Summer Safety Tips for Hounds

0155banimalAs the summer months are now in full swing, our concerns for our hounds change direction. Instead of ice, snow and winter woes, we have now arrived at the time of year when another set of issues come into play.  Here are a few items we would like to share.

 Bee Stings
Watch out for bee stings!  Yellow jackets can sting several times and still live. Other bees, like honey bees, sting once and die; some wasps and hornets can sting many times as well.  If a hound were to have an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it would only take about 30 seconds to happen.  If you know or suspect your grey may have been stung give Benadryl (one tablet for up to 60 pounds, 2 tablets for over that) and rush them to the vet.
If you know your grey is allergic, ask your vet to prescribe a “bee sting emergency kit” for you to keep at home.

The most important areas of concern are the mouth, eyes and ingestion of a multi-sting bee (they can keep stinging all the way down the esophagus and cause swelling which then cuts off the airway).

 Mulch (and other Interesting Items)
Mulch seems pretty harmless unless you are using the “red cocoa mulch” which was so popular last year. This product is made from the husk of the cocoa tree which is what produces CHOCOLATE. If any of this red mulch is ingested, it acts just like a chocolate candy bar and can cause upset stomachs, seizures and even death.

 Some greyhounds love to eat anything interesting in the garden.  Any type of mulch that is ingested can make a hound sick.  If your hound likes to chew on things out in the yard (grass, plants, acorns, rocks, seed pods, sticks, etc.), you may want to use the kennel muzzle (with a stool cup inside) that you received in your adoption kit.  This will prevent a hound from snacking on items that are not good for the digestion.

 Fertilizer/Weed Killer

We all want beautiful plants and grass. Don’t forget your greyhound(s) when you are working in your yard and garden.  Keep in mind that some lawn care products can be hazardous to your hounds.  If you have a lawn care service, please ask them what types of fertilizers and pest sprays they use.  Most chemicals today are safe for pets, but remember that our hounds have much thinner skin and can get sicker faster if subjected to strong doses of even safe chemicals.  Your hound may not ingest any chemicals directly from your landscape, but a dog licking its paws can unwittingly dose itself with the chemical it walked in.

 Also, be aware of the types of specialized products you are using.  For instance, although some lawn fertilizers are safe, some products used for specific garden applications could mean a dose of poison for a greyhound.  Reports have been published recently of greyhounds dying when they ate snail bait spread around the base of plants in the garden.

 If you don’t use fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers on your yard, you still need to be vigilant if you walk your hound in the neighborhood.  Many people do use these products.  Pay careful attention to this as your dog traverses the neighborhood lawns or grassy areas along curbs.  If you notice any spraying going on, please avoid walking near these areas as lawn chemicals can be transported by wind.

 Garden Tools and Lawn Furniture

This one hurts deeply. Several years ago a friend was cleaning up her yard. She had her wheelbarrow out for the debris she was gathering. She thought it would be nice to have the dogs out in the yard with her. The dogs began playing and suddenly her 10 year old grey streaked by and impaled itself on the handles of her wheelbarrow.  Another adopter last summer lost her greyhound when she ran full speed into the corner of a concrete bench.  Remember that your hounds can reach speeds up to 35-45 MPH in three strides. That speed is enough to turn a harmless tool handle into a death sentence for a greyhound. The same applies to garden tools with points. No matter how careful you are, the possibility is always there.

 Poisonous Plants

Dieffenbachia, philodendron, and other pretty plants are deadly to greyhounds and other pets. If you go to the National Poison Control web site, you can get the entire list of plants that are hazardous to your animals.

 Water Hoses
Seems safe enough, right?  Have you ever felt the water coming out of a hose that sat in the sun for a few hours? It can be hot enough to burn your skin not to mention the tender mouth tissue of any person or animal. Another concern with hoses are the loops can get caught around skinny necks and in trying to get away can be twisted and tighten until the dog literally hangs itself.

 Ice Cold Water/Ice cubes

 For years it was common to give dog’s ice cubes.  At dog shows, breeders and owners sometimes give their dogs ice cubes after coming out of the ring to cool them off; that is, until one dog ate ice cubes and it caused the stomach to twist and the dog died of bloat before it could reach medical treatment.  The dog’s body temperature on the inside was very high and the affect from the ice was the same as giving the dog a drink of water or food before or after running. It produced an atmosphere to allow gas to build up and the intestines twisted. 

 Feeding and Watering
We all have been told not to feed or water our greyhounds or any dog one hour before or one hour after they eat, but it is worth repeating.  Always make sure you dog has access to water when outside on a hot day.

 Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
Do you know the difference? 
This is one of our biggest concerns!  In the spring and summer many of us like to take our hounds with us to outdoor events and parks.  Often, on a hot day, we don’t think of how the heat may be affecting our hounds.  Please take a moment to think about this important topic.

 Heat Stroke is an emergency!  Saliva is thick and tenacious and the dog vomits frequently, fainting or unconsciousness. Rectal temps are high often over 106 degrees. If untreated the dog becomes unsteady, staggers, has diarrhea which is often bloody, becomes weaker.  Brain damage, coma and death can occur.

 Heat Exhaustion:  Excessive panting, skin inside the ears becomes flushed and red, weakness, staggering. If left untreated can become heat stroke


Treatments are the same for both.  DON’T wait for vet treatment; start at once. Cool the dog’s body with cool wet towels or hose the dog with cool water. Apply an ice pack to the dogs head. Remove the dog to a cool place. Continue treatment until your dog’s temperature reaches normal (102-103 degrees). Transport to the vet as soon as the dog’s temperature is stabilized. This is the most dangerous problem we face in summer. Our hounds do not have the body fat or the fur to protect them from the sun’s heat. We must be vigilant.


Greyhounds are not usually great swimmers. Some may be able to paddle around but on the whole they can not swim or float.  There is no body fat to keep them afloat. If you have an in-ground pool, be sure to take your dog into the water with you and show them how to get out. Show them where the steps are located, teach them that if they fall in the deep end they can walk to the shallow end and get out. For those with above-ground pools, you need to have extra vigilance that your ladder is not left down.

 Hot Pavement

Don’t forget, on a hot day, walking your hound on hot pavement may result in blistered paws!  We’ve seen many greyhounds suffer from blistered paws at some of the outdoor greyhound events that take place in the spring and summer months.  If you want to test how hot the pavement is, take off your shoes and stand on the pavement for a moment in your bare feet.  If it’s too hot for you, it is certainly too hot for your greyhound!


Since greyhounds don’t have thick fur to protect their skin from sunburns, many can burn very easily and quickly out in the hot sun.  Watch their ears as well as ears will burn (and blister) quickly before other parts of the body.  A sunburned greyhound will suffer much pain – if you’ve ever had a bad sun burn, you certainly can understand what you hound might be feeling.

 The advice offered here is not designed to frighten you or discourage you from having summer fun with your greyhound.  Just a little attention to all of these warnings will ensure that you have a Greyt Safe Summer!


Do You Have A Plan?

We’ve all been watching, with sadness, the impact the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma has had.  We’ve watched painful images of the losses people in that area have suffered because of this monster storm.   There have also been many stories about what happened when pets were caught up in the mayhem.  Some ended well but many ended with the complete loss or death of beloved pets.

Although we live in a relatively calm part of the country that doesn’t see as many terrible storms as experienced in some regions, the climate has definitely changed over the last decade which has brought with it more intense storms and weather extremes.  We think it’s time to remind our adopters and those who read our blog to make the effort to put in place a disaster plan for keeping your pets safe.  Here are a few suggestions:

Make sure you have identification on your hound.  Many people do not want to keep collars on their hounds in the house.  However, if an emergency happens and your hound gets loose, it will be much harder to reunite you with your dog.  Consider micro chipping or have your hound wear a tag collar with your information on it.

If you live in an area where weather warnings are in progress and you have time, find another safe place for your dog to live until the danger is over.  This is not always possible, but think ahead about where you might be able to go if the need arises.  Remember, most shelters do not permit pets; make sure you have a plan in place if the unthinkable happens.  Make a list of pet-friendly motels, kennels, etc. where you can take your hounds and store it in an accessible location.

Put together an emergency evacuation kit for your hound and keep it in a safe location.  This kit should include a several day’s supply of your dog’s food and treats.  It should also include items like medications (two weeks’ supply), extra collar and leashes, copies of medical records, bottled water and bowl, crate (if necessary) and instructions for taking care of your dog if you have to leave him/her with a care taker.  You might also want to put together a small first aid kit.  By all means keep a copy of your dog’s rabies certificate in a place where it can be accessed.  If your hound gets loose and animal control picks him/her up, you will have to present proof of rabies vaccination to have the dog released to you.  All of these items should be kept where you can access them in a hurry.

