How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards
The loveable Saint Bernard is a true gentle giant. A dog of immense size, its stature and girth are only outmatched by the magnitude of its heart. A breed that traces its roots to the Swiss Alps where it was developed to rescue lost travellers, the Saint Bernard is believed to be a combination of various different breeds including the Entlebucher, the Bernese Mountain Dog, and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
The Saint Bernard is well renowned for its docile and sweet natured personality. A breed that can reach up to 180 pounds, the Saint Bernard is most definitely a giant breed. Available in two different coat varieties, the Saint Bernard can be long or short haired. The most popular version of this dog is the short-haired pooch favored by the monks who housed this dog type and taught the dog to participate in rescue efforts in search of lost visitors.
Though the Saint Bernard does bear a thick double coat that equips it well for outdoor weather, this breed prefers to live indoors with its family. A devoted family companion, the Saint Bernard is exceptionally good with children though its size can mean accidents may occur when its cumbersome body collides with a toddler or small child. For this reason, it is vitally important that all interactions between kids and this giant breed be supervised.
The Saint Bernard prefers the quiet life. Though the breed does require regular daily exercise, it is otherwise happy to lounge around its home, enjoying the company of those it loves most. The breed can easily become overweight if overfed or insufficiently exercised.
Unfortunately, this giant breed is a large drooler, and its coat does shed regularly. Families planning to own a Saint Bernard will need to be prepared to deal with the mess that comes with owning a giant, coated breed.
Since the Saint Bernard is a giant breed, this sadly means that it has a relatively short life expectancy and can be predisposed to a number of different health conditions. These include cataracts, hip and elbow dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy, entropion, bloat, and hypothyroidism. To help support optimal health and wellness in this breed, it is recommended that owners feed this dog a diet that contains supplements to support eye and joint health.
The best dog foods for Saint Bernards contain a minimum of 18 percent protein and 5 percent fat. It is also recommended that this dog type be fed a diet designed for large breed dogs. Since the Saint Bernard can be predisposed to bloat, it is important to give this dog a high quality dog food with large enough pieces to prevent eating too much or too rapidly, two factors believed to contribute to the development of bloat.
Choosing the Correct Calorie Count for Saint Bernards
As a giant breed dog, the Saint Bernard requires a high quality diet based on a lean meat to attain optimal health and wellness. However, since excess weight puts too much strain on this working breed’s joints, it is vitally important that the correct portion size for this breed be found. The best dog foods for Saint Bernards provide suggestions for serving sizes based on age and weight. These are excellent starting points that should be adjusted until the proper amount per meal is found.
Free feeding this giant breed is strongly discouraged as the Saint Bernard that eats too much can easily become overweight. For best results, all food should be measured and all intake monitored.
Dietary Requirements for Saint Bernard Dog Foods
The Saint Bernard is a working breed, and thus, requires a diet that is well balanced and based on a lean, meat-based protein. The best dog foods for Saint Bernards include a whole meat or meat meal as their foundational ingredient. By-products are taken from parts of an animal that are considered to be less desirable for human consumption. They are often more difficult for dogs to digest, and thus, are not ideal as the foundation of a high quality diet for the Saint Bernard.
Plant proteins such as soy, corn, and wheat have limited nutritional quality and are common allergens for many dogs. These are also best avoided as are any ingredients included in a diet to improve the food’s appearance, taste, or shelf life such as chemicals, additives, fillers, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all excellent choices for exceptional carbohydrates to improve the Saint Bernard’s digestion and boost its immune system. Of primary importance in any carbohydrate included in a diet for this giant breed is its abundance of antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Healthy fats help to keep the Saint Bernard’s coat and skin healthy and in good condition. These fats are best found in animal-based ingredients such as chicken fat or oily fish. Some plant based oils such as canola, coconut, and safflower also offer ample servings of these vital nutrients.
All foods can benefit from the addition oc supplements to add extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to the diet. The most beneficial supplements to look for in a food for the Saint Bernard are taurine, glucosamine, chondroitin, prebiotics, and probiotics.
Things to Look for in the Best Dog Food for Saint Bernards
Here is a basic list of the most important things to look for in the best dog food for a Saint Bernard:
Lean, meat-based proteins heading up the ingredients list
The Saint Bernard does best on a diet that takes a lean meat as its main ingredient. Whole meats or meat meals make the best foundation for a healthy diet.
By-products and the plant-based proteins soy, corn, and wheat are not of sufficient nutritional quality to benefit this giant breed.
Prepared without the addition of chemicals, flavorings, fillers, or mystery ingredients
Chemicals, fillers, artificial flavorings and colorings, and mystery ingredients provide no nutritional benefit to the Saint Bernard. Though many foods do contain these items, they are not appropriate to meet the needs of this hardy dog breed.
Enriched with probiotics and helpful supplements
The ideal supplements to look for in a food for the Saint Bernard are taurine, glucosamine, chondroitin, prebiotics, and probiotics.
Meets AAFCO nutritional requirements for a complete and balanced food
All foods appropriate for the Saint Bernard should bear the AAFCO seal of approval, indicating it meets the standards for a complete and balanced food.