Dental issues are the prevailing health problem facing pet greyhounds. According to the University of Bristol, in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College RVC, 39% of greyhounds suffer from dental problems. This percentage is alarmingly higher than for any other dog breed.
Former racing greyhounds are used to a soft, sticky diet that promotes plaque build-up and dental issues. They may also come with advanced gingivitis. A complete dental and sometimes an extraction gets your greyhound’s teeth looking better, and their mouth smelling great. Dental care, however, doesn’t stop at a dental check-up or procedure.
Greyhound Teeth Problems
As a pup, your greyhound will have 28 teeth. By six months, these teeth will have fallen out and been replaced by 42 adult teeth. Without good oral hygiene, there is a great chance your dog will show signs of dental issues. Dental issues begin with the build-up of plaque and tartar, followed by gingivitis and inflamed gums. These lead to yellowing teeth and bad breath. Dental diseases can cause life-threatening diseases, including liver, heart, and kidney disease.
How to curb Greyhound teeth problems
Get into the habit of brushing your greyhound’s teeth.
If your greyhound has never had their teeth brushed, you are going to slowly ease into it. The following steps are going to be easier when your greyhound is feeling calm and receives a treat at the end of the cleaning session.
- Gently lift the side of your greyhound’s mouth. This will get your hound used to you touching his mouth and gums.
- Wrap a soft cloth or dog wipes over your finger and gently rub his teeth. Work with the outside because that is where the plaque and tartar build-up.
- Soak a soft canine toothbrush in warm water and start gently brushing your dog’s teeth. Hold the brush at a favorable angle and brush up and down, focusing on where the teeth meet the gum.
- Start using dog toothpaste. Never brush your greyhound’s teeth with human toothpaste.
- Regularly check your greyhound’s mouth for signs of decay and tooth problems.
Feed your greyhound quality dry kibble.
The mechanical action brought about by chewing dry kibble scrapes off plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth. Provide your dog with lots of water after eating as it helps dislodge food debris from their teeth too.
Switch up to dental treats.
Dental treats, unlike normal dog treats, massage the gums, get rid of plaque and tartar and facilitate fresh breath. They are tasty varieties, so choose one that your dog enjoys.
Entertain your hound with dental chew toys.
Dental chew toys play two roles; they are great for playtime and help clean tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth. Chews are made of durable materials and last for a long before they need to be replaced. Some are designed to make noises and bounce about, thereby providing great mental stimulation for your dog.
Occasionally treat your dog with a large raw bone.
Not only does it keep them entertained, but it also provides nutrition and aids with dental maintenance. Avoid cooked bones, small bones, and briskets. If you have more than one greyhound, be sure to keep an eye on them as they enjoy their treats in case they become protective of their treats against the other dogs.
Use water additives
If your greyhound doesn’t allow you to brush their teeth, water additives are a great way to uphold their health. You simply add a water additive such as Oratene to your dog’s drinking water to control bacteria and plaque.
When to seek a vet’s help
Every six to 12 months, take your greyhound to the vet for a check-up. In between these periods, check your greyhound’s mouth for signs of oral decay. A few of the signs you should keep an eye out for include:
- Bad breath
- Crusted yellow-brown tartar build-up
- Weight loss
- Inability to eat comfortably
- Discolored, missing, or fractured teeth
- A misshapen or swollen jawline
Why are my greyhound’s teeth chattering/knitting/chittering?
You are seated, enjoying a mug of coffee or making dinner, and suddenly, there is that clicking sound right beside you. Yes, it’s your greyhound’s teeth clicking away to a silent Scottish dance. Teeth chattering is also referred to as teeth knitting or teeth chittering.
So, why are your greyhound’s teeth chattering?
1. Sheer excitement
Well, it is just excitement. Greyhounds chatter their teeth when they are in a state of excitement, goofiness which other dog breeds would typically be jumping about and barking.
Fun fact: Being the fastest dog breed on the planet, greyhounds are the fastest chatterers too. : )
Greyhounds tend to be very emotionally reserved dogs. People often mistake their demeanor for coolness and unemotional. Just because your dog doesn’t bounce off the walls when excited doesn’t mean they don’t experience emotional highs. Greyhounds are genetically predisposed to conserve their energy. Sometimes, they may run about when playing or when they are excited to see you, but often than not, they will express that joy by chattering away.
2. They sense others approaching.
Greyhounds have a great sense of and over distance. When you notice your greyhound, staring off into space, freezing, or chattering, it may be because someone is approaching your home. It could be your kids, partner, or a stranger.
3. It’s chilly out.
When people see a greyhound chattering, their first guess is that they are cold. It may not always be the case; however, it is possible. Usually, greyhounds tend to snowball when they are cold. Snowballing is when your hound lays down and curls up in a small circle. They draw their legs up and tuck their legs into the tummy. This is the time to drape a shawl over your fur buddy.
Scooby-Doo jokes aside, some greyhounds express their fear by chattering their teeth. During a storm, for example, if you hear your greyhound letting out a chatter, it isn’t a happy one. Usually, when a greyhound is scared or frightened, they freeze and have an unusual blank stare. They may even tremble all over and let out a whine.
Greyhound Teeth Cleaning
The first step in regaining your greyhound’s dental health is by getting the teeth professionally cleaned up. Teeth cleaning gets rid of plaque, tartar build-up and helps identify teeth that require extra attention beyond the cleanup.
Greyhound Teeth Cleaning Costs
When it comes to teeth cleaning for greyhounds, procedures and treatments vary depending on several factors. These factors include:
- The location
- The veterinary office
- The size and age of your greyhound
- The blood work
- Anesthesia cost
Types of dental cleaning and their costs
Anesthesia free teeth cleaning
This procedure costs an average of $200. Most greyhounds with a good oral hygiene regime can undergo anesthesia-free teeth cleaning procedures unless they have behavioral problems. The procedure doesn’t require initial bloodwork and testing. This type of teeth cleaning has no downtime, and you can go home after the procedure.
This cleaning procedure should be done every six months to one year.
Anesthesia teeth cleaning
This type of procedure provides a thorough cleaning that goes below the gum line and beyond the surface and involves anesthesia. It ranges between $500 to $1000 due to the anesthesia, bloodwork, and an additional exam that helps ensure your dog can undergo the procedure.
Additional dental costs
Digital x-rays are pricey and cost between $500-$1000. Oral radiography costs between $150-$200. If an extraction is needed, the costs are as follows:
- A simple tooth extraction- $10- 15 per tooth
- An elevated tooth extraction – $25-$35 per tooth
- Tooth extraction with a drill – $100 or less per tooth
- A root canal charged by the root – $1000 – $3000 per tooth
Processes involved in Greyhound teeth cleaning
If you opt for the expensive anesthetic procedure, the thorough cleaning processes are as follows:
Anesthetic – When your greyhound’s physical offers an all-clear, he/she can be sedated, the endotracheal tube can be inserted, and an anesthetic gas and oxygen can be administered. An IV for fluids and a catheter may also be set up.
Cleaning – Using an ultrasonic scaler, the vet will break up and remove tartar and plaque. A hand scaler can then be used to clean up along the gum line and both sides of the teeth. The vet will also conduct a dental probe and oral radiographs to further determine if there are dire problems that should be addressed.
Extraction – If necessary, the vet will extract severely affected teeth and suture the empty sockets.
Rinse and polish – The hound’s mouth will be rinsed out and suctioned. The teeth are then polished then rinsed out again. Some vets prefer to apply a fluoride treatment.
Aftercare – Your hound will be monitored during recovery as the anesthesia reverses. Once deemed fully recovered, you will be called to take them home with a prescription of antibiotics and painkillers.
Greyhound teeth cleaning with anesthesia
Anesthesia provides a state of unconsciousness and no sensation that is regular and a necessary part of veterinary medicine. Procedures such as dental cleaning to neuters may require anesthesia. There are a variety of sedatives and anesthetics available to vets and procedures for their use.
