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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products


So much in life depends upon your perspective. My husband, for instance, is from Maryland; and he will openly inform you that any crab cake you’re eating, anywhere outside the Chesapeake Bay region, was “not made the right way” (which doesn’t stop me from eating them, but still). When I say the word “tartar” to my husband, he thinks immediately of a mayonnaise-based condiment. My mother, on the other hand, has turned out more pies, cakes, cookies, muffins, and breakfast breads in her lifetime than the average Panera. When I say the word “tartar” to my mother, she thinks immediately of a powdered baking ingredient.

But if I say the word “tartar” to those of us who are pet parents, it’s likely we think about teeth – or maybe more specifically, the professional dental cleanings so many pets undergo to keep tartar at bay.  It’s true that many pets today – who enjoy a domesticated lifestyle that does not require them to hunt live game and break down tough, fibrous material — have significant tartar build-up on their teeth.


heart day dental

During National Pet Dental Health Month, pet parents everywhere are reminded that we can do a lot to safeguard our pets’ pearly whites!


Tartar, in this sense of the word, is plaque that has calcified and hardened. It sits along the gum line and can irritate the soft tissue, causing an inflammatory condition we call gingivitis. Inflamed gums can pull away from the teeth, creating tiny areas where bacteria can become trapped. This process is often responsible for that stereotypical “dog breath” we associate with many of our canine friends (and dog breath, contrary to popular belief, is not normal). In its more advanced stages, though, it can also lead to periodontal disease that causes infections and bone loss – not to mention extreme mouth pain for your pet, and even problems in other parts of the body.

Many people may think “Well, that’s my vet’s job – I’ll just have my dog’s teeth professionally cleaned every so often.” This is a valid perspective, but keep in mind that a professional vet cleaning requires IV sedation, plus recovery time from potent anesthetics that can carry their own risks and complications. It’s also not inexpensive, and normally requires your pup to stay at the vet’s office for a good part of day — a stressful experience in itself.

Fortunately, in the same way that we humans brush our own teeth daily, there are ways to manage this build-up process in our pets so that the amount of plaque and tartar on the teeth is greatly reduced.  That’s not to say that your vet shouldn’t inspect your pet’s mouth, and regularly – but some of my pets have never actually needed a professional cleaning, because we’ve become so vigilant about their dental health.



“Dog breath” is NOT normal! It indicates a bacterial buildup in the mouth. Diet strategies, anti-plaque and anti-tartar supplement products, and manual removal are all ways that we can help keep pet teeth clean and healthy.


If you’d like to take more control over your own pet’s dental health, it involves an easy-to-adopt management routine that can fall into any (or all) of these three main categories:

  1. Diet/feeding strategies
  2. Manual removal techniques
  3. Additive products that target plaque and tartar

None of these tactics is incredibly time-intensive or cost-prohibitive. In fact, probably the biggest challenge is getting into the habit, while making sure each measure you choose to take is palatable (and not stressful) to your furry friend.

This month, we’ll be talking about these steps in a series of dental health blogs where we’ll describe some useful techniques, dietary enhancements, and specialized products that help protect your pup’s pearly whites for a lifetime. If you’d like to get additional insights in the meantime, ask anyone on our Two Bostons team for insights and suggestions!

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