Canberra ACT, Australia

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Giving slip lanes the slip

Rhabdomyolysis (Lactic acidosis) is characterised by muscle soreness, stiffness and reluctance to walk and can be caused by overexertion, particularly if unfit or in hot weather. Dogs affected by rhabdomyolysis can be any age from puppy to senior. Although it does occur sometimes in racing greyhounds, racing greyhounds are generally on regimented exercise routines and are monitored.

Rhabdomyolysis is more common in hot weather, especially if it is accompanied by high humidity levels. Some recently retired greyhounds who are new to adoptive homes get rhabdomyolysis after being allowed to run freely for too long, which is why exercise must be limited and monitored. Dogs do not possess the ability to gauge their fitness and adjust their level of effort accordingly. It is the owner’s responsibility to do this for them.

Rhabdomyolysis can be fatal and the dog’s prognosis depends largely upon how soon treatment is sought. Vet advice is the rhabdomyolysis requires urgent veterinary treatment because it can be fatal if ignored or if not treated in time. Treatment generally includes IV fluids and cooling the dog's body as effectively and rapidly as possible without inducing shivering. Dogs with rhabdomyolysis normally need a rest period of at least a few weeks to fully recover. Dogs who are treated quickly can recover well, but individuals differ and preventing the problem completely is the best way to approach it.​

As their owner and care giver, you are responsible for monitoring your greyhound's exercise, especially during warm weather. Before you consider taking your dog to an off lead area consider:

  • Is this an appropriate environment for me to control the exercise of my ex-racing greyhound. Some of our dogs have been conditioned over their lives to run very fast in certain environments like a racing track of a slipping lane. It is important to remember that some hounds have been retired due to injury and that by allowing them uncontrolled access to sprinting, you might be inflaming that injury.

  • Does my dog enjoy this activity? Running is a racing greyhound’s job, no one likes to work on their day off. Some dogs do love to run and will take an opportunity to zoom. Others prefer to sniff the flowers and take a more leisurely pace. With great intentions, sometimes owners force their fantasy of ‘free running’ on their hound.

  • Your insurance! Certain activities may not be covered by your insurance and you should check. It is your responsibility to a) check that your hound is suitable for off lead running b) that the area is suitable for running and c) that you monitor your hound and stop them before they overexert themselves.

Let me tell you about the time I decided to wake up and run a marathon….already giggling? Me too, because that’s ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run, but all the lycra in the world and fancy shoes wouldn’t save me from days of pain and possibly injury for attempting this without training….it is the same for your hound. Sometimes new owners feel that they are meeting their greyhound’s ‘need to run’ by allowing them access to slipping lanes or off lead area. These well-meaning owners may actually be placing their dog’s life at risk when their hound would be perfectly content with a walk.

Resources > Giving slip lanes the slip

Why a run isn't always fun

A long narrow wire mesh enclosure used to allow a greyhound free running exercise.

Slip Lanes

Dog park check list is separate, please check the resources section.

Off lead areas