HAVING TROUBLE FINDING AN APPROPRIATE DOG FOOD FOR GREAT DANES?
There is no product that is just dog food for great danes. And it’s a very important issue. Danes are delicate – their stomachs upset fairly easily. Their rate of growth makes them extremely vulnerable to bone disease brought on by improper balance in diet. And as an adult, if your great dane doesn’t get the kind of nutrition in its dog food a giant breed needs (not a large breed – a giant breed), it will have a much higher chance of succumbing to liver diseases, cancer and other medical conditions.
Remember – our danes are only with us for 8 to 10 years anyway – no one who has ever been owned by one would want to shorten this time or take away quality of life unnecessarily.
Therefore, dog food for great danes needs to cater to the unique requirements of the breed.
So, if there is no dog food specifically designed for the great dane, how can we ensure we are feeding correctly? Good question, well asked! Unfortunately,it is not so easy to come up with an answer everyone agrees on.
veterinarians don’t know. They don’t get trained in canine nutrition so they can’t claim any more specialized knowledge than you. Even more surprisingly, many breeders don’t agree on a common approach in great dane feeding. Some swear by a
processed premium dog food
(dry and/or wet), some will only feed
raw dog food
(BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) and some home cook their dane’s diet.
This series of articles will try and un complicate things a bit and look at all options in producing a good great dane dog food regime.
Let’s start though, by declaring that once you do the research, it becomes evident that your dane will be able to thrive on either processed, raw or home cooked diets. It’s a personal choice and dog dependent.
If you don’t take anything else from these articles, please understand that if you feed processed dog food, it must be a quality product. Danes will not stay healthy on crap and unfortunately, just about every brand you can get in a supermarket is crap (more below). Be careful not to overfeed your puppy – too much calcium and too much calorie will upset growth rate and if your dane grows too quickly, bone deformities and other medical issues could well be right around the corner.
Keep them lean looking and never feed a diet containing more than 23% protein. For adults, no more than 25% protein, between 10 and 14% fat content and of course, quality ingredients, whether dry, wet, raw or cooked.
IS PREMIUM DOG FOOD PREMIUM?
Processed dog food has been around for over half a century now (wonder what danes ate before we could buy dog food in a bag or can!?). Unfortunately, most brands – even the most prominent ones – do not measure up to anything that will support the health of your dane.
The traditional dog food industry is mostly about using every bit of an animal that is unfit for human consumption. That means hooves, beaks, feathers, heads and all other parts not usable anywhere else, all ground up (rendered) and transformed into chunks in a can or dry kibble. It also includes road kill, animals taken out of the food chain due to disease and euthanized pets. Even if the label says 25% protein, it is not the kind of protein that your dane can use.
But, they aren’t all like that. There are excellent
premium dog food products
available that contain quality ingredients and will provide your dane with healthy nutrients.
The product that best meets great dane requirements is the Eaglepack brand dog food. It is also the only brand that has conducted food trials using great danes specifically.
Eaglepack, while considered the best by breeders who feed premium dog food, is not the only acceptable option. Many breeders also recommend some additional dog food products.
RAW DOG FOOD? BARF!
European breeders have always been more accepting of the idea of basing great dane dog food on raw ingredients, but since its introduction in North America in the early 1990’s, there has been intense debate between those that swear by it, and those that swear against it.
BARF, (stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) is based on the premise that dogs are genetically very similar to wolves and therefore a diet as close as possible to what a wolf in the wild enjoys would be the healthiest diet for any canine. BARF seeks to imitate those conditions as much as possible for our domestic friends.
The major argument against raw, is the possibility of introducing bacteria (such as salmonella or e coli) or other organisms that might be harmful to your dane. Remember, our magnificent “dog of dogs” has a very delicate stomach! The other argument you will often hear is that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that supports the premise a BARF diet is better than a nutritionally balanced premium dog food. And that is true.
But, now that BARF has been around for over ten years and continues to grow in popularity, it might be something to consider. Breeders report a host of improvements in their great danes in terms of health and longevity once on a raw diet. But again, this is a choice that must also depend on your lifestyle and your dane. Some thrive
on BARF and others thrive on processed.
A word of caution though – raw dog food is more than throwing a raw meaty bone down and it takes some research to understand what is required. Do the research if this is the way you want to go. (Our
raw dog food
article provides more detailed advice for BARF feeding.)
A HOME COOKED MEAL FOR YOUR DANE?
The third option that some dane owners swear by, is cooked homemade dog food. The nutritional guidelines are very similar to raw food menu preparation, but the meat is cooked. This kills any bacteria and so is safer for your dane in one respect, but it also reduces the nutritional value of the food. Any cooking destroys some nutrients. Dog Food Secrets is a good resource containing some really solid dog nutritional information. (You have to get over a bit of hype on the sales page, but the book is quite valuable.)
Of course, all dogs love bones and Great Danes are no exception. But it is extremely dangerous to give any dog, never mind the delicate dane, a cooked bone. Raw bones are safe because they aren’t brittle, but cooked bones can splinter. Any vet can provide numerous horror stories of damaged stomach and intestines (sometimes fatal damage) due to bone splintering.
So that was a brief overview of the main points to consider when selecting dog food for great danes. Check out our articles on premium dog foods and raw dog foods for more details and some recipes. Getting the right dog food for great danes is one of the most important aspects of Dane ownership. They love us and trust us completely. We owe them a healthy diet. And keep in mind, if you do feed them crap, you probably won’t be saving money in the long run because your vet bills will start becoming very scary as you deal with all the health issues that would have been avoided.
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