Greyhounds are different…

We see a lot of greyhounds at Vetrica, and in many ways they are very different from other dog breeds, quite apart from being able to run faster than them.

Among other things, they have a much lower white blood cell count, a much higher red blood cell count (which makes them excellent blood donors), and a naturally very low level of thyroid hormone.

One of the more common problems that we see in greyhounds, and only greyhounds, are corns. Corns are areas of hard, dry skin on the foot pad, which makes it very painful for the dog to bear any weight on the affected toe. It’s a bit like having a stone in your shoe.

There are a number of treatments available. In most cases creams, ointments, or plasters applied to the corn are not effective. Some vets like to remove them surgically, but in 50% of cases they will recur by 6 months, and in 75% of cases by 12 months, so it’s actually relatively uncommon that this gives a permanent resolution.

After x-raying the pad to make sure there is no foreign material buried under the corn, I like to cut the corn out, in a process known as hulling. Most greyhounds will lye quite well for this to be performed. It doesn’t bleed, or require anaesthetic, and can be performed during an ordinary consultation. Some dogs will be a little sore for a day or two after this, but after that, most feel a lot better. As with surgical removal, recurrence is very common, at which point we can hull them again. As this doesn’t require sedation or anaesthesia, repeat procedures are much less problematic than surgical removal. After hulling the corn, I also like to cut the nail on the affected toe quite short. This keeps pressure off the pad, and increases overall comfort.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes the corn continues to cause marked pain and lameness. In these cases we can, and probably should remove the affected toe. In the majority of patients, this is the end of the problem for good. However, very occasionally, another corn develops on an adjacent toe, for which removal of the toe is not an option. Toe amputation is also not an option for greyhounds that have multiple corns on multiple feet, and I have seen dogs with corns on more than one pad on all four feet.

Retired racing greyhounds also make great family pets. Go check out the nice people at the Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary.