Benefits of Feeding a Kibble Diet
Raw Meat Versus Dry Food Diet
When thinking about a raw meat versus a dry food diet, there are a few things to think about.
Did you know that a premium kibble diet can:
- save you time and money;
- provide a consistent and nutritionally balanced diet; and
- ensure that your greyhound’s feed is free of contaminants and infectious agents.
Traditionally, most trainers feed a mix of raw meat and kibble and/or bread to their greyhounds. However, mounting evidence suggests that the risks of including raw meat in a greyhound’s diet may outweigh the benefits. Raw meat comes with risks of bacterial, parasite and chemical contamination. Chemical contaminants include veterinary drugs, which may be prohibited substances under the Greyhounds Australasia Rules. Nutritional imbalance and inconsistency are also issues with using home-made diets, as accurately calculating the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrate can be very challenging
Feeding a diet of good quality kibble eliminates many of the risks associated with the traditional racing greyhound diet and is safer, easier and more nutritionally balanced. In many cases, good quality kibble is cheaper than home-made diets and provides your greyhound with better nutrition enabling best possible racing performance, growth and injury recovery.
Contamination Risk of Raw Meat Diets
Raw meat can be contaminated with a variety of nasty things – bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria or parasites. Bacterial and/or parasitic contamination often occurs either at or after slaughter, particularly if meat is:
- stored inappropriately (e.g. poorly refrigerated either prior to or after purchase);
- hygiene practices are inadequate (e.g. fridges or meal preparation areas are not cleaned and regularly disinfected); or
- fed beyond its use-by date.
While trainers may maintain careful hygiene practices in their kennels, correct storage and handling of raw meat cannot be guaranteed throughout all stages of the supply chain. While many trainers are aware of the risks of bacterial contamination in raw meat, the risk of transmitting parasitic disease is less well known. A recent study investigating the prevalence of parasitic infection within Australian racing greyhound populations detected several parasites which are contracted through consumption of raw meat1.
Raw meat diets can also contain chemical contaminants. Most trainers are familiar with the types of substances prohibited under the racing rules. While most trainers are extremely careful of where they source their meat, it is not always possible to control everything and contamination with prohibited substances does occur.
Risk of Nutritional Imbalances
The main goal of any diet is to provide an optimal balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein with sufficient vitamins and minerals. Greyhounds have a higher energy demand than other dog breeds which means they need more calories per kilogram of body weight. Unlike other animals, greyhounds use fats as their primary source of energy, followed by carbohydrates. Protein is important for growth and repair and regeneration of muscle. Different studies have investigated the ideal balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates in greyhound diets to optimise racing performance. These studies suggest that a diet providing 20-45% of energy from protein and 40-50% of energy from fat is the most efficient diet for the racing greyhound.2, 3, 4
It can be difficult to estimate the protein, fat, vitamin, and mineral content in raw meat diets. While estimates for fat, protein and vitamin contents are provided for human grade meats on supermarket labels and standard reference charts, most of the meat sources fed to greyhounds are not human grade bought from supermarkets. Their fat, protein and vitamin content vary from batch to batch, and as a result, the amount of protein and fat is not consistent.
Vitamins and minerals are important to maintaining strong bones, a healthy immune system, healthy skin and nervous system, and supporting energy metabolism. It can be difficult to ensure the correct balance of the minerals, including calcium and phosphorus in a raw meat diet. These are critical throughout a greyhound’s life to maintain skeletal strength and muscle function. Did you know calcium is a key component in muscle contraction (movement)? If muscles do not have sufficient calcium they cannot move as fast or as well as they should. A greyhound with insufficient calcium in their diet will not be a successful racing dog.
Premium kibble diets on the other hand are formulated to provide balanced levels of essential amino acids (the building blocks for protein), fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. The nutritional information available on premium dry food packaging allows for a high level of consistency and accuracy when feeding.
Cost and Benefits
The cost-benefits of a premium kibble diet can be measured in terms of both time and money. Given most racing greyhound diets consist of meat, kibble and sometimes bread, eggs, milk, and various supplements, the costs of purchasing raw meat, supplements, refrigerated storage, added to the time to prepare of each greyhound’s feed means that many home-made racing diets are expensive! In contrast, a premium kibble is nutritionally balanced and, in most cases, can simply be weighed out and given to your greyhounds without the need for any mixing or addition of supplements. The Greyhound Adoption Program recently undertook a cost analysis and found a premium kibble saved them $10 a month per dog compared with a lower quality kibble and pet mince diet. In addition, the time saved by a premium kibble only diet can be invested into other activities like checking or exercising your greyhounds.
In conclusion, participants should consider gradually switching to a premium kibble; it can save money and time while giving you peace of mind that your greyhound is being fed a nutritionally balanced and contaminant free diet.
GRV recommends that you consult with your veterinarian regarding the most suitable kibble diet for your greyhounds and the best way to transition your greyhounds to a kibble only diet.
For more information please here are some useful references:
- Ash A, Paul A, Lymbery A (2016). Investigating gastrointestinal parasites within the Australian Racing
Greyhound: Baseline prevalences and considerations for drug efficacy and parasite control methods.
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, WA.
- Ferguson, R (2019). Nutrition for Success – The Racing Greyhound. [PowerPoint Presentation].
- Hill RC, Bloomberg MS, Legrand-Defretin V, et al. (2000). Maintenance energy requirements and the effect of diet on performance of racing greyhounds. Am J Vet Res, 61:1566-1573.
