Here are 14 medical myths that Greyhound parents frequently hear, along with the straight scoop on the topic from Suzanne Stack, DVM – Greyhound owner and long-time advocate. This article is for informational purposes, and not intended to take the place of your veterinarian's evaluation and treatment.
1. Older Greyhounds need low protein “Senior” diets. With greyhounds, we're usually trying to keep weight on the oldsters, not off them. Low protein diets may cause muscle wasting and weight loss.
2. Greyhounds with high creatinines are going into kidney failure and need low protein "kidney" diets. Increased creatinine does not equal kidney disease if the BUN and urine concentration are normal. A 2000 Auburn study found that greyhound creatinines normally run up to 1.6X "other dog" creatinine.
3. Greyhounds with diarrhea should be switched to high fiber food (i.e. W/D). This approach often backfires with greyhounds, who do better on meat based diets. Grain based diets or the simple switch from racing diets to kibble are often the cause of diarrhea.
4. Feed several small meals daily / feed from raised feeders / make him eat slow / to prevent bloat. Bloat is mostly genetic and much more common in show (AKC) greyhound lines. Racers gobble one meal daily from a bowl on the floor and rarely bloat.
5. Yearly dentals are the best way to keep your greyhound's teeth healthy. Brushing at least every other day is the best way to keep your greyhound's teeth healthy. BARF (Bones And Raw Food), chewies, turkey necks - all is preferable to knocking off tartar once yearly while the dog spends the other 9-10 months with dental disease. Dentals should be done when needed, but should not be the mainstay of dental care.
6. Do all you can to save bad teeth - you don't want to lose them. Bad teeth hurt - get them out of there! Bad teeth form a nidus for infection which can damage kidneys and heart valves. Dogs with bad teeth often feel like new dogs once they're extracted.
7. His heart is enlarged. The greyhound heart is normally much bigger than the heart of other dogs. - There is a huge left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of wall) - same with marathon runners. An ultrasound can differentiate normal from diseased if in doubt.
8. His heart rate is abnormally slow. The greyhound's heart rate is slower than other dogs - again, due to athleticism. 60-90 is normal at rest, it may be faster if excited (like at the vet's office).
9. His blood pressure is high. Greyhounds often run blood pressures on the high end of normal (160,170,180). They can be higher if excited - again, an important consideration at the vet's office.
10. A low T4 means he needs to be on thyroid supplement. Greyhounds normally run lower T4s than other breeds (about half is a good rule of thumb). They should not be on supplement unless there are clinical signs - too many greyhounds are needlessly on lifelong supplement. Use half of the normal dog dose. Sick dogs commonly have low T4s ("sick euthyroid") - the dog is not hypothyroid.
11. Bald butts are because they're hypothyroid. The cause of bald butt/thigh syndrome is unknown. Bald butt/thighs are seen with both low and high thyroid levels.
12. I don't want to amputate (or euthanize) for bone cancer. I'll just make him comfortable for as long as possible (or . . . amputation is not the end of the world). Bone cancer is a constant, throbbing pain - the most intractable pain in veterinary medicine. The pain is not well controlled with meds - if it was, veterinarians wouldn't recommend amputation. Amputation is done simply to get the dog out of pain, it will not increase survival time. Only adding chemo will make him live longer. If not amputated, be generous with pain meds and be ready to euthanize.
13. I don't want to give Rimadyl, Deramaxx, etc. for bone cancer - it might damage his liver. Don't become hung up on the possibility of side effects - bone cancer does not have a long term. Give what it takes to keep him from hurting. Combine meds (NSAIDs, narcotics, Ultram, Fosamax, Tylenol /codeine, etc.)
14. That hind end weakness is probably hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is rare in greyhounds. Hind end problems are most likely lumbosacral stenosis in older greyhounds.
For more information like this, Dr. Stack has put together a greyt resource for Greyhound owners and veterinarians alike online at GREYTHEALTH - http://www.greythealth.com/
For a handy reference, CARE OF THE RETIRED AND RACING GREYHOUND a wealth of detailed information for you AND your vet: https://bit.ly/GHCareBook
This article was first published August 5, 2020
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