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Greyhounds are pretty special dogs, considering that they were selectively bred over several thousands of years as hunters, sprinting over vast desert lands. 

Their area of specialty in particular has been accompanying humans over long distances and  dashing after hares or rabbits.

It goes without saying that this required several specialized traits such as aerodynamic bodies characterized by long legs flexible backs and a deep chest to accommodate the larger than normal heart. 

On top of this, greyhounds, like many sighthounds are blessed with a superior sense of vision, allowing them a wide field of view so to easily detect predators on the horizon.

It's therefore not surprising that, along with all these specialized traits, greyhounds are also equipped with several other unique characteristics involving their blood.

Most likely, their long history as they're believed to be one of the original groups of dogs to be selectively bred by humans must have payed a role in the development of such physiological idiosyncrasies.

A Result of Athleticism

There is suspicion that a Greyhound's unique blood is the result of selective breeding for athleticism.

Such selective pressure for obtaining a dog build for speed, has yielded bodies built for higher oxygen-carrying capacity, leading to several changes non seen in other types of dogs other than sighthounds. 

Out of The Range Results

Veterinarians have been aware of the fact that greyhounds tend to have "out of the norm" results when it comes to their bloodwork, for quite some time. 

In particular, greyhounds  tend to have higher packed cell volumes (PCV), red blood cell (RBC) counts, creatinine, and higher hemoglobin concentrations compared to other dog breeds. 

Other abnormalities include low white blood cell (WBC) counts, with low lymphocyte, neutrophil, and monocyte counts and also low platelet counts.

Not to mention abnormal granulation in eosinophils and low plasma or serum protein concentrations. 

Did you know? Female greyhounds are also known for having higher blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Elevated BUN along with higher levels of creatinine may lead to a misdiagnosis of early kidney problems. 

Low Thyroid Levels 

Greyhounds are also known for having also lower thyroid hormone concentrations compared to other dog breeds.

To further compound things, greyhounds may exhibit several signs that mimic low thyroid levels, such as cold intolerance, shy temperaments and hair loss by their hind legs.

The Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health at Michigan State University is known for running  complete thyroid panels which are then reviewed by veterinary endocrinologists with deep knowledge of a greyhound's normal levels of thyroid hormones.

Greyhounds make great universal blood donors courtesy of many of them presenting with the DEA 1.1 blood type. 

Greyhounds make great universal blood donors courtesy of many of them presenting with the DEA 1.1 blood type. 

Great Blood Donors

Did you know? Greyhounds can be a great source of blood.

Just as it happens in people, dogs can donate blood to help sick and injured dogs, who need it badly.

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Greyhounds in particular make great blood donors courtesy of many of them presenting with the DEA 1.1 blood type, which is the blood type of universal donors.

 This means that greyhound blood can be used to treat nearly any dog.

On top of this, their lean bodies along with their prominent veins makes blood collection a rather effortless affair.

 Anesthesia Complications

As much as being universal donors sounds like a good thing, there are some prices to pay from having special blood.

One of them is that they require different protocols when it comes to the use of anesthetics.

This is because their higher packed cell volume combined with their low Total Protein negatively impacts plasma concentrations of certain anesthetic drugs. 

On top of this, these unusual values can make the interpretation of preanesthetic blood work more complicated to interpret.

Not to mention, their lower serum albumin concentrations may lead to them being subjected to an  increased effect of anesthetics which are highly protein bound.

Did you know? Like thoroughbred racehorses, greyhounds are prone to being nervous and stressed, especially when hospitalized, manifesting the canine version of 'white coat syndrome."

Greyhound Bleeders

On top of some complications these dogs may encounter when undergoing anesthesia, greyhound may also be prone to complications after a surgical procedure is over.

The term "greyhound bleeders" was coined to depict the phenomenon where some greyhounds start bleeding spontaneously or as a result of minor trauma following simple surgical procedures. 

The delayed-onset bleeding tends to manifest as an area of extensive bruising extending from the surgical site.

According to a survey filled out by 30 veterinarians involved with rescues housing retired greyhounds, twenty vets reported noticing this phenomenon. 

The consensus was that 10 to 15 percent of greyhounds undergoing surgery bleed profusely within 1 to 4 days following simple procedures such spays, neuters, dewclaw removals and laparotomies. 

Since greyhounds are prone to bone cancer, leg amputations are not uncommon. Such amputations carry a greater risk for spontaneous bleeding.

Sadly, cases of severe bleeding often necessitate a blood transfusion to save the animal's life. 

The underlying cause for this delayed onset spontaneous bleeding has been attributed to weaker clot strength, due to an abnormality known as enhanced fibrinolytic activity.

 Veterinarians may administer antifibrinolytic medications in hopes of preventing problems, but despite their use, there may still be chances for delayed bleeding in certain greyhounds.

References:

  • Idiosyncrasies in greyhounds that can affect their medical care ,August 1, 2005 William E. Feeman III, DVM
  • Anesthesia of the Sighthound, Michael H. Court
  • Breed-Specific Anesthesia, Stephanie Krein, DVM, & Lois A. Wetmore, DVM, ScD, DACVA Tufts University
  • Breed Specific Anesthesia (focusing on brachycephalic and sighthound breeds) Tasha McNerney BS, CVT, CVPP, VTS (Anes.)
  • Why Do Greyhounds Bleed? C. Guillermo Couto, DVM
  • Vet Times, Delayed postoperative bleeding in greyhounds, Fui Yap, Adrien Aertsens

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