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Vol. 22, No.

3 March 2000 V

CE Refereed Peer Review

Hematologic and
FOCAL POINT Serum Biochemical
★ Reference ranges for certain
hematologic and serum
biochemical values in retired
Reference Values in
greyhounds differ from those of
the general canine population. Retired Greyhounds
Auburn University
■ The number of greyhounds Janet E. Steiss, DVM, PhD
in private homes (55,000+) is William G. Brewer, Jr., DVM
approaching the number of Elizabeth Welles, DVM, PhD
racing greyhounds in the United
States (approximately 75,000).
James C. Wright, DVM, PhD

■ More than 50% of 50 retired

ABSTRACT: Research has indicated that results of blood tests for retired greyhounds may fall
greyhounds had values outside outside the established normal ranges for the general canine population and that specific pa-
the standard reference range for rameters for retired greyhounds may need to be established. Based on the study discussed in
hemoglobin, creatinine, globulin, this article, the authors determined that hemoglobin, creatinine, sodium, total carbon dioxide,
sodium, total carbon dioxide, and anion gap tend to be elevated whereas globulin tends to be decreased in healthy retired
and anion gap. greyhounds. Practitioners need to be aware of these breed-specific differences in order to
make accurate diagnoses in greyhounds.
■ Platelet and leukocyte counts
tended to be at the low end of

the reference range, whereas he demographics of the greyhound population in the United States is
hematocrit and total bilirubin changing: It is estimated that more than 55,000 greyhounds live in pri-
tended to be at the high end. vate homes compared with approximately 75,000 on racetracks.a In
1996, there were 18,000 new private adoptions.
■ Practitioners need clinical Specific reference ranges for hematologic and serum biochemical values for re-
pathology reference ranges for tired greyhounds need to be established. Veterinarians working with racing grey-
this breed because greyhound hounds consider that this breed tends to have relatively higher values for eryth-
values cannot be strictly rocytes, bicarbonate, and urea and relatively lower values for leukocytes,
compared to standard canine globulin, calcium, and cholesterol.1 Most previously reported values have been
reference ranges. measured in small groups of racing greyhounds2,3 or immature or breeding grey-
hounds,3 or the authors did not state how long the dogs had been retired from
the racetrack before blood samples were obtained.4,5 In the study presented here,
blood samples were evaluated from 50 retired greyhounds housed for a mean of
10 weeks before blood samples were collected.
aPersonal communication: Guccione G, National Greyhound Association, Abilene, KS,
Small Animal/Exotics Compendium March 2000

