The effects of overfeeding on growing Great Dane puppies were examined by ad libitum feeding of a hypercaloric diet (super premium ration). Fourteen puppies from six litters were divided into two groups, with representation from each litter in each group. The dogs in the overfed group were provided ad libitum access to the diet from 8 AM to 6 PM daily, while the restricted group received the same feed but in amounts recommended by the manufacturer at 7 AM, 12:30 PM and 5 PM. Daily intake was individually recorded. To monitor skeletal changes due to osteochondrosis, hypertrophic osteodystrophy and hip dysplasia, elbow radiographs were taken monthly and shoulder, pelvis and corpus radiographs were taken bi-monthly. Weekly feed consumption and weight gain were greater in ad libitum than in restricted puppies (P<0.01). At the end of the experiment, 85.7% of the ad libitum group was over weight and 14.3% was obese, whereas 57.2% of restricted puppies were slim and 42.8% had ideal body weight. None of the dogs had hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Radiographic examination showed alterations compatible with hip dysplasia in both groups, but such observations were more frequent and more severe in the ad libitum group. Osteochondrosis of metaphisis distal ulna, known by the retention of cartiloginous nucleus, was observed only in the ad libitum group, at a rate of 57.1%. The thickness of the cortical and diameter of the ulna were greater (P<0.01) in ad libitum dogs than in those fed a restricted amount of the same diet. In summary, overfeeding caused by ad libitum access to a highly palatable and high energy food caused osteochondrosis and hip dysplasia in Great Dane puppies.
dog; Great Dane; hip dysplasia; hypertrophic osteodystrophy; osteochondrosis; overfeeding