Health Issues

When do you have an absolute emergency or can you just wait and see? If you are unsure of the severity of your dogs illness, it is better to err on the side of caution and you should contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic. When to call immediately:

  • Suspected poisoning
  • Signs of gastrointestinal stress (straining but unable to produce a bowel movement)
  • Bloat (the abdomen is large, attempts to vomit, but nothing comes up)
  • Choking or coughing continuously
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or blood in vomit
  • Diarrhea with blood or has a black tarry stool
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Seizure
  • Straining continually but unable to urinate or if urine has blood in it
  • Head tilt (eyes moving from side-to-side)
  • Difficulty breathing, breathing fast
  • Not eating or drinking for 24 hr.
  • Drinking excessively
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Crying out when touched
  • Rash, excessive shedding, head shaking, persistent scratching or chewing, large hives, and/or facial swelling
  • Abnormal lumps
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Swollen joints
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Discharge from the eyes, ears, or nose

Info supplied by:

Health problems we've seen enough to consider common in greyhounds and something all owners should be aware of.

If you suspect your grey has one of these conditions, check with your vet, the sooner, the better, so check soon.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
#1 cause of death in greyhounds.  Latest statistics in 2007 are 1 in 10 will develop it.  A greyhound owner should take a limp very seriously (especially when it's accompanied with swelling in the limb) and ask their vet to take x-rays to look for a tumor.

Most common symptoms are weight gain despite decreased appetite, having decreased energy, and hair loss.  Greyhounds also tend to show skin conditions, such as skin infections and comedones (black heads) with this disease. Treatment is inexpensive and in pill form.

It is controversial among veterinarians as to what is the normal greyhound thyroid level.  Therefore in order to confirm the diagnosis, special thyroid tests (beyond just measuring the thyroid level) may be necessary.  It is widely believed that greys normally have lower thyroid levels than other breeds.

Kidney disease
A vet that is good with greyhounds will know that their creatinine level is normally slightly higher than other breeds, but doesn't by itself define kidney failure.  An elevated creatinine accompanied with an elevated BUN, decreased urine concentration and changes in urine volume could mean trouble.  If your vet diagnoses your greyhound in kidney failure based solely on a mildly elevated creatinine level, please get a second opinion.

These are very painful and can cause a greyhound to go lame.  They look like calluses on the bottom of their pads and are being misdiagnosed as arthritis when x-rays aren't taken because of how painful they are.  There is no known cure and little is known about what causes corns.  Common theories include a virus (like the papilloma virus, which causes warts in people), and trauma to the toe pads from pressure or friction.  The trauma theory makes the most sense since greyhounds have less natural padding in their toes.  They can occur quickly.  reatment options that can temporarily relieve the pain include having the dog wear special boots (Thera-Paw is a good one), or having the corn "hulled", which is a minor surgical procedure where the corn is removed (no anesthesia or sedation is necessary for this procedure, and it can be done during a regular office visit).

Chronic inflammation of the cornea.  Symptoms are red eyes, cloudy cornea and vision loss.  Due to the chronic inflammation, pigment-producing cells migrate from the outer edges toward the center of the cornea giving the appearance of spots ranging from a light grey-pink to a brown-black color. Without treatment, it can cover the entire cornea and lead to total, irreversible blindness. 

Lifelong eye drops are the treatment and the cost can vary greatly depending on the amount of damage to the cornea when diagnosed.  Sometimes an ophthalmologist needs to evaluate, diagnose and treat the disease to optimize the prognosis.

High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
Hypertension is known as the silent killer.  Most animals can have severe hypertension and show no outward signs that anything is wrong.  When symptoms do occur, it is usually serious, such as stroke, sudden blindness (from detached retinae), cardiac disturbances, blood clots to the legs or lungs, and acute kidney failure.  In dogs, hypertension is usually secondary to some other disease like chronic renal failure, Cushings disease (a hormonal disease where the body produces too much cortisol) and diabetes.  The systolic reading is the one monitored and considered normal in greys to be up to 150mmHg, which is higher than in other breeds.  Taking a blood pressure can be slightly tricky because many dogs get extremely nervous in the vets office, so don't be surprised if it takes your veterinarian a few separate office visits to confirm the presence of high blood pressure.  Since there is no other way to know if hypertension is present, screening is usually still worth the effort, especially if your dog has one of the conditions known to be associated with hypertension.

Want to know the best places to go for research about greyhound health? Mark these in your "Favorites List"! Dr. Guillermo Couto is the leading greyhound veterinarian in the country who practices and does research at Ohio State University (OSU). He has a program dedicated to greyhounds called The Greyhound Health and Wellness Program. Greyhound Medical Idiosyncrasies made available through Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, Inc. by William E. Freeman III, DVM Dr. Suzanne Stack's most requested articles about greyhound health. American veterinary Medical Association provides comprehensive information on pet care, animal health, and veterinary medicine.

Some common and potentially dangerous foods and human products (this isn't a complete list):

  • Avocado (contain cyanogenic glycosides causing cyanide poisoning)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Yeast dough
  • Coffee, coffee beans & tea (caffeine)
  • Fatty foods (pancreatitis)
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Hops (used in home brewing)
  • macadamia nuts
  • Salt
  • Xylitol (found in sugar-free sweetened products)
  • Cigarettes, tobacco, cigars (nicotine poisoning)

You can minimize the absorption of a toxin by making your dog vomit it up. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe and effective inducer of vomiting. Give by mouth 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. Repeat every 20 minutes until vomiting occurs. If no vomiting occurs after 3 attempts, seek veterinary care immediately. Even if the dog vomits, getting veterinary advice and/or care is strongly advised.

make your dog vomit if an acid or base was ingested (more damage is caused on the way back up), if it has been more than 6 hours since ingestion, or if your dog ate something solid (such as string, bones, rocks, etc).