If you are forced to leave your hounds at home if you have to evacuate, order an ASPCA  window decal alerting rescue workers that you have pets inside your home.

While we are on the subject of making a plan, have you ever thought of what would happen to your hound(s) if something happened to you and your hounds survive you?  Have you thought of the future and all of the possibilities of what can happen?

 Consider this true story…… a woman in Memphis, Tennessee was murdered by someone she knew. He was someone who had done work around her house so he knew the lay out of her home and knew that, even though she had nine greyhounds, he was not in any danger of being attacked.  He knew that she lived alone with her dogs.  He was caught when a camera captured his image while he was using the woman’s ATM card.

 Five days later, the police found her body in her home. For five days her dogs were without food or water.  The adoption group that she worked with took all of the dogs (which she had adopted) and they were subsequently adopted into other homes.  Fortunately, she was an active member of her greyhound adoption group because if she hadn’t been, all of the dogs would have been removed by authorities and perhaps would never have had a chance to live out the remainder of their lives.

 The lesson here is that we should have a plan in place for someone to take care of our dogs if something happens to us.  Our dogs depend upon us to take care of them.  They cannot take care of themselves.  If you go on a trip and leave them at a kennel, please think about what would happen if you didn’t come back home.  Also, consider what you would do if you ended up hospitalized from an accident or illness and could not get back home.  Who would know that you had a dog at home waiting for you?  Who would take care of your animals while you are sick, incapacitated, etc.

 Please take the time to sit down and work out an emergency plan that will work for you.  One suggestion is to place a card in your wallet next to your driver’s license stating that you have animals at home and to please call the number of a person you designate (and who can be called) to get them.  Work it out with family members, friends, co-workers to take care of your dogs if something happens to you.   Keep this information current.

 Also, if you don’t survive, do you have someone designated who will take your pet?   You should have your designated caregiver call our group to inform us that they are to pick up the dog in the event that we get a call that your pet is alone and we take it back.  Our group would probably be the logical contact if you don’t have another person designated and we would take it and start looking for a home for it.  We need to know if you have other people who will look out for you so that we don’t place a dog that already has a home to go to.  If you prepare a will to include money to care for your dog, don’t leave the money to the dog.  It will be much more difficult to get the legalities sorted out.  Leave money to your designated caregiver to use to take care of your dog.   You can be specific about how the funds are to be spent.

 Also, remember that many adoption groups go out of business.  What would happen if the organization you adopted your greyhound from went out of business?  Our group has taken in many greyhounds from people needing help and the group they adopted the dog from is no longer operating.  Please take the time to think through all the possibilities.

 Life may be going great but we all know that anything can happen at any time.  Please care enough about your dog(s) to make plans in the event of an unforeseen emergency.

 None of us expect that something bad can or will happen to us and this subject is taboo in many homes.  But if you take the time to put together a plan, you will feel better knowing that your beloved pet(s) will be safe if you can’t be there for them.



Tick Disease Overview

This article is reprinted with permission from Owen Johnson, the author.  While Owen is not a veterinarian, he has written an important article that is easy to understand.

What Are They?

There are many things that make the greyhound breed unique among dogs and one of those is the fact that most often they spend the majority of their lives in a state other than the one in which they were born and raised. Most of them spend their first two to five years (or longer) in the states that have dog racing and it seems those states also have something in common: ticks. In fact, some of the racing states are noted for their tick infestations. And ticks like dogs.

When you put together these factors you have a situation that is ripe for high infection rates (over 50% in some areas) in racing greyhounds. Many of the dogs leave the tracks, moving through the adoption process either sick with tick borne diseases (TBD) or carrying them with no noticeable symptoms. Some of these dogs’ careers are ended prematurely because they are sick and cannot run as well as they did before they were stricken. It is important for the greyhound owner or prospective owner to have some understanding of TBD, what they can do, how to test for them and how they are treated.

