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A Stitch in Time

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.

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The Stink Starts at the Pink

The Stink Starts at the Pink

By Rodger Barr DVM

Strange title? Not really, it refers to the source of mouth odor beginning with the first stage of oral disease gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to the pinkish red inflammation around the teeth often caused by the presence of plaque and bacteria. If allowed to persist, Stage 1 gingivitis will progress to Stage 4 Severe Periodontitis. Periodontitis refers to extensive infection and deterioration of the oral tissue often resulting in unbelievable mouth odor and ultimately tooth lose, not to mention potential heart, kidney and or liver disease. Periodontal disease is the most common disease among dogs. It affects more than 9 out of 10 greyhounds over the age of 3 years old.

Nothing takes the place of daily effective tooth brushing, but as so often is the case, when a problem is complex and difficult to manage, new weapons are always being developed to fight the battle, with the goal being ultimate eradication of oral disease. Until the condition is totally managed, new ways of combating the problem are always being developed. You may currently be using daily brushing in addition to weekly Oravet in combination with Breathalyzer in the water. All of these methods have value, but they do not, by themselves, permanently resolve dental disease. The newest weapon available is Pfizer’s new Porphyromonas Bacterin. This is a two shot series vaccine followed by yearly boosters designed to combat the three most common oral bacteria responsible for periodontitis.

The ideal use of the vaccine is to start with a clean mouth, although if you dog is unable to have an appropriate dental under anesthesia it still does have value. This vaccine does not allow us to reduce frequency of brushing; it is merely another option to add to the arsenal in our total dental care package. Side effects can be similar to any vaccine, soreness at the vaccination site, listlessness, swollen face, reduced appetite, etc. It remains to be seen how useful this vaccine will be, but it appears to have the potential to represent a major contributor to improved oral health.

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Bottom Line on Heartworm and Flea Prevention Products


By Rodger Barr DVM

Heartworm preventative medication has evolved over the years to be classified as Parasite Control Medication due to the fact that it manages to prevent not only heartworm disease, but also intestinal parasites. The very popular monthly preventative has effectively replaced the daily preventatives of old. It’s always wise to do a preliminary heartworm test to confirm the absence of heartworm infestation prior to initiating the monthly preventative measure. The specific preventative will be discussed along with their primary benefits and disadvantages. Lastly, dogs that have had a history of parasite exposure in kennel situations such as Greyhounds benefit from a year around parasite management program.

Heartgard Plus
- A monthly preventative, comes in both tablet and chewable
- Effective against Heartworm, Roundworms, Hookworms
- Very safe
- To be initiated one month following the first potential heartworm exposure, or year around if intestinal parasite control is a major concern.

- A monthly preventative, comes in chewable
- Effective against Heartworm, Roundworm. Hookworms and Whipworms.
- Very safe
- To be initiated one month following the first potential heartworm exposure or year round if intestinal parasite control is a major concern.
- Highly recommended option due to whipworm control

- A monthly preventative, comes in chewable
- Effective against Heartworm, Roundworm, Hookworm, Whipworms and Fleas.
- Flea prevention is in the form of the product Program, which specifically works to break the flea life cycle but does not kill the adult flea.
- Combines Interceptor and Program.
- Very safe.
- To be initiated one month following the first potential heartworm exposure, but if flea management along with intestinal parasite control is paramount than year round should be considered
- Highly recommended option because of whipworm control.

- Topically applied heartworm, flea, tick, roundworm management and ear mites.
- History of being a jack of all trades and master of none.
- History of adverse reactions in Greyhounds.
- Not recommended for Greyhounds.

Program - Oral monthly product for flea control.
- Works by breaking the flea life cycle, prevents the eggs from hatching. Does not kill adult fleas. Year around use is recommended if you have a chronic flea problem or frequent new dogs arriving.

- Topical monthly adult flea control.
- Kills adult fleas, also useful for killing fleas in environment that treated animals frequent
- Applied topically, does not wash off with bathing.
- Occasionally can cause local irritation at administration site. Year around use recommended if the likelihood of infected animals is high.

Worms that infect pets…can infect people, too.

Ask how you can protect your family and pets!

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Bottom Line on Epiosioplasty

Reestablishing the Bottom Line with Episioplasty

By Rodger Barr DVM

Episioplasty is the surgical procedure designed to correct the painful chronic skin condition known as perivulvar dermatitis, vulvar fold dermatitis, or crotch rot. This condition is difficult to resolve conservatively, and if successful, requires a lifetime of management.

