All greyhounds adopted through the Greyhound Adoption Program of SA have been desexed, vaccinated, treated with parasite prevention and had their teeth cleaned.
Fleas are little parasites that can live on your greyhound. They live and breed solely on your pets and can cause big problems for your greyhound if allowed to infest them. Your greyhound can easily contract fleas from the environment, out on walks or having playdates with other dogs who may have fleas.
Symptoms that your greyhound may have fleas include being able to see the fleas walking on the skin of your dog, flea ‘dirt’ on the skin usually located near your dogs spine at the base of the tail, excessive itching and scratching and red, sore irritated skin. Your greyhound will also have flea tapeworm which is a part of the flea lifecycle and there may be signs of this too (see below).
There are several types of intestinal worms of which can infest your greyhound if they are not given a preventative treatment. These include hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm.
If your greyhound has worms often you will first notice them in their faeces. They will look like rice or spaghetti or worms! Symptoms that your greyhound may have contracted worms include constant licking of their anus, an upset belly, a big appetite but no weight gain, perhaps weight loss and loss of overall condition. Depending on the type of worm and the level of infestation, dogs can become quite ill; anaemic, vomitting or pass large amounts of worms in their faeces. Some intestinal worms are zoonotic and transferable to humans (and other pets) so it is important to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of contamination should your greyhound ever contract worms. The most common worm your greyhound is likely to contract is the flea tapeworm, which comes with your greyhound having fleas.
Heartworm is a parasite that can infect your greyhound if they are not on an preventative treatment. Heartworm is a worm that lives in the heart of your dog, reducing the hearts ability to function at full capacity and is often fatal once diagnosed.
Heartworm are transmitted by mosquitoes and although are generally found in warmer areas of Australia, can be found in South Australia too. Mosquitoes transmit the heartworm larvae from an infected dog to another dog when they bite, allowing the heartworm to grow to an adult within the new dog. Over a period of approximately 7 months the larvae will grow to full size, and this is often when your greyhound will be diagnosed. Symptoms include fatigue after low levels of exercise and difficulty breathing.
Treatment for heartworm is extremely costly and very risky, and usually a positive diagnosis is fatal for any dog. It is ideal to treat your greyhound with a preventative such as a monthly topical treatment or chew, or an annual injection.
Your greyhound will need to have an annual vaccination to prevent them from contracting infectious diseases (bacterial and viral) which are often fatal once diagnosed. It is important to speak to your veterinarian about their vaccination protocol and find out what is best for you and your greyhound. All greyhounds in the GAP SA program are vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and bordetella bronchiseptica. This results in your greyhound being covered by a C5 vaccination for 12 months.
Greyhounds are predisposed to poor dental health due to the structure of their jaw. Greyhounds who enter the GAP SA program will have their teeth scaled and polished before being adopted into their new family.
It is important as someone caring for a greyhound to ensure you’re doing your best to assist them in keeping a healthy mouth. You can do this by brushing their teeth daily with a special doggy toothbrush and toothpaste, giving them raw marrow bones (supervised) every now and then, or giving other treats or toys that encourage chewing. It is also important to feed your greyhound a diet that contains dry food to encourage chewing. Eating large, dry kibble will be abrasive against your greyhounds teeth, chipping off those little bits of plaque and preventing tartar build up. It is also important to have your greyhounds teeth checked regualrly by your veterinarian.