The two most common TBD’s in greyhounds are ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. The two diseases are different from each other in the actual form of infection but are very similar in most other ways. They both are cyclical, like malaria, with three primary stages. In the early stage (acute) the dog commonly (but not always) becomes quite ill with flu-like symptoms and sometimes unresponsive diarrhea. This may go on for a few weeks or a few months until either the immune system builds up enough antibodies to fight it to a standoff or the dog dies. If the dog survives thanks to a good immune response, the disease will then go into a sort of dormant stage (subclinical), usually with no symptoms showing. This stage may go on for years; in fact the dog might never be sick from it again in its lifetime. However, some dogs will exhibit seemingly unrelated or mysterious problems that can baffle many veterinarians, leading to inconclusive tests, incorrect diagnoses and unsuccessful treatments. And sometimes the symptoms will disappear as mysteriously as they appeared – until the third (chronic) stage. At this time the dog may become seriously ill overnight or gradually, again confusing the veterinarian who is not familiar with these diseases. Usually, the dog dies in this stage and if not (due to treatment at this time), damage may be irreparable. 

Should My Greyhound Be Tested?

Testing for TBD is a simple and relatively painless procedure accomplished with a simple blood draw and laboratory testing. However, the blood sample should be sent to a lab that specializes in these tests if the owner hopes to get accurate results. Protatek Reference Lab in Arizona is the best known and probably the best lab for tick panels (480-545-8499). Your veterinarian can contact the lab for the correct procedure to follow if he or she is not familiar with the testing. The test itself (IFA) consists of searching for and measuring the concentration of antibodies in the blood stream the dog will have developed to fight the foreign proteins present if he has been exposed. The results are measured and reported in titers; normally the higher the concentration (titer number) the more likely the veterinarian is to want to treat the dog. This may be incorrect, though, as the titer number actually represents the dog’s success in manufacturing antibodies; a dog with a stronger immune system might show a higher titer number but be healthier than the dog with the lower number caused by a weaker immune response. And there is NO titer number universally accepted by vets that indicate treatment be given nor do the numbers give anyone an idea of which stage of disease the dog is in at the time. Complicating matters is the fact that inconsistencies in the reading of titers or the technique used can lead to a considerable difference in the number reported. For example, one test may give a titer number of 1:40, considered to be a “negative” reading (minimal exposure, but exposure nonetheless), while another on the same dog, the same day, may show it as high as 1:160 which is seen as indicating a positive result and/or an active infection.  

With either disease being considered, early testing will at least enable the owner to eliminate TBD as a cause of many indeterminate illnesses if the results are negative. (Since the IFA test is measuring antibodies a false negative may result from testing too early – before the immune system has had the opportunity to develop them – so it is a good idea to wait until the dog has been away from racing for about six months.) If the test results are positive but are not followed with treatment, it gives the owner and the veterinarian a known possible cause to eliminate with treatment if a hard-to-diagnose problem should ever occur. A good example of this is a dog with stiffness and pain in the neck or back. If the dog was never tested for TBD or a test showed the dog had been exposed a trial of doxycycline may be advised; if the condition improves there is a good chance it was caused by ehrlichiosis. Treatment with the doxycycline should be continued then for the full course. Prednisone should not be used at this time, as it would confuse the results of the doxy trial.

Should My Greyhound Be Treated?

The answer to this uncertainty is to treat any dog that tests positive, in my view – why wait until your dog is sick and suffering needlessly? The veterinarian in an area not noted for ticks may have to be convinced and if that’s not possible it’s probably a good idea to find a new vet. Especially in the case of babesiosis, many animal doctors are reluctant to treat a dog that isn’t symptomatic and sometimes even one that is. The reason is that the recommended treatment for this disease, Imidocarb, has in the past caused some dogs to suffer serious side effects. But today, with more treatment experience overall, these stories are mostly a thing of the past. Dosages have been adjusted so that side effects are less likely while maintaining the same success rate and early treatment is advantageous since the dog is still strong and in good overall health, thereby minimizing problems of side effects.

 NO advantage is gained by waiting until the dog is obviously ill. For ehrlichiosis the recognized treatment is doxycycline or tetracycline–antibiotics. These are given orally and rarely cause serious side effects.

Another reason for testing a dog and treating one that tests positive is that immuno-suppressant drugs like prednisone can tip the scale in the delicate balance between the dog’s immune system and the disease. Many dogs develop autoimmune diseases and need these drugs to survive while others will receive prednisone as an anti-inflammatory for a myriad of different problems, such as arthritis or skin problems. Many of the symptoms displayed by unrecognized TBD might indicate the use of prednisone to the unsuspecting vet, causing more confusion and worsening the dog’s condition quickly.

