How to Soften Dog Tartar

You’ve probably heard from your dentist the importance of keeping your teeth clean and reducing tartar buildup.  The same is true for our furry friends.  Tartar on a dog’s teeth can cause the teeth and jawbone to decay and lead to other types of dental disease.  Taking care of your dog’s teeth and learning how to soften dog tartar can help reduce their risk of dental disease and may even help increase their overall lifespan.  Continue reading to identify different ways you can work to achieve these goals and learn how to remove dog tartar at home.

how to clean dog teeth tartar

Why is it Important to Remove Tartar From Your Dog’s Teeth?

Learning how to soften dog tartar and remove it from your pup’s teeth is important in protecting their oral health.  There are actually many different reasons you should work to remove tartar from your dog’s teeth or take them to their veterinarian for a dental cleaning if you are unable to remove it by yourself.  These reasons include:

  • Tartar can make it more likely that your dog will get a cavity or that their teeth will begin to decay.
  • With tartar, more bacteria can buildup in your dog’s mouth.  This excess bacteria will give your dog bad breath.
  • Dog food can leave more stains on tartar than it will just on your dog’s teeth since tartar is porous.  This means your dog’s teeth will look more discolored and dirty than they would if there was not as much tartar buildup.
  • If not removed, tartar can lead to periodontal disease.  This is a disease where the dog’s gums pull away from their teeth.  Periodontal disease, as you may guess from its description, is very painful for dogs. It can also lead to more serious infections.
  • In some cases, if tartar remains untreated, the bacteria from it may get into a dog’s bloodstream.  This can lead to infections of the heart, kidneys, or other vital organs.

Prevention is Key

Being vigilant about brushing your dog’s teeth can help with cleaning plaque off dog teeth and can prevent tartar from getting a chance to build up.  You may need to start slowly to get your dog used to letting you put a toothbrush in their mouth.  However, once they are used to it, and brushing becomes part of the daily routine, it will be easier for both of you.

You can find finger toothbrushes that slide over your fingertip, or you can use a standard, soft-bristled toothbrush.  You may need to experiment a bit to see what works best for you and your dog.  Choosing a toothpaste with a dog-friendly flavor (such as chicken) can also help.

remove dog tartar at home

Tips to Soften and Remove Dog Tartar

Looking for how to get tartar off dog teeth?  Try some of the tips below to see how effective they are with your dog.  Keep in mind that every dog’s teeth are different, so you may need to experiment or combine multiple ideas to find solutions for how to soften dog tartar for your pup.

Enzymatic Toothpaste

As we shared above, regular tooth brushing is important for removing tartar.  Choosing the right toothpaste can make your tartar dog teeth cleaning even more effective.  Enzymatic toothpaste for dogs is made using enzymes that can cut back on the amount of bacteria in their mouth.  When the bacteria is reduced, it can also decrease the amount of tartar buildup.  Plus, as a bonus, since enzymatic toothpastes reduce bacteria, they’ll also help improve your pup’s breath.

Electric Toothbrush

When you’re searching for how to clean dog teeth tartar, consider trying an electric toothbrush designed for dogs.  An electric toothbrush is more powerful and effective than a manual toothbrush, which can allow it to remove more tartar buildup.  Some models even feature multiple brush heads to help you more effectively target different areas of your dog’s mouth.

If you’ve never used an electric toothbrush with your dog, be ready to introduce it slowly to help them get used to it.  Start by letting them hear the sounds it makes without it being near them.  Reward your dog with a treat when they don’t turn their head away from the noise.  Then, slowly over time, let them get used to the sounds closer and closer to their face and continue offering treats as a reward.  Once your dog seems tolerant of the toothbrush close to their mouth, clean a small area of his mouth.  

Chew Toys

Chew toys offer more than just fun and stimulation for a dog.  Chewing on the rougher toys actually helps keep a dog’s teeth cleaner.  As the chew toy rubs against his teeth, it loosens plaque and tartar.  

You can also find some chew toys that are specifically designed with oral hygiene in mind.  Some of these toys include with anti-tartar additives to help them work even more effectively at removing plaque and tartar from a dog’s teeth.

cleaning plaque off dog teeth

Dental Chews

In addition to chew toys, you can also find dental chew treats.  Dental chews for dogs have a harder texture than most other dog treats.  They are designed to take longer for a dog to eat, making them chew more.  As the dog chews, the treat rubs against their teeth to remove plaque and tartar.  Most dental chews will also help to freshen a dog’s breath as well.

