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5 Best Dental Chews for Dogs + What Dangers to Look Out For

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best dental chews for dogsIf you’ve ever felt the pain of a cavity or unrelenting hell that is a broken tooth, you’d probably swim through a lake of lava to shield your loved ones from the same pain – including your dog.

But unlike your human children, who you constantly remind to brush their teeth, or your spouse (who hopefully does so without prompting), owners often neglect their dog’s dental care needs.

This is unfortunate, as oral hygiene is a critical aspect of dog care.

Our four-footed best friends can and do suffer from many of the same ailments humans fall victim to, including plaque buildup, gum disease and – perhaps most obviously, given their predilection for licking their owner’s faces – halitosis, or bad breath.

The Importance of Dental Hygiene for Dogs

Some people are simply unaware that dogs require oral hygiene measures to protect their teeth and remain healthy, but others deliberately abstain from the practice, often citing the absence of tooth-brushing behaviors among wild animals, including wolves, coyotes, and other canines.

If wolves and other wild animals don’t have to brush their teeth, why should your dog? After all, your dog isn’t hunting elk and stripping carcass flesh with his teeth – he probably eats kibble or homecooked meals of rice and chicken.

It is true that wild dogs and the wolf-ancestors of our modern, domestic pets do not employ oral hygiene measures in the wild; but it is also true that many of these canines lose or break their canines (and incisors and molars) because they do not brush their chompers. This can lead to pain, inappetence and, potentially, starvation.

Additionally, it is important to realize that our domestic pets live much longer lives than their wild-roaming counterparts do.

Whereas the average wolf only lives for 4 or 5 years, dogs often live for a decade or more. This elongated lifespan means that your dog’s teeth may need to last 2x or 3x as long as those of wild canids.

Accordingly, your dog’s teeth demand proper care and attention.

Oral Health Basics: Brush Your Those Teeth!

To fight some of the common dental problems dogs suffer, most veterinarians recommend that owners brush their dog’s teeth and visit the vet for regular periodontal examinations. It’s a pretty simple procedure that most owners accomplish without much effort – some dogs even enjoy it.

However, other dogs hate having their teeth brushed. Particularly resistant pups may even bare their teeth or nip at their owner’s hand, despite normally having an easygoing disposition.

This forces many owners to bring their dog to the vet for regular cleanings. In many cases, such dogs require sedation or even general anesthesia for the procedure. This is not only risky – it is expensive, time-consuming and stressful for all parties involved.

Dental Dog Chews: Helping Your Pup’s Pearly Whites!

Enter the dental dog chew – a product designed to remove plaque and tartar through the regular chewing process.

Many veterinarians recommend that owners of resistant dogs feed their pup these tooth-cleaning chews, to help reduce the need for in-office dental care. Your dog will still need to have his teeth cleaned – just less often.

Even owners of dogs who don’t mind having their teeth brushed may offer dental chews to the pet, as a complementary strategy. You should always work with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive oral-hygiene plan, but plaque-removing treats are usually a good component of such a plan.

Potential Risks of Dog Dental Chews

While dental chews are a readily available and commonly used class of products, some owners and veterinarians question their safety.

While many dogs consume dental chews without suffering any ill effects, some dogs have suffered health problems associated with the use of teeth-cleaning treats. In a handful of cases, these results have proven fatal.

Harmful Ingredients: Look For US-Sourced Treats, Rather Than Overseas Ingredients

Some of the health problems associated with dental chews are similar to those that occasionally occur with other pet foods and treats: They may contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs. This occurred on a frighteningly large scale in 2007, when more than 300 dogs and cats died from eating tainted food.

Similar, if less widespread, reports have emerged, which blame ingredients in various dental chews for causing illness or death. However, the cause of many such problems has yet to be determined, and it is not yet clear that tainted dental chews are to blame.

Regardless of whether these fears are well-founded or not, it makes sense to limit these types of risks. One way that dog owners can do so is by purchasing products made exclusively in North America, where quality-control and oversight are stricter than in some Asian markets.

Still, even many US-made products source ingredients from Asia, so keep a keen eye on brand labeling and do your research to find products that use ingredients exclusively from North America.

Physical Obstructions

The other potential source of harm occasionally associated with dental chews (and other edible treats) relates to intestinal obstructions and the resulting trauma. Sometimes this occurs when dogs swallow an excessively large piece, but it also occurs when they simply consume a significant amount of a dental chew.

