On this page you will find a number of information topics to support the general care of greyhounds in all stages of the industry. For more specific information related to owning, breeding or training a greyhound, please visit the appropriate area of the website.
Racing, breeding and re-homing success are founded in good welfare and quality of life. Good welfare means a greyhound can focus on growth, learning and activities they enjoy; chasing and racing. It also means the physical and behavioural needs of a greyhound are met through good husbandry and care practices. Here you will find information about how to achieve good welfare and what you can do to make sure you greyhounds are physically and mentally healthy for racing.
Greyhound welfare and the Five Freedoms
The Five Freedoms model was first introduced in a 1965 UK Government report on livestock husbandry, known as the Bramble Report. In 1979, the Five Freedoms were formalised in a press statement by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council and, since then, have been adopted world-wide, including here in Australia, as a basic tool for identifying and assessing animal welfare needs.
The Five Freedoms have also been used to help develop a new, more contemporary model known as the Five Domains. The Five Domains model provides a way of identifying and grading welfare. Very simply, the Five Domains compliments the Five Freedoms by distinguishing between all the factors that affect an animal’s welfare and overall mental state; acknowledging that for every physical aspect there may be a linked emotional or subjective experience that also impacts welfare.
Both models recognise animals as sentient beings who can experience a wide range of emotions, just like humans; they consider emotion as equally as important as physical state.
For example, while a premium kibble diet will generally meet the nutritional needs of a racing greyhound, lack of variety in food types for extended periods of time can become repetitive, boring and cause a greyhound to suffer mentally or emotionally. So, a premium dry food diet should be supplemented with bones or put in treat balls or other food puzzles to provide mental stimulation.
ANIMAL WELFARE MODELS
|FIVE FREEDOMS||FIVE DOMAINS|
|Freedom from hunger and thirst||Optimal nutrition|
|Freedom from discomfort||Enriching environment that meets physical and mental needs|
|Freedom from pain, injury and disease||Good health|
|Freedom to express normal behaviour||Normal expression of behaviour|
|Freedom from fear and distress||Good mental state|
The Five Domains model also highlights that simply removing and/or avoiding poor welfare (e.g. hunger) does not lead to good welfare but may only provide at best a neutral state of welfare. This shifts the ideals of the Five Freedoms from reducing or avoiding negative welfare towards a positive welfare state.
Therefore, the Five Domains argues humans need to provide animals with a “life worth living” (a positive quality of life, rather than a neutral or a poor quality of life) through positive experiences, such as things to look forward to (anticipation), excitement, satisfaction and enjoyment (satiation).
To some people, providing a good quality of life also gives justification for human use of animals, such as greyhounds for racing.
Applying the Five Freedoms/Domains to Greyhound Racing
Participants caring for greyhounds on a day to day basis must spend enough time with their greyhounds to be able to recognise even small changes in their behaviour. Changes in behaviour are often the very first sign that something is not quite right with your greyhound. For more information on this take a look at the fact sheet on Abnormal Behaviours in Greyhounds.
For owners who do not undertake the day to day care of their greyhound, it is useful to regularly visit your greyhound and keep in contact with the person caring for them. It is important to understand the feed, handling, care, exercise and treatments are being given to your greyhound and why. Make sure you provide the person caring for your greyhound with enough authority and access to money to ensure they can seek proper treatment for any illnesses or injuries early. Failure to respond quickly may cost more in the long run.
There are some very simple principles to consider when applying the Five Domains or the Five Freedoms models to greyhounds in the racing industry.
- When greyhounds are living in a generally positive welfare state, they have the best chance of having a successful racing career, breeding well and adapting easily to a pet home.
- Greyhounds in a negative welfare stateare less likely to succeed in the racing environment and are more likely to be difficult to re-home.
- Greyhounds in a neutral welfare state may learn to chase and race reasonably well; but are unlikely to reach their maximum racing potential and may be more difficult to re-home.
The figure below shows how the welfare state of a greyhound affects its racing performance.
Remember, good welfare will mean a greyhound can focus on growth, learning and activities they enjoy such as chasing and racing.
TABLE 1. Practical ways to have positive welfare outcomes in your kennels
|A greyhound must …||A greyhound should ….|
|Freedom from hunger and thirst
|Freedom from discomfort
|Freedom from pain, injury and disease
|Freedom to express normal behaviour
|Freedom from fear and distress
Further information: Please visit Greyhound Care and Standards for more information about caring for your greyhounds.
