Dog Tartar Removal at Home, not at the Vet's

What kind of lousy dog owner are you? Don’t you care about your dog’s life? Obviously not or you wouldn’t do what you just unthinkingly did to your dog! Do you want him to die?

What did you do? Leave your dog chained outside all day in the cold rain? Leave him locked in a hot garage all day without water? Let him eat chocolate or feed him xylitol, either of which can kill him? No, you did what thousands of pet owners do every year without thinking of the possible consequences. You took your dog to the vet’s for a teeth cleaning.

You go to the dentist twice a year and placidly lie in the chair with your feet above the level of your head, your mouth open while the dentist scrapes the plaque off your teeth. Nothing untoward has ever happened to you and you feel the same way when you take your dog to get his teeth cleaned. Nothing can happen, right? You don’t even give it a second thought. It’s just a simple cleaning.

Wrong! There is nothing simple about this procedure. Your dog isn’t going to obediently lie with his mouth open for the vet, so the vet puts him under anesthesia. There is a 1 in 233 chance the anesthesia will kill your dog. Those odds may not sound so bad until you compare them with humans, where only 1 in 10,000 people die under anesthesia. The odds are worse if your dog has any health issues. Several years ago a dog of mine with a slight heart murmur nearly died during a cleaning. Your dog will probably be okay, but maybe he won’t.

On top of the risk, there is the cost. A cleaning will set you back several hundred dollars. If extractions are necessary, the vet is going to do it while he has the dog under rather than wait to get your permission. If there is bleeding from extractions or nicks to the gums, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to ward off any possible infection. All of these add to the cost. It isn’t uncommon to pay upwards of 0, and I doubt you have pet medical insurance to cover the costs.

A trip to the vet is not the only option you have for dog tartar removal. There are alternatives that are safe, effective, inexpensive, and you can use at home.

One option that immediately comes to mind is brushing. A doggie tooth brush isn’t expensive, nor is toothpaste for dogs. Don’t use your toothpaste on your dog. Toothpastes for humans often contain ingredients that are not suitable for dogs, and in fact can be harmful, such as xylitol.

Brushing is inexpensive and won’t pose a risk to your dog’s health, but it does have its downsides. Unless you start brushing your dog’s teeth from an early age, he might not be agreeable to having someone poking around in his mouth, and brushing could become a test of wills. Brushing won’t get the inside of your dog’s teeth as well as the outsides simply because it’s harder to get the brush on the inside of the teeth unless your dog is very cooperative. As a preventative, brushing works well, but is of limited value if your dog already has tartar buildup.

Another option is a dog dental spray, like Plaque Attack. Plaque Attack dog spray costs in the neighborhood of for a three month supply, a far cry from a 0 vet visit. The ingredients are dog-safe and are designed to work together to loosen and remove tartar buildup and prevent its re-occurrence.

Typically, you will simply spray your dog’s teeth twice a day for two weeks. You will notice your dog licking his lips. This mixes the spray with his saliva, ensuring that the spray is spread throughout his mouth, covering all his teeth. In a couple of weeks, you will notice the tartar begin to disappear.

To hasten the process, you can gently brush your dog’s teeth before spraying to help loosen the built up tartar and help the spray to penetrate better. You can reduce the spray applications to two or three times a week once the tartar is gone. This ongoing maintenance program will help prevent tartar from building up again.

Don’t just blindly assume that a vet teeth cleaning is the best option for assuring your dog’s oral health. As pointed out here, there are other perfectly satisfactory options available. If you decide to take your dog to the vet, fine, but do it from a position of education and knowledge, knowing that you are making the best decision for the health of your dog.


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