Signs of Plaque Buildup in Dogs

Keep your dog's teeth free from plaque to avoid dental diseases.
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Your dog's dental hygiene is just as important as your own. Up to 68 percent of all dogs older than 3 are thought to have some sort of dental problem. Plaque might seem quite harmless, but it hardens onto the tooth and can lead to gum disease. Look out for the signs that your dog has plaque and do something about it before he has a real problem.


Although your dog's breath isn't going to smell like freshly baked cookies or a meadow on a warm spring day, it shouldn't smell especially offensive. Give your pup's breath a quick sniff check. If it's offensive, it could be a sign that he's amassing a buildup of plaque.

Teeth and Gums

Have a look at your dog's teeth and gums for signs of plaque. If he has a plaque buildup, you will see light brown or yellow areas of plaque, usually along his gumline. Also carefully check his gums for swelling, as this could be a sign of gum disease. There should be no red or white areas on his gums, just pink all over. Check this weekly.

Other Signs

If your canine friend has significant plaque buildup, it can lead to other symptoms. Watch for excessive drooling, lumps on his gums or under his tongue and any loose teeth. He also may show a loss in appetite if his teeth are especially sore. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should get your dog checked out by his veterinarian.

What to Do

Whether or not you notice a buildup of plaque, it's a good idea to have a regular dental hygiene routine for your dog. Brushing his teeth with a toothbrush and doggy toothpaste can stop plaque from building up. Ideally you should brush his teeth daily, but a few times a week is better than not at all. If he has a large buildup of plaque, he may need to go to the vet for descaling.