19 Whippet Health Problems You Should Know About

whippet health problems

You give your whippet a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and keep them in an environment that is safe. Even with all of that important care, your whippet can still develop health issues.

This does not mean that your whippet is going to suffer from any disease, but becoming familiar with issues and symptoms that they may be prone to is a good idea in knowing what to look for and to be prepared.

In the post below I will go over some whippet health problems you should know about. No need to panic. This is meant to inform and educate you. Remember, “knowledge is power.”

Are Whippets Generally Healthy Dogs?

Whippets are regarded as one of the healthiest dogs out of all purebreds. Many never need medication regularly for life or ongoing veterinary care.

The whippet is usually not even prone to food and skin allergies, joint problems or infections like other breeds. Now, this is not to say that your whippet will never suffer from any of these.

Just as some humans acquire illnesses or diseases that are not hereditary, whippets can come down with medical problems out of the blue. Life has no guarantees but generally, the whippet is a very healthy breed.

Common Whippet Health Problems

Listed below are common whippet health problems. I have added them in order from the least common to the most common toward the end. Again, your whippet may never suffer from any one of these issues.

Immune-mediated Polyarthritis

This is a very rare condition that causes inflammation in knee and shoulder joints and is caused by the antibodies attacking the tissues in joints. Symptoms can be stiffness in joints and lameness. Steroids can be used to help.

Vestibular Syndrome

This causes dizziness, your pup’s eyes to jerk and they may tilt their head. It can be caused by an ear infection or hypothyroidism.

Cervical Disc Disease

This is akin to a slipped disc in humans and would occur in older whippets and is painful, but not very common.

Cushing’s Disease

This is more common in older dogs and is caused by overworked adrenal glands. Symptoms are lethargy, swollen belly, and muscle weakness. This is linked to overuse of cortisone and also from consuming water that is highly chlorinated.

Lymphoma

This is cancer in dogs. Unfortunately, the cause of this is unknown but it has been linked to chemical exposure, bacteria and viruses. Symptoms are swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss and fever.

Cataracs And Pra

Cataracts are a very common problem in dogs as they age. Eyes will become cloudy and your pup may begin to experience limited vision in the affected eye, one or both.

Cataracts are sometimes inherited or caused by diabetes. Surgery is an option unless they are mild and don’t cause vision impairment.

PRA or progressive retinal atrophy is inherited and leads to loss of vision. There is no cure for this.

Overbite

Some whippets can be born with an overbite. This is not a concern unless it impairs eating and chewing. Most times no treatment is needed.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Your whippet’s heart will have trouble pumping blood to the body and they will have low blood pressure. Medications are used to treat this condition.

IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This occurs in humans as well as dogs. Inflammation in your pup’s intestinal tract develops and causes pain, loose stool, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss. A change in diet and medication, oftentimes steroids, is the course of treatment.

Hemolytic Anemia

This is an autoimmune disease usually affecting females. Antibodies attack red blood cells in the spleen and liver. Lethargy, vomiting and general malaise will occur. Blood transfusions are needed to help this condition.

Bully Whippet Syndrome

This is rare and caused by improper breeding. Whippets will look muscular and out of proportion.

Corns

These affect humans also but can occur in greyhounds and whippets. Corns are a circular, hard and painful growth that can cause lameness and can be found on your whippet’s paw pads.

Treatments range from silicon injections, surgical removal and there are actually boots you can get for your whippet to wear for either protection or prevention.

Hypothyroidism

This is also a human disease as well as canine. Your whippet’s thyroid will not produce enough hormones to regulate the body.

Symptoms are weight gain, which can be very noticeable on your whippet, weakness, lethargy, hair loss and cold intolerance (more so than usual).

Hypothyroidism is more common in small to medium breeds and between the ages of four to ten. Levothyroxine would be prescribed and monitored for the correct dosage.

Irregular Mitral Valve

This can cause infections or heart murmurs and is hard to diagnose.

SRMA – Steroid Responsive Meningitis Artheritis

This is where a response from steroid medication causes swelling of the meninges, in the brain and spinal cord, and arteries. It is an auto-immune issue and quite serious.

This usually affects younger dogs showing symptoms of stiffness and pain, a stiff gait and temperature of 108 degrees.

Epilepsy

This can occur in your whippet between one and three years. Symptoms are jerking, drooling, foaming at the mouth and fainting. There are medications for epilepsy.

Pancreatitis

This is inflammation of the pancreas and can be caused by some foods. Abdominal pain, no appetite and vomiting are symptoms. A change in diet and medication are treatments.

Cryptorchidism

This can present in whippet males and is an undescended testicle. Consult your veterinarian for treatment.

Heart Murmur

This is the most common health problem in whippets. Heart murmurs are extra vibrations that can result from a blood flow disturbance.

