Greyhounds are more susceptible to certain diseases than are other dog breeds. Unlike most large breeds, greyhounds are not predisposed to hip dysplasia. But because most greyhounds are bred for racing, they encounter infectious, environmental and dietary conditions that can lead to trouble later in life, when they are retired and become pets. Not all greyhounds begin their lives on the racetrack, but many do.
Valley Fever, which is also known as coccidiodomycosis, comes from inhalation of fungi in the soil. Greyhounds seem to be particularly susceptible to the disease, possibly because they have low white blood cell counts and are thus less resistant to infectious disease. Symptoms of valley fever include joint swelling, coughing, weight loss and lameness. Anti-fungal medications are used to treat the disease, and most dogs recover fully.
Alabama rot, or idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular disease, has been reported only in greyhounds. Greyhounds are fed mainly a raw meat diet when they are training or racing, and this disease is believed to stem from toxins, such as E. coli, which are commonly found in the meat. The earliest sign of this disease is skin lesions that occur on the legs, chest or abdomen. There is no medical treatment for this disease, and renal failure results in death about 25 per cent of the time, according to the Greyhound Companions of New Mexico.
Chronic Superficial Keratitis
Chronic superficial keratitis, or pannus, is a disease of the eyes that affects greyhounds much more than other breeds. When greyhounds race, their eyes are exposed, and they collect lots of sand and other debris that hit the cornea with great force. If that debris is not properly flushed out of the eye immediately following the race, CSK can develop. CSK is a progressive disease. Signs are blood vessel growth in the eyes, grey coloured whites and scarring. Blindness can occur, but the disease is treatable with steroids, artificial tears or other topical drugs.
Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is a debilitating and deadly disease that is very common in greyhounds, particularly retired racing dogs. Symptoms begin with a limp and extend to extreme discomfort and swelling at the site of the cancer. Research is being conducted to find out why so many retired racing greyhounds develop bone cancer, according to greyhound expert Dr. Susan Stack and the Greyhound Companions of New Mexico. Long-term prognosis is not good, but treatment includes amputation of the affected limb, chemotherapy and radiation.