The study findings can be compared with previous biochemistry and EDTA tubes for complete blood
reports for greyhounds.2–5 In contrast to one study2 in count analysis. Tubes of blood were packed in ice and
which the dogs were racing, their diet contained large immediately submitted to the Auburn University Clini-
amounts of meat, and females received intermittent cal Pathology Laboratory.
testosterone injections, the dogs in the study presented
here were not medicated and were fed a commercial Blood Analyses
diet more comparable to what a pet would receive Complete blood counts were performed on an auto-
(guaranteed analysis of 25% crude protein and 10% mated impedance–type instrument and included deter-
crude fat). Although the dogs in this study were not mination of erythrocyte count; hematocrit; hemoglobin
client-owned animals, the kennel facilities, diet, and ex- concentration; total leukocyte count; platelet count;
ercise level could be considered to approximate a house- and calculation of mean corpuscular volume, mean cor-
hold environment. puscular hemoglobin, erythrocyte distribution width,
Because the turnover of erythrocytes is generally ac- and mean platelet volume. Manual 100-cell differential
cepted to be approximately 120 days in dogs, it is un- counts were performed.
likely that any testosterone injections administered at Serum chemistry analytes were measured using a
the racetrack influenced the results of this study. In computer-assisted automated chemistry instrument.
fact, the life span of erythrocytes in greyhounds has Spectrophotometric analysis included determination of
been reported to be shorter than that in mongrel dogs (1) serum alanine transaminase, serum alkaline phos-
(mean, 53.6 and 104.3 days, respectively).6 Female phatase, and creatine kinase activities and (2) creati-
dogs in this study were housed for a mean of 14 weeks nine, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, calcium, inorganic
(median, 10 weeks), which exceeds the reported eryth- phosphate, total bilirubin, and albumin concentrations.
rocyte life span. Globulin concentration was also calculated. Concentra-
tions of sodium, chloride, potassium, and total carbon
STUDY dioxide were determined using ion-specific electrode
Materials and Methods methodology. Anion gap was calculated according to
Dogs the formula: (sodium + potassium) – (chloride + total
Over a 2-year period, 50 mature greyhounds retired carbon dioxide).
from racing were obtained from the Auburn University
Department of Laboratory Animal Health. Female Statistics
dogs were kenneled for a median of 10 weeks (range, 8 Data were entered on a spreadsheet for calculation of
to 25 weeks) and male dogs for a median of 5 weeks the mean and standard deviation values.
(range, 4 to 24 weeks) before blood samples were col-
lected. Dogs were housed in an indoor–outdoor labora- Results
tory kennel facility, fed a commercial dog food once Hematologic data are presented in Table I and serum
daily, and had continuous access to filled water bowls. biochemical data in Table II. The mean values for
Dogs were negative for heartworm disease and exter- hemoglobin, creatinine, globulin, sodium, total carbon
nal parasites. Dogs positive for internal parasites were dioxide, and anion gap were outside the canine refer-
dewormed with fenbendazole (1 ml/4.4 lb orally once ence ranges for the Auburn University Clinical Patholo-
daily for 3 days). Routine vaccinations were adminis- gy Laboratory. Other tendencies noted were that mean
tered. Based on ear tattoos, dogs ranged from 1 to 3 platelet and leukocyte counts were toward the low end
years of age. The dogs had no clinically significant find- of the reference ranges and hematocrit and total biliru-
ings on physical, neurologic, and orthopedic examina- bin were toward the high end.
tions and were serologically negative for Ehrlichia canis The percentage of greyhounds for which values fell
and Ehrlichia platys. outside the Auburn University reference range are pre-
sented in Figures 1 and 2. More than 50% of dogs had
Blood Samples values outside the reference range for hemoglobin, crea-
The average time between receiving the dogs and tinine, globulin, sodium, total carbon dioxide, and an-
drawing blood samples was 10 weeks (median, 8 ion gap. Lower percentages of greyhounds had values
weeks). In addition, 10 of the study dogs were available above or below the reference range for several other
90 days later; blood tests were repeated to confirm ini- hematologic or serum biochemistry values. Less than
tial findings. While the dogs were in their kennels, 5% of the 50 greyhounds in this study had any individ-
blood samples were collected via jugular venipuncture ual values outside the calculated greyhound reference
and placed into tubes containing no additives for serum ranges reported in Tables I and II.


