How to ensure a happy, healthy dog.

Responsible dog owners are always asking us questions, which we have collected and answered for you. Find out what makes your dog healthy and happy – from nutrition to grooming.

Feel free to take advantage of our other offers to you, too: Get individual advice or contact our Service department. We are all dog lovers here! 

Dog guide

What makes Happy Dog dry food something special?

An exclusive diet of high quality dry food offers an ideal variety of natural ingredients with the best, highly-digestible meat from various types of animal, highly pregelatinised grain varieties, effective herbs, valuable minerals, vitamins and trace elements.

With special recipes, it is also possible to meet the specific needs of an individual dog. It can be given dry or moistened, of course. What is more: A meal of high quality dry food is also generally more cost-effective than canned food.

How much variety does a dog need in his food?

Actually, not even the most successful “predator” in nature has that much in the way of variety. In fact, to ensure that his pack has an optimum food supply, he prefers to kill large prey animals - and there aren’t so many of those to choose from.

But, of course, a carnivore would not turn down a bit of variety in the form of a small prey animal, or even various plant-based foods. The Happy Dog recipes imitate the variety offered by nature as they contain an optimal combination of ingredients. The treats and chews that we offer alongside give our dogs even more variety.

Changing the food every now and again can be both sensible and indeed necessary, e.g. during growth, pregnancy and lactation, or during Winter, when dogs are much less active than during Summer, etc. Frequent changes of food just for the sake of variety are not needed. Indeed, it is not unusual for this to create a “picky eater”, or even to cause a deterioration in the health of a sensitive animal. 

What is the right amount of food?

The recommended food amounts are determined by calculation and should, therefore, only be taken as a "recommendation". They are based on the current ideal weight for a dog getting a normal amount of exercise. However, a dog’s individual needs will also depend on its level of activity and metabolism. As a result, the ‘ideal’ amount of food may differ from that recommended. For an animal with a tendency towards overweight the ideal amount of food may be considerably less, and it might be worth switching to a “lighter” food (e.g. Happy Dog Light 2 Low Fat or Toscana). Very slender and active animals may be given more.

How often should an adult dog be fed ideally?

One or two meals per day are normally recommended for an adult dog; rather than simply cutting the meals in half, you can also divide them into portions of different size, such as 1/3 in the morning and 2/3 at night (or vice versa). To prevent twisted stomach, 3 meals per day are recommended for at-risk breeds.  

What do I need to note when changing my dog’s food?

Ideally, you should change the food over the course of several days (3 - 4) so that your dog’s body can adapt to the new food and recipe, which may have an entirely different composition. Simply mix in a little more of the new food with the old one at every meal. For young or senior animals, sick dogs or those with sensitive digestions, it is better to change over very slowly over 7 - 14 days.

What can be done about fussy eaters?

Some dogs like variety in their food. In this case mixed food could be a good idea (see "What does mixed food mean?").  You should remain as consistent as possible with your dog’s feeding as this has a lot to do with its training. This means: You decide when and what he gets! If you are too indulgent and constantly offer new food, or even “refine” the food, you will be “training” a fussy eater.

Why is high digestibility important?

Particularly high digestibility guarantees that the nutrients in the food can be easily absorbed by the body and are available for metabolic processes in the body without time-consuming digestion and breakdown processes. The more easily digestible the food is, the fewer “metabolic end products” remain as “waste” that the body then has to deal with.

High digestibility is therefore particularly important for sensitive pets. The higher the quality of the raw materials used, the more digestible the food - and the correspondingly higher the quality of the actual food. Another key factor influencing digestibility is the production process: So, for example, extruded products such as croquettes are easier to digest than crushed flakes (similar to our breakfast muesli).

 

The following criteria are signs of good / high digestibility:

  • Small amount of food
  • Small amount of excrement
  • Good stool consistency

Digestibility is not only down to the food, however. It also depends on the animal. In nervous and older animals, the digestibility of a food can be reduced because it passes too quickly through the gut or the digestive organs work less efficiently. Happy Dog products are particularly highly digestible (90%), so they are very well tolerated. The volume a dog deposits is a good indicator of how well a food is utilised by the dog’s body. A reduction of just 7.5% in digestibility (i.e. 82.5 %) will result in twice the amount of faeces! 

The dog is descended from the wolf. So doesn’t it need lots more meat in its diet?

