In the CARE section you will find Health related articles, advice on introducing your greyhound to other dogs, vacation check list for your greyhound, how to find a lost greyhound and other important recommendations.
Sleeping Dogs. “Let sleeping dogs lie”… There’s a serious reason for this old saying. Many dogs, including greyhounds, can snap when startled from sleep or bothered while in their bed. Don’t become a dog‑bite statistic—make sure that your greyhound is awake before getting too close or touching him while he’s relaxed on his bed. “Eyes open” doesn’t necessarily mean “awake”!
Dog Parks. Do you take your dog to a dog park? Every year we get several calls from adopters that their greyhound was bitten at a dog park, sometimes badly. Or we find out that a greyhound has bitten another dog. While dog parks can be a great place to socialize and exercise your dog, they can be dangerous places. First, many of our greyhounds are not safe with tiny dogs and, unfortunately, many dog parks don’t have separate areas for large and small dogs. Second, many people bring aggressive dogs to dog parks and many people don’t pay attention to what their dog is doing. If you do decide to go to a dog park, please use caution; check out the scene carefully before letting your dog off leash. If a dog or dogs start playing aggressively, take your dog home. Know what to look for when play starts to turn to a fight.
Flexible or other Long Leads. What’s so bad about flexible leads and why do we strongly recommend against using them? If something occurs when your dog is 16 feet away from you, you have no control over the dog and you cannot intervene quickly. Also, at least one greyhound has died from a broken neck when it took off and reached the end of the lead at 40 mph. Please don’t use flexible leads or other long leads and encourage friends that use them to discard them, regardless of the kind of dog they have.
Did you know that as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic or even fatal to your dog? Raisins and grapes can cause renal failure; symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, or convulsions. The ASPCA website (www.aspca.org) has information on plants, foods, and other substances that are potentially toxic to your greyhound.
All About Ticks
Ticks are a common parasite of both dogs and people. Tick species are found worldwide and may infest dogs in very large numbers, especially during certain times of the year. Ticks as well as fleas and mosquitoes act as vectors of disease. Three stages of the tick (larvae, nymph and adult) parasitize animals and humans. When a tick feeds, it cuts an opening in the skin of the host with the teeth on its chelicera and then pushes its hypostome (feeding tube) into the hole. At the same time, the tick secretes a “cement-like” substance in and around the opening. The barbs on the hypostome and the cement anchor the tick to the skin. While feeding, ticks inject saliva-containing anticoagulant into the blood. The saliva may also contain disease organisms. Ticks may carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, several types of ehrlichiosis, Babesia, and other potentially deadly diseases. Prevalence of these diseases may be quite high in certain regions, making tick control a definite medical concern for veterinarians and dog owners.
Tick-borne Diseases: Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, tularemia
Risk for biting ticks is increased if:
- Tick-borne diseases have been diagnosed in your region.
- You take your dog camping, hiking or hunting where ticks are found.
- You have removed a tick from your dog in the last few months.
- Your dog is exposed to wildlife that are tick hosts (deer, rodents, raccoons, etc.).
- Your yard has dense shrubs, tall grass or leaf litter – common tick habitats.
- You take your dog to wooded areas or grassy meadows.
Did you know that not all dog breeds have the same normal ranges for bloodwork? Greyhounds have different normal ranges for several tests in the blood panel. For example, the normal ranges for white blood cells, platelets, and thyroid are lower in greyhounds than other breeds. The normal ranges for red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, total protein, and creatinine are higher in greyhounds than other breeds. Print out the “Greyhound Bloodwork” page from www.greythealth.com and take a copy to your vet.
Suzanne Stack, DVM
Greyhound bloodwork has enough differences from “other dog” bloodwork to sometimes make it deceivingly “normal” or “abnormal” if one isn’t familiar with these differences. The salient differences are discussed below.
CBC = Complete Blood Count
RBC = Red Blood Cells
Hgb = Hemoglobin
PCV / HCT = Packed Cell Volume / Hematocrit
WBC = White Blood Cells
NORMAL VALUES FOR:
Greyhounds Other Dogs
RBC: 7.4 – 9.0 5.5 – 8.5
Hgb: 19.0 – 21.5 12.0 – 18.0
PCV: 55 – 65 37 – 55
Greyhounds have significantly more red blood cells than other breeds. This elevates parameters for RBC, hemoglobin, and PCV / HCT, and is the reason greyhounds are so desirable as blood donors. Most veterinarians are aware of this difference. Never accept a diagnosis of polycythemia – a once-in-a-lifetime-rare diagnosis of pathologic red cell overproduction – in a greyhound.
Conversely, never interpret a greyhound PCV in the 30’s – low 40’s as being normal just because it is for other dogs. A greyhound with a PCV in the 30’s – low 40’s is an anemic greyhound. Here in Arizona, a greyhound PCV < 50 is a red flag to check for Ehrlichia.
Greyhound: 3.5 – 6.5
Other dog: 6.0 – 17.0
Other greyhound CBC changes are less well known. The greyhound’s normally low WBC has caused more than one healthy greyhound to undergo a bone marrow biopsy in search of “cancer” or some other cause of the “low WBC.”
Greyhound: 80,000 – 200,000
Other dog: 150,000 – 400,000
Likewise, greyhound platelet numbers are lower on average than other breeds, which might be mistakenly interpreted as a problem. It is thought that greyhound WBCs, platelets, and total protein may be lower to physiologically “make room” in the bloodstream for the increased red cell load.
