What Foods are Bad for Greyhounds? How to tell


Wait! Before you let him clean off your plate, be sure you know what foods are harmful to greyhounds!

The top 10 foods that are bad for greyhounds are fatty meat scraps, grapes, meat by-products (MBM), carrageenan, onions, soy, food dye, chocolate, yeast dough, and raw meat. 

Whether you’re giving Speedy a few table scraps, trying to choose the right kibble, or hoping to create homemade dog food, this guide will help to prevent you from giving your greyhound the wrong food. 

Why Bad Foods are Worse for Greyhounds 

Foods that are bad for all dogs are even worse for greyhounds. Because they only have half the body fat of the average dog, anything bad they take in hits them all at once. This means the greyhound’s reaction is going to be more severe, and possibly more debilitating. 

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t get put on a guilt-trip by someone in my own household, because I won’t let him feed Lily something from his plate.  Not that she doesn’t get any table scraps; but the little treat given now, may mean that I’m doing some unpleasant and unexpected chore later (think cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, having to struggle to get an unusually lethargic Lily up for a walk, administering Pepto Bismol or gas drops, etc.).  

It’s much healthier for her if I separate out a few tidbits for her while I cook; such as plain noodles, meat, and vegetables, before they are baked into a casserole or covered with sauces that contain things that are bad for her.

Beware of Food Info Overload

It is easy to gain a false sense of security from articles that tell you how much of something a dog has to eat for it to be fatal.  There is a whole lot of illness and discomfort that can occur between health and death!  A food that is fatal does not magically become ok in smaller amounts – They can still shorten your dog’s life, or make him very unhappy.  

Even worse, there are some toxins in foods that will build up, unseen, in your greyhound’s system; and you won’t realize it, until the damage has been done.

Keep in mind, I am not a strict proponent of all-natural, all-organic, perfect-down-to-the-.0001% greyhound nutrition person.  There are plenty of sites which do that very well; they are easily found, and I don’t think you can go wrong with such a careful approach to your dog’s diet.  

Many greyhound owners, however, will get lost in the weeds with information overload, and are unlikely to maintain the strict regemin suggested by such sources.  

You are reading this, because you have come here in search of practical guidelines, which you can learn easily and stay with for the happy, healthy lifetime of your greyhound.

List of Plant-Based Foods Which Are/May Be Harmful to Your Greyhound

Grapes

Never feed this very hazardous food to your greyhound!  It can cause neurological problems, and even lead to sudden kidney failure.

Avocado

According to the AKC, avocados contain persin, which is toxic, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Other parts of the plant contain quite a bit more than the fruit, so if you have an avocado plant, be sure to keep your greyhound away from it.  

Bananas

A bit of your banana is OK for your greyhound, or a frozen slice as a treat on a warm, summer day; but do stop there.  The high sugar content of bananas keeps them from being a good choice for daily feeding.

Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant (Aubergine), and Bell Peppers

These all contain solanine, a toxin.  A trace of spaghetti sauce from your plate won’t hurt, but do not add these vegetables to your dog’s food.  I am always very surprised to see dog food formulas touting potato, the worst solanine culprit of all.  

Potatoes with green spots contain particularly high levels of solanine (enough to give ME a stomachache), and you have no way of knowing how well they trimmed those spuds at the dog food factory. 

Mushrooms

I add this one, not because it’s necessarily bad for your greyhound, but because there is a wealth of dis-iinformation on it!  Every, single article I could find on mushrooms being bad for dogs was either talking about mushrooms in your lawn (duh – NOBODY is supposed to eat those), or saying that mushrooms could be harboring spices from your food which your dog shouldn’t have.  One could say the same thing about bread, but you don’t see anyone saying that bread is bad for dogs!  

I have noticed, though, that mushrooms are one of only two foods that has been uniformly rejected by each of my greyhounds.  If even a little piece of one sneaks into the food, I find it alone, at the bottom of the otherwise-empty bowl (oh, the other food they hate? Pretzels!).  

I was unable to find any specific allegan, substance, or toxin in the common, white supermarket mushroom that would be harmful to a greyhound.   An allergist told me once that people often have a natural aversion to foods they are allergic to – I wonder if that is also true of greyhounds?

Onions, Garlic, Chives, etc. (Alliums)

These are very common in the foods we eat, so think twice before feeding table scraps to your greyhound.  Restaurant food is especially high in alliums – Be doubly cautious with your leftovers from the take-out!  

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of the Animal Meidcal Center (NY), quoted in a Pet MD website article, states that alliums contain N-propyl disulphide, which can cause a fatal anemia in dogs.  

