Understanding Tartar in Dogs and Effective Prevention

Tartar, a hard dental coating formed from calcified bacterial deposits (plaque), poses oral health challenges for dogs. This blog post explores the different types of tartar, its formation, and the importance of regular dental care to prevent its occurrence. We also discuss the challenges of removing tartar and when veterinary assistance may be required.

Dog chewing on carrot.

Types of Tartar in Dogs

There are two main types of tartar that affect dogs: supragingival calculus (salivary calculus) and subgingival tartar (serum tartar). Supragingival tartar forms above the gum line and can appear within a few days, while subgingival tartar develops over a longer period beneath the gum line.

Characteristics of Supragingival Tartar

Supragingival tartar initially appears as light whitish deposits with a chalk-like texture along the gum line. Over time, it can spread and cover the entire tooth surface. Regular tooth brushing plays a crucial role in preventing the formation of supragingival tartar.

Subgingival Tartar and its Challenges

Subgingival tartar forms in the gum pockets and tends to have a dark colour due to deposited blood pigments. It often presents a hard texture and can be observed as isolated islands or continuous bands within the gum pockets. Removing subgingival tartar is difficult because it is hard to access and adheres tightly to the tooth surface. A veterinary examination under sedation is typically necessary to identify and address this type of tartar.

Preventing Tartar Build-Up

The most effective way to prevent tartar in dogs is through regular tooth brushing. Ideally, brush your dog’s teeth daily since plaque starts to accumulate shortly after brushing. Regular brushing can also remove the early stages of tartar formation. Dental care products specifically designed for dogs, such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, are available to facilitate this routine.

Removing Tartar

For lighter tartar deposits, you can remove them at home through regular brushing. However, stronger calculus requires professional intervention. In such cases, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended, often involving sedation to ensure thorough tartar removal.

Alternative Approaches for Resistant Dogs

While regular tooth brushing is the ideal method for preventing tartar, some dogs may resist or find it challenging to tolerate the process. In such cases, there are alternative approaches to promote dental health. Speciality treats and toys designed to clean teeth and gums can be effective in reducing tartar build-up. These treats and toys are typically designed with textures that help remove plaque and stimulate gum health. Ostrich legs are a great natural chew toy for dogs that are suitable for most dogs, even those with sensitive stomachs. They also contain little fat, are odour friendly and easy to clean. Additionally, incorporating a combination of dry and wet food in your dog’s diet can aid in preventing tartar accumulation. The chewing action required for dry food can help remove plaque, while wet food can provide moisture that helps maintain oral health. Consulting with your veterinarian can provide further guidance on suitable dental care alternatives for your dog’s specific needs.

Tartar is a common dental concern in dogs, but it can be effectively managed through regular dental care. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily, and using suitable dental products, helps prevent tartar formation. Prompt action is crucial to tackling tartar as it can lead to more severe oral health issues if left unaddressed. For stubborn tartar, consult your veterinarian, who can provide professional cleaning and guidance to maintain your dog’s oral hygiene and overall well-being.