- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Chewing is a natural behavior. Dogs explore the world around them by sight, sound, smell, and taste. Whether your dog is a senior or a puppy, dental chews leverage this instinctive chewing behavior to help clean teeth. Earlier this month we wrote about pet dental health month and why oral health is an important part of your pet’s overall health. With that in mind, there are various dental chews available to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Reduction of bacteria in your dog’s mouth can be accomplished not only through brushing but also with diet—and the use of chew toys. That’s where dental dog chews come in.
Using Dog Dental Chews Safely
Look for dental chews that are flexible. Anytime your dog is enjoying a chew, you should be monitoring them. Dogs can break off pieces and swallow them. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to a GI obstruction or a fractured tooth. As a Certified Vet Tech, I’m constantly looking for flexible chews so my dogs won’t end up at the vet hospital.
Another tip? Always have fresh water available for your dog when they’re spending time enjoying their chews.
Note that dental chews aren’t meant to occupy your dog for a long time, unlike other chews and rubber toys. Also, edible chews add calories to your dog’s diet, so consider them part of the daily calorie intake!
Signs of Quality
Consider chews made with potato starch. Potato starch is a very flexible material and helps remove plaque and tartar as well as freshens breath.
Look for quality ingredients and products with a short ingredient list. A variety of shapes and sizes keep the treats interesting for your dogs.
We referred to a list provided by the Veterinary Oral Health Council for some of these products. Other products have been tested by my three hounds, so they’re on the list!
5 Dog Dental Chew Recommendations
Note: check with your veterinarian for any concerns about your dog’s dental health, including persistent bad breath or unusual drooling, as these can indicate a tooth problem.
Cute shapes make Whimzees stand out. Made with only six ingredients, they use a safe, natural additive for color. They’re grain-free and gluten-free, though that’s a common quality for dental chews so not necessarily a differentiator here.
Did we mention they’re shaped like alligators?
Dental Chewz are recognized by the Veterinary Oral Health Council as a product that works effectively to significantly reduce tartar in dogs. They’re backed by extensive testing at the Purina Pet Care Center.
For a dental chew with a unique shape, try Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care Chews. The shape works like a toothbrush and dental floss to clean teeth and freshen breath.
These have a fresh mint flavor, which some dogs love (or don’t notice), but other dogs may not like as much as poultry or beef. Of course, we humans probably prefer the smell of mint …
Zuke’s Z-Bones Dental dog treats are a great dental chew you can travel or hike with, and they’re a fave of my three hounds. Available in multiple flavors and sizes.
I’d say these are my favorite of the bunch for price and efficacy.
For chews with an abrasive texture, try C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs. These chews feature an exclusive Dual-Enzyme System. Working with the dog’s chewing action, C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews reduce plaque and tartar, helping keep teeth clean and breath fresh, even on days when brushing isn’t possible.
My dogs were recently introduced to these and they love them. They last a long time—and I characterize my three as power chewers.
Remember, it’s important to supervise your dog after giving them a chew, as sometimes dogs can break off a piece and swallow it.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council, or VOHC, has a long list of approved products for dog dental care that includes pet foods and toys that go beyond our suggestions here. Check it out to see if what you’re currently giving your dogs made the list of products!
- 9 Best Dog Toothpastes to Get Your Dog Ready for a Kiss
- How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth (and Keep All Your Fingers)
- Our Readers’ 15 All-Time Favorite Chews to Keep Dogs Busy