Spinach

Like potato, here is another food that I see recommended all the time for dogs.  It even shows up in baby food.  

My personal rule of thumb is, if my (human) babies or I don’t digest it well, I don’t give it to my greyhounds.  I don’t even want to describe the violent diaper rash I witnessed in my kids, after they ate spinach.  It doesn’t sit all that well with me, either; so I’m always careful to eat a lot of other foods along with it, to act as a buffer.  

I would not, however, give it to a greyhound.  Spinach contains high amounts of oxalic acid, which can really irritate the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage, etc. (Cruciferous Vegetables)

These fall under the above rule of thumb!  Many creditable sources do recommend them, however.  If you are already feeding cruciferous vegetables to your greyhound successfully, carry on!  Otherwise, proceed with caution.  If they make your hound gassy, you will surely realize it soon enough!

Soy

Genetic modifications to our soy supply have made this food a true loser for your greyhound. Issues include indigestibility, carcinogen, and a host of other perils.  

It can be difficult to detect soy just from a quick glance at the ingredients label.  Since dog food manufacturers realize that savvy greyhound owners have gotten wise to the dangers of soy, they often will disguise it under other names; using the word “vegetable,” as in vegetable protein, lecithin, and even natural flavoring. 

Corn

Corn falls into three different categories: that which is found in your dog’s kibble, fresh or frozen corn that you may add to his food or give as a treat, and popcorn. 

Yes, popcorn! Greyhounds love it. I wouldn’t feed them entire bowls of it, but it is a fun way to teach them how to catch, when you throw it to them.  

According to the Non-GMO Project, 90% of the corn grown in North America is GMO (genetically modified) corn, used for animal feed. Seeing as greyhounds are animals, that is what is in his kibble. 

So far, only a small percentage of corn used for human consumption is GMO, so it’s ok to let your greyhound enjoy some as a treat. 

Popcorn is a different strain of corn entirely, called flint corn, and is not GMO; so now you and your buddy can enjoy a snack together. The greatest danger here is that you will never again be able to enjoy a bowl of popcorn without being hounded!

Almonds, Lima Beans, Peaches, Apricots, Cherries, Raspberries, Apples

Almonds, lima beans, and the seeds of all of these fruits contain a small amount of cyanide.  

Granted, the fruit itself is safe, but it’s not worth the risk of your greyhound accidentally ingesting a fragment of a pit.  Why take a chance, when there are so many other foods he can enjoy safely?  The pit of a mango contains cyanide, as well; but if you’ve ever cut up a mango, you know that the fruit served is well separate from the pit.  

Beans

AKA “The Musical fruit.” ‘Nuf said.

Other Foods Which are Bad/Toxic for Greyhounds

Chocolate

Chocolate contains methyxanthines, which are harmful to your greyhound.  I suspect you are sensible enough to not give him chocolate, but be very careful of your own supply!  Some greyhounds consider anything they can reach to be fair game:

  • Valentine’s Day – you may love to see that lovely, heart-shaped box on your coffee table; but remember that it might be pretty attractive to your greyhound, too.  
  • Easter – Make sure the Bunny hides those baskets behind closed doors, where the children can find them, and the greyhound cannot.
  • Christmas – This is the toughest one of all.  We always have a lot of chocolate around then, spilling out of stockings, giftwrapped under the tree, sitting out in candy dishes.  Rethink the placement of each of these treats.  Teach your other family members, too; but don’t stop there.  Christmas is full of excitement and distractions, and routine cautions are easily forgotten; so be sure to follow up.  Keep track of all the chocolate (hey, it’s a tough job, I know; but somebody has to do the heavy lifting).

Yeast Dough 

Yeast Dough is deceptively dangerous!  

This is another thing that you probably wouldn’t feed to your greyhound intentionally, but many an owner will let the dog taste anything, if he appears interested.  Even this little bit is hazardous.  

The other way your greyhound can scarf your bread dough is by “counter-surfing,” or if a piece gets away from you while you’re shaping it.  

There are several ways in which yeasted dough can make your greyhound sick.

First, and most obvious, it can swell up in his digestive tract, causing dangerous pressure on his organs and/or causing a blockage.  Next, the yeast, as it ferments, gives off ethanol gasses, which will go into his bloodstream, causing alcohol poisoning.  

As if all that isn’t bad enough, its increasing mass in your deep-chested  greyhound’s stomach can cause deadly bloat.

…but wait!  There’s more!  Uncooked flour has been showing up on food recall lists, as a food borne illness hazard.  If you check out the fine print on your sack of flour, you are likely to find a warning to this effect. 