In either case, the swallowed portion may fail to breakdown quickly. This can block the contents of your dog’s digestive tract from progressing as they should, which can lead to a host of serious health problems. Intestinal blockages represent a medical emergency, and it is imperative to bring your dog to the veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately if he exhibits such symptoms, including:

To help avoid intestinal obstructions, select the proper size chew for your pooch and try to ensure your dog chews the treat thoroughly. This is not always easy with dogs that gulp their food down – you may have to offer such dogs the treats after breaking them into small pieces. Alternatively, it may be better to hold the chew in your hand and let your dog nibble at the other end.

It is also wise to select a dental chew comprised of easily digested ingredients, such as rice. Such items are less likely to bind up in your pup’s intestines and are easier on your dog’s stomach.

How to Choose Dental Chews for Your Pup

Like most other consumer products, the relative quality of dog dental chews varies widely from one product to the next. Accordingly, it is important for owners to carefully consider the various products on the market and make a smart decision.

Some dental treats have been submitted to the Veterinary Oral Hygiene Council (VOHC) for review and testing. Those products that meet the VOHC’s criteria are awarded the VOHC seal of acceptance. Products bearing this seal are likely to provide effective plaque and tartar reduction.

While many different dental chews are available over-the-counter, some are only available from your veterinarian. While these vet-supplied chews may not be better than those you’d buy at the supermarket, your vet is likely to be very familiar with prescription-caliber products, thereby allowing him or her to provide important insight.

5 Best Dog Dental Chews for Maintaining Your Canine’s Chompers

Consider the following five dental chews to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and breath fresh!

1. Blue Buffalo Dental Chews for Dogs

Blue Buffalo Dental Chew Dog Treats Regular Dental Bones 12OzAbout: Blue Buffalo Dental Chews for dogs are designed to keep your pup’s teeth clean, but they also feature other natural ingredients that may provide additional health benefits for your dog.

Price: $$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Made from an all-natural blend of ingredients
  • Blue Buffalo Dental Chews contain no corn, wheat or soybeans, and no poultry byproducts
  • Made with Glucosamine and Chondroitin for improving joint health
  • Blue Buffalo Dental Chews are made in the USA

Pros: Most owners have found that their dog loves these chews, thanks in part to their especially pungent, meaty aroma. In fact, many dogs who are not fond of other dental chews appear to not only like, but to love, these Blue Buffalo products.

Cons: Some owners find these dental chews to be a bit expensive, but others are happy to pay higher prices for a USA-made, grain-free product. Additionally, some owners have reported that these chews do not last very long, so dogs tend to finish off the bags pretty quickly.

2. Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews

C.E.T. VeggieDent Chews, Regular, 30 ChewsAbout: Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews are based on a corn-, rice- and soy-based recipe, and designed to keep your dog’s teeth clean (and breath fresh) through their natural chewing behaviors.

Price: $$
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Designed to reduce plaque, freshen breath and help remove tartar from the teeth
  • Virbac dental chews are made in the shape of a “Z” for easy handling
  • Packaging contains 30 chews

Pros: Most owners are pleased with the relative value of the product, and because the bones are on the large size, owners frequently break them in two and give only one half to their dog at a time, further increasing their relative value. Most puppy parents find that their dogs like the taste of the chews.

Cons: Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Dental Chews are labelled as for “veterinary use only.” While this is likely a marketing ploy designed to make dog owners believe the chews are especially effective, this may give cautious owners pause. Nevertheless, it is wise to consult your veterinarian before offering any product to your dog, especially one marked as such. Additionally, Virbac chews are manufactured in Vietnam, which worries some customers.

3. Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats

GREENIES Original TEENIE Dental Dog Treats, 36 oz. Pack (130 Treats)About: Greenies Original Dental Dog Treats are one of the leading dental chews on the market, and they are beloved by many owners and dogs who try them.

Price: $$$ 
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Manufactured in the United States, although some of the ingredients may be sourced from other countries
  • Low in fat, which is important for overweight pups
  • Feature added vitamins and minerals for greater nutritional value
  • Flexible chew design, which allows them better contact with the surface of the teeth

Pros: According to the manufacturer, Greenies are “clinically proven” to provide a “total oral health solution” when offered daily. Most owners report that their dogs love the taste and texture of Greenies, making it easy to feed them regularly.

Cons: Greenies contain wheat products, which some owners seek to avoid in favor of grain-free, hypoallergenic treats. They are also at the higher end of the price range, although many owners are only too happy to pay a premium price for a premium product.

4. Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats

PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Large Dental Dog Treats Original, 1.72 lb. Pack (32 Treats)About: Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats are treats designed with larger breeds and individuals in mind; in fact, they are not suitable for dogs under 30 pounds. Unlike some other dental treats, Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats are not especially hard – they have a somewhat chewy texture.