The dog is descended from the wolf, so in the zoological classification system (also known as the tree of life or “taxonomy”) it is described as a “carnivore”. However, due to its eating habits, food scientists describe the dog as a “carni-omnivore” (both eats meat and eats opportunistically).

Unlike wolves, our domestic dogs have adapted to our way of life over thousand of years and have no difficulty digesting carbohydrate. Scientists only proved this as recently as 2013. In fact, we should not be surprised by this finding given that dogs have been at man’s side throughout his development from hunter to farmer and have therefore had plenty of time to adapt. Happy Dog offers the modern dog recipes which are perfectly adapted to their actual needs.

For more information about the differences between wolves and dogs >>

Is it possible to modify a dog’s behaviour by feeding?

Yes. But not to the extent commonly thought. An “excitable” dog will often benefit from being put on a diet containing a more moderate amount of protein (approx. 20-24%). 

Which type of food is most suitable will depend largely on the personality and emotional stability of the dog. In other words: no corn for cortisol-driven, stressed, insecure dogs. But dogs with a tendency to “pull ahead” when being taken for a walk can be “curbed” by a diet containing corn. It is therefore essential to take a dog’s personality into account before ‘banning’ corn completely. Many dogs actually benefit from being fed a controlled amount of corn. In fact, canine behaviour experts are just as likely to recommend corn in the diet as to advise against it. As always, the best course is to seek professional advice.

Is grain harmful to dogs?

Today’s dogs can generally digest carbohydrates, such as grain, without any problem. The reasons for this are explained in a scientific study from Sweden (University of Uppsala), published in the January 2013 edition of Nature magazine. Over the course of thousands of years, dogs have become completely adapted to living with humans. Just as we evolved naturally from hunting to farming, so dogs developed their ability to digest carbohydrate. So, for example, the enzyme required to break down starch is 7 times more active in dogs than wolves. Researchers have also found other evidence of dogs’ ability to process carbohydrate.  That means there is no reason to make the general assumption that grain and other carbohydrates are unsuitable for use in dog food. It is more a matter of the animal’s individual tolerance. Grain should only really be avoided if the dog has an allergy or intolerance to it. This is actually less common than you might think.  If your dog seems unable to tolerate a number of different grains, then grain-free recipes - such as Happy Dog Supreme Africa and Happy Dog Supreme Karibik - are the best option. 

What is the meat content of the food?

The term “meat ratio” is unfortunately neither protected nor "scientifically" determined. It’s the same with the word “light”, which (when talking about yogurt, for example) can mean “reduced fat”, “low in calories” or “light and fluffy”. The most important thing is to define the “meat ratio” as the amount of animal protein as a proportion of the whole feed formula. In the case of our Happy Dog Supreme varieties the “ratio of animal protein as a proportion of the total protein content” is between 70 and 80% (excl. special recipes), depending on the feed formula used. 

Is beet molasses another word for “sugar”?

Sugar beet molasses (= beet fibre, beet pulp, dried beet pulp, etc.) are what remains when the sugar crystals and molasses (sugar syrup) have been removed from the sugar beet during sugar refining. What remains are thus the cell walls of the sugar beet. There is a grade of sugar beet that still contains a lot of sugar which is used to fatten domestic animals. This is the source of some misunderstanding. In pet food, on the other hand, an almost totally “de-sugared” variety of beet molasses is used. High in crude fibre, this is not used for fattening or to enhance flavour, but as roughage. Fibre is essential for optimum intestinal health and can bind to pathogenic bacteria, removing them from the gut. The grade used for pet food therefore contains only minute traces of sugar – in such small quantities that this sugar beet pulp is even used in diabetic food! So in terms of exact figures: If the proportion of crude fibre (roughly equivalent in volume to the proportion of sugar beet pulp) in 100g of food is around 2.5-3.5%, that represents approx. 3g of fibre for a dog weighing around 5kg, based on a daily feeding quantity of around 100g. 1000g of de-sugared dried beet pulp only contains approx. 68g of residual sugar. That's 6.8 % So in 3g of dried beet pulp (i.e. the daily food ration for a 5kg dog) there is a maximum of 0.2g of sugar.   

Why is cellulose in the food good?

“Cellulose” is an easily digestible, pure source of crude fibre. Deriving originally from wood, it is also used in the manufacture of paper. Cellulose is used in animal nutrition for dietetic purposes, e.g. to improve the satiety effect or to optimise the stabilisation of faeces in particularly sensitive animals. For this reason, cellulose" is primarily used in weight reducing diets, puppy nutrition and for four legged seniors. The normal sources of crude fibre in the quantities required for these recipes would create a much higher volume of faeces and would increase flatulence due to the resulting breakdown of pectin. 