Your whippet will have tests to see what type of heart murmur and it will be graded in severity. Tests will determine if it is caused by an underlying medical condition.

Often murmurs in puppies or young whippets will resolve on their own without any further treatment. Mild murmurs are usually monitored.

How To Prevent Whippet Health Problems

Listed below are ways to prevent whippet health problems before they begin.

Proper Nutrition

To ensure good health and a long life for your whippet, beginning as a puppy, they should have a high-quality food that is just right for their needs and in the proper portions for them.

When they are old enough for adult food, this food should also fit the bill for all of their nutritional needs to help keep them healthy and active.

The same is true when your whippet is a senior. Good nutrition is for a lifetime and will help prevent medical conditions from even beginning.

You should also maintain the proper weight for your whippet’s body and size. An overweight dog, just as a person puts added stress on bones and joints and can cause many other diseases such as diabetes and cardiac diseases. Whippets are not built to carry extra weight.

Exercise And Rest

Exercise for your whippet goes hand in hand with nutrition. Proper nutrition is needed so your pup has plenty of energy for walks and runs with all of their quick bursts of speed.

Daily exercise is necessary to keep your pup in tip-top shape, keeping their heart healthy as well as bones and joints and it can help your health too. Exercise is also a mood booster so it can also help their mental health.

Don’t forget to add some playtime with some ball chasing or retrieving games.

Along with exercise, your whippet needs its proper rest. In the house, whippets are well known as couch potatoes and are just as happy lounging with you as they are running outside.

Resting on the couch is great but make sure your whippet has a place to call their own, whether a crate or corner of the room that has bed, blanket and toys for times that they need quiet and rest.

Training

I know you wouldn’t think that training had anything to do with your whippet’s health but it does. A properly trained whippet won’t get into any mischief, chewing or eating anything bad for them or perhaps even poisonous.

Many times dogs end up in surgery because they’ve swallowed something that has caused a bowel obstruction. This can be dangerous and even life-threatening not to mention very costly.

whippet health problems you should know about
Image: Dave Gershkoff

Training your pup to come when called and to walk properly on the leash can, in fact, prevent injuries and even save your whippet’s life.

You don’t want to imagine what could happen if your whippet took off and ran into the path of a car. Proper training is a must for their health and safety.

Socialisation And Love

Socialisation is very important for your whippet’s health and emotional well being. Whippets are a very friendly and social creature and thrive on human contact and touch socialisation with you, your family, guests, people you meet walking and other dogs are all very important for mental health.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the relationship with your whippet for their health and yours is the love you show them and the love they show you.

Veterinary Care

This is also one of the most important parts of the puzzle to keep your whippet healthy. Regular wellness visits and necessary vaccinations will keep your pup healthy.

Their wellness visits will monitor their health and pick up on any issues as they begin so problems can be treated immediately. At this time you can share any questions or concerns you have about your pup’s health.

Making a list of questions before you go is always helpful as with all of the goings-on at a veterinary office, you may forget everything you wanted to discuss.

Your whippet’s veterinarian is there to help and guide you with your pup’s health. Never hesitate to call with problems and if any symptoms arise and you are unsure it’s better to check it out.

Average Whippet Life Expectancy

The average whippet life expectancy is twelve to fifteen years. This is just an average and dogs can live longer, again, depending on care throughout their life as well as heredity.

You can take the very best care of your whippet but if it’s in the genes, then this is out of your hands. Choose a reputable breeder right from the start to ensure your whippet comes to form a healthy line.

Your whippet’s quality of life is also very important for a long life along with good healthcare. Whippets are anxiety-prone and you know what stress and anxiety can do to the human body.

Try to make your household a calm and peaceful place for everyone. Fighting, screaming and yelling are not good for anyone’s nerves and especially your whippets.

Keep in mind your whippet’s issues with intolerance to cold. They don’t have a lot of body fat and you’d like to always have them be comfortable and never shivering. Provide a coat or sweater when outdoor weather is chilly and blankets for indoor burrowing.

Other Considerations

Another medical issue to keep in mind is that if your whippet ever needs surgery, whippets sometimes have reactions that are adverse to anaesthesia.

They can get hyperthermia or hypothermia from anaesthesia and should be closely monitored during surgery and after. Your veterinarian should be aware of this but you can discuss it if they ever need surgery.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article did not scare you. It was just meant to inform you about some common whippet health problems that you may run into down the line.

Whippets are a relatively healthy breed of dog. You do have a large percentage of control over your whippet’s health and following the tips above can help.

If your whippet ever has any symptoms that continue or don’t resolve and you are concerned it is a medical issue, never hesitate to seek help from your veterinarian or even an emergency veterinary clinic.

It is better to find out that symptoms are not caused by a serious medical problem than wait and regret the procrastination.

Giving your whippet love and your time costs nothing and goes a very long way in ensuring your whippet’s good health. Don’t skimp on that!

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