1. My Greyhound feels fine, but his lab values are all messed up.
Greyhounds and most other sighthound breeds have hematology (blood cells) and blood chemistry values different from those in other breeds. For example, their red blood cell counts are high, and their platelet and white blood cell counts low. As mentioned above, their kidney values are high. Some reference laboratories now use “Greyhound specific” reference intervals when reporting values. As an example, below is a graphic of the hematocri (HCT) or red cell mass in Greyhounds (box) compared with the normal values for dogs (dotted blue box).
2. Do high “kidney values” mean that my Greyhound has kidney disease?
Greyhounds have creatinine concentrations that are usually higher than those in other dogs (higher than the normal ranges listed for other breeds of dogs); in addition, some Greyhounds have high BUN (blood urea nitrogen). If the urine concentration is normal, the high creatinine/BUN concentrations are not indicative of kidney failure. Kidney failure is quite uncommon in Greyhounds, when compared to other breeds. The graph below shows creatinine values for Greyhounds and the reference ranges for dogs (dotted blue box).
3. My Greyhound has a heart murmur; does he have heart disease?
Greyhounds and most other sighthounds are known to have “normal” or physiologic flow murmurs. The main pump in the heart (left ventricle), is very large, and it pumps blood at higher velocity, so it swirls creating a murmur (abnormal herat sound). These murmurs are mild in nature (grade 1-2 out of 6) and are heard best over the left base of the heart (high in the left armpit). Thoracic radiographs (X-rays) and/or echocardiography (ultrasound) will help determine the actual status of the heart. Heart disease is also uncommon in Greyhounds, but prevalent in other sighthound breeds (e.g.; Deerhound). Below is a left lateral radiograph (X-ray) from a Greyhound (left) and a Boxer (right). The Greyhound heart is much larger.
4. I am really worried about anesthetizing my Greyhound; I heard they always have problems.
Most modern day anesthetics are perfectly safe in sighthounds. The bad reputation about anesthesia in Greyhounds started in the 80s, when using short- and ultra-short acting barbiturates, that are cleared very slowly from their system; these drugs are no longer used in clinical practice. However, most Greyhounds metabolize sedatives and anesthetics a bit different from other dogs, and dosages may need to be adjusted accordingly. Please consult with your veterinarian about dosages.
5. I am really worried about anesthetizing my Greyhound; I heard they often develop malignant hyperthermia, a life threatening condition.
Altough malignant hyperthermia can occur, it is extremely rare. In most cases of anesthesia- or surgery-related hyperthermia, nervous Greyhounds start shivering and shaking prior to being anesthetized, and thus generate heat from muscle contraction. Your vet will advise you on how to sedate your hound as soon as they arrive at their office, if he/she is the nervous type.
6. My Greyhound doesn’t feel well; could he have a tick-borne disease (TBD)?
These days, TBDs are extremely rare in Greyhounds. In Oho, the prevalence of TBDs is <1%; in the 80s, as many as 70% of Greyhounds were positive for Ehrlichia canis (EC) and/or Babesia canis (BC) due to poor tick control. In a recent study conducted in a West Virginia racetrak, we found no dogs positive for the common TBDs. PLEASE REMEMBER: a positive test for TBDs does not mean that your dog is sick because of that particular organism, since antibodies against the bug can persist for months to years. Your vet can test your dog with in-office kits (e.g.; SNAP 4DX PLUS®).
7. I was told that my Greyhound needs thyroid supplementation, should I do it?
Most every normal Greyhound has low thryoid values. Most vets measure blood T4, which in non-Greyhound dogs should be in the 15-50 nmol/L; in Greyhounds, Salukis, and most other sighthound breeds tested, most dogs have values <15 nmol/L. In other words, a low thyroid “level” is ABSOLUTELY NORMAL in a Greyhound! Please do not give them “thyroid pills” unless your vet has documented hypothyroidism by other means.
8. My Greyhound was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma (OSA); what should I do?
There are numerous treatment options for dogs (and Greyhounds) with OSA. The standard of care is limb amputation followed by chemotherapy (4 or 5 doses, depending on the drug). Dogs treated by amputation alone live 3-4 months, whereas dogs treated by amputation and chemotherapy live 14-18 months. Most Greyhounds undergoing chemotherapy DO NOT HAVE SIDE EFFECTS