There is a well-thought-out theory that exposure to tick borne diseases may contribute to what appears to be a high rate of cancer, especially osteosarcoma, in greyhounds. Considering what we already know about environmental, diet and lifestyle factors affecting the likelihood of various cancers in humans, it stands to reason that the havoc wreaked by TBD’s on a dog’s systems and organs would make it more susceptible, too.

While it seems there have been no definitive studies on this and may never be any, it certainly gives the owner another reason to avoid the long-term damage TBD’s cause. Once treated, the dog will generally never be sick from these diseases unless it is re-infected by being exposed again–a rarity for greyhounds after adoption.

Exposure requires that the infected tick feed on the dog for a day or more so proper care taken in prevention should avoid that. If the dog resides in an area known for ticks or travels to such an area a good flea and tick treatment should be applied and these can be purchased easily from an animal clinic or from better pet supply stores or even online. While it should be noted here that certain flea and tick preventatives should not be used on greyhounds other products are perfectly fine to use. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.

Grapehound Wine Tour

Grapehounds 2011-4The Grapehound Wine Tour® is in its fourth year in Loudoun County, Virginia, and will again be headquartered at Lost Creek Winery near Leesburg. Lost Creek has new owners and new wines!

The weekend begins with vending on Friday morning, May 10th., at Lost Creek Winery. Our organization will be vending at this location for the third year.  Then at 5:00 p.m. the event is moved to the North Gate Vineyards near Purcellville for a welcome party for greyhounds and their owners. The welcome for registered guests features fabulous food pairings and hor d’oeuvres prepared by Gourmet Your Way of Olney, Maryland, as well as tastings of the many delightful wines presented by North Gate Vineyards.

North Gate’s new tasting room is barely two years old and features hardwood floors, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a fifty foot long antique barnwood tasting bar, and beautiful outdoor roofed pavilions. The winery is so modern they actually derive much of their electrical power from a huge array of solar collectors on the roof of their nearly new tasting room.

Vending continues all day Saturday, with dozens of nationally known vendors. Uncle Moe’s Soul Food from Gettysburg, PA, will again be serving delicious entrees for lunch, and wine tasting and wine by the glass will be offered at both Lost Creek Winery and Hidden Brook Winery, next door.

Musical entertainment is planned at Lost Creek Saturday afternoon, the band still to be determined.  Other festivities may include presentations, a very special Blessing of the Hounds by Reverand Susan Roy, Pastor at the U-M Medical Center, and an “ice cream social” with free frozen vanilla yogurt for the hounds.  

One of the major fund raisers for adoption groups is a silent auction to benefit the sponsoring area adoption groups.  Our organization is in charge of the silent auction this year and we can report that there will be many incredible items to bid on.  The silent aution runs Friday and Saturday and closes at  3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Sunday, the event will move to Willowcroft Vineyards, a delightful, rustic barn winery just south of Leesburg, and a new Sunday co-host winery – Quattro Goombas Winery, only about six minutes from Willowcroft – with pizza that people raved about last year, .

Several other wineries to be determined will offer wine tasting in the Leesburg area throughout the weekend, includng some new locations for 2013.

Although pre-registration is now over,  you can still come any time during the event and register at that time.  You do not have to register if you want to come and browse in the large vending tent.  You do not need to be a wine enthusiast to enjoy this event.  Come on out with your hounds and bring a blanket and enjoy the gathering.

We hope that you will attend this greyt event!  For more information and directions, go to our calendar of events on our web site.


Ten Adoption Thoughts

Lest we forget:

My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years.  Any separation from you will be quite painful.

 Give me time to understand what you want from me.

 Allow me to place my trust in you – it is crucial for my well-being.

 Don’t be angry with me for long, and don’t lock me up as punishment.  You have work, your friends, family, and your entertainment.  I have only you.

 Talk to me.  Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when it’s speaking to me.

 Don’t hit me.  Remember that I have teeth but I choose not to bite you.

 Be aware that however you treat me I will not forget it.

 Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me.  Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I’ve been in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak.

 Take care of me when I get old.  You, too, will grow old.

 Stay with me on difficult journeys.  Never say, “I can’t bear to watch it,” or “Let it happen in my absence.”  Everything is easier for me if you are there.