Greyhounds – Name This Painful Degenerative Disease

This blog post is dedicated to Sadie and Divot, two wonderful greyhounds who were adopted from The Houston Gulf Greyhound Park.  Sadie, the brindle (multi-colored), is a shy girl.  She prefers to sleep in small places that probably remind her of a kennel.  Divot, the dark one, is the exact opposite.  She loves to lay in her daddy’s lap while he watches TV.  Both of these fun-loving girls like to sleep on the bed.    

Middle age to older greyhounds are prone to a disease characterized by pain . . . pain when the tail is lifted, pain in their back legs and pain when their lower back is touched.  In severe cases, the dog may lose control of their bowel or bladder.  Fortunately neither Sadie nor Divot suffer from this condition.  They appear because they are gorgeous representatives of the breed.  Since I’ve posted this under “You Make The Diagnosis”, I ask you to name the disease:



Degenerative lumbosacral stenosis is a chronic disease caused by compression of the nerve roots as they pass through the lumbosacral junction.  As the dog ages, degenerative changes cause the discs to bulge and pinch the nerve roots.  A small amount of compression causes pain.  Severe compression leads to paralysis. 

The goal of treatment is to reduce compression of the nerves.  If the disease is mild, I often treat with anti-inflammatories and medicine to control pain.  If the disease is severe, i.e., the dog is losing control of its back legs, I recommend surgical removal of the disc.  

As you can see from the pictures, both Sadie and Divot are doing well off the track.  Greyhounds are a great breed and rescued greyhounds from the track are often so grateful.  It is important prior to bringing a greyhound into your life to consider where they will get to run free as these dogs love to run.  Check with a greyhound rescue group in your area as they may have an organized gathering.  Next to my former clinic in Minnesota, several greyhound owners would meet regularly to let their dogs run inside the high school baseball field.  The dogs went nuts!  

Another interesting fact about greyhounds is that they are often used by veterinarians as blood donors.  They are nice to work with and have veins that are easy to see and stick for the donation!      

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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