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Taking care of your dog's dental health is crucial – just like you, dogs need their teeth brushed daily to prevent plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Supplementing your dog's dental health routine with dental chews and treats can help remove plaque and tartar, but they're not as effective as daily brushing. These products are meant to freshen your dog's breath and remove plaque to reduce your dog's likelihood of developing periodontal disease. But what are the best dental chews for dogs? Keep reading to find out.
- Benefits Of Dog Dental Chews & Treats
- Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Guidelines
- 6 Best Dental Chews & Treats For Dogs
- Precautions With Dental Chews For Dogs
- Final Notes
Benefits Of Dog Dental Chews & Treats
Periodontal disease (PD) is the most common clinical condition in adult dogs, affecting 75% to 85% of dogs over the age of 3 years old.1 This disease leads to bad breath, tooth loss, and serious pain for dogs that can prevent their ability to eat. Additionally, it's linked to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.2
In a recent survey of over 200,000 Swedish dog owners, only 29% said that regular tooth brushing was very important, 32.2% said it was fairly important, and 40% thought it was of minor importance or not important at all.1 Believe it or not, your dog needs oral health care to prevent serious diseases that can affect their quality of life. In a study, dogs who were given dental chews daily experienced a 12% to 17% reduction in plaque coverage and thickness.1 So what does this mean?
Dental chews and treats can help reduce your dog's chances of developing periodontal disease. Adding a dental chew to your dog's daily routine can reduce plaque and calculus while treating bad breath and reducing the potential for gingivitis.3
Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Guidelines
Unfortunately, you can't always trust pet products to do what they say they'll do and clean adult dog teeth. Your dog has a natural urge to chew, so you probably buy them bones, bully sticks, yak chews, and rawhides. While it's true that chewing can help reduce plaque buildup, the types of products they chew can be dangerous for them.
For example, rawhides are difficult to digest, and swallowing a large piece can cause intestinal blockages. Chews that are too hard, such as antlers, can cause broken teeth, and bully sticks can cause GI upset, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Many pet dental chews either don't reduce plaque buildup or can damage your pet's teeth.4
Yes, chewing is good for your dog, but not all toys and chews are good for their dental health. When shopping for dental health treats, always look for products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Approval.4
The VOHC Seal demonstrates that a product meets pre-set standards for reducing plaque and tartar buildup in dogs and cats.5 If a product has been approved, you'll find the seal on the product packaging. You can also use the VOHC's website to find accepted products for dogs.
6 Best Dental Chews & Treats For Dogs
Every dog has different dental health needs and chewing preferences. For example, vets may recommend different types of dental chews for healthy dogs than they would for dogs in the progressing stages of dental disease. Additionally, your pet's age may play a role. While most dogs have a natural urge to chew, older dogs typically don't chew as often as they did when they were younger and healthier. Therefore, a senior dog may benefit from a chew treat instead of a longer-lasting chew.
Wondering which dental chews are right for your dog? We've rounded up the best dental chews for dogs to help you find the best one for your canine companion. Here are our top picks for the best dental treats and sticks for dogs.
Dental Chews For Dogs
The best dental dog chews are palatable and easily digestible. However, every dog is different, and you won't know if your dog likes a product until they try it. A few of the best dental chews for dogs include the following:
These dog dental chews are plant-based and designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup while freshening breath and supporting a healthy digestive system with prebiotics. These are some of the best dental sticks for dogs because they're chewy to help eliminate plaque and tartar and are designed with a Z-shape to help your dog grip onto them while chewing. Each chew treat works by having an abrasive yet gentle texture that breaks up calcified plaque and tartar on teeth.
2. Canine Greenies
Greenies offers some of the best dental treats for dogs, and they're most known for their toothbrush-shaped green treats. Vets recommend Greenies because they're delectable, easy to digest, and clean teeth down to the gumline.6 These dental chews are designed to fight plaque and tartar with natural ingredients, and there are multiple varieties to meet any dog's specific needs.
3. HealthiDent, Bright Bites and Checkups Chews for Dogs - all sizes
HealthiDent and Bright Bites have been discontinued and are now sold under the name Checkups. Checkups are popular dental treats for dogs clinically proven to reduce plaque by 25% and tartar by 62%.7 These dental treats are designed for dogs weighing 20 or more pounds. They should not be given to small breeds or puppies.
Checkups for dogs freshen breath, stimulate gums, and contain omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Milk-Bone Brushing Chews for Dogs
Milk-Bone is one of the most well-known treat brands for dogs. Their Brushing Chews contain 12 vitamins and minerals and a patented dental twist bone with nubs and ridges to scrape plaque and tartar from teeth.8 These treats are clinically proven to be effective at defending against tartar buildup, while the ridges are designed to clean like bristles on a toothbrush.
Rawhide chews are designed to be longer-lasting and can help reduce plaque and tartar on dog teeth. However, rawhides made from animal hides can be dangerous for pets, especially if you have a heavy chewer who likes to bite off and swallow large chunks since they can cause choking or blockages.
Monitoring your pet while they consume rawhides is crucial to prevent them from swallowing large pieces. However, when used correctly, rawhide dental chews can be an excellent option for helping clean your dog's teeth because they're long-lasting.
Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews for Dogs
Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews are some of the best chews for dogs teeth because the patented formula is clinically proven to reduce bacteria, prevent plaque, reduce tartar buildup by more than 50%, and freshen breath. These rawhide dental chews are gentle on your dogs' teeth and gums.9
Purina Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz Brand Dog Treats
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet Dental Chewz are long-lasting rawhide treats that work effectively to reduce tartar buildup in dogs fed two treats per day. These treats freshen breath and clean teeth and are long-lasting for even the heaviest chewers.10 Additionally, they're high in protein and low in fat, making them a great option for all types of dogs.
Precautions With Dental Chews For Dogs
Always supervise your dog when they're chewing a dental treat. While these treats are designed to be easy to chew and digest, over-eager dogs can swallow large chunks without chewing them. Additionally, you should avoid dental chews and dog toys that the VOHC recommends against, such as antlers, yak milk chews, pig ears, and hooves.4
While many of your dog's favorite toys and chews can help reduce plaque and tartar while they chew, they don't contain the ingredients designed to significantly reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Therefore, you should always look for the VOHC seal when shopping for dog dental treats and chews.
In addition, dog dental chews and treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. Nutrition for dogs is crucial to their overall health, and increasing their calories to give them dental treats can result in weight gain.
If you're worried about your dog's oral health, the best thing you can do for them is talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will examine your dog's mouth during their yearly checkup to look for signs of tooth decay. In addition, some dental chews may be better for your dog than others because they're made from various ingredients. For example, if you have a diabetic dog, they'll need dental treats low in calories and fat and high in protein.
Talking to your vet about the best dental treats for your dog can help point you in the right direction.
Do vets recommend dental sticks?
Yes. Many veterinarians recommend dental sticks because they can help remove plaque and tartar to keep your dog's mouth cleaner in between brushings. However, they're meant to supplement your dog's oral care routine, so your dog should have their teeth brushed every day to effectively eliminate plaque and tartar that can contribute to periodontal disease.
Are dental chews for dogs effective?
Dental chews for dogs are effective, but you should only purchase from brands with clinical studies that provide proof. VOHC-approved brands typically conduct studies to give you more information about the amount of plaque and tartar their dental sticks can eliminate. However, it's important to note that no treat is more effective than brushing your dog's teeth.
While the best dental sticks for dogs can reduce plaque and tartar, it's highly unlikely they're scraping every tooth. For example, many dogs chew with one side of their mouth, so the dental treat probably isn't making it to the other teeth. That said, they can help eliminate a significant amount of plaque while freshening your dog's breath.
How else can I promote good dental hygiene for my dog?
The best way to ensure the health of your dog's teeth and gums is to brush their teeth every day. Treats, chews, and water additives are meant to supplement your dog's oral health routine; they're not meant to replace brushing. Of course, your dog will have to be trained to tolerate having their teeth brushed. You'll also need a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Never, under any circumstances, use a human toothbrush or toothpaste when brushing your dog's teeth. Human toothbrushes are too rough on dog gums, and human toothpaste may contain dangerous ingredients.
In addition to regular brushing, your dog should have their teeth examined by a vet every year. Depending on their condition, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning to remove any broken or infected teeth and clean the remaining ones.
Dental chews for dogs can help eliminate plaque and tartar, but they shouldn't replace regular brushing at home. Not taking care of your pet's oral health can contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease that leads to tooth loss and severe pain that impacts your dog's quality of life.
Worried about your dog's teeth? Talk to a Dutch vet today. We can recommend our favorite products to help you brush your dog's teeth at home and supplement their oral care routine.
Carroll, Meredith Q, et al. "Effects of Novel Dental Chews on Oral Health Outcomes and Halitosis in Adult Dogs." Journal of Animal Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Sept. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511057/.
"5 Scary Consequences of Neglecting Your Dog's Teeth." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/5-scary-consequences-neglecting-your-dogs-teeth.
Quest, Bradley W. "Oral Health Benefits of a Daily Dental Chew in Dogs." Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24006717/.
"(Don't) Chew on This ." AAHA, https://www.aaha.org/globalassets/02-guidelines/dental/dentalguidelines_chewtoy_final.pdf.
"Accepted Products for Dogs ." Veterinary Oral Health Council , http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products_dogs.html.
"Greenies Pet Products for Dogs." Greenies, https://www.greenies.com/collections/all-dog.
"Product Information Details - Checkups Treats." Checkups Treats, https://checkupstreats.com/product-details/.
Small Dog Dental Chews: Milk-Bone® Brushing Chews®. https://www.milkbone.com/dog-treats/dental-chews/small-medium.
"Tartar Shield® Soft Rawhide Chews for Small Dogs (30 Count)." Tartar Shield, https://www.tartarshield.com/products/tartar-shield-soft-rawhide-chews-small-dog-30ct.
"Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz Canine Treats." Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz Dog Treats | Pro Plan Vet Direct, https://www.proplanvetdirect.com/dental-chews.