The first step to optimal health is optimal nutrition.
For the baby bully breed, it is important to maintain a slow, steady growth that permits bones, joints and ligaments to grow proportionally. Specifically, consult your veterinarian to determine when to switch your puppy to an adult food. Dr. Ballard notes, Puppy foods are formulated to provide higher levels of protein and carbohydrates and were traditionally recommended for the first year of a dogs life.
[However,] current research indicates that prolonged feeding of a high-protein growth formula is directly correlated to the development of skeletal diseases frequently seen in large-breed puppies, such as osteochondrosis [the improper development of joint cartilage]. I therefore advise my clients to switch their large breed dogs to an appropriate adult diet at the age of 6 months. When asked whether this recommendation applied to those feeding a puppy food designed for large breeds, Dr. Ballard comments that while he believes many of these formulas were excellent, he still prefers adult food at 6 months.
Switching to an adult diet early on can also help prevent obesity, a condition that puts undue stress on growing bones and joints.
Another key strategy that you should implement from the start with your bully breed puppy is scheduled mealtimes. If you were considering leaving food always available to your bully, forget it. Controlled feeding not only allows you to adjust amounts according to your dogs condition, it also helps simplify housetraining because puppies generally need to go after eating. Lynn Hays, owner of Blendon Kennels in Westerville, Ohio, a grooming and boarding facility, is president of the Central Ohio Pit Bull Terrier Club. Says Hays, Bully breeds tend to be hearty eaters and can easily become overweight if owners aren't careful.
A Diet Fit for Your Bully
A look at package labeling on adult dry dog food (the most popular type) indicates that protein levels run roughly anywhere from 20 to 30 percent, with corresponding fat levels varying from 12 to 20 percent. When your dog is ready to make the change to an adult premium formula, its activity level becomes a deciding factor in which type of food to purchase. The bully that spends its day running in a huge fenced yard with a playful companion or one that is worked daily in activities, such as agility or tracking, can burn up enough energy to warrant a performance diet. These diets are geared to the canine athlete and run to the higher end of the scale for protein and fat levels
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the couch potatoes. These dogs guard the house from their favorite comfy chair, keeping one eye lazily open in case immediate action is called for. Because bully breeds in general tend to be fairly active, this second group consists primarily of senior bully dogs. One of the formulas that is lower in protein and fat is good for this less active companion. Those particularly inclined to become overweight might benefit from a senior diet specifically formulated for weight control, although dogs should not be switched automatically to a senior diet based on age. Age in dogs can often be relative, and your bully could be 8 years oldor 8 years young! Because senior formulas frequently run particularly low in protein and fat, it is best to check with your veterinarian before switching to this type of food.
Most bully breeds fall somewhere in between these two groups. For these, a full day might include a couple of games of fetch, a good brisk walk, a few turns around the inside of the fence and a car ride while joining its owner in running errands. This fortunate dog has an average activity level: active but not to an extreme. A mid-range formula would be suitable for this companion dog. If your bullys activity level is seasonal thanks to an owner who loves to swim but hates to ski (or vice versa), changing to a performance diet during active times is fine. Its easiest to stay with the same brand and type of food to avoid digestive upsets.
Canned food is an alternative to dry, but because of its high moisture content, it can become cost prohibitive. A large dog will need quite a lot of canned food to sustain its nutritional needs. Nevertheless, for dogs that just don't seem to do well on dry diets, it is a viable option. These wet foods will have lower protein to fat percentages due to their less concentrated form. Adding ten percent to the ratio listed on a canned product will give you a rough comparison to kibble. Frozen dog food, if available in your area, is another possibility.
All dogs are different, and what one dog thrives on, another may not, so experimentation is usually necessary to find just the right diet for your bully breed. Be sure to introduce new foods gradually because sudden changes can disrupt digestion and bowel health.
The Natural Diet Option
In The Natural Dog (Plume, 1994) written by Mary L. Brennan, D.V.M., the author states, theres only one way to be absolutely sure that your dog is getting the best: Make it yourself. Homemade diets using raw muscle meat, organ meat, minced vegetables and other natural ingredients have gained tremendous popularity in recent years. Why? In the wild, raw meat was the standard fare for canines before we domesticated them, so it is closest to their natural diet, points out Dr. Brennan. The feral (wild) diet also included the organ meats, stomach contents and other parts of a prey animal. This explains why many natural diet proponents believe it is important to supply a variety of raw foods to ensure nutritional completeness
Feeding a raw diet, also referred to as a biologically appropriate diet or a BARF (bones and raw food) diet, takes commitment and research on the owners part. A haphazard approach can definitely cause more damage than good. Vitamin, mineral or other nutritional imbalances can result in organ malfunction, a weakened immune system, skeletal malformations: the exact difficulties an owner is trying to avoid by feeding a raw diet.
Books on the subject are available in your local bookstores and health food stores. Internet sites and chat rooms also can offer valuable sources of information, but be sure to carefully assess information found in these places. If you're interested in feeding a raw diet, extensive study can help you form an educated opinion, thus ensuring you are able to achieve what you set out to do: provide your dog with a diet that allows it to extract the nutrients it needs to attain the health only nature can provide. Be sure to follow a veterinarian-approved recipe or work with a veterinary nutritionist to build a healthy, customized diet.
A Bully Boost
Look on the shelves of any pet-supply store, and you will find an absolute plethora of canine supplements. Supplements can be beneficial in boosting your bullys immune system, but be careful not to feed them in excess. Oversupplementation can be fully as harmful as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The safest supplemental course is giving your dog a commercial multi-vitamin-and-mineral formula combined with a fatty acid supplement. The former provides your dog with nutrients that it might need in greater quantity than is supplied by its diet. Fatty acids, in addition to maintaining skin and coat health, play an essential role in the functioning of the immune system. This simple supplementation program can be a significant boost to your bully breeds well-being. Consult your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your dogs diet. Each dog has its own requirements and reacts differently, so your dog may need a unique blend of supplements..