Tag Archives: greyhounds

WSU study aims to prevent adverse drug reactions in dogs

If not identified before surgery, a rare genetic mutation could result in your dog being exposed to dangerously high levels of anesthetic agents.

Scientists at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine initially discovered the mutation in greyhounds and more recently in other common dog breeds.

The research group, a member of the Program in Individualized Medicine (PrIMe), published its findings in Scientific Reports.

Researchers on genetic mutation anesthetic study

Researchers Stephanie Martinez and Michael Court pose with their dogs Otis (left), Seamus (center), and Matilda (right). Matilda is a carrier of a mutation found by Martinez and Court, which results in less of the enzyme used to break down many popular anesthetics.

For years, veterinarians have known that some greyhounds struggle to break down certain drugs, which results in potentially life-threatening and prolonged recovery periods following anesthesia. The previously unknown genetic mutation that the WSU researchers uncovered in greyhounds causes less of CYP2B11, the enzyme that breaks down these drugs, to be made.

Not surprisingly, the mutation was also found in several other dog breeds that are closely related to the greyhound including borzoi, Italian greyhound, whippet, and Scottish deerhound.

However, when the research team extended their survey to more than 60 other breeds, using donated samples from the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital DNA Bank, they were surprised by what they found.

According to the study, funded by the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation, some popular dog breeds, including golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, may also struggle to break down the commonly used anesthetics, midazolam, ketamine, and propofol.

“We started with a condition we thought was specific to greyhounds and affected a relatively small number of dogs,” said Stephanie Martinez, postdoctoral research associate and lead author on the study. “It now appears that there could be a lot more dogs affected by this mutation—dogs from breeds that we wouldn’t have expected.”

The study found about one in 50 golden retrievers and one in 300 Labrador retrievers may have low amounts of CYP2B11. According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed of dog in the U.S., closely followed by golden retrievers, ranked third.

Even mixed-breed dogs were not spared; although the prevalence was much lower at only one in 3,000 dogs.

“While the mutation is not that common in most breeds—outside of greyhounds and other related breeds—because some of these other breeds are so popular, a relatively large number of dogs in this country could be affected.” Martinez said.

Michael Court, the study principal investigator and veterinary anesthesiologist who began studying slow anesthetic drug breakdown in greyhounds over 20 years ago, said, “Although we have developed special anesthesia protocols that work very safely in greyhounds—the nagging question was—should we be using these same protocols in other dog breeds?”

Court and Martinez are now moving forward to create a simple cheek swab test that could be used by dog owners and their veterinarians to detect the mutation and determine an individual dog’s sensitivity to the problematic anesthetic drugs.

“We also suspect that dogs with the mutation may have trouble breaking down drugs—other than those used in anesthesia.” Court said. “The challenge now is to provide accurate advice to veterinarians on what drugs and drug dosages should be used in affected patients.”

The research team is currently seeking volunteer golden retrievers and greyhounds to participate in a one‑day study at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to continue their study of drug breakdown in these dog breeds.

Those who are interested in having their golden retriever or greyhound participate in the study can contact courtlab@vetmed.wsu.edu for more information.

Source:  Washington State University media release

Bad teeth revealed as biggest problem for pet greyhounds

Dental disease is the most common health issue facing pet greyhounds, according to the largest ever study of greyhounds treated in first opinion veterinary clinics. The research, led by the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass programme in collaboration with the University of Bristol Vet School, reveals that 39 per cent of greyhounds suffer from dental problems, which is a far higher percentage than for any other dog breed.

greyhound dental disease

As well as bad teeth, the research revealed that traumatic injuries, overgrown nails and osteoarthritis are also major concerns for pet greyhounds. Overgrown nails affected 11.1 per cent of greyhounds, wounds 6.2 per cent, osteoarthritis 4.6 per cent and claw injury 4.2 per cent.

Greyhounds in the UK are typically used for racing during their early lives, with an increasing number rehomed as pets after their racing careers are over. The results of this study, which is published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, adds significantly to evidence available for the debate on the welfare issues surrounding greyhound racing. It will also help breeders and regulators to prioritise activities to mitigate the worst of the harm to greyhounds from their racing careers, as well as help greyhound rehoming organisations advise adopters on optimal preventative care options.

Researchers studied 5,419 greyhounds seen by first opinion vets in 2016. Key findings include:

  • The most common disease in greyhounds was dental disease (39.0 per cent affected). This is much higher than reported for other larger breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog (4.1 per cent) or the Rottweiler (3.1 per cent);
  • Urinary incontinence was more common in female greyhounds (3.4 per cent) than males (0.4 per cent);
  • Aggression was more commonly reported in males (2.6 per cent) than females (one per cent);
  • The median lifespan for greyhounds is 11.4 years, compared to the 12 years previously reported for dogs overall;
  • The most common causes of death in greyhounds are cancer (21.5 per cent), collapse (14.3 per cent) and arthritis (7.8 per cent).

Dr Dan O’Neill, Veterinary Epidemiologist and VetCompassTM researcher at the RVC, who was the main author of the paper, said: “Pet greyhounds are now a common breed treated in general veterinary practices in the UK. Retired racing greyhounds can make very good pets, but these results sadly show that they also carry health legacies from inherent breed predispositions as well as impacts from their prior racing careers. These potential problems include bad teeth, behavioural issues and arthritis. Our new VetCompass evidence especially reveals a worryingly high level of dental disease. This awareness should encourage all those who care for the greyhound to prioritise preventive and remedial strategies for these issues and therefore to  improve the welfare of this lovely breed, both before and after rehoming as pets.”

Dr Nicola Rooney, co-author and lead researcher on Greyhound Welfare Project at the Bristol Veterinary School, added: “Greyhounds can make fantastic pets and live long healthy lives, but it has long been suspected that they are particularly prone to dental problems which can negatively impact upon their quality of life. Here we have the first evidence that levels of dental issues are higher in greyhounds than in other breeds. This highlights the importance of conducting research into ways of improving dental health.

“At Bristol we have been conducting a three-year research programme to further understand what causes dental problems in greyhounds and methods to avoid them. Combined with the current RVC study, this is an important step to understanding and improving the future welfare of greyhounds.”

Professor Steve Dean, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT), explained: “I must declare an interest in this study as my additional role as Chairman of the Greyhound Trust reveals my enthusiasm for this lovely breed. It will come as no surprise to those who love greyhounds that dental plaque is a significant condition in this breed. This latest study from the VetCompass initiative reveals the extent of the problem and should stimulate interest in further work to understand why periodontal disease is such an issue for both the racing dog and the retired greyhound. Effective research could also have a far reaching impact for several other breeds that suffer a similar challenge. The VetCompass programme has been helpful in revealing breed specific problems and this study is yet another informative analysis   of extensive clinical data. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust regards the financial support it provides as a successful investment in clinical research.”

Paper

Greyhounds under general veterinary care in the UK during 2016: demography and common disorders by O’Neill, D.G., Rooney, N.J., Brock, C., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C. and Pegram, C. in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology [open access]

Source:  University of Bristol media statement

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Helping the Hounds of Macau — Whippet Wisdom – a Highland Journey

We want to share a story with you today about greyhounds that have been racing far away, in the Canidrome at Macau. Greyhound breeders from Australia sent their slower dogs here without much regard for their welfare. The ground on the track was hard, the facilities for the greyhounds were poor. Many were […]

via Helping the Hounds of Macau — Whippet Wisdom – a Highland Journey

Izzy, the poster dog of The Balanced Dog, is a greyhound.  We had to share this post because there are many greyhounds needing homes.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

There’s a technical term for almost everything – the zoomie

The zoomie is something that greyhounds specialize in.  But, of course, other breeds do them too.

Did you know that the technical term for the zoomie is Frenetic Random Activity Period (or FRAP for short)?

Enjoy these videos of greyhound zoomies!

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

Labels

I’ve been thinking about labels a lot this week.

You already know my feelings about breed specific legislation (BSL) and the labeling of dogs as ‘dangerous’ simply because of their breed.  (In short, the labeling is unfair and unjustified – backed up by actual data.)

We also use labels for people and that is what has happened here recently with a greyhound group on Facebook.  From what I can tell, earlier this week one of the moderators of the group didn’t like a person sharing their views against greyhound racing – the moderator is involved in the greyhound racing industry.  So the moderator disconnected the person from the group.

This upset others in the group who expected the site to be an open forum for lovers of greyhounds.  (We need a lesson in Facebook groups, I think.  There are groups all over Facebook and posts get deleted and people disconnected from groups by moderators regularly.  There is no such thing as democracy in Facebook groups!)

