Feeding retired Greyhounds is one of those subjects that can soon blow up in to a major argument on social media.
We’re going to try and navigate the minefield without any casualties.
I’m going to start with a disclaimer - I am not trained in animal nutrition and can only speak from my personal experience. However, I have added a video below by veterinary surgeon, Dr Alex Avery, discussing the topic of feeding.
When I inherited Radley I didn’t have a clue about feeding retired Greyhounds so I continued feeding him the kibble that came with him. I soon noticed he was leaving most of what was in his bowl.
I began adding a little warm water to make a gravy. This worked for a while but it wasn’t long before he was leaving it again.
My next trick was to add some canned food so I got a six pack of mixed flavours from the local supermarket. The first night I tempted him with chicken and rice. He inhaled the lot in under five seconds but left the kibble in the bottom of the bowl.
At this point I began to do some research but there was so much conflicting advice I was left wondering how any domestic dog ever survived meal times.
Back to experimenting in the kitchen. After much trial and error I ended up feeding him pet mince from the local butcher which I cooked with fresh vegetables and served with half a tin of Butchers Tripe Mix. He had this twice a day.
I’m not sure of the nutrient content but we’d hit on something he loved.
His coat shone, he was happy and he had plenty of energy for long walks so we kept him on it for the rest of his time with us.
When we first brought Yogi home we started him on the same food we gave Radley and he loved it. But we had a problem. Yogi was a big hound and prone to easy weight gain. He was such a nervous boy when we first got him. He was afraid of everything and had so few pleasures in his life but he loved his food so I was reluctant to reduce his intake.
I began to do some more research. I’d read about feeding raw while I was researching Radley’s diet but, at the time, we didn’t have the freezer space and I thought it would prove too expensive. However, I though it sounded promising for Yogi so I looked into it further.
After getting some advice from Steve at the Dog Adventure Centre we invested in a new freezer and a selection of raw meat flavours. As it was the beginning of December we even got a turkey and cranberry meal for Yogi’s dinner on Christmas Day.
Fortunately he loved his raw food and we saw a small drop in weight in the first month. We tweaked quantities and brands until we hit his target weight and found something he really enjoyed.
This turned out to be either Bulmers Complete or Durham Animal Feeds Complete at a ratio of 10% bone, 10% offal and 80% muscle meat.
In the beginning I added two tablespoons of raw grated veg to the meat but I dropped this after about six months and Yogi thrived without it.
Sunny is on the same diet as Yogi was. Initially he was not impressed by the raw food. He would pick a mouthful out of his bowl and drop it on the floor. Next, he progressed to carrying it to his living room bed and dropping it there. I began to worry.
I always warm the food to what we call ‘fresh roadkill temperature’ but I experimented with making it a little warmer. He ate a mouthful or two and abandoned it.
I researched kibble as a possible alternative and decided, if I had to make the switch, I would try the Simpsons Sensitive Salmon and Potato. The only thing I knew for sure at that point was that I wanted to feed grain free. As it happened Sunny soon adapted to the raw and he loves it now.
What about feeding retired Greyhounds treats?
Most hounds love treats and it's easy to give in to those gorgeous faces. I tend to try and calculate treats into the daily food quota, though this doesn't always work out. Even strangers can't resist those eyes. We're often asked if Sunny can have a treat by fellow dog walkers. He answer is always, "Yes, please!"
I like to keep the treats grain free so we make most of our own. I buy 5% fat steak mince, freeze it for at least a week to kill potential parasites.
Once defrosted I divide it into thin patties about an inch in diameter and pop it in the dehydrator at 70°C for about 5 hours.
Finally I oven blast at 150°C for 3 minutes. The oven blasting is to kill any bacteria on the meat. A healthy hound’s gut would handle this bacteria perfectly well so this step is to make it safe for humans to handle the treats.
I usually do about a kilo at a time which lasts about a month. Sunny loves them and so do his mates.
A raw meaty bone is a once a week treat too. It keeps him quiet for a while and it's great for keeping his teeth clean.
As I said, I’m not qualified in canine nutrition and can only speak from our personal experience. However, I’m very aware that feeding raw doesn’t suit every hound, or every houndie parent, so here is a video by Dr Alex Avery discussing raw vs kibble.
As stated on our Greyhound Care page, my advice remains to feed the very best quality diet you can afford and that your hound enjoys.