Frequently Asked Questions

Sadie and Katie            Uyehara
Sadie and Katie Uyehara
Photo by Steve Uyehara

  1. Does a high creatinine really mean that my Greyhound is in kidney failure?

  2. My Greyhound has a heart murmur; does this mean he has heart disease?

  3. Is it true that Greyhounds cannot tolerate anesthesia of any kind?

  4. My dog had an episode of malignant hyperthermia, should I ever have him anesthetized in the future?

  5. My Greyhound was diagnosed with a corn. What is the best way to treat them?

  6. A friend of mine had a dental performed on her hound without anesthesia. Is this a good idea?

  7. I was told my Greyhound has a very rare condition called polycythemia. What should I do about it?

  8. I was told that my Greyhound has a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) and needs extensive testing. Is this something that you recommend?

  9. I was told that my Greyhound has a low white blood count and needed extensive testing. Is this something that you recommend?

  10. Could my Greyhound possibly have a tick borne disease (TBD) even though we don’t have them in our area?

  11. Someone told me to just treat with doxycycline instead of testing for tick borne diseases (TBDs) in my Greyhound. Is this a good idea?

  12. If my Greyhound has a positive titer for a TBD, will he eventually get sick?

  13. I had a TBD titer performed on my Greyhound and he turned up positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). I was told that he could have been carrying this for months. How should we treat him?

  14. My Greyhound keeps losing nails on different feet. My vet thinks it may be a fungal infection. Have you heard of anything like this?

  15. My female Greyhound was diagnosed as a hermaphrodite following a physical examination. What should I do about this?

  16. I was told my Greyhound needed thyroid supplementation because he was very shy, even though his thyroid tested normal. Is this appropriate?

  17. My Greyhound destroys my house when I leave. Is there anything that I can do?

  18. My Greyhound has cancer, isn’t chemotherapy as hard on animals as it is on people?

  19. Can my Greyhound really get around on 3 legs?

  20. My Greyhound was diagnosed with hip dysplasia following a physical examination. Is this common?

  21. Do you believe that the best way to care for my Greyhound’s teeth is to have an annual cleaning?

  22. My Greyhound was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Do you have any additional information on this disease?

Contributed by:

  William Feem an, DVM (Animal Medical Center of Medina, Medina, OH) and

Guillermo Couto, DVM, diplomate ACVIM (The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine).

 Answers:

1. Greyhounds have creatinine concentrations that can be higher than those in other dogs (higher than the normal ranges listed for other breeds of dogs). If the BUN and urine concentration are normal, the high creatinine concentration is not indicative of kidney failure. For more information, please read the following articles: (back)

2. Greyhounds are known to have "normal" athletic or physiologic flow murmurs. These murmurs are mild in nature (grade 1 or 2 out of 6) and are heard best over the left base of the heart (high in the armpit). Thoracic radiographs (X-rays) and/or echocardiography (ultrasound) will help determine the actual status of the heart. For more information, please read the following article: (Back)

3. No. It is true that Greyhounds may take longer to metabolize certain anesthetics, such as injectable barbiturates, but there are many safe anesthetic drugs for Greyhounds. For more information, please consult the following article: (Back)

4. The first thing to do is to try to determine if your Greyhound truly had “malignant hyperthermia”. Most Greyhounds who develop hyperthermia do so after getting "excited" before induction of anesthesia, and it can be prevented by using premedication (sedation). Please consult the following article: (Back)

5. There are lots of reported ways to treat corns. Everything from application of duct tape to the corn to toe amputation have been reported. We currently use the combination of a hulling technique followed by the application of a softening agent, daily (e.g. petroleum jelly, lotion, Bag Balm). The hulling procedure will need to be repeated as often as every 3 weeks although we have had some corns fail to regrow following several treatments. Please consult the following articles for more information on corns and hulling: (Back)

6. As appealing as an “anesthetic free” dental may be, it may be a disservice to the patient. A complete oral examination or cleaning simply cannot be done in an awake animal, no matter how cooperative he/she is. Furthermore, the most significant tartar is not what you see grossly on the teeth, but what lies underneath the gingiva (gums). An anesthetic-free dental cleaning accomplishes little more than a cosmetic cleaning (like a teeth whitening procedure in a human) and leaves the most significant tartar and periodontal disease unaddressed. Not only may the cleaning not help the animal but it may fool the owner into believing that their animal’s oral health is being addressed, when in fact it is not. (Back)

7. Greyhounds have significantly higher red blood cell (RBC) counts than any other breed of dog. Red blood cell counts are often measured in a percentage called a packed cell volume (PCV) or hematocrit (Hct). Normal values for non-Greyhounds are rarely above 55%. Normal values for Greyhounds can extend up to 70%. A PCV of lower than 50% likely indicates some degree of anemia (low RBC count) although it will be within the laboratory’s normal range for non-Greyhounds. For more information, please read the following articles: (Back)

8. Greyhounds normally have lower platelet counts than non-Greyhounds. A platelet count as low as 80,000/μL can be completely normal in a Greyhound. A pathologic cause of low platelet counts in Greyhounds can also be a tick borne disease (TBD) or immune-mediated diseases. A complete physical examination and additional lab work recommended by your family veterinarian should yield additional information on whether your dog had a disease that causes low platelet counts. For more information, please read the following articles: (Back)