Maintenance of nails, skin and hair
Washing, brushing, nail and foot care are important activities in maintaining the health of a greyhound. A racing greyhound relies on good feet to propel itself around the track so care and attention to the feet and nails is vital to ensuring top performance. Skin and hair play a vital role in protecting the body from foreign substances and infections, help regulate body temperature, and enable the greyhound to respond to heat, cold, touch and pain.
Nail and foot care
Long, untrimmed nails can lead to unusual or abnormal forces being applied to the joints and ligaments of the feet and legs, predisposing the greyhound to an injury that could be career-ending.
Most greyhounds will wear down their nails naturally and will need little care; but if your greyhound has unusual nail wear, or is on soft surfaces most of the time, you may have to trim the greyhound’s nails to ensure that they never get to a length that could cause problems with its stance or gait.
A good set of nail trimmers is an essential tool for anyone involved in the care of greyhounds. There are different styles of nail trimmers including scissor-action and guillotine-action types.
Each toenail contains a ‘quick’ which is a fleshy core filled with blood vessels and nerves. The nail grows down over this quick and extends past it. Knowing where the quick ends is important to ensuring it is not cut during trimming; this can be tricky in greyhounds with black nails. If you do cut the quick, the dog will usually bleed and be in pain. The greyhound will remember this unpleasant experience and may become difficult to trim in the future.
To locate the quick, have a look at the toenails and try to find a white nail. Usually, the quick can be seen through the white nail as a pink area. Any trimming should be done no closer than at least a millimetre before the quick. Using sharp cutters is best as this minimises the crushing effect that some dogs find unpleasant.
If there are no white nails, the safest thing is to do is to turn the nail upside down and have a look at the underside of the nail. You can usually see the nail extending past a central core area, and you can trim this section of the nail away quite safely. As you approach the central core, you can nibble small amounts off at a time until you are happy you have trimmed enough. It is always better to come back in a week and trim off a little more, than to cut into the quick and cause bleeding, and pain.
Some people choose to use a small file instead of cutters. While this can be an option it can create a lot of heat in the nail bed which can damage the sensitive tissue. It is also possible to file the nail too far back, exposing the quick. Be very careful. Filing can help reshape nails that grow unevenly, or those associated with toes that have been damaged (such as ‘sprung’ toes) and where the nail no longer curls towards the ground.
If you have never trimmed a greyhound’s nails before, make sure you get some instruction from an experienced person or veterinarian.
Foot care also includes regularly checking of the area under the feet, between the toes, and around the nail bases to look for injuries associated with sand burn and split webbings. Greyhounds who run on sand tracks are particularly prone to foot injuries, especially to the webbing between the toes and around the nail bed. Other things like grass seeds, warts and corns or torn dew claws or nails are also conditions that you may come across. For more information on how to identify and treat these and other conditions you can find some great information at the following:
The skin of a greyhound is quite delicate and can be affected by a range of conditions and irritations. Many factors can impact the skin including genetics, environment (such as changes in temperature or humidity, insufficient bedding, lying on concrete or rubbing against objects), nutrition or parasites (mites and fleas). Allergies, fungal or bacterial infections and even boredom or anxiety can also influence skin health.
Dandruff, bald thigh syndrome, hair loss or itchiness where your greyhound is scratching, chewing, licking or rubbing an area excessively can indicate your greyhound’s skin is not healthy. The skin may appear red and irritated and there may be rashes and sores. You may also notice localised skin ‘hotspots’, skin wounds, bruises and burns and lumps and bumps. Do not forget the less obvious areas as well. Ears for example are often where you might notice chilblains, fly bites and ear infections which can be extremely painful.
Understanding the cause and treatment requires a discussion with your veterinarian.
The source of skin problems is not always immediately obvious. Fleas for example, can cause a range of skin problems such as dermatitis or infections and sores. The damage caused from even a few flea bites can be quite significant and lead to ongoing skin problems. Flea infestations can travel through a kennel rapidly, so it is important to identify and treat fleas early to interrupt their life cycle. In addition, greyhounds infested with fleas are not allowed to race, so they must be treated or your greyhounds may be scratched on race day. So, it is important to regularly inspect and clean kennel areas and bedding.
