Caring for your Greyhound

Welcome to the Greyhound family.  Below are topics for review as a greyhound owner.


The Adjustment Period
Recognizing the adjustment period and successfully managing it, is a very important part of any Racing Greyhound adoption. It must be remembered that becoming a pet involves a dramatic change in routine which can be stressful for a Greyhound, and he must be given time to adjust to his new surroundings. In this regard, a quiet Greyhound may be fretful, a good eater reluctant to eat, a perfectly housebroken Greyhound may have an accident. Give your pet time to settle in and don’t worry about any odd behavior during the first few weeks. Your love, patience and understanding will help your Greyhound through this adjustment period which usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Greyhounds are friendly, affectionate dogs who thrive on attention and human companionship and make terrific pets once they get used to their new homes. Raised with their littermates, where they competed for affection, Greyhounds love becoming the center of attention as pets.


Your Greyhound has been housed in a large crate in his trainer’s kennel. He is used to being put outside in a fenced-in pen to relieve himself four times a day. He may be used to getting up early (about 6 am) to be taken outside. To avoid accidents in the house, we recommend that you take him outside as soon as he gets up. You can gradually get him used to sleeping later.

If your dog has an accident in the house, a verbal reprimand should usually suffice ‘ then take him outside and praise him when he relieves himself. Do hot hit your dog or put his nose in the ‘accident’ as your dog will respond more quickly and more positively to kindness. Clean the spot, then rinse the area with a solution of white vinegar and water. This will neutralize the odor and discourage his going in that spot again.

If your dog is a male, he may attempt to lift his leg in a few places around the house to ‘mark his territory’. Watch him carefully as he walks around the house and try to catch him before he does it. If this should happen, it does not usually go on for long, so try to be patient.

For the first few days, it’s a good idea to walk your Greyhound more frequently than you ordinarily would … as often as every couple of hours. This teaches your Greyhound where his new home is and where he’s supposed to ‘go’, helps relieve the tension of being in a strange place and prevents accidents. Also, some Greyhounds are not used to ‘going’ while on a leash and must learn how.



Provide your Greyhound with as soft a bed as possible. Greyhounds not only love comfort, they require it, as they have very little padding on their elbows and can develop a fluid condition if forced to sleep on a hard surface. You will be surprised at how quickly your Greyhound becomes attached to you, and what a difference your presence makes to him. Do not shut your Greyhound in a separate room to sleep ‘ he will much prefer to sleep in the same room with you (in the same bed, if you let him!). He’ll feel more secure and is less likely to cry or cause damage.



Greyhounds are extremely sensitive animals who cannot be disciplined roughly. A stern tone of voice should be all that is needed to keep your Greyhound off the sofa or bed if you do not want him there. The wrong disciplinary tactics will only teach your dog to be afraid of you.
Other Pets
Your Greyhound should get along well with other dogs as he has had lots of ‘socialization’ experience in the racing kennel. Take care, however, to watch them carefully at first as the ‘old dog’ may be jealous of the newcomer. Always separate your dogs when you feed them. Dogs can get very feisty over food. Many of our Greyhounds live in homes with cats and get along well with them. They should, however, be introduced carefully. When introducing your Greyhound to your cat, put the dog’s muzzle on him. Then put them in the same room and allow them to get acquainted. Don’t push it and don’t be overly concerned. If the dog chases the cat, the cat will probably swat him, and the dog will learn he’s not dealing with a ‘bunny’. When the dog no longer chases the cat, take the muzzle off.



Your Greyhound has never had to go up or down flights of stairs. He may find them intimidating at first. He will learn, but you must be patient with him. If you encounter a problem, start by carrying him almost to the top of the stairs. Then put him down and allow him to climb the last few steps. Gradually increase the number of steps he climbs. Reverse the procedure for downstairs. Do not push him ‘ if frightened, he may try to jump all the way down the stairs and get seriously hurt.


Proper equipment made especially for the Greyhound will provide for the safety and well-being for your dog. (1) an inexpensive 3/4″ flat, webbed buckle collar for your dog’s ID’s to be worn at all times ‘ this type of collar prevents hair loss on the from of the neck; and (2) an outer walking collar/leash featuring a ‘martingale’ closure. Martingale lead sets come in one-piece and two-piece configurations. Warning: with the two-piece detachable lead set, we do not recommend keeping the collar portion only on your dog. We have seen incidences where dogs can get hooked on a kitchen cabinet with the possibility of getting choked. Again – these are safe walking sets. They must be sized and used properly. A third safe alternative would be an adjustable harness. The retractable leashes are not recommended as these leashes do not provide enough control should your dog spot something interesting. Never use a chain choke on a Greyhound. You can damage his windpipe.

Never tie your Greyhound outside on a rope, chain or ‘runner’. Greyhounds are not used to being tied, can get tangled up and injure themselves, and will pull, wiggle or chew their way out. They can also snap their necks at the end if they decide to give chase.


In retirement, a Greyhound’s exercise needs are no different than any other dogs. Your Greyhound should be taken on three to four short walks daily on a regular schedule so he can relieve himself, and taken to a fenced-in yard or a safe enclosed dog park every once in a while so he can romp and gallop at will. It helps during the initial adjustment period to keep your Greyhound well exercised to work off his tension and nervous energy.

Greyhounds can become jogging companions once they learn to adjust their stride to yours. Surprisingly, Greyhounds who regularly jog with their owners need to build up their stamina for the task. Summer’s heat and winter’s salt can injure his pads, however. Keep this in mind when choosing a place to jog with your dog. If your Greyhound does any strenuous running, give him a chance to relieve himself afterwards and again about an hour later to prevent kidney tie-up.