9. Greyhounds normally have lower white blood cell (WBC) counts than non-Greyhounds. A WBC count as low as 3,000 can be completely normal in a healthy Greyhound. A complete physical examination and additional lab work recommended by your family veterinarian should yield additional information on whether your dog had a disease that causes low WBC counts. For more information, please read the following articles: (Back)

10. Yes! Most Greyhounds have trained or raced in areas where TBDs are endemic. Some TBDs can lay dormant for years before causing illness. Although you may not have TBDs in your area, your Greyhound may have been infected prior to adoption. However, the probability of having a TBD in an adopted Greyhound is VERY low (<5%). For more information, please read the following article: (Back)

11. No. Not all TBDs are responsive to doxycycline, so you may be giving a medication that will not help at all. Starting doxycycline while waiting for results of tick titers may be warranted in a sick dog with signs (symptoms) compatible with TBD, but it should not be used instead of testing. For more information, please read the following article: (Back)

12. Not necessarily. “Tick titers” only measure the body’s response to the disease (antibodies) and are not always diagnostic for infection. If a dog is exposed to a TBD, they will mount an antibody titer in response to the organism (much like a vaccine). If the dog’s body is able to clear the TBD, they will still have a positive titer from the exposure but will never be sick. These positive titers may last for years, particularly in dogs infected with Ehrlichia canis. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is available for many TBDs, and it may help determine if a titer is significant and the patient is really infected. For more information, please read the following article: (Back)

13. Some tick borne diseases (such as Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis) can lay dormant for years before causing disease. RMSF does not lay dormant for months without causing disease. Non-pathogenic strains of Rickettsial organisms can cause false positive test results to RMSF. A healthy dog with normal bloodwork that has a positive RMSF titer is unlikely to have true RMSF. Your family veterinarian may recheck the titers in 2 to 4 weeks; if they are higher than on the baseline (first) test, your hound probably has silent rickettsial infection, and you may consider doxycycline treatment. (Back)

14. The most common cause of multiple toe nail loss on multiple feet is a condition known as symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (SLO). A toe amputation is required for definitive diagnosis but is rarely warranted. Treatments include appropriate antibiotic and antifungal medications to control secondary infections, high doses of fatty acids (180mg of EPA/10 lbs. of body weight) and a combination of tetracycline and niacinamide. Some cases may require short courses of immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone. Hypoallergenic diets are also of benefit in some cases. For more information, please read the following article: (Back)

15. Many female Greyhounds have a condition known as clitoral hypertrophy, which is caused by testosterone injections given at the racetrack to prevent cycling. This condition is usually benign and does not require treatment; however, in some hounds it is associated with lower urinary tract problems (frequent, painful urination; straining to urinate; recurrent urinary tract infections) and it may require surgical correction. However, she may indeed be a hermaphrodite. (Back)

16. There is no medical reason to give an animal with normal thyroid function thyroid supplementation. Oversupplementation of thyroid hormone can result in hypertension (high blood pressure) and other health problems. Anxiety medication (if warranted) and behavior modification should be used to work on the shy behavior. (Back)

17. Separation anxiety (SA) is relatively common in retired racing Greyhounds. Anti-anxiety drugs such as clomipramine, amitryptilline, fluoxetine, or Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) may be of benefit to some dogs and they can be prescribed by your family veterinarian. Behavior modification is the single most crucial aspect of correcting separation anxiety. Please consult the following article for more information on SA: (Back)

18. Less than 20% of dogs undergoing chemotherapy experience clinically relevant adverse effects (most commonly vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite). These adverse effects can typically be managed with medications, drug dose reduction, or changing to a different chemotherapeutic agent. (Back)

19. YES!!! Most Greyhounds get around very well after amputation. You will need to consult with your family veterinarian to determine if other diseases may affect your dog’s prognosis after surgery (e.g. previous orthopedic or neurologic problems).  (Back)

20. No. Hip dysplasia is not common in Greyhounds and the diagnosis of hip dysplasia should only be made by radiograph (x-ray). Lumbosacral stenosis (LS) is something that can cause rear leg weakness and other problems that have been misinterpreted as hip dysplasia. Also, bone cancer (osteosarcoma) is relatively common in the upper thighbone (proximal femur) in Greyhounds, but not in other breeds. (Back)

21. While annual cleanings are necessary in some dogs, home care is a critical component of oral health. Without question daily brushing is the single best thing you can do for your dog’s teeth. Dental chews ideally should have the Veterinary Oral Healthcare (VOHC) seal of acceptance (this shows the product has met pre-set standards of plaque and calculus reduction). (Back)

Other treatment options to aid in oral healthcare include diet (e.g. Royal Canin Dental DD 20 or DS 23, Hill’s Science Diet T/D, Eukanuba brand foods, etc.) and the Oravet Healthcare System. Please consult the following article for more information on Oravet and other advancements in dental care:

22. Please consult the following articles for more information: (back)