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A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

By Rodger Barr, DVM
Spring 1999

Preventive Medicine is the order of the day when dealing with greyhound medicine and surgery. From the time greyhounds are puppies, the emphasis is on prevention. Regular worming programs, which can be as often as every two to three weeks, are aimed at preventing intestinal parasites. Vaccination programs, again, starting as early as three weeks of age, are aimed at preventing viral infections. Until they reach three to four months of age, these are the major issues young developing greyhounds face.

At three to four months the pups start to hurt each other. They have always been competitive, but now their teeth and strength are capable of doing damage. Some kennels being to separate litters at this point, and animals may begin to wear muzzles, not because these animals are mean, but because they are highly competitive. The only devices greyhound pups have to interact effectively with each other are their mouths and teeth. Major lacerations can occur at this time. As these young greyhounds begin to exceed their bodies’ tolerance levels, they can break bones by sheer speed alone. At this age, some fractures can be repaired and a racing career still salvaged – but not all.

Toe injuries are totally dependent on the type of surface used in the runs. Clay surfaces can provide enough resistance to break and dislocate toes. Sand surfaces generally discourage this kind of injury but, by its lack of impact, it tends to allow for more major hock fractures later in life. Such fractures occur from the lack of bone density, which is directly related to the amount of impact a bone receives over the course of time.

Life is pretty happy-go-lucky at this stage. Play is the order of the day, and the major activity, in good weather, is challenging adjacent runs to a race to the end of the fence line and back. (Words of advice, though, whatever you do, keep your tail and ears on your own side of the fence!) Training is a pretty innocuous time. There may be an occasional fractured quarter bone (metatarsal or metacarpal), but for the most part, injuries are not common.