Greyhound health problems
A study conducted in the UK in 2016 revealed that tooth problems represent 40% of the cases for which a Greyhound is brought to the vet. The first sign of dental disease for an owner is usually foul breath caused by inflammation and infection of the gums around the teeth. From here, the condition can progress to gum recession, loose teeth and even loss of teeth.
Additionally, tooth root abscesses can develop, causing severe pain, infection of the jaw bones and inability to chew properly, leading to progressive weight loss as the pet refuses to eat.
These infections can cause bacteria to travel as far as vital organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. It is, therefore, a good idea to keep up good preventive healthcare, and the good news is that there are many different options to achieve a healthy mouth.
Probably the most important thing is to offer dry kibble instead of wet food, and some dogs will also benefit from specially formulated commercial diets that help scrub the teeth as the dog chews. Another useful option is to offer dental treats to remove plaque, massage the gums and promote fresh breath.
Regular teeth brushing and vet checks will also help make sure your dog has a healthy mouth.
The combination of fast running and long skinny legs, typical of Greyhounds, often causes a series of common injuries such as fractures of the leg bones, toe injuries and muscle tears. There is not much that can be done to prevent these injuries without suppressing the greyhound’s own nature, being a breed that enjoys regular training, outbursts of activity and competing.
Therefore, the recommendation is to carefully examine your dog’s legs and gait daily and proactively bring your pet to the veterinarian at the first sign of injury, to prevent any further damage.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV or Bloat)
Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) or “bloat” refers to an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid and/or foam in the stomach. Bloat can occur with or without twisting.
As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the oesophagus (food tube) and the duodenum (the upper intestine).
The twisted stomach traps air, food and water in the stomach, obstructing veins in the abdomen. This then leads to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs, quickly causing a life-threatening situation.
This disease can often be prevented through some easy to follow precautions during feeding time:
- Don’t exercise for at least an hour before or after eating
- Slow down your dog’s eating (there are special bowls to buy, manufactured for this reason)
- Feed the dog at least twice daily, giving them smaller portions
- Don’t let your dog drink too much water too fast.
In cases where there is a high risk of gastric dilatation and volvulus in dogs, another effective preventive method is an elective surgery (called gastropexy) that pins the stomach to the abdominal wall so that it is unable to twist. This will not prevent bloat but dramatically reduces the risk of stomach rotation, which is the most severe condition.
Due to the limited amount of fat typical of this breed, Greyhounds have limited insulation on their bodies, meaning that they don’t cope well with cold weather. If the dog’s core temperature drops, its body automatically tries to keep the important organs warm by restricting the blood flow to the skin and extremities and that’s why Greyhounds seem to always have cold feet and noses.
For the Greyhound, being cold is not only uncomfortable, but it affects their metabolic usage, making them need more calories with their food to maintain functionality.
Also, cold muscles are more susceptible to injuries. As a basic rule, it is important to keep your Greyhound warm when the weather is cold by keeping them indoors overnight, providing warm bedding, a dry coat, and even buying a warm coat or jacket for the coldest days.
Osteosarcoma (bone tumour)
Osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, is one of the most common cancers in Greyhounds. It usually manifests firstly with a slight limp, progressing to extreme discomfort and sometimes visible swelling at the site of the bone tumour.
In the latest phases, the cancer can affect bone stability and cause pathologic bone fracture. X-rays are needed to determine if the cause is cancer, and if osteosarcoma is diagnosed, it needs to be treated aggressively and promptly with chemotherapy and amputation.
If diagnosed in the early stages amputation can be performed and the dog usually adapts rapidly to the missing limb, therefore it is recommended to book a vet assessment at the first signs of gait abnormalities.
Pannus is a genetic disorder commonly found in Greyhounds that causes gradual darkening of the cornea (the clear part of the eye). It bears resemblance to a curtain that progressively covers all the eye until it doesn’t allow any light to enter the eye, causing blindness.
It is important to monitor your dog’s eyes regularly for early signs of opacity, and then start preventive eye medications if needed.
Progressive retinal atrophy
Another common condition that can affect a Greyhound’s eyes is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). It is an inherited disease in which the eyes are genetically programmed to go blind, sometimes as early as 1 year of age. PRA is not painful, but it’s also not curable. A genetic test is available for this condition and to prevent dogs from passing on this disease to their litter.