- Hill RC, Lewis DD, Scott KC, et al. (2001). Effect of increased dietary protein and decreased dietary carbohydrate on performance and body composition in racing Greyhounds. Am J Vet Res, 62: 440-447.
Great care and vigilance must be taken in the feeding and training of greyhounds to ensure they are free of prohibited substances, including that any prohibited substances are not administered ‘accidentally’. It is the responsibility of participants to carefully consider the use of any food to make sure that all greyhounds are free of prohibited substances.
Evidence at past RADB hearings has suggested that the potential for feeding contaminated meat is a real concern and may occur when livestock are treated with medication shortly before death. These animals often end up at the knackery, where the meat is processed as ‘unfit for human consumption’ and is sold on as pet food. Offal such as liver or kidneys may have increased concentrations of drugs and feeding carries increased risk and should be avoided.
GRV does not support the feeding of ‘unfit for human consumption meat’ and participants who choose to do so take the risk that prohibited substances may be inadvertently administered.
Participants could consider feeding ‘cleaner’ meat (i.e. ‘human consumption grade’, chicken or kangaroo meat) or no meat (using a commercial complete dry food).
It is understood that some participants choose to feed knackery meat (unfit for human consumption), other than a minimum of 72 hours prior to racing. GRV warns, however that some substances (such as anaesthetic agents) are permanently banned prohibited substances and therefore must never be present in a greyhound, including during out-of-competition testing.
GRV does not support the feeding of bread or other baked goods containing poppy seeds, as they may result in a positive morphine swab. Morphine is a permanently banned prohibited substance and therefore must never be present in greyhounds (except where therapeutic exemptions exist as per GAR 79A(6).
The feeding of substances containing chocolate, liquids containing tea and/or coffee, various supplements and products from ‘health food shops’ should also be very carefully considered prior to choosing to administer them to your greyhound.
“Health” products and advertisements
If something appears too good to be true it often is. From time to time various products are advertised or promoted as being beneficial to the health or potential of racing greyhounds. Irrespective of any of these claims, GRV reiterates previous warnings and information for all participants – to ensure that great care and vigilance is exercised in the preparation of greyhounds for racing. It is the responsibility of participants to carefully consider the use of any product, including health products or additives to make sure that all greyhounds are free of any prohibited substances.
GRV accepts no responsibility for any information conveyed via advertisements appearing in any publication. GRV does not independently ascertain whether any claims made in an advertisement are factual or scientifically based, nor does it make any representation as to the capability, abilities or reputation of any and/or trainers mentioned in the advertisements.
Veterinary treatment for therapeutic purposes
Participants should ensure their greyhounds are only treated with medications dispensed and prescribed for a particular greyhound, by a registered Veterinarian. Veterinary advice should always be sought to ensure these medications are being used properly and appropriate withholding periods followed to ensure presentation of the greyhound free of a prohibited substance.
Participants appearing before the RADB often seek to rely upon veterinary advice as an excuse, however the fact remains that the participant has the ultimate responsibility; i.e. incorrect veterinary advice does not constitute a shield when a greyhound in presented with a prohibited substance. Participants must ensure that detailed and accurate records of veterinary prescribed treatments.
Prohibited substance withholding guidelines have been produced by Greyhounds Australasia for a number of genuine therapeutic substances and are available on their website (www.galtd.org.au). However, over time, available medications develop and change, as do analytical processes to detect these medications. Persons using information from these studies, any other equivalent studies or withholding guidelines provided by veterinarians or pharmaceutical companies, should carefully interpret the information provided and should always regard to the individual characteristicsof any greyhound being treated.
The results of any of these studies should only be relied upon as a guide, as excretion studies are very expensive to perform and may involve an inadequate number of greyhounds. Participants must take account of the natural variation between greyhounds and their ability to metabolise and excrete different medications and their breakdown products at different rates. In addition to the period of detection of each medication reported, a ‘safety margin’ of extra time should be employed.
Elective testing for a specific prohibited substance could also be considered. For information on elective testing kits, go to fasttrack.grv.org.au/StewardsHearing/ ElectiveSwabKits or call the GRV Integrity Department on (03) 8329 1152.
Participants must be vigilant regarding the use of non-veterinary, human and over-thecounter products that can carry an inherent risk of offending under the relevant rules of greyhound racing. In particular, GRV has seen a number of participants which have presented greyhounds with prohibited substances that they have administered to themselves – e.g. cough lollies, heart medication, anti-inflammatories, illicit drugs, etc.
Many drugs used by humans can stay on their hair or skin and be excreted in sweat, saliva, urine or faeces and find their way into the greyhound’s system. If you are on medication, use gloves to mix the greyhound’s meal, don’t allow your greyhound to lick your skin, don’t urinate around the kennels and don’t store your medication within your kennelling areas.
From time to time the GRV Integrity Department releases important information in relation to new policies, guidelines and any other ‘Steward’ related matters. This information can be found on the FastTrack website under the ‘Stewards’ tab and then selecting the ‘General Alerts’ page.
All participants are encouraged to regularly review the GRV’s General alerts to ensure they are kept up-to-date with any changes to the rules and the release of further guidance on this and other matters. It should be reiterated that whilst GRV will make every endeavour to ensure that information is disseminated in a timely manner, the onus is on you – the participant – to ensure you are aware of and understand the rules and expectations of participating in our great sport.