Health Awareness for Your Whippet Athlete

Health awareness and preventive health care of your Whippet athlete are important for several reasons: l) to avoid or discover early an injury, illness or condition and spare your Whippet unnecessary discomfort and pain, 2) to save you money in veterinary costs, and 3) to keep your Whippet at it's competitive best. It is in your dog's best interest to avoid or catch a problem before it progresses.

Health awareness and preventive health care involves many aspects. Most important are: timely vaccinations, regular fecal and blood checks, a quality, well balanced diet, regular grooming, regular exercise, a routine examination of the entire dog and just observing your dog. Most dog owners provide their Whippets with the basic items mentioned above. However, if you want to maintain your athlete, it is absolutely necessary to closely observe and examine your Whippet on a regular basis, and in particular, after it races.

A thorough weekly examination of your dog is a wise investment of your time. As you examine your dog, look for any lumps, bruises, cuts, abnormal skin appearance, hot or cold areas or anything unusual. Begin with the head, checking eyes, teeth, gums and breath. Teeth should be clean and white, gums pink and breath not foul. Look in the ears, making sure there is no debris or obvious accumulation of wax. Look down the shoulders and front legs. Examine both sides of the body from above. Look at the topline, and follow to the end of the tail. Then look at each hind leg from the side, and behind. Check the coat carefully, looking for fleas and ticks. Be sure to examine your Whippet's underside, brisket, groin, legs and feet. Pay particular attention to the feet, and examine closely the base of the nails, between toes, and pads. Feet are a likely area for injury in an active dog. Don't let your dog's nails get too long as long nails may cause your dog to walk in an abnormal manner, predisposing it to problems.

In addition to a regular physical examination, observe your Whippet when it is relaxed and standing still as well as just walking around. When standing, your Whippet should distribute it's weight evenly between the four legs and feet. If it appears one leg is being favored, look closely and do a more thorough exam. Look at the feet and toes for anything unusual. Another thing to watch for is the dog's topline, does it appear relaxed and normal or drawn up. When the Whippet walks, is the stride smooth, symmetrical and balanced? It should be in a normal and healthy dog. Look for signs of limping or a stilted gait as a sign to look more closely and do a more thorough exam. If some part looks unusual and you are not sure, compare it to the other side to check for similarity. Remember, if your Whippet is limping, restrict it to leash walking and cage rest until it can be examined by a veterinarian.

One of the best preventive measures is to know your Whippet, its personality and habits. It then becomes easier to determine if it is "not right". Personality changes such as depression, lethargy or crabbiness are ques to an owner to watch closely for signs of illness or injury.

Frequent brushing with a rubber or hair mitt is good for coat condition, as well as the dog's feeling of well?being. The coat should be shiny and smooth. A dull dry coat indicates an unhealthy condition. During a brushing, feel for any unusual lumps, bumps or hot or cold areas. If you find any of these, you need to look more closely.

Regular exercise in the form of walking or frolicking in a secure yard is very important to muscle tone and condition. A Whippet in good condition is going to be happy and be much less likely to injure itself during strenuous activities.

Overall health awareness and preventive health care are wise investments that will provide payback to you and your Whippet many times over.



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