Why are animal protein sources no longer described as “meat meal”?

There are new legal regulations on the designation of individual feed materials originating from warm-blooded animals. What used to be called “poultry meat meal” or “lamb meat meal”, for example, must now be designated as “poultry meal” or “lamb meal”. Alternatively, it is also possible to call this raw ingredient “protein from poultry” / “poultry protein” or “protein from lamb” / “lamb protein”, etc. As the designation “meal” is so similar to “animal meal”, despite the fact that it is a high-quality raw material derived from slaughtered animals which have been passed fit for human consumption, we have chosen to use the alternative designation. The raw material fish – as it is clearly not “meat” – has always been referred to as fish meal. A generous phasing-in period will be allowed for the required packaging changes. As changes were already planned for our Supreme range due to new products being introduced, we have implemented the necessary amendments to these products already. We have not yet altered the packaging of any other ranges. The changes will, however, be implemented the next time the packaging is updated. This is why both terms can currently be seen on packaging in the shops.

Why is protein diversity in food so important?

In the whole of evolutionary history very few species have survived that depend almost entirely on one food source. The reason: if adverse conditions cause the food source to fail, the animal is in grave danger of becoming extinct (pandas – bamboo). “Predators”, in particular, have high requirements of their food as their lifestyle uses up a lot of energy. To ensure the survival of the “predator”, it is essential that they have access to as wide a variety of prey animals as possible. As well as covering the predator's basic requirements - even if one type of prey animal is unavailable - this also ensures an optimal variety of amino acids and fatty acids. A varied and balanced diet is the ideal basis for preventing deficiencies, maintaining performance and ensuring an excellent physical constitution into old age, also for dogs.  

How can dry food and wet food be best compared?

Because dry and wet food have a significantly different water content, a meaningful comparison of the nutrients contained in both types is only really possible by measuring their “dry matter” (DM), i.e. the quantities of nutrients in 100% dried form.

Example: Comparison of the phosphorus and protein content of two kidney diets
Example: Compare kidney diet A (dry food) and kidney diet B (wet food)

Kidney diet A (dry food)
contains10% moisture, 0.4% phosphorous and 12.5 % crude protein. 100% original food - 10% water = 90% dry matter.

  • 0.4 : 90 (TS) x 100 = 0.44 % phosphorous in the DM
  • 12.5 : 90 (TS) x 100 = 13.8 % protein in the DM

Kidney diet B (wet food)
contains 61% moisture with 0.07% phosphorous and 6.8 % protein. 100% original food– 61% water = 39% DM.

  • 0.07. 39 (TS) x 100 = 0.2 % phosphorous in the DM
  • 6.8 : 39 (DM) x 100 = 17.4% protein in the DM 

Kidney diet B (wet food) contains less phosphorus in the DM, but considerably more protein than it might at first seem. 

Does supplying L-carnitine reduce the body’s own production of L-carnitine?

No. That can only happen if there is a regulatory mechanism for this (e.g. as with hormones such as cortisone). There is no such mechanism for L-carnitine. 

What does "Mixed food" mean?

Mixed feeding is when an animal is offered different types of food, for example wet and/or home-cooked food in addition to dry food.

Most owners do this to introduce more variety into their pet’s diet. Often they also want to integrate a certain proportion of raw (BARfen) or home-cooked food into their pet’s feeding schedule to avoid the risk of under- or overfeeding.

Although there used to be some resistance to this dietary approach, with many feeling that sticking to one type of food is better for pets’ digestion, we now know that giving “fido” a varied diet doesn’t necessarily lead to digestive problems.

Better safe than sorry

Any individual mixed feeding schedule that is drawn up will depend entirely on the needs of the dog as well as on the type of food chosen. A high-quality, optimally balanced complete food – be it dry or wet – is by far the safest option. Both these food types can therefore be offered alternately without any problem. Ideally the type and quantity of the basic foods chosen should take into account the actual needs of the dog – its age, level of activity and any particular health requirements. Owners intending to feed their dog regularly on home-prepared rations (either raw or cooked) are advised to draw up a ration schedule to ensure that “fido’s” food contains the optimum number of necessary nutrients. If a complete feed is to be given most of the time, there’s absolutely no harm in also offering the occasional home-prepared meal. 