Greyhound owners need to be careful with the medicine they give their hounds and what veterinarians prescribe. Greyhounds are known to have a low body fat ratio, and their livers process drugs slower than other dogs. They tend to recover slower as well and are susceptible to an overdose.
Greyhounds, reportedly, have a rare condition known as malignant hypothermia, which is associated with an allergic reaction to some anesthetics. It results in a significant rise in temperature that can be fatal.
Formerly, greyhounds from adoption centers would undergo surgery when under barbiturates, and the drug caused death. Now, surgical procedures have evolved into the use of anesthesia.
A great thumb rule is never to sedate a greyhound unless it is necessary. And if it is necessary, only a greyhound savvy vet should do it. Small procedures such as removing corns and a little stitching don’t require sedation. If your greyhound hasn’t had a dental procedure ever done, they may need sedating.
Greyhounds are sensitive to drugs that other dogs take in stride. You have to be extra careful with the dosage you give them. Research everything before using it on your dog.
Greyhound Anesthesia Protocol
Discuss with your vet the basics of anesthesia, your vet’s familiarity with them, and your dog’s medical history. Pre-anesthesia blood work should be carried out before any anesthesia is administered. This step allows the vet to evaluate your dog’s kidney and liver functions and other parameters that may affect the body processes.
If the procedure is elective and abnormalities are noted in the test, the procedure will be postponed.
Your greyhound shouldn’t eat at least 8 hours before surgery because some anesthetics cause nausea. An intravenous catheter is then placed into a vein to allow fluids to be given during the anesthetic procedure to help support the kidneys and replace lost fluids.
Your greyhound’s temperature should be checked prior to the procedure, during and after the procedure, and during recovery. This is due to a condition greyhounds are prone to know as malignant hypothermia. Greyhounds may shiver or shake while in recovery resulting in temperature rise due to their large muscle mass. Malignant hypothermia is treatable.
A state of unconsciousness is induced with an injectable medication. An endotracheal tube is inserted into the greyhound’s windpipe. This tube carries oxygen and gas anesthesia to the dogs and helps maintain appropriate depth for the anesthesia.
There are several injectable premedications that your greyhound can be given 20 to 30 minutes before the surgery. These are used so that a lesser amount of gas and injectable anesthetics are used. They allow for a smoother recovery. The length of the procedure, the pain associated with it, and your hound’s medical history will determine which premedication is given.
During recovery, your dog will be laid down on a blanket on their side. Once they regain consciousness and are able to swallow, the endotracheal tube is removed. Keep track of your greyhound’s temperature over this period to avoid elevated fatal levels.
Depending on the procedure and your dog’s recovery, the vet will determine when you can leave the facility. Limit exercises to leash only. Due to the endotracheal tube, your dog may cough for a day or two. If the cough lasts longer than that, a vet should check it out. Lastly, ensure your hound doesn’t lick or chew the staples or sutures.
Greyhound Tooth Abscess
A tooth root abscess is a critical infection that develops around the root. It is a result of bacteria entering through a traumatized or broken tooth.
What causes tooth root abscess?
A tooth abscess is the result of bacteria penetrating a tooth through an exposed root canal. A healthy tooth has an enamel crown. Enamel is impenetrable, thereby preventing bacteria from entering the tooth. Below the enamel is a hard tissue known as dentin. Dentin has about 300-400 tubules that connect to the center of the tooth. In the middle of the tooth lies the pulp cavity, which is a tissue that consists of nerves, blood vessels, and lymphatic tissue. The pulp nurtures the tooth.
When the protective enamel chips, it exposes the underlying dentin, thereby allowing bacteria to gain access to the middle of the tooth. Once infected with bacteria, the pulp swells up (pulpitis), and finally, the tooth dies. Inflammatory residue produced by the bacteria and dying pulp tissue leaks from the bottom of the root and infects the surrounding bone structure. This infection results in apical periodontitis. A severe infection can result in an abscess that leaks directly into the oral cavity and may be seen dripping down the chin if the infection is in the lower jaw.
Pulpitis, tooth abscess, and apical periodontitis are very painful.
The most common place for a tooth abscess in greyhounds is in fractured canine teeth both in the upper and lower jaw, the largest premolar in the upper tooth, and the largest molar in the lower jaw.