For more information on how to identify and treat these and other conditions you can find some great information at the following:
Grooming provides the perfect opportunity to examine your greyhound. Grooming includes brushing your greyhound every few days and washing them regularly. Brushing should be done with a soft brush and should be pleasurable for the greyhound. You will need to work with each greyhound to find their preferred brushing pressure – this may change on different parts of their body.
Brushing offers many benefits:
keeps the greyhound’s skin healthy;
should be relaxing and provide the greyhound with a period of individualised attention from their carer (it can be a form of enrichment if it is a positive experience);
useful the day after a race/trail as part of an inspection for soreness or injuries as a form of relaxation and reward; and
provides the opportunity to inspect your greyhound for fleas, dermatitis, infections, sores and injuries.
It is important to bathe greyhounds regularly, but not too frequently – generally no more than every couple of weeks unless there is a specific problem that needs to be addressed. A dog’s skin produces natural oils that help maintain normal skin health and offer protection. It important to not wash the oils away too frequently and to avoid using shampoos that can strip the oils. Never use human products as dogs have a different skin pH to humans. For greyhounds with more sensitive skin, the use of natural oatmeal-based products can be beneficial.
- handle the greyhound gently throughout the bath – not all greyhounds enjoy the experience;
- let the dog become accustomed to the sound of the water running and check that the water is not too hot or cold;
- go slowly, starting with the water touching the side of the greyhound and work your away around the body; and
- do not spray water around a dog’s ears and face.
It is worth noting, while uncommon, some greyhounds may try to lie down or fall over when they feel the water running over their bodies. If this should happen, turn the water off and allow them to recover. Most will be back to normal within a few minutes.
Ideally, use warm water to bathe your greyhound, ensuring you thoroughly rinse any shampoo from the dog’s coat. If applying a flea rinse, always apply it after the shampoo has been thoroughly rinsed out. Always read and follow the directions on the label.
Once you have finished bathing a greyhound, let them have a ‘shake’, before gently towel drying their coat. Greyhounds are thin skinned, so it is important they are thoroughly dried after a bath to help prevent heat loss and chilling. In winter, it may be necessary to dry your greyhounds using a dryer, or make sure that the damp greyhound is kept in a heated room until it is fully dry.
Be careful putting a coat on a wet greyhound. Sometimes this can lead to skin problems as the surface water cannot evaporate and the skin stays damp or moist for longer. The coat can also become damp and cold. Make sure the dog is completely dry, and then put the coat on to keep it warm.
Hygiene and cleanliness to prevent illness and manage disease
Maintaining clean and hygienic kennels is an essential task. Dirty and soiled living areas promote disease and parasite infestation, which can quickly lead to sick greyhounds. All greyhounds must have their kennel areas, yards and runs cleaned at least once a day.
Daily Cleaning includes:
picking up any faeces and removing uneaten food, chewed bedding, toys etc;
washing away urine and any dirt or other matter stuck to floors or walls or wire with a high-pressure hose or scrubbing with a broom and water before rinsing with a hose;
washing the kennel areas with hospital grade disinfectant or a detergent/disinfectant combination diluted according to the directions in warm or hot water. The kennels areas must be scrubbed (using an old stiff bristled broom) before being thoroughly rinsed with clean water. A household disinfectant is a good alternative for smaller kennels. Just take care to avoid pine-based detergents if there are cats on the property as these detergents can be toxic to cats;
cleaning food and water containers and ensuring water containers contain clean water at all times;
removing soiled bedding and enrichment items and replacing with clean dry bedding and clean enrichment items;
cleaning all items used for feeding (including food preparation areas and utensils) at the end of each feeding time.
At least once a week:
the food bowls, utensils, water containers and enrichment toys need to be disinfected. A dishwasher at minimum temperature of 65°C using dishwasher detergent according to the instructions is a good way of disinfecting plastics and metals;
soiled bedding, soft enrichment toys, and dog rugs should be washed in a washing machine at 65°C with clothes washing detergent, especially if you have a greyhound who has been unwell;
coats and blankets should provide warmth and be dry and vermin free and be be changed and thoroughly cleaned regularly;
disinfecting sleeping areas, kennel runs, and other high traffic areas, is also essential to prevent illness and disease. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning and disinfecting kennels when the greyhound occupying a kennel is changed. To reduce frequency of disinfection, carers should allocate fixed kennels to each greyhound and only change them if there is a specific reason. This also supports good mental health for the greyhound and reduces the spread of disease.