Price: $
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Constructed in a patented “X” shape to allow your pup to get the best possible grip
  • Made with a chicken flavor and meaty smell dogs love
  • Wheat- and rice-based recipe, with no soy

Pros: Clinically proven to reduce tartar and plaque buildup, per the manufacturer. Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats are manufactured in North America.

Cons: Unfortunately, Pedigree Dentastix Large Dog Treats do not have the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance. Some users have found it cost-prohibitive to offer the chews on a daily basis.

5. Milk-Bone Brushing Chews

Milk-Bone Brushing Chews Dental Dog Treats, 14.14 Ounce For Small/Medium DogsAbout: Milk-Bone Brushing Chews are chicken-flavored oral health treats designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, as well as freshen your dog’s breath. The rice-based formula contains no soy products.

Price: $
Our Rating:

Features:

  • Recipe contains 16 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Milk-Bone Brushing Chews are manufactured in the USA
  • Each bone contains 63 Calories

Pros: Milk-Bone Brushing Chews have been awarded the VOHC seal of acceptance. The twisted design of the treats and presence of numerous nubs and ridges help clean tarter from hard-to-reach places. Most owners report that their dogs find the chews to be quite palatable.

Cons: Some owners have found that while their dog liked the product, it didn’t help to freshen their pup’s breath.

***

As you can see, most of the leading dental chews for dogs have been well-received by both dogs and their owners, and it is difficult to recognize any particular product as superior to the others. Each possesses its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to consider your pet’s preferences and unique needs before making your selection.

We’d love to hear your experiences – both good and bad – with various dental chews. Have you encountered a winner we missed, or have you experienced problems with any of the ones we mentioned? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comment section below!

Last update on 2019-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author Ben Team

Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.

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Leave a Comment:

24 comments
Miriam Alvarado says March 31, 2018

I’ve been feeding my dog pedigree dentastix-daily he’s about 25 pnds
And now I’m worried.
I’ve decided to purchase other dental products for my little friend thanks to this article -THANK YOU!

Reply
    Meg Marrs says March 31, 2018

    You’re welcome Miriam! Let us know how the new dental items go. 🙂

    Reply
Sally Goodrich says June 22, 2018

I have a 3 pound Yorkie, had been giving her Whimzee dental chews, they have stopped making them for her weight so I’m looking for safe and healthy chew, any ideas?

Reply
    Bonnie Robson says August 3, 2018

    Hi Sally! Dozers makes a mini size, I would recommend breaking one in half for her! They are all natural and made in the USA! (Rochester, NY) http://www.dozerspet.com

    Reply
Yvette says July 17, 2018

I gave my Chihuahua and Shih Tzu a real organic bone with meat. They loved it and their teeth were white, no more tartar, and had fresh breath . I believe in real food .

Reply
Rusty Boyd says August 5, 2018

Are Pedigree DentaStix made in the USA?

Reply
Courtney says September 5, 2018

I find the greenies make my dog’s stomach sick. She always has diarrhea after so I had to stop giving them to her even though I like that they did help with the tartar. Is there another treat that is shaped the same but more organic?

Reply
William Talbott says September 8, 2018

We used the Pedigree stix for almost a year. Suddenly our dog developed horrible diahrea. Fecal checks all negative. Fed him chicken rice and he recovered. Slowly added old food back…no problem. Gave him a Pedigree stix again and BAM..massive diahrea. They claim recipe has not changed but the ruined rugs in my house tell the truth of it.

Reply
jules Christine says September 13, 2018

I’ve given my pet the DentaStix for over 2 years. He loves them. (25lbs). He went for his dental (long over due) they did not have to pull any teeth.. YAY! Now I’m finishing the DentaStix and also the MilkBone Chews.. He lives those as well.. Anything VOHC is highly recommended.

Reply
patsy grieff says September 21, 2018

What about oravet dental hygiene chews for dogs are they a good choice

Reply
Catherine Lombardo says October 6, 2018

Any comments on Authority chicken flavored dental sticks by Petsmart? I am upset that they changed their composition after giving them to my dog successfully for many years (they added multi vitamins to their product) but it seems that Greenies had already done that and they are highly rated

Reply
    Meg Marrs says October 8, 2018

    Sorry, we’re unfamiliar with this product. Maybe other readers have had experiences with this item?

    Reply
RayLinStephens says October 18, 2018

My dog really loves Bones & Chews All-Natural Dental Chew Sticks and so far I can only find them at Chewy.com
But he’s a bit of a fussy Boston Terrier so you may want to check them out. Does not contain artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and is proudly crafted in the USA.

