Smelly doggie breath can be annoying. And Greyhound owners will go to great lengths to eliminate or cover it up. But be aware — Greyhound oral care goes beyond preventing bad doggie breath. Poor gum health allows nasty bacteria to make a beeline straight for a pet’s circulatory system, which can have harmful effects on vital organs.

Periodontal disease, the leading health condition affecting many Greyhounds age three or older, is often the result of not regularly providing at-home oral care and veterinary assessments and treatments. Plaque on Greyhounds’ teeth forms as bacteria and food particles coat the teeth and develop a biofilm. If not cleaned off, plaque irritates the gum line and can cause gingivitis and harden on the tooth surface to cause tartar. With more accumulation, gingivitis may progress to periodontal disease. Diseased gums can act as a bacterial superhighway into the circulatory system of the Greyhound and may ultimately adversely affect vital organs.

“Gum disease, which research tells us can affect more than just a pet’s mouth, is initiated by plaque accumulating on teeth and not being cleaned,” said Dr. Jan Bellows, veterinary dental specialist. “The good news is every pet parent has the power to keep their pet’s teeth clean and gums healthy. It starts with daily at-home oral care with brushing or Veterinary Oral Health Council (www.vohc.org) approved dental products. And each pet should have a veterinary oral exam at least annually with professional cleanings as advised.”

Canine t/d®: Original Bites (Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. brand) carries the Veterinary Oral Health Seal of Acceptance for reduction of plaque and tartar build-up and is clinically proven to help maintain healthier gums. The product is a nutritionally complete and balanced, can be given as a complete diet or as treats and is available in veterinary clinics nationwide.

There are many other brands which also carry the seal, such as GREENIES® Canine Dental Chews and Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets (PPVD) Dental Chewz both of which are edible chew treats.

Regardless of what you choose, keep in mind that many Greyhounds have sensitive stomachs.  Some brands, such as GREENIES®, have been reported by consumers to contribute to loose stool.  Ultimately, if you have any concerns about what is best for your Greyhound, consult a veterinarian experienced with treating Greyhounds.