Fat Trimmings

I never realized these were a problem, until last Christmas, when Lily cleaned one plate too many after our roast beef dinner.  We’re lucky she didn’t end up in the animal hospital or worse.  

It turns out that too much fat can cause your greyhound’s pancreas to go into overdrive, prematurely flooding her system with digestive enzymes, which can even be fatal.  Lily threw up four times on the rug, and then lay on the rug for several hours.

In small amounts, this fat would have been lovely for her.  We now know to collect the trimmings into a Ziploc bag and freeze it, adding a little at a time as a flavor enhancement to her regular food.

Milk

It’s ok to let your greyhound have a little taste of ice cream or milk, but more than that can cause painful gas all the way through his digestive tract…and you don’t want to go there, trust me.  Greyhound gas is so dis-STINK-tive, it should have its own Crayola color!

Old Food

Many are surprised to hear this!  You wouldn’t nick that bit of mold off the cheese and eat it (I hope 🤢), so don’t do that to your dog, either.  He is a pet, not a garbage disposal.  

Even though he sniffs other dogs’ backsides, sifts through the trash, and drinks out of the toilet, he is just as prone to food poisoning as you.  

People Vitamins

As a rule, never give your greyhound any human-grade supplement without doing TWO things.  First, try to find several references on the internet of fellow greyhound owners doing the same.  

Second, just to be safe, clear it with your vet.  He knows your greyhound’s history, age, and can make you aware of how the supplement might interact with his diet or other medications/supplements he is taking.

Fried Foods

The first – and last – time I gave a dog fried food, she got about ten steps, before she threw it up.  That was with my first greyhound, Peaches.  

Occasionally, I’ve had a well-meaning party guest offer a potato chip or corn chip to one of my greyhounds, and they always refuse them.  They could eat crackers all day, but have no interest in fried snacks.  

Even if your greyhound tolerates fried foods, the same warning about pancreatitus above (“Fat Trimmings”) applies here.

Food Additives Which Are/May Be Harmful to Your Greyhound

My source for the information in this section is a report from the Cornucopia Institute.  They have a free, downloadable PDF called “Decoding Pet Food.”  They don’t even ask for your e-mail address!   

For this article, I went right to the section entitled “Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid,” but the 28-page report also contains entire sections on pet food industry regulations, organic pet food, and homemade pet food.  Other free reports are available, as well; including one on carrageenan, and one on soy.  

The Cornucopia Institute is a wonderful resource for those looking to make a deeper dive into their greyhound’s diet!

Here are the ingredients highlighted in the report:

Carrageenan

This is a most concerning, and very common, additive.  Used as a thickener, it is often found in canned or wet dog foods.  It can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as cancer.  This ingredient alone has been the culprit of irritable bowel for many pets.

Preservatives

One has to wonder why any manufacturer would add something to a food, which would increase it’s shelf-life by 25 years?  I wish our greyhounds lasted that long!  Here is a look at those detailed in the report:

BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are known carcinogens to pets and people, which is why some manufacturers just use it in the packaging.  The Cornucopia report concedes, however, that the amounts your greyhound will be exposed to are unlikely to cause cancer.  

Ethoxyquin

Ethoxyquin can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and even the dog’s actual DNA.  This preservative can lurk, undetected, in your greyhound’s food!  Because it is may be used to preserve a particular ingredient, such as fish meal, in the food, it doesn’t show up on the label.

Rendered Meat By-Products

The phrase “by-products” on the label is not necessarily a dealbreaker, as long as it specifies what kind of meat it comes from.  Otherwise, this ingredient, also called “meat and bone meal (MBM), animal fat, animal digest, and/or blood meal,” covers a range of nasty surprises.  

With these ingredients, you truly do not know the species of meat being consumed by your pet in his kibble, or what it died of, or even if it was derived from a creature who may have needed a little “help” to shed its mortal coil (anesthesia stays in the body after the animal is put down).  

It may be that meat that you stuck your nose up at the supermarket, thinking it looked a little gray.  It may not be from an animal at all, but discarded fryer oil from a restaurant.  

All of these ingredients are processed to be less pathogenic, but some stuff (bacteria and mold) isn’t killed that easily.  The oil is particularly concerning, as it contains “carcinogenic free radicals.”  

(The use of fryer oil was a surprise to me.  I know a man who owns a biofuel business in a resort area, and makes a very good living off of collecting this oil from local restaurants and turning it into non-fossil fuel – Seems like such a win-win way to dispose of it)

BPA

Bisphenol A is a concern only if you use canned food, because it is used to line cans and prevent a “tinny” taste from being imparted to the food.  The tricky part is that this will not show up on the ingredient list; so you want to look for cans marked “BPA free.”

