Adjustment Your greyhound will adjust quickly to your home if you follow a few tips. Having come from racetracks, our greyhounds have seldom seen steps and may need help learning how to use them. They are accustomed to living in a crate, taken out to relieve themselves several times a day, and taken out to race every three to four days. We suggest that you get your hound at a time when you can be home with him for a day or two to establish a routine. If you take him out to the bathroom every few hours, he will quickly learn that outside is where the bathroom is. If he displays behavior that is unacceptable when you are gone, an alternative is to use a crate. The use of a crate gives your dog a clear sense of where his special place is. Crating is NOT cruel or unusual punishment. The dogs actually feel secure in a crate and will often go into the crate to lay down when the door is open. The choice to crate or not to crate is completely up to you. Do what makes you feel comfortable, and put the safety of your hound at the forefront.
Leash or Fence Sighthounds are different from other breeds in one very important way. YOU CANNOT TRUST THEM OFF THE LEASH. If he gets out, he will probably not respond to your call. Please understand that your greyhound does not ignore you because he doesn’t love or trust you. This adventuresome side of him is all part of his nature. We implore you to take us seriously about this. You should restrain your greyhound by leash or fence at all times when outside. We do not want to hear that your greyhound is “different,” and he listens to you when he is outside. Believe us, he may very well respond to you for some period of time, but the day will come when he will take off in pursuit of something you may not even see, and his life will be in danger. We have many stories and deceased greyhounds to prove this. If you care about your greyhound, YOU MUST LEASH OR FENCE HIM WHEN OUTSIDE.
Heartworms Heartworm preventative is absolutely essential for any dog. Heartworms are carried and transmitted by mosquitoes. Once your dog gets heartworms, there are only two alternatives. You must either treat him for the heartworms or put him to sleep, because without treatment, he will die. The treatment itself is expensive and very hard on the dog. He would be given an almost lethal dose of arsenic in order to kill the heartworms and his recovery would be long and difficult. After treatment, he must be kept quiet with activity at a minimum for about six weeks. There are several types of preventative care, one that is given daily, one that is given monthly, and a shot given once every 6 months, just to name a few. See your vet for these preventative treatments. It will cost $35 and up for six months worth of prevention.
Anesthesia Greyhounds are extremely susceptible to anesthesia. Possible explanations for this are that the greyhounds lack a certain enzyme in their liver/kidneys to break down the anesthesia, and that they have virtually no body fat in which to store the anesthesia until the body can break it down to be filtered out. For these reasons, we recommend that you discuss these difficulties with your vet to make sure that he is familiar with the special needs of greyhounds. We also recommend that any procedures that require anesthesia be done at one time to reduce the number of times that the dog goes under. The recommended anesthesia to use on greyhounds is called isofluorane in conjunction with telazol or ketamine Valium. Most vets now use this anesthesia, but ask to make sure.
Fleas NEVER put a flea collar on a greyhound. Flea collars work by releasing their flea-killing chemicals onto the skin of the dog, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Most breeds can have their livers/kidneys filter these toxins out. But a greyhound’s liver/kidneys do not work that fast – so the toxins continue to build up until they eventually harm the greyhound. For this reason, do not ever use any internal flea preventative pills on your greyhound either. When choosing a flea shampoo or dip, be sure to read the labels carefully. Some products cannot be used on a dog that is taking heartworm preventative. The best products are those that contain natural based pyrethrums or permethrins, such as Adams brand flea products. The product we recommend is Frontline, a topical medication that can be obtained through your vet, at petstores, or online. Do NOT use Harts brand topical flea medication; there have been many stories of dogs and cats becoming seriously ill from this.
Feeding Choosing an appropriate food is also important to your greyhounds’ well being. It is best to choose a food that has no or very low soy content. The reason is that soy is not easily digested and can cause loose cow-patty-like stools. Some of the suitable products include Iams, Eukanuba, Natural Life, Nutro, Purina One, Science Diet Performance (not maintenance), and Waltham. If you are a Sam's Club member, there are two foods there that are excellent. They are Sportsman's Choice Professional (chicken and corn based) and Sportsman's Choice Exceed (lamb and rice based). If you are a Costco member, they offer a good food as well. It is called Kirkland Signature (lamb and rice based). These are not the only ones. Just make sure to read the list of ingredients. Soy is usually listed among the first five. For these foods, you will want to feed between five and six cups a day depending on the weight and activity level of your dog. The best way to determine if your dog is getting the correct amount is to start with a specific amount, say 5 cups, and monitor his weight. Ideally, a greyhound will have just a hint of rib showing and no prominent bones on his hips. If your dog has too much rib and hipbones showing, increase his food intake slightly. If your dog has no rib showing, he is gaining too much weight and you should reduce his food intake slightly.
Upset Tummy If your dog tends to get upset stomach, diarrhea or gas, try supplementing his food with approximately ¼ c of plain or vanilla yogurt daily. Dogs love this, and the ‘good’ bacteria in the yogurt helps digestion. To combat dry skin, or to enhance a shiny coat, add a couple teaspoons of safflower oil to the food. For loose stool, add canned pumpkin (start with about ½ c and increase if needed) to food. Be sure to use the plain canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling.
Teeth Your dog will be much healthier and feel better if his teeth are clean. The biggest problem is the buildup of tartar that pushes the gums up. Once the gums start to recede, dental problems follow. After your dog’s teeth are cleaned you can keep tartar from building up by giving him large marrowbones or knucklebones. You can usually find them at Kroger labeled as soup bones. Never give your dog poultry bones or small bones as they can splinter and catch in the dog’s throat. We also do not recommend rawhide chews because they become soft and pliable and could become lodged in the throat. An alternative is cow hooves, pig ears, pig snouts, or compressed rawhide bones. Make sure to supervise your dog when he chews these, to make sure that he does not pull off large pieces that he could choke on. Your greyhound will probably allow you to scale his teeth and you can pull off the pieces of tartar with dental tools. You can also brush the teeth with a soft bristle brush and baking soda or use one of the pet toothpastes such as Petrodex or Nolvadent with a finger brush or even an electric toothbrush meant for humans.
Racing History You can find out many interesting things about your greyhound such as where they raced and how they placed, who their original owners were and the dog’s pedigree. The National Greyhound Association has the original owners on file and Rosnet has their racing history. Go to Rosnet if you have their racing name, if not go to NGA with the right and left ear numbers and they will tell you your dog’s racing name. You can also get a five-generation pedigree from the NGA – for a fee. You can reach both agencies via the information below:
National Greyhound Association
PO Box 543
Abilene, KS, 67410
Rosnet Racing Int'l.
6169 Jog Rd, C-5
Lake Worth, FL 33467
Books There are good books available for potential and new adoptive parents of retired racing greyhounds. One of these is Adopting the Racing Greyhound by Cynthia Branigan and another is Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood. We don’t necessarily agree with everything in either of these books, but overall they both contain good advice. You can find these books at PetsMart, book stores, and online.
Have Fun Good Luck and have fun with your new companion. If you have any questions or problems, please call. We might have a simple solution that will save you time and aggravation. Also call and tell us if things are going well. We like to hear about that too!
Thanks to Carl Viener of Adopt a Greyhound Atlanta for compiling the original Helpful Hints list. The above list is a modified version of AAGA's.