Symptoms of a tooth abscess
- Reluctance to chew on toys
- Retreating when touched on the head
- Chewing food with just one side of the mouth
- Bad breath
- Pawing at one side of the face or rubbing it on the ground
- Redness and inflammation of the gum around the infected tooth
Treatment for a tooth abscess
A tooth abscess is very painful, and normally antibiotics are prescribed to control the infection. It could either be an anti-inflammatory or pain relief medication. This first course of treatment treats the symptoms but not the underlying problem.
There are two treatment options.
- Root canal therapy (endodontic treatment)
- Tooth extraction
The tooth in question is first analyzed through radiographs to determine if your hound is a good candidate for a root canal treatment. Factors such as the extent of the trauma, overall periodontal health, and pre-existing infection impact the recommendation chosen for the tooth.
Regardless of the treatment option chosen, antibiotics will be prescribed to help manage the pain. After at least six months, your greyhound should have a dental examination.
My greyhound’s teeth are worn down. What should I do?
Teeth wear down due to constant rubbing on each other when your greyhound chews on their fur, skin, or chew toys or bones. Worn teeth are a shade darker, oddly shaped, and worn down to the gum line. Incisors and canine teeth are the most commonly affected teeth.
The wearing down of a greyhound’s teeth occurs gradually. The tooth, in turn, responds by adding a layer of dentin to harden the injured spots. Unless the tooth is painful or the gum is injured, the teeth are normally left alone.
In the case of sudden wear and tear, consult your veterinarian.
Why does my greyhound grind their teeth a lot?
Teeth grinding in greyhounds is observed when they rub their top and bottom teeth together over and over. Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism. This repeated action wears down the enamel and may result in pulp exposure, fractures, infections, and pain in the gums and teeth.
Your greyhound may grind their teeth due to:
Pain is one of the main reasons why your greyhound may be grinding their teeth. The intensity of pain causing your dog to grind their teeth may be the result of a significant issue. You should consult a veterinarian immediately.
b) Jaw abnormalities
Jaw abnormalities may be portrayed as misaligned teeth that may result in overheating or protruding of the lower jaw. The misalignment of teeth may make it difficult for your dog to close their mouth.
c) Stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress are a major trigger for your greyhound’s teeth grinding. You should consult a veterinarian to help figure out the cause of the anxious behavior before irreparable damage is done to the teeth.
How to prevent greyhound teeth grinding
1. Provide your greyhound with a well-balanced diet.
Good nutrition and adequate exercise are important for your dog’s mental and physical health. Sufficient stimulation will ensure your dog is less likely to develop destructive behavior patterns, such as teeth grinding.
2. Annual examinations
Annual exams help identify and address potential issues before they develop and become more significant.
3. Proper socialization
Cultivating your dog’s social life will help minimize anxiety and improve their mental health. It also helps manage other stress triggers, such as adjustment.
4. Obedience training
Obedience training provides a platform for trust-building and cultivating a healthy relationship. Building trust and a relationship reduce bouts of anxiety and stress.
Should you notice that your greyhound is grinding his/her teeth, schedule an appointment with your vet to find the cause and treat the condition. After conducting a full physical, your vet can provide the best recommendations based on the symptoms.
Greyhound teeth extraction
In some cases, it is necessary for your dog to undergo tooth extraction to promote their overall health. After the extraction, you need to provide your dog with the right aftercare.
There are two main reasons why a veterinarian may prescribe tooth extraction for your greyhound.
1. Tooth rot
The aim of a dental appointment is to ensure it is a pain-free, the mouth is free of infection, and easy to clean. A receding gum often progresses with age and results in root exposure and is common in adopted greyhounds. After an oral exam, the teeth that need extraction due to mouth rot are removed, and the rest are scaled and polished. Root exposure is first smoothed, primed, and finally bonded.
2. Tooth fractures
A greyhound’s carnassial tooth is prone to slab fractures and longitudinal fractures. Carnassial teeth are the largest teeth in the upper jaw and are used for crushing. They have three roots angled outwards to really anchor the tooth. After a slab fracture in the carnassial tooth, your dog will feel a sharp pain as the cavity is exposed. The only treatment option is extraction.
