Greyhounds are sleek and elegant dogs -- but that aristocratic image can fall short when a beautiful greyhound has bad breath and teeth with buildup. Fortunately, vigilant greyhound owners can do a great deal to keep their pet's teeth healthy and clean, even if a greyhound has very poor teeth.
Characteristics of Gingivitis in Greyhounds
Greyhounds with gingivitis will often display red gums or swollen-looking gums, and visible plaque in the form of yellowish or brownish buildup near the gums. The greyhound will often have bad breath. Additionally, the greyhound with gingivitis may exhibit signs of discomfort while chewing food or when the mouth is touched, especially in the gum area.
Causes of Gingivitis in Greyhounds
Gingivitis can be caused by several things, but is chiefly due to the buildup of bacteria on the teeth and gums. A greyhound's diet during their racing years is often a partially raw diet that is high in bacteria, which may encourage faster formation of plaque that causes gingivitis. However, bacteria will collect in the mouth with any type of diet, including an all kibble diet, if it is not regularly removed through dental care.
Treating Gingivitis in Greyhounds
Gingivitis, as the earliest stage of gum disease, can sometimes be treated at home. A pet owner may be able to remove some minor plaque buildup by brushing the dog's teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that is made for dogs. Human toothpaste can make greyhounds ill and should not be used. In cases where there is a great deal of gingivitis, or in cases where the plaque has started to turn to tartar, a professional dental cleaning may be required to treat the problem. Greyhound owners should discuss whether their dog needs regular dentals with their veterinarian. Because full dental procedures require the dog to be put under anesthesia -- which greyhounds are particularly sensitive to -- some vets will recommend dental procedures for greyhounds less frequently than for other breeds. Some veterinarians now offer ultrasonic dental cleaning, which is a "touch up" type dental procedure that can remove plaque and bacteria without the need for anesthetic.
Preventing Gingivitis in Greyhounds
Greyhound owners can prevent gingivitis to a large degree with regular teeth brushing. Daily brushing is best, however any regular brushing is better than none. Greyhound owners should make an effort to get their dog accustomed to regular brushings, making it a part of the daily routine. The National Greyhound Adoption Program recommends giving greyhounds chew toys that are designed to clean the teeth through their soft rubberized nubs. There are also some water additives that may help protect your greyhound's teeth from bacteria.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.