|Greyhound Anatomy & Physiology||Sports Medicine|
|Injuries & Health Issues|
FEEDING THE RACING GREYHOUND
Your aim in feeding greyhounds is to provide a balanced diet that maintains them in good condition, and allows them to perform to their maximum potential on the racetrack. To achieve this aim you need to know what nutrients are contained in the different ingredients that make up a greyhound’s ration. A nutrient is something a greyhound needs to help it to grow, stay alive and work, as nutrients provides greyhounds with energy.
There are six nutrient groups that are needed in a greyhound’s daily ration:
- Protein (amino acids
These nutrients are all essential to maintain a greyhound in good health, but the specific requirements of each will vary depending on the greyhound’s size, metabolic rate, work load, and existing physical condition.
Besides the actual methods you will use in training your greyhounds, this is probably the most contentious issue you will have to decide. There are as many variations in feeding methods as there are trainers, and when one looks at the feeding methods used in the various country’s that have greyhound racing, the difference is even greater
Food has to supply all of the greyhound’s energy requirements, as well as providing the building blocks for tissue repair, including the blood and all of the internal organs. To be able to make an informed decision as to how your feeding methods are affecting the performance of your greyhounds, some of the functions of the various food components should be understood.
Protein provides the ingredients required for building, strengthening and repairing the body. However, it is not protein that is absorbed and utilized by the body, but the amino acids contained within the protein. There are 10 amino acids that are essential for good health, the greyhound’s body manufactures some amino acids but most are derived from the food. It should also be understood that different proteins contain a different range of amino acids. Meat is the main ingredient in the greyhounds diet that provides much of the required protein for good health, and may include, beef, chicken, lamb or mutton. The addition of large quantities of a single amino acid to the diet should be avoided, unless it is used as a treatment for a specific problem or illness.
Carbohydrates not only supply the energy required for running but also assist with many body functions such as temperature regulation and food digestion. The carbohydrates can be divided into two main groups; they are complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates require processing by the body and provide for a sustained release of energy. Good sources of complex carbohydrates are grains, such as wheat, brown rice, and oats. Grains also include protein, starch, vitamins, minerals and some fatty acids, however for canines to utilize grain foods they need to be well cooked, well soaked and fed soft.
Simple carbohydrates include sugar and starch and are easily utilized by the body and in particular sugars such as glucose and fructose provide for a short-term hit of energy. Unfortunately it is a really short hit, Due to what is called the rebound effect, if you supply the body with a substance in excess, it automatically reduces the amount available.
This is particularly true of blood sugar; within 4 hours of ingesting glucose the blood sugar actually falls below normal. However if you could supply a hit of glucose about 1 hour prior to the Greyhound racing it would be great, simply because it increases the amount of ATP available and therefore increasing early pace.
Fats are an essential part of the food requirement, like carbohydrates they provide energy and are involved in temperature regulation, but more importantly they contain and are required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and the production of some essential hormones.
Fats can be divided into two groups depending on their chemical composition, they are saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, the fatty acids best utilized by the canine are those of the saturated group. Good sources of essential fatty acids are; fresh raw beef, chicken, and fish oils such as cod liver oil. Unsaturated vegetable oils also contain some useable fatty acids but should be kept to a minimum, as excessive use in the diet may interfere with the absorption of some of the essential fatty acids from the saturated group.
Fatty acids are basically long chains of carbon and hydrogen and are one of the major sources of energy for the body. Unfortunately for the energy in fat molecules to be released, it requires considerable amounts of oxygen, therefore when oxygen levels are low the body basically uses blood sugar for energy.
Vitamins are the triggering substances that influence a large range of biological functions and as such are an essential part of the racing greyhound’s diet. While the body produces some vitamins such as vitamin C and K, unless the diet included a range of vegetables and fruits, the addition of a good quality broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral mixture to the food is recommended.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Essential for, eyes, skin, hair, reproduction, adrenal glands, and increases resistance to respiratory infections. Sources: raw meat, cod liver oil, eggs.
The vitamins in the B group act together and complement each other’s function.
Stress and antibiotic treatment reduce the levels of the B group vitamins in general, while large doses of vitamin C reduce the function of B12.
Sources: grain cereal, raw meat, green leafy vegetables, Turrella yeast and brewers yeast.
Unfortunately brewers yeast has been found to cause skin allergies and gut problems in susceptible greyhounds. Some Veterinarians have also found that wheat has a similar effect on some greyhounds and recommend a wheat free diet to many of their clients that have dogs with digestive problems.
Essential for effective protein and carbohydrate metabolism, tissue growth, nervous system, red blood cells, assists circulation.
Promotes growth of skin, hair and nails, essential for healthy eyes, red blood cells, and immune system.
Essential for effective protein and carbohydrate metabolism, nervous system, assists circulation.
B5 (Pantothenic acid)
Essential for the immune system and adrenal glands, stimulates production of cortisone and adrenal hormones, nervous system, reduces muscle cramping.
Essential for the production of DNA, activates enzyme function, aids metabolism of fatty acids, nervous system, red blood cell production, and immune function.
