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Oral Hygiene for Greyhounds

By gapnsw.com.au

How often should a greyhound’s teeth be inspected by the vet?

As a rule of thumb, younger greyhounds and older greyhounds without a history of oral health conditions would visit the vet approximately every 12 months for vaccinations and other checks, including a dental examination.

For older greyhounds, we would suggest visiting the vet every 6 months.

In many cases, a dog will be given general anesthesia so that any scraping or removal of teeth can be performed while the dog is in a sleep-like state.

General anesthesia is important for the safety and accuracy of the procedures, however it is important to know that an anesthetised brain doesn’t respond to pain signals or reflexes, so it’s in the interest of welfare. In many cases, a vet will ask that the animal fasts before visiting for a dental procedure.

Brushing a greyhound’s teeth

Regularity

Vets do often recommend regular brushing as part of normal canine hygiene.

If you can develop the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth once a day, that will go a long way in helping to prevent dental diseases, especially as the dog ages.

Products

There are many available products on the market to clean your dog’s teeth, including specialised toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Human toothbrushes can often be difficult to use, so we typically recommend rubber finger brushes, which are small gloves worn on the fingers. You then have more control and ability to move tooth-by-tooth.

Dog toothpaste can be used as well. It’s typically formulated without the need to rinse and has a meaty flavour rather than the artificial minty versions preferred by humans.

How dog toothpaste works

Most dog kinds of toothpaste are referred to as “enzymatic toothpaste”. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze and speed up biological reactions. These are commonly:

Lactoperoxidase - naturally secreted from salivary glands to create an antibacterial effect

Lysozyme - naturally secreted from salivary glands (and tear glands) that causes cell death and an antimicrobial effect

Lactoferrin - Binds to bacterial walls and creates an oxidation effect that helps wash away stains and plaque. It is part of mammal’s immune systems and inhibits skin diseases.

Training a dog to brush their teeth

If your dog was only recently adopted, it is important to first build trust in that motions relating to tooth-brushing are perceived as positive by the dog.

One strategy is to spread peanut butter on the finger brush/toothbrush and approach the dog in a predictable manner and allow them to lick it off. The dog can also be verbally rewarded afterwards with a “Yes” or “Good dog” further associating the process with positivity.

Over time, dog owners can gently raise their lips and look at the teeth and then gradually move the brush into the mouth.

Safety

Your safety is the priority. There are inherent risks of brushing a dog’s teeth, keep yourself safe at all times, even if that means abstaining from brushing a dog’s teeth.

Alternatively, please work with your veterinarian. There are also products that can be added to a dog’s water to assist.

Bones

Bones can be a great way to help clean your dog's teeth, but it’s important to pick the right ones and understand there are risks involved.

Always choose raw bones - not cooked.

Look for larger bones such as knuckles. The fibrous nature of the bones and their firmness helps to break off the plaque and tartar that form on teeth. Chewing bones helps to prevent periodontal disease and infections in the mouth (and benefit from the aforementioned enzymes the salivary glands produce).

However, the use of bones should be limited before it is broken down into smaller pieces which could be choking hazards. We advise trading with the dog with a high-value treat or dinner - don’t just take it from them. This largely depends if the greyhound is a “scoffer” or not.

What is periodontal disease? 

Periodontal disease refers to any type of disease affecting the gums. It can occur in both humans and animals.

Unlike the teeth, which are hard enamel, the gums are soft tissue, and they can be prone to infections due to the bacteria that forms in the mouth. Bacteria can also enter the teeth through the gums and cause infections within the teeth themselves.

Periodontal disease can be identified in dogs by examining the gums. The gums will appear to be red, inflamed, and/or bleeding. If identified, it’s best to visit a veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper examination.

What other oral conditions are prevalent in dogs?

If periodontal disease spreads in a dog, they can end up with infections or dental cavities in teeth just like humans. Other dental conditions include:
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth decay/cavities
  • Plaque buildup
  • Enamel defects
Regular oral checkups can keep you updated on the condition of your dog’s teeth and identify any irregularities that could lead to further health concerns.

Do new greyhounds in the GAP program see a dentist? 

Yes.

All of our greyhounds at Greyhounds As Pets will have undergone a recent dental exam before they're re-homed.

We keep detailed records of all veterinary care and clinical notes on each dog, including any dental treatments and exams they've received. When greyhounds are adopted, we’ll always inform their new owners of any dental concerns or outstanding issues with the dog’s teeth.

Adopting a Greyhound: Communication Regarding Health and Oral Hygiene

When adopting a greyhound from GAP, we aim to ensure your new companion is in the best possible health, which includes oral health and hygiene as well.

Our greyhounds are kept in our high-quality facilities, and our wonderful carers attend to appropriate hygiene routines whilst in our care.

During the adoption process, we can show you the dog's teeth and any pertinent medical records. They should be vaccinated, de-wormed, and ready to live a happy, normal life in their new home with you.

Following adoption, it's always good to schedule regular checkups with your vet to ensure that everything's going well.

For any questions, please contact us, or to view our dogs for adoption, get started here!