About the FAQs

The information given in these FAQs was taken from the SpeakEasy messageboard run on a previous version of the this site. Over three years many people contributed to useful discussions on various aspects of greyhound health and welfare. 

The information here is not a definitive academic work that has been tested and verified. It is the distillation of many people's personal experiences with ex-racing and racing dogs. 

Thank you to all of the contributors to the SpeakEasy for sharing their experience and knowledge with us.  

Sorry, no links within this page. Most browsers will have a 'Find' function on short keys <Ctrl+F>, or you can scroll to the following sections below:
- Feeding
- Poor feeders
- Living with cats
- Collars
- Teeth
- Brushing your dogs teeth
- Security & missing dogs

Feeding

Ex-racing greyhounds seem to do well on a variety of foods. Dry foods seem to be the most popular and can be fed moistened or dry; quite often greyhounds don't eat their food quickly and if moistened it soon goes to mush.

Judge the suitability of his diet by the 'end result'. Which should be firm enough to roll off the shovel. A diet that suits him shouldn't produce much flatulence. Any recognisable elements in his bowel movements indicate that he can't digest these, such as sweet corn. Try not to feed him things he can't digest.

Any change of diet should be done gradually over a week or so, mixing in a little of the new food initially until eventually he is completely on to the new diet. The flora in your dogs gut is adapted to digest his old food. When you change his diet suddenly the flora can't digest it and it gets shot through quickly before much of the goodness has been absorbed producing sloppy bowel movements. The flora will adapt to the new food, but they need a few days.

If you have had to change his food suddenly, expect a few days of runny bowel movements. If you can get any of the old food then mix this in for a few days to give him a gradual transfer. Failing that, adding in something easily digestible such as rice and chicken or fish might help.

Foods to try

The following were mentioned favourably by posters to the SpeakEasy (in no particular order):

  • James Wellbeloved
  • Pascoes
  • Wagg
  • Supadog no. 3
  • Hill's Science Plan senior
  • Autarky food
  • Bakers Complete
  • Burns
  • Chum Original
  • Butchers Tripe (tinned food)
  • Chappie tinned food with mixer
  • Butchers Tripe canned dog food.


If you have a bit more time, or your dog has a sensitive tum you could feed a combo of fish/rice/pasta/chicken this wouldn't cost as much as tinned food:

  • home cooked fish & rice or pasta (ask fishmonger for broken fish).
  • home cooked chicken & rice or pasta
  • Quite commonly people added some leftover vegetables to their dogs dinners where their dogs liked them.

Foods to avoid

Do not feed racing dog food. It is formulated for dogs in training and is not suitable for them in their new life as a companion animal.

As a breed they seem to have problems with rich foods and most people seem to avoid red meat based foods.

Be careful if the dog helps himself to the cat's food because there is more protein in cat food than in dog food and they really shouldn't have it.

Information provided by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill

Poor feeders

What could be worse than losing your dog? Those who have been through it say it is worse than having a dog die. Prevention is definitely the best policy on this issue.

If your dog is found, the chances of you being reunited are vastly increased if your dog is microchipped or tatooed. The NCDL (at the time of writing this) does cheap microchipping.

Before the event:

  • don't let your dog run loose if you can't rely on his recall (this isn't the end of the world)
  • maintain your garden fence to keep it dog proof
  • ensure you have good photos of your dog
  • do not leave your dog tied up outside shops etc
  • do not leave your dog unattended in a car/van
  • be wary of strangers expressing an interest in your dog
  • if you think you are being followed, don't go straight home


After the event:

  • look everywhere you can
  • get in touch with the local police and dog warden
  • make up posters and post them locally
  • get in touch with LurcherSearch and LostDogs


Ironically despite the number of Greyhounds and lurchers looking for homes, they are probably one of the most stealable types of dogs. This is because they are commonly required for coursing, illegal racing, rabbitting, breeding etc by people who would not be considered by rescue groups as suitable to adopt a dog.

This is not an over-reaction, I hear stories constantly of sight hounds going missing. Often in suspicious circumstances.

Some experiences from the SpeakEasy:

Owners have been approached by people of dubious intention and asked if they want to sell their dogs. It has also been reported that youths have been mugging owners and stealing their dogs. Presumably for coursing/racing.

I was approached once by a man in a van who screeched to a halt and insisted that Jims was the dog he had lost. I was baffled and told him that no way could it be and it was only later on reading the same sort of stories that I realised what was going on - especially as he seemed to watch where I was going (I just stood and stared at him until he had to drive off and then I made double-sure I wasn't followed home).

...whenever anyone talks about the racing dog they had that was just like him (not as unusual as you think in my part of town!) I make sure to tell them all about his dodgy heart, wrist etc - first making sure I'm not putting off a genuine potential adopter of greyhounds! Also - and I'm sure we all know this - 
NEVER leave them outside a shop, even for a minute.

My husband has just put up a six foot gate with a 12 inch trellis on the top. You can only get through the gate with a yale key. I am very aware that there are people out there that want our dogs. We have a large supply of travellers that make our village their home.
Once while walking on our disused airfield, I was asked if I wanted to sell both of my dogs. I was petrified that they would somehow follow me home and take them. I never leave them outside a shop or in my car. I can't imagine the pain you must go through should you lose or have stolen your dogs. Keep them safe.

Just a warning to UK folks to be on their guard. There appears to be a gang in the Midlands/North who are stealing dogs. I know of several people's dogs which have been stolen, in daylight, from gardens and even from secure kennel runs.

...From the cases so far, there seems no doubt that they know exactly which dogs they're after, and watch the house extensively to learn the owner's routine before attempting to steal the dogs.

Consider microchipping or tattooing if your dog is not already done, so that if it's stolen and dumped it can be identified. Permanent identification is also useful if you ever have to prove to the law that it is indeed your dog after someone has stolen it. Make sure you have good photographs (head shot, side-on standing, etc) that show all your dogs' characteristics clearly, so that you can make a big publicity fuss and make it not worth their while to try to keep the dog. Guard them in your gardens and runs. Watch for suspicious characters.

Down here in Dorset this is a major problem to. I have to keep the back gate padlocked because of people showing too much interest in my dogs. I have been asked if people can borrow them for the purpose of rabbiting, coursing, breeding and illegal racing. We also have a lot of gypsies living in the area who have a reputation for stealing greyhounds.

I have been approached in the past whilst out with my whippets & lurcher...all bitches. One particular incident sticks in my mind, I was approached by four traveller types who spread out around myself and the dogs. They asked had I bred them, I replied no. They then asked was I going to breed from them, to which I again replied no - adding the lie that they had all been spayed. Whilst this was going on, two of them had circled round behind me only to be met by the lurcher and two of my bolder whippets who told them in dog fashion that their attentions were not welcome! This seemed to disuade them somewhat, but they did follow me for some time, before finally disappearing which was even more scary, as I didn't know where they had gone.

Information provided by contributors to the Speakeasy, and summarised by Jilldon't panic, you are not alone... 

Below is a summary of a SpeakEasy discussion that ran for two years. Obviously a topic that affects lots of you! By poor feeders I'm referring to those dogs with a poor appetite and who don't appear to eat as much as the recommended quantities on the food packaging. Also refer to the section on feeding greyhounds and lurchers. 

My first dog, a 6 yr old lurcher bitch, was a poor feeder. Despite trying a wide variety of food, human and dog, she would sometimes refuse to eat for up to 3 days. This caused me much distress. However during the time that we had her (we lost her to an auto-immune problem after 2 years) she gradually gained weight. On one of our trips to the vet, I was told "If food is available she won't go hungry. She knows when she needs to eat, trust her." Eventually I started to relax and do just that. Maybe she needed to rest her digestive system occasionally. 

Greyhounds and lurchers seem to quite commonly be 'poor' feeders. It may take until the next meal time to clear their bowl. Maybe they'll go up to three days without eating. These behaviours don't seem to be uncommon. As long as your vet is happy with the dog's weight, it's condition is otherwise good, and its not losing weight, then you haven't really got a major problem. 

Who says how much your dog should eat? The recommended quantities given by dog food manufacturers who want to sell the maximum quanity of dog food. The figures are based on the average dog, who is probably more active that the average retired greyhound or lurcher. Remember also that a dog's requirements will automatically reduce as they become older. So your dog might not need as much as it says on the packet. 

If you are worried, find out from the rescue centre/racing trainer what they ate previously. They might also be able to tell you if the dog has never had a robust appetite. You might be surprised, for instance that some kennelled dogs are given Weetabix for breakfast, and some racing dogs are given a 'stew' with lots of veggies. This might have shaped your dogs preferences. Also be aware that dogs can have allergies to certain foods, such as dairy products, wheat and red meat etc. 

Firstly refer to the foods listed on the Feeding FAQ, if they don't work, the following were solutions used successfully on the picky feeders owned by the SpeakEasy regulars: 

"Chappie tinned food with mixer, it's good for their digestion and easily digestable." 
"...we discovered the Nature Diet - it's a bit like a microwave ready meal for dogs. It's all organic and he not only loves it but is healthier for it too! The bigger pet superstores seem to sell it, or you can order direct by phone on 01428 685050 It contains brown rice, carrots plus either fish, lamb, tripe or carrots - it costs about 50p a packet. If you put it in the microwave for 1 minute I challenge any dog to resist it. 
"fresh pasta and minced lamb twice a day" 
"Freshly boiled rice and defrosted raw tripe (from pet shop) usually works. However, we notice that he prefers to pick at his food and althugh he may walk away from his bowl at official meal times if we can keep our lurcher away from his bowl he picks throughout the day until's he's eaten it all. we wondered if this was how he was fed in kennels in retirement... 
fresh rice and cooked chicken 

Adding something tasty to your dog's meal may stimulate their interest. The following have all been used with success: 

"add dry complete cat food when she isn't peckish. You would need to be careful though as I am told that cat food contains apetite stimulants which cause behavioural problems with some dogs." 
Lots of mentions of dogs enjoying vegetables, raw or cooked. 
"Dry dog food, mixed with a bit of tinned food or gravy, any left over veggies and GRATED CHEESE! Just mix a little of the cheese into the whole lot and see how she'll love it!" 
"Pascoes complete with very small amount of Butchers tinned dog food - tripe and something. However she will only eat the pascoes warm." 
"Pascoes with gravy on sometimes, and sometimes with those cheap Tesco's value sausages, sometimes with carrots." 
"A spoonful or two of yoghurt." (too much might cause intestinal hurry) 
"Wagg with frozen chicken and 'Delicious', a special dog gravy made by Wagg, and once a week they get frozen heart or liver instead of chicken, so they're not hard done by." 
"Pascoes complete mixed with: Tuna (cleans her bowl immediately); or left overs especially gravy products (cleans her bowl eventually). " 
"... pilchards and toast, but fresh white bread and butter is a near second. Fishy dog breath is the price you have to pay for a happy lad though." 
"... tinned mackerel, pilchards and any oily fish is really good for them. Mine has this at least once a week, twice if I don't pinch the other half of the tin!! 'We' like them in the tomato sauce. That and cod liver oil daily makes their coats gleam." 
" Try a complete that comes in small pieces, that way you won't have to soak it so much and she will be able to eat it easier than the larger pieces, my bitch turned her nose up at adult complete food but I tried her with small adult complete and she's fine with that." 
"They also like Tuna fish and they love cheese. To make the food tasty a little gravy works, other times milk." 

One contributor suggested the following strategy: 

Try to get as many different high quality kibbles as you can so you can easily try different them and find one that agree with your dog. The kind of little sample bags would be great. 
At the same time, try to find some healthy toppings that you can put with or on top of his kibbles: like some raw meat, some cooked meat some table scraps (but only if there aren't much salt or spice on them) some yoghurt or some cottage cheese, some soup, some canned tuna or mackerel in oil, some pasta 
These toppings don't need to be big (2 -3 table spoons e.g.), they just need to be tasty and healthy. 
While you are trying a new food, don't be anxious when feeding your dog. If he doesn't eat his food properly, spare them and feed them again next meal or disgard this meal but only feed him something different next meal so he doesn't associate the change in his food with his picky behavior. Maybe you can also try to tempt him to eat by hand feeding him a few tid bits of the food he doesn't like. But don't do it on a regular basis or he could wait for you to hand fed him. 

Information provided by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill 

Living with cats

Many breeds of dog will chase cats, the difference is that greyhounds are more likely to catch them. 

Lots of owners report their greyhounds living with cats, chickens, rabbits etc quite happily. A few dogs may be afraid of the cat. Many dogs can be trained to accept that cats living in the home are friends, and not dinner. Even if they accept their own family cats, dogs that are keen to chase are not easily de-trained from trying to chase small prey when they are out on walks. It's the owner's responsibility to make sure that the dog isn't let off the lead if he might endanger another animal. 

Greyhounds have been bred to chase small furry animals, either for racing or coursing. They are then training to chase. In spite of all this, the most common reason for a dog to be dropped from training is failure to chase. Lurchers may have the chasing instinct, and some may have been 'worked' which will sharpen this drive. 

The key thing is to work with your re-homing group to find the right dog for your home situation. They will also be able to advice on how to safely introduce the dog and cat. 

Here's the word from some people that have already done it: 

There are lots of greyhounds that are safe with cats. Depending on where you are, your nearest greyhound group should be able to help. They will probably know which of their dogs would suit you and will have 'cat-tested' (safely for the cat!!!). Also should visit you at home to discuss pros & cons to help you and the dog get the best start. If they do not have one, they will probably be able to give you the name of a group that does. It may mean waiting for a short while - but not always. 

... with our most recent hound, it took a lot of work (he was clearly trained with live prey, and has a very strong prey drive). It's quite do-able, but I'd read everything I could, first - and also keep your grey muzzled until you're absolutely sure nothing will happen (cats can show their resentment at the new intruder in some pretty clever ways...) 

Our retired 6 year old grey has a strong chasing instinct and gets wildly excited when he sees an unknown cat on our walks. However we do have a tiny, weedy, cat of our own and they get on fine (did so within a month). I think the dog no longer considers her under the category 'cat', just 'other thing that lives in house'. We did all the usual things on introduction and we always make sure that the cat has an escape route and a safe place if the two of them are left alone. But we've never had any problems to date. My experience is that just about any animals (obviously within reason) will learn to get on happily with each other with careful initial management (and 3 weeks is the usual adjustment time). So for anyone with a cat considering getting a dog, yes get a greyhound - they're the best! 

... it was important to get a dog that would not attack the cats, within 24 hours Harry was only to happy to lay on the floor while the cats used his ribcage as a springboard to get onto the chair! Harry is a well mannered dog who has not shown the slightest inclination to chase anything (other than me up and down the garden)and he is settling in well. The Nottingham Greyhound Trust have been absolutely fantastic with matching a dog to my needs and environment, if you have not called your local branch I strongly suggest you do, the advice is invaluable and I am sure it will help put your mind at rest. 

Non-chasers are often very good candidates for cat-testing, and, as a bonus, they are still young, often with no exclusions to put on the pet insurance, and often a little more playful and puppyish than older ex-racers. There are of course also some ex-racers who have very little interest in chasing real cats, and there are more ex-racers who can be trained not to chase, at least not to chase the family cats. 

I was assured by Anne Finch of Greyhounds in Need that her beautiful rescued galgos were perfectly well behaved with cats. We were apprehensive, however Charlie (the galgo) proved to be very well mannered - until recently he wouldn't even eat his food if the cats were in the kitchen and has never tried to chase them or any that we have seen on our walks. In fact he has brought peace to their lives, as one of our cats was always bullied by the other. Now that the smaller one has set up an alliance with the dog (they sleep in the same basket), there is no more bullying. Incidentally, he has also demonstrated that he is not interested in chasing chickens, sheep, lambs, rabbits or squirrels. (Although he loves chasing/playing with other dogs). If you are considering adopting a greyhound but are worried about your other pets, I would highly recommend contacting Anne or others from Greyhounds in Need. 

Be very careful and if you are really serious about a greyhound try to get one that will accept cats. Our Elkie came to us and like you we had one very nervous cat as well as an old cat and a kitten. The nervous cat was petrified and never took to the dog. The kitten got bowled over and had to spend 6 weeks in a cage to mend a cracked scapula ! Elkie took a long time to get used to the cats - even now 18 months later I would not trust her totally. 

We've got two greys and are currently fostering a lurcher. All three are fine with both cats, even the one who is a little strange - he bolts in front of them as though they're going to murder him, even when he's been curled up with them five minutes before. Stupid creature. 

We have had Bouncer for nearly a year now. At first he thought the cat was fair game, but with time, patience and careful handling, they became firm friends. 

He's always been much happier with smaller dogs, and accepts a firm 'no' about chasing cats, except when you're not looking! He does know it's naughty, though, and in actual fact is scared of cats when they stop and hiss. He even plays with my mother's ex-feral cat who has taught him who's boss! 

We've got 6 dogs now, and we're training the new arrival NOT to chase my 5 cats. With all my other dogs (and hopefully with this one eventually,) I found a spray of water on the nose deterred them from chasing in the house/garden. They will chase outside, but only in play, cause if they 'catch' their prey, they just nudge them as if to say "Go on then, run, so I can chase you some more"!! 

Just a few months ago my boyfriend brought a kitten home. this was a big test....an ex-racer/stray with a small furry thing. His approach was no different, he ran to Oscar and wanted to play! I tried to calm him down a bit in case Oscar got squashed! but now they play chase...and it works both ways, Oscar sometimes chases Ben although I think Ben is usually oblivious to being chased as Oscar is mainly trying to catch the white tip on Bens tail!! 

I have a spannish sighthound adopted through GIN and despite the fact that she is not yet perfect with cats, she has learned that my cat was a huge "NO HUNT" and she is wonderfull with small dogs. 

Information provided by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill 

Collars

Your rehoming group will probably give you some guidelines, and will certainly be able to advise if you have any particular problems. 

There are some special considerations you need to be aware of when you're choosing a collar for your greyhound or lurcher: 

Issue - his neck is probably bigger than his head 
Greyhounds (especially the boys) generally have thick muscley necks and little pointy heads, with ears that can lie flat. So, if he is scared by something and panics while out for a walk, he may back out of a normal collar. 

Issue - he can accelerate fast enough to injure his neck 
I've heard it quoted that Greyhounds can accelerate from 0 to 40mph in 3 seconds. A dog that's cat/rabbit/etc keen might attempt this while out for a walk. Assuming that he doesn't tow you behind him, he will come to a abrupt halt at the end of the lead. To protect his neck/back from injury a collar should span two vertebrae. 
Unfortunately, no one collar is great at everything, you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons for your own situation. For a lurcher your choice will need to be based on how greyhoundy he is. 

Triple 'O' ring collars 

These are shaped like a ring, with 3/4 of the ring being an adjustable length of webbing with an 'O' ring on each end. The two rings are joined by a loop of chain or webbing, with a third 'O' ring on the loop that attaches to the lead. These collars don't open out flat so need to be threaded over the dogs nose. 


These are the best collars for stopping dogs backing out. They can be adjusted so that if the dog tries to back out the collar will tighten to a size that won't go over his head - but no smaller, so no chance of throttling him. In normal circumstances the collar hangs loosely around his neck. The down side is that these collars are only about an inch wide. For a long haired dog I'd always go for one with a webbing loop as I suspect that long hairs can get pulled by the chain links occasionally. These need to be adjusted so that when the 2 rings on the flat section come together, the webbing fits exactly around his neck immediately behind his ears with no space under it. 

Traditional Greyhound collars 

The traditional greyhound fish shaped collars are nice and wide to give him a more comfy stop on the rare occasions he bolts at the end of the lead. To get the benefit of this the collar needs to be worn with the wide side at the front. The down side of these is that they are relatively easy for a dog to back out of even when quite tight. When new these collars are quite stiff. 

'Tight enough' means with the collar right up behind his ears you should only just be able to insert 2 fingers under it. 

Flat collars 

Normal flat collars (the ones like little belts) are OK, but have the down sides of both of the types described above. However if your dog doesn't spook, and isn't keen to chase, one of these could suit him provided you do it up securely before going out for a walk. 

'Tight enough' means with the collar right up behind his ears you should only just be able to insert 2 fingers under it. 

Many of the charities have a range of collars on their merchandise sites. Refer to the UK Links page. 

Some comments from the Speakeasy: 

As I find this (triple 'O' ring) collar far safer once adjusted properly than the ordinary greyhound fixed collar, it is also far more comfortable for the dog and does not wear away his coat at that point on his neck. 

The one (triple 'O' ring) I have works very well as long as you have the adjustment right. 
I have tried the normal sighthound collar but find it tends to rub away their coat under the neck. I have tried the very smart collar that gin sells in 1", 1 1/2" and 2" wide but found due to the rather large metal fixers on it the grey can get out of the collar if the lead is attached to it. So at the present time I am using the triple o-ring self adjusting collar that works very well, but after 19 months it is getting a little bit grubby and worn. 

Information provided by contributors to the SpeakEasy, and summarised by Jill 

Teeth

It seems to be generally agreed that greyhound types are more prone to growing tartar on their teeth and developing gum disease than some other breeds. This is attributed by some people to soft diets as youngsters in racing kennels, and by others to having long jaws which tend to be less 'self cleaning'. Individual dogs vary a lot; some greyhounds teeth and gums stay OK without any tooth brushing, others having daily tooth brushing still have problems.

The main ways to help keep your dogs teeth and gums healthy are:

The type of food.

Iams produce a type of kibble that's supposed to reduce tartar build up. This will only be effective if your dog chews up the kibbles. If he shovels them down a mouthful at a time, the kibbles won't touch his teeth. Some people swear by raw bones, and others see this as reckless as illustrated in the extracts below.

Chews

There are various types of chews produced commercially which the dogs certainly seem to enjoy, and they give the jaw muscles a good work out. If your dog doesn't have much of a problem, these might be enough. Whatever the promotional literature says, commercial chews alone will not cure a serious gum problem.

Pro Den Plaqueoff

This is a seaweed based extract that has proved effective on all the dogs I know that have tried it. If taken every day, it alters the chemistry of the dogs saliva making plague and tartar buildup less likely. If your dog needs a dental it would be a great point to start using Plaqueoff to help keep his teeth clean. Despite the strange smell, dogs seem to take it well mixed with a meal.

Tooth brushing

If your dog has serious tooth/gum problems nothing will be anywhere near as effective as regular brushing.

Most dogs naturally have an inbuilt 'taboo' about letting people fiddle with their teeth. With progressive and gentle handling this can be overcome to make toothbrushing a welcome excuse for a cuddle. See the FAQ on how to brush your dogs teeth.

Here's some teeth and gums contributions from the SpeakEasy that might inform, or at least help you feel you are not alone if you have a gum problem:

Does anyone else have a grey with gingivitis that won't go away? Jims has had two dental operations and now doesn't have many teeth left plus two or three times a year he goes on antibiotics and/or steroids. Also I give him bones which help clean up his teeth, I also brush his teeth every day and my latest wheeze is to spray on bee propolis which is meant to encourage healing! Despite this, he does have very red and sore gums which only ever get a bit better despite all of the above. I've just started on Dave's suggestion (brushing with a bicarbonate of soda paste) which is certainly bringing up the teeth nicely, but has anyone been through this and solved it?

One of my greyhounds has extremely severe and painful gum disease, he had 4 teeth out last year and 16 out this year. Our vet has prescribed brushing with CHX-Guard Oral Cleansing Gel (with ZincChlorhexidate) It is apparently the equivalent of human antibacterial mouthwash and is the dog's best bet for keeping any of his remaining teeth. I don't know if there is a solution to the problem, this vet specialises in dentistry by the way.

I did try the CHX stuff which worked up to a point - I mean it must do some good, but again the gums never really cleared up.

...If you have problems getting to the back teeth, then go to the dentist or Superdrug and get a long reach toothbrush, for the human back teeth. Its got the tiniest bristles and smallest head they do, it works for rocky real well. My vet said that greys have such teeth problems because they have such long faces, which makes sense really.

I was told by a dentist that you are as well using salt and bicarbonate soda rather than any mouthwashes it does a better job and is a hell of a lot cheaper thats when I started using this on my greys to great effect, water/salt and b/soda in cup and go to work on those molars bit by bit not 2 much in 1 day.

...I did Smoke's pegs this am and, it's amazing, they're much better, cannot believe it after only one brushing, they must have been really coated. Have been using Four Paws natural Pet Dontal (peanut flavour) So pleased with the bi-carb treatment. He's pretty patient with me and lets me 'wrench' open his mouth to get at the back teeth.

Nothing better than a good bone to clean dog teeth. They are made for that. OBVIOUSLY, THE BONE MUST BE FED RAW this process help them get strong jaw and neck muscles, it clean their teeth and they have really nice gums.

...but bones can become lodged in their throat or splintering causing internal damage (ask any vet what they think of giving dogs bones)

Information provided by contributors to the Speakeasy, and summarised by Jill

Brushing your dogs teeth

Not as scarey as it sounds...

Your vet will of course tell you what state your dogs teeth and gums are in and how best to deal with any problem. In the mean time be suspicious about light browny tartar building up on his teeth, or a red rim appearing along his gum line, or bleeding gums. These are signs of poor tooth/gum health.

If your dog has serious tooth/gum problems nothing will be anywhere near as effective as brushing. Whatever the promotional literature says, commercial chews alone will not cure a serious gum problem. The good news is that if you introduce brushing carefully, it will become a no-fuss, effective, pleasant process. I brush my two dogs teeth in five minutes.

Most dogs naturally have an inbuilt 'taboo' about letting people fiddle with their teeth. With progressive and gentle handling this can be overcome to make toothbrushing a welcome excuse for a cuddle. I've used the following procedure successfully with four dogs, one with a major hang-up about having his mouth touched.

Before you start brushing his teeth

If you clean his teeth while he is laying down it reduces the likelihood of him moving away from you, and he'll eventually come to relax more. If you can anticipate which way he will keel-over, choose the side he will go towards, that way he will roll onto your lap rather than away from you. Because he's almost laying in your arms, you'll be able to tell if he's relaxed. If he's not relaxed, don't do so much. You'll feel him tense up if he's not happy, or he'll get up and walk off. Don't try and hold him still, let him go and do something he can handle more easily next time.

Remember that you only need to brush the outside surfaces of the teeth, he'll keep the inside surfaces clean. Like your own, brush his teeth with little circular movements on the gum line.

You can buy proper dog toothbrushes, or use a small headed human toothbrush with soft bristles. When I've finished with my own small head Oral B's for sensitive teeth, I pass them on to my dogs. Some people like the little rubber thimble things with soft fat bristles (vets usually sell them), personally I've never got on very well with these.

While you are both on the 'learning curve' don't approach his teeth if you are in a hurry. Be relaxed, be patient.

The key thing in the learning stages is not to do too much at once and don't rush on to the next stage until he is relaxed at the current level. Using a meaty flavour dog toothpaste (more expensive + very effective) from your vet, which the dogs seem to love. This product is available from your vet or vet supplies shop. Don't use human toothpaste as it froths up and dogs don't generally like the flavour.

Warning: Do not be tempted to chip tartar off his teeth, dog tooth enamel is much softer than ours, and you'll probably scare him.

How do I brush his teeth?


I took one dog through the process outlined below in three weeks, while another took six months. Don't move on to the next step until he is relaxed at the current stage.

  • Start by feeling his teeth gently through his cheeks.


  • Put some dog toothpaste on one finger and rub it on an easily accessible front tooth and associated gum area. He'll have minutes of fun licking the toothpaste off, starting to build a positive association.


  • Gradually increase the number of easily accessible front teeth and gum area you rub toothpaste on.


  • When he's happy with all the front ones being touched, start to work backwards towards the back teeth, one tooth at a time.


  • When he'll let you rub all of his teeth with your finger, repeat from step 2 with a toothbrush. Rub with your finger the teeth not being done by the toothbrush.


Easy-peasy! Now the only thing to remember is not to leave the toothbrush on the floor or he'll probably try to eat it.

Not from the SpeakEasy, unfortunately this wasn't really covered by a thread, but its worth documenting so I put this together based on my own (non-commercial, non-professional) experience. Jill


Security and missing dogs

What could be worse than losing your dog? Those who have been through it say it is worse than having a dog die. Prevention is definitely the best policy on this issue.

