Italian Greyhounds are well-known not only because of their lovely faces, extra-ordinary characters, fragile bodies, being super-fast but for having quite sensitive stomach & gut, too.
As we live with 2 Italian Greyhounds, I can very well compare how different both of them are and how wrong it would be to put all the iggies in the same… basket :)
Harvey is the one who can eat basically anything, have his food switched & still feel great. Whereas Oliver is far from that - anything that deviates from his normal menu usually causes mild diarrhea. Ouch.
Thus, I know that finding the best food for Italian Greyhounds can be challenging. We’re here to give a brief overview on the available options. Yet you are the one to make a decision, test it out & decide on what works best.
Do Italian Greyhounds need special food?
Though iggies are special dogs, it’s not fair to claim that their diet has to be somewhat different from other small dog breeds. Italian Greyhounds can eat many foods. That include high-quality dry dog food, wet or canned dog food, homemade meals, and raw food diets.
Your as an iggy owner's goal should be to ensure that the food is balanced and fits your dog perfectly well. What does that mean? Well, they should be active & energetic at all times and their poop schedule should be stable and consistent.
When selecting food for your Italian Greyhound, it's important to choose a high-quality dog food. Aim for one that is specifically created for small breed dogs.
How to choose dog food for Italian Greyhounds?
Consider Your iggy’s Age and Health
It’s crucial to consider age while choosing Italian Greyhound food. Puppies require more protein and fat which plays a key role in their growth. Senior dogs usually need a fewer calories intake and less protein. Weight tends to be an issue for quite some of the senior iggies.
If your iggy has any specific health conditions, e.g., allergies or digestive issues, make sure to keep an extra focus on the formula you choose. Advice from a vet is the best idea to keep your iggy happy & healthy!
Evaluate your iggy’s activity level
Iggies have a high metabolism, they’re fast and very energetic. Even mature or senior dogs tend to be very active compared to the other breeds. That’s why they need a diet that is high in protein and fat.
Adjust the portions based on how active they are. Couch potatoes usually require less than marathon & lure course runners :)
The ingredients list is important!
These days we have an incredibly big choice of dog foods. It’s easy to get lost in shiny & colorful packages with all the ‘super-premium-max-best’ labels.
Yet, once you find food that suits your Italian Greyhound, you are good to go for a long time (hopefully :)). So it’s worth digging deeper into what labels say. There are a couple of key things to look for on the packaging:
- the first few ingredients should be a high-quality protein source. It could be beef, turkey, chicken, or fish. Put back on the shelf foods that use attractive but vague terms such as “meat by-products” or “animal-digest”. Usually they include low-quality ingredients you want to avoid.
- look for fruits & vegetables as they are rich in fiber and have some important nutrients. Same as for vague statements, skip foods that have a large percentage of grains or fillers. They have very little nutrition value and are usually hard to digest.
What food is healthy for Italian Greyhounds?
Have you heard the saying ‘one shoe doesn’t fit all’? It very well applies to the diet of Italian Greyhounds. There may be many healthy choices but they may not fit your iggy for many reasons.
Some of the ideas on what to feed your Italian Greyhound:
- High-quality dry dog food: choose a premium dry dog food that is formulated for small breed dogs. Look for food that lists a high-quality source of protein as the first ingredient. The usually are chicken, beef, lamb or fish.
- Wet or canned dog food: wet or canned dog food can be a good option for Italian Greyhounds who have trouble chewing dry kibble or prefer a softer texture.
- Homemade meals: prefer making your dog's meals at home? Then discuss it with a veterinarian or canine nutritionist. Ensure that the meals are nutritionally balanced and meet your dog's specific needs. Homemade meals should include a high-quality source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.
- Raw food diets: Raw food diets can be a good option for Italian Greyhounds who have specific dietary needs or health concerns. Raw may be a life saving solution. But be cautious to choose providers. It's best to check with your vet before switching to raw.
- Freeze-dried raw food: this is something relatively new in the market! Such foods are not really popular just yet but the trend is growing. Basically, freeze-dried frozen food for dogs is very similar to standard frozen raw prepped meals but it has many pros. For instance, it saves the hassle of defrosting, makes it simple to travel and has less risk for bacteria.
Should I feed my Italian Greyhound raw or dry dog food?
Whether to feed your Italian Greyhound dry food or raw food is a personal decision, and you can find many pros and cons to each option.
How to choose the best dry foods for iggies?
Hands down, dry food is the most convenient way to feed your iggy. It’s easy to store, it is formulated to meet your dog's nutritional needs. There are no problems while traveling too. Some kibble manufacturers state that it also helps to clean your dog's teeth, though it’s very much debatable.
