to grow too fast. Unfortunately, humans continue to  help the process along by feeding inappropriate, high-growth pet food formulas  to these puppies.

When a puppy's body gets too big, too fast  and gains a lot of weight, it puts stress on the developing skeleton. Rapid  bone growth can result in structural defects of the bones, which makes the  skeleton even less able to bear the increasing body weight.

Sometimes developing cartilage can't keep  up with rapid bone growth, and cartilage defects can occur. Also, big dogs have  less bone density than smaller breeds, meaning their bones are more fragile and  prone to injury.

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