It may sound obvious but your Italian Greyhound, as with any dog, should always have unrestricted access to fresh water in your home. The water should be topped up throughout the day and should be completely refreshed at least once a day. The water bowl should also be washed regularly – even if it doesn’t look dirty bacteria still builds up.
Your Italian Greyhound should also have its own feeding bowl. Many Italian Greyhound owners use raised feeding bowls. As you can see from the photo to the right, the long legged Italian Greyhound has to stoop down quite some way to get to a bowl on the floor, and with some Italian Greyhounds this awkward feeding position can lead them to gulping down air with their food which can cause tummy problems. Raised bowls are commonly available from pet stores – aim for one which is approximately 8″ off the ground, or simply place your Italian Greyhound’s bowl on top of a small box or container!
Italian Greyhounds in general don’t have any particular dietary needs beyond a good quality, balanced ‘complete’ dog food. Unless you have particular knowledge of dog nutrition it is best to stick to feeding complete foods rather than trying to ‘make it up’ with bits of this and bits of that as it’s unlikely you will cover all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
A good start point is what your breeder feeds their Italian Greyhounds. And if you do decide to change the food type then introduce the new feed gradually over time – seek advice from your vet on how best to do this as sudden changes in diet can lead to digestive problems for any dog.
There is a huge variety on offer when it comes to dog food – from dry feeds (kibble) to wet feeds (traditional tinned dog food) to raw feeds and freeze-dried feeds. Fish-based feeds, meat based feeds, the list goes on. As a general rule, avoid feeds that contain a high percentage of ‘fillers’ such as rice, grain and other cereals. Fillers do just that – fill your dog’s tummy but provide very little nutritional value.
Here’s a very short overview of each type of feed:
Dry feed (kibble) – concentrated dog food which has been made into small pellets. Very convenient as it can be stored in a big bag and is available to feed immediately. People who choose not to feed their dogs on kibble will often have a small bag in their cupboard as a back-up. As with all foods, different brands and types of kibble deliver different nutritional quality. Anecdotally some of the higher-quality brands include Orijen* and Kronch*.
Wet feed – traditionally found in tins in the supermarket. Convenient in that you can store this in a cupboard and it’s available immediately. Wet food has seen some significant developments in nutritional quality with brands such as Lukullus* and Terra Canis* from Germany, and also the UK’s Nature Diet* with their hypoallergenic and artificial ingredient free food.
Raw feeds – raw diets are increasing in popularity in this country. The principle is as it sounds – feed raw food, i.e. raw meat with some vegetable content, as dogs would eat naturally. There are now several companies in the UK offering good quality raw ‘complete’ foods that contain raw meat, ground bone, vegetables, fruit and other vitamin and mineral content. Raw food is delivered frozen and needs to be stored in a freezer and defrosted before being given to the dog so it’s lower on the convenience scale than dry and wet feeds. Natural Instinct* and Honey’s Real Dog Food* (formerly Darling’s Real Dog Food) are popular brands.
Freeze-dried raw feeds – an innovation in the raw feed market is freeze dried raw – the same nutritional benefits of the raw diet but with freeze dried food which doesn’t need to be kept in a freezer. Ziwi Peak* from New Zealand appears to be a favourite for many.
* Please note that the Italian Greyhound Club is in no way endorsing or recommending the brands above.
Treats for your Italian Greyhound
Most Italian Greyhounds are greedy guzzlers despite their air of refinement and elegance. Like most dogs they enjoy treats but treats should be given occasionally as opposed to becoming part of the regular feeding routine throughout the day.
There are times when you may need to give your dog lots of treats, e.g. if you are training them, but just bear in mind that if a dog is having a lot of treats, their main feed should be reduced accordingly.
Maintaining a healthy weight
It is important that you help your Italian Greyhound to maintain an appropriate weight for its size. Too skinny is not healthy and neither is obese.
As a general rule you should just be able to see the pin bones on the rear of your Italian Greyhound, and the ribs should be lightly covered.
Italian Greyhounds are not built to carry large amounts of fat and you should not let your Italian Greyhound become overly pudgy – not because of how it looks but because of the potential health implications, not least all that extra pressure on its fine bones and joints. Put frankly if you want a fat dog then get a fat breed.
If your Italian Greyhound is very skinny and won’t eat enough food to put on weight contact your vet for advice as it is always worth checking whether or not there are any other health issues lurking.