INCREASING THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF LARGE BREED DOGS
We, at Pets Corner, strongly believe that, to have a fulfilling relationship with your four-legged companions, all pet owners must enjoy pet ownership to a certain extent and be responsible for their pets’ overall health, socialisation habits and health maintenance program In other words, a well-behaved trained dog, indeed makes the owner proud but an untrained dog in your hands can mean frustrations and doubts.
All this can only be achieved here, if pet owners take a serious look at their dogs basic needs and wants. We are here to help and guide you go one step further, to keep your pet glowing in health, loved and cherished for as long as it takes!
There’s no doubt that the large breed dogs have always stood out among all other breeds in terms of looks and might. Their sheer magnetic appeal and majestic size makes them prized pets and companions the whole over. Now, how can we prolong the life expectancy of these beautiful dogs and give them a better chance at longevity in a developing country as Malaysia? Let’s take a look at some important studies that were carried out in the U.S. specifically with the large breeds in mind. A large breed above six and half years of age is considered geriatric or senior and this is where pet owners must play a bigger role in understanding the special needs of these breeds. However, the small breed, would mature and age at a slower pace.
First and foremost, which are the large breeds that we are talking about? These are the German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Bullmastiff, Dobermann, the Collie, Dalmatian, Rottweilers, and St Bernards to name a few.
Most veterinarians, breeders and pet owners are aware of the short life expectancy that large breed dogs are prone to. But most people are not aware that large breed puppies are at risk of being obese because of overfeeding.
According to results of a large survey done by Mark Morris Institute in Topeka, Kansas, in the U.S. indicate that 25% of 23,000 dogs from 60 private veterinary practices were overweight or obese. Researchers also estimated that 24 to 25% of 2,000 to 10,000 cats presented to veterinarians were fat or obese. Thus, the most extensive surveys estimate that approximately one-fourth of the dogs and cats presented to small animal practitioners in westernized societies are fat to grossly obese.
Secondly, since large breeds dogs fall in the working class category of dogs, they are prone to develop joint problems. These joint problems are very often caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and nutritional factors. With a winning formula, such as Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed, Canine Growth and Adult, you can rest assured you are feeding your pet the best because it is formulated with the supplement, glucosamine chondroitin sulphate or GCS as a remedy for joint problems. Please note details on GCS.
Lets’s take a look at some of the new ingredients Hill’s veterinary nutritionists provide, so as, to guide you in your quest for providing your beloved large breed dog the best in nutritional value that is balanced and nutritious with 23 vitamins and minerals.
What are the latest innovations in the Hill’s Science Diet (preventive health food) large breed formulas?
High quality protein at growth and adult levels
Helps builds strong bones and muscles and includes all 12 essential amino acids for proper growth in puppies
Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids
Hill’s have started using higher levels of fatty acids to help improve the condition of body cells and skin, help repair tissue and play a role in cell growth. In other words, the optimum level of healthy skin and haircoats. One of the main reasons for dogs to suffer from poor hair coat is primarily due to poor nutrition provided by their owners. Some of the signs commonly seen are dry, flaky skin, dull coats, dermatitis and even hair loss!
If pet owners realise this, and want to take the necessary steps to start giving their dogs a better quality of life, the best person to consult is the veterinarian and pet care experts; not friends and relatives. Very often, we have heard pet owners claim that they have been advised by their friends and so forth. When this is practised too often, the pet suffers the most, because he has been switched from one pet food to another in too short a time. Switching brands in short spans, will not only upset the gastrointestinal tract but very often can have adverse reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea that leads to dehydration. When a dog is dehydrated for more than 3 days, it can be dangerous to his health.
