Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Growth Problems In Puppies - Part 3

HOD Cases

The cause of nutritional HOD is:

  • Intake versus output - in other words, if your dog eats more calories than the body can use, they start to get overgrowth in the growth plate area of the joints. It is most evident in the front legs.
  • Imbalance in the diet, due to supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or human foods such as meats, grains, eggs and cheese, which can disrupt the calcium and phosphorus balance as well as add extra calories.
  • Poor quality dog food - substandard contents
  • Minerals that are not available to the dogs system, not chelated or sequestered.
  • Large and Giant Breed Puppy Formulas some are with too low a calcium content for growth based on AFFCO standards and as stated in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition - 4th edition, most are too calorie dense with the exception of Eagle Large and Giant Breed Formula.

  • Calorie dense foods - most puppy foods in general, For an appropriate diet and the amounts to feed

The Role of Exercise in Preventing HOD

It is our collective experience and our opinion, the majority of growth problems, poor conformation, lack of soundness and bad movement are normally due to a lack of free exercise in the early stages of development - under 8 months. Many HOD cases are due to an intake of too many calories versus the amount of calories burned daily. This is where proper exercise come in to play as one of the important keys to the prevention of HOD, that and good nutritional parctices. Exercise expends unnecessary calories and builds strong muscle to support the bones and joints of the growing animal.

Yes, proper exercise at the right stage of development, can effect the overall condition and conformation(structure) of an animal, just like diet can alter the structure of an animal.

Crates are an important part of the care and training, but without ample "free" exercise throughout the course of a day, the muscle development that is necessary for good movement/soundness, will never be there if the foundation is not laid in the first 8 months.

Most breeders are afraid to their dogs exercise for fear of injury, but most injuries are due to the fact that there is no strength of muscle to support the large bone and fast development. It is important to let appropriate size/age dogs exercise together to help prevent seriously pulled muscles, cartilage or disc damage.

"Free Exercise", does not mean jogging and it does not mean forced road work, it means your dog has plenty of fenced yard to play in and act like a dog. We crate our puppies at night, and even at times during the day when we have to be gone from the home. But the rest of the time they have the option of running and playing outside, weather permitting, in a large space where they can stretch out and run, which builds proper bone and muscle mass. Free exercise helps to deter an animal from chewing or having some destructive behaviors due to pent up energy and boredom.

See Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program to prevent these growth problems..see below examples of our puppies on this program vs the photos below them. These dogs were not raised on this program.

Examples of Good Fronts - No Evidence of HOD

Trey on Posts
Trey 21 Weeks
Beckett on Posts
Beckett 21 Weeks

Examples of HOD

Fawn 1
Fawn 2
Fawn 3
Top HOD 1
Top HOD 2
Top HOD 3


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