Home /

Dogs / Health

/ Black Spots on Dog’s Teeth: Is It Normal or Dangerous?

Black Spots on Dog’s Teeth: Is It Normal or Dangerous?

The appearance of black spots on dogs’ teeth is not normal. Their teeth should be white and clean, without spots or stains. Black spots on dogs’ teeth are usually one of two things: tartar and cavities. Left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, a condition that causes loss of teeth.

Dogs can have dental problems. But, many dog owners do not examine their pet’s teeth and gums often, making dental issues difficult to spot.

It is important to recognize the clinical signs when they occur to provide the necessary care and treatment.

A first step to recognizing signs of tartar, cavities, or other issues is to take your dog to the vet when you see brown or black spots on its teeth.

In this article, you will learn what black spots on dogs’ teeth are if it’s normal or dangerous, and what dental diseases lead to the appearance of black spots on dogs’ teeth.

Why Does My Dog Have Black Spots on His Teeth?

Black spots on dogs’ teeth are a sign of plaque and tartar or cavities. Dogs rarely develop cavities and extremely often develop tartar buildup. Take your dog to the vet when you see black or brown spots on its teeth.

While people often stain their teeth from drinking coffee or smoking. But dogs don’t.

The most common two reasons for black spots on dogs’ teeth are the accumulation of tartar and cavities.

Black spots never appear suddenly; they develop over time. Spots start out with a faded yellow-brown color. As the tartar builds up or the cavity advances, they turn gray-black.

If you don’t brush their teeth daily, your dog will end up with black spots on its teeth.

Why Does My Dog Have Black Spots on His Teeth

Dental Problems in Dogs That Can Lead to Black Spots on Their Teeth

The most common cause of black spots on the teeth in all dogs is tartar buildup. Other less common causes include cavities and pulpitis. Cavities can cause black spots on dogs’ teeth, while pulpitis can make the entire tooth appear gray-black.

Dogs mainly have black spots on the teeth (or black teeth) for three reasons:

  • Cavities
  • Tartar
  • Pulpitis
Medical conditionThe affected area on the tooth
CavitiesAnywhere on the tooth.
TartarAt the base of the tooth, around the gum line.
PulpitisThe whole tooth.

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Cavities

Plaque (the accumulation of bacteria) is the core of dental problems in pets. Plaque is composed of millions of bacteria, which tend to accumulate at the base of the teeth, between them, and along the gum line.

Cavities or caries are teeth conditions caused when bacteria from food stay on the surface of the teeth and gums for a long time. [1] They can destroy the crown and root of the teeth.

The bacteria turn into acids that can severely affect the tooth enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) and demineralize it. 

In the early phase, cavities can be eliminated by remineralization. If the damage is severe, the process is irreversible, and the tooth is destroyed.

Although the occurrence of caries in dogs is rare, diets rich in carbohydrates can contribute to their formation. 

Dogs fed poor quality foods end up with mineral, vitamin, and nutrient deficiencies and develop dental problems more frequently.

An unhealthy mouth is an access route to the body for numerous pathogens. In other words, dogs with dental problems will almost always have other health problems as well.

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Cavities

Symptoms of cavities in dogs:

  • Bad breath
  • Black spots on teeth
  • Black holes in the teeth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Refusal of food
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Hypersalivation
  • Pawing at the face
  • Discomfort and pain around the affected tooth

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Tartar

Plaque also contributes to the development of tartar, not only to the formation of cavities. The temperature of the food and the type of food your dog eats create good conditions for bacteria to multiply.

Tartar is the deposit of a calcareous film on the enamel of the teeth. It is made up of food debris and bacteria. It is formed when bacteria in your dog’s mouth mix with the minerals from its saliva.[2]

It has a light gray to a black color and can spread over several teeth and reach the gums. This mineral deposit can also have other colors: yellow, orange, or brown. 

Tartar is usually seen along the gum line or on the inside of the teeth (in the mouth).[3]

Signs of tartar in dogs:[4]

  • Inflammation of the gums.
  • Blood in the saliva.
  • Bad breath.
  • Brown-black deposits on the teeth, especially at the base of the teeth, along the gum line.
  • Difficulty in chewing.