Things to be aware of:
To ensure that your dog enjoys its food and can cope with change, feed types should not be mixed but offered separately – for example, dry food in the mornings and wet food in the evenings. Animals with sensitive stomachs often find it difficult switching from one type of food to another several times a week.

In this case it’s advisable either to stick to one sort that the dog is able to digest easily, or offer a mixture of the chosen food types right from the outset. Breeds which are at increased risk of twisted stomach should not be given a mixture of dry croquettes and meat in one meal as there is a danger that the dog will gulp them down instead instead of chewing properly. For animals suffering from twisted stomach this can lead to complications. Care should also be exercised with pets suffering from allergies where introducing too many different components into the feeding schedule is best avoided. This is because: If a problem arises it’s extremely difficult to establish the actual cause!


This is how it works…

Due to its low moisture content high-quality dry food provides a balanced supply of concentrated nutrients in any feeding schedule – optimally suited to age and needs. Good wet food and home-produced meals are not only easily digested but can be given in large quantities. This is because they have a high water content. That means they are also not very filling... mixing both types together gives you the double the benefit.

Our Happy Dog dry food range and Happy Dog Pur tinned meat offer the perfect choice of optimally formulated recipes and selected protein varieties. They provide our canine friends with all the nourishment they need, and plenty of variety too.

The ingredients are specially formulated to meet the individual needs and metabolisms of every dog. Recommended amounts for both types of feed are provided as a guide. Generally speaking, dogs that do little exercise or have a tendency to put on weight will require smaller amounts of food. Active animals who get lots of exercise and have a high metabolism can often be given greater quantities to eat. Tasty treats or snacks should be deducted from the daily ration. As a rough guide: for every 10g of dry treats you should reduce the amount of dry food you give your dog by approx. 10g, and wet food by around 40g.

Mixed food examples (PDF)

Isn’t the BARF diet more healthy for dogs?

Feeding dogs with meat is more to do with ideology than necessity. It is therefore up to individual owners themselves whether they opt to give their dog a meat-based diet or an optimally formulated complete food.

Owners should feel under no compulsion either to feed their dog raw food or give it large amounts of protein. On the contrary: Over thousands of years the needs of our domestic dogs have clearly adapted to life with humans and are quite different to those of wolves. In any event, owners intending to feed their dog on home-prepared rations long term – whether raw or cooked – are strongly recommended to have a specialist calculate the precise ingredients and nutrients required.

Comparison of ready-made food, home-cooked food, BARF – pros and cons

PRO
Ready-made food (complete food) Home-cooked food BARF
Simple and safe feeding in accordance with individual requirements Can be tailored to a dog’s taste, incl. vegetarian Well-tolerated
Wide range of products Well-tolerated, usually highly digestible An attractive option for owners (feeding naturally, “like a wolf in the wild”)
Varied diets    

 

 

CONTRA
Ready-made food (complete food) Home-cooked food BARF
Possibly not so attractive for dogs and owners Takes time to prepare Takes time to prepare
Have to cook and mix food yourself (combination of single foods) Danger of under- or over-feeding Makes dieting hard Danger of under- or over-feeding
  BARF
„Bones And Raw Foods“
Makes dieting hard
  High-protein food
    Danger of infection (bacteria, parasites, viruses)
    Hard to digest

Weight problems

My dog is too thin. What can I do?                   

In this case it is a good idea to give a food with a high energy content. However, “high-performance foods” with lots of protein and fat are often unhelpful. In susceptible animals, too much protein can be like oats with horses. The animals become even more “jittery”, and don’t put on weight, despite the nutritious food. In such cases, it is much better to offer a slightly larger amount of a not quite so nutritious food and/or supplement a little fat (in the form of sunflower oil, safflower oil, etc), and make the ration richer in this way.

I think my dog is too fat. What should I do to make him lose weight?

A successful diet is based on four pillars: a realistic assessment of how overweight the animal is, whether it has enough exercise, a consistent approach to feeding the diet and, of course, a suitable diet. In this connection, special recipes with reduced carbohydrate content, moderate protein and fat content and significantly increased fibre content have proven successful. When it comes to a reducing diet, the protein and fat elements should be of particularly high quality (Happy Dog Fit & Well Light 1 Low Carb).

Important: A check-up at the vet’s is always advisable before starting your pet on a diet. This is essential to identify any possible underlying illness which might be causing the dog to put on weight and to check that the animal’s heart, circulation and musculoskeletal system will not be put under stress by being on a diet.

  • The amount of food required for weight reduction is based on the dog’s current weight. It is the case, however, that dogs with a strong tendency to be overweight will need considerably less food than the amount recommended. If there is a difference of more than 30% between the amount of food recommended and that actually given, the diet should be monitored by a vet.

  • Food and treats should be precisely weighed out every day – if you use a measuring cup it is very easy to misjudge it!
    Tip: Weigh out and prepare the daily allowance of food and treats in the morning.

  • Treats should be limited to no more than 15% of the total daily food intake.
    Example: For 300g dry food (DF) à no more than 45g of dry treats

  • Any additional treats given must be deducted from the daily food allowance.
    Example: 300g DF/day – 45g treats = 255g dry food/day

    As a rule of thumb when giving treats: 
    > For each gram of dry treats, the amount of primary food (dry food) given is reduced by one gram.
    > For each 30 grams of cooked rice, cooked pasta or potatoes, the dry food must be reduced by 10 grams.
    > Apples and carrots contain lots of water and few calories. They can be given in greater quantities than normal treats, provided your pet likes them! For every 70g of fruit, the food allowance need only be reduced by 10g.


    10 grams of dry food corresponds to around:
    > 10g dry treats
    > 10g mini dog sausages
    > 30g rice or pasta (cooked)
    > 70g apple or carrot

  • Fresh water should always be freely available

  • Provide exercise at least 2 x daily – and not less than 60–80 minutes/day in total
    If your dog's health allows: Slowly increase activity or the intensity of activity
    zB Ball games, throwing sticks, going jogging with your dog, walks with other dogs, etc.

  • If it is not possible to increase physical activity: keep in "mentally occupied" indoors
    Hide toys or food, practise little tricks etc.

  • Document progress on the diet using a chart in which you enter the new weight each week
    Optimum weight loss: 1–2% of body weight per week, in order to lose fat.

    Example: 10 kg dog 100 – 200 g
    Regularly weigh your dog at weekly intervals
    > Use pet scales (specialist shop, vet etc.) or weigh yourself first, then pick up your dog and weigh yourself with the dog in your arms; the difference is how much the dog weighs
    > Always weigh your dog on the same day, at the same time and in the same conditions (e.g. after walking him in the morning)
    The amount of food must be matched to the dog and therefore varies over the course of the diet
    > If too much or too little weight is being lost, it is a good idea to check the food ration carefully and ask the vet for advice.

What do I need to know about feeding cats and dogs that have been neutered?

Neutering brings about major hormonal changes which can affect the whole metabolism. Despite having the same amount of food and exercise, most animals will gain weight after being neutered. As a result of these metabolic changes, it is normal for a neutered animal to need only 75-80% of the food energy (calories) required before neutering.

After the procedure it is therefore extremely important to adjust the amount of food offered and to check the animal’s weight regularly – ideally every 14 days or, at the very least, monthly.

The ideal food for neutered animals contains less “energy”, i.e. fewer calories than that consumed before. Our special Happy Dog Supreme Toscana, Light 2 Low Fat and Mini Light recipes are ideal for neutered dogs.

It’s also important to be consistent in not allowing too many extra “titbits”. If you are going to offer your pet treats and snacks, make sure you only offer small quantities of low-calorie items. For example, you can give your dog carrots or pieces of apple as a “snack between meals”. If you wish to give your pet a more substantial treat, such as the occasional pig’s ear, you should ideally drop a dry food meal that day. 

Another good tip for preventing excess weight is to encourage your dog to exercise more: Even just adding 15 minutes to your pet’s walks or building in regular games of “fetch” while you are out, will boost your four-legged friend’s metabolism considerably. 

Skin and coat

My dog has skin problems. What can I do about it?

Skin problems can unfortunately have many, very different causes: too much protein, lack of essential fatty acids (unbalanced diet, malnutrition, deficient absorption due to metabolic disorders), additives in the food and treats, parasites, bacterial skin infections, allergy problems, diseases of the organs (kidneys, liver, etc), and so on.

It is thus not possible to give a “one size fits all” recommendation. Changing the food can have very positive effects if the old food did not optimally cover the dog’s actual needs. In this case, it is generally very helpful to seek the advice of an expert in selecting the right variety. 

If the problems prove to be stubborn or serious, however, you should not experiment, but consult a veterinarian who specialises in skin diseases and will be able to narrow down the cause more accurately and determine how to treat it. In these cases, it is not generally sufficient simply to change the food. 

Does my dog have a grain allergy?

Behind vague, persistent skin and digestive problems may well lie a grain allergy. If this is suspected, we would recommend a grain-free variety, such as the Happy Dog Sensitive Africa. Please note: In this case make absolutely sure that your pet is not being given food or treats containing grain on the side!

Can allergies be prevented with the right food?

No. Sadly not. Allergies develop spontaneously, so it’s impossible to predict if, when and why an allergic reaction will take place. With an allergy, the body becomes “over-sensitive” to normally harmless substances – most commonly flea saliva and house dust. The body can also have a negative reaction to certain food ingredients, though this is much less common than generally thought. Only one in ten allergy sufferers has a true food allergy.  However, the body needs to have had contact with the allergy trigger for the over-reaction to occur. A food allergy mostly develops to food ingredients that are familiar The most common food allergies include: beef, chicken, eggs, pork, lamb, wheat, soya, corn and rice. Research has shown that the following breeds have an increased risk of developing food allergies: West Highland, White Terrier, Boxer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever. A food allergy can manifest itself in the form of an acute skin condition (usually caused by intense itching) or in digestive disorders (vomiting, chronic diarrhoea, flatulence etc.) In rare cases, the dog will suffer from a combination of a skin condition and an upset stomach. Our Happy Dog Supreme Sensible Africa – made with ostrich meat and potato – and Happy Dog Supreme Karibik – made with potato and sea fish - are specially formulated for animals who suffer from a food allergy.

Digestion

My dog tends to have digestion problems. What do I need to note about his food?

Unfortunately it is not possible to give a “one size fits all” recommendation because there are too many different causes of digestion problems:

jealousy about food, stress, gastrointestinal infections, liver/kidney disease, pancreatic insufficiency, food allergies, food sensitivity, motility disorders (disruption of gastrointestinal activity), deformities (e.g. of the oesophagus => “false vomiting”), obstruction of the bowel, foreign bodies. More rarely: poisoning, tumour diseases, and so on.

Changing the diet to a particularly highly-digestible food (e.g. Happy Dog Mini, Medium, Maxi Adult or Supreme Sensitive Neuseeland or Mini Neuseeland) is a good first step. Given the many different causes, it is a good idea to consult an expert when selecting the right food. However, if the animal is in particularly bad condition and/or the problems recur frequently, it is better not to waste time unnecessarily and take the animal straight to the vet. This is particularly true for relatively young and older animals. Additional treatment and a special diet will generally be needed. Once you have a firm diagnosis, it will also be much easier to select the right food for your pet. 

But as a general tip, avoid changing the food unnecessarily once you have found one that suits your dog. And the same applies to treats: only give easily digestible varieties and avoid experimenting as far as possible.

Teeth

How can I help to keep my dog's teeth healthy?

Just as with humans, the most effective way is to clean their teeth regularly! Dry food is also good for caring for teeth and strengthening the bite. Although it cannot completely prevent tartar if your pet has a tendency to this, it can at least postpone its occurrence. A further important aspect is that biting large croquettes helps to keep teeth firm and prevents them from becoming loose.

Doesn’t the long-term feeding of herbs counteract the effect of homeopathic medicines?

No. It is assumed that Paracelsus’ principle applies here (“The dose makes the poison”) and the tiny amounts have no effects. On the other hand, it is suspected that they may have a negative influence on the effect of essential oils.

Is it possible to prevent HD (hip dysplasia) or ED (elbow dysplasia) by appropriate feeding?

No. Giving appropriate quantities of a food which is balanced but not too rich – like our Happy Dog recipes - is extremely important and the best way to help your dog avoid diet-related growth disorders. But: the occurrence of HD and ED is influenced by many factors, including an inherited disposition, loose ligaments, too many food additives, over-exertion and being overweight.   

Which is the most suitable food for my puppies?

The nutrient requirements of a puppy and/or young dog during growth to a large extent depend on how big or heavy it will be when it is an adult.

But the intensity of growth will be greatest during the first few months of life, however large or small it will eventually be. It is therefore particularly important to give an optimally balanced food with a sufficiently high protein and energy content in the first few months of life. 

For small breeds (up to around 10 kg), the requirement changes very little after tooth change due to their particularly active metabolism. They should therefore be given puppy food until they are adult, at around 9 - 12 months. 

The situation is different for mid-sized and large breeds. To start with, they need adequate protein to build healthy and powerful muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints and to give them a glossy coat. After the tooth change is complete (5 - 6 months), their need for protein slowly starts to drop considerably. Giving excess protein and energy beyond this period can have an anabolic effect, causing considerable growth disturbances. We therefore recommend that you feed in 2 phases: Start by giving protein-rich puppy food (Happy Dog Supreme Medium Baby, Happy Dog Supreme Maxi Baby) and then, once the permanent teeth are in place, change gradually to a less rich Junior food (Happy Dog Supreme Medium Junior, Happy Dog Supreme Maxi Junior). This 2-phase feeding offers the best possibility of meeting the actual needs of growing large-breed dogs. So, by feeding conservatively, you can greatly improve safety when raising large breeds. 

How much food should a puppy have and how often?

Once the puppy is about 4 weeks old, it loves to have something “between its teeth”. This is the time to start offering food and water, in addition to mother’s milk.

The changeover is slow. Offer either Happy Dog Baby Milk Probiotic, Complete Flaked Food (puppy gruel) or softened, pureed puppy croquettes 4 - 6 times a day, mixing a small, fresh portion every time. At around 8 weeks, puppies then receive just 3 - 4 (larger) meals per day. At six months, they should be fed just 2 x per day.

The optimum amount of food depends on the puppy’s age, weight and metabolism. The recommended feeding amounts are a good starting point, But individual animals may require slightly different amounts. It is important not to give much more or less than the recommended amount to avoid an oversupply or undersupply of nutrients. It is best to consult an expert in good time if you are at all unsure.

When should I change over to adult food?

Small breeds are changed over to an adult food (e.g. Mini Adult) at 9 - 12 months. Very large breeds have a high protein requirement until their tooth change is complete. For this reason, even large-breed puppies need the “right” puppy food to start with. It is not until their need for protein drops at around 6 months that they are slowly changed over to a special food for young dogs (phase 2). Their physical development is almost complete at 15 - 18 months. They then change over to “adult food”.  If necessary, if the dog is rather chubby, for example, you can switch to Happy Dog Adult a little earlier.

What is the best way to prevent nutrition-related impaired growth?

Nutrition-related growth disorders are often the result of a diet which is too rich, i.e. too high in energy. They can also be caused by moving the dog onto adult food too early, giving too many treats, offering a meat-only or totally vegetarian diet, and over-use of joint preparations. 

It is therefore recommended that you offer your dog just enough food (“as much as necessary, as little as possible”) and opt for a recipe which is optimally suited to your pet’s needs, i.e. has a moderate energy content. And the dog should not be given any bone and joint supplements. If the dog is to be given rewards and chews, it is sensible to reduce the animal’s daily food ration accordingly.

Also important: Puppies and young dogs have different needs! It is essential to ensure that large breed puppies get adequate amounts of protein during the first 5 months of life. This is a major growth period for the animals, during which muscle mass, joints, ligaments and tendons develop rapidly. All these parts of the body are largely made up of protein, which is why you should not offer your pet a protein-reduced diet in the first few months of life.  Once it reaches 5 months, the dog begins to need much less protein and its need for “adult food” gradually increases. This can be seen from the growth curve.  The best way to avoid nutrition-related impaired growth in growth-sensitive breeds is to avoid giving unnecessary supplementary foods and to offer a strict, but sparing ration of an optimally balanced complete food. A food matched to the special needs of the puppy phase should be used during weaning (Happy Dog Supreme Medium Baby, Happy Dog Supreme Maxi Baby). After 5 months, this can be slowly changed over to a reduced-energy recipe for young dogs (Happy Dog Supreme Medium Junior, Happy Dog Supreme Maxi Junior).

When will my dog become a senior and what can I give my senior dog to eat?

With increasing age, your pet needs a particularly gentle diet. We therefore have special senior products for dogs from 10 years of age: Happy Dog Supreme Senior, Mini Senior and NaturCroq Senior. Many dogs, however, are still very fit despite their advanced age. As a compromise, these dogs can be given a mixture of “normal food” and “senior food” for a time. For older, very inactive dogs who tend to be overweight, Happy Dog Light 2 or Mini Light can be mixed with the “Senior” food to prevent your dog putting on weight. Regular examinations by the vet also help to diagnose and do something about other age-related conditions in good time.

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