NEVER take your Greyhound outside without his leash on. He may become confused and run away, or he may chase a cat or other small animal. He does not know about traffic and, if permitted off leash, is likely to run into the street and be hit by a car. Your dog is a sight hound, which means he hunts ‘by sighting on’ to an animal, not scenting it. He can see for a distance of half a mile and can run at forty miles per hour. If he sees the neighbor’s cat (or squirrel or rabbit) in the distance, he will not only chase it, he will probably catch it!


Racing Greyhounds prefer plush toys, i.e., the fake lamb’s wool toys at pet stores are ideal. If giving a human toy to your Greyhound, make sure any decorations that can be swallowed have been removed. Greyhounds will also go through ‘stages’ of preference, i.e., suddenly they’ll prefer squeaky rubber toys and play only with them. Many Greyhounds do not respond with curiosity to balls.

Feeding schedule

Greyhounds should be fed (most ideally) twice a day at the same time every day, or once a day (with a small treat in the morning) if everyone in the household works. They will tend to ‘potty the meal before’ 5 to 10 minutes after eating and then about twelve hours after eating, so plan mealtime accordingly. (Don’t feed at 5 pm unless you want to get up at 5 am.) If someone is home all day to let them out, you can also consider “free feeding”, which means there is food available at all times. Eating small portions periodically throughout the day will reduce the risk of bloat, a dangerous flipping of the stomach which will result in death if not treated immediately. To reduce the risk of bloat, never let your greyhound eat or drink a large amount an hour before or after exercise. Avoid giving ‘treats’ as these will turn your Greyhound into a beggar and a finicky eater. A milk bone given at the same time every day is OK. Keep fresh water available at all times.


Choosing a dog food
Unfortunately, most racers are fed ‘4-D meat’ (that is, meat rejected by the USDA that is unfit for human consumption). Samples tested a few years back a several racetracks showed serious contamination in all test samples. This cheap source of protein can cause life-long sensitivity in the Greyhound digestive system. Reputable rescue groups who place Greyhounds will suggest feeding a lamb and rice formula dry kibble. There are several brands out on the market. Many groups like Nutro Natural Choice Lamb & Rice, Iam’s Lamb & Rice or Nature’s recipe Lamb & Rice formulas. The ultimate chooser of the correct brand will be your Greyhound. If your Greyhound is on something else, make the switch gradually. If he is on a particular brand and has excessive gas or a consistently loose stool, by all means, switch to another brand until you hit on the right one. (NOTE: loose stool signals worms ‘ make sure you rule this condition out.) In any event, protein content in a Retire Racing Greyhound should not exceed 21% to 22%. Feeding in excess of recommended protein levels long term can cause kidney dysfunction later in life.


Pet Guard (garlic and yeast chewable tablets) for natural flea protection (fleas don’t like the taste of the non-odorous garlic in the skin of a dog taking this supplement). Pet Guard contains other beneficial vitamins for your pet’s health and well being. There are now other products similar to Pet Guard that contain similar ingredients; check the labels.

Vitamin E: liquid – 5 to 10 drops in food per day. This can be obtained at any health food store, and it’s an anti-oxidant. Increases your dog’s energy level (beneficial for older dogs). Can be used topically for dry elbows, pressure points, and common seen ‘bald behinds’ (kennel cage rub) to stimulate new hair growth.

Vitamin C: Sodium Ascorbate (powder) only. One quarter teaspoon in your dog’s water. Good for stress and fights infection. (Do not use other common forms of Vitamin C, for example, Ascorbic Acid, because it is too harsh on a dog’s stomach.)


Dog Bones
The safest, longest lasting, most economical bone is the ‘beef shank bone’ without the knuckle. Obtained from a butcher and cut to approximately 8′ long. Boil the bone for 10 minutes to get the blood off of it. Give to your dog in the kitchen until he polishes it the first day. After that, the bone should be clean enough to be carried around the rest of the house. This type of bone will last a long time. If the ends get sharp, cut the ends off with a hand saw. We do not recommend rawhide bones without supervision. Ingesting too many broken-off pieces can cause an intestinal blockage.


There are four points to grooming a dog: coat, ears, nails and teeth. Greyhounds are short-haired dogs that shed little. Frequent brushing will eliminate shedding. Ears can be cleaned with a Q-tip and mineral oil. Nails can be trimmed at home or by your vet. It is very important that your Greyhound’s teeth be kept clean, as plaque build-up will result in a gum infection. If plaque is built up on your Greyhound’s teeth, that the teeth scaled (you can buy a tooth scaler or have your vet do it). After that, daily brushing with a dog toothpaste and toothbrush will keep your Greyhound’s teeth clean. For dry, flaky skin, try vitamin E liquid in your Greyhound’s food (5 to 10 drops). Vitamin E can also be used topically for dry elbows and pressure points.

Vet care

Your Greyhound should start on heartworm preventative pills immediately after adoption. DO NOT let your vet give them the six month Pro-Heart shot. Also, a followup stool check for any other lingering worm conditions should be done. If a worm condition is persistent despite treatment, tell your vet to automatically treat for ‘Giardia’ worms (common in Racing Greyhounds but uncommon in the general dog population).

Do a stool check twice a year.

DO NOT use a flea collar or internal flea preventative pill on your Greyhound. Frontline can be used (check with your vet if he approves Frontline Plus for use on Greyhounds).

Greyhounds require only one-fifth of the anesthesia that would be used on another dog of the same size. This is because they are lacking in certain enzymes with break down the anesthetic in their systems. It is very important that your vet know this, as an overdose can be fatal.