Diets fed to growing animals should be specifically designed to have a higher concentration of nutrients because young, growing animals have nutritional requirements not just for maintaining their current body mass, but also for making new tissue. More fuel and nutrients must be consumed to increase body mass by building bones, muscles, nerves, and vessels. Yet, young animals have a volume limitation: despite increased nutritional needs, young, growing animals have a small gastrointestinal capacity when compared to adults, so their diets must contain increased concentrations of nutrients.
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As there is now sufficient scientific evidence to substantiate a further delineation of growth diets, the Growth life stage should be further defined for large and giant breeds of dog verses small and medium breeds.
Large and Giant Breeds
Large and giant breeds of dog, those weighing more than 65 lbs when fully mature, require a diet formulated to help prevent Developmental Orthopedic (Bone) Disease (DOD) and Obesity. These diets are specifically formulated to have higher concentrations of nutrients in a food with fewer calories. In general, DOD and obesity occur when excessive calories are consumed, i.e., overfeeding.
The level of protein in these diets is not a factor in DOD.
Calcium intake is an important factor in DOD and should be limited to 1% of the diet dry matter.
Small and Medium Breeds
Medium breeds of dogs do very well on the average growth diet available today. “Toy” and small breed dogs on the other hand generally require not only a higher concentration of nutrients but also a higher concentration of energy.