Some dry dog foods can contain artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, and they may not be as healthy and balanced as other options. It’s important to always check the labels (key points on what to look for on them mentioned in a previous section). Though it’s still a processed food, the newest formulas focus on the best ingredients and high level of digestion. You can choose from endless options not only including taste but focusing on specific health conditions. As an example, for dogs with digestive issues, weight issues, allergies, appetite problems… It focused on dog coat types, breeds, size, you name it!
Your goal should be to find the most suitable food for your Italian Greyhound. How to know that you found the golden formula of kibble? Easy - your dog has to feel active, have a healthy and shiny coat, clear eyes and a stable pooping routine.
Switching dry food to a new brand or even to a different taste usually affects pooping and the change should be handled gradually. Change the ratio of old vs. new step by step until new food is fully on. Such a gradual switch should take 5-7 days.
Is raw food good for Italian Greyhounds?
As it is not as common as feeding dogs classic dry food which is basically a processed meal, it’s important to define what a raw diet is. The idea behind a raw diet originates from a loooong time ago when dog ancestors used to eat in the wild where, captain obvious, no kibble was available. You eat what you hunt or find. Or don’t eat at all.
It is proven that eating raw is way healthier for your dog’s coat, energy levels, and… Dental health. Knowing the specifics of Italian Greyhounds, the latter is super important. Iggies tend to develop their dental problems, so daily (or, at least, casual) teeth brushing is a must. What’s more, unprocessed meals are better absorbed and digested. Big, often & smelly poops? Say bye to those, if feeding raw.
Of course, there is no black & white, it all comes with some risks. One of the downsides of a raw menu is that one must make sure the food comes from a trusted source, it’s bacteria-free, refrigerated and well-balanced. All those aforementioned benefits can be wiped out with one unfortunate event. Not even mentioning that there’s always a risk to choke while chewing raw bones. Making sure it’s safe is quite a big job!
Differences between BARF and RAW
There are two most popular diets for dogs (and cats!) that includes raw meat. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet. It consists of a raw meat balanced with a different ratio of variety of vegetables, seeds, and fruit. Wide range of such a menu ensures your dog gets all needed nutrients that otherwise may be trickier to consume compared with raw only meals. Raw diet is meat only. In most cases, it is feeding dogs a variety of raw meats, bones, organs with no or very little processing. Grinding? Nope, not really.
As raw diet gets more & more popular globally, there are many players in the market that offer pre-prepared frozen raw food. That way, you don’t need to try to balance bones & organs, all is already in the daily portion!
To summarize, it’s important to test what works best for your lovely iggies. Some dogs simply do not tolerate raw food and kibble is the only way to go. We feed our Italian Greyhounds frozen raw meatballs VOM. Since being a puppy Harvey used to be very picky towards kibble. Later on, he had troubles gaining weight, thus we started testing raw diet options. It worked as a charm. The weight balanced itself in a couple of months, he was a healthy, happy dog with the softest coat.
A couple years later, we decided to switch back to some super-extra-fancy-nutritious dry food. Why? Well, let's be honest. Raw diet is quite tricky to handle. There are challenges when traveling, you always need to have a freezer at hand, not to forget to defrost food... But switching back never worked. Neither Harvey, not Oli didn't feel happy about the change. So very soon we got back to raw.
Moving from dry food to eating raw and vice versa
What’s really important to mention, that even though it’s not scientifically proven yet, mixing kibble with raw is not advised. When a dog's gut adjusts to eating raw, it produces different gastric enzymes for better digestion. As kibble takes longer to digest, mixing both can lead to digestion troubles, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Better safe than sorry!
And be sure to get personal advice from a vet if you decide to try raw - it takes time & effort to move from kibble to it and vice versa.
How often should Italian Greyhounds eat?
The question is worth a million! There’s no golden rule & only one true answer to that. Usually vets recommend feeding your adult Italian Greyhounds 2 times a day in smaller portions rather than one bigger meal. This is due to the fact that iggies are small breeds with high metabolism.
Yet again, the frequency and portion size very much depends on the aforementioned: dog’s age (puppies should eat more frequently!), health conditions, weight, activity level.
To make the best choice, check the recommended portions that are usually on food labels, consult with the vet and run some tests yourself. Check how your iggy feels after eating, how they adjust to the daily routine and keep an eye on the weight. If you notice your iggy losing weight (make sure it’s only food related and nothing with the health itself!) or gaining too much, feel free to deviate from the regular portion size.
Choose food for your four-legged friends carefully & check with your vet in case your iggy has special health conditions. The article cannot be considered as a professional advice as every dog is individual and tolerate different foods differently.