At least TIPS FOR DISINFECTION:
A veterinarian will be able to advise on a suitable disinfectant, but generally any supermarket disinfectant labelled as hospital grade is sufficient for regular disinfection.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any disinfectant or detergent product to avoid accidental poisoning or injury from cleaning residue.
Make sure the greyhounds are removed from an area before disinfection begins and not be returned until the kennel area is dry, clean and bedding has been replaced. If fumes from disinfecting are strong, you may need to wait until this decreases before returning greyhounds to kennels.
When disinfecting during and after an outbreak of a disease, such as kennel cough or gastroenteritis, you may need a stronger or a specific disinfection solution. Speak to your veterinarian for advice. You will also need to disinfect daily to reduce the spread of the disease. For more information click Here
If your facility does not maintain a permanent kennel for each greyhound, you may want to consider changing the housing management. Regular kennel locations can help greyhounds settle better, feel more secure, and reduce the risk of disease spread. That is not to say, however, that greyhounds cannot be moved between kennels; but it is better for greyhound health and property biosecurity not to move greyhounds too often. Look at whether a two, three or four week rotation might be appropriate.
Below is an example of a regular, daily, cleaning protocol that might be useful in your kennels:
|1||First thing in the morning, move the dogs into the empty out yards. If you have large numbers of greyhounds, you may need to move them section by section or row by row.|
|2||Once the greyhounds have been removed, all faeces and other debris such as spilt food, rubbish etc must be picked up. Place the waste in a bucket or bag and dispose of when full.|
|3||Any beds or bedding and kennel mats that are dirty or soiled, or beds that will be used by a new greyhound are to be removed. Any beds remaining in the pens must be stood up to avoid wetting them during cleaning. All removed beds and bedding must be cleaned with cleaning solution or washing in a washing machine at 650C and thoroughly dried before being used again.|
|4||Each kennel should be completely hosed out to remove any faeces or urine remaining – a high pressure hose can reduce water usage. Then spray the cleaning solution evenly onto the floors of each individual kennel and walkways outside each kennel.|
|5||Leave the solution on the floor for a minimum of 10 minutes (or follow manufacturer’s directions), then wash it off with a high-pressure washer if you have one or scrub with a broom and lots of water before rinsing with a hose.|
|6||The kennel walls and wire (including gate) should be cleaned with WATER only, except in the event of a disease outbreak where disinfectant may be required. This must not be done if there is a dog in the adjacent pen, until the dog can be removed.|
|7||Greyhound water containers must be washed in clean water and refilled. Where water containers are heavily soiled, they must be removed and washed using dish washing detergent and hot water.|
|8||Walkways and kennel floors must be squeegeed to remove excess water.|
|9||Replace any beds and bedding that were removed with clean, dry, bedding and beds where appropriate.|
|10||On completion of the cleaning process, any grates and traps in drains need to be removed and washed.|
|11||Return greyhounds to their kennels once floors are dry|
|12||Clean the empty out yards once the greyhounds have been returned to their kennels.|
|13||Faeces should be picked up from the pens and let out yards throughout the day.|
If you notice a greyhound is showing signs of disease, do NOT allow them to mix with other greyhounds or change their kennel/pen until you know the nature of the illness and it is safe to do so.
There will also be times when you will need to pay even more attention to keeping an area clean and hygienic. For example, when a greyhound is whelping. During whelping, it is important the whelping area is cleaned within 24hrs of whelping and the bedding replaced.
Where you have mothers feeding their pups, or groups of pups, cleaning needs to be more frequent as pups tend to toilet more often. After pups are first weaned, they will need to be fed three or four times a day. Therefore, cleaning needs to occur at least three or four times a day. Any time you see soiled or dirty housing, it should be cleaned, regardless of whether that cleaning is ‘scheduled’.
Whelping areas need to be thoroughly disinfected before a pregnant female is placed into the pen and after the female and her puppies leave the whelping pen.
Storage and waste disposal
Of course, hygiene is not just about cleaning, storage and waste disposal are also an important part of day-to-day routines and keeping greyhounds healthy.
Food needs to be stored in such a way that it does not spoil and pests, such as mice, cannot access it. Pests can transmit diseases and can ruin food supplies which is both expensive and unhealthy. Supporting a pest management program is likely to be part of your role.
Dry food must be stored in sealed containers. Fresh meat should be frozen or stored in refrigerators at the appropriate temperatures. Food storage areas should be cleaned and washed daily and fridges and freezers must be kept free from old and spoiled meat and the accumulation of blood etc.
Any waste needs to be taken out and disposed of correctly so as not to attract flies or vermin who can carry disease to the dogs in your care. Speak to the person in charge about which waste bins are most appropriate for food waste and faeces.
Example Disease Prevention – General Cleaning Protocol
Cleaning agent: Household detergent
Cleaning schedule: Once daily
- All greyhounds removed from kennels.
- Remove beds, bedding, toys and food bowls.
- Clean faeces and other debris from pens using a pooper scooper and disposed of in an appropriate waste bin.
- Thoroughly hose out each pen.
- Dilute detergent to the highest concentration for very dirty surfaces and evenly splash onto the floor of each individual kennel and into the walkway. Leave solution to soak for a minimum of 5 minutes. Wash detergent completely away with water – preferably a high-pressure washer.
- Following washing, empty, scrub and refill water buckets with clean water.
- Scrape kennels and walkways to remove excess water.
- Any beds or bedding that are dirty or soiled are removed and immediately replaced with clean bedding
Cleaning agent: Household detergent and bleach
Cleaning schedule: weekly or more often if soiled
- Dilute household detergent to highest concentration and pour on to the mat. Leave for 5-10 minutes. Ensure that the whole mat has been exposed to the sanitiser.
- Rinse/pressure wash both sides of the mat and hang over the fence to air dry.
Bedding and soft furnishings (e.g. mats, blankets)
Blankets, toys, leads, and material collars
Cleaning agent: Laundry Powder and bleach
Cleaning schedule: weekly and when soiled (urine, faeces, mud, vomit, wet)
- Place soiled blankets in the washing machine and fill with half a cup of laundry powder and bleach as per instructions. Wash in hot water.
- Once washed, place the blanket in the dryer.
Kennel equipment (e.g. feed and water bowls, muzzles, leads)
Cleaning agent: Liquid dishwashing detergent
Cleaning schedule: once a day after feeding or whenever the bowl is used
- Wash the bowl in a sink of diluted detergent and warm water.
- Place bowls on a drying rack and let them air dry.
Cleaning agent: detergent, scrubbed using sponge
Cleaning schedule: once a day and when dirty
- Empty dirty water out.
- Scrub inside the water buckets with a brush to remove any build-up of grime on the bottom or sides.
- Refill with fresh water from the hose or tap.
Cleaning agent used: Household detergent
Cleaning schedule: after use
- Dilute household detergent to highest concentration in a bucket with warm water.
- Place the muzzles in the sink/bucket and scrub with a cleaning cloth to remove any dirt, grime etc.
- Let the muzzles soak for approximately 10-20 minutes.
- Remove and hang to drip dry, then store away in the maintenance shed.
Cleaning agent: Kennel sanitiser or bleach
Cleaning schedule: after use
- Leave in a pre-prepared bucket of diluted sanitiser solution/bleach after use.
- New water and sanitiser solution will be changed every day.
Transport vehicles and trailers
Cleaning agent: Household detergent and bleach
Cleaning schedule: weekly depending on level of use.
- Remove all mats and bedding.
- Dilute detergent in a bucket of hot water.
- Using a soft wet cloth, wipe the inside of the trailer bay (floor, walls and wire) and scrub off any dried dirt, faeces, mud etc.
- In the event the kennel is heavily soiled then the pressure washer may need to be used to clean the trailer initially.
- Using a cloth with detergent solution, wipe/scrub outside of trailer paying attention to the doors, handles, outside walls, front and back panels and roof.
- Hose the inside and outside of the trailer.
- Let the trailer air dry or wipe dry with a towel.
- Place clean fresh mats into cleaned bays ready for next use.
Back of Van
- Remove all mats and bedding.
- Dilute detergent in a bucket of hot water.
- Using a soft wet cloth, wipe the inside of the van bay (floor, walls and wire) and scrub off any dried dirt, faeces, mud etc.
- Let the van air dry or wipe dry with a towel.
- Place clean fresh mats and bedding ready for next use.
Passenger part of Van/Cars
- Remove all mats
- Using a soft wet cloth, wipe the inside of the compartment
- Dilute detergent in a spray bottle with hot water and spray within the van
- Let the area air dry or wipe dry with a towel