Monday, November 12, 2012

Puppies and puppy foods

I have to admit that the transition to faculty at Iowa State University and teaching a course right off the bat have taken a toll on keeping up with blogging.  It's definitely enjoyable but I don't believe my students find diet formulation nearly as fun and entertaining as I do. 

To add to the drama in my life, in late September, I offered to foster a smooth coat border collie puppy from a rescue in MN. Middle of last month, I finally admitted that I was in love with the little worm and we told him he could stay with us forever.  His name is Ace.

Ace is my pal and has been our side kick at the recent agility trials.  Of course he has found these outings to be a blast and has developed some fantastic new agility friends.  In one of the romps last weekend, the conversation of puppy foods popped up.  This always is one of those areas that I believe likely to be the most frustrating for new puppy owners.  Not only are new owners bombarded with hundreds of diets, but they also are swarmed with opinions of well meaning breeders, friends, and other owners. 

With any growing animal, many factors play a role in the optimal development of that animal into a healthy, thriving adult, including diet and nutrition, genetics, structure, and overall health.  Often I find that many of the opinions that get translated to puppy owners come from people that fail to account for all the factors that affect our puppy's development.  Instead, nutrition and diet nearly always get blamed.  So, I decided to do some comparisons of foods this week. 

I chose 6 foods: Canidae (for all life stages), Orijen Puppy, Orijen Large Breed Puppy, Wellness Large Breed Puppy, Wellness Puppy, and Taste of the Wild Puppy.  In addition, I chose to use Ace as a model but also looked up some weights from my Toy Fox Terrier girls when they were 14 - 16 weeks old, and also selected to include a large breed puppy example. 

The first thing we have to address is energy requirements of our puppies and that is why I selected to use 3 very different puppies.  The energy requirement of a puppy over 14 weeks of age is set by some fancy mathematical equations that go way beyond inclusion in this blog. I made my students deal with the math this week and I don't think they liked me for it.  Long story short, we have to consider our puppy's current body weight and their estimated body weight as an adult. Based on these, I calculated the requirements for energy at 275, 1,000 and 1,400 Kcal daily for the Toy Fox Terrier, Ace, and the Large Breed Puppy (LBP), respectively. 

Now the fun begins.  All of the nutrient requirements that are established for dogs and puppies are relative to their individual energy requirements.  So, I can't just look at the amount in the book or on the bag and assume it's OK. I actually have to determine how much the puppy is actually going to need of that particular food and then calculate the amount of each nutrient supplied from it.

Once I met each puppy's requirement for energy, I looked at Calcium and Phosphorus.  This is where things get kind of ugly.  When we hear conversations such as "too much protein", or "too many calories" in regard to puppy foods, it's typically misunderstood why that is an issue.  Very calorically dense foods, require less intake...that makes multiply that lower intake by the nutrient content of the food and suddenly we are getting less nutrient.  This isn't as big an issue for the toy puppy that reaches adult body weight much quicker, as it is for the large breed puppy that takes longer to mature. That seems very reasonable until you consider the high quality products most of us are purchasing and then things get totally confusing because suddenly, protein is excessive in all of them.

The Canidae product supplied 33% more protein than the puppies needed but it fell short by 3 and 12%, respectively for Calcium and Phosphorus.  

Now, the 2 Orijen Products: the Large Breed Puppy product supplied over 155% of the LBP's protein requirement and more than 60% and 53% of the Calcium and Phosphorus requirements, respectively.  This holds true also for the other 2 puppies.  The Orijen Regular Puppy food is better but still supplies 120, 28 and 25% of the puppy's requirements for Protein, Calcium and Phosphorus, respectively.  Obviously, protein in these types of foods is not going to be an issue.  Oversupplementation is the issue.

The Wellness Large Breed puppy was only 67% over on Protein and 13.5% for both Calcium and Phosphorus.  I liked this a good deal because they were both balanced very well and not horribly excessive.  The Regular Wellness Puppy was similar in Protein, but was only 5% over on Calcium and Phosphorus for the LBP example. 

Lastly, Taste of the Wild Puppy was 75% over on Protein and 28% over on Calcium and 10% over on Phosphorus. 

What does all this mean? Well, first let's factor in how much of each food we'd have to feed our Large Breed puppy to meet those energy requirements: 353, 430, 350, 415, 385 and 400 grams per day of Canidae, Orijen LB, Orijen Puppy, Wellness LB, Wellness Puppy and TOW Puppy with daily costs of $0.96, $2.28, $1.87, $1.78, $1.52, and $1.58, respectively.  I am not saying at all that cost is the most important thing, the point is, the most expensive diets here both supply excessive amounts of nutrients and while I love Orijen for adult agility dogs, I would not feed either of those products to any of the puppy examples. 

Although Ace gets a raw diet that I formulate, he also gets Wellness Puppy and Taste of the Wild Puppy, which from these examples are definitely my favorite 2 choices from my selections for all 3 puppy types.  I would feed the Wellness LB product to any of the puppy examples, including the Toy; however, it's more expensive per day and I actually have to feed more of it to reach their energy requirements.

Obviously every food is different, and the energy requirements of every puppy are different.  Petfood companies are challenged with trying to find a happy medium to supply nutrients in a palatable, high quality product.  I have a handy little spreadsheet to calculate these numbers for me.  If you are feeding a puppy and want an estimate of their nutrient requirements along with how your selected food or foods stack up against your individual puppy's requirements, don't hesitate to contact me. 

Ace has been busy while I've blogged.   Enjoy them...they grow up too darn fast!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Nice to have the blog back again.