Originally bred to be guard dogs and companions, Doberman Pinschers are sleek, elegant, and athletic dogs known to be fiercely loyal to their owners. These medium-sized, muscular dogs require high-quality foods to maintain optimal physical condition and keep their short coats shiny. The breed is known to be susceptible to some health risks and conditions that may be reduced or alleviated through nutritional adjustments.
Doberman Pinschers require high-quality foods that are easily digestible and palatable. The first ingredient listed should be a meat source such as chicken, beef, or lamb, followed by whole grains such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. Watch out for foods that have grain cereals like corn or wheat, fillers, and animal byproducts as top ingredients, as these are generally lower-quality ingredients. Look for a commercial diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, an organization that ensures the food is nutritionally balanced. Purchase high-quality foods from pet supply stores, and look for diets appropriate for your dog's age. To maintain your Doberman Pinscher's shiny coat, supplement the dog's diet with fatty acids such as flaxseed or safflower oils.
Gastric dilation and volvulus, commonly called bloat, is a true digestive system emergency that occurs most frequently in deep-chested dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher. This frequently fatal condition occurs when food and gases in the stomach cause it to expand and rotate, blocking release of the gases and cutting off the stomach's blood supply. Without immediate medical intervention, the expanding stomach eventually can impede blood flow to the heart, causing a painful death. Veterinary research indicates you can reduce the risk of bloat in your dog by dividing the daily food ration into two or more daily feedings. Additionally, you can add a bit of wet food or table scraps to your dog's diet, to help reduce the chance of bloat. Avoid exercise an hour before or after a meal, provide your dog a constant supply of fresh water, make sure that your dog's bowl is low to the ground, and keep your Doberman Pinscher's stress level to a minimum.
Doberman Pinschers are at risk for a spinal condition called wobblers syndrome. While symptoms often do not appear in Dobermans until later in life, veterinary resources including the Merck Veterinary Manual indicate taking nutritional steps to keep puppy weight down and prevent rapid growth can help reduce the risk that a susceptible dog will eventually develop this syndrome. Wobblers syndrome symptoms include an unsteady gait, falling, clumsiness and sometimes paralysis. In some giant breeds it appears before the dog is a year old, but in Dobermans it can more likely show up after 4 to 5 years of age. Nutritional steps to reduce the risk include not feeding puppy food beyond 6 months of age. The Vetinfo website recommends feeding the young dog a diet containing no more than 24 percent protein and avoiding supplemental vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus.
Doberman Pinschers are also susceptible to canine juvenile renal disease, a hereditary disorder affecting the kidneys that usually causes early death. Symptoms usually appear before 2 years of age and include increased thirst, vomiting, weight loss and lethargy. A low-phosphorus and low-protein diet eases the burden placed on the kidneys to filter these substances, helping to slow the progress of kidney failure and to alleviate symptoms.
How much you feed your adult Doberman Pinscher depends primarily on the dog's activity level. If your dog regularly exercises, participates in agility training, or is a working dog, they will need more calories. For dogs that get an average amount of exercise, feed the Doberman Pinscher according to the dog food manufacturer's recommendations for a medium-sized dog. Make sure you divide the dog's daily ration into two to four meals per day. Look at your dog at mealtime. If your Doberman appears overweight and you can't feel the ribs, cut the ration. Your dog may require a diet food, or a food higher in fiber. Doberman Pinschers should be muscular and agile; if your dog seems either overweight or underweight, consult with your veterinarian to determine a correct feeding schedule and ration.
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