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Health and basic first aid
This is based on minor health issues with my dog so far. For more advanced things it is possible to take courses in dog CPR and emergency first aid.

Remember that if your dog is in pain he may be scared and act aggressively, rather than being his usual gentle self. Mine will only bark a warning and never bite me, but I still prefer to muzzle him just in case. Also, if your dog barks or growls at you, it might be the first sign that alerts you to an injury.

If you have any doubt about any health issue please consult a vet.

Sore paws | Cuts and scratches | Damaged claws
Skin conditions | Fleas and worms

Sore paws
Paws are easily cut on brambles or stones when running about. A couple of times I have noticed blood between my dog's toes; I simply bathed the paw and it sorted itself out. However if a pad is cut it can take a while to heal (as the dog is always using it, so it reopens the wound) and has the disadvantage of traipsing blood through your house! However the dog might not actually feel the cut or be bothered by it.

If the bleeding is profuse or continuous, it may require a stitch and you should see a vet. However, I have treated my dog by bandaging him. You need some gauze or a clean cloth, and the type of bandage which sticks to itself, preferably the elastoplast kind which is adhesive - anything else might not stay on! Wash the paw in warm salt water, then dry. Place the paw in the centre of the gauze or cloth, and lift the sides to cover his lower leg. Then apply the bandage all around. Don't use many turns, and make sure he can still bend his leg (I had to adjust it before getting it right - if in doubt put his paw into the shape he would stand on before bandaging and try to keep the bandage below the joint for more movement.) If blood comes through, put more bandage on, as only pressure and time will stop the wound bleeding. However, the dressing should only stay on for a couple of days before changing so the wound can be checked for infection and the skin can breathe.

My dog carried on as normal and promptly took his bandaged foot into mud and puddles as usual. If you can't avoid this, you can buy booties which protect damaged paws while they heal. For example, there is the Thera-paw - and many other designs are available. If you can't find them, ask your pet store or vet.

Cuts and scratches
Greyhounds have quite thin skin and often have minor injuries.

Small cuts and scratches are easily cleaned with warm salt water and a clean cloth. You should dissolve just enough salt into the water to make it taste like tears - no more than that. Bathe the wounds by wiping or flushing with this solution. In my dog's case, this left a small hole in the skin which quickly healed - much faster than if it was left alone to scab over.

If your dog is bitten by a cat, beware. Cats' teeth are sharp, so the hole is small and neat and quickly closes over. However, their teeth are also filthy, covered in bacteria which is then sealed into the wound when it closes over. In the case of your pet cat, this might not be too bad, but a stray or feral cat will be a real risk. My rehoming group told me of a greyhound that was bitten by a feral cat and later died of the resulting infections.

So, if your dog is bitten, remove the scab and then bathe very thoroughly and regularly in warm salt water in order to reduce the infection risk. Reopen the wound if necessary. My dog had very small cat bites to his ear, but they healed well. Of course, if the bite is large or there is any concern at all, see a vet rather than wait for signs of infection.

Damaged claws
Dogs can easily damage claws - mine tore a dew claw while digging - and this is as painful to them as it would be for us to have our nail torn off, exposing the skin underneath.

This is very sensitive for the dog, so don't touch it. If there is bleeding which won't stop, put some flour on it - this should congeal the wound. It should improve in a few days.

When my dog tore his claw, pink pulpy flesh appeared between the pieces of claw, and he licked at it for a few days until it no longer bothered him. He did not want me to touch it but appeared otherwise unaffected.

This advice also applies if you accidentally cut the quick when trimming your dog's claws.

Skin conditions
On first moving home, greyhounds may lick or nibble themselves too much. They are prone to bald thighs, but this fur should come back as soon as they relax into their new home.

Have a look at the dog's belly - mine was rather red and sore looking, and my dog licked it a lot. This improved within the first few days so I stopped being concerned. However, when I took him for neutering, a month after adoption, the vet noticed sores and infection in his skin after she had clipped it for surgery. (The vet had missed this when giving him a general check beforehand.)

Antibiotics were required and it can't have been much fun for the dog, so get him checked over thoroughly when you adopt him, and if he is paying attention to any particular part of his body, so should you!

Fleas and worms
Within a few months of adoption I found both fleas (on the dog's head) and worms (in the dog's faeces), so you should worm and de-flea him as a matter of course.

If the dog is mixing with other dogs, being exercised where there are other dog faeces, or catching rodents, this is even more important as these are all sources of infection. (My own dog can catch rats, for example.)

A good worming treatment is the Pedigree Wormer - this comes in meat flavoured chewy tablets which my dog actually begged for. You can buy it in supermarkets. Treatment is based on weight, so you may need to pop into the vets to check your dog's weight beforehand, as you need to know his weight to the nearest 5 kilos.

A good flea treatment is Frontline. This is only available from the vet, and they will probably want to see your dog beforehand if they haven't already checked him over (the check is free). It's expensive but very effective and highly recommended. Again treatment size is based on weight, but greyhounds will need the pack for dogs between 20 and 40 kilos.

You should worm every three months and deflea every two months.

This page last updated: 01 September 2022

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