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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Chewing is a natural behavior. Dogs explore the world around them by sight, sound, smell, and taste. Dog dental chews are a convenient way to leverage this instinctive chewing behavior to help keep your dog’s teeth clean throughout their lifetime.
Oral health is an important part of your pet’s overall health. Chews that pull double duty as treats are useful—and tasty, as far as your dog is concerned—supplements to a regular tooth brushing routine and a steady supply of chew toys. Brushing and chewing both help reduce bacteria in your dog’s mouth and help keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Using Dog Dental Chews Safely
Look for dental chews that are flexible. Any time 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 gastrointestinal 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 Dog Dental Chews
Consider chews made with potato starch. Potato starch is a very flexible material and helps remove plaque and tartar as well as freshen breath. Look for products with a short, quality 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!
Be sure to 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.
4 Dog Dental Chew Recommendations
Cute shapes—alligators and hedgehogs—make Whimzees stand out. They’re also made with only six ingredients and use safe, natural color additives (such as paprika). They’re also grain-free and gluten-free—common qualities found in dog dental chews.
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.
Zuke’s Z-Bones dog dental chews are a great treat to take along on your hikes and travels; they’re veggie-based and available in multiple sizes and flavors, including carrots and apples.
For chews with an abrasive texture, try C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs, which 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 to keep teeth clean and breath fresh, even on days when brushing isn’t possible. These have a beef rawhide base, sure to please your pup.
Other Dog Dental Chews to Try
In addition to the vet-recommended chews above, We’ve recently updated this article to include a few more well-reviewed, quality options you might also consider.
Rawhide-free, these popular dental treats are recommended and accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Manufactured in the U.S., their flexible shape and texture help get teeth nice and clean. The original formula contains wheat, but there’s also a grain-free version for dogs with sensitivities.
For a more budget-friendly option, Dentastix are available in different flavors, all in their signature X-shaped sticks, which helps reduce tartar and plaque buildup. These chews use a rice flour and wheat starch base.
If allergies and sensitivities are a concern, Blue Buffalo’s dog dental chews are a good option. Made in the USA, these bone-shaped treats are free from grains, gluten, corn, and soy, as well as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The bones’ texture helps scrub while they chew.
Unique among dog dental chews, these contain delmopinol, which assists in breaking up plaque, while also creating a boundary to help block the formation of bacteria and calcified plaque and tartar on your doggy’s teeth.
Made in the U.S., these treats have ridges on the outside to scrub teeth and a toothpaste center, made with natural breath-freshening ingredients including alfalfa, cinnamon, and clove. Combined, they help fight the buildup of plaque and tartar. These chews are also gluten- and grain-free.
Any one of these choices will help keep your dog’s teeth shiny and plaque-free while letting them do what they like to do best: chew! Remember, it’s important to supervise your dog when they have 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.