How to Remove Tartar from a Dog's Teeth

Avid chewers have smaller amounts of tartar buildup.
Dog Chewing Branch image by T^i^ from

A dog’s dental health is important to his overall health. Regularly checking on his teeth and taking routine steps to help prevent tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease are part of the normal care you must provide to keep him healthy and happy. Plaque forms on dog’s teeth at the gum line from a combination of food, saliva and bacteria. If plaque remains on a dog's teeth, it forms a hard, yellow-brown coating called tartar. Tartar buildup can lead to periodontal disease of the gums, which can be very painful for your pet. Several products are available in stores, and some through your veterinarian, to remove tartar.

Step 1

Brush your dog’s teeth with pet tartar-control toothpaste as often as possible. Apply chicken or beef flavor toothpaste to a soft pet toothbrush. Sit next to your dog and wrap an arm around his chest. Gently open his lips, and brush in a circular motion on the exterior of his teeth at the gum line.

Step 2

Give your dog canine dental treats to help clean tartar off his teeth. Dental bones, biscuits and chews are edible products that scrub tartar off teeth with the natural chewing motion.

Step 3

Supply your dog with rawhide chews for a long-lasting treat that cleans his teeth. Dried horse hide and cowhide make up a large selection of rawhide chews in many shapes and sizes for any dog.

Step 4

Leave your dog a hard dog chew toy for cleaning his teeth when you leave the house. Hard dog chews scrub your dog’s teeth, but they are not edible. Be careful to make certain you only leave objects with your dog that you know he cannot destroy, possibly swallowing or choking on pieces of it.

Step 5

Change your dog’s food to a dog dental diet. This type of pet food has larger kibble to promote more chewing before he swallows the food. Some dog dental diets have a crumbly texture that scrubs teeth clean as he chews.

Step 6

Reduce the amount of canned or soft food that your dog eats. Soft foods do not remove tartar, and they contribute to plaque buildup.


  • Match the size of rawhide chews to your dog’s chewing habits. If your pet doesn’t chew the rawhide thoroughly before swallowing large pieces, it can cause a choking hazard or lead to an intestinal blockage.


  • Look for treats and chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Items that receive the VOHC seal of approval are proven to reduce plaque by at least 10 percent, and they will work more quickly than unapproved items.

  • Try different shapes of dog chews to see which your pet likes best. The one he chews more often and for longer periods of time will be the one that works best for tartar removal.

Items You Will Need

  • Pet tartar-control toothpaste
  • Pet toothbrush
  • Dog dental treats
  • Rawhide chews
  • Dog chew toys
  • Dog dental diet



About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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