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June 19, 2019

Hartpury University PhD student conducts research into keeping puppies healthy

Hartpury UniversityA Hartpury University PhD student has conducted research into the health of puppies and has found that too much food and exercise is bad for puppies.

Hartpury University Puppy ResearchHartpury University PhD candidate Georgia Lewis carried out her research with support from her tutors, Animal Science lecturer Aisling Carroll and Dr Alison Wills, senior lecturer in Animal Health, and found that obesity, stunted growth, degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis are all among the potential conditions that may develop in dogs that are over-fed and over-exercised during the early stages of their lives.

Explaining her findings regarding the dietary requirements of a puppy, Georgia says, “Although there is such a wide variation in the size of different dog breeds – from a 1kg Chihuahua to a 100kg English Mastiff – nutritional and exercise advice for the first 12 months of life scarcely differs. It is crucial that growing puppies have a sufficient diet containing nutrients and vitamins that meet their high energy requirements. Resultant malnutrition from under-feeding can cause stunted growth, while overfeeding can result in obesity, which has a direct impact on joint and limb formation and can lead to conditions such as secondary osteoarthritis.”

And when it comes to exercising their puppies, owners also need to be careful. Georgia explains, “In terms of exercise, owners should avoid allowing puppies the use of stairs and should also prevent them from playing on slippery surfaces to avoid harsh impact on growing bones and joints.” She continues, “Young dogs’ bones are not fully developed and are unable to sustain stress or force, so exercise therefore must be limited until dogs have reached maturity to prevent injury. It is advised that a dog is exercised for five minutes per day, per month of age.”

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Content added on 19th June 2019. 

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