Care & Feeding
Greyhounds don't have a lot of hair, and this makes for a pet that is easy to care for. A quick brush with a rubber-grooming glove and a rub of the coat with a dry towel makes for a great looking dog. "Scrubbing" the dog's coat with your fingers brings the oil up to the skin and will feel great to the dog.
How often a greyhound gets bathed very much depends on how soiled they get. They have very little oil in their skin, which means very little "doggy odour". Select a mild all natural, conditioning shampoo – oatmeal shampoo is fantastic for dogs with dandruff or dry skin. Unless a greyhound gets particularly dirty it will not need bathing very often - certainly not weekly. Most greyhounds are bathed every 8-12 weeks. Washing too often strips the coat of its natural oils and dries the coat and the skin.
It is advisable to check your greyhounds' ears once a week. Clean the outer ear gently with a baby wipe or damp tissue. When bathing a dog it is also a good idea to plug the ears with a cotton wool ball to avoid shampoo dripping down into the ear.
It is not uncommon for ex-racers to have bad teeth, partly due to the soft diet they are fed when racing. Any deep cleaning is done before adoption, but like humans it is possible for plaque build-up to occur after this. Brushing with a specially designed toothbrush or a gauze pad can help stop tartar from occurring. Brisket and raw chicken bones are also good for keeping teeth clean. It is advisable to have your dog's teeth cleaned by your vet on a regular basis.
All the weight of a dog is placed on its feet. Therefore it is vital to regularly attend to trimming a greyhound's toenails. Most greyhounds are used to having this done while they stand. Using good quality clippers; lean over and bend the foot backwards to find the underside of the nail. A vet or a groomer will be only too happy to show the inexperienced or nervous owner how to cut them. Greyhound's nails are often longer than other breeds, but should be trimmed to keep them from getting too long. As a general rule they should be trimmed to keep them just off the ground, but they will still look like they are a little longer than you'd be used to!
Your greyhound may go off its food for a few days after the adoption. This is usually a result of stress and should pass fairly quickly as the dog settles in to your home. Your dog also may suffer slight diarrhoea as a result of stress, change of diet and change of routine. This is all very normal. Remember that greyhounds are a naturally slim breed of dog and you should be able to see the shadow of the last two to three ribs in a healthy greyhound. While it is fine for a pet greyhound to weigh about 2kgs more than they did while they are racing, an overweight greyhound is not a healthy greyhound.
Clean fresh water should be available at all times. Never leave your dog without water. Many greyhounds also like to wet their feet so a bucket or paddle pool may come in handy.
All dog food contains a combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Each of these plays a specific role in keeping a dog at optimum health, and must be fed in the correct proportion. Protein allows for the growth and maintenance of bones and muscle while fat contributes a concentrated form of energy to the dog, keeping the coat shiny as well. Carbohydrates provide a sustained form of energy to the dog. Energy is needed for respiration, muscular work and temperature control.
Complete foods are often the most effective, economical and efficient way of feeding your dog and ensuring that he gets all the vitamins and minerals he needs. Initially, try to purchase just a small bag as this will save wastage should your dog not like that particular flavour or brand. Follow the feeding instructions on the packaging according to the weight of your dog. Generally complete foods are based on biscuit or cereal; additional tinned food is not necessary but can make a meal more appetising.
Most dogs love fresh meat. This can be fed either raw or cooked. Chicken pet mince can be purchased relatively inexpensively from supermarkets, butchers or local pet food shops and when boiled with pasta and vegetables it becomes a much enjoyed food for most greyhounds. Raw chicken carcasses, drumsticks, wings or thighs are also wonderful for helping to keep teeth clean and most greyhounds love them. They can have one or two each day and for an extra special treat try freezing them in the hotter months.
Super premium high quality canned pet food is okay because of the premium ingredients and moisture content. Avoid supermarket branded tin food where possible as due to the greyhound's very efficient metabolism, loose stools tends to be the result. Some dogs cannot tolerate canned food at all and will quickly develop diarrhoea and rapidly lose weight.
Chews in the form of pigs ears or rawhide are excellent for helping to keep teeth clean and healthy. Most greyhounds love smoked pigs ears! Additionally try chicken frames, drumsticks or wings. You can freeze them in summer for an extra cool treat!
Oily fish such as tinned tuna, pilchards, sardines and salmon can be fed once a week. Small amounts of cheese, either crumbled on top of the food or as a lump as a treat is fine. Natural yoghurt is also a very good ingredient to the greyhound diet as this promotes good digestion. Just a tablespoon on top of their dinner a few times a week is suitable.
Feeding with Other Dogs
If you already own another dog, please remember that it is recommended to feed the dogs separately to ensure that they each receive their full meal and that they don't feel threatened by the other dog and as a result try to defend their food against it. If you must feed them together you must supervise the dogs to ensure that a threatening situation doesn't arise. Food is something that dogs will be naturally territorial about and they are likely to defend their meal against another dog so be sure to try to take all measures to avoid such situations.
All greyhounds adopted through the Greyhound Adoption SA have been sterilised, C5 vaccinated, wormed (intestinal and heart worm). Where required, their teeth have also been cleaned.
