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All breeds (incl. large and giant breeds)
Balancing for Puppies
PDD was specifically engineered to balance meals and treats for puppies, including large and giant breeds. By the time you have finished this tutorial you will be able to make complete and scientifically balanced homemade pet food that is precisely optimized for your puppy.
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Step 1a - Adding your puppy to the Pets List

Before you can create meals for your puppy you must first add your puppy to the database.

Click on the Pets button in the ribbon or on the Pets icon in the modules sidebar to launch the PETS module.

In the PETS module, click the ADD button on the ribbon. You should get the ADD PET dialog. Fill out species, call name, gender, and your pet's birthday.

After clicking the ADD button in the dialog, your puppy now appears in the list.

Step 1b - Adding your puppy (Editing Pet Data)

Highlight the recently added puppy in the list and click the Edit button.

We are now in the Edit screen where you enter basic information for your puppy as well as your puppy's physiology (life stage, weight, etc.). Below the image section is the Pet Info Panel. The information in this panel is extremely important and you will not be able to create recipes for your newly added puppy until all the required information is present. Click the physiology tab to enter life stage and weight data. First we will enter life stage data.

Step 1c - Adding your puppy's Life Stage

Before you can enter a life stage record for your puppy, you need to know some key pieces of data:

  1. the age of your puppy in weeks, and
  2. the expected mature weight of your puppy

We know our puppy is approx. 5 weeks old and the expected mature weight for a female border collie at 16 months of age based on the average of smallest and largest individuals is 15.5 kg [(12 + 19) / 2].

If you don't know the weight of the parents then calculate the breed average.

Step 1d - Adding your puppy's weight and other data

Next we will enter a weight record for our puppy. At approx. 5 weeks our puppy is 1.7 kg.

Clicking on the Profile tab allows us to enter the remaining required data:

  1. Uncheck the Neutered checkbox,
  2. Select Ideal for Body Condition Score,
  3. Select "Typical (Puppy)" for Activity Level,
  4. Select "Border Collie" for Breed,
  5. Select "Medium" for Breed Size, and finally,
  6. Click the SAVE button on the ribbon.

That's it! You can see that there is no more "REQUIRED" criteria in the PET INFO PANEL. You will now be able to create precisely balanced meals for your puppy.

Step 2a - Creating Recipes

First we click on the Recipes button in the ribbon. We are now in the Recipes module, where you can create, delete, copy, edit, and balance a recipe.

Next, we click the Add button in the ribbon. The Add Recipe dialog will appear. Give a name to the recipe and attach a pet. We will call this recipe, "Raw Lean Ground Beef," and attach our puppy.

After you click the Add button in the Add Recipe dialog, a new record will appear in the recipes list. Highlight the new record and click the Recipe Balancer button in the ribbon. This launches the Recipe Balancer module, where you add ingredients and adjust amounts to achieve balance.

Step 2b - Safe Upper Limits

When formulating a diet for puppies it is important to make sure that there are no excesses for some nutrients. Safe upper limits will be integrated into our Pet Diet 365 line of products. The table to the right lists the safe upper limit of key nutrients for puppies based on the NRC recommended allowance.

Note that puppies have stringent requirements (see Lysine and Calcium).

Puppies 4-14 Weeks Old Safe Upper Limit (SUL)
Lysine 227 %
Total Fat 387 %
Linoleic Acid 494 %
EPA + DHA 2153 %
Calcium 150 %
Vitamin A 989 %
Vitamin D 588 %
Puppies 14 Weeks & Older Safe Upper Limit (SUL)
Lysine 285 %
Total Fat 387 %
Linoleic Acid 494 %
EPA + DHA 2153 %
Calcium 150 %
Vitamin A 989 %
Vitamin D 588 %

Step 2c - Continuing to Balance our Recipe

In "Step 2a - Creating Recipes", we started to balance a raw, ground beef recipe for our puppy. In this video, we will continue balancing our recipe while discussing tips and tricks to follow to make the process easier. We will also discuss Safe Upper Limits (SULs).

We want to pay particular attention to Lysine, Calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D, as we continue to design our diet.

Step 3a - Editing your Recipe

You can edit your recipe and add additional criteria, such as recipe directions, recipe summary, notes, pointers and suggestions, complexity, prep time, and recipe categories.

This video shows how to edit your recipe as well as how to filter recipes by category and by other criteria. We show how to print a recipe and how to sort ingredients. Before we print, we show how to perform an Integrity Check, to ensure integrity of reports.

