Coonhounds are a robust breed with a genetic profile that makes them durable hunters. If you have a coonhound who is more of a house dog than a hunter, his dietary needs will be different from coonhounds burning up extra calories in the woods. There are a number of dietary choices to consider for your coonhound including whether to feed him a raw homemade diet or a commercial brand.
Although dietary needs for coonhounds are dependent upon their level of daily activity and exercise, there are general guidelines for fat-to-protein ratios that should be followed in order to keep your animal properly nourished.
According to Jay Benton, D.V.M., breeder of Treeing Walker Coonhounds for 20 years, dogs who are hunting regularly should be fed diets with protein levels of 25 percent to 28 percent and fat levels of 15 percent to 18 percent. These higher levels of protein aid in supporting endurance and muscle mass. The higher fat content provides the energy needed for hunting.
However, coonhounds tend to be rather laid-back animals. If you are not hunting them or working them hard, they will expend very little energy. If your coonhound is more sedentary you will need to cut these protein and fat levels and be careful with your portion control. Choose a diet of about 8 percent to 10 percent fat to avoid weight gain. The amount of food you should provide will vary with the animal’s size and type of food you are feeding him. Check with your veterinarian for personal recommendations on the proper amount of food to feed your coonhound.
There are many advantages to purchasing a commercial brand diet for your hound: the convenience of storage and purchasing; less preparation time; a tendency to be more economical and formulas that are researched and processed for balanced nutrition. In addition, commercial raw foods available for purchase undergo a heat processing technique that makes them safer from bacterial contamination.
Unfortunately, there are also some cons to purchasing commercial dog food for your hound. The quality regulations of the USDA and FDA are not as stringent as they are for foods consumed by humans. There have been numerous cases of tainted dog food from other countries entering the canine food supply. In addition, heat processing can damage vitamins and nutrients or alter the protein structure found in commercial mixes, many of which have artificial preservatives. To keep the prices down, many commercial feeds are packed with cheaper ingredients and therefore may be rampant with fillers such as wheat, soy, bone meal and rice mill. They also may contain low-quality sources of protein.
One of the largest advantages to feeding your coonhound a diet of homemade food is that you have complete control of what goes into it. You have the ability to choose a raw or cooked diet from wholesome, high-quality ingredients. You also can prevent your dog from ingesting harmful pesticides and herbicides in the vegetables you use. In addition, you may choose organic meats that are free from hormones or antibiotics. Raw diets are easier for dogs to digest. Raw meat bones are safer than cooked ones and they promote good dental hygiene for your dog.
On the downside, it is much more time-consuming to prepare your own dog food and certainly more expensive. Homemade recipes have not undergone some of the more stringent nutritional testing that commercial brands have. If you are going raw, food-borne illnesses such as E. Coli and salmonella are a worry and something you will need to weigh the pros and cons of before deciding upon your coonhound’s diet.