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How to Brush your Greyhounds Teeth
Regular Dog Dental Care is Essential for Retired Racing Greyhounds Health
No matter what breed of dog you own, good dental care can prevent health problems for your dog and cut your vet bills, too. And if your dog is a greyhound, dental hygiene is extra-important - retired racing greyhounds seem to be prone to tooth problems.
Partly the problems with greyhounds' teeth seems to be a genetic trait, and partly a result of soft foods and limited dental care in their track career. A retired racer can usually use a professional dental cleaning when he first retires, to remove the hard tartar build-up of years. Then, as the greyhound's owner, it's up to you to keep his teeth clean.
Learn how to brush your greyhound's teeth and teach him to accept his daily dental care as part of his daily routine. Good dental hygiene will help your ex-racer to stay healthy and happy for years to come.
The photographs on this page are by the author, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.
Greyhound with Bad Teeth - This dog's stinky bad breath is only the beginning of his problems...
Oral Care is Vital for Greyhounds
Greyhounds - and especially retired racing greyhounds, who were raised on a high-protein diet - are famous for bad teeth. Plaque and tartar seem to build up easily on their teeth, causing bad breath, bleeding gums, pain when eating (and often loss of appetite as a result), tooth and bone loss, and worse. Bacteria from mouth infections can move into the dog's bloodstream and go on to attack the dog's internal organs. Poor dental hygiene can end up shortening your dog's life. Yes, dog dental care is that important.
Greyhound with Clean Teeth - Daily tooth brushing + crunchy treats = healthy white teeth
Toothbrush & Toothpaste for Dogs - Never brush dog's teeth with toothpaste made for humans!
Tooth brushing, combined with a professional cleaning from time to time, is the most highly recommended form of greyhound dental care.
Warning: Do not use human toothpaste for your dog!
Toothpaste made for people has various ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If they could learn to rinse and spit, as we do, it might not be a big issue but dogs do swallow what goes into their mouth. Fluoride, xylitol or other artificial sweeteners used in human toothpaste (really!), additives such as sudsing agents that make it foam up when we brush, and the like are all potentially dangerous for dogs. The effects can be quite severe, including liver and kidney damage.
Do choose a paste that is made specifically for pet use.
I recommend the to get started with - it's the same one I usually suggest for our new greyhound adopters. You can order it from Amazon if that's more convenient for you, but it's pretty certain that your local pet supply store will carry the Petrodex kit or something very similar. The kit I use includes the pet toothpaste and a couple of brushes - one bristle brush with two heads, one large and one small, and a rubber-y fingertip brush that some dogs seem to find less objectionable. Petrodex Dog Dental Care Kit
This kit includes a tube of toothpaste made for dogs as well as two different kinds of dog toothbrush so you can get an idea of what kind of toothbrush will work best for you and your greyhound. Most dogs love the Beef-flavoured toothpaste, but you can also get the same kit with Poultry/Chicken or Peanut Butter toothpaste instead. You know your dog - choose the taste he prefers and your introduction to tooth brushing will go much smoother!
How to Brush Your Greyhound's Teeth - Video Demonstration
Fortunately, it's not hard to learn how to brush a dog's teeth - and it's often quite easy when your dog is a retired racing greyhound, as they're generally very well used to being handled. If you introduce the doggie dental care tools and mouth handling to your greyhound in small easy stages, he will soon come to accept the tooth-brushing as part of his daily routine.
Tips for Successful Greyhound Dog Dental Care
If your greyhound isn't too thrilled about getting dental hygiene care, the less time you spend on the task, the happier he will be. Start slow with just a touch of the brush to his mouth, and build up slowly to touching the teeth. Practice a lot of handling your dog's muzzle and teeth, rewarding his tolerance with tasty treats if he's food-motivated (and most dogs are keen on food, fortunately.)
Speaking of treats, you can really help a greyhound to keep his teeth healthy if you give him the occasional "tartar buster" knuckle bone, easily found at good pet supply stores, and feed with a good qualitycrunchy kibble instead of sticky-soft canned food. It's okay to give treats that are soft, but do follow up with a hard biscuit (such as a Milk-Bone for example) and a drink of water, if you aren't able to brush the dog's teeth clean after the snack. This really makes quite a difference in preventing the build-up of plague and bacteria on his teeth, and that is vital to good oral health.
For a senior dog with super-sensitive gums who is very touchy about having a brush in his mouth, you can work up to brushing your greyhound's teeth properly by starting with a gentle touch of a soft baby toothbrush or introducing your finger wrapped in a piece of gauze or a piece of lightweight cotton.
Even a swipe of a toothpaste-smeared cloth across the outer tooth surface and the gums is better than no attempt at dental hygiene at all, if that is the best you can manage to begin with.
The most important thing is to use a special toothpaste made for dogs - I also like but I don't think there's all that much difference between most quality brands of pet toothpaste. Never brush your dog's teeth with a toothpaste made for humans! Their systems can't tolerate the fluoride in toothpaste made for human use. C.E.T. pet toothpaste
Greyhounds Deserve Your Help to Keep Their Teeth Healthy!
If you have been trying to ignore your greyhound's teeth and just kind of "hope for the best" - please reconsider. Even if your grey is touchy about having his mouth handled, like my big male greyhound (photo above) - it is never too late to start a routine of good dog dental hygiene. With patience, you really can learn how to brush your greyhound's teeth and teach your greyhound to accept the tooth brushing as just another part of his daily routine.