Medical FAQ

What are the medical idiosyncrasies of greyhounds?
Greyhounds have some unique medical features and needs. Please read more in this guide by Dr. Bill Feeman, DVM and share it with your vet if they are not familiar with greyhounds.

Greyhound Medical Idiosyncrasies – Revised 2010

What is reverse sneezing?
The most common cause of reverse sneezing is an irritation of the soft palate and throat that results in a spasm. During the spasm, the dog’s neck will extend and the chest will expand as the dog tries harder to inhale. The problem is that the trachea has narrowed and it’s hard to get the normal amount of air into the lungs. This is usually scarier for the owner than the dog.

See this article and video for more information.

How much should my greyhound weigh?
An overweight greyhound is a sad sight indeed – don’t let your greyhound turn into a ‘sausage’! Greyhounds are lean by nature and their long, skinny legs don’t need any extra pressure. You should be able to see a bit of the last two ribs and the points of the hips. One rule of thumb says no more than five pounds over their racing weight. Check with your vet if you’re not sure about your dog’s weight.

On the other hand, it’s notoriously hard to keep weight on senior greyhounds. If your dog is too skinny (more than two ribs showing, prominent hip points), then it may be time to up their food intake or change to a calorie-dense food. Again, check with your vet for advice – sudden weight loss can be a sign of other health problems.

When should I rush my dog to an emergency vet?
Examples of conditions that warrant an immediate trip to the emergency vet (or your regular vet if they’re open):

  • Severe difficulty breathing with bluish or white gums or tongue
  • Severe trauma (broken bone, heavy bleeding, eye injury, burns)
  • Poison/toxin exposure
  • Heat stroke
  • Bloat
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Choking
  • Severe seizures
  • Unconsciousness
It's not an emergency, what conditions warrant an appointment with my vet?
Aside from normal preventative care, you might want to make an appointment with your vet if you notice one or more of these conditions:

  • Broken tooth
  • Minor lacerations
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating
  • Diarrhea or vomiting (more than one or two episodes)
  • Lethargy
  • Consistent limping
  • Prolonged, excessive panting with no physical exertion
  • Long episodes of coughing
  • Not eating or drinking for 24 hours
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Rapidly growing lumps
  • Signs of pain (crying, standing with an arched back, listlessness)
  • Persistent scratching or chewing at spots on the body
  • Skin rash
  • Abnormal lumps or bumps that are painful, red or hot to the touch
What about pet medical insurance?
Some people find pet medical insurance very helpful with vet bills. GALT does not recommend a particular provider, but has rated a list of 22 pet insurance providers and has also reviewed the top 12 here: Pet Insurance Provider Reviews.
Does my dog have tapeworms?
If you see white wiggly segments about the size of a grain of rice in your dogs fresh stool your dog probably has tapeworm. Tapeworm is contracted when a dog swallows an infected flea. Keep your dog protected with monthly flea & tick preventative! Tapeworm is treated with Droncit.
What common plants can be poisonous to dogs?
These are some of the common plants that can be poisionous to dogs. For a more complete list, check here. Please contact your vet if you fear your dog has ingested something dangerous.

  • Aconite
  • Arrowgrasses
  • Atropa belladonna
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azaleas
  • Baneberry
  • Bird-of-Paradise (pods)
  • Black locust
  • Bloodroot
  • Boxwood
  • Buckeye
  • Buttercup
  • Caladium
  • Carolina jessamine
  • Castor bean
  • Chinaberry tree
  • Chockcherries
  • Christmas berry
  • Christmas Rose
  • Common privet
  • Corn cockle
  • Cowbane
  • Cow cockle
  • Cowslip
  • Daffodil (bulbs)
  • Day lily
  • Death Camas
  • Delphinium (Larkspur)
  • Dumbcane
  • Dutchman’s breeches
  • Easter lily
  • Elderberry
  • Elephant’s ear
  • English Ivy
  • European Bittersweet
  • False Flax (seeds)
  • False hellebore
  • Fan weed
  • Field peppergrass
  • Foxglove
  • Holly
  • Horsechestnut
  • Horse nettle
  • Hyacinth (bulbs)
  • Iris
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
  • Jatropha
  • Jerusalem Cherry
  • Jimsonweed
  • Lantana
  • Laurels
  • Lily of the valley
  • Lupines
  • Manchineel Tree
  • Matrimony vine
  • Mayapple
  • Milk vetch
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Moonseed
  • Morning glory
  • Mountain mahogany
  • Mustards
  • Narcissus (bulbs)
  • Nicotiana
  • Nightshade
  • Oaks (shoots, leaves)
  • Oleander
  • Philodendrons
  • Pokeweed
  • Poinsettia
  • Poison hemlock
  • Rattle box
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb
  • Rosary pea (seeds)
  • Sago palm
  • Skunk cabbage
  • Smartweeds
  • Snow-on-the-mountain
  • Sorghum
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • Velvet grass
  • Wild black cherry
  • Wild radish
  • Wisteria
  • Woody aster
  • Yellow jessamine
  • Yellow oleander
  • Yellow pine flax
  • Yew