Compendium March 2000 Small Animal/Exotics

Hematologic Values in Retired Greyhounds (n = 50)
Mean Greyhound a AUCVM a
Laboratory Parameter (standard deviation) Reference Range Reference Range
Erythrocytes (×106/ml) 7.69 (0.85) 5.99–9.39 5.50–8.50
Hemoglobin (g/dl) 18.2b (1.7) 14.8–21.6 12.0–18.0
Hematocrit (%) 52.8 (5.7) 41.4–64.2 37.0–55.0
Mean corpuscular volume (fl) 68.8 (2.3) 64–73 60–77
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (pg) 23.6 (1.0) 21.6–25.6 19.5–24.5
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (%) 34.4 (0.8) 32.8–36.0 32.0–36.0
Erythrocyte distribution width 15.1 (1.0) 13.1–17.1 11.1–17.1
Platelet count (×103/ml) 178 (57) 64–292 160–416
Mean platelet volume (fl) 8.6 (0.9) 6.8–10.4 6.8–9.8
Leukocytes (/ml) 8200 (3200) 1800–14,600 6000–17,000
Segmented neutrophils (/ml) 5494 (902) 3690–7298 3000–11,400
Band neutrophils (/ml) 0 (0) — 0–300
Lymphocytes (/ml) 1722 (738) 246–3198 1000–4000
Monocytes (/ml) 328 (246) 0–820 150–1350
Eosinophils (/ml) 574 (492) 0–1558 100–750
as two standard deviations from the mean.
b Mean
value outside the standard reference range.
AUCVM = Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Serum Biochemical Values in Retired Greyhounds (n = 50)
Mean Greyhound a AUCVM a
Laboratory Parameter (standard deviation) Reference Range Reference Range
Alanine transferase (IU/L) 55 (23) 9–101 17–66
Serum alkaline phosphatase (IU/L) 39 (18) 3–75 19–50
Creatine kinase (IU/L) 168 (75) 18–318 92–357
Creatinine (mg/dl) 1.2b (0.2) 0.8–1.6 0.0–1.0
Glucose (mg/dl) 89 (16) 57–121 80–100
Blood urea nitrogen (mg/dl) 16 (3) 10–22 10–25
Calcium (mg/dl) 10 (0.7) 8.6–11.4 9.5–11.8
Inorganic phosphate (mg/dl) 3.9 (0.6) 2.7–5.1 3.3–5.8
Total protein (g/dl) 6.0 (0.6) 4.8–7.2 5.1–7.3
Albumin (g/dl) 3.3 (0.3) 2.7–3.9 2.6–3.5
Globulin (g/dl) 2.8b (0.7) 1.4–4.2 3.8–5.0
Total bilirubin (mg/dl) 0.3 (0.2) 0.0–0.7 0.1–0.3
Sodium (mmol/L) 153b (2) 149–157 142–150
Potassium (mmol/L) 4.6 (0.5) 3.6–5.6 3.9–5.3
Chloride (mmol/L) 116 (3) 110–122 110–121
Total carbon dioxide (mmol/L) 26.6b (6.2) 14.2–39.0 16.5–22.3
Anion gap 15.2b (6.0) 3.2–27.2 7.3–15.1
as two standard deviations from the mean.
b Mean
value outside the standard reference range.
AUCVM = Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Data for the 10 dogs for which blood work was re- Discussion
peated 90 days later are presented in Tables III and IV. Compared with the standard canine reference ranges
Hematologic and serum biochemical values of these for the Auburn University Clinical Pathology Laborato-
dogs reflect the initial tendencies found. ry, hemoglobin, creatinine, sodium, total carbon diox-
Small Animal/Exotics Compendium March 2000

