Dogs are omnivores, just like humans. When it comes to deciding what to feed your new four legged friend we urge you to do as much research as possible. The food you choose, and how much you feed, directly impacts your dog’s mental and physical wellbeing.
There is a huge range of food out there, picking one can be quite a daunting challenge. Complete, freeze dried, cold pressed, wet, raw… The general rule of thumb is buy the best you can afford. But that doesn’t mean run out and buy the most expensive food on the market. Premium food can often appear healthy when in reality it’s packed full of poor ingredients.
It’s also important to bear in mind each dog is very individual in his or her needs. What works for one dog won’t necessarily work for another. So, trial and error is often the best way to figure out your dog’s ideal diet. And remember to introduce any diet changes gradually otherwise you may upset your dog’s tummy!
Understand What Dog Food Actually Is
By law dog food manufacturers have to list ingredients on labels, but sometimes it’s not obvious exactly what the ingredients are. Be wary of terms such as “meat and animal derivatives” or “cereals”. Really these terms could mean anything and so it can be used as a smoke screen for nastier ingredients.
There are many good sources of information online so we suggest familiarising yourself with the common tricks of the trade. All About Dog Food is a good starting point.
Watch the Nutrient Levels
By law all complete dog foods have to state the percentages of protein, fat, fibre and ash on the label. Some foods declare the contents of more nutrients, but they don’t have to. It’s important to understand what the nutrients are in dog food and how different levels can impact on your dog’s health.
Protein - Racing greyhounds are generally fed about 28-30% protein. But for a rescue greyhound 17-22% is recommended. High protein diets can cause your dog to be boisterous or even a bit hyper. It’s also essential to consider the type of protein in the food you choose. Some manufacturers substitute meat for cheaper sources of protein such as soya meal, maize gluten, potato protein… These are more difficult for dogs to dogs to digest and can aggravate sensitive tummies.
Oil/fat –Dogs can’t produce essential fatty acids so absorb these from food. They need it for healthy skin and hair, among many other things. But the wrong type of fat or too much fat can cause health problems, just like in humans. Check the nutritional information for terms such as “oils and fats” or “animal fats”. These are unlikely to help your pup’s waistline or heart so best avoided if possible.
Fibre – In recent years there has been a trend for adding fruit and veg to dog food. Fibre, the part of the plant that can’t be digested, helps your dog’s intestines stay healthy. But balance is important, too much fibre and you’ll go through far too many poo bags! Joking aside, too much fiber is as bad as not enough.
Minerals/Ash - In a nutshell, Ash refers to the mineral content of a food. It’s particularly important to look at the break down of nutrients for dogs with health issues as some nutrients can be damaging in some circumstances. For example if you dog has any issues with his kidneys then phosphorus levels should be kept low. Not all manufacturers list the same nutrients so if in doubt contact them direct for clarification.
Greyhounds, and indeed lurchers, can vary greatly in their tendency to gain/lose weight. Being over or under weight can be damaging to your dog’s wellbeing, particularly as they get older. This is largely manageable with the right diet but be careful you aren’t overfeeding by adding treats into the equation. Any treats given should be considered part of the overall diet and quantities working out accordingly.
Dogs tend to go slower as they age, as do humans. There is special food for ‘senior’ dogs out there but most importantly don’t overfeed your elderly hound. It will shorten their lifespan and cause additional aches and pains in their old age. If you are concerned about your dog’s weight please consult a vet, don’t wait until it gets out of hand.
Consult a Nutritionist
There are many great canine nutritionists out there who will help you shape the perfect menu for your precious pup. If you are in doubt about what to feed your dog, or if your dog has known health issues such as kidney malfunction or urinary problems, please consider consulting a canine nutritionist. It really could make the world of difference to you and your dog.