Feeding and Weight Maintenance
The food you feed your Italian Greyhound is one of the primary ways that you can actively influence their health and lifespan. There are a number of viewpoints on what the "best" dog food is, but in truth, what is important is which food best meets your IG's individual needs; finding this sometimes requires a little trial and error.
Raw, Home-cooked, and Fresh Diets
Some owners have reported improved health in their IG upon switching them to a raw diet. In theory, a raw diet comprised mainly of meat, bone, and organs is the best, most appropriate food for dogs because it is the freshest and least processed. In contrast, kibble or canned food is highly processed, contains some degree of non-nutritive filler, and when cooked compromises nutritional integrity and is more difficult to digest.
Some owners who feed a raw diet choose from a variety of pre-made brands that are available at better pet food stores; these options range from patties or nuggets of frozen raw food which can be defrosted and fed as needed, to freeze-dried or dehydrated raw food which are shelf-stable and can be mixed with water and served.
Other owners do careful research to design their own raw or home-cooked diet; in this case, owners might find a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist helpful. There are also a number of online forums and websites that focus exclusively on raw diets for dogs.
A fresh refrigerated diet is a commercial product that approximates a home-cooked diet, and is available for purchase at pet food stores. This food has been pasteurized and lightly cooked, and must be refrigerated.
A raw, home-cooked, or fresh diet is especially worth considering if your dog has existing health concerns including allergies, skin issues, chronic ear infections, immune issues, and digestive issues.
Guidelines if choosing a kibble or canned dog food for your Italian Greyhound
- For the most part, avoid foods you can buy at the grocery store, Walmart, etc. These stores tend to stock only the lowest quality dog foods.
- Don't assume that "veterinary" diets are high quality. Check the ingredients label just as you would for any food, and evaluate carefully.
- The first few ingredients should be specific animal proteins (a specific meat such as duck, turkey, beef, etc. and/or a specific meat meal such as duck meal, turkey meal, beef meal, etc.).
- Avoid the word "byproduct" anywhere on the label.
- Avoid fillers like brewers rice, powdered cellulose (wood pulp), hulls, middlings, mill run, pomace, and pulp.
- Avoid artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, TBHQ, Sodium Metabisuphite.
- Avoid non-specific ingredients such as meat, meat meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, poultry meal, liver meal, glandular meal, etc.
- Avoid non-specific fat sources (animal fat, vegetable oil) and mineral oil.
- Avoid sugars such as Cane molasses, corn syrup, sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, fructose, glucose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin, propylene glycol.
- Avoid "flavors", digests, and color dyes.
Grain-free kibble or canned food
Some Italian Greyhounds are sensitive to grains (corn, wheat, rice, oats, barley, rye, soybeans, millet, etc.), and enjoy better health when fed a grain-free food. It is important to remember that any grain-free kibble will have an alternative carbohydrate source such as sweet potato, peas, or potato, and some dogs also have difficulty with these alternative carbohydrates. A grain-free diet is especially worth considering if your dog has an existing health condition such as allergies, skin issues, chronic ear infections, immune issues, and digestive issues.
Follow these guidelines to keep your IG at a healthy weight
- IGs are not built to carry excess weight. Excess weight creates an increased workload for vital organs, reduces life expectancy, and increases the risk of leg break and other orthopedic issues through added strain on muscles, bones, and joints.
- You should be able to see a faint hint of a couple of ribs, a couple of vertebrae, the points of hip, and a nice, lean tuck and waist. If you cannot see these, it is likely that your IG is overweight.
- Feed a measured amount of food on a twice daily schedule. This promotes weight maintenance in addition to good potty habits.
- Remember that treats are calories too!
- Feed according to how your IG looks, not what the dog food bag says to feed. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of food based on body condition, age, activity level, weather, etc.
- If your IG is not maintaining weight despite a controlled diet, consult with your veterinarian.
Feeding "People" Foods
Your Italian Greyhound can enjoy a number of fresh "people" foods as treats. Many lean meats, fruits, and vegetables are great additions to a healthy diet. However, it is important to remember that people food has calories too, and need to be accounted for when maintaining your IG's weight. There are also a number of people foods that are dangerous to dogs and should never be fed.
- Avocado (pit and flesh around the pit)
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Cooked Bones
- Fatty Trimmings
- Fruit Pits
- Garlic (large amounts)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Mushrooms (wild)
- Weight-Bearing bones such as beef marrow bones (raw or cooked)
- Xylitol Sweetener (often found in candy and gum)
- Yeast dough
- White Paper: How to Decide What Food to Feed Your Dog, by Deb Pankau, MoKan IGCA Rescue
- Dog Food Project is an excellent site to learn about what the list of ingredients on a dog food label means, and which ingredients to avoid if possible.
- Dog Food Advisor offers a rating system so you can research foods and choose a well-rated food that fits your budget.
- FDA Pet Food Advisory is a searchable database of pet food recalls and safety issues.