Sodium Selenite

This synthetic form of selenium is found in most dog food, including the one I’ve used for years.  I almost left sodium selenite out of this article, because Cornucopia’s only complaint about it is that too much of it can be toxic.  That is true of many things; it doesn’t make them inherently toxic.  

At best, it’s a case for making sure that you buy a food with high-quality ingredients – A company that takes pride in its ingredients is going to be judicious in its use of supplements, so if you see sodium selenite on the label, that is not a dealbreaker.

Artificial Food Dye

Anecdotal evidence from fellow greyhound owners about trouble with food dye is plentiful!  The two complaints I see all the time are hyperactivity and diarrhea.  The report ties it to tumors.  I have some personal experience with these dyes, because my children had some crazy emotional responses after consuming them.  

My son’s reactions were so alarming (sudden mood shifts and welts on his neck where he’d worn a candy necklace – Yikes!), I took him to the pediatrician.  I know, you may be rolling your eyes, thinking some mothers will take a kid to the doctor for every sniffle; but I can count on one hand the number of sick visits to the doctor in the last 21 years – Four for my son, and only one for my daughter.

Anyway, the doctor told me several very interesting things about FD&C food dyes, which are also applicable to greyhounds:

They are considered neurotoxic

They are much more widely used than when I was a kid – In a greater variety of foods, and in heavier concentration

They can contain other toxic substances that you would never see on the food label (which only lists ingredients, not what’s IN the ingredients)

…so, the Blue #1 in your marshmallows, and the Yellow #5 in that dessert that cost you a fortune at The Cheesecake Factory contains the same neurotoxin that made all the kids melt down after the cake was served at the birthday party.  This is what is in many dog treats and foods.

Yet, there are many great products for dogs that do not contain these colors, or they are colored with vegetable dyes.  Why?

The reason is that FD&C dyes are used to cover up a low-quality product; which you wouldn’t buy for your pet, if you ever saw it without its colorful disguise.

BTW – Hey, Cheesecake Factory!  You had ONE job…

Grains

Not the grains themselves, but the use of substandard-quality grains which may have spoiled, developing molds and toxins, serious health hazards to your greyhound.  

Also, beware of manufacturers’ tricks that could make your greyhound’s food more grain than meat, even though the label states otherwise (see below, under “Ingredient-splitting”).  

Again, the best solution for this is to seek out food which is from a company that takes pride in its product and is transparent, even boasting, about its sources.

Sorting Out the Label Info: Basics, & Some Tricks of the Trade

Your #1 concern when choosing a new food for your greyhound is that the first ingredient listed on the label should be a high-quality, digestible source of protein; namely meat, fish, or eggs.  

Don’t just read the first ingredient and stop, though – Make sure the manufacturer didn’t split ingredients.  

Here’s how ingredient-splitting works, according to an article over at Dogfood Advisor about this specific subject (the Dogs Naturally Magazine site also does a great job with this) – Ingredients are ranked on the label from greatest to least, depending on what percentage of each the food consists of.  Ingredient-splitting can make a food that is mostly corn, for example, appear as if it is mostly meat.  

The way they do this is by listing the ingredient by its separate components.  So, if a food is really 30% corn and only 20% meat, the manufacturer may, instead, break down that corn figure into 15% corn flour and 15% corn meal. Now it appears as though there is more meat than corn in the food. 

When I read this, it seemed familiar, so I checked the label of Lily’s food.  While I saw no problem with ingredient-splitting there, I realized that I do see ingredient-splitting on labels all the time…on foods consumed by my family and I!  Well, that’s another blog, I guess!

Ingredient-splitting is a trick, and tricks are never a good sign.  Tricks have one purpose, and that is to slip inferior-quality ingredients past the nose of unwitting consumers. 

Corn, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing, if it’s in a food that your greyhound is thriving on.  It has some nutrition, and it makes the food more affordable for greyhound owners, who may struggle to feed one or more of these large dogs on a modest paycheck.   Just read that label carefully, and know what you’re buying. 

Why I Don’t Do the Raw Diet

I have had salmonella and other food-borne poisoning so many times, that the only way you’d see my greyhound on a raw diet would be if I hired for her a personal chef!  The raw diet, or BARF Diet, requires Russian-Roulette levels of raw meat handling.

I also question the concept, “this is how dogs ate in the wild!”  First, they are not wild, they are domesticated.  Second, it’s how people “ate in the wild,” too; but that ship has sailed.  

