As part of our fortnight focusing on greyhound dental health, we spoke to Michelle Owen who runs Bark Inn Rehoming Kennels  in Aldridge, Walsall. Previously a racing owner, Michelle moved into homing and founded Bark Inn in 2009.

Since then, Michelle and her team have helped over 2,000 greyhounds find their forever homes, including over 250 in the past 12 months. Recently, Bark Inn was successfully approved as one of our Greyhound Retirement Scheme homing partners which means they will receive £400 whenever they welcome a retired greyhound registered with the scheme.

Here Michelle discusses the importance of ensuring good dental care and how useful it is to pass this knowledge on to a greyhound’s new family.

“Since I began my journey into homing I have seen a real improvement in the dental condition of the greyhounds coming into our kennels. I think this has a lot to do with changes in diet over the years with a shift towards trainers feeding higher quality kibble instead of soaked food which has the tendency to stick on their teeth and cause a build-up of plaque over time. Our trainers feed bones too as part of their dental routine, usually once a week, which, as well as helping to clean their teeth, is a nice treat for them.

This overall improvement in oral health can be seen in the number of greyhounds which I’ve had to take to the vets for full dental cleans prior to homing them, which is reducing year-on-year. For me, this a good sign of the progress being made throughout the industry and I very much hope that this continues.

When a greyhound comes into our kennels we examine their teeth and gums and, if we need to, we will carefully descale any calculus. We will then get the greyhound used to our routine of regular brushing. We also give them dried pig’s ears every few days as we find the grinding and chewing is helpful. If there was a major problem we will of course go straight to the vet and book them in for a full examination and dental clean.

A greyhound with well cared for teeth is always going to be more appealing to adopters and we are very clear with our new owners about the importance of regular teeth brushing and maintaining a routine. We give them an information leaflet when they pick up their dog and we go through everything with them based on their greyhound’s individual temperament.

Nine times out of ten, greyhounds are very relaxed about mouth examinations and brushing but on the odd occasion when a dog is more timid, or is just not used to the sensation, we will take our time with them and work with the new owner to improve this behaviour. Prior to Covid, if any of our owners needed to build their confidence with brushing we would go to their house, show them some techniques and ensure they know what they’re doing.

If we set the standards high – for both trainers and retired greyhound owners alike – we will only continue to see improvements when it comes to the dental health of our greyhounds. For our greyhounds to enjoy the long and happy retirements they deserve we must be attentive to what is going on inside their mouths from an early age. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.”

Follow #GreyhoundDentalCare on Twitter for more advice and tips for caring for your greyhound’s teeth.