We continue to receive requests from readers regarding articles written by Star veterinarian John Kohnke. While there are no plans to produce them on a regular basis, we have retrieved a selection which will hopefully be of use and interest to some of our readers.


Question – Worming and inoculations

I recently homed my first greyhound and wanted to know if I should worm him on a regular basis or wait until I see evidence of them.

Also, is it really necessary to have an inoculation booster every year. The man who trained the dog said that they have to have them during the racing careers because it is part of the rules, but the dog should be covered for life. Is this true?

Mrs P Simmons

Via e-mail

Congratulations on adopting your first greyhound. You must realize that greyhounds as pets and companion animals are additive and soon you will want a second one to keep the current one happy and active!

In regards to worms, greyhounds pick up infection from the droppings of all breeds of dog when they are walked in parks or housed in a yard with other dogs which pass eggs into the common environment to spread worm infection.

In most cases, it is recommended to worm a house trained, single dog once every 4-6 months to ensure that he keeps relatively free of worms.

One worm, the common tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, is spread by fleas and they can be shared by dogs in contact, so it is important to regularly check the stools passed for ‘cucumber’ like moving segments which indicate that the greyhound may have picked up this tapeworm from a another dog with friendly fleas.

The tell-tale sign is the dog will skid its butt along the grass in an attempt to relieve the sensation of ‘crawling’ segments around its anus.

The other reason for butt-skidding is a blocked anal gland if you feed soft foods to your older greyhound.

You may have to take the animal to your vet to have the anal glands cleared. If you walk in area around ponds or stand in wet area which other dogs may share and pass droppings, then you must worm out regularly every 2-3 months, as recommended by your own vet, to control hook worms.

Hook worm larvae can survive for long periods in contaminated wet areas around dog wash areas and trees.

The larvae penetrate the webbing between the pads and gain access to the blood and then the bowels as the greyhounds stands patiently waiting for you to finish chatting for a few minutes to a friend! They can cause anaemia and loss of condition.

In regards to vaccination, most companion animals are given a booster vaccination against common flu-like viruses and distemper/hepatitis at 12 month intervals, often when the animal is taken to your vet to have a the animal’s teeth descaled or for a general health check.

There is at present some controversy regarding the safety and need for annual booster vaccinations in adult dogs, as there have been cases of allergic reactions and even vaccination failure following routine yearly needles.

I would suggest that you discuss the pros and cons, other than base your decision on the the price of vaccination, with your own vet.

Question – use of antibiotics

I recently moved to Ireland and, given that I am in a farming community, have found it a lot easier to obtain medicaments for my dogs. I am confused about the use of antibiotics in treating dogs.

For example, would the same antibiotics be used on cuts as something like an ear infection?

Name & address supplied


In many cases, the same antibiotic type or blend of antibiotics would be used to target a specific bacterial infection on the skin for a cut as well as to treat the same infective cause in the ear.

However, the form of the antibiotic may change from a powder for the skin to a thick ointment or gel for an ear infection, because powders cannot be applied easily into the ear canal, or a liquid can run of the ear canal after the antibiotic has been delivered into the ear canal.

Some ear preparations contain an evaporative alcohol carrier which evaporates in the warm ear canal to revert to a powder to adhere to the wall of the canal.

Antibiotics can have broadspectrum activity in treating a wide range of gram positive or gram negative bacteria, whilst others have a small spectrum of target organisms and are not effective for common bacterial infections.

Antibiotic creams and ointments used in the ear canal often contain an antifungal drug to control ‘yeast-like ‘growth in the ear canal or a corticosteroid preparation to relieve inflammation and sensitivity to help the greyhound stop scratching or rubbing the infected ear.

Certainly, only specific formulations of antibiotics should be used in the eyes as the cornea is sensitive to allergies and easily damaged by preparations with an incorrect pH of level of acid or alkaline.

Antibiotics used to treat mastitis in cattle are often used to infected cuticles on the toes, but greyhounds have an urge to lick wounds or weepy sores and can ingest the antibiotic which would be likely to result in diarrhoea or an acute allergic reaction such as an allergy to penicillin.

Question – using a laser

I recently bought a second hand laser which might have been a mistake because the instruction book wasn’t included. Can you give me any advice on what I should or shouldn’t do please.

Name & address supplied


It would be important to read the laser frequency on the machine’s specification panel, as this can vary from a ‘cold’ laser to a newer higher power model and differing forms of wavelength beam which would require specific management and have more targeted uses.

I suggest that you contact the manufacturer and request a manual of operation, or ‘Goggle’ the brand name and check its characteristics. In some cases, trainers who use the same type of laser machine would be able to provide you some practical ways of applying the therapy, provided they are not too competitive in regards to giving you the advice!

It is most important with all lasers to ensure the safety of the greyhounds from over-exposure to the therapy as well as yourself as the treating person. Lasers are usually the ‘cold’ or low -level Class 2, emitting a light beam with a wave length of 632.8nm

They are used to assist healing of skin and wounds as they promote collagen synthesis and are useful for treating tendon and ligament injuries of the toes and lower limb.

The gallium form of ‘cold’ laser penetrates up to 5 mm into the tissue and the helium form up 15mm. It is most important to check the type that you have before using it for treating wounds or stimulating acupuncture and other trigger points.

Your vet will be able to give you specific advice and recommendations for treating specific types of injuries.