Finally, raw meat from the store is nothing like what any animal, yesterday or today, eats in “the wild.”  When that meat is processed, packaged, and sold, it is done so with the expectation that it is going to be heated to a temperature which will kill any pathogens which have developed during all that handling.  

I live in an area with coyotes and coy-wolves, and can tell you that their diet is very, very fresh.  Meat in “the wild” is consumed before it even has a chance to get cold.  If some unfortunate creature is hit by a car, you will notice that it is the crows and ravens that “clean it up,” not the dogs.  Why?  Because it’s not their nature!

Wait! Before you let him clean off your plate, be sure you know what foods are harmful to greyhounds!

The top 10 foods that are bad for greyhounds are fatty meat scraps, grapes, meat by-products (MBM), carrageenan, onions, soy, food dye, chocolate, yeast dough, and raw meat.

Whether you’re giving Speedy a few table scraps, trying to choose the right kibble, or hoping to create homemade dog food, this guide will help to prevent you from giving your greyhound the wrong food.

Foods that are bad for all dogs are even worse for greyhounds. Because they only have half the body fat of the average dog, anything bad they take in hits them all at once. This means the greyhound’s reaction is going to be more severe, and possibly more debilitating.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t get put on a guilt-trip by someone in my own household, because I won’t let him feed Lily something from his plate. Not that she doesn’t get any table scraps; but the little treat given now, may mean that I’m doing some unpleasant and unexpected chore later. Think cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, having to struggle to get an unusually lethargic Lily up for a walk, administering Pepto Bismol or gas drops, etc..

It’s much healthier for her if I separate out a few tidbits for her while I cook; such as plain noodles, meat, and vegetables, before they are baked into a casserole or covered with sauces that contain things that are bad for her.

It is easy to gain a false sense of security from articles that tell you how much of something a dog has to eat for it to be fatal. There is a whole lot of illness and discomfort that can occur between health and death! A food that is fatal does not magically become ok in smaller amounts – They can still shorten your dog’s life, or make him very unhappy. Even worse, there are some toxins in foods that will build up, unseen, in your greyhound’s system; and you won’t realize it, until the damage has been done.

Keep in mind, I am not a strict proponent of all-natural, all-organic, perfect-down-to-the-.0001% greyhound nutrition person. There are plenty of sites which do that very well; they are easily found, and I don’t think you can go wrong with such a careful approach to your dog’s diet. Many greyhound owners, however, will get lost in the weeds with information overload, and are unlikely to maintain the strict regemin suggested by such sources.

You are reading this, because you have come here in search of practical guidelines, which you can learn easily and stay with for the happy, healthy lifetime of your greyhound.

List of Plant-Based Foods Which Are/May Be Harmful to Your Greyhound

Grapes: Never feed this very hazardous food to your greyhound! It can cause neurological problems, and even lead to sudden kidney failure.

Avocado: According to the AKC, avocados contain persin, which is toxic, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Other parts of the plant contain quite a bit more than the fruit, so if you have an avocado plant, be sure to keep your greyhound away from it.

Bananas: a bit of your banana is OK for your greyhound, or a frozen slice as a treat on a warm, summer day; but do stop there. The high sugar content of bananas keeps them from being a good choice for daily feeding.

Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant (Aubergine), and Bell Peppers: these all contain solanine, a toxin. A trace of spaghetti sauce from your plate won’t hurt, but do not add these vegetables to your dog’s food. I am always very surprised to see dog food labels touting potato, the worst solanine culprit of all. Potatoes with green spots contain particularly high levels of solanine (enough to give ME a stomachache), and you have no way of knowing how well they trimmed to spuds at the dog food factory

Mushrooms: I add this one, not because it’s necessarily bad for your greyhound, but because there is a wealth of dis-iinformation on it! Every, single article I could find on mushrooms being bad for dogs was either talking about mushrooms in your lawn (duh – NOBODY is supposed to eat those), or saying that mushrooms could be harboring spices from your food which your dog shouldn’t have. One could say the same thing about bread, but you don’t see anyone saying that bread is bad for dogs! I have noticed, though, that mushrooms are one of only two foods that has been uniformly rejected by each of my greyhounds. If even a little piece of one sneaks into the food, I find it alone, at the bottom of the otherwise-empty bowl (oh, the other food they hate? Pretzels!). I was unable to find any specific allegan, substance, or toxin in the common, white supermarket mushroom that would be harmful to a greyhound. An allergist told me once that people often have a natural aversion to foods they are allergic to – I wonder if that is also true of greyhounds?

