Dog Food and Tartar Care

Keep your dog's teeth tarter-free.
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Tarter buildup can be dangerous for your dog's health. In fact, it's one of the most common causes of death in senior dogs. As the tarter builds up, teeth can begin to decay and cause heart disease. While brushing is essential for your dog's dental health, dog food can also affect tarter care. However, people are often confused as to how dog food can affect their dog's teeth. With the proper knowledge, you'll understand how choosing the right food can help with tarter care.

What Causes Tarter Buildup?

Tarter buildup is the result of food particles getting stuck in the dog's teeth. The particles that remain after eating combine will cause bacteria, which mixes with the minerals in the dog's saliva to cause plaque. If the layer of plaque is not removed within two to three days, tarter will form. Tarter buildup is dangerous to your pet because it can eventually lead to bleeding and receding gums, and it may eventually release bacteria into the bloodstream, resulting in heart disease.

Dry vs. Soft Food

There are many misconceptions about the type of food you feed your dog and tarter buildup. While dry food can help keep the teeth cleaner and prevent plaque buildup, that doesn't mean it prevents tarter buildup completely. Food particles will still get caught between teeth. As for soft food, it will not clean the teeth when being chewed, but it doesn't necessarily cause tarter buildup. Whatever food you feed to your dog, plaque can still occur if you don't regularly brush his teeth. Some people even believe dry food may be more problematic than helpful in dental care. In other words, don't choose a food simply on the basis of keeping your dog's teeth cleaner. Focus on nutrition and finding your dog a balanced diet.

Prescription Diets

If nothing seems to be working to control the tarter buildup on your dog's teeth, you may want to take him to the vet for a prescription diet. Dental health diets may be better at removing plaque and preventing tarter buildup than regular dry foods. However, this should never serve as a substitute to brushing your dog's teeth, which should be done once per day.


Crunchy treats and chew treats also work to keep the plaque from forming on your dog's teeth. Some treats are even made with dental health and tarter control in mind. There's a good chance that your dog will prefer chewy treats, but it's best to find a dry treat or chew treat that he likes. Not only will these treats help keep your dog's teeth clean, but they also satisfy the need to chew.