Basic care for your Irish Wolfhound can get you many more years with you! Yearly veterinary exams are extremely important with this breed as your veterinarian can health screen for some common breed health issues such as certain cancers (ie. osteosarcoma), hip & elbow dysplasia, arthritis, heart disease (ie. dilated cardiomyopathy), and overall general health.
Irish Wolfhounds are also prone to gastric dilatation volvulus, commonly known as GDV or "bloat". GDV IS AN EMERGENCY SITUATION. GDV is common in deep chested breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and of course Irish Wolfhounds. GDV is commonly associated with feeding large meals and recent exercise and feeding, both of which cause the stomach to dilate to a point of "flipping" or partially "flipping". When the stomach "flips", gas and food get trapped in the stomach, think of filling up a balloon and tying off the opening, only your dog's stomach will continue to fill with gas and cutting off blood flow. When the stomach can't expel the built up gas & food the stomach will eventually tear. If you ever see your dog unable to keep food or water down, vomiting, and appear to have a "bloated" appearance, these are common signs of GDV and require EMERGENCY care.
Good news is there is a procedure you can have done on you pup when getting spayed/neutered, it's called a Gastropexy. It does not prevent GDV but decreases the chance of GDV occurring and IF GDV occurs it can buy you time to get to your vet for surgery. Gastropexy is the surgical procedure of tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall, thus preventing the stomach from flipping or only slight stomach torsion. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND Gastropexy in your Irish Wolfhounds, it may just save your pup's life! Your veterinarian is there for you and your Wolfhound, don't ever hesitate to reach out to them for help and/or guidance.
Pneumonia is common & serious in Irish Wolfhounds. The typical signs of pneumonia are not typically present in Wolfhounds. If your Wolfhound is lethargic, refusing food, &/or heavily panting despite a normal temperature, seek medical care immediately as these are some of the very early stage signs of pneumonia in Wolfhounds. Holding their heads level to their backs, as if straightening their tracheas to get more air, is also another sign. If any of these signs are present, it is recommended to seek immediate veterinary care as well as thoracic radiographs. Even if radiographs show no evidence of pneumonia, it is recommended to start treatment for pneumonia regardless.
Vaccines: We highly recommend keeping your Wolfhound vaccinated. Vaccinating not only protects your pet but also people and other dogs/animals! Make sure to keep your Wolfie up to date on DA2PP (a combination vaccine for Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, & Parainfluenza) and Rabies vaccines. Depending on your lifestyle, you also have other options such as Lepto vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, and Lyme vaccine. Speak with your veterinarian to determine if any of the listed vaccines are essential for your Wolfhound.
Heartworm: Prevention is key when it comes to heartworms. Every year you should test your Irish Wolfhound for heartworm. It's a very quick and easy test that can be done at your annual health exam. Heartworms are present in all 50 US states, it only takes 1 bite from a positive female mosquito to infect your dog. A monthly heartworm prevention tablet/chew can prevent heartworm disease. We highly recommend giving heartworm prevention every month of every year, as long as you run yearly heartworm tests. It is very dangerous if you give certain heartworm preventions to a dog that may have heartworms which is why it is very important to test yearly. Some veterinarians may carry a heartworm prevention called "ProHeart" which is an injectable version of the tablet/chew prevention that will last 6 or 12 months depending on the type of "ProHeart" you choose to give your dog. Your veterinarian will inject the injection, don't worry! Talk to your vet about which form of heartworm prevention is best for your Wolfie as well as discussing heartworm testing!
Food: As simple as food sounds, it's actually extremely important for your Wolfhouond's overall health. The food you choose to feed your Irish Wolfhound will greatly impact your Wolfhound's overall health. Do NOT, NEVER EVER feed any Irish Wolfhound under 2 years old a high protein, high fat/calorie diet. This will cause rapid growth which leads to HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) which is a very painful and sometimes life threatening bone disease occurring in fast growing large & giant breed dogs. We recommend feeding your Irish Wolfhound a high quality food such a Royal Canin, Purina Pro Plan, or Science Diet. Puppies should be fed a large or giant breed puppy food until 18-24 months old then switched to a large or giant breed adult formula food. If you are unsure of what food brand is best for your Wolfhound, speak with your veterinarian as he/she will know what is best for your loved furrr-end!