How to Remove Tartar in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. August 6, 2017
How to Remove Tartar in Dogs

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Have you ever noticed bad breath in your dog? Have you seen spots and dirt on their teeth? If so, your dog has accumulated tartar.

If you want to know more about this problem, some way to prevent it and especially to know how to remove tartar in dogs, continue reading this AnimalWised article and discover the importance of your pet's oral health.

  1. What is dog tartar?
  2. What are the dangers of dog tartar?
  3. How to prevent dog tartar
  4. Tips to prevent and eliminate tartar in dogs

What is dog tartar?

Just like a human's mouth, every day a dog's teeth are filled with bacteria that form plaque. Over time, the precipitation of minerals from saliva and food remains result in tartar. The tartar develops mainly in the space between the gum and the tooth. From there it spreads and affects the rest of the buccal structures, which can lead to infections and secondary diseases.

When our dog has tartar, it is impossible to eliminate it with only diet and brushing their teeth. So, it is preferable to act in a preventive way to avoid the formation of tartar. The only really effective way to offer an in-depth solution to the problem is oral cleaning, like what we receive at the dentist, done by a professional veterinarian.

All dogs may have tartar, but some types of dogs are more prone to it:

  • In small-sized and toy breeds, tooth enamel is of poorer quality and they, of course, have smaller teeth. Together this makes normal cleaning difficult, so the process of tartar formation occurs faster.
  • Brachycephalic dogs: because of the shape of their skull and jaw, teeth are very close together and this favors the formation of tartar which is difficult to remove.
  • Whatever the breed, dogs over the age of 5 start to develop tartar if we have not been able to prevent it.
How to Remove Tartar in Dogs - What is dog tartar?

What are the dangers of dog tartar?

A buildup of tartar can give rise to many health problems in your dog. Here are the most common and important:

  • The first problem is bad breath or halitosis. It produces a bad smell in the mouth of the dog that can sometimes be detected at a distance. As well as being unpleasant it is a clear indicator that your dog has tartar, and perhaps underlying diseases.Therefore, we should consult with the veterinarian and offer our furry friend some way to eliminate the bad breath and prevent tartar.
  • Gingivitis is another problem arising from the formation of plaque in the mouth of our pets. Their gums will be red, swollen and gradually withdraw, leaving the root of the tooth exposed. This causes the tooth bone to deteriorate and reabsorb, thus weakening the union of the tooth with the maxilla (upper jaw) and facilitating the loss of the tooth.
  • Periodontal Disease: If tartar is not prevented it can lead to periodontal disease. This encompasses gingivitis and halitosis and then moves the process towards the rest of the structures of the mouth (dental roots, palate, jaw, etc.). Finally, there is the loss of affected teeth and infection of the gums. These infections usually end up in abscess formations that can continue to progress in the tissues of the mouth, ultimately affecting the eyes and nose of our pet. The only way to solve this disease is to have your trusted veterinarian provide a professional mouth cleaning, as well as administering antibiotic treatment.
  • This series of dental problems in animals can lead to serious infections with the risk of death and can even lead to heart, kidney, intestinal and liver problems.
How to Remove Tartar in Dogs - What are the dangers of dog tartar?

How to prevent dog tartar

As with humans, we can also prevent tartar and its consequences in our pet. How? Well, very similar to how we do with our own mouths: by following oral hygiene guidelines.

It is very important that we try to prevent it, thus avoiding pain, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums, bad breath and difficulty to eat and play with their favorite toys.

We can prevent tartar with:

  • Daily brushing of our dog's teeth. It is very important to start when they are puppies and to choose a type of toothbrush and toothpaste suitable for each dog.
  • There are available toys, bones, biscuits and special feeds that they can chew and keep their mouths clean for longer themselves. They are composed of abrasive elements for plaque that help to remove tartar from the surface of the teeth.
  • Good physical health will always help prevent infection. We will achieve this good physical health through proper nutrition and physical exercise.

In case you cannot prevent tartar and it still appears, we can still prevent periodontal disease. When we detect that there is an accumulation of tartar that is impossible to eliminate with a normal brushing, we should take our dog to the vet for a thorough mouth cleaning. In case of suffering periodontal disease, our pet must also go through this process of oral cleaning to solve this disease.

