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There isn't an easy answer to this question and I would be inclined to keep doing what your doing as you've said that Bess gets a good quality, healthy diet. I was told that after 18 months, they don't need the amount of vitamins and minerals for growth but I believe that Setters need a diet that is rich in fatty acids to maintain a healthy coat, eyes and skin. Keeps the old brain-box ticking over too.
Rigsby's two now and has always been a faddy eater and until recently, has been underweight...but I was told to use my eyes rather than the scales and when he reached the body condition that looked good for him, that was his optimum weight. His optimum weight is 35kg (he is a big dog), and I weigh him once a month. This is just to keep a check of his weight but only as a guide to make sure that the food going in is up to the amount of exercise he does, and thus maintain his body condition.
We are lucky that we live in the Cotswolds (can't go anywhere without climbing a hill), so we have a perfect playing ground to develop all areas of his body. Muscle weighs more than fat and looks better, so good exercise also plays it's part. Don't think about how long you're out on the walk but the type of exercise done. We run up hills and road walks down and we're out for no longer than an hour.
I'm probably preaching to the choir but I hope that helps a little...Lesley
You probably know all this
Thanks for the advice - I'll keep her as she is for now. She certainly hasn't reached adult weight yet, but I didn't want her to get fat without me noticing.
You're very lucky where you live - I'm in Essex, and although the countryside undulates a bit, we don't have real hills. That's why I like taking Bess to the sea wall where she can run up and down steep banks for the whole walk. We can only do this every couple of weeks, as the tide has to be in. If not, she'll disappear over the mud flats chasing sea birds.
I agree with Lesley my eldest bitch was a very fussy eater until having her pups last September at 4, we did worry a little on whether she would eat enough during her pregnancy. I fed her quite a varied diet and added things to her dried complete like scrambled eggs, sardines, cheese, left over meat, cheese and raw meat.
I now feed the 2 puppies we kept extra as well as our boy is a little skinny and grows quickly all at one time and gets lanky and then doesn't have much meat over his pin bones.
Setters can also have sensitive tummy's and we found that the puppy food we weaned them on was not digesting properly and so stools were sloppy and now feed them both Arden Grange after trying a few different types, a little pricey but both doing well on it.
Extra fish in their diet is so good for skin, coat, eyes and joints and Bronte the mum drools and cries if she smells it and we are cooking it.
I don't rigidly follow guidelines I know my own dogs and feed according to what they need if that makes any sense.
I have been feeding Bess according to what she will eat! Her appetite has certainly perked up since her season which I sincerely hope doesn't mean she's heading for a phantom pregnancy (her season started on Feb 24th, so I think I'm still a little way off that). It is nice to see her eating now so I'd rather not cut down when she at last seems to be enjoying her food.
I do feel that being a fussy eater when she was a pup may have helped her growth as and she grew steadily but slowly, so her developing bones didn't have too much weight to carry. She does still need to build up her muscles, but I don't want her to build up fat (if that makes sense?).
Definitely the best way growing slowly my Oscar has had massive growth spurts which is such a pain when you are meant to be showing but just might have to wait a little while longer as he needs feeding up. I get told off that he has too much muscle chasing his sister round the garden as the only get walked out on a lead so only get the free running in the garden.