At Legend, we strongly recommend that you keep your dog at a healthy weight. You cannot do this by simply following the feeding instructions on the dog food bag. If your dog is overweight and you feed them based on weight, this will cause you to continue over feeding your dog. But why is it so important to keep your dog at a healthy weight? A landmark study conducted by Purina explains why this matters and can help us to have a better understanding of how we need to feed our dogs to help them stay healthier, longer!
Purina Healthy Diet Study
In this landmark study, researchers monitored the health of 48 Labrador Retrievers throughout their lives during which half the dogs were fed 25% less (lean-fed) than their full-fed (control) siblings. The results showed that when dogs were fed to a lean body condition from puppyhood onward, lean-fed dogs lived better, for longer.
· Median life span was extended by 1.8 years or 15%. The mean lifespan for lean-fed dogs was 13 years compared to 11.2 years for control-fed dogs
· The 25% dietary restriction also delayed the onset of signs of chronic disease in these dogs.
· Diet restriction had no adverse effects on skeletal maturation, structure or metabolism.
· All dogs in the study eventually developed hip dysplasia. The control fed dogs developed it on average at age 6 and restriction fed dogs developed it on average at age 12.
· By 2 years of age, the frequency of hip dysplasia in the lean-fed dogs was 50% less than in the control group, and was much less severe.
In this graph, the proportion of 12-year old dogs in the lean-fed group with Dysplasia was almost the same as that of control-fed dogs that were half that age.
By the end of the study, 83% of dogs fed the control diet had developed radiographic signs of hip Dysplasia compared to 50% of the lean-fed group.
The prevalence and severity of Dysplasia in the shoulder and elbow joints was also lower in the lean-fed dogs. At 8 years of age, the prevalence of OA in two or more joint types was 77% among control-fed dogs, yet only 10% among lean-fed dogs.
Lean dogs also experienced other health benefits:
· They showed greater insulin sensitivity, which is better for glucose regulation
· They were better able to maintain immune defense responses over time
· Age–related declines occurred later in life.
Key things to remember:
· A 14-year life span study in Labrador Retrievers showed that when fed to maintain a lean body condition from puppyhood, and throughout life, dogs live better, longer lives.
· The median life span of lean-fed Labrador Retrievers was extended an average of 1.8 years (15%).
· Maintaining optimal body condition throughout life can delay the onset, and reduce the severity, of osteoarthritis in dogs.
· Lean dogs also showed delayed onset of other chronic and age-related diseases.
For more information on this study you can visit:
The conclusions of this study drastically modified the feeding schedule of many professional trainers and competitors. How can I tell if my dog is at ideal body weight you may ask, Purina also creating this awesome infographic to help you deterine your dogs body condition. Use the QR code below to check it out:
Now that you have an idea of how much to feed your dog each day, lets discuss frequency of feeding. When a puppy is under 6 months of age, they should be fed twice a day. If you like the condition that your dog is in (you don't want them to continue to grow) at 6 months of age, you can then eliminate the morning feeding and transition to one meal a day. If you would like your dog to continue to grow in height and density you can continue feeding twice a day until your dog is one year of age. At one year of age all dogs should be transitioned to eating once a day only.
Why is this important? Several reasons:
Dog's in the wild often ate a meal every few days, their stomachs are not designed to hold food constantly, but to fill and then empty. Keeping food in your dog's stomach 24 hours a day actually increases their risk of developing stomach cancer.
Dry kibble takes 16 hours to digest in your dog's stomach. So if he is eating two meals a day, this means that he is keeping food in his stomach around the clock. Softening the dog's kibble in water helps the dog's stomach to pre digest the food and soaked kibble takes 4 hours to digest in the dog's stomach. Therefore, when traveling, hunting early the following morning, participating in a Hunt Test or field trail, or taking your dog jogging, you should soak the dog's food the night before. Soaking dog food every day is not recommended as dry kibble is important for oral health, the crunchy kibble helps remove tartar as your dog chews. It's be feed primarily dry kibble, with soaked kibble when we know our dog will be exercising intensely, or is stressed due to travel or other situations.
Labradors are at a high risk for developing bloat because they are barrel chested. Bloat is a condition where undigested food in the stomach causes the stomach to twist. Bloat is a deadly condition that is very difficult to treat and dogs suffering from bloat are in life threatening danger immediately upon the stomach twisting. It is very difficult for a vet to treat bloat and dogs who are not presented at the vet almost immediately upon experiencing it have a very high mortality rate. By feeding our dogs once a day, at the end of the day, when they have finished their exercise is ideal because it means that the 16 hours required to digest their food is taking place at night, while they are sleeping and not exercising.
We hope that this information has been helpful in educating you on best practices for feeding your new 4 legged family member! Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!