Required Care and General Care Instrustions:
For the first year, we recommend you to feed your puppy either RED FLANNEL Adult Dog Food or a similar premium adult dog food. DO NOT FEED PUPPY FORMULA OR LARGE BREED PUPPY FOOD OF ANY KIND, as it is too high in protein. Giant breed dogs, need to grow slowly and the adult dog food formulas have the correct protein balance (approximately 21% - 23%) required by the puppies. When you first pick up your puppy, it should be fed three (3) times a day, approximately ¾ to 1 cup per feeding. You must add a small amount of lukewarm water to the kibble, stir, and let soak for a few minutes before feeding. This allows the dry kibble to expand slightly in the dish instead of it the puppy’s stomach. Gradually increase the amount of food based on your puppy’s appetite and appearance (refer to the chart below). Giant breed puppies should be kept on the lean side to ensure a slow, proper bone growth. You should be able to see a hint of the last couple of ribs on your puppy, but no hipbones. Your puppy should not have swollen wrist joints, sloppy feet, or be extremely high in the rear. These signs and/or occasional limping may mean the puppy is growing too fast, and you should cut back on its food intake. In general, you cannot hurt your puppy by keeping it slightly lean, however you can certainly hurt it orthopedically by overfeeding or by feeding a non-recommended food.
We recommend you feed the following supplements to your growing puppy:
Synovi 3 G Soft Chews: Glucosamine Chondroitin Joint Supplement fed at the loading dose during the rapid growth phase until one year than at the maintenance dose for the lifetime of the pet.
We also recommend the following supplements for the lifetime of your pet:
Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplement
Due to the fast growth rate and weight of giant breed puppies, no structured exercise should ever be given. Normal playing and socialization should be enough to keep him fit, and tire him out. Never push him, or you will end up with a lame puppy. If by chance, he does overdo it and becomes lame, a few days of rest will usually clear it up. If not, consult your veterinarian. Do not take your puppy on long walks; you must keep them very short. Giant breed puppies have a tendency to just lie down once they get tired. If this happens, it’s time to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way. Again, don’t let your puppy overdo it. Don’t play too rough with your puppy, as this can also cause structural damage; and avoid your puppy playing too energetically with other dogs or animals while he is still young. Don’t let your puppy jump up or down from high places (couches, high steps, vehicles, etc.). Jumping down from things is especially hard on their joints. You should always help them up or down from high places, even when adults. Also, don’t let them jump up on you or others. This can seem cute while it is a puppy, but isn’t as cute when it’s older, especially if it tries this with an elderly person or a small child. You also risk the dog’s health by letting it jump on people. Your giant breed puppy will love toys to play with, but don’t throw them too far or repeatedly. Leaping and twisting can be very dangerous for dogs this size, stressing their joints and especially their knees. Keep things in moderation, and you’ll be fine. Eventually, as your puppy grows older you can extend the length of time playing with him. It is best to keep giant breed puppies on carpeted areas or non-skid surfaces, as this will reduce the amount of callusing on their knees and joints from getting up and down. Chasing and sliding on slick floors is particularly bad, and greatly increases your dogs chance of injury. Keep dog cushions and beds around in various places for your puppy to lie down on.
Like any other dog, giant breed dogs require the usual series of puppy vaccinations. Your puppy’s first round of vaccinations will have already be given by the time you pick him up; and you will be informed about the next set of vaccinations that you should provide for. We will provide you with newer vaccine guideline recommendations to discuss with your Veterinarian. We highly recommend utilizing vaccine titers in lieu of repetitive annual vaccines as it has been medically shown there is a link between over vaccination and immune and allergy illnesses. You should also continue de-worming your dog based on your veterinarian’s input, and discuss with your veterinarian about the need for heartworm preventative. Many vets encourage giving rabies vaccines too early, which can cause immune problems in puppies. We like to wait until the dog is six months or older before giving it the first rabies vaccine, and never give it at the same time as other vaccines.
Hip Dysplasia occurs in many breeds, large and small, and giant breed dogs are susceptible to this. A positive diagnosis of hip dysplasia can only be made using x-rays. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) can provide a preliminary diagnosis and or rating after 4 months of age, but will not provide certification until 2 years. Puppies from dysplasia-free parents are much less likely to become dysplastic, but are certainly not immune. Environment, nutrition, and general care can be just as important factors to hip dysplasia as genetics. 60% of Saint Bernard's have hip dysplasia! We strongly recommend that all owners have their puppies checked and given a preliminary OFA rating after 4 months of age.
Many large breeds are susceptible to gastric torsion or “bloat.” Bloat occurs when the stomach becomes overfilled with gas. The stomach can flip over (torsion), causing the ends to constrict, trapping food and gases inside, and restricting blood flow to the heart and other tissues. This can quickly lead to death, if not immediately corrected (usually surgically). The causes of bloat have not been positively identified. Several theories exist, among them: individual stomach digesting patterns, exercise too close to meals, stress, consuming too much food too rapidly, consuming large quantities of water after eating or
exercise, and others. Just to be safe, it is best to avoid feeding large quantities of food or water at one time, or feeding immediately after exercise. Symptoms of bloat include distress, panting, restlessness, pacing then lying down very still then pacing, foaming excessively, vomiting with nothing or just foam coming up, and a swollen, tight stomach. If any of these conditions occur, take your puppy to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.
Choosing a Veterinarian:
You will want to take some time to select the appropriate veterinarian for your giant breed dog. They are not that different from other dogs – they all have the same parts that work in essentially the same ways. However, giant breeds can require specialized knowledge to be cared for properly. Most important is not whether your veterinarian has routinely treated giant breed dogs before. Vets who are not comfortable or used to treating giant breed dogs may give advice that is outdated or incorrect. One of the more common mistakes vet’s make caring for giant breed dogs is the recommendation to feed them puppy food. We have personally seen more damage done to growing giant breed dogs through bad or incorrect advice relating to food and supplements. Because of this, we strongly recommend you choose a vet with giant breed knowledge and experience as your regular vet.