A healthy and well-maintained set of teeth is also very important for the well-being and health of dogs. Therefore, dog owners need to pay attention to the good oral hygiene of their animals. Even seemingly harmless plaque can pave the way for tartar and serious dental diseases. Small dog breeds in particular are prone to heavy tartar build-up. In this article, you will learn how to prevent tartar on the dog’s teeth.
What causes dog tartar?
Tartar is formed by an interaction of various substances in the oral cavity. Bacteria, together with food residues, saliva, and exfoliated cells of the oral mucosa, form a layer that adheres to the tooth surfaces. This layer is called plaque.
Plaque adheres especially to hard-to-reach areas of the teeth and in the spaces between the teeth. Dogs with a short muzzle and the resulting misalignment of the teeth are particularly affected by this. In these dogs, the teeth are too close together or at an angle, so that the plaque can adhere even better. If this plaque remains on the teeth, mineral salts, especially calcium phosphate, from the dog’s saliva are deposited on it and harden into tartar.
The surface of the tartar provides a surface for more bacteria and plaque to attack. The bacteria migrate to the gums and underneath, causing inflammation (gingivitis). This inflammation can spread to the periodontium (periodontitis), which can lead to the destruction and loss of the entire tooth.
How do I recognise tartar on a dog’s teeth?
The first signs of impending tartar on a dog’s teeth are the soft deposits and plaque already mentioned. They are easy to recognise by their yellowish colour. If nothing is done about it, hard tartar will form. This is characterised by a grey-brown colour and is usually very foul-smelling, which leads to a change in your four-legged friend’s mouth odour. The reason for this is the strong-smelling metabolic waste products of the bacteria that feed on food remains and live in and on the tartar.
Due to the irritation of the gums, tartar infestation often leads to gingivitis. The inflamed areas are easily recognised by their reddish, possibly even bloody discolouration. If you notice such symptoms, you should immediately consult a vet to have the tartar removed.
The symptoms described are extremely unpleasant for your pet. Under certain circumstances, this pain can also lead to changes in eating behaviour. For example, dogs often have an unusual lack of appetite or only chew on one side. If you notice these or similar signs, you should have your dog’s teeth checked or examined by a veterinarian.
The following symptoms and accompanying signs can be summarised as signs of tartar in dogs:
- Yellowish, soft deposits on the teeth.
- Grey-brown, hardened deposits.
- Changed or foul-smelling bad breath
- Irritated, reddish, or even bloody gums
- Unusual eating behaviour
How to prevent tartar in dogs
You can prevent tartar in dogs with good dental care. To prevent tartar in dogs, it is best to combine the following methods:
- Regular tooth brushing: It is best to use a dog toothbrush, dog toothpaste, and special rinses or dab the teeth with concentrated chlorhexidine. This cleans the teeth and interdental spaces, thus removing the basis for tartar.
- Feeding dry food; Dry food must be chewed more than wet food and therefore stimulates salivation. In addition, wet food settles more quickly in the interdental spaces.
- Mix anti-tartar powders into the food: Anti-tartar powders bind the calcium in saliva and are thus supposed to help dissolve plaque faster or prevent it from forming in the first place. Because the ingredients in these powders can enter the blood through digestion, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian to determine if these powders are suitable for your dog.
- Regularly give your dog snacks for dental care: Make sure they are as natural as possible and do not contain added sugar. The harder they are to chew, the more effective they are. But be careful of chewing items that are too hard. Bones, deer antlers and the like can lead to tooth fractures.
- Use dental care toys: Dental care toys encourage dogs to chew and thus contribute to increased salivation. This reduces the risk of stubborn deposits. Some toys also clean the teeth mechanically.
- Go for regular teeth cleaning What works for humans also works for dogs. Talk to your vet about how often it makes sense to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned and have your dog’s teeth checked at least once a year.
Tartar removal for dogs
To permanently remove the dog’s tartar, professional dental cleaning at the vet is necessary. This is done under a light anaesthetic. During the treatment, the vet removes the tartar from the tooth with an ultrasound. If the tartar has already spread and settled in the gum pockets, these are also carefully cleaned. The teeth are then polished, as the smooth surface prevents the formation of tartar. After the tartar removal, the vet reassesses the condition of the teeth and dentition. In some cases, further treatment is then required to remove the tartar completely. In severe cases, complete removal of the tooth may be necessary.
How to remove tartar from dogs naturally
Once a dog has hard tartar, it is almost impossible to remove it with a toothbrush. There are special tartar scrapers, but these carry a high risk of damaging the oral mucosa, gums, or enamel by slipping off. Another method is to rub the teeth with a dental care gel. If the gel is applied for a longer time, it may loosen the tartar.
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