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News Article

Pet greyhounds: periodontal disease identified as most common disorder

Trauma and osteoarthritis are also common health issues

Dental disease is the most common health issue facing pet greyhounds in the UK, according to research, led by the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass™ programme in collaboration with the University of Bristol. The study found that 39% of greyhounds suffer from dental problems, which is a far higher percentage than previously reported for other dog breeds.

The study also revealed that overgrown nails affected 11.1% of greyhounds, wounds 6.2%, osteoarthritis 4.6% and claw injury 4.2%.

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 researchers say the results of the study, published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, will 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% affected). This is much higher than VetCompass has reported for other larger breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog (4.1%) or the Rottweiler (3.1%).

•Urinary incontinence was more common in female greyhounds (3.4%) than males (0.4%)

•Aggression was more commonly reported in males (2.6%) than females (1%)

•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%), collapse (14.3%) and arthritis (7.8%).


Dr Dan O’Neill, Veterinary Epidemiologist and VetCompass™ 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.”

Dr Nicola Rooney, co-author and lead researcher on Greyhound Welfare Project at the Bristol Veterinary School said “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.”

Article: O'Neill, D.G., Rooney, N.J., Brock, C., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C., Pegram, C. (2019). Greyhounds under general veterinary care in the UK during 2016: demography and common disorders. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 6:4, doi: 10.1186/s40575-019-0072-5

Article details

  • Date
  • 05 June 2019
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals