What Should a Basset Hound Eat?

What do you feed your dog?
What do you feed your dog?

I enjoyed reading Dr Dee Blanco’s article on “Species Appropriate Diets” today having followed a link on Twitter from Angela (aka @fun4fido) and got into a bit of a discussion with her and Sheila Atter (@cesky2000).

Basset Hounds on Barf

I went down the raw route about several years ago after reading a stack of info on the best kind of diet for your dog.

The Björkwood gang were given organic chicken, turkey and tripe (vom) twice a day plus leafy vegetables, bones and the kind of diet that Dr Blanco recommends, guided by my local organic pet food store here in Roslags-Näsby.

Initially, results were excellent. Aggie and Bernard in particular seemed to thrive on the diet. Their coats gleamed and were luscious, their mucus membranes seemed better and generally they seemed full of vitality.

After six months though I noticed problems. Bernard, in particular, seemed to get an upset stomach continually. Then very quickly he started having skin problems and he lost a lot of his coat. When he started losing weight dramatically I talked to my vet.

I then booked a time with one of Sweden’s leading nutritionists and had the dogs tested for allergies.

Seeing Aggie start to reproduce the kind of symptoms I was seeing in Bernard, I took my vet’s advice and shifted the gang over to a premium complete food – James Wellbeloved Lamb & Rice. I was given instructions to supplement this with raw offal twice a week, and to feed bones occasionally. My vet also recommended I give a measured dose of Cod Liver Oil to fit their weight.

This proved a good solution and Bernard and Aggie improved very quickly.


My pet food store tried to convince me that the dogs were detoxing from all the McProcessed food they’d had earlier – although they’d been fed on premium complete foods since they were pups.

Still, once I saw that my dogs were thriving again on complete I found it very difficult to go back to “raw, organic”.

Not All Plain Sailing

I still question what to feed my dogs. After Aggie and Winnie both had calcium shortages during their pregnancies I followed the recommendation of a breeder friend of mine and switched over to ProPlan Lamb & Rice and have been happy with the results.

The woofs only require half the amount of ProPlan that they used to scoff of James Wellbeloved and six months later on I don’t regret switching. The girls in particular are doing well and the pups from Aggie’s litter have all done very well on ProPlan Robust Chicken & Rice. In fact, I actually think this is the best food I’ve seen yet as the pups seem to have distributed the fat more evenly over their bodies.

A Bit of Both

I still give my basset hounds raw liver and heart (chicken, lamb or beef, never pig) several times a week; I also give then raw egg yolks, fish oil, fish and plenty of steamed vegetables. They’re also big raw carrot eaters.

Healthily Sceptic. I want more openness!

My experience is purely anecdotal and I am not providing any feeding guidelines or recommendations here in writing this post. Nor am I affiliated to any of the products I’ve mentioned here in any commercial way. I am purely documenting what I’ve done in the hope of continued discussion.

I do think, however, that we as dog breeders and owners need to question the kind of practice pet food manufacturers have. I want as much transparency as possible and I want to see proper documentation and openness.

Being a bit of a know-it-all-with-a-PhD I tend to question things. I know full well that even scientific research is often funded by corporate sponsors so I am naturally wary of most scientific facts. I’ll keep searching for the best foods to feed my dogs as long as I have air to breathe; that’s just how I am.

Still, I am curious to hear other stories about feeding your dog. If you have anything you would like to share, please leave a comment below.


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  • http://www.ridleyceskyterriers.co.uk Sheila Atter

    Lots of ‘food for thought’ there Jon (excuse the pun!)

    I suspect I’m not alone in feeling guilty that I don’t feed my dogs RAW – surely I should be offering them natural foods rather than just tipping kibble out of a bag? Yet I look at the dogs belonging to the two people that I know feed exclusively RAW, and TBH whilst undoubtedly fit, they are thin to the point of emaciation.

    I’ve settled on Markus-Muhle – I like the contents, and important to me, it is cold-pressed rather than extruded. (I’ve seen suggestions that extruded foods can be carcinogenic and cancer is the number 1 killer of my breed) – and I occasionally add to it: mackerel in olive oil, free-range eggs (courtesy of a bantam-keeping friend) and goat’s milk from the same friend, also raw liver, chicken wings twice a week and any vegetables and fruit that happen to be lying around. It’s very random, but they look good on it!