  • Antifreeze: The most common antifreeze solutions contain ethylene glycol, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Antifreeze seems to taste good to dogs and cats, leading to ingestion of large amounts. Ethylene glycol has similar effects to drinking alcohol; however, it is broken down in the liver and its metabolites cause damage to the kidneys and to the central nervous system. Clinical signs will develop in as little as 30 minutes to as long as 12 hrs, depending on the dose ingested. Depression, signs of intoxication, vomiting, coma, and death may occur among the initial signs of poisoning. These signs normally last less than 12 hrs in dogs, causing some owners to think the danger is past. In dogs, kidney problems usually show up 1 to 3 days after ingestion of antifreeze. Treatment must be started promptly for the dog to survive. Dogs do best if treated within 5 hrs of antifreeze consumption. Survival chances diminish rapidly 8 hrs post ingestion. There are a few brands of antifreeze that do not use ethylene glycol and are considered to be safer for pets. The lethal dose for a medium sized dog start at just less than a couple of ounces.
  • Alcohol: As in people, alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulties in breathing, tremors, coma and even death.
  • Avocado: Avocados contain the chemical 'persin' which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Chocolate, coffee, and other caffeine products: Triple trouble. Chocolate can contribute to the development of pancreatitis in dogs. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include a painful abdomen, abdominal distention, appetite loss, depression, dehydration, a hunched up posture, vomiting, diarrhea, and a yellow, greasy stool, and often, fever. Theobromine (a methylxanthine) is also found in chocolate, as well as cocoa beans and hulls (sometimes used as landscape bedding), cola, and tea. Bakers chocolate has the highest levels of methylxanthines, followed by dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate which has the lowest levels of methylxanthines and isn't much of a toxicity concern. Caffeine is also in chocolate. It and theobromine have an effect on animals similar to people (increased breathing and heart rates, and restlessness). Toxicity signs include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, restlessness, muscle tremors, increased or decreased heart rate.

Milk chocolate contains 44 mg of theobromine/oz.

Semisweet chocolate contains 150 mg/oz.

Baker's chocolate 390mg/oz

Using 100 mg/kg as the toxic dose, it comes out roughly as: 1 ounce per 1 pound of body weight for milk chocolate 1 ounce per 3 pounds of body weight for semi-sweet chocolate 1 ounce per 9 pounds of body weight for Baker's chocolate.

Be careful! www.vetinfo4dogs states I have talked to veterinarians who feel that they have seen dogs that died from heart problems, pancreatitis or other complications following chocolate ingestion even though the dogs ate less than the theoretical toxic dose.

  • Grapes and Raisins: Grapes and raisins are thought to have to be consumed in large quantities to cause symptoms. In mild toxicities they cause gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) and in more severe cases, kidney failure. Sometimes there can be kidney failure without any GI signs. One known amount is 1 ounce of fruit per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Remember, raisins are concentrated grapes and a smaller amount would be more toxic.
  • Macadamia Nuts: Used in cookies and candies, these nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia (elevated temperature) in dogs. Symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last from 12 to 48 hours. The toxic dose is about 0.9 grams per pound of body weight.
  • Milk: Dogs and other animals don't have large amounts of the enzyme lactase which breaks down the lactose in milk. It can cause diarrhea and other digestive upsets.
  • Onions and Garlic: Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Dogs can develop anemia if they consume a large quantity of onions. Signs of poisoning are gastroenteritis (stomach) with vomiting and diarrhea and breathlessness after a time. Poisoning happens a few days after onion consumption. Dogs can tolerate small amounts of onions without problems and a modest amount without apparent toxicity. Case reports of onion toxicity involve whole onions or a cup or more. It might be a good idea to avoid giving your dog the broth from around meat if there was a lot of onion used in the cooking. Thiosulphate can also be found in garlic, but it is less toxic and larger amounts would have to be consumed. Smaller quantities of garlic are beneficial for gastrointestinal health and its antioxidant properties. The toxic dose is unknown, but cats appear to be more sensitive than dogs and garlic is less toxic than onions.
  • Raw Eggs and Meat: Bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, can exist in raw eggs and raw or undercooked meat, leading to GI distress, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Yeast Dough/Unleavened Bread: Uncooked dough containing yeast can cause gas to accumulate in the digestive system, which can be painful. The microbes in unleavened bread dough break down the carbohydrates and produce a large amount of alcohol causing potentially severe alcohol toxicity.

Some good websites to check for common toxins are:

and theASCPA web site Has some very good information on food, plant, and chemical toxins.

If you believe that your dog has been poisoned.

1) Call your vet! If you wait for symptoms to occur, it may be too late.

2) The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) can be reached at: 1-900-680-0000 ($20 for the first 5 minutes; $2.95 for each additional minute) or 1-800-548-2423 ($30 flat fee on your credit card). NOTE! Fees may have changed.

3) Animal Poison Hotline (a joint service of the North Shore Animal League America and PROSAR International Animal Poison Cener (IAPC) 1-888-232-8870.

4) Your local Poison Control Hotline. In Pittsburgh it is 412.681.6669.

5) Children's Hospital of Pgh. 24-Hour Emergency 1-800-222-1222.

6.)Kansas State Veterinary Teaching Hospital 785.532.5679.

Be prepared to give them as much information as you can:

  • what your pet may have gotten into
  • what the ingredients are
  • how much was consumed
  • how long ago it was
  • the approximate weight of your pet