Dental Sprays

As their name suggests, you can simply spray a dental spray directly onto your dog’s gums and teeth, making them a good choice when you want to know how to soften dog tartar.  The sprays work to reduce tartar buildup and freshen your dog’s breath.  Be sure to check the directions for the spray you choose, since many state that dogs should not eat or drink for about an hour after applying the spray to maximize its effectiveness.

Dental Wipes

Another solution for how to clean dog teeth tartar at home is to use dog dental wipes.  Dental wipes work similarly to dental sprays, but you use them to wipe your dog’s teeth rather than spraying them.  The wipes have a texture to help you remove tartar when you rub them against your dog’s teeth.  You can find dental wipes with different scents to freshen your dog’s breath and help you enjoy getting kisses from them even more.

Oral Hygiene Dental Water Additives

Choosing a dental water additive is another effective option for removing tartar from dog’s teeth at home.  Simply mix the additive in with your pup’s drinking water, and it will help keep their mouth clean every time they take a drink.  Dental water additives are odorless and tasteless, so your dog should continue drinking as usual without any issues.  

Coconut Oil

Want to know how to remove tartar from dog’s teeth naturally?  If so, then give coconut oil a try.  This staple, which may even be in your pantry right now, has natural antibacterial properties.  Rubbing it on your dog’s teeth can help to soften their tartar and make it easier to remove.  Many dogs will enjoy the taste of coconut oil as well, which can make it easier to get them to cooperate to have their teeth cleaned.

Dietary Modifications

One key idea for how to remove tartar build up from dogs teeth and prevent new tartar from forming is to modify your pup’s diet.  If your dog is currently eating canned or wet food, consider switching them to a dry food.  When dogs chew on kibble, it helps loosen plaque and tartar to keep their teeth cleaner than eating just dry food.  Diets that include raw meat and raw bones can also be more effective at helping to keep a dog’s teeth clean.

When To Schedule a Veterinary Visit To Remove Tartar

Cleaning tartar off a dog’s teeth using the methods shared above can be quite effective in some cases.  However, in other instances, you may find that the tartar has accumulated and hardened too much.  In these cases, you will want to bring your dog into the vet for a dental cleaning.

During a dental cleaning, your vet will give your dog anesthesia.  This will allow the vet to have full access to your pup’s mouth to thoroughly clean their teeth and remove plaque and tartar.  

Even if you feel you do a good job brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and removing tartar buildup, it is still important to schedule regular dental checkups.  Just as you should see the dentist for a cleaning and oral exam, you should also aim to get your dog in for a dental cleaning about once a year.

Removing Tartar from Dog’s Teeth:  Closing Thoughts

Taking care of your dog’s teeth is important beyond giving them a good smile.  When too much tartar builds up on a dog’s teeth it can cause decay and dental disease.  Starting a routine with daily tooth brushing, following the tips above to remove existing tartar buildup, and consulting with your veterinarian to determine whether a professional cleaning or any additional steps are necessary can help keep your dog healthy and happy.


What dissolves tartar on dogs teeth?

If you want to dissolve tartar on dog teeth, start with regular tooth brushing.  You can also look into trying dental sprays or wipes for dogs, dental dog chews, or coconut oil.  Giving your dog more chew toys can also help break up some tartar in his or her mouth.

How do you get rid of hardened tartar?

Getting rid of hardened tartar on a dog’s teeth can be difficult. You may find it best to schedule a dental cleaning with your vet.  Feeding your dog dry kibble instead of wet food, brushing their teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste, and using a dental spray at home may also be effective.

Is it OK to scrape tartar off dog’s teeth?

No, you shouldn’t try to scrape tartar off your dog’s teeth at home.  You could accidentally injure your dog’s gums trying to scrape the tartar off.  Additionally, when vets descale dogs teeth, they also polish them.  Without polishing the teeth after descaling, you’ll be leaving numerous tiny grooves where bacteria can grow and threaten your dog’s oral hygiene.  Scraping tartar off and descaling should be left for the professionals.

Can dog tartar be removed at home?

Removing tartar from dog’s teeth can be done at home, but the results you see may not be as effective as scheduling a professional dental cleaning with your dog’s veterinarian.  You can try using an enzymatic toothpaste, dental wipes, coconut oil, or one of the other strategies shared above.  However, if you don’t see noticeable results, you should consider contacting your dog’s vet to schedule a dental cleaning.

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