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Dental Chews/Treats for Dogs

August 25, 2015

What can I give my dog to chew on that is safe for them and effective for reducing dental disease?

Most dogs have a natural drive to chew.  We can take advantage of this behavior to reduce dental disease in some pets.  So what is the best chewing item for your dog?  Well let’s review some considerations before making this decision. To be honest, there is no perfect chew or treat. Also, most chews or treats will have some limitations.  For example, if a dental chew only takes your dog a matter of seconds to eat it, it is not being effective in cleaning their teeth.  You would be better off purchasing a bag of large carrots for them to chew on.  On the flip side, we can run into problems if we give them something sturdier and with more staying power.   Nylabones, butcher bones, antlers, hooves, and tightly compressed raw hides can be too hard and can fracture teeth.

With the use of any dental chew or treat, your dog should be supervised to ensure they are “responsible” chewers.  This means they will not ingest large pieces of the chew that could lead to an internal blockage or have the tendency to choke on the last bit of their chew.

Some dogs do not have the right digestive constitution to handle certain chews or treats.  They may experience upset stomach, diarrhea, and/or vomiting with certain products.  Dental products that come from animal sources (such as bones, raw hides, bully sticks, etc) can also carry risks of food borne illnesses or other contaminants.

Here are some suggestions you can try for your dog:

Royal Canin Dental diet – this kibble that can be fed to a dog as their daily diet or supplemented as daily treats.  These kibbles are larger in size so that a dog has no choice but to chew them.  They also have a texture designed to gently clean the teeth as they chew and they contain ingredients that inhibit plaque and tartar formation.

CET Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews – a beef raw hide coated with enzymes, a natural antiseptic, and an abrasive texture which aids in reducing tartar and plaque as it is being chewed. It comes in several different sizes to match up with the size of your dog. You can also use uncoated, flat raw hides as a suitable substitute. 

Bully sticks/pizzles – these dried, natural chews come in various sizes and have a unique texture to keep dogs chewing for hours.

Greenies – these chews are formulated from digestible wheat protein, poultry flavoring, and added vitamins and minerals. Many dogs find these chews tasty. Be aware, for very strong chewers this chew may not have a lot of staying power.

If you offer your dogs dental chews/treats, it should never be considered a replacement for teeth brushing.  It would be the equivalent of not brushing your own teeth but eating a couple of crunchy carrots per day and expecting perfect oral hygiene.  Brushing your pets’ teeth is the best way to care for their oral health.

If you have any questions about how to care for your dog’s teeth, we would love to hear from you and give you more suggestions.


Written by: Jen Seidl, DVM

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