Idiosyncrasies in greyhounds that can affect their medical care - Veterinary Medicine
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Idiosyncrasies in greyhounds that can affect their medical care
These athletes have been bred for speed and an even temper. But some irregularities in greyhounds will affect how to clinically assess and treat these dogs. Make sure you're prepared for the next greyhound that visits your practice.


Alabama rot is diagnosed by histologic examination with supporting complete blood count, serum chemistry, and urinalysis results and clinical signs. The most consistent laboratory abnormalities include mild anemia, thrombocytopenia, hypoalbuminemia, elevated alanine transaminase activity, and proteinuria.17 Treatment is supportive and includes appropriate topical and systemic antibiotics selected based on culture and sensitivity results (note that Staphylococcus species are often cultured but are thought to be a secondary pathogen).18 Those greyhounds with azotemia should undergo intravenous fluid therapy and symptomatic treatment.

Ventral comedo syndrome

Ventral comedo syndrome affects many greyhounds. Comedones occur most commonly along the ventral thorax and may be secondary to pressure-point contact of a greyhound's deep chest with the ground.18 This contact allows for the implantation of the hair shaft within the hair follicle that acts as a foreign body, which results in inflammation and causes obstruction and comedo formation. This condition is rarely clinically relevant and is only a cosmetic problem. It can be treated with benzoyl peroxide- or keratolytic-containing shampoos or gels.18 Antibiotics are not indicated unless a secondary pyoderma is present.

Bald thighs syndrome

Bald thighs syndrome is a nonpruritic and noninflammatory alopecia affecting the caudal aspect of the pelvic limbs. The lesions can be progressive and can involve the abdomen. Primary differential diagnoses for the syndrome include demodicosis, dermatophytosis, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, and sex hormone imbalances.18 There is no specific treatment for this condition, which has no known cause. Thyroid supplementation will stimulate hair growth in euthyroid dogs, so be cautious if using levothyroxine to treat this condition.19 The syndrome will resolve in many greyhounds a few months after retirement.18


Greyhounds seem to be susceptible to corns.20 Corns are keratotic growths most commonly found on the footpads that can result in marked pain and lameness. The primary differential diagnoses are plantar and palmar warts. The true cause of corns is unknown, but corn formation may be due to the absence of a thick fatty layer in the greyhound footpad that absorbs shock and protects the skin and footpad.20 The absence of this fatty layer results in a concussive force between the phalanx and footpad that may cause corns to form.20,21 Another theory is that corns result from trauma to the footpad, which heals and becomes fibrous and scarred.20,21

Treatment of corns has included administering topical products containing salicylic acid (KeraSolv Gel—DVM Pharmaceuticals), surgically removing the corn (about 50% of corns will recur within one month to one year after surgery), and amputating the digit. Digit amputation can present complications because corns can occur in the remaining digits.21 If a corn is excised, perform a histologic examination of the lesion to confirm the diagnosis.

Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy

Symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy is the most common cause of multiple toenail loss (onychomadesis, onychogryphosis, onychoschizia) on multiple paws in greyhounds. This condition, also known as pemphigus, does not seem to affect the footpads or other areas as it does in other breeds. Definitive diagnosis requires amputation and histologic examination (sample sent to a dermatohistopathologist) of the third phalanx, but definitive diagnosis is rarely necessary since most dogs respond to treatment without a definitive diagnosis. Ideally, all secondary infections should be resolved before biopsy. Differential diagnoses include bacterial infection, fungal infection, neoplasia, and autoimmune disease.


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