TABLE III be due to dehydration. Dehy-

Hematologic Values in Retired Greyhounds (n = 10) on Day 90
dration is also unlikely be-
cause all of the dogs lacked
Mean AUCVM clinical signs of dehydration
Laboratory Parameter (standard deviation) Reference Range and had free access to water
Erythrocytes (×106/ml) 8.44 (1.22) 5.50–8.50 and access to temperature-
Hemoglobin (g/dl) 19.1a (2.2) 12.0–18.0 controlled housing; further-
Hematocrit (%) 56.4a (7.2) 37.0–55.0 more, bloods samples were
Mean corpuscular volume (fl) 67 (2.3) 60–77 collected at various times
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin (pg) 22.7 (1.1) 19.5–24.5
throughout the year.
Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (%) 33.9 (0.7) 32.0–36.0
Erythrocyte distribution width 16 (2.5) 11.1–17.1 Measurements were per-
Platelet count (×10 /ml) 171 (59) 160–416 formed with ion-specific elec-
Mean platelet volume (fl) 8.9 (0.9) 6.8–9.8 trodes, which measure only
Leukocytes (/ml) 8700 (2500) 6000–17,000 the electrolyte concentration
Segmented neutrophils (/ml) 6177 (1305) 3000–11,400 in the aqueous phase of the
Band neutrophils (/ml) 0 (0) 0–300 sample. A higher hematocrit
Lymphocytes (/ml) 1740 (1044) 1000–4000 would effectively result in less
Monocytes (/ml) 174 (87) 150–1350 plasma water, and electrolytes
Eosinophils (/ml) 609 (609) 100–750 would be relatively increased.
aMean value outside the standard reference range.
However, these greyhounds
AUCVM = Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. had elevations only in sodi-
um, not in potassium or chlo-
TABLE IV ride; this finding implies that
Serum Biochemical Values in Retired Greyhounds (n = 10) on Day 90 the dogs have a higher con-
centration of sodium relative
Mean AUCVM to the other electrolytes com-
Laboratory Parameter (standard deviation) Reference Range pared with other dogs. Fur-
Alanine transferase (IU/L) 75a (37) 17–66 ther studies would be needed
Serum alkaline phosphatase (IU/L) 40 (17) 19–50 to definitively document that
Creatine kinase (IU/L) 156 (53) 92–357 the dogs were not dehydrated.
Creatinine (mg/dl) 1.3a (0.3) 0.0–1.0
Previous authors have gen-
Glucose (mg/dl) 103a (21) 80–100
Blood urea nitrogen (mg/dl) 22 (5) 10–25 erally agreed that greyhounds
Calcium (mg/dl) 9.8 (0.7) 9.5–11.8 have higher hemoglobin con-
Inorganic phosphate (mg/dl) 3.9 (0.5) 3.3–5.8 centrations. Sullivan and as-
Total protein (g/dl) 5.8 (1) 5.1–7.3 sociates5 compared 36 grey-
Albumin (g/dl) 3.8a (1.1) 2.6–3.5 hounds (seven adopted and
Globulin (g/dl) 2.8a (0.4) 3.8–5.0 29 awaiting adoption) with
Total bilirubin (mg/dl) 0.4a (0.2) 0.1–0.3 nongreyhound controls. The
Sodium (mmol/L) 155a (2) 142–150 greyhounds had higher mean
Potassium (mmol/L) 5 (0.3) 3.9–5.3 values for hemoglobin, hema-
Chloride (mmol/L) 115 (2) 110–121 tocrit, mean corpuscular vol-
Total carbon dioxide (mmol/L) 30.5a (6.1) 16.5–22.3
ume, and mean corpuscular
Anion gap 13.9 (4.3) 7.3–15.1
hemoglobin but lower eryth-
aMean value outside the standard reference range.
rocyte counts, hemoglobin P50
AUCVM = Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
values, Hill coefficients, plate-
let counts, and total protein.
ide, and anion gap were elevated above the reference The results of our study follow those trends, with the ex-
range in more than 50% of the greyhounds in this study ception that our data did not indicate a decrease in ery-
and globulin was below the reference range (Figures 1 throcyte counts. No other investigators have reported
and 2). Some of these findings might be interpreted as decreased erythrocyte counts in greyhounds. This incon-
occurring secondary to dehydration. However, the val- sistency likely reflects the relatively small number of dogs
ues in 10 dogs tested 90 days later confirmed the initial and differences in age in the sampled populations. Sullivan
findings and indicated that the changes were unlikely to and associates5 did not report serum biochemistry values.