Step 3b - Making a Recipe Batch for 7 days

You should be weighing your puppy each week and re-balancing your recipe, if needed. Also, before you make a batch, feed your puppy the recipe to ensure it is palatable and your puppy enjoys the meal.

We are going to make a 7-day batch. We will take the gram weight of our recipe and multiply this amount by seven. Click the button Show Gram Weight in the ribbon. The footer of the ingredient list will give you the total gram weight (236.22 g). Click the calculator button in the ribbon and multiply this amount by 7. You should get 1,653.54 grams. Copy this number to the clipboard and go to the Report Viewer module.

Click the Batch Food Report and start entering the parameters...

Step 3c - Assess your puppy's body condition score (BCS)

An easy way to determine whether or not a puppy's growth rate is optimal is its Body Condition Score (BCS).

You should evaluate your puppy's BCS at least every 2 weeks.

Your goal is to keep your puppy's BCS at either 4 or 5 on a 9-point scale.

If your puppy has a BCS below 4 then you have to make adjustments to the diet. Likewise, if your puppy's BCS is 6 or higher, then you need to make adjustments.

We have developed an easy way to modify your puppy's diet based on BCS (see tables below).

As an example, we will consider what to do if your puppy has a 3 score (thin) or a 6 score (slightly overweight). You wll use the same procedure to adjust up or down depending on your puppy's score.

 

Case 1: your puppy has a BCS of 3 (thin).

The strategy here is to move your puppy to the next BCS category, until we have a score of 4 or 5. Look at the chart below.

Our puppy has a BCS of 3. Find the multiplier beside the score of 3. You should have 1.25. Take the current weight of your puppy and multiple by 1.25. This will give you the expected weight of your puppy with an ideal BCS of 5.

Next, enter this weight as the current weight for our puppy in the PETS module.

Finally, open your recipe in the RECIPE BALANCER module and re-balance the recipe. Keep doing this every week until you have a BCS of 4 or 5.

 Score   Multiplier 
1 1.67
2 1.43
3 1.25
4 1.11

Adapted from de Montbrun, R. et al 2019.
PDD Body Condition Score Guidelines August 2019

 

Case 2: your puppy has a BCS of 6 (slightly overweight).

The strategy here is to get your puppy to an ideal BCS of 5. Look at the chart below.

Our puppy has a BCS of 6. Find the multiplier beside the score of 6. You should have 0.9091. Take the current weight of your puppy and multiple by 0.9091. This will give you the expected weight of your puppy with an ideal BCS of 5.

Next, enter this weight as the current weight for our puppy in the PETS module.

Finally, open your recipe in the RECIPE BALANCER module and re-balance the recipe. Keep doing this every week until you have a BCS of 5.

 Score   Multiplier 
6 0.9091
7 0.8334
8 0.7693
9 0.6897

Adapted from de Montbrun, R. et al 2019.
PDD Body Condition Score Guidelines August 2019

Score

Location Feature

Estimated
body fat (%)

% BW below or above BCS 5

1.
Emaciated

Ribs & other bony prominences Visible from a distance & easily palpable with no overlaying fat.
Abdomen Severe abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, exaggerated hourglass shape when viewed from above.
Tail base Prominent, raised bone structures with no tissue between the skin and bone. Obvious loss of muscle mass and no discernible body fat.

<4%

- ≥40%

2.
Very Thin

Ribs & other bony prominences Visible & easily palpable with no fat layer under the skin.
Abdomen Strong abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, accentuated hourglass shape when viewed from above.
Tail base Prominent, raised bone structures with no tissue between the skin and bone. Minimal loss of muscle mass.

4-10%

-30-40%

3.
Thin

Ribs & other bony prominences Discernible & easily palpable with minimal fat cover.
Abdomen Pronounced abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, marked hourglass shape when viewed from above.
Tail base Raised bony structures with little tissue between skin and bone.

5-15%

-20-30%

4.
Slightly
underweight

Ribs & other bony prominences Easily palpable with minimal fat cover.
Abdomen Abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, slightly marked hourglass shape when viewed from above.
Tail base Raised bony structures with little subcutaneous tissue.

10-20%

-10-15%

5.
Ideal

Ribs & other bony prominences Ribs not visible, but easily palpable, with thin layer of fat. Other bony prominences are palpable with slight amount of overlaying fat.
Abdomen Abdominal tuck when viewed from the side and well proportioned lumbar waist (hourglass shape) when viewed from above.
Tail base Smooth contour or some thickening, bony structures palpable under a thin layer of subcutaneous fat.

