There are many different brands and types of supplement on the market, and you only have to look through any of the greyhound papers or magazines to see advertisements for the latest product designed to help your dog become a winner. Some of these supplements are specifically formulated for greyhounds in work while others are designed for dogs in general. There are multi-vitamin and mineral supplements, electrolyte supplements and supplements containing essential fatty acids and amino acids.
The reason for using a supplement is to overcome deficiencies within the diet that may occur due to the way food is processed, preserved and prepared. The greyhound’s body requires vitamins, minerals, trace elements and electrolytes to function – not enough, and the body cannot function optimally, too much and the body simply sends the excess out as waste.
The amount required of each nutrient can vary depending on the dog’s age, work load, health status, stress levels and physical condition. Young or growing dogs may need different levels of certain minerals to a dog that is spelling. A brood bitch with pups will need different things to a dog in light work. So the decision to supplement the greyhound’s diet depends on its needs.
Feeding your dog good quality food is the most important step to getting the balance right. If you use commercial, prepared foods, someone else does the hard work for you, and as long as the food is fresh and stored correctly, it should cover most of the dog’s requirements. On the other hand, if you choose to prepare the food yourself, you will need to know exactly what’s in the food to make sure it meets the greyhounds needs. Simply putting some meat, rice, vegies and bread into a bowl is not necessarily a complete or balanced diet.
There are so many supplements out there it is very difficult to know what you really need. It’s a great idea to discuss the ration you make with your greyhound vet. They will have a good idea of what is likely to be missing, and can advise on a suitable supplement.
If you are thinking of adding a supplement because your greyhound is not performing to the level that you expect given its training history, a thorough check up at the vets including a blood profile should be considered prior to trying to guess what is wrong. This may save you money in the long run.
It is very important that you follow the instructions on the supplement label. These will tell you how much of the product to use and how often. It will also have storage instructions that need to be followed to ensure the product does not spoil or lose its potency.
Most supplements should be added to the diet just prior to feeding so that they do not interact with other food components, and do not lose their potency.
You need to be very careful about what ingredients are in each supplement, as some contain products that can lead to a positive swab.
If you are not sure what an ingredient is or what it is for, it would be wise to discuss your choice of supplement with your greyhound veterinarian as they will be able to tell you whether or not the ingredient poses a concern.
Multi-vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Feeding these types of supplements can cover most of the greyhounds requirements. This may mean that you do not have to use multiple products to achieve the same effect – in turn saving you money. Trainers are often trying to use calcium supplements, vitamin injections, and electrolyte supplements, when in many cases a single, good quality multi-vitamin and mineral mix would cover all of the dog’s needs.
Many dogs do not need electrolyte supplementation, and in fact supplementation with excessive electrolytes can lead to dehydration. The best way to detect any electrolyte deficiencies is with a blood test performed by your greyhound vet. This will tell you which electrolytes are lacking, and the product used can be tailored to remedy the situation. Potassium is one electrolyte that is particularly important for normal muscle function.
Dogs with electrolyte imbalances or deficiencies tend to have poor form, struggle in distance events, tend to have increased respiratory distress after a run, and tend to drink and urinate a lot after racing. The treatment will depend on which electrolytes are missing – so speak to your vet about the dog’s blood results. It may be that you monitor the electrolyte levels repeatedly over time to see how well your electrolyte supplementation is working, and modify your program accordingly.
Sometimes the type of fat in food is not the best source of the required fatty acids. Greyhounds with poor coats or skin conditions (other than flea infestation), can often benefit from an oil-based supplement. Many trainers will simply use animal fat, but there are a number of proprietary formulations that contain increased levels of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Like everything, the ratio of the fatty acids is more important than the quantity.
There are some very specific supplements that address nutritional deficits. Things such as Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron and Potassium may occasionally be warranted. It may be that supplementation is recommended after a blood test shows up a problem that is linked to a deficiency of one of these elements, or they might be supplemented regularly, depending on the diet. It has been shown that over-doing calcium is just as dangerous to the developing skeleton as a deficiency, so remember to follow the dosage directions closely.
Calcium needs to be supplemented along with phosphorous in a ratio that is similar to the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio in bone. These two elements are linked in their action, so too much of one without the other is detrimental, so make sure that calcium and phosphorus is given in the correct ratio.