Onions, Garlic, Chives, etc. (Alliums): These are very common in the foods we eat, so think twice before feeding table scraps to your greyhound. Restaurant food is especially high in alliums – Be doubly cautious with your leftovers from the take-out! Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of the Animal Meidcal Center (NY), quoted in a Pet MD website article, states that alliums contain N-propyl disulphide, which can cause a fatal anemia in dogs.

Spinach: Like potato, here is another food that I see recommended all the time for dogs. It even shows up in baby food. My personal rule of thumb is, if my (human) babies or I don’t digest it well, I don’t give it to my greyhounds. I don’t even want to describe the violent diaper rash I witnessed in my kids, after they ate spinach. It doesn’t sit all that well with me, so I’m always careful to eat a lot of other foods with it, to act as a buffer. I would not, however, give it to a greyhound. Spinach contains high amounts of oxalic acid, which can really irritate the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage, etc. (Cruciferous Vegetables): these fall under the above rule of thumb! Many creditable sources do recommend them, however. If you are already feeding cruciferous vegetables to your greyhound successfully, carry on! Otherwise, proceed with caution. If they make your hound gassy, you will surely realize it soon enough!

Soy: genetic modifications to our soy supply have made this food a true loser for your greyhound. Issues include indigestibility, carcinogen, and a host of other perils. It can be difficult to detect soy just from a quick glance at the ingredients label. Since dog food manufacturers realize that savvy greyhound owners have gotten wise to the dangers of soy, they often will disguise it under other names, using the word “vegetable;” as in vegetable protein, lecithin, and even natural flavoring.

Corn: corn falls into three different categories: that which is found in your dog’s kibble, fresh or frozen corn that you may add to his food or give as a treat, and popcorn. Yes, popcorn! Greyhounds love it. I wouldn’t feed them entire bowls of it, but it is a fun way to teach them how to catch, when you throw it to them. According to the Non-GMO Project, 90% of the corn grown in North America is GMO corn, used for animal feed. Seeing as greyhounds are animals, that is what is in his kibble. So far, only a small percentage of corn used for human consumption is GMO, so it’s ok to let your greyhound enjoy some as a treat. Popcorn is a different strain of corn entirely, called flint corn, and is not GMO; so now you and your buddy can enjoy a snack together. The greatest danger here is that you will never again be able to enjoy a bowl of popcorn without being hounded!

Almonds, Lima Beans, Peaches, Apricots, Cherries, Raspberries, Apples: Almonds, lima beans, and the seeds of all of these fruits contain a small amount of cyanide. Granted, the fruit itself is safe, but it’s not worth the risk of your greyhound accidentally ingesting a fragment of a pit. Why take a chance, when there are so many other foods he can enjoy safely? The pit of a mango contains cyanide, as well; but if you’ve ever cut up a mango, you know that the fruit served is well separate from the pit.

Beans: AKA “The Musical fruit.” ‘Nuf said.

Other Bad/Toxic Foods

Chocolate contains methyxanthines, which are harmful to your greyhound. I suspect you are sensible enough to not give him chocolate, but be very careful of your own supply! Some greyhounds consider anything they can reach to be fair game:

– Valentine’s Day – you may love to see that lovely, heart-shaped box on your coffee table; but remember that it might be pretty attractive to your greyhound, too.

– Easter – Make sure the Bunny hides those baskets behind closed doors, where the children can find them, and the greyhound cannot.

– Christmas – This is the toughest one of all. We always have a lot of chocolate around then, spilling out of stockings, giftwrapped under the tree, sitting out in candy dishes. Rethink the placement of each of these treats. Teach your other family members, too; but don’t stop there. Christmas is full of excitement and distractions, and routine cautions are easily forgotten; so be sure to follow up. Keep track of all the chocolate (hey, it’s a tough job, I know; but somebody has to do the heavy lifting).

Yeast Dough is deceptively dangereous! This is another thing that you probably wouldn’t feed to your greyhound intentionally, but many an owner will let the dog taste anything, if he appears interested. Even this little bit is hazardous. The other way your greyhound can scarf your bread dough is by “counter-surfing,” or if a piece gets away from you while you’re shaping it. There are several ways in which yeasted dough can make your greyhound sick.

First, and most obvious, it can swell up in his digestive tract, causing dangerous pressure on his organs and/or causing a blockage. Next, the yeast, as it ferments, gives off ethanol gasses, which will go into his bloodstream, causing alcohol poisoning. As if all that isn’t bad enough, its increasing mass in your deep-chested greyhound’s stomach can cause bloat.