To properly extract the tooth, the vet dentist will make a gum flap and action the tooth into three parts. The vet will then proceed to extract the sectioned tooth individually as single teeth. This is why carnation extractions take up to 20 minutes.
Keep these in mind during and after the extraction procedure:
- Ensure at least two or more people help move your greyhound on and off the operating table when under anesthesia. A greyhound’s spine is very delicate; wrenching your dog when moving them about could cause hip or spinal issues.
- Ensure your vet removes teeth that need to be removed, not just cleaning and leaving them in. Often a vet may try to save a greyhound’s teeth, but once the gum starts to recede, nothing can be done. A greyhound is better off without teeth than having to get a dental over and over again.
- Your greyhound has 42 teeth and can eat without any.
After extraction, most greyhound owners will ask, “How will my greyhound eat?” The answer is, “Just fine.” During feeding time, moisten the kibble to help with palpability. Most dogs, however, do not really chew their food. They gulp it.
- Remember to get Arnica pellets. The pellets help with trauma, bleeding, and recovery after surgery. A dose should be given right before the surgery, another after, and then another a few hours after that.
- After the extraction, you need a meal plan for the recovery period of your greyhound. Foods such as chicken and whitefish are a good choice. If you opt to feed your dog regular dog food, cut the portion by half. If your greyhound has had all or most of their teeth removed, canned food would be the best dietary plan for the first few days.
- After the surgery, put away all your greyhound’s hard toys that they have been chewing on. It is also imperative to limit active play for the next couple of days.
- Pay extra attention to your greyhound for signs of complications. These signs include swelling, a change in eating habits, drooling, and bleeding. While some are normal, consult your vet when you are alarmed.
- A check-up after 7 to 10 days from the extraction is crucial. The procedure helps ensure your canine’s health is at its peak even after the surgery.
FAQs about Greyhound Teeth
Do greyhounds have bad teeth?
Research shows that 39% of greyhounds suffer from dental issues, which is alarming compared to other dog breeds. Former racing greyhounds tend to suffer the brunt of poor oral hygiene due to their diets in their earlier lifestyle. With good dental hygiene practices and proper care, greyhounds can have strong, healthy teeth.
Why does my greyhound have bad breath?
Bad breath is a sign of a dental disease known as halitosis. It is caused by a build-up of bacteria, tartar, and persistent bleeding. Thorough teeth cleaning and polishing is the best course of treatment to improve your hound’s breath. Should it be accompanied by other symptoms such as red or swollen gums, yellow tartar build-up, and an inability to eat comfortably, then you should seek a vet’s help. These are symptoms of severe dental problems.
What is a greyhound tooth comb?
It is a standard length 7 to 8 inches long style comb used to groom a greyhound’s coat. It has no handle, and its teeth run the full length of the dog’s spine. The teeth are about 1” long. A typical greyhound tooth comb has a 50/50 mix of teeth spacing, usually half coarse and half medium. It is made of stainless for strength and easy cleaning for both wet and dry use.
Why is my greyhound’s gum bleeding?
Bleeding gums are associated with inflammation and gingivitis. They are signs of poor oral hygiene. Disregarding simple daily recommendations such as brushing your dog’s teeth could cause the issue. A great way to prevent bleeding gums is to go for professional teeth cleaning and regularly to brush your dog’s teeth.
Suppose you engage your dog in good oral practices but still notice the bleeding, try a mouthwash. It’s a non-prescription, plaque-biofilm mouthwash that is alcohol-free. Using a gauze, rub in onto your dog’s gums and teeth daily. The results will pleasantly surprise you.
Dogs are subtle at hiding their pain, so you have to be very watchful. Greyhounds, moreover, are more prone to dental issues; hence their oral health shouldn’t be overlooked. Daily dental care helps strengthen your dog’s teeth and the bond you share. It is also the key to preventing severe health issues and should be practiced at all stages of your greyhound’s life.