Removing Plaque from Your Dog's Teeth: A Step-by-Step Guide

This image is a close-up of a dog's open mouth, focusing on its sharp teeth and healthy pink gums. The perspective is from the side, capturing the details of the canine's oral cavity, including the texture of the tongue and the enamel of the teeth, which appear clean and without visible plaque. The dog's fur is blurred in the foreground, directing the attention to the dental features within the mouth. The image exudes a sense of healthy oral hygiene in a domestic canine.

Removing Plaque from Your Dog's Teeth: A Step-by-Step Guide  

Has your pup's breath been less than fresh lately? It could be a sign of plaque buildup, a sneaky culprit behind many canine dental issues. Our guide will lead you through every step to reclaim your dog's pearly whites from the grip of tartar.

Dive in and let's get those tails wagging over healthy smiles!

Key takeaways  

  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a soft-bristled brush and canine-specific toothpaste to prevent plaque buildup, especially on the back teeth where it's common.

  • Dental chews and treats are tasty options that can help reduce plaque while keeping your dog entertained, but be sure to choose the right size for your pet's safety and ones that contain natural ingredients.

  • Special dental toys designed for dogs can scrub away plaque as they chew, combining fun with oral health benefits; introduce a variety of textures and natural ingredients for the best results.

  • Small breeds and brachycephalic (short - nosed) dogs like pugs are more prone to quick tartar formation due to crowded teeth. Extra vigilance in dental care is essential for these pups.

  • Professional cleaning by a vet is important for all dogs but particularly crucial for small breeds that may face more severe dental challenges without regular check-ups and cleanings.

Understanding plaque and tartar in dogs  

Plaque is a soft, sticky film that forms on your dog's teeth when bacteria combines with food particles. If left untreated, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. Understanding the impact of plaque and tartar on your dog's health is crucial for their overall well-being.

This image is an infographic detailing the areas of a dog’s mouth prone to plaque buildup. On the left, a list of key points reads: “Incisors need extra brushing, as they miss out on bone-cleaning action. Plaque loves to linger along the gumline. Molars and premolars trap food, so plaque builds up. Behind the canines are plaque hotspots.” On the right, a diagram of a dog’s mouth is displayed with labeled parts: Incisors, Canines, Premolars, and Molars, on both the upper and lower jaws. The areas prone to plaque are highlighted. The background is white, with black text and colorful illustrations to distinguish each tooth type. The infographic is informative and visually guides pet owners on where to focus dental care efforts.

What is plaque and tartar?  

Imagine a sticky, colorless film that clings to your dog's teeth; this is dental plaque. It builds up when food particles mix with saliva and bacteria, forming a breeding ground for those pesky microorganisms.

If not brushed away daily, it hardens into tartar within 48 hours. That rough surface on your pup's tooth isn't just unsightly—it’s tartar, which traps even more bacteria against the gums.

Tartar takes the dental issues up a notch as it firmly attaches to teeth and requires professional veterinary tools for removal. Neglecting oral hygiene can lead to serious problems like gum disease or an abscessed tooth—and remember, these are no small matters in canine health.

Tooth decay and potential tooth loss lurk where tartar is allowed to thrive unchecked, making daily dental care a must for every conscientious dog owner who values their furry friend's smile.

How can plaque affect your dog's health?  

Plaque on your dog's teeth is more than just unsightly; it's a combination of food particles, saliva, and bacteria that can lead to serious health issues. This sticky biofilm clings to the surface of the teeth and beneath the gumline, creating an environment where harmful bacteria thrive.

Without regular teeth cleaning, these bacteria can cause not only bad breath but also inflamed gums (gingivitis), which may progress to periodontal disease—a painful condition that can result in tooth loss.

Unchecked plaque eventually hardens into tartar, a rough substance that increases the risk of oral infections. Dogs with tartar buildup often suffer from discomfort while eating, which can affect their overall well-being and diet.

Moreover, oral health problems don't just stop at the mouth; research shows there could be links between chronic dental disease and heart or kidney diseases in pets due to the spread of bacteria through the bloodstream.

Ensuring pet dental care becomes part of routine maintenance for your furry friend mitigates these risks and helps maintain their quality of life.

Identifying plaque and tartar  

 This is a close-up image of a dog's teeth showing visible plaque build-up. The focus is on the sharp canine tooth and surrounding teeth, which are discolored with yellowish-brown plaque near the gum line. The texture of the plaque is quite detailed, and the sheen on the teeth suggests moisture, possibly from saliva. The dog's fur is visible in the top right corner, indicating the photo is taken very close to the dog's mouth, capturing the dental condition in high detail.

Keep an eye out for signs of dental issues in your dog, such as bad breath, discolored teeth, and swollen gums. Certain breeds are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup, so it's important to be vigilant with their oral hygiene.

Signs of dental issues in dogs  

Your dog's mouth can tell you a lot about their health. Recognizing the signs of dental issues is key to preventing serious oral diseases.

  • Watch for bad breath that sticks around; it's more than just unpleasant, it often points to gum disease or tooth decay.

  • Look out for swollen, red, or bleeding gums as these are clear signs of inflammation and possible infection.

  • Examine your dog's teeth frequently for any discoloration or buildup of tartar, which appears as a brownish-yellow crust along the gumline.

  • Notice if your dog has a reduced appetite or difficulty chewing; these can be indications of pain or discomfort from dental problems.

  • Observe changes in chewing behavior, such as favoring one side of the mouth, which could signal tooth problems in dogs.

  • Pay attention to any loose teeth; this is often symptomatic of advanced dental disease and requires immediate care.

  • Check if your dog drools more than usual or drops food from its mouth as these could be responses to underlying oral issues.

  • Be alert to any lumps or bumps in or around your dog's mouth; these should be assessed by a veterinarian promptly.

Why some breeds are more susceptible

Two dogs enjoying a sunny day outdoors on lush green grass. One is a small dog, and the other is a large dog, both basking in the sunshine.  

Small breed dogs, particularly brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs, are more prone to plaque and tartar buildup due to their unnatural tooth alignment. Their crowded teeth create crevices that easily trap food particles and bacteria, leading to accelerated plaque formation.

Because of this susceptibility, it's crucial for owners of these breeds to prioritize dental hygiene by implementing regular brushing with dog-specific toothpaste and incorporating dental chews or toys into their pet's routine.

Additionally, a diet that promotes good dental health is essential in preventing plaque and tartar accumulation. Providing appropriate chew toys and scheduling regular dental check-ups will help maintain optimal oral care for these susceptible breeds.

Top ways to remove plaque from your dog's teeth  

Regular brushing with dog toothpaste, using dental chews and treats, incorporating dental toys, and maintaining a proper diet are effective ways to remove plaque from your dog's teeth. Professional cleaning by a veterinarian may also be necessary in some cases.

Regular brushing with dog toothpaste  

Regular brushing with dog toothpaste is essential for preventing plaque and maintaining your dog's dental health. It should be done at least 3 times a week.

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush and dog-specific toothpaste to gently clean your dog's teeth and gums.

  1. Start by lifting your dog's lips to expose the teeth, then brush in gentle circular motions.

  1. Pay extra attention to the back teeth where plaque tends to accumulate.

  1. Be patient and make the experience positive by rewarding your dog after each successful brushing session.

Use of dental chews and treats  

This image features three different types of dog chew treats arranged on a white background. On the left, there are pig ears, recognizable by their unique shape and brownish color, which are popular for their chewy texture. In the middle, there are chicken feet, pale and elongated with a distinctive claw at one end, often given to dogs for their crunchy texture and dental benefits. On the right side of the image, there are strips of venison chews, dark in color and with a jerky-like appearance, known for being high-protein and low-fat treats suitable for dogs. The arrangement showcases a variety of textures and types of chews that cater to different canine preferences.

Dental chews and treats provide an effective way to remove plaque from your dog's teeth while also offering a tasty reward. These products help maintain good oral hygiene in dogs by promoting chewing, which helps in reducing plaque and tartar build-up while freshening breath.

  1. Dog - friendly dental treats, but these should only containt natural ingredients, in some cases they have great teeth cleaning properties and dental health benefits.

  1. When choosing dental chews, it's important to select the right size to prevent any choking hazards for your pet, ensuring both safety and effectiveness.

  1. Certain fruits and vegetables such as carrots, beetroots, and celery can also aid in naturally helping dogs chew away plaque and tartar build-up due to their fibrous texture.

  1. Offering dental chews and treats as part of a balanced diet for your dog can contribute to preventing tooth decay, promoting strong gums, and overall oral health.

Use of dental toys  

After incorporating dental chews and treats into your dog's oral hygiene routine, another effective way to remove plaque from your dog's teeth is by incorporating dental toys. These toys serve a dual purpose of providing entertainment and promoting dental health. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Coconut treats: Consider using coconut-based dental toys that leverage the antibacterial properties of coconuts and their ability to scrub against the teeth to remove plaque and tartar.

  1. Soft and hard chews: Look for agility toys that provide a combination of soft and hard textures, which can help clean your dog's teeth as they chew.

  1. Fruits and veggies: Some dental toys incorporate natural ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, providing a healthy option for maintaining your dog's dental hygiene.

  1. Seaweed supplements: Opt for a natural seaweed supplement to help maintain overall dental health and to remove plaque and tartar build up

This image is a promotional banner for a product called "CANIDENT". The banner has a blue and white abstract background pattern that resembles swirling water or waves. On the left side, there's a large, bold text "CANIDENT" in black with a simple line drawing of a dog above it. Next to the text is an image of the product, a cylindrical container with the label "CANIDENT" and a photo of a dog on it. To the right of the container, there are three key benefits listed with blue paw print bullet points: "Reduce tartar", "Improve gum health", and "Freshen breath". The design is clean and informative, highlighting the product name and its dental health benefits for pets.

Appropriate diet and regular check-ups  

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian help maintain your dog's oral health. An appropriate diet and professional dental cleanings can prevent plaque and tartar buildup, ensuring your pet's overall well-being.

Canine teeth cleaning is vital, as annual vet visits enable early detection of any dental issues, preventing further complications down the road.

Professional cleaning: when to see a veterinarian?  

Professional cleaning by a veterinarian is crucial for your dog's dental health. Annual checkups and cleanings help prevent tartar buildup, especially in smaller breeds. Regular professional dental care can ensure your pet maintains good oral hygiene and overall well-being.

Annual veterinary visits for teeth cleaning are important to maintain your dog's oral health. Small dogs, in particular, benefit from regular professional dental cleanings to avoid potential dental issues down the road.


This image captures a close-up of a playful interaction between a dog and its owner. The dog, which appears to be a brown, medium-sized breed with soulful eyes and alert ears, is biting down on one end of a thick, frayed rope toy. On the other end, a human hand is visible, suggesting a game of tug-of-war. The dog's gaze is intense and focused, likely engaged and enjoying the interactive play. The background is blurred with hints of green, indicating this activity is taking place outdoors, possibly in a garden or park setting.

Maintaining your dog's dental hygiene is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Regular brushing with dog-specific toothpaste, incorporating dental chews and treats, and providing a balanced diet are effective ways to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Small dogs, particularly brachycephalic breeds, require special attention due to their susceptibility to dental issues. Promptly addressing any signs of oral health problems in dogs can help prevent further complications.

Annual vet checkups and cleanings play a vital role in keeping your dog's teeth clean and healthy.

For more detailed information on keeping your furry friend's smile sparkling, check out our guide on the top 10 ways to remove plaque from your dog's teeth.


1. How can I remove plaque from my dog's teeth at home?  

You can remove plaque from your dog's teeth by regularly brushing with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste or using dental chews and toys designed to promote oral hygiene.

2. Can I use human toothpaste to clean my dog's teeth?  

No, do not use human toothpaste for cleaning your dog's teeth as it may contain ingredients that can be harmful if swallowed. Use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs.

3. What are the signs of dental issues in dogs?  

Signs of dental problems in dogs include bad breath, yellow or brown build-up on the teeth, swollen or bleeding gums, reluctance to chew hard food, and pawing at the mouth.

4. How often should I clean my dog's teeth?  

It is recommended to brush your dog's teeth at least 2-3 times per week for optimal oral hygiene maintenance.

5. What professional dental care options are available for dogs with severe plaque buildup?  

For severe plaque buildup, consult a veterinarian who may recommend professional dental scaling under anesthesia to remove tartar and address any underlying oral health issues.