Heartworms are parasites of dogs which are transmitted by mosquitoes. If an infected mosquito bites your dog, it can pass heartworm larvae (immature worms) into your dog's bloodstream. The larvae develop into adult worms which live in the dog's heart and blood vessels supplying the lungs. After about 6 months, these adults produce more larvae which can infect new mosquitoes and be passed to other dogs.
Over a period of time, the adult worms cause damage to the dog's heart and lungs. This is usually noticed as the dog coughing and getting very tired when exercising.
Heartworm can be fatal. Infected dogs can be detected by a blood test. Treatment of infected dogs is possible but can be expensive and may involve some risk.
If your dog lives in an area where heartworm is present, it is important that you prevent your dog being infected by giving it regular medication. Advocate provides heartworm prevention or you may wish to contact your vet for an annual injection that protects against heartworm.
There are several types of worms which can live in a dog's intestines.
Hookworms can cause severe anaemia and even death in young pups. Adult dogs are much less likely to suffer a serious hookworm infection. Pups may be infected either by eating hookworm eggs or by larvae penetrating through their skin. Hookworm larvae can penetrate human skin causing a rash.
Roundworms can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, lack of appetite, poor growth and a pot belly in puppies. Occasionally severe infections can result in death from intestinal obstruction. In humans (particularly children) infection with roundworm eggs can lead to illness if the larval eggs migrate through the body causing damage to organs such as the liver. Very occasionally, the larva may affect the eyes or nervous system in humans.
Whipworms can cause diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia in pups. Canine whipworms do not usually infect or cause any harm to humans.
The 'Flea Tapeworm' is the most common tapeworm infecting dogs. Infection of the dog occurs when it swallows a flea which has eaten tapeworm eggs. The Flea Tapeworm does not cause serious illness. The eggs of the tapeworm are passed from the body of the dog in sticky packets which may be seen on the hair around the dog's bottom. The packets look like grains of rice.
Hydatid Tapeworms occur in certain areas of Australia and are more likely to be a problem in rural areas. Dogs which eat meat from infected sheep, goats, cattle, rabbits, pigs or kangaroos become hosts to adult worms and can pass on eggs to humans. In humans, infection with hydatids can cause serious illness. Hydatid prevention requires special worming treatment every 6 weeks.
Other important steps to preventing the spread of worms include washing your hands after handling the dog, cleaning up dog faeces in the yard, controlling fleas on your dog and not feeding uncooked meat to your dog in hydatid areas.
Dogs need to be vaccinated against several infectious diseases. These include Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus. These diseases are often fatal. Treating a dog with one of these diseases is often very expensive and often unsuccessful. Dogs which survive distemper or hepatitis infection may have long term health problems.
Another disease which may be vaccinated against is Canine Cough or Kennel Cough. Despite this, Kennel Cough is like the common cold in humans. There are many different strains of Kennel Cough, just like the cold, and therefore, vaccination cannot prevent it in all forms, however it is still safer to vaccinate against it.
Your dog may come in contact with these infectious diseases by meeting other dogs, or simply by sniffing and walking in areas where an infected dog has been. Any public areas such as parks, footpaths or beaches may be contaminated. Parvovirus is a very tough virus which can survive for months in the environment. It is possible for you to pick up parvovirus on your shoes, for example, and bring the virus back to your home.
ALL dogs should, therefore, be vaccinated, even those which don't have much contact with other dogs. Puppies need a course of injections, and adult dogs need a booster injection every year. Your dog's annual booster vaccination is also an opportunity for your dog to have a full health check-up.
Your greyhound has received a C5 Vaccination prior to its adoption.
Puppies have a set of 'baby' teeth which gradually fall out and are replaced by permanent 'adult' teeth. This process is usually complete by the time the pup is about 6 or 7 months old.
Just like humans, dogs need good dental care. When a dog's teeth are not maintained properly, hard crusts of tartar develop on the surfaces of the teeth. Over time, this can lead to bad breath, infected and inflamed gums, pain and decaying, loose teeth. Bacteria from the infected gum tissue can enter the bloodstream and cause damage to organs such as the heart and kidneys. Diseased teeth and gums are common problems amongst pet dogs.
Dogs can be encouraged to keep their teeth and gums in good condition by providing substances for them to chew. Chewing scrapes the teeth and massages the gums.
You may also assist in your dog's dental health by brushing your dog's teeth. It is a good idea to start this as early as possible, so that the dog becomes accustomed to having its mouth and teeth handled. Initially get the dog used to having fingers and the brush in its mouth, then try brushing just briefly. It is usually best to practice this when the dog is quiet and sleepy, not when it is excited. Gradually work up to brushing all the teeth. Remember to reward the dog for having its teeth brushed. Human toothpaste is not suitable for dogs.
During their racing careers, a greyhound's diet is often made up of quite soft meats and biscuits soaked in water so there is little rough or chewy content in their food. If your greyhound's teeth require cleaning, it will be done prior to its adoption. You may need to teach your dog about bones or chewable dry food in order to improve their overall dental care.