Reply
    Juan says January 12, 2019

    it’s a product of chewy

    Reply
LETTY says December 1, 2018

I noticed when I gave to MY Dog Pedigree DENTASTIX (green one) at nights, the next morning she has stomach noises and some times vomiting and she does not want to eat.Do you think Dentestix could cause it? Its a Papillon 10 years old

Reply
    Meg Marrs says December 4, 2018

    There have been some reports of some dogs having stomach issues from Dentastix, so they are definitely a potential culprit!

    Reply
Diane Brooks says December 13, 2018

I have Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
They have extremely sensitive stomachs and have had Pancreatitis. I feed them food from the vet, Hill Prescription Diet Digestive Care, when one young dog was excreting bloody stools.
Even then they tend to have a rumbly stomachs periodically and want to eat grass or something to find relief
I have been prescribed Metronidazole, which I give 1 every 12 hours for a couple days, which seems to help.
What is your opinion

Is there a dog chew my Terriers can have?

Reply
    Meg Marrs says December 13, 2018

    Hi Diane – you’ll want to discuss that with your vet considering the drugs your dog is on and past health history. Good luck!

    Reply
    Jim says December 14, 2018

    Diane,
    I have had dogs all my life and I’m going to share my experiences with you.

    Dogs that have the rumbles in their stomach are experiencing gas. If left untreated, it can lead to bloat. Bloat is when the dog can not expell the gas in their stomach and the start to swell. If it isn’t treated, their digestive track will literally tear open and kill them. If I’m not mistaken, a Vet will insert a tide of sort into the rectum and deflate them. It is a very serious and sometimes fatal situation.

    A dogs do not eat grass because they like it, but because it makes them vomit and brings the gas out of their stomach. They do this by instinct. The gas only has two ways to go, out their mouth or their rectum

    I have had Boxer dogs for around 30 yrs now and they seem to have a problem with gas. I can hear them laying down and breaking wind , sometimes changing octaves! (Just kidding). Then they look behind them like, what was that.

    Often times you can hear the rumbling in their stomach. What I have found effective is giving them the product called Gas X. It’s what people use for the same problem. It breaks down the gas bubbles so the dog will pass it. I have found it to work very well for that problem. It’s a lot less expensive than having a Vet deflate them.

    Of course, I don’t just assume the problem is solved. I still watch the hardness of their stomach and will go to a Vet immediately if necessary. GasX has been proven to do the job. I wrap it up in a treat of some sort. I give my boxer 1 whole tablet. It does the job.

    Of course, I am open to constructive criticism from anyone that can prove me wrong or has a better idea. That’s how we learn.

    Hope this helps. I can be reached at uclmm2@gmail .com
    Merry Christmas to all. Jim

    Reply
      Jan says January 22, 2019

      Thank you very much for your information. I appreciate that you took the time to write such a detailed response. I have a Standard Poodle and worry about bloat.

      Reply
Gail says December 20, 2018

Just dropped $1000 at the vet after introducing my dog to Pedigree dental chews. Two weeks after introducing these chews, she started vomiting and getting diarrhoea. X-rays showed an obstruction in the gut. Chews had expanded and as a gooey mess, gotten stuck in her stomach. I googled this and read many accounts from people all around the world where these products are sold. Some cases were fatal. We are watching her daily, hoping for a recovery! Really pissed!

Reply
    Meg Marrs says December 20, 2018

    Wow Gail – that’s terrible! Sorry to hear about that. Most folks don’t seem to have such a bad experience with Pedigree Dentastix (assuming that’s the product you used?), but if this issue has happened with several folks, we’ll consider removing them from our recommendation list when we update the article. Glad your dog is OK!

    Reply
Angela L Eberle says January 15, 2019

Our mini golden doodle Max (cute as a teddy bear weighing about 26 lbs due to diabetic weight loss) was recently diagnosed with diabetes. He usually eats a greenie every night after his dinner. Since they are made with wheat and gluten, I assume they turn to sugar when eaten as in humans. I think I need to make a change to his after-dinner treat. Your thoughts? Thanks!

Reply
    Meg Marrs says January 16, 2019

    Hey Angela – I couldn’t say for sure, but I think switching it probably a good idea. Have you seen the tool Bristly? It’s a tooth-brushing toy that might make sense instead of a greenie! We’ll work on adding it to this list. Other good options are the Blue Buffalo treats mentioned here (although check the ingredients) as well as Benebone dental chews and Nylabone dental chews. However, since your dog is diabetic, I’d say check with your vet beforehand.

    Reply
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