There are many dog dental treats and chews on the market—but do they really work? Here, our Waxhaw vets explain how to find out if a dog dental chew is worth purchasing, which factors to consider, and safety tips every dog owner should keep in mind.
Why are dog dental chews popular?
Your pup's oral health is a critical factor to their overall well-being. Dog's need regular at-home dental care along with routine professional dental cleanings in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy and prevent gum disease and decay.
As pup parents, we know that good oral health is critical to our dogs’ long-term health, and we’re always looking for new tips to save time. Though tooth brushing is one of the most effective methods to keep our furry friends from getting periodontal disease (also known as gum disease), they don’t usually appreciate our efforts to keep their mouths healthy.
That’s why dog dental chews, along with treats and sticks, have been growing in popularity in recent years. There are a lot of choices out there for products that claim to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. But before you get overwhelmed, let’s review some of these oral healthcare products to identify whether they are actually worth the cost.
Will dog dental chews work for my pet?
There’s not a cut-and-dry answer as to whether dental chews work. Most dogs enjoy the taste and crunch of a dental chew, and dental chews that are properly designed can potentially reduce tartar and plaque buildup. However, they’re not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings—just an additional tool.
Feel free to use dental chews to supplement your dog’s oral care routine in a similar way to how humans use mouthwash. It helps keep our breath fresh and can be a good addition to our at-home dental care routine, but it doesn't replace brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist.
When looking for the best dog dental treats, consider these factors before purchasing:
- Seek out long-lasting chew products such as nylon, rawhide, or rubber chew toys that are appropriate for your dog's size.
- Make sure any treats or chews you provide are not too hard, as they can damage your dog’s teeth. Hooves, antlers, and bones are likely to cause problems.
- Find out how many calories are in your pup’s dental chews. You don’t want to deal with a weight problem while trying to reduce dental issues.
- Be skeptical of any claims that some products support dental health. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of product recommendations for chews that are worth your money.
- Remember to book your pet’s routine oral exam and dental cleanings at your vet’s office.
How long should my dog spend chewing?
To give your dog the maximum benefit of the dental chew, allow your dog to spend about 30 minutes a day chewing. If your dental chew choice is edible, consider rotating in other toys to reduce the number of calories your dog is consuming each day.
A Note About Dog Breeds, Teeth, and Oral Health Problems
If you’ve got a small breed dog, or your canine friend has a jaw that’s stacked or crowded with teeth, watch out - plaque and tartar are more likely to grow in hiding spots, no matter how much effort is put in to chewing.
Be sure to brush daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to get under the gum line and brush or scrape away bacteria that may cause periodontal disease.
Remember that your dog’s immune system, age, history, and breed can affect his health and contribute to whether he develops dental issues. This is why a qualified vet needs to see your pooch for routine health checkups.
The Bottom Line
While some dental chews are effective for dogs, these aren’t a replacement for regular toothbrushing or professional dental care routines. Be sure to talk to your vet about which chews they recommend to ensure your dog is getting the most out of the products you're purchasing.