The importance of starting them off right....
Hoon is an 8 month old Beardie x Huntaway with long legs, a fast run and showing lots of natural talent. At 6 weeks old however, he was nearly put down because his hind legs were bandy, he was in pain when he walked, his kneecaps clicked in and out and he was knuckling over on his front legs.
The reason? He was being fed an inappropriate diet of weet-bix and cow's milk, and was absolutely chock full of intestinal worms. After only two months of being fed a commercial large breed puppy diet and being wormed regularly, his legs were straight, and he was no longer in pain when he walked.
The white dotted lines, in the image below, show the bowing of the femur and tibia (thigh bone and shin bone) from behind, you can also see the knuckling over in the front right leg.
From the side, you can see the relative disproportion of the leg bones - the femur (yellow line) is shorter than it should be, resulting in a very upright leg and unstable knee. The blue line follows the tibia.
This highlights the importance of starting any pup off right - not just working dogs. Commercial puppy diets are balanced in calcium and phosphorus for correct rate of bone growth, and have adequate energy to meet their requirements.
Toxocara roundworms can lie dormant in the bitch's muscle tissues until they whelp; the roundworm larvae then migrate to the mammary glands, infecting the puppies as soon as they feed. For this reason we recommend starting your worming programme when the puppies are two weeks old. Worm every two weeks until they are 12 weeks old, then once monthly until they are 6 months old. From this age they can go on the farm programme with the rest of the dogs.