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How to Remove Plaque From Your Dog’s Teeth

The only person who needs to know how to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth is the veterinarian.  The best thing you can do for your dog is learn how to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. 

Plaque will form to some degree and the dog’s teeth may darken with age; however, you can avoid a lot of medical and financial hardship just by starting a regular dental routine with your dog.

My Grandfather Didn’t Worry About How to Remove Plaque From His Dog’s Teeth!

That’s probably true, but dogs have become part of the family. 

There  are still working and hunting dogs that…well….work and hunt.  These days, dogs are the babies of the family and we are the parents. 

We’re much more knowledgeable than we’ve ever been and we know what plaque can do to the teeth and gums. 

Dogs are also living longer than ever before.

Owners are willing to put a lot of money into veterinarian interventions including surgery, cancer treatment, and oral health issues.  It’s our responsibility to take care of our dogs. 

Why Does it Cost so Much?

Dental procedures for dogs includes professional teeth cleaning, x-rays, and extractions. 

If your dog has never had surgery before, the veterinarian may perform pre-screening tests. These tests will help determine whether it’s safe for your dog to undergo anesthesia.  

Dentistry without anesthesia is risky and can be painful for the dog. In order for the dog to be awake for the procedure, they would have to be remarkably calm.

Factor in the wages of the veterinarian, the lab costs for pre-screening, x-rays, anesthesia, and the supplies used, and you’ve got a hefty bill. 

Let a professional remove plaque from your dog’s teeth

ADVICE:  Shop around for the best price. Not all veterinarian or dog dentistry clinics charge the same amount. If you have pet insurance, they will likely cover supplies, laboratory costs associated with pre-screening, and x-rays.

What Can I Do At Home to Remove Plaque From a Dog’s Teeth?

At home, you can make sure your dog has a healthy diet with either high-grade kibble, or a diet that allows for bone chewing and dental dog treats.

In addition, there are really nice products out there designed to help you remove plaque from  your dog’s teeth. It’s important to only use toothpaste formulated for dogs. Use a soft toothbrush in a size appropriate for the dog. 

Altogether, it’s a good combination of healthy food, appropriate chew toys, and at-home dental care that make the biggest difference in your dog’s overall dental health.

Dog Dental Care – Food Options 

Dog food comes in many varieties and takes into account your dog’s needs. There are dog food products that cover everything from allergies to cancer. 

The following is a list of some of the best dog food formulated specifically for dental health.  I’ve created a series of links to the most popular dog food for dental care.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dog Food

I like Hill’s Science Diet for a few reasons. First, they have the stamp of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.  The food has a 5 1/2 star rating on Amazon, and people claim it actually helps remove dog plaque from your dog’s teeth. 

TruDog Real Meat Organic Meat Freeze-Dried

TruDog Real Meat Organic Meat Freeze Dried

TruDog has a unique spin on the raw meat craze….freeze dried meat.  The specific formula in the link isn’t designed specifically for dog oral care, but the food is just crunchy enough to scrub plaque from your dog’s teeth.  It’s organic, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t have additives or preservatives.  I also like the slick, easy-to-open packaging. 

Purina DentaLife Chews for Dogs

Purina DentaLife Chews for Dogs

I’ve given these to my dogs and they seem to like the taste. These particular chews are more rubbery than some of the other chews available. It seems to keep them chewing longer and the longer they chew, the more plaque they’ll be able to break down.

Pedigree Dentastix Fresh Treats for Dogs

Pedigree Dentastix Fresh Treats for Dogs

These are the house favorite! I particularly like the green treats because they smell much better to me.  The dogs really love them and I can visibly see that it has made a difference in their teeth.  

Get Naked Grain Free Dog Dental Care

Get Naked Grain Free Dog Dental Care 

These are fantastic for dogs and come in all sizes. Get Naked products provide added vitamins and minerals. They are also fortified with Omega 3 and 6. The calorie count is a little higher than some of the other products on the market, but not significantly higher.

I always have to balance how many dental treats I hand out in a day to avoid excess calories.  My dogs could use a little weight loss, so it’s important for me to look at the packaging to see how many calories are in one dog treat. 

On average, dogs need about 800 calories per day. The formula is based on 25 calories per pound in order for your dog to maintain weight. If, like mine, your dog is already overweight, you’ll want to look for low-calorie and grain-free dental treat options.

Brushing Stick for Dog Dental Care.

Dog Pet Brushing Stick

This toy is designed to last a long time. It helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth and is a good gum massager. The thing I like best about this product is that it’s made of food grade materials and it has been approved by the FDA.