Compendium March 2000 Small Animal/Exotics

Creatinine is the product of platelet count (i.e., bipotential

nonenzymatic conversion of stem cells give rise to either
Mean platelet volume
creatine, a muscle energy- megakaryocytes or erythrocyte
storage component, and is in- precursors and are subject to
Erythrocyte distribution width
fluenced by muscle mass. 7 hormonal stimulation for pro-
Mean corpuscular
Greyhounds have higher lean hemoglobin concentration duction of one cell line over
muscle mass than do mongrel Mean corpuscular hemoglobin
the other).
dogs, which probably con- Mean corpuscular volume
The reference values ob-
tributes to higher creatinine Hematocrit tained using instrumentation
concentrations. Hemoglobin at Auburn University are not
Sodium was elevated in al- Erythrocytes necessarily identical to data
most all of the greyhounds in –40 –30 –20 –10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 generated at other laborato-
our study. Lassen and associ- Figure 1—Percentage of retired greyhounds (n = 50) with ries using either the same or
ates 2 reported a mean serum hematologic values outside the standard reference range different instrumentation. In-
sodium of 154 mEq/L during for Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. dividual laboratories must es-
racing season and observed that Negative values on the X-axis indicate values below the tablish their own specific ref-
high sodium concentrations reference range; positive values indicate values above the erence ranges for greyhounds.
have occasionally been observed reference range. However, as discussed, some
in clinically normal grey- of the variations found in our
hounds.2 Sodium concentra- group of greyhounds have
tions in greyhounds examined Anion gap been reported previously. For
Total carbon dioxide
by Porter and Canaday4 also Chloride example, Porter and Canaday4
appeared to be higher than in Sodium
studied greyhounds retired
the mongrel controls, and Total bilirubin for an unspecified period and
Egan8 has also noted some vari- Albumin found relative increases in
Total protein
ations in different greyhound Inorganic phosphate
erythrocyte counts, hemoglo-
populations. Another investiga- Calcium bin, sodium, chloride, biliru-
Blood urea nitrogen
tor,1 however, found no differ- Glucose bin, hematocrit, and aspartate
ence in sodium between the Creatine kinase
aminotransferase activity as
general dog population and Serum alkaline phosphatase
Alanine transaminase
well as relative decreases in
racing greyhounds. –100 –80 –60 –40 –20 0 20 40 60 80 100 leukocyte counts, total pro-
Greyhounds also had in- tein concentrations, and eosin-
creased total carbon dioxide Figure 2—Percentage of retired greyhounds (n = 50) with ophil percentage.
concentrations, a finding that serum biochemistry values outside the standard reference The results of the study
is usually indicative of meta- range for Auburn University College of Veterinary Medi- discussed in this article sug-
cine. Negative values on the X-axis indicate values below
bolic alkalosis. However, no the reference range; positive values indicate values above gest that reference ranges should
dogs had any pathophysiolog- the reference range. be modified for retired grey-
ic reason (e.g., vomiting) to hounds. Lack of knowledge
be alkalotic. Blood-gas analy- of such breed-specific varia-
sis was not performed in any dog but could be investi- tions could lead to incorrect diagnosis of disease pro-
gated further to assess the acid–base status. Serum total cesses in healthy greyhounds.
carbon dioxide can be altered by underfilling blood col-
lection tubes, but this would result in a decrease, not an ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
increase, in total carbon dioxide.9 The authors thank Dr. Robert Gillette for his helpful
Globulin was lower in our dogs. Sullivan and cowork- discussion and the staff of the Auburn University Clini-
ers5 noted a lower total plasma protein concentration in cal Pathology Laboratory for their technical help. Study
the greyhounds in their study but were unable to identi- funded by the Bayer Corporation, Merriam, Kansas.
fy a reason.5 They did not measure albumin and globu-
lin concentrations. Those authors5 were the first to re- REFERENCES
port lower platelet concentrations in greyhounds, which 1. Herron MR: Clinical pathology of the racing greyhound.
5 Unpublished data, Texas A&M University, College Station,
the present study also found. Sullivan and coworkers TX.
suggested that the stem-cell competition model of 2. Lassen ED, Craig AM, Blythe LL: Effects of racing on
hematopoiesis was a possible explanation for the low hematologic and serum biochemical values in Greyhounds.


Small Animal/Exotics Compendium March 2000

JAVMA 188:1299–1303, 1986. 8. Egan PSA: An evaluation of serum electrolyte levels in the
3. Heneghan T: Haematological and biochemical variables in normal Greyhound. Irish Vet J 31:101–111, 1977.
the greyhound. Vet Sci Commun 1:277–284, 1977. 9. James KM, Polzin DJ, Osborne CA, et al: Effects of sample
4. Porter JA, Canaday WR: Hematologic values in mongrel handling on total carbon dioxide concentrations in canine
and greyhound dogs being screened for research use. JAVMA and feline serum and blood. Am J Vet Res 58:343–347,
159:1603–1606, 1971. 1997.
5. Sullivan PS, Evans HL, McDonald TP: Platelet concentra-
tion and hemoglobin function in Greyhounds. JAVMA About the Authors
205:838–841, 1994. Dr. Steiss is affiliated with the Scott-Ritchey Research
6. Novinger MS, Sullivan PS, McDonald TP: Determination
Center and the Department of Small Animal Surgery and
of the life span of erythrocytes from Greyhounds, using an
in vitro biotinylation technique. Am J Vet Res 57:739–742, Medicine, Dr. Brewer with the Department of Small Ani-
1996. mal Surgery and Medicine, and Drs. Welles and Wright
7. Duncan JR, Prasse KW, Mahaffey EA: Veterinary Laboratory with the Department of Pathobiology, College of Veteri-
Medicine. Clinical Pathology, ed 3. Ames, IA, Iowa State nary Medicine, Auburn University, Alabama.
University Press, 1994, pp 179–180.

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