April is Adopt-a-Greyhound month: The Greyhound savvy veterinarian is an important resource for any Greyhound adopter.
Having moved to Tucson 10+ years ago with two Greyhounds in tow, I asked around for such a vet practice and was directed to Pantano Animal Clinic (PAC).
Here is what every Greyhound adopter needs to know about Greyhound health. The following was contributed by Dr. Michael Lent of Pantano Animal Clinic.
How are Greyhounds’ medical needs different than other dog breeds?
Because of their low percentage of body fat, barbiturate anesthetics (pentobarbital, et.) should be used with caution since they cannot re-distribute them from their liver to their body fat like other breeds. At our clinic, we chose not to use them at all and instead use propofol as an induction agent for intubation (the drug given by IV to knock the dogs out and place an endotracheal tube to maintain them on oxygen and isoflurane gas anesthesia). Prior to that, we used a combination of ketamine and diazepam.
At our clinic, we have only prescribed Frontline Plus flea and tick medication for quite a while. We feel it’s far safer than the traditional pyrethrins/permethrins, not only for the animal but for humans, especially children, around the dog or cat.
As far as lab values, Greyhounds have significantly higher packed cell volumes (PCV) or hematocrit. This means they essentially have more red blood cells than other breeds. This is what makes them excellent blood donors, as well as racers (they basically have more oxygen carrying capacity). EPO or erythropoeitin used in blood doping in professional cycling causes the body to manufacture more red blood cells, so riders have the ability to carry more oxygen than their competitors.
Do they have any special health concerns like German Shepherds have with hip dysplasia or Dobermans with cardiomyopathy?
Like other large breed dogs, osteosarcoma (an aggressive, malignant form of bone cancer) is more common. Cardiomyopathy can be seen as well. Hip dysplasia is very uncommon, since the breed has relatively much tighter hips than other breeds. Unilateral arthritis can be seen in hips, but this is usually secondary to a racing injury.
Middle aged to older Greyhounds commonly develop glomerular disease (or protein losing kidney disease). Clinical signs usually include weight loss, increased water consumption, and urination. Occasionally dogs with more advanced disease may develop pulmonary thromboemboli (clots in the lungs) or clots elsewhere as a result of loss of the protein antithrombin 3 (normally keeps the blood from clotting). It is very important that if this disease is suspected that your veterinarian not only check blood work, but a urine sample as well. Early on in the course of the disease, the kidney values are usually completely normal and the only abnormalities will be an excess of protein in the urine and a low concentration or urine specific gravity. Blood pressure should be checked also as hypertension can develop subsequent to any kidney disease.
Corns are common in Greyhounds, especially those on gravel. I suspect it is from less subcutaneous fat and padding under their digital pads compared to other breeds.
What are some of the common ailments you see with hounds coming off the track?
The hounds coming off the track tend to have severe dental disease and old fractures (often in the hock or ankle. Since these were not repaired in a timely manner with internal fixation to restore the normal joint anatomy, these dogs often end up with severe arthritis in that joint neccessitating a surgical joint fusion).
Occasionally, we will see clitoral hypertrophy in females resulting from use of anabolic steroids.
Skin disease is also common.
Separation anxiety is often something we see also as the dogs transition from being around each other 24/7 to possibly being home alone while the owner is at work.
Do you know how many greyhounds PAC has treated since its inception?
I’m guessing we’ve probably treated somewhere around 2,000 greyhounds over the last 10 to 12 years.
Why would you recommend that someone adopt a greyhound?
They are very gentle, clean and affectionate in an understated way. They like to lean on you. They’re a bit calmer than other breeds.
Michael Lent DVM
Pantano Animal Clinic – expertise not limited to greyhounds
8333 East 22nd St.
Tucson, AZ 85710
Save the date – Sunday – May 1 – 8 to 11 a.m. – Dog Wash Fundraiser (all breeds welcome)
Hosted by Arizona Greyhound Rescue
Where: in the driveway of Pantano Animal Clinic
Cost: $10/wash, $10/nails, $15-both – such a deal!
No appointment required; first come, first served
Volunteers are needed to help wash dogs. It’s a fun activity for energetic dog lovers and mature teens.
I always say that my greyhounds have had much better healthcare than I have ever had. Whenever I’ve taken my dogs to the vet for anything other than routine, it’s been a gut wrenching experience. I remember around 7 years, Painter, a male, was rubbing his eye. I took him to Pantano and had to leave him there all day. I was a nervous wreck.
I don’t remember the diagnosis but maybe he had some ulceration on his eye. Dr. Michael Lent extracted some blood from Painter’s still buff thigh/rear and spun the blood around in a machine perhaps with other ingredients and injected into Painter’s eye. Of course, I almost fainted hearing this.
When I picked him up, all he required was some eye drops and the next day he was as good was new. Moments like these are as good as it gets.
Here’s a handy resource for all things having to do with greyhound health.
(Photo is courtesy of Judith Weiser of her greyhound Donut who fortunately never raced. Donut was injured during schooling and found her forever home early on.)