If your dog is found, the chances of you being reunited are vastly increased if your dog is microchipped or tatooed. The NCDL (at the time of writing this) does cheap microchipping.

Before the event:

  • don't let your dog run loose if you can't rely on his recall (this isn't the end of the world)
  • maintain your garden fence to keep it dog proof
  • ensure you have good photos of your dog
  • do not leave your dog tied up outside shops etc
  • do not leave your dog unattended in a car/van
  • be wary of strangers expressing an interest in your dog
  • if you think you are being followed, don't go straight home


After the event:

  • look everywhere you can
  • get in touch with the local police and dog warden
  • make up posters and post them locally
  • get in touch with LurcherSearch and LostDogs


Ironically despite the number of Greyhounds and lurchers looking for homes, they are probably one of the most stealable types of dogs. This is because they are commonly required for coursing, illegal racing, rabbitting, breeding etc by people who would not be considered by rescue groups as suitable to adopt a dog.

This is not an over-reaction, I hear stories constantly of sight hounds going missing. Often in suspicious circumstances.

Some experiences from the SpeakEasy:

Owners have been approached by people of dubious intention and asked if they want to sell their dogs. It has also been reported that youths have been mugging owners and stealing their dogs. Presumably for coursing/racing.

I was approached once by a man in a van who screeched to a halt and insisted that Jims was the dog he had lost. I was baffled and told him that no way could it be and it was only later on reading the same sort of stories that I realised what was going on - especially as he seemed to watch where I was going (I just stood and stared at him until he had to drive off and then I made double-sure I wasn't followed home).

...whenever anyone talks about the racing dog they had that was just like him (not as unusual as you think in my part of town!) I make sure to tell them all about his dodgy heart, wrist etc - first making sure I'm not putting off a genuine potential adopter of greyhounds! Also - and I'm sure we all know this - 
NEVER leave them outside a shop, even for a minute.

My husband has just put up a six foot gate with a 12 inch trellis on the top. You can only get through the gate with a yale key. I am very aware that there are people out there that want our dogs. We have a large supply of travellers that make our village their home.
Once while walking on our disused airfield, I was asked if I wanted to sell both of my dogs. I was petrified that they would somehow follow me home and take them. I never leave them outside a shop or in my car. I can't imagine the pain you must go through should you lose or have stolen your dogs. Keep them safe.

Just a warning to UK folks to be on their guard. There appears to be a gang in the Midlands/North who are stealing dogs. I know of several people's dogs which have been stolen, in daylight, from gardens and even from secure kennel runs.

...From the cases so far, there seems no doubt that they know exactly which dogs they're after, and watch the house extensively to learn the owner's routine before attempting to steal the dogs.

Consider microchipping or tattooing if your dog is not already done, so that if it's stolen and dumped it can be identified. Permanent identification is also useful if you ever have to prove to the law that it is indeed your dog after someone has stolen it. Make sure you have good photographs (head shot, side-on standing, etc) that show all your dogs' characteristics clearly, so that you can make a big publicity fuss and make it not worth their while to try to keep the dog. Guard them in your gardens and runs. Watch for suspicious characters.

Down here in Dorset this is a major problem to. I have to keep the back gate padlocked because of people showing too much interest in my dogs. I have been asked if people can borrow them for the purpose of rabbiting, coursing, breeding and illegal racing. We also have a lot of gypsies living in the area who have a reputation for stealing greyhounds.

I have been approached in the past whilst out with my whippets & lurcher...all bitches. One particular incident sticks in my mind, I was approached by four traveller types who spread out around myself and the dogs. They asked had I bred them, I replied no. They then asked was I going to breed from them, to which I again replied no - adding the lie that they had all been spayed. Whilst this was going on, two of them had circled round behind me only to be met by the lurcher and two of my bolder whippets who told them in dog fashion that their attentions were not welcome! This seemed to disuade them somewhat, but they did follow me for some time, before finally disappearing which was even more scary, as I didn't know where they had gone.

Information provided by contributors to the Speakeasy, and summarised by Jill