There are numerous dog dental treats and chews available, but do they actually work? Our O’Fallon vets explain how to determine whether a dog dental chew is worth purchasing, what factors to consider, and what safety precautions every dog owner should take.

Why are dog dental chews popular?

Your pup's oral health is a critical factor in their overall well-being. Dogs 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 dog parents, we understand the importance of good oral health for our dogs' long-term health, and we're always looking for new ways to save time. Though brushing our pets' teeth is one of the most effective ways to prevent periodontal disease (also known as gum disease), they don't always appreciate our efforts to keep their mouths healthy.

As a result, dog dental chews, along with treats and sticks, have become increasingly popular in recent years. There are numerous products available that claim to help keep your dog's teeth clean. But, before you become overwhelmed, let's take a look at some of these oral healthcare products to see if they're worth the money.

Dog dental sticks: Do they work?

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. This is how a dental chew, like Greenies, can clean a dog's teeth. However, they’re not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and professional dental cleanings—just an additional tool.

Use dental chews to supplement your dog's oral care routine in the same way that humans use mouthwash. It helps keep our breath fresh and can be a useful addition to our at-home dental care routine, but it is not a substitute for 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?

Allow your dog to chew for about 30 minutes per day to get the most out of the dental chew. If your dog's dental chew is edible, consider rotating in other toys to reduce the number of calories he consumes each day.

A Note About Dog Breeds, Teeth, and Oral Health Problems

If you have a small breed dog or your canine companion has a jaw that is stacked or crowded with teeth, keep an eye out - plaque and tartar are more likely to grow in hiding spots, no matter how hard they chew.

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.

Keep in mind that your dog's immune system, age, history, and breed can all have an impact on his health and contribute to whether he develops dental problems. This is why you should take your dog to a qualified veterinarian for routine health checks.

Are dental chews good or bad for dogs?

While some dental chews are beneficial to dogs, they are not a substitute for regular brushing or professional dental care. Talk to your vet about which chews they recommend to ensure your dog gets the most out of the products you buy.

Is your pet due for a routine dental exam? Contact our O’Fallon vets today to book an appointment.