Keeping Those Pearly Whites Sparkling

by Houndstooth on

One thing that Greyhound owners know a lot about, or quickly learn, is about dental health.  Our recent scare with Blueberry’s own dental health was a reminder for me that we need to be more vigilant here about taking care of all our dogs’ teeth.  Greyhounds are particularly notorious for having bad teeth, and there are a lot of theories about why, but the one that makes the most sense to me is that it’s simply the shape of their mouths, combined with some genetics.

Yes, I Brush My Teeth -- Tales And TailsOur first Greyhound was  Treat, and she had really bad teeth, despite our serious  efforts to keep them clean.  Every couple of years she’d have to have a dental done and I felt like a bit of a failure each time she had to go under anesthesia for one, but I also knew it was important, and her breath would singe the eyebrows off Ernest Borgnine.  She was a therapy dog and I couldn’t have her breath causing people to pass out and gag.  At the same time, Hawk, who was also living with us, never ended up needing a dental.

Lilac had pretty good dental health until she became a teenager.  Her teeth took a turn for the worse, I’m afraid, and I was reluctant to put such an old dog under anesthesia.  Blueberry is her daughter, and her health has very much paralleled Lilac’s in many ways.  The pattern of white hairs on her muzzle is identical to Lilac’s, she developed SLO at close to the same age as her mother, and she’s starting to have stinky teeth, too.  I wasn’t keen to put Blue under anesthesia at her age, but the tooth abscess forced our hand, and we had her teeth cleaned while she was having those bad teeth pulled.

I could tell she was feeling better the very next day after the anesthesia wore off. She had two very small teeth pulled and you can barely tell.  The next day, she was back to being the first one done with her dinner.  She also has some special teeth cleaning food from Science Diet that we’re using as treats, because it’s just too expensive to feed on a regular basis, and it’s very fatty.  One as a treat is fine for our dogs who are in shape, but as a meal, it wouldn’t be my choice for them.

Tooth Brushing Is Important -- Tales And TailsNow that the experience is over, we’re left with a deeper commitment to keeping all the dogs’ teeth clean.  Küster and Morgan generally have pretty clean teeth without a lot of work from us, but we still need to watch them.  Bunny gets her teeth brushed regularly and sometimes I scale them as well.  Her teeth and gums have remained in pretty good shape and I’m hoping that trend will continue.

Here’s our list of things we do to help keep the dogs’ teeth clean:

  • We feed the dogs hard kibble and only add in soft food for special occasions.   I know a lot of people also like feeding raw, but that’s not a feasible solution for us.  I do know that raw feeders report excellent dental health, though.
  • The dogs get hard, crunchy treats.  Science Diet T/D formula food is very popular here.  Once  a week I try to give them Greenies or some other kind of dental treat.
  • Giving them bones or antlers to chew on, while supervised, is another thing we try to do.
  • Regular tooth brushing happens here.  It’s going to start happening more often, but it happens at least twice a week here now.  Using a child’s battery operated toothbrush can work for your dog, too.

If you have a dog who doesn’t like tooth brushing, you can still win them over. It won’t require wrestling on your part.  Probably.  Bunny knows that we’re going to the nursing home when I brush her teeth.  We use flavored canine tooth paste that she really likes and I keep the tooth brushing short.  If I overdo it, I know she won’t enjoy it and I want to keep her coming back for more.  She will come into the bathroom with me and stand patiently for me to brush her teeth, so I think it’s something she likes.  Blueberry doesn’t line up in the bathroom, but she does lay on the couch and let me brush her teeth.  They are less happy about me scaling their teeth, so I keep those sessions short and there are a lot of rewards after it’s over.  

I Have A Hello Kitty Toothbrush -- Tales And TailsThere are a lot of important reasons to keep your dog’s teeth healthy.  Abscesses and gum infections are uncomfortable and smell bad.  There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as somebody needing to roll down a car window and wiping away tears as they sit in a car with your dog.  The more serious problem is that heart infections can happen because of periodontal disease.  This is true in humans and in dogs.  The leading theory is that the bacteria in the mouth gets into the bloodstream and attacks the heart.  That’s definitely not something you want to deal with.

So, aside from avoiding bad breath in your canine companion, brushing his or her teeth can extend and improve the quality of their lives.  If you take good care of your dog’s teeth, you can avoid visits from the tooth fairy after puppyhood is behind you.  It can save you a lot of money in vet bills and give you peace of mind.

FitDog Friday


We’re participating in a new blog hop today, too.  It’s the FitDog Friday Blog Hop sponsored by Peggy’s Pet Place and SlimDoggy.  It’s a chance to blog about pet fitness news, diet and nutrition, healthy activities, ways to exercise with your dog, photos of your dog in agility, or anything related to health, exercising and burning calories together with your furry best friend.

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27 Responses to "Keeping Those Pearly Whites Sparkling"
  1. Goose says:

    Oh how I DO NOT like the teeth brushing. MOM does use other methods for keeping my teeth clean. She will admit they are not the best now at the age of 13. But she does keep trying. Maybe I should give her a break with the tooth brush. But I just don’t like it, or my nails to be trimmed. Lucky for me I run a lot and that keeps them fairly good.

  2. She’s Bunny right? Oh, I wanna see her smile.
    What a lovely eyes you got Bunny, you’re sure a great commercial model for Pet Gel


  3. Declan says:

    Mum is very keen on all this * sigh * I have my teeth brushed every other day and now she has bought a metal pokey descaler thing. Mum says he can really tell the difference with my breath and my gums if she doesn’t clean regularly. So far my teeth are pretty good save for a couple of chips due to my overshot top jaw, so they hit the floor a lot!

  4. Sue says:

    Good idea to use a childs toothbrush. Song’s teeth weren’t good, but Polly’s are excellent. Think a lot of racing Greys are fed a sloppy food, which can’t help the teeth.

    You can buy stuff that goes on food and others that go in the drinking water that are supposed to stop the build up of plaque by changing the chemicals in the dogs saliva.

  5. Bethany says:

    My mom’s grey had terrible teeth… this is a great and very helpful FitDog Friday post! Thanks!

  6. genjiscorner says:

    Three outa four of our guys got dentals in the past 6 months. We have been diligent about brushing since then. Now that the weather is warmer, we can give them fresh bones to chew on outside.

  7. Beryl considers having to chew raw bones an insult to a Greyhound Princess:( I consider cleaning her teeth too hard to remember to do:( And she doesn’t even mind having them done! I wonder what she would think of a battery operated toothbrush? Frankie will eat raw bones, his teeth never need cleaning.

  8. Is Bunny STANDING in the bath tub? My, I’m impressed. Those Brindle Kids will come into the bathroom but they hug the wall in an attempt to not accidentally fall in the tub. 🙂 Greyhound teeth cleaning – not my favorite job but very necessary.

  9. SlimDoggy says:

    I think that it is pretty cool that Blueberry will let you do this. The electric toothbrush is a great idea.

    I think SlimDoggy Jack would prefer “New York Strip” flavored paste if he had a choice!

  10. Roxy had a dental cleaning about 3 years ago, but she has done really good since then. I started brushing Torrey’s teeth, and she actually likes it I think. She will lay done when I get the brush, her teeth are great so far.

  11. We aren’t fond of that toothbrush but Mom says we are getting better. And she is getting better at remembering to do it.

    Great PSA.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  12. This is something I have recently recommitted myself to too.

  13. Peggy Frezon says:

    You’re right, keeping our pets healthy means taking care of every little part of them, and the teeth are often neglected. You are doing a great job of keeping them sparkling clean!

  14. wyatt says:

    I love to get my teeth brushed…we have liver flavored toothpaste! Stanzie is not a fan of brushing…maybe if she had a ‘Hello Kitty’ toothbrush..


  15. emma says:

    ugh, so many blog hops, I am getting them all mixed up and just did not even join one today. I have to make notes of these. We are big teeth brushers…every night before bed unless mom is out of town and we have great teeth. We are trying a gel on my cat bro’s teeth because it is too hard to brush cat teeth. If you make it a habit from when we are pups it is something that we just do and actually, we love it. Hope Bunny doesn’t have any serious troubles with her teeth despite all the things you are doing. You can’t change genetics!

  16. Millie says:

    Miss Bunny I can’t believe you use a “Hello Kitty” tooth brush! You are such a good girl to let your mom brush your teeth. So far I chew on lots of antlers and nylabones to help keep my teeth looking good. Oh yeah I also get a denta stix every day too.

  17. Two French Bulldogs says:

    Mom tries to brush our teeth daily. It sure has improved my stinky breath
    Benny & Lily

  18. Great tips! I have been lax with it, too; I try to brush Pyrrha’s teeth once a week, but even that doesn’t always happen. She LOVES the toothpaste, but she hates the brushing. She’s gotten to the point where she’ll tolerate it now, though, so I feel like that’s an improvement. I hadn’t thought about a child’s powered toothbrush! Good idea…

  19. Oooooh I likes your toofbrush, my sissy has a princess one.
    Doxies has bad toofers too cuz we has a long nose like greyhounds. We brush ours but lately mum has been lazy. And we has beef flavored toofpaste, it tastes good but not like real beef though.


  20. Ryker says:

    We do raw bones for dental care. Chicken backs and wings work great.

  21. Lindy says:

    We were fortunate with Sophie not having major dental problems, but after she developed malignant hyperthermia during one dental cleaning, we decided she would not undergo anesthesia again unless absolutely necessary. She didn’t care for having her teeth brushed, but she loved the poultry-flavored toothpaste. We figured getting a dab on her gumline, a quick brush, and her tongue could do the rest! ;-9

  22. Jack had bad teeth. He was good about letting me work of them though. Joey and Scout have good teeth so far. We think chewing on bully sticks has really helped them.

  23. Very important message, I’ve “stumbled” it. Unfortunately I’ve never had much luck with brushing my pooches teeth. Charlie just wants to eat whatever it is I have in my hand. I might try again; after all, if I could get them to tolerate (even like!) having ear drops, I can get them to tolerate the toothbrush. I do feed raw, and have noticed a huge improvement on their teeth since.

  24. Great tips to help take care of teeth! 🙂

  25. KB says:

    A very important message! Does Kuster let you brush his teeth? R tries to bite the head of the toothbrush off, and he has succeeded in the past. K loved have her teeth brushed daily and Shyla does too. What is with R?

    We are scared of antlers and bones after an intestinal obstruction in one of our dogs from breaking off a piece. So, what to do with R, aside from crunchy treats? We’re trying an enzymatic additive to his water but I’m not sure how much it really does.

    In any case, thanks for an important post!

  26. I would like to add to all of your greyt ideas something I learned a long time ago. Giving your dogs frozen turkey necks under supervision, once a week has proven to keep their teeth in greyt shape. I buy them in 30 pound boxes from a meat dealer. :o)

  27. Rosemary says:

    I’ve had Gracie since she was7 weeks old so her teeth are great, Henri spent his first 8 months in a cage so his are not as great. They get the deer antlers and hard chews but I don’t brush their teeth. I’ve been using Biotene for dogs in their drinking water. A friend of mine’s vet recommended it to her and her dogs teeth are great, so Gracie and Henri get it.
    Love your Hello Kitty toothbrush Bunny!

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