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The Comprehensive Guide to Adopting and Caring for a Greyhound


Greyhound Puppies
Greyhound Puppies

Introduction

Congratulations on taking the first step in the adoption process: researching a dog breed. Learning about potential medical conditions and how best to prepare and care for your new dog is a crucial and often overlooked part of adopting. Bringing a pet into your home offers numerous benefits and is incredibly rewarding, but it is also a privilege and a significant responsibility.

If you’re looking for a dog that is cute, smart, well-behaved, easygoing, and relatively healthy, a Greyhound is an excellent choice. Due to recent changes in the dog racing industry, owning a Greyhound has become more popular among pet parents. With their longer life expectancy and gentle spirit, Greyhounds can provide great companionship long after their racing careers are over. Many wind up in rescues or shelters; an estimated 18,000 Greyhounds are placed into homes every year.

Pre-Adoption Considerations

Before adopting a Greyhound, it's essential to ask specific questions to the shelter or rescue staff to ensure you are fully prepared to meet your new pet’s needs:

  1. What is the dog’s age (or best guess)?

  2. What circumstances led this dog to be at the shelter (racing retirement, injury, or other)?

  3. What do you know about this dog’s medical history, including any diagnostics and/or treatments performed?

  4. What is the dog’s current medical condition (including additional issues determined by the shelter)?

  5. What is the current behavior and/or temperament analysis of this dog (are they good with children, or other dogs or cats?)

  6. Is the dog potty-trained, crate-trained, able to walk on a leash?

  7. Are there any in-house low-cost testing options, coupons, or discounted medical care to help with future costs?

  8. What special diet is the dog on? How much food is provided and at what times? What other options can be considered if the special diet is not available?

Understanding Greyhound Temperament

Greyhounds are renowned not only for their beauty and grace but also for their gentle and calm demeanor. As members of the sighthound breed, they possess a keen sense of vision, are sprinters, and have a well-developed prey drive. They love to run and chase, so having a fenced-in yard or area to play fetch is beneficial. You may even consider enrolling your Greyhound in agility classes.

Breeding and training often dictate whether Greyhounds can get along well with other breeds, cats, young children, and smaller pets. Contrary to popular belief, Greyhounds can coexist peacefully with cats, provided they are introduced slowly and positively reinforced. The dog’s history, along with consistent and positive reinforcement, is key. Keep in mind that any recently adopted dog may take some time to acclimate to new surroundings and to you.

Despite their love for running, Greyhounds also enjoy sleeping and can spend much of their time lazing around the home. Therefore, don’t immediately discount them if lack of space is a concern.

Retired racing Greyhounds have often been handled extensively. They are socialized and have some trained behaviors, making them more adaptable to car rides and comfortable sleeping in a crate. Additionally, their intelligence makes them responsive to commands and eager to please, which can make teaching them new tricks easier.

Keeping Greyhounds Healthy

After adoption, it is crucial to have your Greyhound examined by your family veterinarian to review their medical file and determine their future medical needs. Beyond a basic health screening and blood work, your veterinarian may recommend x-rays to check for previous fractures, injuries, and arthritis.

Given the environment in which they may have raced, additional blood work to look for babesiosis—a tick-borne disease common in racing Greyhounds—might be necessary. While Greyhounds with babesiosis may not show symptoms initially, they can be carriers and might become ill in the future. It’s recommended that most dogs, including Greyhounds, have bi-annual veterinary exams.

Common Health Concerns in Greyhounds

Greyhounds are relatively healthy but can be prone to certain conditions:

  1. Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV), or Bloat: A life-threatening condition where the stomach twists on itself.

  2. Osteosarcoma: A type of bone cancer common in larger breeds.

  3. Aspergillosis: A fungal infection that can affect the respiratory system.

  4. Pannus: An eye disease that can cause blindness.

  5. Dental Disease: Regular dental care is essential to prevent serious health issues.

  6. Malignant Hyperthermia: A genetic disorder causing a dangerously high body temperature.

  7. Alabama Rot: A skin and kidney disease.

  8. Ventral Comedo Syndrome: A skin condition.

  9. Idiopathic Bald Thigh Syndrome: Hair loss on the thighs.

  10. Systemic Lupus Onychodystrophy: An autoimmune skin condition.

Due to their larger bones and thinner skin, Greyhounds need careful handling during play and exercise. They are also sensitive to certain medications and anesthetics, such as acepromazine, thiopental, and propofol. Discuss suitable alternatives with your veterinarian.

Nutritional Supplements

Joint supplements, Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved dental-care products, and a complete and balanced diet aimed at maintaining joint health and an ideal body weight may be recommended. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian before giving any supplements or over-the-counter medications.

Creating the Right Home Environment for a Greyhound

Creating a safe and supportive home environment is crucial for Greyhounds. Given their larger size, they need suitable sleeping areas. Often, a crate can serve as a comfortable and familiar sleeping space, especially for those already accustomed to it from their racing days.

Bedding and Warmth

Comfortable bedding is essential to support their joints, and towels or blankets can help prevent heat loss. Due to their short coats and lack of body fat, Greyhounds living in cold or wet climates will need extra protection, such as sweaters or rain gear, when going outside.

Exercise and Play

A suitable fenced-in yard or play area is beneficial for Greyhounds to run around and play fetch. Toys like tennis-ball blasters or launchers and Chuckit! toys can help facilitate exercise. For walks, a harness is preferable to a collar, given the Greyhound’s size and prey drive.

Emotional Well-Being

Aside from physical needs, emotional well-being is equally important. Greyhounds, like all dogs, thrive in environments where they feel safe and loved. Socialization, positive reinforcement training, and plenty of affection contribute to their happiness and adjustment to a new home.

Practical Tips for New Greyhound Owners

  1. Consult with a Veterinarian: Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor health and nutritional status. Your vet can provide guidance on supplements and dietary practices to support reproductive health and overall well-being.

  2. Balanced Diet: Ensure your Greyhound receives a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. High-quality protein, healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals are necessary.

  3. Monitor Health and Cycles: Keep track of your Greyhound’s health and behavior. Regular monitoring can help identify any irregularities early.

  4. Provide Stress-Free Environment: A calm and supportive environment free from unnecessary stressors is crucial for your Greyhound’s well-being.

  5. Supplement Wisely: Use targeted supplements to provide additional support. Consult your veterinarian for the best options.

Conclusion

Adopting a Greyhound is a rewarding experience that brings many joys but also comes with responsibilities. Understanding their unique needs, health concerns, and providing a supportive environment can ensure that your Greyhound thrives in their new home. By being proactive about their health and well-being, you can enjoy a long and happy companionship with your new pet.


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