Hence back to calcium / phosphorus level. My mentor, who bred basenjis beginning in the early fifties felt that the breed developed and maintained stronger pasterns and hocks, which are critical joints, comprised of small bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments when fed a diet rich with calcium / phosphorus. I continue to agree with this observation. An increase in calcium / phosphorus can not correct a poorly bred dog with weak pasterns and hocks, but it does help a basenji develop and maintain these joints in peak condition, very important in a performance breed. I have even had discussions with judges after breed competition regarding basenjis with down pasterns and how my dogs excelled in such. In order for a dog utilize calcium / phosphorus, it must be in the proper ratio and give with other nutrients. Giving your dog calcium pills or Tums is a waste of time and possibly harmful. PetCal or similar products are properly balanced for canine utilization.
So, should you change your dog’s diet to a puppy or performance formula? That depends greatly on your individual dog. Activity level, performance task, showing, and weather all greatly influence your dogs kcal needs.
Of the 7 dogs which we have
Our Scottie puppy, Ringo, receives 650 Kcals a day dived into two feedings. He’s only 4 ½ month old and very much a growing dog. The breed is heavy boned, with substantial muscle mass; adult should be only 10 inches at the shoulder but 20 pounds. His diet will be increased as he grows. It’s very important he receives the amino acids / proteins, fats, calcium / phosphorus for the energy and nutrition to develop this heavy structure, the rest depend on the genes.
Our two young basenjis, Max and Trance receive a whooping 1300 Kcals a day. Max and Trance will be two this fall, and are our current show and coursing dogs. They spend their days in our west yard, which is a fully fenced half acre. This allows them to run full out and play to their hearts content, which they take advantage of daily. They also have the company of the dogs on the outer side of the fence, which result in a game of fence sparing. Those of us who show and course their dogs know conditioning and stamina does make a difference. No flabby muscles on these dogs. Like Ringo, muscle development is a matter of having the genes, diet and physical activity.
We have only one brood bitch in our house at this time, Sprite, who will be seven this fall, receives 700 Kcals. She runs with Max and Trance, which helps keep her quite fit, but she does not have the energy level of two year old. It’s very important to keep a brood bitch in fit condition, neither thin nor over weight, with strong muscles. Pregnancy is very demanding of the body. It is recommended that dog’s which are pregnant are fed a Puppy formula diet, for the additional calcium / phosphorus to assist in the development of the puppies and production on milk.
We have two spayed girls, Gabrielle who is nine, and Cherry who will be 4 this fall, both receive 650 Kcals to maintain their weight. These are both very active dogs, lots of playing and fence sparing. Spay and neutering does decrease a dog’s metabolism. If it was not for activity level, these dogs would be candidate for lower Kcal maintenance formula.
Our oldest dogs, Tootsie, who will be ten this fall, also receive 650 Kcals to maintain her weight. She too is very active and runs with Ringo and Cherry in our east yard. We do plan to spay her this year, which will require a change in diet.
Laurie and I raise our dogs in a very active environment. Even our oldest, 14 – 16 years had a Kcal demand of 650 or above. Muscle wasting is a big problem with old age; it takes physical activity and good diet to avoid.
At what point would I switch to a maintenance diet, if I have a dog which had kcal need of 400 or less. When dogs become sedentary or overweight, and a reduction in Kcal is needed, there is a greater demand for more nutrients per Kcal, hence maintenance, senior or over weight formula diets.