Like humans, dogs can also develop plaque if not given proper dental care. And guess what, it will stink so badly. It will also damage your dog’s teeth and branch out to a slew of health problems. In fact, neglected dog plaque can worsen into heart disease as the infection gets into the bloodstream. This is the reason why you should know the best way to remove plaque from dog’s teeth.
Ask yourself, when is the last time you clean your dog’s teeth? A week ago? Never? If that’s the case, you have urgent work to do.
In this post, I discussed how dogs get plaque, common dental problems, and how you can deal with it like a champ.
How do dogs get plaque?
Dogs get plaque the same way as humans do. When we eat, food bits get stuck between our teeth. If we don’t clean it up, the food bits will rot and harden into plaque. Over time, this will cause tooth decay and tons of dental health problems.
Aside from food particles, saliva and bacterial growth also add up to the formation of plaque. The minerals that get into your dog’s mouth will also make the plaque rigid and stubborn. Soon enough, brushing alone won’t be enough to scrape off plaque from your dog’s teeth.
Also, dogs love dumpster diving. They put the nastiest things in their mouths. And if you don’t clean it regularly, just imagine the stink and infection that will occur.
It’s important to remove tartar from your dog’s teeth, or it will cause more problems later on. It’s also more expensive to pay for canine dental work than performing simple steps to prevent plaque from occurring.
Common dental problems in dogs
Dental problems are very common in canines. This is because pet owners often overlook dental health on their grooming checklist. With this, many canines suffer from the following dental issues:
Gingivitis occurs when the plaque starts to dig through the gums. This makes the gums red, swollen, and irritated. As the plaque digs into the gum tissue, it causes small wounds where irritants and bacteria can freely enter.
Take note that gingivitis is just the start of a more painful dental problem. If you notice plaque buildup along your dog’s gum line, you should bring it to the vet right away.
If a dog’s gingivitis isn’t treated, it will progress into periodontal disease. Periodontitis occurs when bacteria infect the gums and teeth. The plaque digs into the gums and traps nasty irritants that will lead to an endless cycle of infection.
Take note that periodontal disease isn’t just a problem of the mouth. If you let your dog go without proper dental care, the infection will spread through the bloodstream. This will directly increase your dog’s risk of having heart disease.
The ultimate ending of poor dental health among dogs is tooth loss. However, tooth loss due to teething is completely normal. This happens within the first six months of your dog’s life as the baby teeth fall off and get replaced by the adult set of biters.
However, if an adult dog suffers from a severe case of dental disease, the vet may decide to pull the affected tooth. The removal is necessary if the infected tooth is already causing too much pain, especially while eating.
If you don’t act fast, all of your dog’s teeth will have to be pulled out. This is unfortunate and very uncomfortable for dogs. It would affect their diet and overall health.
Bad breath can be tricky because it can either be a dental problem or something more serious like kidney failure. If your dog’s breath smells like ammonia with a sickly sweet hint, you should take it to the vet immediately. This is a tell-tale sign of kidney problems, which must be treated right away.
However, you should also check your dog’s mouth carefully. If there’s tartar buildup, rotten teeth, or swollen gums, it’s likely a dental problem.
Best Way to Remove Plaque From Dog’s Teeth
Here are some of the effective ways to combat plaque buildup on your dog’s teeth:
Nothing beats regular brushing if you want to prevent and reduce plaque occurrence on your dog’s teeth. It’s important to remove food bits, so they won’t decompose and cause dental problems.
Daily brushing is recommended for dogs, but if that won’t work for you, once a week should be fine. Make sure that you use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Remember that human toothpaste is a no-no because it contains xylitol, natural alcohol that’s toxic to dogs.
The good thing about dog toothpaste is it’s savory flavored. This encourages your dog to lick and spread the toothpaste all over its mouth. This helps you clean your dog’s teeth, especially the ones you can’t reach with the brush.
Always start slow when getting your dog used to the sensation of toothbrushing. For my dogs, I started using a finger brush, so it’s less invasive. After that, I slowly introduced a long-handled toothbrush.
After each brushing, make sure that you reward your dog with a dental chew, which I discussed below.
🐶Dental chews and toys
Unlike typical dog treats, dental chews are infused with teeth-cleaning ingredients. It also promotes chewing, which will help reduce the occurrence of dog plaque.
Dental chews are designed to scrape off tartar while giving your dog fresh breath. For my dog, I swear by the GREENIES Dental Care Chews. These are shaped as small toothbrush bones that will target hard-to-reach areas in your dog’s mouth.
Aside from the shape, GREENIES is also packed with vitamins and minerals that will nourish your dog. It’s a 2-in-1 treat that will make a big difference in your dog’s dental health. Just make sure that you limit it to one treat a day.
Chew toys will also help in reducing your dog’s plaque. You can get a chew bone and rope toys to encourage your dog to chew.
🐶Dry kibble diet
Dry dog food is much better than wet food if you want to reduce your dog’s plaque. Kibble has a rough and stiff composition, which will help scrape tartar from your dog’s teeth. On the contrary, wet food is moist and soft, which can easily get stuck on your dog’s mouth.
Take note that a dry food diet is only one of the strategies you can do. As long as your dog is eating, it will have the risk of developing plaque. Your role as a pet owner is to ensure that it won’t go out of control.
🐶Dog dental wipes
If your dog doesn’t like toothbrushes, dental wipes are your go-to solution. This will let you remove food particles from your dog’s teeth. However, you should know that dog wipes can’t get between the teeth as much as bristles do. This is why you should still brush your dog’s teeth from time to time.
Make sure that the wipes you’re using are safe for dogs. I personally prefer GARYOB Dental Finger Wipes for Pets. It’s a sleeve you can wear on your finger, so you can wipe and scrub your dog’s teeth with ease. This has a peppermint scent, which will give your dog a fresh breath.
Also, each jar of the GARYOB wipes has 50 finger sleeves on it. This is more than enough for a month of daily cleaning.
Another effortless solution you can do for plaque is using a water additive. This formula is added to the dog’s water bowl. As the dog drinks, the solution cleans the mouth and reduces the formation of plaque. So even if you’re not brushing your dog, the water additive does some level of cleaning. It also helps a lot in combatting bad breath among canines.
Don’t worry because these water additives are odorless and flavorless. Unless your dog is very sensitive, it will not abandon the water bowl. Nevertheless, you can always mask the water additive with a few drops of brewed green tea or chicken broth.
For my dogs, I personally use the Petlab Co. Water Additive. It has stabilized chlorine dioxide that cleans the dog’s mouth without any side effects. It’s free of any alcohol, harmful sugars, coloring, and other chemicals. This is guaranteed tasteless, too.
🐶Regular vet visits
Above all, you should take your dog to regular vet visits. This way, the veterinarian can check for plaque and other dental issues. It’s easy to miss a spot, especially if your dog is reluctant when it comes to grooming.
Remember that routine checks will save you a lot of money compared to when your dog’s teeth are already mired with plaque. Your dog will thank you for going through the hassle of bringing him to the vet.
Routine dental cleaning for dogs can cost around $450 to $1,000 for severe cases. If your dog has healthy teeth, the cost of cleaning would be much cheaper. The key here is getting your dog checked early and regularly.
In this video, Dr. Kim tells us more tips on how to keep our dog’s teeth healthy and safe from plaque:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you brush a dog’s teeth with apple cider vinegar?
A: Apple cider vinegar has antiseptic properties, so it reduces tartar and plaque. However, your dog may not be a big fan of the taste. Other than that, a small amount of ACV should be safe for most canines.
Q: What happens if you never brush your dog’s teeth?
A: Can you imagine not brushing your teeth ever? If so, why would you let it happen to your dog? Not brushing your dog’s teeth will lead to a bad case of plaque and tartar. It’s only a matter of time before your dog’s teeth rot and the gums become infected. In the worst cases, the infection will spread through the bloodstream and into the vital organs.
Q: What percentage of dog owners brush their pet’s teeth?
A: According to experts, only 2% of pet owners actually brush their dogs’ teeth daily. This is the main reason why 80% of all dogs in America have some kind of oral disease by the time they reach the age of three. It’s expensive to treat, not to mention that the dog would go through a lot of pain and discomfort. This is why the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you brush your dog’s teeth regularly to prevent such a scenario.
Q: How long does it take to clean a dog’s teeth at the vet’s clinic?
A: Since your dog will be given anesthesia, teeth cleaning will only last for about 45 minutes. It can take up to 95 minutes for the vet to remove all the buildup for larger breeds and those with severe plaque. However, if the vet diagnosed a different dental problem, the treatment will take several visits to the vet’s clinic.
Q: Is it safe to use baking soda to clean a dog’s teeth?
A: It’s not ideal to use baking soda to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. It can irritate your pet’s stomach when ingested. While dog toothpaste contains baking soda, it’s only a small amount. It’s best that you purchase dog toothpaste, especially if your pet is known to have a sensitive stomach.
Q: Can I use hydrogen peroxide to clean my dog’s teeth?
A: NEVER! Hydrogen peroxide might be a cleaning agent, but vets use this to trigger vomiting. While it will not kill your dog, it will surely result in a messy vomiting episode. This is something you wouldn’t want to happen.
The best way to remove plaque from dog’s teeth starts with regular brushing. A smart choice of treats and toys will also help in maintaining your dog’s dental health. Above all, you shouldn’t skip regular vet visits to ensure that your pooch is safe from any health problem. Have you dealt with dog plaque before? What did you do to remove it? Share your tips below!