8 Best Dog Dental Chews: The Complete Guide To Sticks, Chews & Treats

Dental disease in dogs is possibly one the most reported concerns by pet owners and likely one of the most diagnosed by veterinary professionals.

Whilst studies have shown that daily brushing of teeth can be of great benefit in reducing plaque and tartar build up in dog’s mouths, only 2% of owners report that they maintain this frequent schedule.

Nothing can replace the need for regular tooth brushing, dog dental chews have been proven to significantly reduce plaque build up when given on a daily basis.

The issue occurs when you look at the range of dental chews for dogs available in the pet store (and online) and you have no idea which one to buy! The one that looks like a toothbrush? The firm one because surely that will clean better? Or the chicken flavored one because you have a fussy eater?

We have created a complete guide:

Dog Dental Chews

The Best 3 Dog Dental Chews

Nature Gnaws Antlers Merrick Dental Treat Springtime Duck Feet
Nature Gnaws Antlers Merrick Dental Treat Springtime Duck Feet
Size 4-5″ 22 pieces 30 pieces
Flavor Deer Coconut Oil Duck
Type Chew Treat Treat
Price See on Amazon See on Amazon See on Amazon

Best Dental Treats For Dogs: What to Consider

Yellow Lab with a Dog Chew

When looking for a dog chew, like with dog food, the ingredients list should be easily recognizable and totally safe.

Check reviews of the product; if you don’t know what an ingredient is, research it.

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) also provides a list of accepted products.

VOHC don’t carry out any testing themselves, but, they ask companies or manufacturers to have results from two tests of ‘healthy animals using the product in the way it is marketed to be used’.

Safety of these products is not tested but the seal of approval stipulates that there cannot be any current information available deeming the product unsafe.

The following ingredients should be avoided:

  • Rawhide
  • Gluten
  • Corn Syrup

As well as making sure the chews only have safe ingredients, it’s also the mechanism of chewing that contributes to dental health. The chews themselves don’t necessarily have to be marketed as dental chews – they can simply be chews.

One study concluded that raw bones reduced mouth bacteria by 79%, brushing reduced it by 70% and chews reduced it by 54-60%.

Finally, be realistic. The best dental chews are a great way to support dental health, but, giving Fido a chew when his teeth are falling out is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Editor’s Pick

Nature Gnaws Deer Antlers
Nature Gnaws Deer Antlers

Perfect for small or medium breeds or those light chewers, Nature Gnaws products are 100% natural. Daily chewing has been shown to improve dental health and reduce tartar build up. The bonus, you know exactly what your dog is chewing on – a naturally thinner and smaller, deer antler.

Buy on Amazon

Feeding Dog Dental Chews Safely

Dog Chewing a Treat

Most dogs, if the dental chew is tasty enough, will instinctively know what to do with it. If your dog is reluctant to chew, get him checked over by a veterinarian to ensure his teeth aren’t causing him pain.

Choose the right sized chew for your dog.

Most manufacturers have appropriately sized chews; toy, small, medium, large and giant. Check the product is suitable; labels will indicate if they shouldn’t be given to toy breeds or puppies less than 1 year old.

Puppy chews are usually much softer to accommodate their less powerful teeth!

Supervise your dog during feeding

There is always the risk of potential obstructions with chews; when they literally bite off more than they can chew.

Watch for signs of digestive discomfort after feeding a chew. Vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, altered stools or general discomfort are signs you shouldn’t feed this particular chew to your pooch again.

Be mindful of the calorie content of any treat/snack you feed your dog. If you are regularly feeding dental chews, figure out how it fits in with his daily allowance and if needed swap out some of his treat/mealtime allowance to accommodate for the calories.

Natural Duck Feet Treat for Dogs
Natural Duck Feet Treat for Dogs

100% natural, duck feet are a natural source of chondroitin, glucosamine and protein making them a brilliant chew for the aging pooch. As dogs chew, saliva is produced which helps to maintain a clean mouth. The abrasion against the teeth will help to remove dental deposits.

Buy on Amazon

Dog Dental Care and Oral Hygiene

To help you decide if a dental chew could help your dog, we’ll take a look at dog dental hygiene in general.

Dental Anatomy

Puppies will have 28 teeth, they will shed these between 4-6 months of age as their 42 adult teeth erupt. From the moment a tooth erupts they are exposed to food, saliva and bacteria.

Periodontal disease occurs when there is a build up of bacteria in the mouth, which forms plaque. Eventually, this hardens to form tartar causing inflammation, and if left untreated, can result in tooth loss and damage can occur to the surrounding bone.

Signs your dog has dental disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Pawing at his mouth
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Food or toys will have blood on them

Smaller breeds are more likely to suffer with periodontal disease, as are brachycephalic breeds. This is because their teeth are often closer together which means food and bacteria get stuck in between the teeth.

Links have been made between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. Once the bacteria reach the heart, it causes inflammation affecting the heart’s valves.

Dental hygiene is therefore crucial for whole body function.

Brushing a Dog's Teeth
The gold standard in good dental hygiene is regularly brushing our pooch’s teeth.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Tools required:

Introducing it from puppyhood means it’s much less stressful for all involved.

Start with some gauze and practice rubbing pup’s gums and around his mouth. Introduce it briefly until he gets used to the sensation. If he starts playing or mouthing at you, remove your hand and wait until he is calm. Try again and reward him when he remains calm.

