Dog Food and Tartar Care

Home oral hygiene makes a big difference in your pup's health.
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If you've ever had a whiff of a dog's bad breath, you know it's not pleasant. Bad breath is one sign of periodontal disease. If your pup has it, it's time to act. Tartar care includes brushing your pup's pearly whites and using a vet-recommended dog food.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a common condition in dogs, and it is preventable. Bacteria in the mouth form a sticky substance called plaque. Minerals in the saliva of your pup's mouth harden the plaque to form calculus or tartar. The tartar accumulates around the gum line and spreads under the gum line causing damage to the tissues around the teeth. The result is periodontal disease -- the inflammation of the gums as well as loss of bone and soft tissue surrounding the teeth.

Tartar Control

Controlling tartar buildup is the key to preventing periodontal disease. A home oral hygiene program is important as well as visits to your veterinarian for professional cleanings and checkups. Brushing your dog's teeth with dog toothpaste is the first step. The American Veterinary Dental College recommends daily brushing. Providing chew toys and chew treats also benefit your dog. Your veterinarian may suggest or prescribe a kibble especially formulated to decrease the chances of dental disease.

Special Kibble and VOHC

Some specially formulated kibble contains a chemical anti-tartar poly-phosphate ingredient. Besides the anti-tartar, the kibble scrubs away the surface plaque and tartar when your pup bites into it. If your vet does not prescribe a kibble, look for one that has the Veterinary Oral Health Council's seal of approval, which indicates the kibble helps control tartar and plaque. The VOHC seal follows a review of data collected from trials that must follow its standards. The VOHC does not test the products itself.


A dry kibble does have an advantage over wet food because it aids in the reduction of plaque and tartar buildup. The specially formulated kibble most likely will cost more than kibble bought at your local grocery store. Ask your vet for samples of the kibble before spending money for a large bag of dog food. Try it as a treat to see if your pup will eat it. Changing to a different dog food should be done gradually to reduce stomach indigestion.

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