Italian Greyhound Health Problems and Raising an Italian Greyhound Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016
The most common health problems in Italian Greyhounds:
The Italian Greyhound Club conducted a health survey that included 2274 dogs. They report that the most common health problem in Italian Greyhounds is dental disease, because Italian Greyhounds have relatively large teeth that don't fit well into their narrow mouth. To make matters worse, some lines of Italian Greyhounds inherit soft, pointy, yellowish teeth that are simply prone to "going bad".
So if you don't choose an IG puppy from lines with good teeth, provide bones to gnaw on, and keep his teeth scrupulously clean by regular brushing, he will probably develop gum disease and begin losing his front incisors at an early age.
The most serious eye diseases in Italian Greyhounds are cataracts (appearing before 3 years old and often progressing to blindness) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (appearing at 3-4 years old and progressing to blindness).
An eye disease called vitreous degeneration is also common in Italian Greyhounds. The vitreous is a clear jelly-like material within the eye that helps support the retina and give shape to the eye. If the vitreous develops an inflammation, it may become cloudy or liquefied, and vision may be impaired or lost. Vitreous degeneration may also predispose a dog to other eye diseases (retinal dysplasia, lens luxation, or glaucoma).
Epilepsy is a serious concern in the breed.
The most common skin diseases are color dilution alopecia (in blue and fawn Italian Greyhounds), demodectic mange, and allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma).
Some Italian Greyhounds have pattern baldness, a gradual thinning or loss of hair around their temples and ears and under their neck and stomach. It's not itchy and the skin and coat are otherwise normal. Since it's a cosmetic condition, there's no treatment required other than adding supplements that are good for the skin and coat, such as fatty acids (The Missing Link).
The most common orthopedic disease in Italian Greyhounds is luxating patella (loose knees). Legg-Calve-Perthes disease can occur, but hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are extremely rare.
Other health issues that occur in this breed include heart disease (especially persistent right aortic arch), hypothyroidism, blood-clotting disease (von Willebrand's), deafness (inherited deafness in puppies with a lot of white on their head), liver shunt, and occasionally hypoglycemia.
Italian Greyhounds are prone to harmless episodes of reverse sneezing.
Because of their low body fat, all sighthounds are extra sensitive to anesthetics and require an experienced vet who will follow a special Greyhound Anesthesia Protocol.
Sighthounds REQUIRE open space to run. A sighthound who can't stretch his legs and gallop off-leash will not develop proper muscle tone for good health.
Adult Italian Greyhounds are not as fragile as they look, but musculoskeletal injuries (fractures, pulled muscles or ligaments, broken toes, paw injuries, etc.) are common when slender sighthounds race about. The long slender legs of puppies and adolescents are frequently fractured due to their reckless leaping. Some families of IGs inherit bones that are especially brittle and prone to breakage.
Finally, the club health survey found that the average lifespan of this breed is 9 years – surprisingly low for a small dog. Since many IGs live beyond age 9, that means many others are dying younger than 9 – mostly from accidents.
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Italian Greyhound?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Italian Greyhounds today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find an Italian Greyhound puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Italian Greyhound puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Italian Greyhound puppy or adult dog:
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Copyright © 2000-2016 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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