Our Thoughts on Feeding Saints

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Feeding of our Saint Bernards is something that we take very seriously.  From the moment the puppies are conceived we take special consideration to the nutrition that the bitch needs to in order to provide proper nutrition to the developing puppies. With this article we would like to focus on feeding from birth to senior ages.

Through many years of trial and error and dog food research, we have taken all that we have learned from other breeders and come up with a dog food regimen that works for us with great success.

When the puppies are born

When our puppies are born we start them off nursing on the mother if possible and we also always supplement.  It is very important to monitor what amount of milk the puppies are taking in. Our milk mixture that we use for the puppies is a 50/50 split of Meyenberg evaporated goat milk and bottled water. Meyenberg Evaporated Goat Milk is a concentrate made by removing half of the water from the fresh whole goat milk. It is unsweetened, pasteurized, naturally homogenized, and gluten free.  Its superior digestibility makes for quicker and more thorough absorption, which in turn allows improved assimilation of important vitamins and minerals. We only use this brand of goats milk. This product comes in 8 fluid oz. cans. It must be refrigerated after opening and can safely be reheated as needed.

We will continue to allow puppies to nurse on the mother and we also bottle feed our milk mixture. This is to ensure proper amounts are taken in by each puppy and weight is being gained. Newborn puppies are fed every 2 hours the first week. After week one, we start to increase to 3 hours during week 2. Between week 2 and 3, puppies are being fed every 3 hours during the day and increased to every 4 hours overnight.

Ready to wean

When puppies are of weaning age (between 3 and 4 weeks) we start them on a gruel mixture that consists of Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages (chicken and rice) dog food that we presoak in the milk mixture (goats milk/water). This soaked mixture is then warmed and run through a blender or food processor to get a thin creamy mixture. Puppies at this age are eating 4 times a day. We never use “puppy food”; puppy food is designed to promote growth. We feel that a Saint Bernard puppy does not need to be promoted to grow at a fast rate. We prefer the ratios in adult food- 26% protein and 16% fat. % protein and 16% fat helps maintain lean muscle and an ideal body condition. As the puppies mature, this mixture is fed also with just less of the milk mixture added and less presoaking.  Eventually by 7 weeks the puppies are only eating the Pro Plan dog food.  The kibble will be offered with a small amount of warm water added. The warm water seems to bring out the aroma and flavor and make chewing easier. The kibble and warm water will be continued as puppies mature. From 7 weeks to 4 months puppies are reduced to 3 feelings per day.

After 4 months generally they are fed twice daily. We continue this process all the way through the life stages. We always feed our dogs twice daily and sometimes with the growing puppies they will remain at 3 meals a day as needed.

From weaning to seniors

From the time they are weaned into solid food till the time they leave us as seniors we feed the same dog food. Purina Pro Plan Sport chicken and rice all life stages. As they become geriatric, we will soak food longer so it becomes softer and easier for them to chew and digest.

We feel very strongly about our choice of food and feeding protocol. This is also placed in our contract when a puppy or dog is sold. The new owners must agree to continue with the same dog food and regimen.

We have had great success with this process and have had limited amounts of growing pains, hot spots, skin irritations etc. Our dogs are living healthy lives and to appropriate ages with minimal heath concerns.

Our hope is that everybody will find a dog feeding regimen that works well for them and stick with it. It is far too common to hear of people who switch dog foods constantly and also seem to bounce from processed to raw and/or  back to multiple brands of food. We recommend that everyone does their own research and consults with their veterinarian. Through the years we have talked dog food with many breeders and dog fanciers and have found that Purina Pro Plan is widely used with great success across the board.

Happy feeding!

Jackie Schart and Billy Buell III, California
December, 2013