An all too common Greyhound Story
When I was at Vet school, I remember one of my professors saying, “there are dogs and there are greyhounds and greyhounds are not dogs”. As I spent more and more time with these ‘not dogs’ at home and in Vet School, I realised this to be true indeed!
Greyhounds are very different to your standard dogs, they have different ranges for their blood parameters, they never rupture their cruciate ligaments, they will break a leg and not cry ….but you cut their nails and they will let out the famous greyhound shriek of death! They can run at 60kmph for 30 seconds and then sleep for 20 hours a day….. They have terrible dental health and bald thighs and they need special anaesthetic protocols. I can go on and on but let’s cut to the chase of this article; one other thing that differentiates Greyhounds from other dogs is their thin skin and this leads to a very peculiar condition in greyhounds referred to as “Grit in Pad”.
Grit in Pad is a uniquely Greyhound occurrence.
An unsuspecting greyhound walks over a small pebble or a microscopic piece of glass and this glass or pebble (or Grit as we like to call it), gets embedded in the pad and slowly with time, makes its way into the fat of the pad. This microscopic piece of foreign material causes a lot of pain and the greyhound starts to limp. The key historical description from owners is that the greyhound is ok when walking on soft surfaces such as grass, but is quite lame when walking on hard and uneven surfaces. As a greyhound vet when I hear this I always think ‘Grit in Pad or Corns’ (another greyhound peculiarity).
Unfortunately, one of our patients recently had this grit in pad problem. Slim is a beautiful, 34kg brindle boy who came is extremely sore in his hind limb. He could barely put his foot down even in grass the poor thing. He limped into the clinic on three feet and I brought him through to my consult room and gave him a through physical examination. On squeezing his paw pads from the sides, he let out that iconic greyhound shriek of death! Right then I knew that it was not his hips or knee or ankle, the problem was in his pad. Since we could not see a corn the most likely culprit was Grit in Pad.
To confirm my suspicion, we took X-rays of his affected pad and lo and behold, as expected we found some foreign material in his pad. He was booked in for surgery the very next day. I must at this point say that finding a grain of sand in a greyhound’s paw is like looking for a needle in a haystack! The only help a veterinarian has is two X-rays to triangulate the location of this needle so we don’t hack into the haystack.
I never know how long it will take me to find the Grit in a Greyhound’s pad. Sometimes its minutes if we are lucky and sometimes it can be hours. In Slims case we were able to find a piece of Grit quite easily, we then took him back to X-ray and ……. found that there was still more Grit in the pad! Bugger. After some effort we found the second piece of Grit (it was so tiny!!) and confirmed there was no more pieces with an X-ray.
His pad was stitched up and bandaged for three weeks. Slim has now completely recovered and wears hot pink booties when going out for a walk to protect him from further grit in pad. We wish Slim a speedy recovery and hope that we never see him for this condition again and he will be protected by his hot pink booties!