  • http://www.fun4fido.co.uk Angela

    Thank you for sharing your experience Jon and I agree good food for thought.

    My experience is similar but opposite. My Weim started having terrible skin problem at 8 months, along with sticky eyes, and ear infections. At the time I was living in Cyprus and the vets there are very open and honest and suggested that it was probably down to a chronic yeast infection, (caused by diet), that in turn had lead to allergic symptoms.

    My options were, antibiotics, which would most likely exasperate the yeast problem, along with a grain/cereal free dry dog food. I had a dilemma, Cyprus had no grain free kibble at that time, and I couldn’t source any for shipping to Cyprus.

    So I too did research and decided to put Harley on a raw meaty bones diet, accompanied with puréed green leafy vegetables, brightly coloured vegetables, and some fruit.

    I was told to expect the symptoms to get worse before getting better, and not to expect any improvements to show until around 90 days.

    I also find out about a yeast kit http://www.nzymes.com/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=7&idproduct=12 and I used this alongside Harley’s new diet.

    Daily regime was:

    70% protein mainly from poultry, fish, and a little lamb
    20% puréed vegetables
    10% puréed fruit

    I also added herbs such as parsley, alfalfa, and kelp. And raw eggs twice a week, including the shells crushed.

    Within 45 days I saw a big improvement, and by 90 days Harley’s skin was back to normal, bright healthy eyes, and no ear infections.

    Have been back in UK a while now and I still feed raw. I will say that it is important to make sure a dog is getting the right quantity of protein everyday according to body weight, otherwise yes, weight will be lost. As a general rule, a normal active dog requires about 2% of its body weight per day. A highly active dog may require about 3% of its body weight per day. No two dogs are alike in their metabolic rates, age, or activity levels. Puppies can use up to 10% of their growing body weight.

    I’ve refined Harley’s diet now, and know what works best for him, and as a bonus I no longer need to take him to the vets to have his glands expressed, this now happens naturally. So for Harley it works.

    James Wellbeloved it very good though, and I will happily recommend it to clients, in particular the cereal free kibble with vegetables, they now do Lamb, Turkey, and Fish, all cereal free, hypo-allergenic.


  • http://www.glenofimaalterrier.uk.com Liz Gay

    I have a “junk” breed. A cattle person once said they were the Highland Cattle of dogs; some modern breeds have to have premium food whilst Highland Cattle could do well on concrete i.e. who needs anything flash?….the same for mine. There are exceptions though, the exceptions fall two ends; premium and Raw. The premium is seemingly just a waste of time and money as they end up thin, lean and hyper and Raw just has them thin.
    I’m sure it is horses for courses and Raw will suit some breeds but it doesn’t suit all. Anyway have you ever know an Irishman not do well on potatoes?

  • Margaret Keen

    My Handsome boy,who is very similar in the face to Valpar,has been an absolute nightmare to feed.He is named Beauregarde(because he is so very handsome)with very long ears,humungous feet and acres of spare skin so you can see where I am going.All of those creases need daily attention and for a while everything is fine and then suddenly a sore patch arrives.He is also prone to oxylate stones and the only thing which is thought might help to stop them forming he is icrtedibly alleric to,so I found that Purinas version of the diet was less irritationg to him than hills.I still only give him a third of the prescription diet and fresh chicken as I have to try to keep his ph at seven.After a great dael of trial and error I put him on to Organic Barley Grass (doseage had to be arrived at as I had to use the human one as the dog one had additives and he does not need extra calcium when he has oxylate stones)The side effect seems to be that his creases are itch free and coming along well but at the moment,as it is pollen season, he has a patch of redness with no hair under each arm.He has been given a long lastion antibiotic and a steroid cream which I have stopped using as it does tend to thin the skin and directions on the tube say not for long term use.I have started him on a coloidal silver spray and read about a herbal skin capsule from america which appears to have very good results,judging by the photographs.I will let you know if this really is the Wonder Cure it profesess to be.Pop onto Beauregardes Bolg and see how beautiful he is.

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