After writing my myths BUSTED post, I began thinking about how often I am asked about what I feed my greys. I felt that this topic is worth spending more time discussing.
First let’s discuss the gut of a dog. All mammal digestion begins in the mouth. This is where we begin to break down the particles in our food to extract the important elements needed for sustained life. Most mammals produce amylase, an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates, in their saliva. Amylase is not produced in a dog’s saliva.
We must remember that our sweet cuddly greyhounds are natural born predators that are more than able to crush through bone and muscle meat with ease. Carbs were not often on the menu. Open up her mouth and check out those huge teeth!
After reading this about amylase I was confused as to how dogs break down kibble. Let’s dive into the dog’s GI tract to learn how this happens.
After your hound ravenously devours her food, she swallows it. The esophagus allows the passage of food from the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus is just a connection, nothing exciting happens here.
Then the food enters the stomach. Dogs have single chamber stomachs like humans. The stomach pH of a dog is about 2, which is the same acidity as lemon juice. The strong gastric acid combined with the muscle strength of the stomach begins to break down food into absorbable molecules- but minimal absorption actually occurs in the stomach.
Once the food has been broken down by the gastric acid, the food enters the small intestine. Mammals have three parts that make up their small intestine: the duodenum, jejunum, and the ileum. The small intestine is a large organ and can be about two and half times the dogs total body length!
The duodenum is the smallest part of the small intestine but the most important. The duodenum connects the small intestine to the stomach. While food is in this section it is combined with enzymes from the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver. The duodenum is where amylase, lipase, and proteinase begin to break down carbohydrates, fats, and protein, creating the building block for life. In the duodenum, kibble is broken down.
After the food is further broken down, it enters the jejunum. The jejunum is the longest section of the small intestine. The jejunum has a large surface area to allow for absorption of nutrients.
After the jejunum successfully absorbs all important nutrients from the food, the remaining intestinal contents are released into the ileum. The ileum connects the small intestine to the large intestine.
Once the intestinal contents reach the large intestine most nutrients have been absorbed and broken down. The job of the large intestine is to absorb water and create feces. The large intestine is critically important in the hydration status of the dog. Once most water is absorbed, the feces enters the anus and then rectum. Once in the rectum the dog will be able to expel its waste.
Dogs have quick digestive systems and depending on your fed, digestion can take them 6-12 hours per meal.
When I first read that dogs do not have amylase in their mouth I felt that raw food was the only way to feed a dog. Since learning more about dog digestion and monitoring my dogs on raw my opinion has somewhat changed.
I have three greyhounds. They were fed raw for about three years. I have followed both the BARF (bones and raw food) method and whole prey. I feel that whole prey worked better for my dogs and aligned with my concerns regarding no amylase in dog saliva. I used multiple protein sources and felt very good about the diet they were receiving.
I researched this more, reading accounts on what Henry VIII fed his hunting greyhounds, what open field coursing greyhounds are fed, and what top US racing greyhounds eat. A theory for feeding carbohydrates continued to surface throughout my research; it stated that greyhounds need a lot of ready-to-use energy for sprinting. The carbohydrates in kibble, pasta, and rice that trainers often feed help with this. The balance between the raw protein source and the kibble create a balanced diet for quick acceleration from an energy standpoint.
I encourage greyhound owners to try different diets and see what their hound thrives on. There are easy options for raw and kibble. The most important thing to remember when choosing a food it how you dog looks, feels, and preforms on that diet. After all a dog’s diet is not a bragging point between humans but an elemental point of existence for your hound.
It seems that every time my husband or I take the greyhounds for a walk we get a ton of questions. We get a lot of questions about the quality of life at the track, if greyhounds really do love to run, if they need a lot of exercise, if they eat a lot, if they will chase small animals, if they bark, and most frequently if they can sit.
1.) Greyhound tracks are terrible places. Tracks and kennels get a bad rap due to lack of knowledge about the racing industry. There are state regulations as well as individual track regulations for greyhound racing. These regulations are in place to ensure the integrity of racing and the welfare of the dog.
I think of the racing kennels and tracks as a military school; the dog goes there to learn a trade and is supported throughout its career by a team of people who have dedicated their lives to the breed. As the dog ages it inevitably slows down, cue the adoption kennels.
5.) Greyhounds don’t bark. Overall greyhounds are rather calm quite dogs but yes, they do bark and sometimes they will even sing. Most greyhound owners find this trait charming and even encourage it, I know we do at our house.
About 10 months ago Jethro broke his leg lure coursing. It was a beautiful December day and we were in Moreland, Ga. Jethro ran his first course and looked very strong and was having a blast. I decided to run him in his second course because he looked so good and was having such a nice day. During the end of the second course, he came up lame. His left wrist was extremely swollen and he was not bearing weight. I was very concerned by to looks of the injury but tried to tell myself it was OK. I examed his wrist and felt crepitus (boney cracking) and my fears were certain he had broken a bone in his wrist.
I called my vet and told him that I thought the leg was broken. He advised me to stabilize the leg and come in the next morning.
Overnight the swelling had increased and was causing Jethro a lot of pain. We went to the vet and had x-ray. His stopper bone was broken. We discussed an experimental surgical technique to stabilize the bone with a small screw or splinting and stabilizing the joint for 8-12 weeks.
I decided to splint and stabilize the joint.
Jethro is a very headstrong dog. He had other plans than lying around the house for 8 weeks. He wanted to be running and playing with his pack. Keeping Jethro calm was incredibly hard and we ended up have to give him trazodone to keep him calm as he busted out of two crates and wrecked multiple x-pens.
While he was in the splint he developed a pressure ulcer on his elbow. I was at my tipping point!
The pressure ulcer was extremely painful for Jethro. I called the vet thinking we were going to have to begin antibiotics ( I am a nurse after all) but dogs are amazing creatures and their infection threshold is much stronger than humans.
I read all I could about pressure ulcers in dogs and found this article about a “doughnut dressing”. This was a dressing shaped like a doughnut causing the pressure of the splint to be distrusted evenly around the wound allowing no pressure to be on the ulcer. After a week of using the doughnut dressing the ulcer was healing and you could no longer see bone.
Jethro was such a good patient and supper lucky to have two nurses taking care of him.
After nine weeks in a splint, Jethro was free! Clint and I were pushing getting the splint of ASAP due to the pressure ulcer. I was so glad to hear the bone had nice regrowth and looked stable.
After the splint was off Jethro still walked like he was splinted. It took him about a week to resume a somewhat normal gait.
After the splint was off the hard part began. We had to rehab a dog. He had lost a lot of muscle and was was stiff from the splint. We began doing stretching and strength training. I knew that the rehab was key in correcting Jethro’s gait.
This video shows some of the rehab techniques I used to help Jethro to regain strength and balance in his leg.
Jethro had a great outcome due to a great vet, serious human support, and his will to be able to run again. If you are ever in the situation, I hope this post helps you and your hound.
I admit I struggle to get my dogs exercised when it is raining. I hate being outside when it is wet and I hate them getting so dirty. I dislike rain.
When all else fails, just move the coffee table, throw a toy down with a squawker, and let them go! As you can see, the Diva loves her stuffed toys and NO ONE is getting on her bed
Have a good weekend and enjoy those nice, calm, happy hounds!
The original reason that I started this blog was to document the hounds’ transition to a raw diet. I had some failures in doing that… Blogging is not for the faint of heart.
We are now 100% raw, save for the training treats. Darla’s seizures are controlled with the diet and a herbal supplement. Most of my friends think I have gone off the deep end. I am a medical person and I love pharmacology; however, I feel that D’s seizures were directly correlated with her food. Since beginning raw diet, she has had less than five events all but one could be attributed to a treat or bone that had been smoked. Thus I am being open-minded and continuing with her treatment plan as it is. My human specialty is neurology, so girlfriend is analyzed and then reanalyzed.
I have read a lot about dog nutrition and have came up with a nice well-balanced diet for them. Depending on their weight, they get about 1-1.5lbs of meat a day. On top of that they are supplemented with 1-2 cups of green veggies and fruit. I am also a huge believer in carbohydrates, my hounds will get ½ cup of rice or sweet potatoes daily. They also get supplemented with eggs, sardines, and kefir/coconut milk. I will increase/decrease the diet if someone looks too thin or I start to lose hip points. I constantly evaluate how they look and how they act. Dogs tell you so much with so few words!
An interesting point in this was transitioning the puppy to raw food. While he was living with his breeder and litter he was getting a very high-quality kibble. When I first offered him raw, he was not interested. I ended up having to add some tripe to really stimulate his taste buds. Now he is a pro and will eat whatever is in his bowl. I have fed him based on his predicted adult weight. However, as soon as he begins to get too skinny I increase, usually with carbs. I find that the additional carbs have been very helpful without adding to his growing pains.
Officially, we are a raw food only family. I would encourage anyone to try this diet. It is easy and the dogs really do thrive on it!
I am always ready to get the dogs out and let them play. I was planning to attend the ASFA region 7 invitational; however, I had an engagement that could not be rescheduled. Fortunately, there was a LGRAmeet within a day’s drive on the same weekend. I loaded up the hounds and we decided to try racing.
ASFA Greyhound Specialty 2014
After much deliberation and my on-call schedule aligning with the stars, I was able to attend the ASFA Greyhound Specialty. The Greyhound specialty is a wonderful event hosted by the Southeastern Greyhound Club, the main event is ASFA lure coursing. There is an informal conformation show as well, which can be a lot of fun for the dogs. My dogs feel that anything that evolves food and attention it is fun!
Unfortunately, Darla decided that she needed to wrangle with an opossum the week prior. She lost a tooth and had to have surgery on her mouth, she was unable to run, but enjoyed an abundance of treats and smells within the show ring.
I also brought the kid, he loved getting to play show dog. As you can see he is an excellent sitter. Unfortunately the judge did not find this as cute as I did.
I am so biased about this little cutie! Really, isn’t that the cutest face ever!
I did run Jethro in the Lure Coursing trial. I was very pleased with his performance. Jethro always runs with a lot of heart. He loves the lure and loves being out in the field. He broke his hock during his pro career and his rehab continues. I am quite sure he was the oldest dog entered in the open stake and he tied for 4th place. He was very stiff after his two runs, so I opted out of a run-off and we happily accepted NBQ. He always thinks he is the best and I enjoy spending time with him. It was a win-win. His stiffness resolved within a day, he was demanding his hike the next morning.
I greatly enjoyed this event and the dogs had a wonderful time as well. It is always nice to be in a field full of greyhounds, doing what they are best at. Hopefully we will return next year.
Photo credit: Cindy Frezon
Living in Atlanta, I struggle with finding locations with good footing to let the hounds run. Fortunately, I have great friends with a farm in Newnan. They graciously allow me to bring the hounds down and let them run.
In addition, to their runs on the farm, I felt that the hounds needed to be doing more conditioning. I wanted to try something that was easy on their joints and feet.
I was speaking with another greyhound friend about this and she told me about Wag-N-Swim. The facility is located slightly OTP (outside the perimeter), the pool is warmed to the dogs liking and salt water. I was very interested and we went for our first session this past week.
A few weekends ago the hounds and I attended the annual Greyfest at the Georgia International horse park. I volunteered to trim nails on the hounds attending the festival. It was a lot of fun. I was able to keep D&J close by while I was working.
The festival is dedicated to celebrating Greyhound. It is hosted by SEGA (southeastern greyhound adoption) and coordinated by the ever-organized Lisa Strickland. They put on a wonderful event with several contests celebrating all that greyhounds are.
They also have a contest called “Blur the Fur”. This contest allows the greyhounds to run in a horse arena. The hounds are encouraged to run by the sound of a squawker and visual stimulation of a lure. The hounds love it! The best part for the human was that your hound’s speed is clocked with a radar gun! Darla was clocked at 41 mph. That is fast!!
Unfortunately Jethro was still recovering from his toe surgery and was unable to run. I will post photos of him running later. We were given the okay to run last week!
Darla continues to be seizure free. We are going on one week without seizures, touch wood. We are continuing our raw diet and I am continually pleased with how my dogs are improving.
Photo credit: Cindy Frezon