There are many things to consider to ensure your greyhound is healthy. This includes vaccinations, parasite control, and avoiding grass seeds and keeping your greyhound cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Like any other dog, your greyhound needs vaccination against the main canine diseases including Parvovirus, Distemper and Hepatitis. Your greyhound will be vaccinated against these and Kennel Cough (C5 vaccine) so just keep a note of when the next vaccination is due and arrange an appointment with your vet close to the time. Unless you place your dog in a kennel (most require current vaccination) or day care situation you may not need to vaccinate against Kennel Cough but it is best to talk to your vet about this.
The most common intestinal worms in dogs are roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm including Hydatid tapeworm.
Hookworm is prevalent in many greyhound training and rearing establishments. Hookworm larvae can actually migrate from the gut and lay dormant in tissues such as muscles, where they are not affected by worming medication. These dormant larvae can become mobile and move back into the gut during times of stress, e.g. rehoming. These latent infections can persist for years. Thus, although it is generally advised to worm your pet for intestinal worms every 3 months, it is recommended to worm your new greyhound monthly for several months to reduce the risk of environmental contamination and recurring gastrointestinal disease due to hookworm.
Symptoms of hookworm infestation include; failure to gain weight, or weight loss, loss of appetite, and recurrent diarrhoea which is often dark and tarry (looks like tar) but can be just loose or runny. Other clinical signs include a painful abdomen or just a general failure to thrive.
Not all worming treatments will cover all worms, so best to consult your vet, particularly if your greyhound is showing any of the above symptoms. Be sure to find out from the adoption centre when your greyhound received their last worming treatment.
Heartworm can cause severe disease as they live in the heart. This disease is spread by mosquitoes and so may be difficult to prevent. Contact your local vet to find out if heartworm is common in your area and if it is then it is essential that your dog receive preventative treatment. However, this must not be given until a blood test is done to ensure your dog is not already infected, as the preventative treatment can cause a reaction if given to dogs who already have heartworm.
Fleas and ticks
Fleas cause intense skin irritation leading to scratching and they suck blood. They are small black insects 1-2 mm long and will move quickly once the fur on your dog is parted. Check for fleas regularly because the sooner you start treatment the easier it will be to eradicate them. Flea treatments include spot-on applications and shampoos. All bedding must be washed at the same time your dog is treated. Seek advice from your vet.
If you live in an area where paralysis tick is a problem, then it is essential to apply regular preventative treatments as well as check your dog for ticks every day. Consult your vet.
For more information on ticks read: How can I protect my dog from tick paralysis?
During spring, grass seeds can become embedded between toes or lodge in ear canals. When walking, avoid areas with long grass which have seeds, especially wild oats. Signs include lameness, paw licking and swelling of the affected area on the foot and head shaking, tilting and scratching the ear where a seed has lodged. Seek vet advice as soon as possible.
Greyhounds have very little body fat and therefore are prone to cold stress. If your greyhound curls up in a tight ball, you know that they are feeling the cold or if the temperature is below 15°C, then a dog coat is essential. Be sure to remove the coat when they come inside to a warm house or if they go for a run. As a general rule of thumb, if you require a coat, so will your greyhound.
In summer, dogs can become heat stressed as panting may not dissipate heat sufficiently. Bringing dogs inside to air conditioning where the temperature exceeds 35°C is the best option or if dogs need to remain outside, then there must be sufficient shade, cool water and providing a paddling pool full of water is a great way to cool off.
Grooming and nail care
Greyhounds do not need daily brushing and should only be washed if they need it, which is usually rare. If a wash is needed, be sure to use dog, not human shampoo, with low scent. However, nails may need to be clipped unless frequent walking is done on a hard surface. Check with your vet if nails need to be clipped on a regular basis.
Greyhounds often suffer dental problems due to the diet they have been given in their previous life. Tartar build-up is common which can lead to gum disease. So be sure to ask your vet to give their mouth and teeth an extra special examination during your annual check-up to help prevent serious problems developing.
Some greyhounds may be prone to foot problems especially if they are older and have been housed on concrete most of their lives as this lead to corns in their foot pads. Look for lameness, reluctance to walk as well as paw chewing as these are signs that suggest something could be wrong – it is best to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
Not all greyhounds want a lot of exercise, so it is best to gauge what your individual dog needs. As a minimum, 30 minutes per day is recommended, but ideally a walk morning and night should be the routine. Greyhounds are built for speed so tend not to have much stamina. If you want a jogging partner then best to build them up gradually with short runs to start with. Always keep a firm hold of the lead and be aware of any potential hazards which may arise. Any dog should be under the control of their owner or a responsible person over 16 years of age.
Never allow your greyhound off leash unless in a (very) secure area. Off-leash parks (even fenced ones) can be risky, especially if small and large dogs are not separated.
In terms of equipment, it is recommended to use a front-attaching harness instead of a flat collar, as this avoids placing pressure on the neck and the possibility of your greyhound slipping their collar and escaping. The most important thing is to ensure the harness is fitted correctly so that it sits in the right position and is not too tight or loose. Head halters are not recommended as these are not comfortable for most dogs and can’t be used if a muzzle is required. Extendable leads are also not recommended as they can injure your dog, yourself and can snap resulting in a greyhound on the loose.
f you and your greyhound are feeling in need of other greyhound company, there are greyhound walking groups in most capital cities with several more likely to be set up in the future or you could start your own. These are really helpful if socialisation isn’t going as well as hoped for. Talk to the shelter staff about the closest one to you. For more information read: How do I best communicate with my greyhound?
For more information about exercising your greyhound, please read the article: Can I let my greyhound off leash?
In addition to physical exercise, it is essential for your greyhound to have mental stimulation. Bored dogs can be destructive by digging, chewing as well as barking. Enrichment can be in many forms and may include a bone through to specially designed food mazes. Hollow toys (e.g. Kong) are very useful as you can place food inside, which may take some time to dislodge creating enjoyment and interest. Treat balls are also fun for dogs and can keep them occupied or making frozen food ice blocks provide good entertainment especially during summer. Remember to allow for any food delivered as treats or in enrichment toys as part of the daily diet to avoid overfeeding.
The following video ‘Avoiding unwanted behaviour’ by Dr Katrina Warren contains some general helpful tips.
Essential documents and certificates
It is a good idea to start a folder to keep all relevant documents concerning your new greyhound in the one place. It is also handy to have your vet’s contact details somewhere you know you can access quickly such as your mobile phone, fridge magnet or pin-up board. A calendar for reminders such as vaccinations or annual health check-up is useful too.
Ensure you retain the desexing certificate as this may be required for a reduction in council registration fees.
Ensure that you are aware when your greyhound’s next vaccination is due. Make sure you keep the vaccination certificate and present it to your veterinarian at the time of the next vaccination.
Your greyhound has been microchipped. The contact details must always be current to ensure your greyhound is returned to you should they become lost. Also, microchipping is compulsory in some States, so when you apply for registration, you will need to present the microchip form.
Retain the council registration form in case your dog loses their registration tag and you need to order another. Some boarding kennels may also require dogs to be registered.
For more information visit: http://greyhoundequality.org/articles.html