When you bring your Bullmastiff puppy home a feeding chart is usually supplied to you by the breeder. It is best to stay with this diet until a suitable time to change. There are many commercial dog foods available and your breeder will help you choose the right food for your Bullmastiff or what brands to avoid. The other alternative is natural feeding or BARF. Refer to Books.
Growth Rate Of A Bullmastiff
We are often asked what the growth rate is of a Bullmastiff. Generally the Bullmastiff will gain on average 2-3 lb or 1 to 1.5 kilograms per week. A Bull mastiff will grow to height at around the age of 10-12 months. Around 18 months muscles will tighten up and he will start filling out. A Bull mastiff will not fully mature until the age of 3-4 years with the head being the last to develop.
Foods To Feed the Bullmastiff
There are a few things that need to be considered with feeding large breed dogs like the Bullmastiff as it has been proven that diet is a contributing factor of Canine Hip Dysplasia. Most breeders have discovered that feeding a diet that is high in protein usually contributes to the Hip Dysplasia factor and, when a growing large breed dog is fed a diet that is lower in protein than some commercial puppy foods, their breeding dogs are thus screened with a lower score. We prefer to feed our dogs from the age of three months a commercial kibble adult dog food as this usually has a much lower protein level at 25% than a commercial puppy food that has a protein level of as high as 34%. Please refer to this Hip Dysplasia article for further reading.
So What Do We Feed Our Dogs?
As stated above we feed our dogs a commercial kibble such as Purina dry natural dog food. Bear in mind that the more expensive the dog food DOES NOT mean they are better. Generally read the contents. To our dogs daily kibble we add cooked vegetables, pasta and minced beef with the addition of egg yolk three times a week. Occasionally we feed whole raw fish preferably mackerel as they are a very oily fish, which is very beneficial for the immune system and coat. Fish is a good source of omegas. We prefer to feed our dogs twice a day with a larger meal given in the morning and smaller in the evening. And puppies up to four months three times a day.
Avoiding Gastric Torsion (Bloat)
When feeding your dog be sure to moisten dry foods with hot water and allow to cool before feeding, this is generally done to reduce the risk of bloat. Always feed your Bullmastiff in the cool of the day e.g. early morning or late evening. DO NOT ALLOW your Bullmastiff to exercise just before or after a meal as the Bullmastiff will drink excessively. Bloat is common in deep chested dogs like the Bullmastiff. Signs of bloat are usually that the stomach appears swollen like a balloon the dog appears depressed and will make several attempts to vomit unsuccessfully and salivate excessively. Bloat is fatal if your dog shows signs of having bloat take them to your vet IMMEDIATELY
Bones have always been a big issue DO NOT FEED COOKED BONES. Cooked bones can splinter and can tear the stomach lining. Be careful about size of the bone, brisket bones and other small bones can choke a Bullmastiff. As a rule don't give your dog a bone smaller than a foot.
Foods To Avoid
There are a few foods that we think may be alright for dogs as we don't have problems with them- chocolate being probably the most commonly known food to avoid with dogs.
Chocolate contains Theobromine which acts as a cardiac stimulate and a diuretic. An overdose of chocolate can cause the dog to become hyperactive and the diuretic can cause the dog to urinate frequently thus cause the dog to drink excessively. Signs of chocolate toxicity may not be seen for hours and death usually occurring within 24 hours. With chocolate toxicity you can expect your dog to have vomiting and diarrhoea, but the effects of theobrimine on the heart is the greatest concern as the Theobromine can cause the heart to beat irregularly. With a hyperactive dog and exercise death is a great possibility. The second most toxic form of chocolate to dogs is dark chocolate with the milk chocolate being the least dangerous
Another food that can also be threatening is garlic and onions. Both onions and garlic contain a toxic ingredient known as thiosulphate. Onion toxicity causes the red blood cells to burst while circulating the body this is known as haemolytic anemia.
First signs of onion toxicity are bloat vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs with onion toxicity will refuse to eat become dull, weak and breathless. Breathlessness is due to the red blood cells bursting thus unable to carry oxygen through the body. All types and forms are dangerous to your dog including raw and dehydrated onions. Onion toxicity doesn't visually appear in the dog until three days after eating onions. Left overs are probably one of the biggest threats as usually these will contain both onions and garlic e.g. pizza, Chinese or left overs from a B.B.Q. Garlic is less toxic than onions but can have the same affects. So as a rule both should be avoided even in small doses over a period of time the toxicity can build up
Another problem food are macadamia nuts raw or roasted or butter form. Effects of macadamia nut toxicity is that it causes dogs to develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, weakness and or paralysis of the hindquarters. Signs of poisoning difficulties in getting up they appear distressed and usually panting some dogs can also have swollen limbs. The quantity required to cause this toxicity in dogs has been as small an amount as six macadamia shelled nuts. It takes time for the dog to recover and luckily there have been no known cases of death.
Bread fed in high doses can also cause problems. When we had chickens many years ago we use to buy the day old bread for the chickens and on one occasion we gave the chickens a whole sack of bread. One of my girls (Bullmastiff) being a pig as she was decided that the chickens couldn't have all that bread for themselves and helped her self. With in two hours of realizing what she had done she had bloat.
The bread she had eaten had fermented in her stomach and eating so much bread caused her to drink excessively thus bloat. We quickly rushed her to the vet and we were very lucky to get her there on time. There are other foods that should also be avoided feeding in large quantities beans and lentils which can also cause bloat.
Dairy products shouldn't be fed in high quantities either milk and or cheese can cause dogs to have diarrhoea. If your dog does scour, avoid feeding dairy products.