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Emerging Trends in Puppy Nutrition

Nutrition for Magnificent Skin and Coat

By Maury Docton, DVM

Over the past few years there has been a dynamic shift in how veterinarians approach the concept of health and well-being. Traditionally, veterinarians have responded to disease and problems; but advances in scientific knowledge have made it possible and mandatory for us to consider a pet’s risk of developing a disease or condition and intervene to alter the course of development.2 This new way of looking at the potential for problems brings a closer alignment between those who raise dogs and those who guard their health; we all want healthier, well adjusted pets. Genetics and environment are primary factors in this process, and nutrition can be a powerful environmental influence that can directly intervene to help ensure that puppies reach their full potential.

These interventions can actually begin before puppies are even born. A recent report suggested that both the dietary fat level and the relationship between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the mother’s diet can critically impact conception rates, litter size, and the number of stillbirths. This report was based on a study of 17,000 litters of puppies by P&G Pet Care researchers.3 To realize the full benefits of the trainability enhancement that the omega 3 fatty acid DHA provides, increased levels should be fed to both the mother during gestation and lactation, and to the puppy, during both pre- and post- weaning, until they are at least 16 weeks of age.4

Just as deficiencies of certain nutrients can affect the health and well-being of a developing pet, excesses can be equally harmful. Excessive calorie intake through overeating, excess mineral consumption (such as calcium), and excessive vitamin intake have all been shown to have severe, detrimental consequences for the growth and development of large breed puppies.5 These consequences can include orthopedic diseases such as certain bone deformities and cartilage defects.6 Even though many orthopedic problems in dogs are genetic, several reports have shown that skeletal abnormalities and the severity of the consequences can be reduced by proper feeding practices; the right amount of the proper diet.7 The effects of nutritional excesses are not confined to orthopedic conditions, of course; there are well-documented links between excess intake of certain nutrients and disease conditions such as diarrhea, diabetes, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, and even mammary tumors in dogs.8

The evolution of nutritional research has allowed pet food to become a major influence in the health and well-being of pets, even having the ability to affect genetic potential.

As powerful as the previously described nutritional interventions are, the future is even brighter. A recent report in a nutritional research journal documented, for the first time ever, that certain ingredients could prolong life and reduce certain diseases in aging cats.9 New nutritional research holds promise that ingredients, such as probiotics, can further enhance the well-being of pets. In humans, the inclusion of beneficial live bacterial culture, probiotics, in the diet has shown benefits in digestive conditions, allergic disorders, and even skin health. Some of these same benefits have been demonstrated in dogs.10

The evolution of nutritional research has allowed pet food to become a major influence in the health and well-being of pets, even having the ability to affect genetic potential. P&G Pet Care takes this responsibility seriously, using a vast network of over 1000 doctoral level researchers to bring proven innovations that truly enhance the well-being of dogs and cats throughout the world.

Consider This

IMPACT OF ANTIOXIDANTS AND NUTRITION ON PUPPY HEALTH

The immune system of a puppy can be directly affected through nutrition at an early age. In a study conducted by P&G Pet Care researchers, a combination of antioxidants (Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, and Lutein) included in the diet, provided better immune cell response to challenge and better protective antibody response to vaccination than the same diet without the antioxidant package when fed to puppies starting at 6 weeks of age.1

Remember
  • Genetics, environment and nutrition can be a powerful environmental influence that can directly intervene to help ensure that puppies reach their full potential.
  • Dietary fat level and the relationship between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the mother’s diet can critically impact conception rates, litter size, and the number of stillbirths.
  • Nutrition has become a major influence in the health and well-being of pets, even having the ability to affect genetic potential.

References

1 Massimino et al, The Influence of Diet on the Puppy’s Developing Immune System, Proceedings from Symposium, WSAVA, 2004, p 53-54.
2 Fettman, M.J., Proceedings from the 2008 NAaVC Conference – “The Importance of Nutrition in Comprehensive Pet Wellness”, p.3.
3 Kelley RL, Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition Vol 3, Iams Nutrition Symposium Proceedings, p225-242.
4 Kelley RL and Lepine AJ, Iams Canine Pediatric Care Symposium Proceedings, WSAVA 2005,p.30.
5 Hazewinkel HAW, ibid. p.14.
6 ibid.
7 Tetrick MAa, Proceedings from the 2008 NAaVC Conference – “The Importance of Nutrition in Comprehensive Pet Wellness”, p.17.
8 Flickinger EA and Sunvold GD, Iams Pediatric Care Symposium Proceedings, WSAVA 2005, p18.
9 Cupp et al, Intern J Appl Res Vet Med, Vol 4, No. 1, 2006.
10 Trejo AV, et al., Managing Microbes for Wellness, Proceedings from the 2008 NAaVC Conference – “The Importance of Nutrition in Comprehensive Pet Wellness”p.9-12.