Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club
GREYHOUND TRAINING HEALTH & TIPS
Thank you to the author Tom Meulman for allowing us to publish his work.
Since this has been written, certain things could have changed as far as treatments and substances may be concerned. It would be wise to check with a vet before using any of these suggested methods. Make sure you check before using any information that maybe in these tips. The Ipswich Club, its Committee & Staff accept no responsibility for the following information.
STRESS WHAT IS IT? WHAT DOES IT CAUSE? AND WHY?
To be stressed is to be fatigued and close to breaking point.
Stressed and fatigued metal breaks, and in the biological sense this is also true of the body.
However, because there are so many processes involved in normal body function, a fatigue or breakdown in one or more of these processes, or the excessive stimulation of others, totally throws the whole system out of balance.
As this progresses beyond a certain point, the ability of the body to function normally is reduced and the first thing to go out the window is the ability to perform exercise at a high level.
All body processes are inter-related and depend on enzymes or hormones produced by other body processes.
Which in turn depend on available fuel (food) and also on what functions they have to perform. This controls what levels of enzymes and hormones are produced, which governs body processes that trigger other body processes etc. etc.
Biology is an extremely involved subject, and many people have spent a lifetime unravelling some of its complexities.
Therefore, any greyhound trainer who believes they can control and influence the way a greyhounds body functions, by the addition of chemical additives to the diet in various quantities or the injections of various substances are really kidding themselves.
In the short term it may get the results they are looking for, in the long term it causes more damage than can possibly be imagined.
The same applies to unsuitable training techniques, they simply over stress or fatigue some body processes. This causes progressively worse imbalances, and further reduces the ability of the body to cope with stress.
Keeping in mind that all greyhounds are different, and have different tolerance levels. What will be an acceptable routine for one may totally destroy the next greyhound.
Excessive protein or the wrong type of protein in relation to the required protein-carbohydrate balance, and this depends on the level of exercise. May cause the body to burn protein for energy instead of carbohydrate, and so increase the quantity of waste it has to get rid off.
Excessive quantities of vitamins and additives in the diet may also increase the amount of waste the system has to eliminate.
It is also worth noting that the manufacturers of the huge quantities of food additives available to the greyhound trainer are in the business of selling products, and selling more is the name of the game.
Many of these products are extensively advertised with, if not direct promises, at the very least with hints of possible improvements in performance.
Most of the food additives I have examined, have a recommended dosage up to twice as much as I believe is required for good health when they are added to the greyhounds normal diet.
If the advertising convinces the trainer, that they are giving the greyhound something that may improve the performance. There is no doubt that many of them will increase the dosage even further, thereby causing the dogs system even more wastes to cope with.
It is all good and well to say that food additives are easily eliminated from the body, however in many instances this involves the dogs kidneys, and in most greyhounds these are already a much abused organ and not necessarily capable of functioning at an optimum level.
Vegetable oils, when added to the diet may reduce the absorption of essential fatty acids normally obtained from a meat diet, and this reduces the body's ability to synthesize some essential steroid hormones.
The daily use of alkalising agents, chemical kidney flushes or so called acid neutralizers, cause major problems with normal body processes by increasing the elimination of some of the essential electrolytic ions and buffering agents from the body.
It is also important to note that acid urine does not necessarily indicate that the greyhound’s body is over loaded with acid waste products, in some instances of acid urine the plasma is in fact alkaline, as in intra cellular acidosis.
When we start a greyhound in training, the whole program is aimed at slowly improving the health and fitness of the greyhound, thereby allowing it to cope with progressively harder runs, until it attains peak fitness.
However, if you examine this a little further, you realize that it's not only the heart, lungs and muscle system that need to increase in fitness, but also the system that stores energy in the body, and most importantly the system that eliminates toxic wastes from the body.
It only stands to reason, that if you provided a large quantity of glucose in the diet each day, and so provided the body with instant useable energy, the part of the system that stores energy will never attain it's full potential.
The same applies to providing the greyhound with an alkalising diuretic, or acid neutralizer after each and every run. It not only stops the waste removal part of system learning how to cope with a hard run, but may also destroy the health of the dog by stopping the kidneys from doing their job, increasing fluid loss and the possible loss of potassium from the system.
Take the situation where you have a greyhound that plays up in the kennels prior to a run.
The barking and panting the dog does in the kennel or dog trailer is likely to cause respiratory alkalosis due to excessive carbon dioxide removal by the lungs.
On top of that, when you have a greyhound that gets over excited before a race, it is also extremely likely that after 6 or 7 runs this dog will also be suffering from some degree of hyper-adrenocorticism, that is an over stimulated adrenal gland.
Lets examine this greyhound’s likely condition at this point in time just prior to the run.
Possible respiratory alkalosis due to panting and barking
Possible intra cellular acidosis due to the potassium loss caused by the hyper- adrenocorticism.
It is also extremely likely that the greyhound will also be anaemic to some extend, because haemoglobin is destroyed in the process of the body's attempt to buffer the toxic waste that is being produced.
Now give the dog his race start or a trial, and then lock the dog up in a small space, such as a racetrack kennel or a dog trailer and let it pant some more. Then take the dog home and give it a good dose of an alkalising agent, which will further increase potassium and fluid loss.
You now have a greyhound where the biological system is so far out of balance, that no matter what you give him, recovery is extremely slow, and if the greyhound is raced or run again in three or four day's time the problems are simply aggravated.
Or worse still, the trainer may decide that this greyhound needs resting for ten days and then runs it over the same distance again.
