New owners often receive plenty of conflicting information about what to feed their retired racing greyhound. The truth is, it’s better to give him a simple, basic diet, and to be consistant about it. This provides a solid foundation for his health, as he lives out his golden years with his “forever family.”
The best diet for your retired racing greyhound consists mainly of a good quality, dried kibble, and plenty of fresh water. Some bits of meat, vegetables, and starch (rice or pasta) add mental stimulation and a few extra nutrients. There is also an array of other foods which you can include, that act as early intervention; heading off problems which might, otherwise, affect your dog’s health.
Your dog, in his professional life, was a hearty eater. That joy will carry into retirement; as long as you are careful not to over-do the treats or give him anything that causes tummy-trouble. This guide will help you sort all that out what to bring home for your greyhound.
How to Track Down the Best Kibble for Your Greyhound’s Diet
It seems like every piece of info on feeding a pet greyhound is contradicted by another piece of info! What this tells us is that there is no single “right way” to feed your greyhound…except, of course, that which works best for him. If his diet isn’t impairing his health or digestion, if his weight is OK, and he’s behaving well, you ARE doing it right.
If you are just about to bring home a new greyhound, it’s good to find out what he is currently eating, and how it’s working out for him.
If he has been in a foster home or at an adoption kennel, they probably have him on dry kibble. As long as his carers are not reporting any stomach upset, try to begin with a bag of whatever they have been feeding him.
If you cannot get the same food, type into your search bar “(name of the food), label” That will usually bring up the ingredient list and nutritional info. Screenshot or print these, and bring the info to your local pet store, so you can compare labels and find something similar in ingredients and nutrition. It is worth the trip, because it is a quicker, when the labels that are in front of you; as opposed to trying to do it online. If you’re anything like me, by the time each page loads, you’ve forgotten what you read on the previous page. That makes it really hard to make a sound comparison, doesn’t it?
The other great thing about the pet store (even the large chains) is that they keep the small bags in stock. Later on, after you settle on a kibble, you can get it in the largest bags, which cost much less per pound than the little bags. Some foods are extremely costly, no matter what size you buy. Greyhounds are large dogs; so feeding costs can wear on your wallet, if he ends up on too expensive a kibble.
You will find that there is quite a range of prices. More expensive does not necessarily mean better, though. It’s just as common for a dog to do poorly on a “premium food” as it is for a dog to do great on, say, the Costco house brand. I’m trying to avoid specific brands here, though. I want this article to be a source of advice for years to come, and dog food formulas change constantly. What works today may be reformulated into a loser tomorrow.
Do not be swayed by fellow greyhound owners, or even vets, who swear by a certain food or diet. The only one you should be “listening to” is your greyhound. He will communicate the success (or failure) of your feeding program through his stools, demeanor, weight, and general health.
All of my greyhounds have come to me straight from the track diet, which meant a bigger adjustment. The racer’s diet consists of raw meat with vegetables and rice (or pasta). That means that I was the one responsible for switching them over to dry dog food.
Getting Enough Water into Your Greyhound Every Day
Greyhounds are notorious for being poor drinkers. It seems like I say that in every third article I write. It bears repeating, though, since water is mostly what a dog is made of! Angela Thorp from Today’s Veterinary Nurse calculates that “water averages 60% of their body weight.” Since Thorp goes on to say that fatty dogs carry less water per pound, we can conclude that, for the extremely lean greyhound, that number may be even higher.
If you pet does not get at least a quart of water a day, he can develop health problems. Chronic lack of water is stressful for his vital organs, and especially for his renal system. Since the mouth doesn’t get rinsed as often, tooth decay and gum disease can develop. His coat can become coarse and dull. Every cell of his body needs clean, fresh water.
You may find it necessary to drown your greyhound’s meals in water, just to keep him hydrated! Don’t feel bad if you need to do this – He will enjoy it, just the same.
For complete information on getting your greyhound to drink more water, check out this article (I will link it at the end, as well – I’m sure you want to finish reading this article first):
How Much “People Food” is OK for Greyhounds?