Nylabone Durachew Textured Bone for a Large Dog 

I’ve never tried these for my dog but I can easily see the benefits. In addition to satisfying your dog’s need to chew, this synthetic chew toy is designed to last a long time. Unlike a real bone, this won’t hurt your dog’s teeth. They come in different flavors and a variety of sizes. 

The variations in texture design are said to help control plaque and tartar buildup on your dog’s teeth. 

PetKare Pet Finger Toothbrushes

These are a fantastic way to reduce plaque from your dog’s teeth. These reusable finger tooth brushes help you to get around the teeth and gums. A standard toothbrush is a lot harder to maneuver inside a dog’s mouth. In addition, no calories!

Remember to use toothpaste formulated for dogs. Toothpaste made for us mere mortals is dangerous to dogs if they swallow it.  And they will. 

Vets Best Complete Enzymatic Dental Care Kit

I like the idea of including enzymes, Neem Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Baking Soda and Aloe in the formula. The packaging is minimal and the product is clearly designed to help remove plaque from your dog’s mouth.  This kit comes with a triple-headed toothbrush and toothpaste gel.

Non Surgical Ways to Reduce and Remove Plaque From Your Dog’s Teeth

Plaque Off Powder

This is a great  product if you have the grit to use it regularly over the long haul. This is a little more action oriented than simply giving your dog specially formulated oral health food.

Plaque Off Powder is 100% natural and is made from a type of seaweed.  It’s an interesting product that people claim works well at loosening tartar. However, you’re still going to have to manually brush their teeth, or continue feeding them oral health dog food formulas. 

Stainless Steel Tooth Scaler for Dogs and Cats

This is a tricky one. Scaling your own dog’s teeth is risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even the most docile dog can move suddenly or become startled. One wrong move and that scaler could wind up in your dog’s gums. 

Periodontal Disease 

Once plaque forms, it doesn’t easily get brushed away.  One layer of plaque becomes two layers, and so on. Layers of plaque on your dog’s teeth harden into what is known as tartar. The gritty surface of tartar provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. An abscess will form if the bacteria isn’t treated. 

Periodontal disease is more likely in older dogs with years of plaque build-up.  You will notice tartar on your dog’s teeth by the dark brown staining. The stain typically starts at the gum line and widens over the teeth.

The problem here is that as the tartar widens and expands, it pushes the gumline out of the way.  The part exposed has no enamel and is extremely sensitive. The more the gum line recedes, the greater risk of periodontal disease.

This is What Happens When You Don’t Remove Plaque From Your Dog’s Teeth!

Gum Disease in dogs doesn’t have any outright symptoms to watch for. The best idea is to prevent plaque build-up with regular brushing and occasional professional cleanings.  However, if dogs develops gum disease it can quickly move from an abscess, to gum erosion.

As the gums wear away, the tooth will become loose. Teeth will need to be extracted. The worst case scenario would be tooth and bone loss.

Signs of Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Dogs in chronic pain will typically hide it to avoid appearing weak to their pack. However, you might pick up on some subtle clues.  Dogs might favor one side of the mouth while eating. Bad breath is common in dogs, but this will be absolutely foul. You might notice blood in the saliva as well.

In severe cases, your dog might not want to eat at all and he might pull his head away if you try to touch him.

Remove plaque from dog’s teeth to avoid tooth loss.

Complications of Gum Disease

There are four stages to periodontal disease in dogs.  In the first stage, gingivitis develops. Gingivitis in dogs results in red, swollen gums that are painful for the dog.  This stage is reversible if the dog’s teeth are treated.

In the next two stages, the redness and swelling of the gums gets worse.The gums might bleed easily.  

The last stage of periodontal disease is where the veterinarian sees that bone loss has occurred. At this point the gums will hurt a lot. Teeth might be loose as well.  

At the end of the day…

Brushing your dog’s teeth, feeding them dental treats and giving them appropriate toys to chew on still doesn’t get it all.

I suggest making a veterinarian appointment now while the tartar is minimal. The longer you wait the greater chance of infection, abscess, and the development of periodontal disease.

Expenses are directly related to the type of procedures performed. If your dog is healthy and just needs an uncomplicated teeth cleaning, you’re going to save money. Keeping your dog’s teeth clean and free from tartar will avoid expensive extractions in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I hope you were able to pick up some good ideas for removing plaque from your dog’s teeth. Of course, the best time to start is when they’re puppies, but it’s never too late!

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to send them to me in the form below.  Likewise, you can always email me directly at:

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