Step-by-Step: How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

  1. Once he is used to the gauze and having you around his mouth, introduce the toothbrush.
  2. Let pup sniff and explore the toothbrush and start with 10-15 second sessions.
  3. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush in circular motions around the teeth.
  4. Always praise him and give a healthy dog treat as soon as you finish a session

Top-Tip

If your pup struggles with a toothbrush, you may find finger brushes more suitable. It’s often quicker as you have more control. Introduce in the same way.

A Routine Is Essential For Oral Hygiene

You may always brush their teeth just after their last meal of the day, or just before bed.

If it’s part of the routine, you’ll tend to keep it up. Studies have shown that infrequent brushing shows little to no impact on plaque and tartar build up, so daily brushing is essential.

In addition to this, dog dental chews have been proven to significantly reduce plaque and tartar build up in the mouth.

Numerous studies have shown that when given on a daily basis, they are an effective aid in maintaining dental hygiene.

Chewing stimulates saliva which produces anti-bacterial agents, helping to clean the mouth. Not only this but the abrasion that occurs during chewing helps to scrape deposits off the teeth.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether dog chews are soft or hard, it’s simply the mechanism of chewing which helps reduce plaque.

Best Dog Dental Chews

Nature Gnaws Deer Antlers
Nature Gnaws Deer Antlers

Perfect from small or medium breeds or those light chewers, Nature Gnaws products are 100% natural. Daily chewing has been shown to improve dental health and reduce tartar build up. The bonus, you know exactly what your dog is chewing on – a naturally thinner and smaller, deer antler.

Buy on Amazon

Natural Duck Feet Treat for Dogs
Natural Duck Feet Treat for Dogs

100% natural, duck feet are a natural source of chondroitin, glucosamine and protein making them a brilliant chew for the aging pooch. As dogs chew, saliva is produced which helps to maintain a clean mouth. The abrasion against the teeth will help to remove dental deposits.

Buy on Amazon

VeggieDent Dental Chew
VeggieDent Dental Chew

These tartar control chews help to clean teeth, freshen breath and support digestion. Their unique ‘Z’ shape design is thought to scrape tartar from hard-to-reach places. Available in a range of sizes, the VeggieDent, approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, is suitable for all pooches

Buy on Amazon

Best Dental Treats For Dogs

Pedigree Dentastix Dental Chew
Pedigree Dentastix Dental Chew

Available in a range of sizes to suit any breed of dog, Dentastix have positive customer reviews in their thousands. An affordable option for maintaining mouth health and available in a range of flavors including; original, beef, bacon and mint (fresh),

Buy on Amazon

Nylabone Nutri Dent Fresh Breath
Nylabone Nutri Dent Fresh Breath

Available in a huge selection of sizes, the Nylabone Nutrident offer a unique design to clean teeth. Made in the USA, they boast a short, recognizable ingredients list, their powdered cellulose is a source of dietary fibre and alfalfa boasts vitamins K, C and six B’s

Buy on Amazon

Merrick Fresh Kisses Treat
Merrick Fresh Kisses Treat

From the popular dog food manufacturer come these dental chews. Available in a range of sizes, including large, Fresh Kisses are all natural, grain and potato free. Your pooch has the choice of coconut oil and botanicals or mint flavored chews and an ingredients list that you can completely understand.

Buy on Amazon

Dental Chews for Dogs Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Dog Dental Chews?
They are chews of varying shapes and sizes which have been successful in reducing plaque and tartar build up in dog’s mouths. They are available in a range of flavors making it super easy to find one suitable for even the fussiest of eaters – dogs instinctively know what to do with a dog chew, providing it is appetizing enough.

How Often Should You Give A Dog Dental Chews?
Studies have shown that regular daily dental chews are the most effective at reducing plaque build-up.

You may find that a dental chew just before bed helps to rid the mouth of the bacteria accumulated throughout the day.

Do Dog Dental Chews Work?
Numerous studies have shown that daily dental chews significantly reduce the amount of bacteria and plaque found on teeth (as a result, breath odor also improves).

Can Dogs Choke On Dental Chews?
Any food or treat poses the risk of obstruction or choking (dental treats for dogs are no different). Choose an appropriately sized treat or chew and supervise whilst eating.

Ensure you have checked the list of ingredients on the chew and that it is 100% digestible.

Are Dog Dental Chews Fattening?
Dental chews can contribute to weight gain if your dog is eating more calories than he needs.

If you are considering adding a dental chew to his daily routine, work out how it fits into his daily nutritional allowances and swap out some of his daily treats/meal if necessary.

Are Dog Dental Chews Effective?
Several studies have shown that when given daily, dental chews are effective at reducing bacteria and plaque build up in the mouth.

Whilst they shouldn’t be used in the absence of daily teeth brushing, they are helpful in maintain oral health in dogs.

Dog Chewing a Bone

Summary

The gold standard in maintaining good oral hygiene for a dog is regular toothbrushing, yet, the schedule required to make any difference is rarely honored by pet-parents.

Whilst they shouldn’t be used in place of regular tooth-brushing, dog dental chews have been successful in reducing bacteria and plaque build up in the mouths of dogs.

When choosing a chew, check the list of ingredients; they should be recognizable and safe! Consider consumer reviews too.

Chews should be suitable for the size of your pooch, remember to always supervise them when eating and watch for signs of digestive discomfort. Let us know your dog’s favorite dental treats in the comments below.

John Woods Autho Bio Picture
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*