Most common health problems in Italian Greyhounds, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Italian Greyhound

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Italian Greyhound, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Italian Greyhound already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Italian Greyhound dog breed

Italian Greyhound Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Italian Greyhound health problems

Because of their low body fat, Italian Greyhounds are extra sensitive to anesthetics and require an experienced vet who will follow a special sighthound anesthesia protocol.

Italian Greyhounds are instinctive chasers, so they're especially vulnerable to being killed by a car. This is not an off-leash breed.

Musculoskeletal injuries (pulled muscles or ligaments, broken toes, paw injuries, etc.) are common when Italian Greyhounds romp, jump, and play. 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.

Dental disease is a serious health issue in Italian Greyhounds. Their large teeth don't fit well into their narrow mouth, and some lines of Italian Greyhounds inherit soft, yellowish teeth that are simply prone to "going bad" at an early age.

Serious eye diseases occur in Italian Greyhounds and can lead to blindness. Epilepsy is a major concern in the breed.

The orthopedic diseases to be worried about are luxating patella (loose knee joints) and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (bad hip joints). Both of these conditions cause pain and lameness and may require expensive surgery.

Skin problems include color dilution alopecia (which causes hair loss) and chronic itchy allergies.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Italian Greyhound have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, loose knee joints (luxating patella), and bad hip joints (Legg-Calve-Perthes), your Italian Greyhound has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Italian Greyhound, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Italian Greyhound puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Italian Greyhound puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Italian Greyhound lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Italian Greyhound
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Italian Greyhound. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Italian Greyhound
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Italian Greyhound. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Italian Greyhound puppy really need? Does your adult Italian Greyhound need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your Italian Greyhound. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Italian Greyhound. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Italian Greyhound health problems

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 and elbow dysplasia are rare.

Other health issues that occur in this breed include heart disease (especially persistent right aortic arch), hypothyroidism, blood-clotting disease (von Willebrand's), inherited deafness, and liver shunt.

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 Sighthound 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.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.