Plaque and tartar can also lead to serious problems if it left untreated, such as periodontal disease where dogs can lose their teeth.

In some cases, the infections in your dog’s mouth can lead to more severe pathologies that endanger your pet’s organs and life.

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Tartar

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease affects the area around the teeth and leads to infections and teeth loss. It is most often detected by dog owners when their pets’ breath has a bad odor.

Teeth are supported in the dental alveolus by the periodontal ligament and the gum. The appearance of tartar creates a favorable environment for this condition. 

Tartar erodes the periodontal ligaments, destroying them totally or partially. The gums eventually retract, creating a space in the alveolus. This causes the tooth to move.

Periodontitis has several evolutionary stages:

  1. Gingivitis: the inflammation of the gums that begins with a demarcation line of a darker red than the rest of the gum.
  2. Early periodontitis: the gum bleeds under finger pressure and offers less support to the tooth.
  3. Medium-advanced periodontitis: the gum loosens.
  4. Advanced periodontitis: the tooth is moving visibly in the gums.

Periodontal disease symptoms in dogs:

  • Gingivitis
  • Bloody gums
  • Hypersalivation
  • Black spots on the teeth – the whole tooth can sometimes look black
  • Pain
  • Pawing at the face
  • Bad breath
  • Refusal of food
  • Weight loss

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Pulpitis

Pulpitis (inflammation of the pulp of the tooth) occurs after trauma to the teeth or cavities. In other words, pulpitis is an inflammatory process inside the tooth.

Many things can lead to pulpitis:[5]

  • Trauma or injury to the tooth
  • Fractures leading to tooth pulp infection
  • Cavities
  • Diseases that lead to improper development of enamel and dentine

All these factors produce the death of the pulp tissue and the penetration of blood into the tooth, which gives it the characteristic black color.

Symptoms of pulpitis in dogs:

  • Blackened tooth/teeth
  • Pain
  • Pawing at the face
  • Hypersalivation
  • Bad breath (especially if the pulpitis occurred due to an infection)

Go to the vet if your dog shows one or more symptoms.

Black Spots on Dogs’ Teeth Due to Pulpitis

How to Prevent Dog Tooth Problems

The best way to prevent dental problems in dogs is to brush their teeth daily.

Preventing a problem is always easier than treating it.

Dental plaque can become tartar in about 24-48 hours. This is the window you have to clean your dog’s teeth. That’s why veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth once a day or at least every other day.

Here’s how to prevent dental issues for dogs:

  • Use special toothbrushes for dogs or a piece of gauze that you wrap around your finger.
  • Use only pet toothpaste because human toothpaste contains sodium lauryl sulfate (foaming agent), which is bad for dogs.[6]
  • Instead of toothpaste, you can use diluted hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine.
  • Use movements similar to those of brushing your teeth.
  • Use dental toys during the day.

By following these tips, you make sure your dog won’t develop black spots on its teeth, tartar, or any other dental complications.

Take your dog to the vet for a dental cleaning if it already has tartar on its teeth. The veterinarian will also advise you on what to do next to maintain your dog’s oral health.


How Can I Clean My Dog’s Teeth Without Going to the Vet?

To maintain your dog’s dental health without going to the vet, you must first implement a daily dental care routine. Brush the dog’s teeth daily or at most every two days. Use special toothpaste and toothbrushes for dogs. Instead of a brush, you can wrap a gauze around your finger. Give your dog dental treats and toys; they promote the cleaning of food residues from the teeth. You can also use dental sprays.

Can I Scrape the Tartar off My Dog Teeth? 

It is not recommended for dog owners to scrape the tartar off their pets’ teeth. This procedure must be done by a professional because otherwise, you risk scratching its gums, promoting infections, or fracturing its teeth. You can also damage the enamel of your dog’s teeth, which can lead to complications.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

Looking for something?

Try searching our website!