What common foods and drinks can be dangerous to my dog?
  • Alcohol
  • Cat food – too much is bad for the pancreas
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, Tea, Caffeinated Colas
  • Cooked Bones
  • Grapes or Raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Many fruit pits and rinds
  • Onions
  • Salty/fatty snacks – too much is bad for the pancreas
  • Spoiled food
What other substances can be dangerous to my dog?
Rule of thumb – if it would be dangerous to a toddler, it’s dangerous for your dog! For example:

  • Anti-freeze
  • Human prescription drugs
  • Rat poison
  • Insecticides
How can I induce vomiting if my dog has swallowed something toxic?
One of the easiest ways to avoid problems associated with the ingestion of any of these products is to induce vomiting before the toxins are absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. Veterinarians commonly use 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Hydrogen peroxide is readily available at any drug store or grocery store. A greyhound would need to swallow about two tablespoonfuls, or 25 to 30cc, to induce vomiting. If the dog does not vomit within 10 minutes, repeat the hydrogen peroxide dosage. It will cause them to foam at the mouth, but almost always works. Your veterinarian should be consulted to see if anything else needs to be done. If the poisonous substance was ingested more than an hour or two previously, some of the substance has more than likely already been absorbed, and you need to take your pet to the veterinarian or emergency clinic as soon as possible. If your dog has ingested anti-freeze, take them to the emergency vet immediately and do not induce vomiting.
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza is a new contagious respiratory disease in dogs that started showing up in 2004 when it crossed over from an equine flu virus. Please see this CDC page for more details: Key Facts about Canine Influenza
What are tick-borne diseases?

Texas is a high-risk state for ticks, and racing greyhounds in particular are at high risk for exposure across the US. GALT tests for and treats tick-borne diseases like Ehrlichia, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lyme disease because they can have long-term effects on your greyhound’s health. Chronic symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite or loss of body weight
  • Vomiting
  • Nose bleeds, skin hemorrhage or any other unusual bleeding
  • Swollen legs or lymph nodes
  • Nervous system disorders, such as stiff gait, head tile, seizures or twitching
  • Pale gums and/or inner eye membranes

Learn more information on tick-borne diseases here.

Do greyhounds suffer from "White Coat" Syndrome?
One study has shown that greyhounds may have higher blood pressure during vet visits.
How should I take care of my greyhound's teeth?
An annual dental exam and cleaning is highly recommended after your pet has reached one year of age. This consists of a thorough exam of the entire mouth, removal of plaque and tartar both above and below the gum line, and polishing of the crowns of all of the teeth. It is also important to follow a good home care program, which can extend the positive effects of the dental cleaning. Home care can consist of brushing your pet’s teeth and special dental diets. Daily brushing is an ideal way to maintain oral health between annual professional dental cleanings

Our vets recommend a thorough, professional dental cleaning under anesthesia when it is called for. There are services which provide dental scaling without anesthesia, but there are detriments to this approach, detailed in this position paper.

Click here to read an article regarding the importance of your pet’s dental care.

Is Ebola a risk for pets?

Fear is running high about Ebola right now, but the risk is minimal both to you and your pets.

Where can I find more information on greyhound health?
Dr. Suzanne Stack has a very informative website,, with articles covering anesthesia, bloodwork, pain medications, hock fractures, lumbosarcal stenosis, osteosarcoma, pancreatitis, and more.

Another great resource is The Greyhound Health Initiative – Dr. Guillermo Couto’s team’s website, greyhound health initiative, has very informative and educational articles focused on improving the health of sighthound dogs worldwide through education, research, and accessibility for owners, adopters as well as veterinarians.

Have more questions?
If you have a question that was not answered in one of our FAQ pages, please call or email GALT!