Offer ends in: 2h 7m 27s

How to Remove Tartar from A Dog’s Teeth

How to Remove Tartar from A Dog’s Teeth

Alpha Paw Sale

Jul 09, 2021

What Is Tartar?

80% of dogs have some sort of dental disease by the time that they are three years old. Having a dental cleaning routine set up with your four-legged buddy is critical to preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Depending on the severity of the build-up, it may be possible to be removed at it home. However, many times tartar buildup has to be removed by your vet.

If your dog has very bad breath, seems to be pawing at their mouth, or dropping food when they eat, they may have severe tartar buildup.

By keeping this plaque off your dog’s teeth, adding an additive such as mouthwash for dogs, and maintaining a consistent cleaning schedule you can keep them healthy for many years.

Image credit: canva

What Is Plaque and Tartar Buildup?

When your dog eats the food and saliva will get trapped near the gum line in your dog’s mouth. This will continue to build up each time your dog eats. If this is left untreated, the plaque will mix with minerals in your dog’s mouth to form hard tartar.

This tartar will cause your dog to have tooth decay, gum disease, and cause many other dental diseases. Eventually, this tartar will cover the whole surface of your dog’s teeth and may even cause their teeth to fall out.

What Does Tartar Look Like?

Tartar is the hard brownish-grey substance that builds up on your dog teeth. This is often very hard like a rock from the calcium and other minerals that are found in your dog’s saliva mixing with food and plaque build-up on your dog’s teeth. This tartar will trap bacteria around the surface of your dog’s teeth causing them to have infection and inflammation of their gums.

Can I Scrape Tartar Off My Dog’s Teeth?

There are a few ways that you can remove the tartar from your dog’s teeth. Your dog is not going to sit still enough for you to remove the tartar off very easily. Below are two ways that tartar can be removed from your dog’s teeth.

Use a finger toothbrush to remove the tartar

While you can use a finger brush to help knock tartar off the surface of your dog’s teeth, there is more tartar and plaque that has built up under your dog’s gum line. Using a finger toothbrush can also take a lot of training for your dog to tolerate at first. If your dog has a severe tartar build up the best thing is for your dog to have a complete dental cleaning done at your vet.

Have your vet remove the tartar

Your vet will lightly sedate your dog and clean their teeth the same way the people’s teeth are cleaned at the dentist. Your vet will be able to remove the tartar and build up that is below the gum line.

They will also be able to take x rays of your dog’s teeth to see if there are any issues with the roots of the teeth. If there are any diseases or broken teeth your vet would also be able to remove these teeth to help keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

Maintaining Healthy Teeth and Gums in Dogs

It is best to try to maintain your dog’s teeth and gums. Having a dental disease can lead to other issues within your dog. Common organs that dental disease can affect are:


Studies show that gum disease can cause dogs to have heart issues. When this bacteria enters the bloodstream from the inflamed gums, it can travel anywhere in your dog’s body.

These bacteria commonly travel to your dog’s heart causes bacterial endocarditis. It will cause issues with your dog’s heart valves and can cause your dog to have congestive heart failure from the valves not working properly. This is often an irreversible issue even with a dental cleaning.

Image credit: canva

Kidney and Liver

If your dog has dental disease, this can cause your dog to also developed kidney or liver disease. The bacteria trapped will enter the bloodstream and can end up anywhere in your dog’s body. The kidneys and liver are two very important organs that often get damaged by this bacteria.

Jaw Fractures

If your dog has severe periodontal disease, this will cause your dog’s jaw to decay and eventually break. This can lead to pain and sometimes unrepairable fractures of the jaw. Most bones that are broken due to this type of infection have a very hard time healing if ever.

Keeping your dog’s mouth clear of any tartar and plaque can help keep your dog healthy and free of other diseases.

How to Prevent Tartar Buildup

Preventing your dog from developing tartar is the best way to treat any dental issue. These are a few things that you can try to help decrease plaque and tartar build-up in your dog’s mouth.

Dental Chews

Giving your dog a dental chew will help decrease tartar and plaque. Dentalicious Doggy Sticks are great treats to give to your dog. These treats help promote dental health while giving your dog a tasty and healthy treat.

These treats have ridges on the surface to help reach those hard-to-reach areas to keep your dog’s teeth clean. These treats come in 3 different sizes so that even the tiniest dog can benefit from the treats. When you first give any new treat to your dog it is best to monitor them to make sure that they are not going to swallow it whole and will actually chew the treat.


Magic mouth wash can be added to your pet’s water to help decrease the amount of plaque and help prevent tartar buildup. This product is great for a dog who does not tolerate having their teeth brushed or for a person who does not have time to brush their dog’s teeth every day.

These additives you can add to your dog’s water to help reduce plaque and tartar in just 7 days leaving your dog with fresh smelling breath. When you first start to use these products it is best to also give your dog access to freshwater without additives as some will be picky and not drink the water additives at first.

Image credit: canva

Brush your dog’s teeth

One way to effectively keep tartar and plaque off your dog’s teeth is to brush your dog’s teeth every day. With a little time, you can easily train your dog to tolerate having their teeth brushed.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, make sure that you use toothpaste specifically for dogs. These can be found at your local pet store and come in many different flavors.

Final Thoughts

Tartar and plaque are not good for your dog’s overall health. While many times your dog may need a dental cleaning by your vet. Once all the dental tartar and plaque have been removed, you can start implementing some of these products to help keep your dog’s teeth healthy.

Dental disease is one disease that you can easily help prevent in your dog. Trying a few of these different tips and tricks with your dog you can easily prevent tartar from accumulating on your dog’s teeth helping keep them healthy for many years.

Alpha Paw Sale
author image

Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM is a board-certified, licensed, and USDA-accredited small animal and exotic animal veterinarian. Dr. Sara graduated from St. George's University in 2015 with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. Following veterinary school, she joined the team of pet experts at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she treats all species that walk in the hospital. Dr. Sara’s professional interests include surgery and exotic animal medicine. She enjoys developing positive relationships with her clients, sharing her passion for animals, and helping pet parents provide excellent care for their fur babies. She is passionate about helping our four-legged family members return to a happy and healthy life - making her a perfect fit for Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts!

Welcome to our Vet Corner

Each week, we publish high-quality, helpful content written & reviewed by our team of board-certified veterinary specialists. Think of us as your partners in pet parenthood: we’re here to provide you with expert medical answers to your pet health questions, so you can continue to give your pets the happy & healthy lives they deserve.

The Vet Stamp of Approval

Ah, the coveted Vet Stamp of Approval. We live for this badge. When you see it, you’ll know you’re in good hands. (Not seeing the badge on an article that needs it? Reach out to us and we’ll get right on it!)


The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.