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Know the Signs: 5 Most Common Health Issues in Whippets

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on May 27, 2023

Whippets, known for their speed, slender build, and gentle temperament, are generally healthy dogs. However, like all breeds, they are predisposed to certain health conditions. Understanding these potential health issues and knowing their signs can help owners provide the best possible care for their Whippet companions.

  1. Heart Disease

Whippets, particularly as they age, are at risk for developing heart disease. Mitral valve disease, a condition where the heart’s mitral valve does not close properly, is the most common form seen in this breed.

Signs of heart disease can include coughing, shortness of breath, decreased appetite, lethargy, or swelling in the abdomen. Regular vet check-ups, which typically include listening to the heart, can help identify heart disease early, and treatments can often manage the condition.

  1. Anesthesia Sensitivity

Whippets have a low body fat percentage which can make them more sensitive to anesthesia. Their bodies may metabolize drugs differently, making it crucial to have a vet who understands this sensitivity when surgery or other procedures requiring anesthesia are needed.

Signs of anesthesia sensitivity include slow recovery following anesthesia, unexpected reactions such as low blood pressure or temperature, and in severe cases, seizures. Always inform any new vet of your Whippet’s potential sensitivity to anesthesia.

  1. Eye Conditions

Whippets can be prone to certain eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and cataracts. PRA is a degenerative disease that eventually leads to blindness, while cataracts can obscure vision and may require surgery.

Signs of eye issues include bumping into objects, changes in eye color or clarity, excessive tearing, redness, or rubbing at the eyes. Regular eye exams can aid in early detection and treatment.

  1. Skin Lacerations

Whippets have thin skin and are prone to cuts and lacerations. Their lean bodies do not provide much protection against injury, making them more susceptible to wounds that can become serious if not treated promptly.

Signs of skin lacerations include visible wounds, bleeding, excessive licking of a particular area, or changes in behavior such as hiding or aggression due to pain. Clean minor cuts and consult your vet for further care instructions. Seek immediate veterinary care for deeper wounds.

  1. Deafness

While not as common as the other conditions, Whippets can be prone to deafness, particularly as they age. It can occur in one or both ears and may be congenital (from birth) or acquired later in life.

Signs of deafness include not responding to commands or sounds, appearing startled when approached, or excessive barking. If you suspect your Whippet may be deaf or experiencing hearing loss, consult your vet for a thorough examination and potential hearing tests.


Despite these potential health risks, Whippets are known to be one of the healthier dog breeds. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, adequate exercise, and proper care, especially considering their skin sensitivity, can contribute to a healthier and happier life for your Whippet. Always consult with your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, physical condition, or routine. They are the best resource for addressing any health concerns and ensuring that your Whippet can enjoy their life to the fullest.

NEXT UP: Since the pandemic, veterinarian bills have skyrocketed. This website lets you compare prices on all the pet insurance companies at once.

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