And so a new group on Facebook has been formed and we have been encouraged to join that group to post about our greyhounds.

So if you are labeled ‘anti-racing’ by the first site, it seems another will gladly accept you.

We humans label all the time.   If you read the headline news over the last few years, what does the term ‘immigrant’ mean to you, for example?

So going back to the issue of dogs – which are both my passion and also my profession – what label applies to me?

Pro-Dog

Yup, if someone is mistreating a dog, hurting them, not taking responsibility for their care, treating them as disposable, using them for fighting…

…then please label me Pro-Dog.  I will be disagreeing with you.  And I will use this blog and my own company Facebook page for speaking about it.

Izzy the greyhound

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Greyt Fashions

So to my regular readers, I’m sorry it’s been almost a week since my last posting.  That’s because I’ve been busy.  Really busy.

On Sunday, the culmination of 2 years of thoughts/ideas and 7 months of planning came to fruition in the form of Greyt Fashions, a fundraiser for greyhound adoption to support Greyhounds as Pets. This is the charity that matched Izzy and me back in 2014.  I aim to support dog adoption each year through fundraising, but this year has certainly topped all my previous efforts with $4994 raised in a single event.

The idea behind the show was simple:  highlight that greyhounds need clothes and let our volunteer owners show off their hounds in the clothing they had chosen for them.

Alongside the show, we had a silent auction and prize raffle of donated goods and services.  I was humbled by the number of sponsors which came on board at the first request.

It was an awesome day, and one that passed quite quickly for me.  Thankfully, the folks at Parker Photography also donated their services and were able to document the day for us.  More photos are expected on my Facebook page later this week as the photographers process and edit their photos.

I feel it is very important that local businesses give back to their communities in a tangible way.  I am in a lucky position to be able to devote some of my time in support of worthy causes and I would rather spend my time on these efforts than traditional ‘marketing.’

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

How many hounds needing a home?

Izzy of The Balanced Dog

All of the dogs I have had in my life have been adopted.

Our first family dog came from a no-kill shelter; our second from a supermarket notice board.  A local re-homing group, Dogwatch, facilitated my first adoption as an owner; my second dog, Daisy, came in a private adoption through word-of-mouth, and in 2014 Izzy, a greyhound adopted through the national adoption group Greyhounds as Pets, arrived on the scene.

Worldwide, there are more dogs that need homes than there are adoptive homes to care for them and this situation is no different for the greyhounds of New Zealand’s racing industry.

As of 2018, New Zealand is one of only eight territories in the world with a commercial greyhound racing industry.  The others in alphabetical order are Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, United Kingdom, the United States (five states only), and Vietnam.

But many New Zealanders are unaware of the findings of  The Hansen Report, which was publicly released in the busy pre-Christmas period of December 2017.  Formally titled A Report to the NZ Racing Board on Welfare Issues Affecting Greyhound Racing New Zealand, the report was written by the Hon Rodney Hansen, QC.

I won’t go into all of the findings in this blog post (the report is 93 pages).  But the statistical analysis of the racing industry’s own data show that despite the efforts of all of the re-homing groups in the country combined, re-homing can’t deal with the influx of greyhounds leaving the industry.  The report deems this a ‘current structural imbalance’ and recommends that ‘re-homing alone cannot solve the problems created by excessive numbers of greyhounds entering the industry each year.’

The bottom line?  There’s still a lot to be done to look after the welfare of the greyhounds in the NZ racing industry.  In the four-year period between 2013/14 and 2016/17, the whereabouts of 1,271 dogs could not even be determined and another 1,447 hounds were officially euthanised.

Upon the report’s release, Racing Minister Winston Peters described the findings as both disturbing and disappointing.  While the racing industry has said it intends to act on all findings, those actions will take time.

And that is why I volunteer with Greyhounds as Pets and also offer my fundraising support.  Because there are so many hounds in need of an adoptive home.

As with children, dogs don’t ask to be born.  But it is our responsibility as a society to care for them once they are brought into the world.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Don’t call them lazy

Izzy and I do a fair amount of volunteering for our local re-homing group, Greyhounds as Pets.  In describing the greyhound, I often hear the term lazy used as in “they are very lazy dogs and like to sleep most of the day.”

The Oxford dictionary defines lazy as “unwilling to work or use energy.”   I don’t find Izzy unwilling to expend energy; she’ll happily join me for walks twice a day (except when it is raining heavily and then she needs some encouragement).    Often she will instigate play time herself – typically in the evening after dinner – when she zooms around the house with one or more of her toys.  Yes, she plays for about 5-10 minutes, but she does play.

And in my mobile service, she often accompanies me in the car to meet and greet clients.  (Yes, she also sleeps in the car but the point is – she is always happy to go in the car and usually bounces into the garage before I have time to clip on her car harness.)

The synonyms for lazy include slothful, inactive,  idle and slow-moving.    These terms remind me of the stereotypical fat person whose preferred activity is sitting on their sofa eating junk food and drinking.

Like Homer Simpson.

And greyhounds are definitely not slow-moving when they decide it’s time for a zoomie.

Izzy is certainly not fat, either.  She’s a svelte girl who has maintained her ideal weight for the 3 1/2 years that she has been in my life.  Most of her greyhound friends are equally as fit.

So I think we do a disservice to the breed by calling them lazy because lazy has many negative connotations. No one enjoys working with someone who is lazy and doesn’t carry their weight, for example.

Instead, I propose:

“Greyhounds are discerning in what activities they choose to undertake.”  (A sign of quality and taste!)

and

“Greyhounds are energy-conserving.” (A dog that is kind to the earth and sustainable!)

Greyhounds – don’t call them lazy.

 

I'm not lazy

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Dogs of Avalon – book review

Inspired by her adopted lurcher, Lily, author Laura Schenone started to research the background story of Irish sighthounds that were being imported into the United States for adoption.

Her research reveals the story of Marion Fitzgibbon, who witnessed firsthand the appalling animal welfare problems in her native Ireland and started to take action.  Marion’s story starts small, as most animal welfare initiatives do.  But her dream and her passion builds as she finds friends who are willing to work alongside her and to help find shelter and fostering options for rescued animals.

The dogs of avalon

She eventually becomes the head of the Irish Society for the Protection of Cruelty Animals and she is experienced enough and with enough authority to tackle the greyhound racing industry.  This includes conducting an undercover investigation into facilities in Spain, where many of the Irish greyhounds were sold to live in appalling conditions.

In Ireland, very few people were willing to adopt the greyhounds that their country’s highly subsidized racing industry supported – and so many were sent to the United States which is how the author’s Lily came to reside in New Jersey.

And for a time the book focuses on the USA greyhound racing industry and the groundswell of support to help shut tracks down.  I actually found this part of the book to be its weakest – diverting from the Irish story.    The cause to shut down the Wonderland track in Massachusetts is covered, for example; but not particularly clearly in my opinion.  (I grew up in Massachusetts and Wonderland is a stop on the Blue Line of Boston’s subway system.)

Like all true stories of animal welfare organizations, there are many cases that are not easy to read.  But that is the reality that we must face when acknowledging how people and industries view the rights (or lack thereof) of animals and the history of how man has treated animals.

As a greyhound owner myself, I could never have passed by this book.  It’s a solid read for greyhound lovers, all dog owners, and anyone interested in animal welfare.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

A date in the red zone

Izzy has a boyfriend named Bergie who lives across town from us.  Bergie is approximately one year younger than Izzy, but from the day they first met on an organized Greyhounds as Pets walk, it was clear that these two really enjoyed each other’s company.

We make an effort for them to have dates on a regular basis; one of their favourite places is the red zone – this is an area in eastern Christchurch where homes were demolished after the 2011 earthquake; the residents were bought out by the government so they could relocate elsewhere because the land is unsuitable for building.  There are a few locations in the red zone that are fully fenced, allowing greyhounds the opportunities to do zoomies in a safe environment.

Bergie the greyhound

Bergie

This area of the red zone is very sandy (which is why it isn’t suitable for re-building).  It is, however, very good for digging holes.  Bergie likes to dig holes for Izzy and she likes to watch…

Digging a hole for his love

Bergie digs a hole for Izzy

And greyhounds generally like to do zoomies (short bursts of running).  Here is Izzy chasing Bergie:

Izzy is now asleep in her bed after having a great day with Bergie.  (I think their next date will be at the beach – Izzy loves the beach!)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand