Monday, November 7, 2011

Pearly Whites

Reagan's teeth - 4 years old, never cleaned

Greyhound people know that greyhounds are notorious for their bad teeth. They often have gross tartar build up. Receding, puffy, bleeding gums. Bad breath. And need expensive, annual dental cleanings that often result in at least one rotten tooth pulled. I have had eleven greyhounds since 1993 so I have had my fair share of greyhound dental issues.

Reagan's teeth

Yes, feeding a raw food diet can help with teeth significantly, but I have not found it to be the ultimate solution for greyhounds.  Generally, eating raw meaty bones like chicken backs and turkey necks will help keep the back molars clean, but does not keep the canine or front teeth clean.

The only thing I have found to consistently work well is DAILY BRUSHING.  We have adopted daily brushing into our routine and it has made a huge difference.  We very rarely, if ever, do dental cleanings.  Both Katie and Travis passed away with healthy mouths and all of their teeth.  Their only teeth cleanings were prior to adoption.  Reagan is four years old (we adopted her at 10 months), does not eat raw food (remember it does not agree with her and she is our kibble eater), has never had her teeth cleaned, and her teeth are perfect.  Riley had her teeth cleaned over three years ago, but I am sure she will never need another dental cleaning as her mouth is very healthy.
Riley's Teeth - 5 years old, cleaned over 3 years ago

Brushing is very easy and should take no more than one minute.  It does not matter when you brush during the day.  Just pick a time that is easiest for you to remember.  I tend to brush dog teeth after work when the hounds are coming into the house after being turned out and they are all confined to the dog room.

We use a soft bristle toothbrush for humans and we change it out ever few months.  And we use Petrodex dog toothpaste.  It must be toothpaste for dogs as it has to be safe to swallow.

You only have to brush the outside of the teeth.  I add a generous amount of toothpaste to the brush and brush one side of the dog's mouth.  Then I add another strip to the toothbrush and brush the other side of the mouth.  See video below.
If your greyhound resists the brushing, be gentle, use lots of tasty toothpaste, keep the session less than a minute, and end on a good note (don't let your dog struggle free and then stop there, get him to relax and accept and reward by stopping there).  It is best if you start with clean, pain free teeth.  If your dog fiercely resists, it could mean he a bad tooth that needs to be pulled.

I wish more vets would stress the importance of DAILY brushing.  Dental cleanings are such a poor substitute for daily care.
I think Katie was 10 years old when I took the photo above, but this is how her teeth looked at 12 years of age also.  Her only dental cleaning was at 2 years of age. She did not stink, she was pain free, had all of her teeth, and just look at how healthy her mouth was.  Brush! Brush!