Fat Trimmings – I never realized these were a problem, until last Christmas, when Lily cleaned one plate too many after our roast beef dinner. We’re lucky she didn’t end up in the animal hospital or worse. It turns out that too much fat can cause your greyhound’s pancreas to go into overdrive, prematurely flooding her system with digestive enzymes, which can even be fatal. Lily threw up four times on the rug, and then lay on the rug for several hours.

In small amounts, this fat would have been lovely for her. We now know to collect the trimmings into a Ziploc bag and freeze it, adding a little at a time as a flavor enhancement to her regular food.

Milk – it’s ok to let your greyhound have a little taste of ice cream or milk, but more than that can cause painful gas all the way through his digestive tract…and you don’t want to go there, trust me. Greyhound gas is so dis-STINK-tive, it should have its own Crayola color!

Old Food – Many are surprised to hear this! You wouldn’t nick that bit of mold off the cheese and eat it, so don’t do that to your dog, either. He is a pet, not a garbage disposal. Even though he sniffs other dogs’ backsides, sifts through the trash, and drinks out of the toilet, he is just as prone to food poisoning as you.

People Vitamins – As a rule, never give your greyhound any human-grade supplement without doing TWO things. First, try to find several references on the internet of fellow greyhound owners doing the same. Second, just to be safe, clear it with your vet. He knows your greyhound’s history, age, and can make you aware of how the supplement might interact with his diet or other medications/supplements he is taking.

Fried Foods – the first – and last – time I gave a dog fried food, she got about ten steps, before she threw it up. That was with my first greyhound, Peaches. Occasionally, I’ve had a well-meaning party guest offer a potato chip or corn chip to one of my greyhounds, and they always refuse them. They could eat crackers all day, but have no interest in fried snacks. Even if your greyhound tolerates fried foods, the same warning about pancreatitus above (“Fat Trimmings”) applies here.

Food Additives Which Are/May Be Harmful to Your Greyhound

My source for the information in this section is a report from the Cornucopia Institute. They have a free, downloadable PDF called “Decoding Pet Food.” They don’t even ask for your e-mail address!

For this article, I went right to the section entitled “Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid,” but the 28-page report also contains entire sections on pet food industry regulations, organic pet food, and homemade pet food. Other free reports are available, as well; including one on carrageenan, and one on soy. The Cornucopia Institute is a wonderful resource for those looking to make a deeper dive into their greyhound’s diet!

Here are the ingredients highlighted in the report:

Carrageenan: This is a most concerning, and very common, additive. Used as a thickener, it is often found in canned or wet dog foods. It can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as cancer. This ingredient alone has been the culprit of irritable bowel for many pets.

Preservatives: one has to wonder why any manufacturer would add something to a food, which would increase it’s shelf-life by 25 years? I wish our greyhounds lasted that long! Here is a look at those detailed in the report:

BHA and BHT are known carcinogens to pets and people, which is why some manufacturers just use it in the packaging. The Cornucopia report concedes, however, that the amounts your greyhound will be exposed to are unlikely to cause cancer.

Ethoxyquin can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and even the dog’s actual DNA. This preservative can lurk, undetected, in your greyhound’s food! Because it is may be used to preserve a particular ingredient, such as fish meal, in the food, it doesn’t show up on the label.

Rendered Meat By-Products: the phrase “by-products” on the label is not necessarily a dealbreaker, as long as it specifies what kind of meat it comes from. Otherwise, this ingredient, also called “meat and bone meal (MBM), animal fat, animal digest, and/or blood meal,” covers a range of nasty surprises. With these ingredients, you truly do not know the species of meat being consumed by your pet in his kibble, or what it died of, or even if it was derived from a creature who may have needed a little “help” to shed its mortal coil (anesthesia stays in the body after the animal is put down). It may be that meat that you stuck your nose up at the supermarket, thinking it looked a little gray. It may not be from an animal at all, but discarded fryer oil from a restaurant.

All of these ingredients are processed to be less pathogenic, but some stuff (bacteria and mold) isn’t killed that easily. The oil is particularly concerning, as it contains “carcinogenic free radicals.”

(The use of fryer oil was a surprise to me. I know a man who owns a biofuel business in a resort area, and makes a very good living off of collecting this oil from local restaurants and turning it into non-fossil fuel – Seems like such a win-win way to dispose of it)

BPA: Bisphenol A is a concern only if you use canned food, because it is used to line cans and prevent a “tinny” taste from being imparted to the food. The tricky part is that this will not show up on the ingredient list; so you want to look for cans marked “BPA free.”

Sodium Selenite: this synthetic form of selenium is found in most dog food, including the one I’ve used for years. I almost left sodium selenite out of this article, because Cornucopia’s only complaint about it is that too much of it can be toxic. That is true of many things; it doesn’t make them inherently toxic. At best, it’s a case for making sure that you buy a food with high-quality ingredients – A company that takes pride in its ingredients is going to be judicious in its use of supplements, so if you see sodium selenite on the label, that is not a dealbreaker.

Artificial Food Dye: anecdotal evidence from fellow greyhound owners about trouble with food dye is plentiful! The two complaints I see all the time are hyperactivity and diarrhea. The report ties it to tumors. I have some personal experience with these dyes, because my children had some crazy emotional responses after consuming them. My son’s reactions were so alarming (sudden mood shifts and welts on his neck where he’d worn a candy necklace – Yikes!), I took him to the pediatrician. I know, you may be rolling your eyes, thinking some mothers will take a kid to the doctor for every sniffle; but I can count on one hand the number of sick visits to the doctor in the last 21 years – Four for my son, and only one for my daughter.

Anyway, the doctor told me several very interesting things about FD&C food dyes, which are also applicable to greyhounds:

– They are considered neurotoxic
– They are much more widely used than when I was a kid – In a greater variety of foods, and in heavier concentration
– They can contain other toxic substances that you would never see on the food label (which only lists ingredients, not what’s IN the ingredients)

…so, the Blue #1 in your marshmallows, and the Yellow #5 in that dessert that cost you a fortune at The Cheesecake Factory contains the same neurotoxin that made all the kids melt down after the cake was served at the birthday party. This is what is in many dog treats and foods.

Yet, there are many great products for dogs that do not contain these colors, or they are colored with vegetable dyes. Why?

The reason is that FD&C dyes are used to cover up a low-quality product; which you wouldn’t buy for your pet, if you ever saw it without its colorful disguise.

BTW – Hey, Cheesecake Factory! You had ONE job…

Grains: not the grains themselves, but the use of substandard-quality grains which may have spoiled, developing molds and toxins, serious health hazards to your greyhound. Also, beware of manufacturers’ tricks that could make your greyhound’s food more grain than meat, even though the label states otherwise (see below, under “Ingredient-splitting”). Again, the best solution for this is to seek out food which is from a company that takes pride in its product and is transparent, even boasting, about its sources.

Sorting Out the Label Info: Basics, & Some Tricks of the Trade

Your #1 concern when choosing a new food for your greyhound is that the first ingredient listed on the label should be a high-quality, digestible source of protein; namely meat, fish, or eggs. Don’t just read the first ingredient and stop, though – Make sure the manufacturer didn’t split ingredients.

Here’s how ingredient-splitting works, according to an article over at Dogfood Advisor about this specific subject (the Dogs Naturally Magazine site also does a great job with this) – Ingredients are ranked on the label from greatest to least, depending on what percentage of each the food consists of. Ingredient-splitting can make a food that is mostly corn, for example, appear as if it is mostly meat. The way they do this is by listing the ingredient by its separate components. So, if a food is really 30% corn and only 20% meat, the manufacturer may, instead, break down that corn figure into 15% corn flour and 15% corn meal. Now it appears as though there is more meat than corn in the food.

When I read this, it seemed familiar, so I checked the label of Lily’s food. When I saw no problem with ingredient-splitting there, I realized that I do see ingredient-splitting on labels all the time…on foods consumed by my family and I! Well, that’s another blog, I guess!

Ingredient-splitting is a trick, and tricks are never a good sign.

Corn, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing, if it’s in a food that your greyhound is thriving on. It has some nutrition, and it makes the food more affordable for greyhound owners, who may struggle to feed one or more of these large dogs on a modest paycheck. Just read that label carefully, and know what you’re buying.

Why I Don’t Do the Raw Diet

I have had salmonella and other food-borne poisoning so many times, that the only way you’d see my greyhound on a raw diet would be if I hired for her a personal chef! The raw diet, or BARF Diet, requires Russian-Roulette levels of raw meat handling.

I also question the concept, “this is how dogs ate in the wild!” First, they are not wild, they are domesticated. Second, it’s how people “ate in the wild,” too; but that ship has sailed.

Finally, raw meat from the store is nothing like what any animal, yesterday or today, eats in “the wild.” When that meat is processed, packaged, and sold, it is done so with the expectation that it is going to be heated to a temperature which will kill any pathogens which have developed during all that handling. I live in an area with coyotes and coy-wolves, and can tell you that their diet is very, very fresh. Meat in “the wild” is consumed before it even has a chance to get cold. If some unfortunate creature is hit by a car, you will notice that it is the crows and ravens that “clean it up,” not the dogs. Why? Because it’s not their nature!

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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