B9 (Folic acid)
Essential for the production of red blood cells, DNA, and aids protein metabolism
B12 (Cobalamin) (Cyanocobalamin injectable form)
Essential for the production and regeneration of red blood cells, activates enzyme function.
Choline (Part of the B complex)
Essential for fat metabolism, aids liver function and in transport and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Biotin (Part of the B complex)
Assists with the metabolism of protein and fats, required for health of hair and nails.
B15 (Pangamic acid) (Di-Isopropylamine Dichloroacetate injection)
Involved in tissue and cell oxygenation, fat metabolism, and glandular system. In the injectable form it dilates the blood vessels, assists in cell oxygenation and waste product removal from muscle tissue.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Canines produce vitamin C in the gut and generally do not require additional sources in the diet.
Of some benefit as a urinary acidifier (oral) to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections, and in the treatment of spinal disc damage (by injection)
Vitamin D (Calciferol)
Essential for bone development and the absorption of calcium from the diet
Assists circulation, cell oxygenation, fertility.
Again produced by healthy canines in the gut, essential for the production of the prothrombin required for normal blood clotting.
Hypervitaminosis (excessive vitamins)
Hypervitaminosis is more common than Hypovitaminosis (vitamin deficiency) due to the practice of excessive supplementation.
More is certainly not better. Excess water-soluble vitamins are excreted via the urine and place increased stress on the kidneys, while fat-soluble vitamins are stored and, therefore, are potentially toxic. Excess Vitamin A may result in bone and joint pain, brittle bones and dry skin. Excess Vitamin D may result in very dense bones, soft tissue calcification or bone joint calcification.
These basically stop the body using the specific vitamin and may therefore cause deficiencies. For example, avidin, found in the egg white of raw eggs may cause a biotin deficiency, and sulphur dioxide widely used as a preservative in knackery meat, destroys the thiamine in the meat and any thiamine supplementation. Sulphur dioxide has also been implicated in reducing the ability of Haemoglobin to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Minerals and Trace elements
The soil in Australia is notoriously low in minerals and trace elements, as an end result the meat provided in the greyhound’s diet is generally low in minerals and trace elements. Therefore it tends to be necessary to provide added minerals and trace elements to the diet.
Essential for bone growth, muscle function including the heart muscles, assists in the utilization of phosphorus.
Functions in conjunction with calcium for healthy bone growth, and helps maintain pH of blood.
A trace element required for liver function, protein digestion, and electrolyte balance.
A trace element involved in utilization of sugars, cholesterol metabolism, and heart protein synthesis.
A trace element required for the absorption of iron, protein metabolism, healthy skin, and connective tissue.
A trace element required for strong bones and teeth.
A trace element essential for the production of thyroxin, the thyroid hormone
Essential for the production of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrier of the blood
A trace element required for strong tendon and ligament development in growing pups, enzyme function, and the nervous system.
A trace element required for nervous system, enzyme function, muscle tone, and blood pH balance.
A trace element involved in enzyme function.
Essential for normal muscle contraction, heart function, and maintaining fluid balance
A trace element required for liver regeneration, pancreatic and haemoglobin function.
A trace element required for strong bone growth, hair and teeth.
Essential for correct electrolyte balance and regulation of body fluids
A trace element required for skin, hair, and nails.
An extremely important trace element involved in many enzyme functions, the formation of DNA and body protein, essential for skin, coat and the immune system.
As you can see from the above list there are a large number of vitamins, minerals and trace elements required for normal body function.
Administration of vitamins
Vitamins are versatile things and may be administered in several ways. They can be used by injection by the intravenous, intra-muscular or subcutaneous route, or orally by tablet, capsule, paste, drops or powder form. In human medicine, oral administration is preferred, except for vitamin B12 where injections are by far the most satisfactory method. In veterinary medicine, injections are frequently used for various reasons. A quicker response and higher levels can be expected in these cases. With oral forms, one consideration is absorption, which may be restricted in some cases, so levels may be less effective. Astute manufacturers are aware of these matters and formulate accordingly. Feramo Greyhound (Vetsearch) and VAM paste (Nature Vet) are two such preparations where high quality, scientifically balanced nutrients are carefully blended to ensure maximum benefits are obtained form the supplement. Vitamins, whether oral or injectable presentations, are often combined with minerals and/or homeopathic agents, and the combinations are usually very effective. Oral forms have the advantage that greyhounds do not become sore or needle shy. Also, unskilled trainers - who have not been trained or supervised in administration technique by their veterinarian - feel more comfortable. As these presentations are usually rich in B complex vitamins, I will give some examples later on in this article.
Most human B complex vitamin combinations (with or without minerals), Feramo Greyhound (Vetsearch), VAM paste (Nature Vet), Keylomin Organic Mineral and Vitamin Supplement for Greyhounds (BVR), Nutrigel (Ilium), Rebound (Vetsearch), Troy Vite B (Troy).
B Complex (RWR Nature Vet), B Complex (Troy), B Complex (Advance), Hemo 15 (Vasco), Hemoplex (Troy), VAM (RWR Nature Vet).
Please note: Hemo 15, Hemoplex and VAM contain vitamins, plus amino acids and minerals.