Soon you have a greyhound that starts cramping, or suffers from increased muscle soreness and damage that is slow to repair, no matter how hard you work on it.
Next up is the increased pain in the nerve pathways due to spinal muscle spasm or muscle contraction, and the increased levels of wastes in the body due to what is by now poor kidney function.
By this time off course the dog will be on two Slow K tablets a day to combat the Potassium loss.
The dog will by now also have a depressed Thyroid gland due to the Hyper-Adrenocorticism.
That means the dog will have to go on a Thyroid hormone supplement to offset the depressed Thyroid gland.
This will unfortunately cause some imbalance in the Calcium absorption rate, which means you will have to increase the Calcium intake to avoid hairline fractures.
You will also have to watch the dose rate of the Thyroid hormone supplement as overdosing has been suspected of causing heart muscle damage in racing greyhounds.
At this stage it is also a good idea to start feeding some lard as this may help the dehydration your trying to keep under control.
But if you do that, you should also put the dog on a Methionine supplement to try and avoid fatty liver problems.
And heaven forbid lets not forget the Electrolyte supplement, this must of course be given in extra large doses, because lets face it this is supposed to fix the dehydration.
By now you are well into the veterinary treatments, and the dog will have had at least two blood tests and one or two courses of antibiotics.
Because stress causes an increase in the white cell count and alkalising agents increase the likelihood of urinary tract and kidney infections.
Then of course it will also have had a treatment for the anaemia and a treatment for a depressed immune system, which is damaged by the Hyper-Adrenocorticism, which is caused by the stress that was caused by the training methods.
Sarcastic? Maybe so, far fetched? Certainly not!
This is exactly what happens to far too many greyhounds.
Greyhounds that showed lots of potential, but never had a racing career simply because their trainers did not understand that the training methods were destroying the greyhounds health.
Some greyhounds suffer from stress problems more than others do, and it is the excitable over keen hard chasers, that require the most amount of patience in race preparation.
As a general rule, for this type of greyhound it is best to consider the time spent running rather than the distance covered.
Because it is the amount of energy the greyhound is capable of using before it becomes stressed is the only important consideration, and this should include the energy it wastes prior to the run by barking panting and shaking.
From experience I have found that even an extremely unfit greyhound that has had only one weeks worth of solid walking, can handle a 14 second run behind the lure, and one 14 second run improves fitness enough for an 18 second run.
However it then takes a minimum of two runs over each distance, before increasing the next run by an extra 4 seconds.
Until such time as the greyhound starts running over two turns, this increases the stress factor considerably.
If for instance, the last two runs of the greyhound were over the 25-second distance on a U turn track; the run over two turns should not be more than 25 seconds, such as a hand slip at Sandown.
It may then take two or three hand slips before the greyhound is allowed to run the full distance, depending on how well the greyhound recovers from each run.
It is also extremely important, not to increase the distance or time spend running, until the greyhound runs the current distance and pulls up reasonably sound and free of stress.
Many trainers run their greyhounds on straight tracks in the belief that this is not as stressful as circle running. If this is done as an easy hit out between circle runs, it is a great idea.
However the overuse of a straight track brings it's own problems, particularly in relation to increased breakdown of the muscles in the left hind leg.
Allowing the greyhounds to spin around quickly at the end of the straight, without the benefit of soft sand in the catching pen, may also result in injury to the lower spine, wrists or right hock.
The next factor is the time spent resting between runs; there again the general rule is a minimum of two clear days but not more than five.
If for any reason the time spend off is longer than five days, you should reduce the greyhounds next run by two seconds for each additional day’s rest counting from the fifth day.
The next item to take into consideration is the amount of energy used by the greyhound prior to running, and this may be difficult to judge. However as a rule of thumb for a highly excitable dog I reduce the time spend running by 5 seconds for each half-hour the dog has to wait.
There have been a number of occasions when I've taken a greyhound back home from a trial without running him, simply because the wait was to long for the dog. There have also been times when I have taken a distressed dog out of the kennels for a late race, and have been concerned enough by it’s condition to request that the greyhound be scratched from the race.
There is a real chance of causing permanent health damage by racing or running a dog already suffering from severe stress.
However if you do get caught out, and the greyhound has a harder run than you anticipated, there are some things you can do to minimize the effect on the dog.
First of all cool the dog down properly, then walk him around until he stops panting before re-kennelling or making the trip home.
All of which should be standard practice at all times for every greyhound after each run.
As soon as the greyhound is home in his own kennel, provide a drink of one cup of milk one cup of water and add 40 ml of Vytrate liquid concentrate, then provide his normal evening meal.
There are some injections that may be of some benefit to the greyhound at this time.
My preference is for a product called Tridenosen manufactured by Nature Vet; inject 2 ml into each back leg. If this not available, you may substitute with 1 ml of DADA 250 + 3 ml of a product called Tripart distributed by Equipharm, Tripart and DADA 250 may be mixed into the same injection.
Provide the same drink again the next morning and monitor the greyhound’s condition carefully during the day; at any sign of stress repeat the injections again that night. If there is no rapid improvement by the next morning or the greyhound’s condition deteriorates, in particular signs of excessive water drinking and or excessive amounts of clear urine seek urgent Veterinary attention.
Thank you Keith night
Trainers, participants, the Ipswich Club & Keith's Family came together to thank Keith for his many years of volunteer years catching & organising catchers. Thank you as well to Warren & Tracey Nicholls for organising the surprise. Although Keith was supposed to take time off and just enjoy the night, he just could not resist catching for Tony.