15-25%

0%

6.
Slightly
overweight

Ribs & other bony prominences Palpable with moderate fat cover.
Abdomen Less obvious abdominal tuck when viewed from the side, hourglass shape less pronounced when viewed from above.
Tail base Smooth contour or some thickening, bony structures remain palpable under moderate layer of subcutaneous fat.

20-30%

+10-15%

7.
Overweight

Ribs & other bony prominences Difficult to palpate, thick fat cover.
Abdomen Little abdominal tuck when viewed from the side or waist, and back slightly broadened when viewed from above.
Tail base Smooth contour or some thickening, bony structures remain palpable under subcutaneous fat.

25-35%

+20-30%

8.
Obese

Ribs & other bony prominences Ribs are very difficult to palpate, with thick layer of fat. Other bony prominences are distended with extensive fat deposit.
Tail base Appears thickened, difficult to palpate bony structures.
General Ventral bulge under abdomen, no waist, and back markedly broadened when viewed from above. Fat deposits over lumbar area and neck.

30-40%

+30-45%

9.
Grossly
Obese

Ribs & other bony prominences Ribs are very difficult to palpate, with massive layer of fat; other bony prominences are distended with extensive fat deposit between bone and skin.
Tail base Appears thickened, bony structures almost impossible to palpate.
General Pendulous ventral bulge under abdomen, no waist, back markedly broadened when viewed from above. Fat deposits over lumbar area, neck, face, limbs and in the groin. A dip may
form on the back when lumbar and thoracic fat bulges dorsally.

>40%

>45%

Adapted from Laflamme D 1997b, Laflamme DP 1993, Laflamme DP 2006, Laflamme DP et al. 1994, Mawby DI et al. 2004.
FEDIAF Nutritional Guidelines August 2018

Step 3d - Key points to remember when feeding your puppy

Your goal when feeding your puppy is to optimize growth and immune function while minimizing obesity and skeletal disorders.

Growth rates of puppies are affected by the nutrient density of the food and the amount of food fed. Puppies should be fed to grow at an average rate, not a maximal rate. Puppies will grow to their maximum size, whether growth rate is rapid or slow. So it is best to underfeed, not overfeed. Even moderate overfeeding resulted in overweight adults and decreased longevity. (Kealy et al, 2002).

 

Balance amino acids first and choose palatable ingredients

A simple method to follow when balancing for your puppy:

  1. balance amino acids,
  2. balance fatty acids,
  3. balance minerals and vitamins
  4. remaining calorie target is as close to zero as possible (-30 to +30 kcal)

Don't forget to choose ingredients that are palatable to your puppy. Remember that meat grinds (ground food) are good for mixing supplement powders, pureed veggies, etc.

Puppies should be fed an energy dense diet 2 or 3 times per day.
Special considerations for Large- and Giant Breeds
Weigh puppy every week.
Assess Body Condition Score (BCS) at least every 2 weeks
Don't feed toxic foods and ingredients for dogs.
Don't use raw pig liver for copper
Safety Tips for handling raw pet food

Getting Started

View these tutorials to get a good overview of the capabilities of PDD for Windows.

How to balance a puppy

Everything you need to know to perfectly balance meals for your growing puppy.

How to balance an adult dog

All the ins and outs to choose energy requirements and balance for your adult dog.

How to balance a gestating bitch

How to ensure perfectly balanced recipes for your pregnant dog.

How to balance a lactating bitch

Find out how to create perfectly balanced meals for lactating dogs.

How to balance a kitten

Everything you need to know to perfectly balance meals for your growing kitten.

How to balance an adult cat

All the ins and outs to choose energy requirements and balance for your adult cat.

How to balance a gestating queen

How to ensure perfectly balanced recipes for your pregnant cat.

How to balance a lactating queen

Find out how to create perfectly balanced meals for lactating cats.

Taking the Next Step

Take your pet formulation skills to the next level. Choose one of the video tutorials below.

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If you didn't find the help you were looking for in our tutorials, Pet Diet Designer also offers tech support on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (ET). If you need help outside of those hours, check out our online user guides or post to our user community.

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Balance your pet's diet

We offer scientific, evidence-based DIY diet formulation to the world of homemade pet food. Take your pet diet formulation skills to the next level with the world's best pet nutrition software. Our software complies with the guidelines set by the 2006 NRC publication, "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats". This publication is the gold standard for dog and cat nutrition worldwide. Download PDD today and get started designing dog and cat recipes with confidence using our advanced Pet Diet Formulator™. Designing diets is finally fun!

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