Superior levels of anti-oxidants
To ensure pets get an optimum level of anti-oxidants all Hill’s formulas have anti-oxidants in built. What are anti-oxidants? They are vitamin C and E plus beta-carotene and selenium to keep the immune system strong. In people, antioxidants help reduce oxidative damage in the body caused by pollutants in the air, radiation, chemicals and UV light. In the same manner, a pet’s body cells must be replenished and when supplemented with anti-oxidants, such as with Hill’s Science Diet formulas the pet stays healthy with a powerful immune system. Hill’s Science Diet formulas have the highest levels of anti-oxidants and keeps the taste great too. This eliminates the hassle and high cost of giving supplements. This innovation is also known as the Healthy Defense System which has been proven to reduce cell damage and brings veterinary nutrition to a higher level!
Glucosamine chondroitin sulfate
Another important supplement which is added for the large breed adult (1-6 years) and senior (6.5years and above) dogs is ‘glucosamine’ and ‘chondroitin sulfate’ to help maintain healthy joints and cartilage. Glucosamine hydrochloride acts as a building block of cartilage by supplying a key nutrient that keeps cartilage cells healthy and functioning properly. Research has proven that glucosamine is well-absorbed by cats and dogs. Chondroitin sulphate works by helping block the enzymes that break down cartilage. When these two are combined it is known as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate.
L-carnitine, an expensive ingredient is now added in the Science Diet Large Breed formula to work wonderfully well for the large breed puppy so that it grows at the proper rate with controlled fat and calories. When a large breed puppy is fed normal puppy formulas without adhering to their special needs then you have a puppy that is obese, not fit and bound to develop problems when adult. L-carnitine has already been proven to be valuable in the management of many clinical conditions, including obesity. Obesity is a condition of positive energy balance and excess adipose tissue formation with adverse effects on morbidity and mortality, (death). If the daily feeding of energy intake exceeds by even 1 per cent , there is a 25 per cent chance that obesity will occur by the time the pet is seven years of age!!. Prevention of obesity is critical in maintaining health.
What should pet owners know about obesity?
Some pet owners go to great lengths to make their pets chubby and fat, unaware of the effects and long term health problems that will be faced by their pets. If pet owners say they love their pets they should be concerned about their health. Responsible pet ownership means caring for our pets, and preventing health problems for pets is a sure way to care for them.
So, what are the health risks of obesity?
Just like in humans, excessive deposition of body fat has detrimental effects on health and longevity. In people, these detrimental effects begin, and thus obesity has been defined, when body fat exceeds 20 to 30% of body weight. Obesity has also been demonstrated to have detrimental effects on the health of dogs and cats. Grossly obese dogs have an increased prevalence of traumatic and degenerative orthopedic disorders. Obese dogs have an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the form of congestive heart failure. Increases in blood pressure have been documented in dogs under experimental conditions immediately after increases in body weight, but the long term response of blood pressure from weight gain and its clinical significance in cats and dogs remains to be determined. Obesity has been reported to predispose (lay the groundwork) to, and exacerbate (provoke) the severity of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats. Obesity is a predisposing factor to idiopathic hepatic lipidosis (liver problem) in cats that become anorectic. Overweight dogs have an increased risk of developing transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.
A survey of diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, American College of Veterinary Pathologists and American Board of Veterinary Practitioners showed that they considered that;
- Obese pets had shorter life spans than non-obese pets,
- High fat and low fibre diets decrease life expectancy, and
- Animals maintained strictly on balanced commercial diets live longer than animals given random table foods.
- Feeding your pet a fixed amount according to its ideal body weight using a ‘lifestage’ formula i.e. puppy (up to 1 yr), adult (1-6 yrs) and senior (above 7 years will maintain good health and also reduce the risk of obesity.
- Feeding your pet twice a day helps your pet not get too hungry and reduces the risk of obesity since some dogs gulp all the food at once! The night feed should be slightly lesser than the morning feed but make sure you split it accordingly. For first time purchasers of Hill’s Science Diet, a measuring cup will be given and do follow the feeding guide set out behind the package.
- Exercise and activity levels are also the key factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your large breed dog.