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 Petrodex Dog Dental Care Kit 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.
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 C.E.T. pet toothpaste 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.
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.
Have you ever brushed a greyhound's teeth? - What else do you do to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy?
SivanP on February 28, 2014:
i miss my dog..
John Dyhouse from UK on February 14, 2014:
I haven't done it myself, and when we had a dog, ours passed away a few years ago after 18 wonderful years with us, we used to rely on those biscuits you can buy to clean the dogs teeth.
H1Th3r3 on January 03, 2014:
I started brushing our Italian Greyhound mix with our Sonicare toothbrush. She tolerates it pretty well, but I need to do it more often. I've been sure to show her that I use the Sonicare everyday and it seems to work with her (of course, with a different brushhead). :-)
Rose Jones on April 19, 2013:
Oh, man I am feeling so guilty! I will brush Buckwheat's teeth today. I really loved the video you found, it is a very good demonstration of how to gradually work into fully brushing your dogs teeth.
flycatcherrr (author) on March 12, 2013:
@Sniff It Out: That's exactly what I do, too - except for my little female (a weird little greyhound), who just looooves getting her teeth brushed (poultry flavour toothpaste) and insists on getting it done every night after her evening meal. :)
Sniff It Out on March 12, 2013:
My other half usually takes on the task of brushing our grey's teeth... he gets his teeth brushed every other day with a beef flavoured toothpaste and in between he gets those dentastix or a pigs ear to chew on, it's a regime we had with our first greyhound too and we never had to have him to the vets because of dental problems.
anonymous on February 05, 2013:
Wow, great advice. I know a couple of beautiful dogs that could do with a brushing of teeth. Question. Can you use electric toothbrush? Surely this will be better than manual ?
flycatcherrr (author) on January 04, 2013:
@JimHofman: Peanut butter is the regular toothpaste flavor for my pups, but I think my little female would prefer chicken. :) Yes, so important! Dog owners are really just starting to learn what a big impact dental care has on a dog's overall health and disease prevention.
JimHofman on January 04, 2013:
It's so important to brush your dog's teeth! We brush ours regularly to prevent any problems. The vet always comments on how good her teeth and gums look. She likes the beef and peanut butter toothpaste flavors.
anonymous on October 26, 2012:
Like the video, I found it best to ease our greyhound into it. I let him just lick the toothpaste from the toothpaste for a while, then brushed a few teeth, and now I can brush all of them. He doesn't love it, but it doesn't seem like he hates it either. We also give him a small treat afterwards so he looks forward to it. It's nice to see a video, though!
irminia on September 07, 2012:
So, I never would have thougt that such a thing as a tooth paste for dogs exists. But I know that they do get dirty teeth if they are given soft food. Very encouraging (and also fun) to see (video) that a dog can actually get used to toothbrushing.
Lynda Makara from California on August 04, 2012:
Wow, those are some white teeth. I brush my dog's teeth the same way I brush mine, using a 45 degree angle and a circular motion to remove plaque at the gumline. Seems to be working so far.Angel blessings.
Itaya Lightbourne from Topeka, KS on August 03, 2012:
I'd rather brush a dog's teeth than try and brush a cat's! Good article. :)
Mona from Iowa on August 03, 2012:
Long go in another life I was a vet tech and worked at a clinic next to a racing track. As a result I adopted 3 who were to be destroyed. And yes they had nasty teeth so it was a good thing I work for a vet to get a regular dental. Beautifully done lens. Blessed.
DuaneJ on August 02, 2012: