What to Look for in Dog Tartar Control Products

A variety of dog tartar control products are available to help dog owners keep their pets' teeth tartar-free. These include biscuits, bones, dental chews, special diets, dental care products and chew toys.

What Is Tartar?

You might be wondering what tartar is and why it's a concern for dog owners. Tartar is a combination of plaque and saliva. It forms on unclean tooth surfaces, and its uneven surface provides an additional foothold for plaque growth. Gum disease results when dental plaque builds up on a dog's gums. Bacteria grow in the plaque and irritate the gum tissue. This situation may lead to infection if left untreated.

Clinical signs of tartar buildup and gum disease include bad breath, irritated or bleeding gums, and appetite loss. In extreme cases, gum disease may affect a dog's entire body, leaving him vulnerable to kidney, liver and heart problems because of the bacteria from the gum disease that travel through his bloodstream.

Brushing and Chew Help Tartar Control

To protect your dog from gum disease, the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) recommends daily brushing supplemented by daily chewing activities. You can provide chewing opportunities for your dog each day by offering him dental chews or specially designed chew toys that help clean his teeth and gums. You can also provide special tartar control diets or offer tartar control biscuits as treats.

Playtime can also be tartar removal time with the addition of a few items to your dog's toybox. Dental bones can help clean your pet's teeth and gums as he plays, while rope toys and dental rawhide chews can provide between-teeth flossing.

Schedule Annual Dental Checkups

The VOHC also recommends periodic veterinary dental examinations to help ensure your dog's dental health. Part of these dental examinations may include the cleaning and scaling of your dog's teeth for tartar removal. Supplement the veterinary dental care with regular cleaning of your dog's teeth to help protect your pet from gum disease. You can clean your dog's teeth by brushing them, either with a toothbrush and special pet toothpaste or by wiping them with gauze or a special dental wipe. You can also add oral rinses to his water bowl.

Tartar Control Product Tips

One of the main functions of the VOHC is to evaluate pet products and their ability to maintain good dental health in dogs and cats. The organization follows strict requirements in awarding its seal of acceptance for a product's claims of controlling tartar or plaque. Look for the VOHC seal on diets, chew treats and water supplements when you shop for tartar control products for your dog.

When selecting tartar control products for your dog, keep the following in mind:

  • The texture of crunchy treats is better suited to tartar removal than the texture of chewy treats.
  • Tartar-control treats and chews should be long-lasting to remove the greatest amount of tartar while the dog consumes them.
  • Tartar-control foods, which are available from your veterinarian, have a specially formulated texture that helps remove plaque and tartar from your dog's mouth.