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Nutrition & Exercise

Proper Feeding , Weight, and Exercise………… the skinny about the skinny dogs!

FEEDING and WEIGHT - Feeding and weight are controversial subjects among Greyhound owners. The standard rule of thumb seems to be that you should allow your new hound to gain about five pounds over his racing weight. And some new owners will be in a big hurry to do this because they're not yet used to how a Greyhound should look. This almost invariably results in an overweight and unhealthy dog. My personal opinion is that you should take your time with this and consider the individual dog. Many dogs actually come from the track at a good pet weight. Few need to gain more than a couple of pounds. So don't just assume that your new dog needs to gain weight. He might look thin to you, but Greyhounds are supposed to be thin. They're Greyhounds! You should take into consideration that a dog in racing trim is extremely muscular. Muscle is dense and heavy. Unless your dog is getting a lot of hard exercise, he is naturally going to lose some of those muscles. If you try to add five pounds to your dog's weight you may actually be adding ten pounds of fat as it replaces the muscle weight. This is likely to be unhealthy for the dog. Excess weight and fat cause unnecessary strain on their hearts (shortening their life expectancy) and also may result in many forms of lameness. The more fit you can keep him, the safer he will be.

A good rule of thumb in determining the proper pet weight for a Greyhound is that you should be able to see two or three pairs of ribs. Not just feel them, actually see them, but not protruding an inch or so, either. You should typically be able to see three or four vertebrae along his spine. But again, Greyhound builds vary a lot. We have one whose back is built in such a way that he would have to be emaciated for his back bone to show. There is no sign of vertebrae anywhere on him but three sets of ribs are clearly visible.

What to feed your dog is another controversial area. Many owners swear by natural diets, including bones, raw meat and vegetables. There are some excellent diets along these lines, but you should educate yourself on them before you try them on your dog. They're not simple. As a rule, a good quality kibble is fine as a basic diet. Good quality does not necessarily mean outrageously expensive, nor does expensive necessarily mean good quality. Look for one with meat as the first ingredient and with no soy products.

Adding various veggies makes it more interesting and tastier for your dog and adds nutrients without adding a lot of calories. Cooked pasta is also a good additive which increases their energy level. Rice is good, also, and is especially useful for a dog with an upset tummy and maintaining proper hydration. Low fat yogurt (plain) and cottage cheese are excellent and yogurt has the added benefit of helping to reduce excess gas.

Greyhounds usually seem to have less stomach upsets if they are fed twice a day rather than once. Many do fine being fed once a day. Free feeding, in which a bowl of food is left out for the dog to munch on all day, is not recommended.

Many Greyhounds seem to do better with raised feeders. If you notice that your dog seems to choke a bit while he eats, a raised feeder might solve the problem. These can be purchased from many pet supply companies. We have come across plant stands that work well and cost under $10.00 each and we discovered the added advantage of being able to stack them. This can come in handy if you're feeding several dogs, so you can stack the stands out of the way between meals.

If you feed dry kibble, it should be moistened thoroughly. This helps prevent choking as the dog eats, and also helps prevent bloat afterwards when the dry food absorbs stomach fluids and expands. Also, to avoid deadly torsion, never let your dog run or play too hard right after eating. General rule, no play one hour before or one hour after eating.

Be careful with treats! Giving too many of them can be like giving your dog an extra meal without your realizing it. A couple crunchy milk bones each day are very good for their teeth and fun for the dogs. If you want to give more than a couple per day, be sure to cut back on meals a bit. By the way, some dogs really love raw carrots as a snack. These are loaded with nutrients and great for their teeth, so you can give these liberally as treats.

EXERCISE - Greyhounds, contrary to popular belief, don't need to run constantly. It's nice when they can, assuming they're fit enough to run without hurting themselves, and they do love it. But many live happily in apartments with several daily walks and maybe a weekly trip to a ball field to run as their only exercise. Greyhounds are bred for short bursts of speed and short runs. If they are provided a yard large enough for a few sprints, they're happy and will spend most of the rest of the day sleeping. Careful conditioning to develop stamina can sometimes turn a healthy hound into a distance jogger.    -->Ideas For Dog Play<--