Dental care for your greyhound
Why is it so important to care for your dogs teeth?
The build up of plaque on a dogs teeth is how dental disease can start. It is vital that this plaque is removed because even small amounts contain hundreds and millions of bacteria. When plaque accumulates over a period of time it turns into tartar which is a mineralised concretion of tartar.
Tartar in turn attracts more plaque and becomes a breeding ground for more bacteria.
The tartar build up at and under the gum line enables the entrance and growth of bacteria under the gums. Plaque can be removed with regular brushing but tartar build up has to be removed by your vet, so you can see that it is very important to care for your dogs teeth.
Dental disease is serious and studies have shown that virtually every single dog will develop periodontal disease during it’s lifetime. Periodontal disease is the common term used to describe any disease or inflammation around the teeth.
The reason it is so serious is that because of the ample blood supply to the gums, infections in the mouth can also poison the dog systemically via the bloodstream, potentially affecting the heart, kidneys, liver and the respiratory system.
How do I know if my dog is affected?
If your dog has bad breath or halitosis this is often caused by gum infection or the result of bacterial breakdown of debris trapped between the teeth or in the tartar.
Look in your dogs mouth and check teeth for discolouration, plaque or tartar and the gums for inflammation. Most mouth problems are clearly visible and it’s advised to train your dog to let you routinely examine its teeth, gums and mouth.
How can I help to prevent dental disease?
The most efficient way to promote good oral hygiene is to routinely brush your dogs teeth and gums. You will have to introduce your dog gradually to this procedure initially. One way of doing this would be to put some specially formulated dog toothpaste on your finger and rub his teeth and gums at the same time. The doggy toothpastes are meaty flavoured and free from fluoride which can be toxic to dogs. There are now toothpastes that contain antibacterial enzymes with help discourage bacteria growth.
When you progress to a brush look for soft-bristled brushes with long handles and don’t try to brush all of your dog’s teeth on the first day. Use a circular motion, gently scrubbing plaque away from the gum line. Have a container of water handy so that you can dip the brush in frequently to help rinse the plaque from your dogs’ teeth.
Some dogs will eventually tolerate an electric toothbrush, but these are noisy and need to be introduced very slowly. An electric toothbrush is a very efficient and effective way of cleaning teeth so it’s worth persevering!
There are lots of dental care products on the market that can be bought from your vets, pet shop or over the internet. These include dry foods that are designed to reduce plaque and tartar through daily feeding, anti-plaque solutions to add to your dogs drinking water, toothpaste kits and dental chews.
Author – Sue Shearing