Nutrition for the Best Basset Hound

Balanced nutrition and portion control can help your food-loving Basset battle the bulge.

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But Bassets are not likely to run the Iditarod, and an overly high-fat diet can result in obesity and diseases such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas, an  important organ that produces digestive enzymes). Fat contains twice the calories of protein, and diets high in fat will cause dogs with low activity levels to gain too much weight. Most Bassets can get by on a low-fat diet.

Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) provide energy, supply a body-heat source, and help regulate protein and fat metabolism. In the wild, dogs ingest few carbohydrates, and their bodies are able to synthesize carbohydrates out of fat and protein. Although most dogs (except probably pregnant and nursing mothers) can live healthy lives without carbohydrates, they are a cheap form of energy and make up a very large percentage of most commercial dog foods. For Bassets, I prefer a diet that restricts carbohydrates to 15 percent or less is optimal.

Vitamins are essential to many bodily functions and systems, including enzyme reactions, DNA synthesis, blood clotting, bone development, vision and calcium balance. Vitamins release energy from nutrients and scavenge free radicals.

Minerals also participate in nearly every function in the body. The so-called macrominerals that dogs need in fairly large amounts are sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Trace minerals include iron, zinc, copper, iodine and selenium.

Nearly all commercial dog foods contain adequate amounts of all these substances, although some foods are clearly superior to others. When deciding whether a particular food is good enough for your Basset, first select one that is geared to your Bassets life stage (puppy, adult or senior). This is especially important with puppy food. Basset Hounds are big dogs on short legs, says Jenn Dolan, D.V.M., of Cumberland Valley Veterinary Clinic in Hagerstown, Maryland. They need to have a puppy food designed for big dogs. Puppy food for small dogs can produce bone problems in Basset Hounds.

Many small-breed diets contain higher amounts of calcium than is necessary or desirable for large dogs, which tend to grow faster. Too much calcium at the wrong stage of development can lead to osteochondritis, which is inflammation of the bone and cartilage that results from too rapid growth. In osteochondritis dessicans, a piece of cartilage can split off from the rest of the cartilage. Dr. Dolan advises against trying to create a balanced diet at home for your puppy. Puppy nutrition is especially difficult to manage, and unless you are well informed about the variables involved, its best to rely on a high-quality commercial diet.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

5/10/2012 7:36:31 AM

good article, thank you

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