Our Los Angeles veterinarians explain how to find out if a dog dental chew is worth purchasing, which factors to consider, and the safety tips every dog owner should keep in mind.
Why are dog dental chews popular?
As dog parents, we know that good oral health is critical to our dogs' long-term health, and we're always looking for new ways to save time. Though tooth brushing is one of the most effective ways to prevent our furry friends from developing periodontal disease (or an unsightly buildup of plaque, tartar, and inflamed gums), they don't always 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 purport 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.
Do dog dental chews work?
There’s not a cut-and-dry answer to the question "Do dog dental treats work for dogs?" They may help keep your pooch’s teeth clean and the dry kibble can be satisfying for your dog to crunch in her mouth - and taste yummy. Though chews that are properly designed can potentially reduce tartar and plaque buildup, 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 - somewhat like we sometimes chew sugar-free gum to keep our breath fresh, but we wouldn’t use this in place of regularly brushing our teeth or visiting the dentist.
Consider these factors before buying dog dental chews which claim they support dental health:
- Seek out long-lasting chew products such as nylon, rawhide, knucklebone, or rubber chew toys (watch these closely and toss them if your dog gnaws them down so much that it becomes a choking hazard).
- 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 buys that are worth your money.
- Remember to book your pet’s routine oral exam and dental cleanings at your vet’s office.
How do dog dental chews work?
Dental treats and chews can help keep plaque at bay and tartar at bay. They work by scraping the dog's teeth as he chews on them. Give your dog about 30 minutes to get his chew on every day, to give them the maximum benefit out of their dental chews.
Can puppies have dental chews?
The short answer is yes, but make sure you follow the instructions listed above. You must also remember to encourage healthy eating habits. Remember, pets don't know that you're giving these to them to help their teeth. They just think that it tastes great.
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 into chewing.
Good old toothbrush bristles can get under the gum line and be used to 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.
The Bottom Line
While some dental chews are beneficial to dogs, they are not a substitute for regular brushing or professional dental care. These components of a great oral health care routine should be kept on your dog's calendar to ensure that their teeth remain in good condition.