Nutrition for Large-breed Puppies

As your large-breed puppy grows, he will experience some dramatic changes. In fact, large-breed puppies generally grow more rapidly than smaller breeds. By feeding your large-breed puppy a diet that supports growth without allowing him to grow too quickly, you can help prevent abnormal skeletal development and other health issues. To help give him the right balance of nutrients, keep these five key points in mind.

Seven fluffy puppies sitting and lying on a stone ledge

1. Feed Your Puppy Scheduled Meals

From the time your puppy is weaned until four months of age, you should feed your puppy two to three meals a day, with the total amount based on the guidelines on the food label. After four months of age, your puppy should be fed twice a day on a regular schedule. Always provide fresh water.


2. Remember That One Size Does Not Fit All

Not all puppies have the same nutritional needs. Large-breed puppies have lower metabolic rates per pound than smaller-breed puppies. And while his growth is more dramatic, your puppy will reach his mature adult weight 12 to 24 months later than smaller breeds that reach adulthood at as early as nine months. In short, large-breed puppies can benefit from fewer calories per cup.

Large-breed puppies can also benefit from less calcium. Puppies that consume too many calories and too much calcium might grow too rapidly, which can result in the development of bone growth problems or joint problems. With your large-breed puppy, the goal should be a moderate, healthy rate of growth. That’s why it’s important to choose a diet with precisely balanced amounts of fat, calcium and phosphorus, designed specifically for large-breed puppies.


3. Choose Food Formulated for Puppies

To help your large-breed puppy grow at a healthy rate, look for these features in the puppy food you choose:

  • Adjusted calcium and phosphorus levels to support healthy skeletal development
  • Controlled calories and fat to help maintain ideal growth rate
  • Vitamin-rich fish oils to support overall health
  • Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help your puppy stay healthy during this critical stage of growth
  • High-quality animal-based protein sources to help nourish growing muscles, vital organs, and skin and coat
  • A fiber source that will help keep your puppy's sensitive digestive system healthy, so more nutrition stays in your puppy

Look for these important building blocks of nutrition when you choose dry or canned dog food and when you select treats. IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Smart Puppy Large Breed gives your puppy a great start by providing the essential nutrition he needs to grow at a healthy rate.


4. Exercise Caution with Adding Supplements to Puppy Food

You want to give your puppy the very best nutrition during these months, but supplementing your puppy's diet may lead to health problems.

By feeding your puppy vitamins, calcium tablets, table scraps, yogurt or meat, you could be upsetting a critical, balanced interaction of nutrients and minerals. Too much of one mineral can affect a puppy’s ability to absorb other minerals. And excess calcium might lead to bone-growth problems, especially in large-breed puppies. A high-quality pet food, carefully formulated for your puppy’s life stage and breed size, will give him complete and balanced nutrition without supplements.

Girl with puppy

5. Know When to Switch to Adult Food

A large-breed puppy approaches adult weight by 12 to 24 months, at which time you can begin feeding him adult dog food. You can help ease the transition by gradually introducing the adult food. Try mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of his puppy food, and then gradually change the proportions over the next three days until he’s eating 100% adult food.