My goal is to educate owners of retired female racing Greyhound who have perivulvar dermatitis. I hope to provide the knowledge and understanding necessary to help make the decision as to whether to proceed with surgery or not. Just as with hock fractures, some require surgery and some do not. The goal is to resolve the problem satisfactorily while at the same time sparing the patient any unnecessary pain or suffering.

If I had had the foresight to photograph past cases of this condition I would not have to struggle with an illustration through words. Perivulvar dermatitis is the presence of deep folds surrounding the vulva resulting in a moist dermatitis, very red and inflamed and most commonly characterized by excessive licking. Other breeds develop this condition due to obesity, not so the greyhound. Female Greyhounds are given testosterone to prevent cycling during training and racing, this produces an underdeveloped juvenile vulva that is so small it is recessed, making the structure prone to excessive moisture and inflammation.

If you have a female who licks herself constantly, what should you do? Take her to a Veterinarian who is well versed in Greyhound issues. If you want to explore the region yourself, do so with caution. This area can be very painful. Even though we know your beloved Greyhound adores you, be forewarned that pain can result in an unexpected and uncharacteristic regrettable reaction. A muzzle would be wise in this situation, don’t hesitate to use it. Just glancing at the area rarely reveals the problem; you must gently pry the vulva out of its recessed location and observe the surrounding tissue. The area can be examined with you dog standing or while on her side, with someone restraining her. Move slowly, if it’s too painful, stop. If you get a good look, and the tissue is fire engine red with ulcerations and possibly smelly, it’s likely that surgery is the correct choice. If the area is inflamed but not ulcerated, you may have a chance at success with the conservative approach. The more recessed the vulva, the more likely surgery will be necessary. If a concomitant condition of hypoestrogen incontinence exists, this must also be managed in order to obtain optimum results.

When treating this problem medically, the first step is to break the vicious cycle of inflammation, irritation and subsequent licking, with the use of a Bitenot collar or a similar device. Greyhounds don’t tolerate Elizabethan collars as well even though the end result can be the same. The Bitenot collar prevents access to areas on the animal’s trunk only, not limbs. It is like a neck brace and it prevents the neck flexibility necessary to lick the perivulvar region. With the Bitenot in place the next goal is to reduce inflammation. There are many options here, but in my experience the use of a product called Neo-Predef Powder works quite well. This product comes in a puffer bottle allowing application without actually touching the sensitive tissue. Neo-Predef has an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, and a local anesthetic in it, and by its very nature as a powder tends to dry the area as well. Do not allow licking of this product, it will cause excessive drinking and prevent the area from healing. Prior to applying the topical product it usually helps to gently cleanse the area with either hydrogen peroxide (3%) or warm water with a disinfectant soap, as long as it is rinsed well. Systemic antibiotics can help in severe cases. If you should initially try the conservative approach and decide this is just not for you, surgery can still be performed, freeing you from lifetime management of this condition. Don’t forget if you are lucky enough to resolve this problem with twice daily cleansing and medicating, the problem will most certainly return with a vengeance if you stop treatment all together. Some animals require more treatment than others, but suffice it to say that a minimum of two to three treatments per week will be necessary to maintain your good results, some more often, some less.

If your pet is one who has a severe case or you don’t choose to manage a chronic problem for the life of your Greyhound, then surgery is your best option. Episioplasty is the removal of an elliptical shaped portion of skin above the diseased vulva, making certain to remove as much diseased skin as possible, and the subsequent reconnecting of the new skin edges with sutures or surgical staples. This procedure serves to lift the recessed vulva out of its pocket of tissue and out into the fresh air where moisture no longer accumulates. Post-operatively one must prevent self-mutilation with the aforementioned neck devices, but the recovery is usually uneventful. The results are often excellent, and this procedure tends to resolve the problem completely and forever.

The decision to do surgery should depend on the actual condition and what it will take to resolve it. I know many of you don’t fear the actual surgery. Some are concerned about post-surgical pain, but most FEAR anesthesia. If done properly, Anesthesia is very safe. First and foremost choose your Veterinarian wisely; what precautions does he or she take, do they do pre-surgical screens, and what type of pain management do they prescribe? Do they manage heat loss during surgery? Do they ALWAYS use intravenous fluids except for the very quick lacerations etc. Anesthesia on healthy dogs is nothing to fear as long as all precautions are taken and modern anesthetic agents are being used.

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