This cleaning in animals should always be performed under general anesthesia with an anesthetist, a veterinary assistant and a veterinarian who performs professional mouth cleaning. With this process the tartar will be removed with special instruments such as ultrasound, which fractures tartar without damaging the dental enamel.

In cases of advanced periodontal disease, teeth are often lost during the dental cleaning process. But not because of harsh cleaning, but because they were already detached from the jaw. Due to the excess tartar they have remained attached instead of falling. As these teeth are no longer functional and are retained, they can cause the formation of abscesses and infections.

Also, it is very important as a preventative method that if we observe any of the following in our pet, we take them to the veterinarian:

  • They scratch their face or mouth but you cannot see anything that is bothering them.
  • Excessive bad breath. However, is important to know that halitosis is not only caused by tartar and periodontal disease. It will be vital that you go to the vet to rule out other possible diseases such as parasitosis, diabetes or kidney problems among others.
  • They stop eating or change their eating habits and chewing.
  • Abundant salivation.
  • Loss of teeth without us noticing.
  • Depression: lack of desire to walk, play, eat, etc.
  • Poor quality of teeth with discoloration, breakage or partition of teeth.
  • Sarrum along the edge of the gum.
  • Gums swollen, red, and bleeding.
  • Lumps or polyps inside the mouth.
  • Bumps under the eyes, where the muzzle begins.
How to Remove Tartar in Dogs - How to prevent dog tartar

Tips to prevent and eliminate tartar in dogs

Finally, AnimalWised want to give you some tips to help the oral hygiene of your dog and prevent and remove tartar:

  • Correct the bad eating habits of your dog that can favor the formation of tartar. The main cause of tartar is the excess of homemade food and soft food like pâtés. This type of food stays very easily on the teeth and gums. Therefore, the best thing to take care of their mouth is dry food. It gently scratches the surface of the tooth with each bite, helping to clean the teeth and leaving much less waste.
  • Help your dog get accustomed to daily tooth brushing from puppyhood. It is much better if we do it every day, but it is shown that with a minimum of three times a week for dogs is enough to prevent tartar.

Here is the simplest process to get your dog accustomed to brushing:

When they are little, rub the surface of their teeth with a sterile gauze wrapped around your finger with a little water each day. Later on, you can introduce the brush so they can familiarize them self with it. Then you can start using the brush instead of the sterile gauze and use special toothpaste for dogs. Since they swallow it, it must be specially made for dog use and not contain fluorine like in human toothpaste. This is because fluorine is toxic to them and can cause ulcers in the stomach.

In addition, there are different flavors of toothpaste for dogs that will facilitate the mouth cleaning by offering a taste that they like. Instead of toothpaste you can use Chlorhexidine that is sold in veterinary clinics and in some specialty stores. Chlorhexidine is the equivalent of our mouthwash that cleans, disinfects and softens hardened plaque so we can remove it more easily with the toothbrush. Initially it may not be the most fun activity for you or your dog but they will become accustomed to it. At first, you can use smaller toothbrushes and gradually increase their size over time.

  • Buy or create special toys and treats that as well as amusing your pet will help keep their mouth healthy. For example, toys with strings are effective. Biting dogs can clean their teeth the same way as we floss. In addition, bones and other chewable treats can contain special components for maintaining good oral hygiene.
  • Professional mouth cleaning often ends up being necessary despite correct oral hygiene. As we have explained before, the only difference with the cleaning that our dentist gives our dogs is general anesthesia. This is essential for our pets as they will not be able to stand still with their mouths open, and we can prevent possible damages and unnecessary fear.
  • Take advantage of general anesthesia. We recommend that professional mouth cleaning should be attempted (if possible) at the same time as some other necessary operation. For example, as long as the veterinarian does not see serious contraindications, if we intend to sterilize our dog we can use the same anesthesia to review their dental hygiene.
How to Remove Tartar in Dogs - Tips to prevent and eliminate tartar in dogs

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Remove Tartar in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.

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How to Remove Tartar in Dogs