dogs than in young ones. A survey of muscle injuries in greyhoundsrunning on Florida tracks a few years ago suggested that most weredetected either at the first bend or in the home straight. Our friendwished to know if it was wise to keep for breeding a bitch who hadhad recurring gracilis tears during her racing days. In other words heis asking if there some sort of hereditary predisposition to gracilistears that might reappear in subsequent generations. Looking atthe bigger picture, it would be interesting to know more about theheritability of a wide range of specific racing injuries. Although wisermen than me have speculated that any genetic element in thecausation of such injuries is probably pretty small, without a greaterunderstanding of the causes of muscle injuries, it is very hard toconfirm or deny this hypothesis. If we look for a moment at thegreyhound population as a whole, we can see that on the one handa very large number of dogs are descended from a handful of popular fashionable sires and that on the other there are a verylarge number of brood bitches most of which have only a very fewprogeny. Overall there are little enough data available to analyse totry and identify patterns of inheritance. Taking a pragmatic view, if Ihad a decent bitch who had ruptured her gracilis muscle and wasfinished for racing, I would not be afraid to take a litter off her andsee how they turned out.Without a better understanding of the causes of muscle injuries it ishard to give much sensible advice about their prevention. Howeverwarming dogs up prior to racing is generally worthwhile. Greaterforce is required to injure a warm muscle than a cold one andmuscle-tendon junctions stretch better when warm, reducing therisk of injury. After racing a cooling down period of low intensityexercise such as walking may also prove beneficial. The usual history that accompanies a gracilis tear is of a dogrunning rather poorly, well below known form, but usuallycompleting the race or trial. Some are not very obviously lamealthough others will show a shortened stride in the affected leg anda cramped gait. Examination post race usually reveal a doughyswelling on the inside of the thigh of the affected leg. Bruising maybe evident as may disruption of the muscle itself. Sometimehowever these are not very obvious in the hot dog post race andbecome much more evident at home twelve to twenty-four hourslater.At the track and in the short term at home, treatment generallyinvolves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the applicationof cold compresses. “
From what I have experienced
” ourcorrespondent writes ”
and read in various reports, the chances of repairing the damage is in the long term remote”.
There are twobasic approaches to the treatment of gracilis tears, the surgical andthe conservative. Generally however conservative treatment is onlylikely to be a success in the case of very minor injury to the origin or