I am a staunch believer in dog food for dogs. The best approach to feeding “people food” to greyhounds is to use it as you would use seasoning in your own food – Not too much, in other words. You will find your greyhound is keenly interested in every smell that comes out of your kitchen, and that he is intensely curious about everything he sees you put into your mouth. As long as you avoid ingredients that are harmful to him, letting him taste is OK; just don’t let him be a garbage disposal.
There are some foods you must make sure that your greyhound never eats. Here are some of the more dangerous examples:
- anything with xylitol
- yeasted bread dough (raw)
- more than just a small amount of fat
The list of foods that your greyhound shouldn’t eat is considerably longer. These are foods that some greyhounds are more sensitive to than others. A good example of this is green pepper, which is in many processed foods. If I let my Shannon lick a plate or even a pan, or eat a noodle from a dish with green pepper, he was fine. If I let Lily do that, she gets an upset stomach and messy stools.
I wrote this annotated list of foods that are bad for greyhounds; which is so comprehensive, you may wish to print it out (again, I’ll link below, too, so you can catch it at the end):
What Wellness Foods to Give Your Greyhound
When a dog has terrible gastric problems, many greyhound owners go through the torturous cycle of trying one food after another, thinking that the choice of food simply doesn’t agree with him. Often, however, more intervention is needed than just a change in kibble. A greyhound who always has loose stools and an upset tummy is experiencing inflammation in his gastric system.
As you know from your own experience, it’s hard to eat your way out of a bellyache! First, you must calm and heal his tummy. Be sure your pet is free of intestinal parasites, as that is so often the root of the inflammation. Even if he has been dewormed, sometimes they return. For my Peaches, worms were a problem, on and off, for the rest of her life.
Even if you can beat the worms, he may need your help getting rid of the inflammation, as well. Greyhounds are sensitive creatures, who love comfort. Once the dog’s system is inflamed from parasites, he can become upset, causing extra acid to release into his stomach. The acid inflames the stomach again, in a cycle that can keep going indefinitely.
Adding probiotics through yogurt or supplements often does wonders. There is also a product called Olewo Carrots, which has restored the digestive health of many greyhounds. According to Dr. Axe, tumeric is helpful in calming stomach inflammation, and is safe for dogs. He cautions, however, to not use tumeric supplements designed for people, as they may contain more curcumin than is healthy for your pet. If your buddy is on any medications, check with your vet. To use the powdered tumeric from your spice cabinet, figure about 1/8 t. per ten lbs. weight. Be sure to work up to this dose, as too much can be irritating.
One brand name of kibble worth mentioning here is Biljac. This food was recommended as easily digestible, by my vet, for my first greyhound, Peaches. I have been using it ever since. The dogs adjusted to it flawlessly.
Supplementing his kibble with well-cooked rice, noodles, bits of bread, boiled meat, and other bland foods can be agreeable to his stomach, too.
I don’t delve into the subject of raw diets, in spite of the many glowing videos and articles I see about it. Greyhounds need a consistant diet, and raw diets are a job. Many owners do not, long-term, have enough time to devote to maintaining a consistantly healthy raw diet. It’s also unsanitary to be dealing with that much raw meat, and then having to clean up after it, too. I see some dogs eating it off the lawn, which is an attack of parasites waiting to happen…not to mention live parasites, which may be present in uncooked meat. Purchased raw food is not the answer, either – 21% of commercial raw food tested by the USFDA, in a 2-year study (linked below), tested positive for “foodborne bacteria,” such as “Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.”
What about persticides? Even if you don’t use them, many people do. I would feel concerned about pestiside residue that has washed down to my property, if my dog was eating off my grass every day.
Resources for Further Info
“Fluid Calculations: Keeping a Balance” by Angela Thorp, CVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM) 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, Chandler, AZ
The full USDA study on raw pet food:
Dr. Axe’s full article on tumeric for dogs:
My article on getting them to drink better:
The full scoop on what NOT to feed your pup: