Did you know that February is National Pet Dental Health Month? This is a good opportunity to talk about how you can keep your hound healthy.
Does your hound have bad breath? Is the hair along the muzzle discolored and stiff (this is from bacteria)? Has your hound’s eating habits changed? Do you notice any pawing at the face? Any swelling or nodules at the jaw line?
Your hound may have dirty teeth! Check for tartar buildup on teeth, red and bleeding gums, and/or swollen gums and a reluctance to allow you to open the mouth.
Retired racers often have dirty teeth. Some of it is genetic but often it is because some foods are soft and tarter builds up fast. Tartar is produced when mucus (called plaque) builds up and hardens on the teeth. If it is not removed through good dental care, once this tartar gets hardened and established, it can only come off through a thorough professional (and expensive!) teeth cleaning by your veterinarian.
Most adoption groups (ours included) have a newly retired greyhound’s teeth cleaned during the spay/neuter process (so the dog only has to be anesthetized once).
Why is it important for your hound to have clean teeth? Did you know that oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets? Poor dental care can result in periodontal disease which is severe and irreversible. It causes red, bleeding and swollen gums, pain, and eventually can lead to tooth loss and severe infections. The gums have a rich blood supply and when an infection begins, it can easily be passed on to other parts of the body and make the hound seriously ill. It can also permanently damage the heart because the infection can lodge in the valves of the heart.
Prevention is the best medicine. Brushing your hound’s teeth once or twice weekly is the best preventative measure; there are lots of tooth pastes on the market for dogs. DO NOT use products designed for humans as they contain enzymes or other chemicals that might make your hound sick. There are also oral cleansing wipes available if your hound objects too strongly to tooth brushing.
Feeding dry food and hard biscuits and bully sticks can also help break off tartar. Be careful of the dog treats you give a greyhound; some may cause more harm than good. Some people advocate using raw turkey necks and bones, but if your hound has a food allergy or sensitive stomach, you might want to consult with your vet before adding new foods to his/her diet. Watch those teeth! It could save your hound pain and you money!