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12th Jun 2013

Preventing and Curing Dog Tooth Tartar

by Burns Team Writer

It is estimated by the RVC that as many as 87% of dogs over the age of three suffer from periodontal disease and as a result many insurance companies will not cover your pet for dental conditions unless they are caused by an accident rather than wear and tear.

What causes plaque and tooth tartar to form on a dog’s teeth?

Plaque on the teeth is caused by food particles, bacteria and minerals in the saliva. It sticks to the teeth and dog tooth tartar is formed when it hardens. This can lead to inflammation and infection around the tooth and gums. One of the first symptoms may be bad breath but you may also see your pet start to drool, refuse food or paw at their mouth. Periodontal disease or periodontitis is the term given to a group of conditions involving inflammation of the gums, ligaments and other structures surrounding the teeth. It can eventually lead to tooth loss.

What can you do to reduce the build-up of plaque?

  • Brush their teeth: Getting your dog to accept their teeth being brushed from a young age is considered the most beneficial way that you can reduce plaque build up. However, brushing should be introduced gradually and should always be a positive experience for your pet – your vet can help you with technique. Never use toothpastes for humans – it includes fluoride and foaming agents which are not designed to be swallowed by pets.
  • Increase chewing time: Chewing stimulates the secretion of saliva. Saliva contains anti-bacterial properties and can help to remove plaque by a flushing action. Several studies have shown that giving a daily chew does in fact help to keep the teeth clean.

If your dog eats quickly or swallows kibble whole you can increase chewing time by changing to our larger breed kibble Burns Original Large and Giant Breed or by feeding your dog from an interactive toy such as the Kong® Wobbler. Anti-gulping bowls are also available for both dogs and cats.

What type of diet is best to keep my dog’s teeth clean?

A study of 17184 dogs showed that feeding dry food was better for the teeth than a home prepared diet. Veterinary Surgeon, John Burns has found that poor diet contributes to the build up of tooth tartar and periodontal disease.

Read the full guide to tooth tartar problems.