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By Helen Clarke, 3 Counties Canine Massage Therapy
About 80 years ago the first experiments in training greyhounds to chase an
artificial hare, developed into the spectator sport of greyhound racing, with 5 or 6
greyhounds pursuing a mechanically driven hare anti-clockwise around a track in
The greyhound commences his/her career at 15 months of age and after running
introductory trials around a track, will commence regular racing. The speed
achieved is between 35-38mph and races are run over all distances from 200 to
1000 metres, with there being a similar variation in ability to sprint or stay long
distances as in human or equine athletes.
There are some important anatomical and physiological points to
1. Two thirds of the body is carried on the front limbs, one third on the hind
limbs. This forward gravity effect aids acceleration.
2. Muscles on the hind limb are larger and thus produce more power and
3. The forelimbs have 80% steering function, 20% speed, with an important
weight bearing and shock absorbing function.
4. Most limb extension is immediately prior to weight bearing, most flexion
when the limb is in the air. Therefore the extensor muscles are stronger than
5. In addition to flexors and extensors, abductors and adductors contribute to
limb movement, a complex interaction of a number of different muscles.
1. Speed into the bend. Some, especially young greyhounds, are so fast during
the 80-100metre race to the first bend and are either forced to check or
2. Structure of the track. The average track has two long straights of 80-100
metres and two bends, making a total circuit of 380-500 metres.
3. The track surface. Is the going soft, good, hard?
4. Bitches can be affected by hormonal factors. During the 11 weeks after a
bitch has been in season, progesterone and prolactin rise in the blood
stream even if no mating has occurred. This can affect collagen in tendons
and ligaments. There is therefore a marked incidence of lameness in bitches
returning after their traditional 11 weeks post seasonal rest during which
they do not race. However, many bitches will have their seasons suppressed
with the equivalent of the contraceptive pill.
5. Training. As with all other athletes, the maintenance of ‘form’ is associated
with the knowledge of the individual’s dietary requirements and need for
Toes and feet. Torn collateral ligaments; sub luxations (dislocation) and fractures of
metacarpals/metatarsals; injured superficial digital flexor tendons.
The carpal (wrist) joint. Injury to the wrist is the most common cause of early
retirement. The most common fracture is that of the right accessory carpal bone.
Arthritis is a common sequel to wrist injuries.
The hock. The hock is made up of 7 bones and fracture of the central tarsal (usually
in the right hock) is often accompanied by fracture of one or more of the other
Shoulder and elbow: Brachiocephalicus, Supraspinatus (extends shoulder),
Infraspinatus, Deltoid (flexes and abducts the shoulder), Triceps (extends elbow),
Hind limb: Biceps femoris (extends the hip), Semitendinosus (extends the hip),
Middle Gluteal (extends the hip and abducts the hip), Pectineus (adducts the hip),
Gracilis (adducts the hip and extends the hock – the ‘0 to 60 mph muscle’), Tensor
Facia Lata (flexes and stabilizes the hip and extends the stifle), Quadraceps femoris
(extends the stifle), Gastrocnemius (extends the tarsus and flexes the stifle).
Fascia injuries: Fascia can ‘pop’. When a dog is static, fascia takes on the shape
of that position; when there is a sudden explosive action, the fascia hasn’t time to
When a racing greyhound retires, the lucky ones get re homed into a domestic
environment and their activities of daily living change enormously. They are now
able to wander freely around the house/garden, go up and down stairs, on and off
the sofa, walk for longer on a regular basis and whatever else you choose to do with
them! Therefore the dog will be coping with not only old injuries from their racing
life, but also new accumulated injuries from their new home environment!
Look at their new environment and make it as easy as possible eg: Raised
When training don’t force your dog to do something they are uncomfortable
eg: many greyhounds are reluctant to sit due to the length of the spine
Correct Bedding eg: NOT curved plastic basket
Check their feeding and supplementation, they should be starting a
glucosamine supplement now! They should also be given Omega 3 Oil to
help skin and coat condition as well their nervous system
Water – when being kennelled many dogs don’t have full access to water-
encourage your greyhound to drink more or wet the food. This will help
hydrate their muscles and fascia which can help to reduce stiffness
Appropriate exercise – NEVER let your greyhound run without warming them
up first, this is prime for re-tearing old injuries; muscle is more prone to
Attend a Canine Massage workshop and learn how to improve your dogs
comfort levels at home – see www.k9massage.co.uk
Book Your Dogs Appointment with a Guild Member Canine Massage
Poulter. D: ‘Greyhound injuries’ (1990)
‘Injuries in Racing greyhounds’: A report to the Massachusetts General Court (2004)
Gillette. R: ‘Canine Sports Medicine Overview’ (2002)
Evans, H., & de Lahunta, A. (2010). Guide to the Dissection of the Dog. Missouri: Saunders Elsevier.
Medication www. .FET yourezmeds.com This list updated September 1, 2007. Drugs are added and deleted sporadically, so use this list as a reference only. This list has all the drugs and dosages that are available through patient assistance programs, sorted alphabetically by brand name. The generic name is in parentheses. Drugs in bold are also available to Part
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