Greyhounds Suffer from Vet Phobia

Dogs would rather be doing just about anything than visit the vet. Although it’s long been a joke among dog lovers that dogs hate vets, now there’s proof. Ohio State University discovered that the blood pressure of retired racing greyhounds rose when they walked into a veterinary hospital or clinic.

People have long been known to suffer from “white coat syndrome”, or exhibiting physical fear responses at the sight of a doctor’s coat, but this is the first time it has been seriously studied in dogs. It is common for dogs and cats to get higher heart rates and blood pressure numbers at the beginning of a visit, but it usually tapers off as the visit progresses.

Study Specifics

Greyhounds are considered the ideal breed for dog blood donation. But before they can donate blood, their blood pressure is checked. 28 days after donating blood, it is normal for greyhound owners to check the blood pressure of their dogs to be sure they were not harmed by donating blood. The study looked at 22 healthy retired racing greyhounds, 10 make and 12 female, that had their blood pressure taken at the vet’s and at home. A vet student wearing scrubs also took blood pressure readings at the dogs’ homes.

Greyhounds normally have higher blood pressure than many other dog breeds, but when blood pressure shot up an average of 30 points in a veterinary setting than at home, this was a level higher than what most veterinary equipment can read. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80. However, the highest systolic number (or top number) readings for greyhounds at the vet were over 300. Any dog with that reading should be dead. Perhaps something was wrong with the equipment. New equipment was sent to veterinary students for this study.

What All The Fuss Is About

The study was begun by Ohio State University professor of veterinary sciences Guillermo Couto, a long-time owner of retired racing greyhounds. He had long wondered how to better their health and noticed that getting accurate blood pressure readings was difficult at best. He recommends that to get the most accurate blood pressure readings, greyhound owners need to take readings at home. He also recommends that the owner always be present when a vet takes a greyhound’s blood pressure, since the owner’s presence has a soothing effect.

It is unknown whether temporary sharp rises in blood pressure could have adverse long-term effects, especially on the kidneys. It is also unknown why greyhounds have a different blood pressure reading in their hind limbs than in their front limbs. More studies would need to be done.


Science Daily. “‘White-coat effect’ elevates greyhounds’ blood pressure.” September 13, 2011.

Los Angeles Times. “Greyhounds may have white-coat syndrome.” September 9, 2011.

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