Are you taking care of your canine’s canines? Dental health is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Luckily, it’s pretty easy for your and pretty fun for your dog. Why?
Because aside from regular teeth cleaning, one of the easiest and most effective ways to take care of your dog’s teeth is just to get her something good to chew on. Something that she can really sink her teeth into that’ll also scrub her teeth. There are a few different kinds of dental chews out there, and countless brands, so read on for some specific recommendations (and reviews) for a few of the best dental chews for dogs.
Quick Product Comparison: Great Dental Chews
Why Should I Worry About My Dog’s Dental Health?
You should worry about your dog’s dental health for the same reasons your worry about your own!
If you don’t take care of her teeth, she’ll be at much higher risk for a bunch of different tooth-related problems.
For example, dogs with poor dental health can get periodontal (gum) disease, much like people do. If left untreated that can lead to a bunch of other problems, and it can even spread to your dog’s other organs.
Other problems include bad breath, plaque, swollen gums, tartar buildup, chipped teeth, tooth pain and even whole teeth falling out.
In other words, it’s just part of the general upkeep a dog requires. And, hey, we’re dog owners. We want our companions to stay in tip-top shape for as long as possible, and dental health is a part of that!
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How Can Dental Chews Help?
Lots of dental health problems are caused by a buildup of plaque, tartar and bacteria. And one of the best ways to get rid of that stuff is (you guessed it!) chewing!
The animal experts and WebMD report that dogs who chew a lot have significantly less plaque buildup, and some dental chews can reduce plaque by as much as 70%.
In particular, long-lasting dental chews provide lots of benefits because they promote tons and tons of chewing.
This is especially true when you combine dental chews with dog foods that promote chewing. Plenty of dog foods produce large kibbles that are resistant to crumbling, which creates a kind of scrubbing action when your dog eats them.
Some products also contain something called polyphosphate—usually in the form of a coating. This stuff reduces tartar by about half.
Are There Different Types of Dental Treats?
Of course. There are about as many different kinds of dental treats as there are dogs!
Some types of chews are better at some things, and others are better at other things. In general, these are the different types you could look for.
Dental chews are made from lots of different types of stuff, but most have some type of glycerin, which makes them really, well, chewy. Other than that, though, they’re about as diverse as it gets. Some takes like chicken. Others are mint-flavored. Some last longer than others. You get the idea.
Most of the time, they perform like treats, only a lot chewier.
They also vary quite a bit in quality. One of the standard measures of whether or not a dental chew lives up to what it claims to do is whether or not it’s approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, which tests dental treats (and foods) to see if their claims hold up.
We want to not here that this test is voluntary, and they don’t test all chews. So it’s not like a chew is bad if it doesn’t have the seal. It’s more than chews with the seal are probably pretty effective.
Is there anything better than a good old fashioned rawhide?
There’s not if you’re our dog! She loves, loves, loves a good rawhide, which makes me happy because they’re very good for her teeth.
Rawhides are made from the hides of cows and horses. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they look like bones a lot of the time. They’re hard to the touch, and they take a really long time to chew (unless you have Great Dane or something).
Because they take so long to chew, they do a really good job of eliminating plaque and tartar.
One of the things I really like about them is that they essentially have one ingredient—dried animal hide—so you don’t have to worry about pumping your pup full of chemicals.
Dental Dog Food
This isn’t a treat, per se, but there are plenty of dog foods on the market that help keep your dog’s teeth healthy.
Most of the time, they accomplish this by producing their food in larger kibble sizes that don’t break down as easily. So, instead of crumbling, the scrub your dogs teeth as he eats.
Many also contain polyphosphate, which helps prevent tartar buildup.
A Note of Caution
If you’re going to feed your dog a dental treat, don’t overdo it.
You don’t want to be so zealous about cleaning you dog’s teeth that you give her a few thousand extra calories in treats. That’s not good.
So just be sensible, read the instructions, and talk to your vet.
Quick Reviews of Some of the Best Dental Chews for Dogs
I was pleasantly surprised when I (well, our dog) tried Greenies for the first time.
With a blog like ours, we research, talk about, and test lots of different dog foods. After doing that, we’ve kind of learned to stay away from the super popular dog foods, and we really thought it was going to be the same with dental chews.
But man. These things were great!
The best thing by far is that they last forever. It honestly felt like our pup was chewing her one tiny treat for five solid minutes. It was astounding.
It was, like, chewier than a Milk Dud. And that’s saying something!
It also smells nice, and it’s approved by the VOHC.
Natural Balance Dental Chews
We tried the Natural Balance dental chews because we’re a pretty big fan of their food.
We really like that this chew includes some nice meat and potatoes flavors. Well, really, it contains actual meat and potatoes: duck meal and white potatoes to be exact.
They didn’t smell particularly good (to us humans), but our dog was very excited about them. We just didn’t notice any real change in her breath, but they’re not formulated to improve breath anyway.
What they did do is get our pooch chewing. They didn’t last as long as the Greenies, but they lasted a good, long time.
Blue Buffalo Dental Bones All Natural Dog Treats
This is another dental chew we tried based on what we know of their dog food, and we were pleasantly surprised here, too.
One of the things we really like about this particular chew is that it’s a little easier on the tummy than some of the others. The ingredients are, for the most part, natural and sensible. There’s no corn, wheat, soy, or animal byproducts.
It also includes a few good supplements, like glucosamine, which is one of the things we recommend for any dog with joint problems.
All in all, this is a good chew made by a brand we recommend all the time.
Castor & Pollux Good Buddy Rawhide
There’s honestly nothing better than a good ol’ rawhide. There’s not much to say about a rawhide other than that it’s a simple, effective way to keep your dog’s teeth clean.
One of the main benefits in my mind is that a good rawhide is cheap and lasts a fairly long time.
I know our dog’s small, but it still takes her weeks to go through a rawhide, and she loves them.
We give her rawhides when she’s stressed because she can just chew on them until she feels better. It’s just a good tool to help get a little energy out.
There’s not much difference between rawhides, since there are so few ingredients.
This is the one we buy, though, because it’s a bit thicker and lasts a bit longer.
If you thought we knocked this article out of the park, you might like the one we wrote on the best dog food or the one we wrote on puppy food. We also have a pretty good guide to foods for weight loss (in dogs, of course) and a large breed food guide.
**Disclaimer: Our dog food reviews are based mostly on (1) our expertise and that of the experts with whom we consult and (2) the information provided by the manufacturers. We do test many dog foods (with our dog’s help), but we can’t test them all. As such, please remember the above recommendations are our opinions, and you should consult your vet before making changes to your dog’s diet.