Confounding these normally low WBC and platelet numbers is the fact that Ehrlichia, a common blood parasite of greyhounds, can lower WBC and platelet counts. So if there is any doubt as to whether the WBC / platelet counts are normal, an Ehrlichia titer is always in order. The other classic changes with Ehrlichia are lowered PCV and elevated globulin and total protein. But bear in mind that every greyhound will not have every change, and Ehrlichia greyhounds can have normal CBCs.
T.P. = Total Protein
NORMAL VALUES FOR:
Greyhound: 4.5 – 6.2 Greyhound: 2.1 – 3.2
Other dog: 5.4 – 7.8 Other dog: 2.8 – 4.2
Greyhound total proteins tend to run on the low end of normal – T.P.s in the 5.0’s and 6.0’s are the norm. While the albumin fraction of T.P. is the same as other dogs, the globulin component is lower.
Greyhounds: 0.8 – 1.6
Other dogs: .0 – 1.0
Greyhound creatinines run higher than other breeds as a function of their large lean muscle mass. A study at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine found that 80% of retired greyhounds they sampled had creatinine values up to 1.6 times as high as the top of the standard reference range for “other dogs.” As a lone finding, an “elevated creatinine” is not indicative of impending kidney failure. If the BUN and urinalysis are normal, so is the “elevated” creatinine.
Greyhounds: 0.5 – 3.6 (mean 1.47+/- 0.63)
Other dogs: 1.52 – 3.60
These figures are from a University of Florida study of thyroid function in 221 greyhounds – 97 racers, 99 broods, and 25 studs – so it included both racers and “retired.” While greyhound thyroid levels are a whole chapter unto themselves, a good rule of thumb is that greyhound T4s run about half that of other breeds.
And lastly, the good news – greyhound urinalysis is the same as other breeds. It is normal for males to have small to moderate amounts of bilirubin in the urine.
M.R. Herron, DVM, ACVS, Clinical Pathology of the Racing Greyhound , 1991
C. Guillermo Couto, DVM, ACVIM, “Managing Thrombocytopenia in Dogs & Cats,”Veterinary Medicine, May 1999
J.Steiss, DVM, W. Brewer, DVM, E.Welles, DVM, J. Wright, DVM, “Hematologic & Serum Biochemical Reference Values in Retired Greyhounds,” Compendium on Continuing Education, March 2000
M. Bloomberg, DVM, MS, “Thyroid Function of the Racing Greyhound,” University of Florida, 1987
D. Bruyette, DVM, ACVIM, Veterinary Information Network, 2001
Because greyhounds are such sensitive creatures, it’s a good idea to bring them home from the hospital as soon as possible after a surgery, but only if you can be there for several days to keep an eagle eye on them. This is to make sure that there is no internal or external bleeding, no signs of infection, and no licking or biting of the incision or sutures. Greyhounds don’t do well wearing Elizabethan collars, so where possible, use short or long-sleeve t-shirts, tube tops, etc to cover wounds and prevent licking and nibbling at sutures. Different sizes of tubular bandages can also be used to cover leg wounds. If your greyhound needs to be confined during recovery, an ex-pen will be a more comfortable option than a crate.
Some greyhounds may have excessive bleeding following trauma or surgery. The cause for the bleeding is not known; blood clotting parameters are normal and the Von Willebrand’s Factor (a clotting abnormality) is negative in most of these dogs. This bleeding may occur up to 4 days post surgery, so it is important to monitor your greyhound carefully following a surgery (including dentals) or trauma. Make sure that your veterinarian is aware of this and has a drug called Amicar (aminocaproic acid) available following surgery. Even dentals with extractions can trigger this disorder.
Some greyhounds, when coming out from under anesthesia, develop a condition called malignant hyperthermia – when the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. It is caused by a metabolic disorder of the skeletal muscles and occurs more frequently in heavily-muscled dogs like the greyhound. There may be a genetic component that makes some dogs more disposed to develop this condition. Clinical signs include rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, fever, rigidity of the muscles. Treatment is administration of oxygen, IV fluids, and cooling of the dog with ice packs, cold towels, or immersion in cold water. Make sure that your vet is aware of this possible condition in greyhounds and is set up to deal with it if it occurs.
Because greyhounds are bred for sprinting, they have larger and heavier hearts (about the size of a clenched fist) and lower heart rates (60 – 90 beats per minute) than other breeds. Like most well-conditioned athletes, the wall of the left ventricle (the compartment that pumps blood out through the aorta to the body) is relatively thick. Greyhounds also tend to have higher blood pressure (systolic BP up to 170-190 mm Hg) than other breeds. Low grade heart murmurs (Grades I and II) are fairly common in greyhounds and are almost always benign. An ultrasound can help differentiate between clinically significant and benign murmurs if there is any doubt.
The rule of thumb is that you should be able to see the outline of the last 3 ribs, the tips of the hip bones, and a bit of the spine. Usually the ideal pet weight is about 3‑5 pounds heavier than the racing weight. When the greyhound is viewed sideways, there should be a nice curve (“tuck up”) between the end of the ribs and the thighs. Allowing your greyhound to become heavier puts undue strain on the heart and on tendons, ligaments, and joints, which can lead to more problems with arthritis.
However, unless your greyhound has a tendency to gain weight, older greyhounds do not need to be put on a senior diet. In most cases, the trick is keeping weight on the old dogs, not taking it off! Low protein diets can also lead to muscle loss and wasting.